Juddmonte’s Enduring Transatlantic Legacy

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Dancing Brave winning the 1986 Coral-Eclipse | Racing Post

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   In Part II of a two-part series, John Berry looks at Juddmonte’s lasting influences from the late 80s through to the present on the 40th anniversary weekend of Prince Khalid Abdullah’s first Classic win with Known Fact in the 2000 Guineas. Click here for Part I.

When the mighty Dancing Brave (Lyphard) retired to stud, his brilliant 1986 G1 Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe triumph shining like a beacon in the collective consciousness, it was generally felt that Prince Khalid Abdullah had probably reached the pinnacle of his ownership career. After all, no owner in living memory had ever raced a horse as special as Dancing Brave and then subsequently had another one as good. We now know, of course, that the Prince would eventually race one even better; and that he would do so as owner/breeder, rather than merely as owner, because, of course, he bred Frankel (GB) (Galileo {Ire}).

However, the improbable nearly happened much more immediately than that because, as Dancing Brave departed, a horse of similar calibre arrived in Guy Harwood’s Pulborough stable.

The Prince’s first three champions (Known Fact, Rainbow Quest and Dancing Brave) had all been terrific horses, but Warning (GB) (Known Fact) must have been particularly special for Juddmonte because he was the first top-class horse whom the Prince had bred. Moreover, he was a son of Known Fact, the Prince’s first Classic winner and his foundation stallion. His dam Slightly Dangerous (Roberto) was also close to the Prince’s heart, having carried his colours into second place in the Oaks in 1982.

A muscular, powerful colt, Warning was Europe’s best 2-year-old of 1987, which was a strange season in the sense that the best 2-year-old race (the G1 Dewhurst S.) was not run, courtesy of a hurricane having hit south-eastern England the previous night, causing extensive damage to Newmarket racecourse as well as making the town inaccessible because of fallen trees. Warning had a strong favourite’s chance for the Dewhurst on form, having already won four from four including the G3 Richmond S. at Glorious Goodwood and the G2 Laurent Perrier Champagne S. at Doncaster. As it happened, he would not have run in the Dewhurst anyway, having been taken out of the race at the final declaration stage because of the expected soft ground.

Ultimately, Warning narrowly failed to match Dancing Brave’s brilliance and, in retrospect, is rarely given the credit he deserves, mainly because he showed his best form so infrequently, only revealing his true quality on a sound surface. However, on genuine fast ground he was in a class of his own, as he showed with brilliant victories in the G1 Sussex S. at Glorious Goodwood and the G2 Queen Elizabeth II S. at Ascot as a 3-year-old and, most spectacularly, in the G2 Queen Anne S. at Royal Ascot at four.

A curiosity of the early days of the Juddmonte operation (in retrospect, anyway, even if it did not appear untoward at the time, when owner/breeders traditionally concentrated much more on their broodmare bands than their stallion rosters) is that accumulating sires was not a priority. Looking back, it is hard to credit that Dancing Brave did not join Rainbow Quest at Banstead Manor, instead taking up residence under Sheikh Mohammed’s wing at Dalham Hall Stud. Warning, though, did retire to Banstead Manor. He proved a very good sire, responsible for five Group 1 winners including, for Juddmonte, the 1993 G1 Cheveley Park S. victrix Prophecy (Ire).

The decision not to retain Dancing Brave for stud duties (even though Juddmonte did still send him some very good mares, breeding several high-class horses including 1993 G1 Derby winner Commander In Chief {GB} and the same year’s G1 Irish Oaks winner Wemyss Bight {GB}) makes it easier to understand why another very good colt from that period was also moved on.

A Stallion Dynasty

A Juddmonte home-bred, Danehill (Danzig) was one of the best 3-year-olds in Europe in 1989 when, trained by Jeremy Tree, he was placed in the G1 2000 Guineas before winning the G3 Cork And Orrery (now G1 Diamond Jubilee) S. at Royal Ascot and the G1 Haydock Park Sprint Cup. Being a son of a world-class Northern Dancer stallion and coming from the immediate family of Northern Dancer, he had obvious stallion appeal, but ended up spending his game changingly good stud career under the auspices of Coolmore. Just as with Dancing Brave, though, Juddmonte patronised him extensively, breeding plenty of good horses including, crucially, Frankel’s listed-winning dam Kind (Ire).

Curiously, one should add that with Dancing Brave and Danehill having gone elsewhere, Generous (Ire) (Caerleon), brilliant winner in 1991 of the Derby, G1 Irish Derby and G1 King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Diamond S., became the third stallion on the roster at Banstead Manor in 1992. The oddity of this was that the Prince had not raced him: he was owned by his relative Prince Fahd Salman.

