Champion Sprinter Muhaarar Starts New Chapter at Haras du Petit Tellier

Muhaarar bows out in style at Ascot |


For a horse who won the G2 Gimcrack S. as a juvenile before torching the sprinting scene with a sequence of four straight Group 1 victories the following year, Muhaarar (GB) has been a surprisingly slow burner in his second career as a stallion, certainly compared to the fast start that was expected of him when he was retired to stand his first season at Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum's Nunnery Stud in 2016.

It seemed like all the ingredients were there for Muhaarar to make an immediate and significant impact, a two-year-old winner in May who was blessed with brazen speed on the racecourse and the fiercest of support from Sheikh Hamdan in his second career at stud.

Not only did Sheikh Hamdan send a handful of Shadwell's best mares to his prized homebred in that first year, but he also went to great lengths to secure the pick of Muhaarar's debut yearlings at the sales in 2018, including the top-priced filly at 925,000gns.

It was an immense show of faith from the legendary owner-breeder in the hope that Muhaarar might one day prove to be a worthy successor to his grandsire, Green Desert, the flagship stallion on the Shadwell roster for many years and a hugely influential sire of sires, having produced the likes of Cape Cross (Ire), Invincible Spirit (Ire) and, of course, Muhaarar's own sire, Oasis Dream (GB).

Perhaps the best compliment that can be paid to Muhaarar is that he was arguably a better racehorse than any of them. Having made the breakthrough in Group 1 company when winning the inaugural running of the Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot, Muhaarar then went on an unstoppable run which saw him add the G1 July Cup, G1 Prix Maurice de Gheest and G1 Champions Sprint S. to his unique haul.

A few other top-class performers came along shortly after him in what can often be a muddled sprinting division, the likes of Battaash (Ire)–also trained by Charlie Hills for Sheikh Hamdan–Blue Point (Ire) and Harry Angel (Ire), but none of them achieved what Muhaarar did in winning four Group 1 races in the same season.

However, whereas Blue Point romped to top honours in the first-season sire ranks last year, having 41 individual winners in Britain and Ireland, it's fair to say that Muhaarar found it altogether tougher going with his first runners four years earlier.

Ranked joint-sixth among the leading first-season sires in Britain and Ireland in 2019, Muhaarar did have a black-type performer among his 12 winners in that first crop of two-year-olds, the Group 3-placed filly Unforgetable (Ire), but otherwise it was a rather forgettable debut year.

Better was to come in 2020 when Muhaarar was the leading second-season sire in Britain and Ireland with 44 individual winners. His 17 juvenile winners included Sheikh Hamdan's G3 Horris Hill S. hero Mujbar (GB), plus Amo Racing's Baradar (Ire), who won two of his first three starts before finishing third in the G1 Futurity Trophy.

It was Muhaarar's 27 three-year-old winners that year who surprised most observers, though, chiefly with the range of distances they were capable at. Unforgetable continued to look cut from the same cloth as her sire when Listed-placed over five and a half furlongs and Group 3-placed over seven, but Muhaarar's other highly-rated runners in Britain and Ireland included Albaflora (GB), runner-up in the Listed Noel Murless S. over a mile and five furlongs, while, in France, Paix (Ire) won the G3 Prix de Lutece over a mile and seven.

It's in France that Muhaarar finds himself in 2024 for the third straight year. It was announced in the autumn of 2021–just a few months after the death of Sheikh Hamdan–that Muhaarar would be relocating to Alain Chopard's Haras des Faunes in Bordeaux where he covered 54 mares at a fee of €5,000 in 2022 and 124 mares at a fee of €7,500 in 2023.

Now, Muhaarar is limbering up for his first season standing at Haras du Petit Tellier following a deal which saw him make the move from Bordeaux to Normandy in August last year. Shadwell owner Sheikha Hissa retains half of the shares in the stallion, with the other half being made up of a consortium of French breeders.

Eric Puerari of Haras des Capucines is at the helm of the new syndicate, managed by Capucines Bloodstock, and it's clear in his view that Britain's loss is France's gain with a stallion who has so much to offer–if not the guarantee of speedy, two-year-old winners which eventually saw his popularity on home soil decline.

