Shalaa Stands Up To Next Test


Shalaa | Zuzanna Lupa


Whether in the north or the south, there’s hardly a hotter sireline in the world currently than that of Invincible Spirit (Ire).

With his sire Green Desert and grandsire Danzig both having been hugely influential in establishing a significant branch of Northern Dancer’s great legacy, then it is perhaps no surprise, but when it comes to the Irish National Stud’s pride and joy there is always the sense of him having ‘done it the hard way.’ His fee, from €10,000 in 2003 and for his first four years at stud to €120,000 for the past four years, indeed backs that up.

In Australia, Invincible Spirit can rely on his son I Am Invincible (Aus) to keep his name in lights, whereas in Europe, Kingman (GB) and Cable Bay (Ire) are both making important early strides in their stud careers, and plenty will be expected of Al Shaqab’s dual Group 1 winner Shalaa (Ire) when he makes his yearling sales debut at Arqana in the coming week.

The champion 2-year-old colt in France in 2015 has already passed one test with aplomb: Shalaa’s 11 first-crop foals sold last year at the Tattersalls December Sale set an average of 97,545gns to make him the leading freshman sire there and it was a similar tale at Arqana’s December Sale, where five sold for an average of €50,200.

During three sessions of Arqana’s August Sale, followed by the v2 session, a total of 21 Shalaa yearlings will be put before buyers. Benoit Jeffroy, manager of Haras de Bouquetot, where the 6-year-old has stood for the past three seasons, is looking forward to the horse, who secured one of his biggest successes in the G1 Prix Morny just across the road from the Arqana sales complex, being tested in Deauville once more.

He says, “This is the next stage now. Shalaa was the most expensive stallion to retire in Europe in his year, so he’s been very well supported by different breeders all around Europe and he had some very good-looking foals which helped him to be the leading first-season sire by average. Now we are waiting to see the yearlings and to see who will buy them and where they will go. The feedback from the breeders is that they are very happy with them.”

He adds, “It’s a very exciting time. Invincible Spirit has become a real sire of sires and when you think that Shalaa was his best 2-year-old son ever, then I hope he has a proper chance to make it. He was an impressive when he won the Morny, and even before that, early on at Goodwood in the Richmond S. It was unlucky that he couldn’t run early on in his 3-year-old season but he left such an impression and he’s a good-looking horse that throws good-looking horses too, so he has every chance to make it.”

As the select part of the August Sale gets underway during Saturday evening, a filly to note from the Shalaa set is lot 48, the three-parts sister to another top juvenile in National Defense (Ire), who is also a son of Invincible Spirit and now standing alongside his sire at the Irish National Stud. The filly, offered by Ecurie des Monceaux, has a deep pedigree, with the Group 3 winners Anna Palariva (Ire) (Caerleon) and Anna Of Saxony (GB) (Ela-Mana-Mou {Ire}) as her second and third dams. Her unraced dam has already produced four winners, three of which have earned black type, including the listed-placed winner Cascading (Ire) (Teofilo {Ire}), who sold for 525,000gns at the Tattersalls December Sale.

The Monceaux draft contains three Shalaa yearlings, the other two being lot 134, a daughter of the treble Grade II winner Naissance Royale (Ire) (Giant’s Causeway), and lot 215, a half-brother to Listed Empress S. winner Calypso Beat (Speightstown) out of G3 Princess Margaret S. winner African Skies (GB) (Johannesburg).

Through La Motteraye Consignment, the British-based Chasemore Farm will offer lot 100, a son of the G3 Albany S.-placed Illaunglass (Ire) (Red Clubs {Ire}) whose first foal by Shamardal is a winner with multiple listed placings in France, while Illaunglass’s juvenile half-sister Ursulina (Ire) (Kodiac {GB}) was recently runner-up in the Listed Empress S. at Newmarket.

The first foal of listed winner Mojo Risin (Ire) (Lope De Vega {Ire}), a colt from the family of Kendargent (Fr), will be offered by Haras de Montaigu as lot 130, while the Fairway Consignment brings a son of the G2 Prix de Sandringham winner Maiden Tower (GB) (Groom Dancer), the dam of listed winner and G2 Prix de Deauville runner-up Penglai Pavilion (Ger) (Monsun {Ger}) (lot 122).

For the Al Shaqab team, their own Shalaa yearlings will not be tested until they go into training.

“We have very good stock by him at the farm and we are keeping all our yearlings by Shalaa,” says Jeffroy. “We’ll send them to different trainers–Fabre, Rouget and then in England, Hannon and Fahey. We will try to spread them around to give them a chance in every country.”

And of course Shalaa’s first book, conceived at a fee of €27,500, was given a liberal sprinkling of stardust when Sheikh Joaan Al Thani decided to send his prize dual Arc winner Treve (Fr) (Motivator {GB}) to him in only her second season at stud.

“Treve has a yearling filly by Shalaa,” Jeffroy reports. “She has great depth like her mum and she has a fighting attitude already in the paddock, so let’s hope she has that on the racetrack too.”

Among his foals on the ground this year is a filly out of Al Shaqab’s G1 Prix Rothschild winner Qemah (Ire) (Danehill Dancer {Ire}), while the GI Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf winner Zagora (Fr) (Green Tune) is another with a Shalaa filly foal on the ground.

“In his first season he was really very busy and we had to select the mares,” Jeffroy recalls. “Some people wanted three or four nominations, and we almost had to give one per breeder just to please everybody. Then in the second season he was a bit slower. At the price people were probably just thinking, ‘let’s see what the foals are like’, so we supported him a lot in the second season and he covered as many mares. Then the foals started to please in the spring and people came back again, and after the sales last year he was full by the end of December. So really he has been popular through all stages, which is a help.”

He adds, “You can breed as many good mares as you want to a stallion but they have to be good themselves to prove it. But he probably had the best book any first-season stallion in France has ever covered and now it’s up to them to do it. Physically they look good so that’s a massive help, if they have the physique and the attitude. The only thing Shalaa has to do right now is to please the buyers and the trainers.”

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