Warning was the first of four top-class horses whom Juddmonte bred from Rainbow Quest’s Oaks-placed relative Slightly Dangerous. The second of this quartet was 1990 Irish Derby runner-up Deploy (GB) (Shirley Heights {GB}). Next came Commander In Chief, who in 1993 followed in the footsteps of 1990 Derby hero Quest For Fame (GB) (Rainbow Quest) by becoming another homebred Derby winner for the Prince from a stallion whom he himself had raced. Finally came the 1996 Derby runner-up Dushyantor (Sadler’s Wells).

Quest For Fame and Deploy were two thirds of a trio of colts at Beckhampton who between them almost pulled off an unprecedented treble in the early summer of 1990. Jeremy Tree had been the Prince’s first trainer and the pair became life-long friends. With regular intakes of the Prince’s prime prospects each year to augment their friendship, Tree must have been tempted never to retire. However, he was due to turn 65 in 1990 so he clearly felt that the time was right to hand the reins at Beckhampton over to his loyal lieutenant Roger Charlton. Danehill had moved on, but the spring of 1990 still arrived with plenty for the first-season trainer to look forward to, particularly as three of the Prince’s homebred 3-year-old colts were showing Classic potential.

Changing of the Guards

Tree’s retirement, incidentally, was not the only major change of personnel in the upper reaches of the Juddmonte team during this period. James Delahooke, who had done a magnificent job in overseeing the operation and unearthing high-class racehorses and broodmares for the Prince since his recruitment by Humphrey Cottrill very early in the Juddmonte story, moved on, to be replaced as racing manager by Grant Pritchard-Gordon. Other key personnel to contribute to the Juddmonte success story during this period included bloodstock agent George Blackwell, while Philip Mitchell took the helm at Banstead Manor, in the role which is now filled by Simon Mockridge.

Arguably the greatest contribution made by George Blackwell was the purchase as a yearling in 1986 for 310,000gns later named Bahamian (Ire) (Mill Reef) who, trained by Jeremy Tree, was a filly smart enough to win the Lingfield Oaks Trial in 1988 before becoming one of Juddmonte’s best broodmares. Her first foal was the Andre Fabre-trained 1993 Irish Oaks winner Wemyss Bight and she now ranks as ancestress of numerous Group 1 winners including two of Juddmonte’s best stallions, Oasis Dream (GB) (Green Desert) and Kingman (GB) (Invincible Spirit {Ire}), as well as Wemyss Bight’s admirable son Beat Hollow (GB) (Sadler’s Wells) and Kingman’s Classic-winning dam Zenda (GB) (Zamindar).

The dream with which Roger Charlton may have started his training career in 1990 very nearly became the greatest of realities when the trio of promising Juddmonte colts almost completed an unprecedented Derby treble. On the first Sunday in June, Sanglamore, a son of Sharpen Up from the Prince’s Tree-trained 1984 G2 Ribblesdale S. victrix Ballinderry (GB) (Irish River {Fr}), won the G1 Prix du Jockey Club at Chantilly. Three days later Quest For Fame won the Derby at Epsom. Pat Eddery, who had accepted a retainer as the Prince’s jockey following his ‘Arc’ triumphs on Rainbow Quest and Dancing Brave, was in the saddle for both victories. Quest For Fame started favourite to augment his Derby victory in the Irish Derby at The Curragh at the end of the month but could only finish fifth behind Sheikh Hamdan al Maktoum’s filly Salsabil (Ire) (Sadler’s Wells), leaving second spot to be filled by the Juddmonte/Beckhampton second string Deploy.

Typically, the Prince kept both Quest For Fame and Sanglamore in training as 4-year-olds in 1991. (Deploy, who was still lightly raced, unfortunately suffered an injury and never raced again after his excellent effort in the Irish Derby, retiring to Eagle Lane Farm, a property near Newmarket where, in the days when numbers were very limited on the Banstead Manor roster, Juddmonte would stand its second-tier stallions). Sanglamore returned to Chantilly 52 weeks after his Prix du Jockey Club triumph to land the G1 Prix d’Ispahan but Quest For Fame failed to win as a 4-year-old. However, the Prince’s focus on racing his horses as crystal-clear as ever, he followed what was already a tried and tested route for Juddmonte stock by crossing the Atlantic to be trained in the U.S. Under the care of Bobby Frankel, Quest For Fame won the G1 Hollywood Turf Handicap in California as a 5-year-old in 1992.