“It's a very exciting, new adventure,” Puerari begins when explaining how the stallion came to be at Haras du Petit Tellier. “Muhaarar had been leased in the south-west with Haras des Faunes for two years. My partner, Michel Zerolo, loved the horse and we made an offer to Shadwell to purchase half of him.

“He didn't totally convince the English breeders because they thought his progeny were not precocious enough. They take a bit of time to come [to hand], but they're durable and very resistant. They've won all over the world–France, England, Ireland, United States, everywhere. He's a very versatile sire and they can win from six furlongs to a mile and a half.”

Muhaarar stands at an increased fee of €14,000 this season–albeit still a fair way below the £30,000 he stood for in his first three years at Nunnery Stud–following what was arguably the most successful year yet for his progeny on the racecourse in 2023.

The versatility Puerari speaks of was certainly on show throughout last year. G1 July Cup runner-up Run To Freedom (GB) and G3 Bengough S. winner Annaf (Ire) both achieved notable results over six furlongs, while Israr (GB) won the G2 Princess Of Wales's S. and Trevaunance (Ire) filled the runner-up spot in the G1 Preis Von Europa, both races run over a mile and a half.

Above all else, the highlight in 2023 was provided by Classic hero Marhaba Ya Sanafi (Ire), who became Muhaarar's second individual Group 1 winner in the Poule d'Essai des Poulains before going on to finish third behind the top-class pair of Ace Impact (Ire) (Cracksman {GB}) and Big Rock (Fr) (Rock Of Gibraltar {Ire}) in the G1 Prix du Jockey Club.

Incidentally, Muhaarar's first Group 1 winner was Shadwell homebred Eshaada (GB) when she won the Fillies & Mares S. back in 2021. That was a thrilling contest in which she just held off paternal sibling Albaflora by a short head after the two talented, middle-distance performers had gone head-to-head for much of the Ascot straight.

Neither filly finished with the same ferocity that Muhaarar did when blitzing down the same straight to win the Commonwealth Cup and Champions Sprint S. six years earlier, but clearly there are other qualities which have been passed down, both from him and his maternal grandsire Linamix (Fr), a noted influence for stamina at stud.

Expertly unpicking Muhaarar's pedigree, Puerari says, “Interestingly, he has inbreeding on both sides to Lyphard and Mill Reef who were two real champions of their time. They are the two grandsires of the dam of Oasis Dream.

“Muhaarar traces back to Pugnacity, one of the top-class mares of Major Holliday's breeding operation. Pugnacity was the dam of Relkino, who was a champion horse in England. He was by Relko and you'll find again that Relko blood in Linamix.

“Linamix is a top broodmare sire. He's the broodmare sire of Kendargent and it gives that will to win to his progeny. And this is very important when you are breeding, to try to find blood with a will to win.”

Everything seemed to come easily to Muhaarar in most of his Group 1 victories, but that will to win was certainly in evidence the day he won the July Cup, looking on the back foot for much of the race before edging ahead close home to get the verdict by a nose.

The last few years of Muhaarar's stallion career have arguably been characterised in much the same way, having to fight hard for every bit of success he's enjoyed having been written off in some quarters, deserted by many of the breeders who rushed to him early on.

Now, Muhaarar can start to enjoy the fruits of his labour with a limited book of up to 130 mares due to visit him at Haras du Petit Tellier in 2024, the most expensive stallion on a roster which also includes Elvstroem (Aus), Recoletos (Fr) and The Grey Gatsby (Ire).

Jean-Daniel Manceau, responsible for stallion nominations at Capucines Bloodstock, says, “He will be used by plenty of French and international breeders, including Henri Bozo from Haras des Monceaux, Guy Pariente and Jean-Claude Seroul, who races all of his stock. He will also be supported by Shadwell, obviously. They will send a full-sister to the champion mare Taghrooda.

“We also have a good group of shareholders. We've got the Dubois family who will support him a lot. They have bred already some very good horses this year, and in the past, like Sauterne and Elusive Princess.

“We've also got Haras de Saint Pair [owned by Andreas Putsch], a very good breeder here in France, and Peter Kavanagh of Kildaragh Stud. And, obviously, we have Haras des Capucines who will support him a lot with some of our best mares.”

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