By Andrew Caulfield
Last year, in mid-September, Godolphin was in the enviable position of owning two highly promising sons of Darley's outstanding stallion Dubawi. The unbeaten Too Darn Hot had won the G2 Champagne S., and was to be even more impressive in the G1 Dewhurst S. Then, a day after the Champagne, the unbeaten Quorto defeated the future Derby winner Anthony van Dyck to take the G1 National S.
Nearly a year later, Godolphin is in a similarly enviable position thanks to another of Darley's much sought-after stallions, Shamardal. When his son Pinatubo improved his record to four wins from as many starts with his highly impressive five-length victory in the G2 Vintage S., the youngster earned a Racing Post rating of 121, which took him to the top of the juvenile rankings. Now, Earthlight has also stretched his unbeaten record to four, thanks to his narrow defeat of that fine filly Raffle Prize in a hotly-contested edition of the G1 Prix Morny. This effort was rewarded with a Racing Post rating of 118, which moves Earthlight up into second place behind Pinatubo.
It is worth adding that Earthight and Pinatubo come from a crop numbering no more than 81 2-year-olds, following the decision to restrict Shamardal's book from 2016 onwards, following an injury he'd suffered. He effectively became a private stallion for the Maktoum family and their associates, though the restriction was eased somewhat during the latest breeding season. Having covered 156 mares in 2014, his subsequent figures have been 129 in 2015, 108 in 2016, 65 in 2017 and roughly 63 in 2018, so his next two crops are going to be small by today's standards.
Darley is now well placed to extend Shamardal's influence. The top sprinter Blue Point has already been retired to stand alongside his sire at Kildangan Stud, and Pinatubo and Earthlight have already done enough to guarantee themselves a place in the Darley team when their racing days are over. It is to be hoped that they will develop into stallions as effective as Shamardal's first-crop son Lope de Vega, whose exploits have boosted his fee at Ballylinch €80,000, having been as low as €12,500 in 2013 and 2014.
Shamardal landed the Prix du Jockey-Club over an extended mile and a quarter, but he was fast enough to revert successfully to a mile in the G1 St James's Palace S. He led from the start on that occasion, just as he had done in gaining all five of his previous victories.
When John Boyce wrote about Shamardal in the TDN is May, he pointed out that, “Shamardal adds speed to his mares; he has a stamina index of 8.0 furlongs from mares whose stock normally produce an average winning distance of 9.0 furlongs.” Boyce added that Shamardal's very best runner according to Timeform is the sprinter Blue Point but his next 11 highest-rated Group 1 winners have all won at up to a mile and a quarter.
This has to be relevant to any assessment of Earthlight and Pinatubo's future prospects. Too Darn Hot's 3-year-old career has acted as a reminder that predicting the optimum distance of high-class 2-year-olds isn't always straightforward.
On the face of it, a mile shouldn't be a problem for either of Shamardal's exciting young sons. Indeed, a mile and a quarter should theoretically be within their compass, though Pinatubo's neat, sturdy physique suggests he may possess more speed than stamina.
Pinatubo's dam, Lava Flow, was a listed winner over 11 furlongs at Longchamp and his second dam, the Barathea mare Mount Elbrus, scored at up to 13 furlongs. Earthlight's dam, Winters Moon, was a close third to Together Forever in the G1 Fillies' Mile at two and raced at a mile and a quarter at three.
There is a link between the two colts. Pinatubo's broodmare sire, the Prix du Jockey-Club and Arc winner Dalakhani, was sired by Darshaan, another winner of the Prix du Jockey-Club during the days when it was contested over a mile and a half. And it was Darshaan who sired Summer Legacy, the second dam of Earthlight.
Shamardal has a fine record with Dalakhani's broodmare daughters, Pinatubo being this partnership's third black-type winner from 12 foals. One of his predecessors–Taniyar–strikes a note of caution, as she was fast enough to win the G3 Prix du Pin over seven furlongs as a 3-year-old and to finish a creditable fifth in the G1 Prix de la Foret. However, the partnership's other black-type winner, Global Giant, is a listed winner over an extended mile and a quarter in Ireland.
Moving on to Earthlight, Shamardal's other stakes horses with a Darshaan second dam include the listed winners Dusky Queen, Haripour and Samurai. Interestingly, Dusky Queen was a seven-furlong specialist, but Haripour and Samurai both won listed races over a mile and a half.
Earthlight's emergence as a Group 1 winner turns the spotlight onto New Approach in the relatively new role of broodmare sire. This dual champion won the Derby and has sired winners of the Derby and Oaks, but it mustn't be forgotten that his 2-year-old record mirrored that of Shamardal in that he too was an unbeaten winner of the G1 Dewhurst S. and has sired Dawn Approach, another Dewhurst winner who won the 2000 Guineas before flopping in the Derby.
New Approach's daughters have so far had 90 starters, for 39 winners, with Earthlight being the first to enjoy black-type success.
Earthlight has a pedigree worthy of an unbeaten Group 1 winner. Not only was his dam Winters Moon Group 1-placed at two, but she is also a half-sister to two Group 1 winners. One, the Refuse To Bend filly Wavering, won the Prix Saint-Alary over a mile and a quarter and the other, the Manduro colt Mandean, took the Criterium de Saint-Cloud over the same distance as a 2-year-old before being switched from Andre Fabre to the notorious Mahmood Al Zarooni.
Earthlight's second dam Summertime Legacy was at her most successful as a 2-year-old, when she won the G3 Prix des Reservoirs over a mile on heavy ground for the late Maktoum Al Maktoum. However, she was also third in the G1 Prix Saint-Alary at three.
Summertime Legacy's dam, the minor mile winner Zawaahy, cost 420,000gns as a yearling in 1990. She was a three-parts-sister, by the excellent El Gran Senor, to Nijinsky II's first Derby winner, Golden Fleece. Earthlight's fifth dam, the celebrated Rare Treat, ranked as the second dam of Golden Fleece and Be My Guest, another top-class colt who became champion sire in 1982.
When Be My Guest's dam What A Treat came on the market in February 1972 as part of the George D. Widener Estate Dispersal, this champion American 3-year-old sold for $450,000, some $55,000 above the previous record price for a broodmare, so Earthlight's female line has clearly been shining for numerous generations.