Sensational Zafonic

Despite the quality of these horses, it’s easy enough to nominate Juddmonte’s Horse of the Decade for the ’90s. The superb homebred Zafonic (Gone West), winner of four Group 1 races, put in one of the best displays of galloping ever seen up the Rowley Mile when breaking the track record with an imperious victory under Pat Eddery in the 2000 Guineas in 1993. The powerful dark brown colt had been a superb 2-year-old, taking three Group 1 races (the Prix Morny, Prix de la Salamandre and Dewhurst S.) during an unbeaten campaign the previous season. His 2,000 Guineas triumph proved to be his final victory, but by that time he had already done more than enough to earn his place on the roster at Banstead Manor. He made an excellent start to his stud career when his first crop included another ultra-impressive Juddmonte homebred Dewhurst winner, Xaar (GB). If anything, Xaar won the Dewhurst even more easily than his father had done, scoring by seven lengths (Zafonic had ‘only’ won by four). Sadly, Zafonic was not able fully to build on this excellent start, in part because he died aged only 12 (while on shuttle duties in Australia).

A Friend Indeed

Having first tasted British Classic success when Known Fact won the 2000 Guineas in 1980, Prince Khalid Abdullah was so well established by the time that the ’90s came along that he won all five of them at least once during that decade. All of these special horses were homebreds. Andre Fabre was a key part of the team by this stage, responsible for 1991 G1 St Leger hero Toulon (Top Ville {Ire}) as well as for Zafonic. Henry Cecil, though, was Juddmonte’s most frequent provider of Classic success during this period. The mild-mannered and softly-spoken Cecil was a perfect trainer for the Prince, their mutual affection and respect tying in perfectly with the patient perfectionism of their shared approach to developing the career of a racehorse. As well as the 1993 Derby victory of Commander In Chief, Cecil also won the Oaks in 1997 with Reams Of Verse (Nureyev) and the 1000 Guineas in 1999 with Wince (GB) (Selkirk) for his patron and friend.

Cecil’s fortunes took a turn for the worse during the early years of the 20th century. One couldn’t have predicted it in advance, bearing in mind that the multiple champion trainer saddled the winners of three of the five Classics in 1999 and the runner-up in the other two, but during the years that followed Warren Place suffered a sharp decline in both numbers and success. As his fair-weather friends deserted him, Cecil discovered the truth of the old maxim that a friend in need is a friend indeed. Predictably, Prince Khalid Abdullah (like the Niarchos family) proved to be a friend indeed, loyally continuing to send a batch of quality yearlings to Warren Place every autumn. This long-standing partnership reached its zenith between August 2010 and October 2012 during the career of the peerless Frankel (GB) (Galileo {Ire}). Even before that champion had come along, though, they had already shared top-level 21st century success with Passage Of Time (GB) (Dansili {GB}), the marvellous Midday (GB) (Oasis Dream {GB}) and the tough-as-teak Twice Over (GB) (Observatory).

Juddmonte’s first champion of the 21st century, however, was trained by John Gosden. Oasis Dream (GB) (Green Desert) proved himself one of the sprinting greats during both the autumn of 2002 (when he broke Newmarket’s six-furlong juvenile track record when taking the G1 Middle Park S.) and the summer of 2003, when he was a brilliant winner of the G1 July Cup and the G1 Nunthorpe S. Oasis Dream has, of course, subsequently become one of the lynchpins of the Juddmonte roster at Banstead Manor.

Oasis Dream’s run of success came not long after Gosden had provided the Prince with another famous victory. At Ascot in September 2000, Observatory (Distant View) had become the horse finally to bring to an end the mesmerizing sequence of Group 1 victories of the Aidan O’Brien-trained ‘Iron Horse’ Giant’s Causeway (Storm Cat), lowering the champion’s colours in an epic renewal of the G1 Queen Elizabeth S.

Gosden has, of course, subsequently trained other great horses for the Prince including the champions Kingman (GB) (Invincible Spirit {Ire}) and Enable (GB) (Nathaniel {Ire}) as well as last year’s St Leger winner Logician (GB) (Frankel {GB}). This means that a decades-old association continues to thrive, Gosden now having trained for Juddmonte for nearly 40 years, having first received horses from the Prince in the early ’80s in California. When the Tree-trained 1980 G2 Gimcrack S. winner Bel Bolide (Bold Bidder) was dispatched to continue his career in the U.S., Gosden was chosen to train him. He prepared him to win several graded stakes during 1983 and ’84 and then in 1985 he saddled the Prince’s first U.S. Grade I winner when the former Beckhampton inmate Hatim (Exclusive Native) took the San Antonio H. at Santa Anita.

After Gosden had returned to the UK in 1988, Bobby Frankel became the Prince’s trainer of choice in the U.S., sending out stakes winners by the score for Juddmonte until his death in 2009. Some, such as 2003 GI Belmont S. hero Empire Maker (Unbridled) and the seven-time Grade I heroine Sightseek (Distant View), were with Frankel from the start; others, from 1991 GI Hollywood Turf H. hero Exbourne (Explodent) and 1991 Hollywood Gold Cup hero Marquetry (Conquistador Cielo) to 2009 GI Santa Monica H. and GI Woodbine Mile heroine Ventura (Chester House), 2009 GI Charlie Whittingham Memorial H. winner Midships (Mizzen Mast) and 2009 GI Canadian International S. winner Champs Elysees (GB) (Danehill), started out in Europe before being transferred westwards.

Another equine luminary to start in Europe before moving to Bobby Frankel was Toussaud (El Gran Senor). She was trained by Gosden to win the G3 Criterion S. at Newmarket in 1992 before being transferred to California, where she landed the GI Gamely H. at Hollywood Park. She then became one of Juddmonte’s greatest broodmares, producing four Grade I winners including the high-class Juddmonte stallions Empire Maker (Unbridled) and Chester House (Mr Propector) as well as Honest Lady (Seattle Slew), herself dam of the GI Forego S. winner and successful Juddmonte sire First Defence (Unbridled’s Song).

A New American Frontier

Since Bobby Frankel’s death Bill Mott, Chad Brown and Bob Baffert have been Juddmonte’s principal American trainers. Bobby Frankel’s tradition of top-level success both with horses who started out in the U.S. and with horses imported from Europe has been maintained. The former category has included the magnificent Arrogate (Unbridled’s Song), a rare example of a notable Juddmonte horse in the 21st century who was bought as a yearling rather than bred in-house, as well as the superb fillies Emollient (Empire Maker) and Close Hatches (First Defence). The imports have included the admirable Flintshire (Dansili), a dual Group 1 winner and dual Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe runner-up when trained by Andre Fabre and a triple Grade I winner for Brown.

Forty years on from Known Fact’s ground-breaking Classic triumph, Juddmonte’s roll of top-level success continues to expand. In 2019, five individual Juddmonte-breds scored at Group 1 level, taking seven Group 1 races between them. Four of these were racing for the Prince, the other being Harlem (GB) (Champs Elysees {GB}) who, having won a listed race in France in the Prince’s colours when trained by Andre Fabre, was sold to race in Australia, where he won the G1 Australian Cup at Flemington in both 2018 and ’19. Of the four who won Group 1s in the Juddmonte livery in 2019, the mighty mare Enable (GB) Nathaniel ({Ire}) and St Leger hero Logician (GB) (Frankel {GB}) are trained by John Gosden; the Cartier Award-winning 2-year-old filly Quadrilateral (GB) (Frankel {GB}) is maintaining the long-standing link with Beckhampton, where she is trained by Roger Charlton; and G1 Phoenix S. winner Siskin (First Defence) is in Ireland with Ger Lyons.

Arc Ascension

If Enable could win her third Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe this year, she would provide the Prince with his seventh victory in the great race, following the triumphs of Rainbow Quest in 1985, Dancing Brave in 1986, Rail Link (GB) (Dansili {GB}) in 2006, Workforce (GB) (King’s Best) in 2010, and Enable herself in both 2017 and ’18. While Rainbow Quest, Dancing Brave and Enable obviously take extremely high order in the Juddmonte pantheon, the achievement of Workforce is sometimes overlooked. The powerful bay horse not only gave the Prince his fourth Arc victory; he also provided him with his third Derby triumph. The annus mirabilis which Workforce enjoyed in 2010, in which he became one of a current total of only six 3-year-olds to complete the Derby/Arc double, ranks as one of the many highlights of the now-longstanding partnership of Prince Khalid Abdullah and Sir Michael Stoute. This pairing most recently hit the jackpot in 2018 when the GI Breeders’ Cup Mile victory of Expert Eye (GB) (Acclamation {GB}) took Juddmonte’s tally of Breeders’ Cup triumphs to five. Of these, the Prince was owner/breeder for all bar the win of Arrogate in the GI Breeders’ Cup Classic in 2016.

With a total so far of 204 Group/Grade I wins as owner/breeder on top of 28 Group/Grade I victories with horses whom he did not breed (along with a further 20 top-level triumphs as breeder but not owner) Prince Khalid Abdullah has enjoyed a dream ride through the racing world ever since Known Fact followed up his Middle Park win by taking the 1980 2000 Guineas. That success was the first of, to date, 27 British/Irish/French Classic victories for him as owner, with all bar the wins of Known Fact and Dancing Brave being as owner/breeder. Across the Atlantic, Juddmonte’s success is best summed up by its 16 Eclipse Awards, including five as Leading Breeder and four as Leading Owner.

With Lord Grimthorpe’s reassuringly steady hand on the tiller, Juddmonte remains the very model of an owner/breeder operation. Its proprietor is still officially registered (at his own request) as ‘Mr. K. Abdullah’, but to rest of the racing world he is identifiable by an even more succinct phrase: he is, quite simply, the Prince.

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