The world's most lucrative day's racing headlined the horseracing week with successes in Dubai spread around the globe. Closer to home the first European Breeze Up of the season took place with encouraging results, and the Easter Bank Holiday racing fare continued the fine season for a couple of Irish-based stars.
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The world's richest horse race, the Dubai World Cup was won by Animal Kingdom (Leroidesanimaux), the 2011 Kentucky Derby winner who was purchased for $100,000 as a yearling at the Keeneland September Yearlings Sale in 2009 by current co-owners Team Valor. The Champion 3 year old colt in U.S.A. in 2011 off the back of his Churchill Downs heroics, the now five year-old is out of the Acatenango-mare Dalicia, a Group 3 winner in Germany who now resides in Japan after being purchased for 230,000 guineas by the Shadai Group at the Tattersalls December Mares Sale in 2009, and is from a well-known German family containing champions such as his 3rd dam Diasprina, Desidera and Daveron, who achieved a Grade 2 success in U.S.A. also for Team Valor. His sire, Leroidesanimaux was a three-time Group/Grade 1 winner in Canada and U.S.A. and a Champion Turf Horse before going on to his second career where, as well as Animal Kingdom, he has sired Group 1 winner Una Cabeza. An interest in the Graham Motion-trained colt has been bought by Arrowfield Stud in Australia where the colt will stand once his own racing career is over, but before that the World Cup winner could make an appearance at Royal Ascot in June.
"St Nicholas Abbey (Montjeu) recorded his fifth Group 1 when going one place better than last year in the Dubai Sheema Classic, in the process beating into second the Japanese Horse of the Year, Gentildonna (Deep Impact)"
St Nicholas Abbey (Montjeu) recorded his fifth Group 1 when going one place better than last year in the Dubai Sheema Classic, in the process beating into second the Japanese Horse of the Year, Gentildonna (Deep Impact). Bought by Demi O'Byrne on behalf of owners Coolmore for 200,000 guineas at the Tattersalls October Yearlings Sale in 2008, the Aidan O'Brien trained colt went on to be Champion 2 year old in Europe after running away with the 2009 Racing Post Trophy before missing the majority of his 3 year old season due to injury. He returned to form at 4 where he was named Top Rated Older Horse in England in Ireland in 2011 after winning the Breeders' Cup Turf and Coronation Cup, a race he again landed in 2012.
The six year old colt is the fourth winner produced by the unraced Sure Blade-mare Leaping Water and is therefore a half-brother to dual Grade 2 winner Grammarian, from the family of Group 1 winner Flamenco Wave who herself has gone on to produce top-level winners Ballingarry, Starborough and another Racing Post Trophy winner, Aristotle. Saturday's Group 1 win brought St Nicholas Abbey equal with Fame And Glory as the holder of the most Group 1 wins by a son of Montjeu and whilst not much more can be said about what a super stallion the son of Sadler's Wells proved to be, it reiterated what a sad loss to the industry his premature death last year was.
In the Dubai Duty Free Stakes, Sajjhaa (King's Best) landed her fourth Carnival race and second Group 1 after earlier Meydan success in the Jebel Hatta under Silvestre De Sousa for owners Godolphin and trainer Saeed Bin Suroor. Out of the winning Darshaan mare Anamil who produced a full brother to Saturday's winner in 2012, she descends from the further family of Lancashire Oaks winner and Epsom Oaks runner-up Noushkey as well as Group 1 winners San Sebastian and Alkaased and being by King's Best, the sire of Derby-winner Workforce, is bred along the same lines as Group 3 winning juvenile Albabilia.
"Shea Shea is by a Champion Older Horse in South Africa, National Emblem, who has currently sired three Champions and twenty nine Stakes winners whilst his dam, Yankee Clipper descends from another Group 1 Computaform Sprint winner, Fov's Favourite."
Mike de Kock ended the Dubai carnival with a double on the card courtesy of Group 1 Al Quoz Sprint winner Shea Shea (National Emblem) and Soft Falling Rain (National Assembly) in the Group 2 Godolphin Mile. The former was a crack sprinter back in his native South Africa having won two Grade 1s (the Computaform Sprint and Golden Horse Casino Sprint) and is by a Champion Older Horse in South Africa, National Emblem, who has currently sired three Champions and twenty nine Stakes winners to date whilst his dam, Yankee Clipper was a Listed winner in South Africa and descends from another Group 1 Computaform Sprint winner, Fov's Favourite.
Reynaldothewizard (Speightstown), a $400,000 Keeneland September Yearling graduate and $775,000 purchase as a 2 year old at Fasig-Tipton's Florida Select Sale back in 2008, recorded his sixth success at Meydan but certainly his biggest to date when landing the remaining Group 1, the Golden Shaheen for trainer Satish Seemar. The seven year old gelding joins his year older half-sister Seventh Street as a winner at the top level out of the $2,150,000 mare Holiday Runner and seems to have inherited plenty of speed from his sire, the Champion U.S. Sprinter from 2003, Speightstown who from six crops of racing age has produced seven Group 1 winners including Prix Jean Prat winner Lord Shanakill.
Back in 2011 at the Goffs Kempton Breeze Up, Bapak Chinta, another son of Speightstown and subsequent Group 2 Norfolk Stakes winner was purchased by Stephen Hillen for £46,000. Fast forward two years and Hillen and trainer Kevin Ryan were back at Kempton Park on Wednesday for this year's renewal and purchased both of the sale's joint top lots, an Intense Focus colt out of Runway Dancer and a Holy Roman Emperor colt out of Catherine Palace who each realised £70,000.
The Intense Focus colt had been through the ring on two previous occasions, firstly at Goffs November Foals Sale in 2011 where he realised €45,000 before being bought a year later for 23,000 guineas at the Tattersalls October Yearlings Sale by Wednesday's consigners, Grove Stud. The new Kevin Ryan recruit is out of the Dansili-mare Runway Dancer who has produced one winner from one runner to date and herself is a half-sister to Gimcrack winner Bannister whilst his sire will be having his first runners this year, having won the Group 1 Dewhurst for Jim Bolger.
"Stephen Hillen and trainer Kevin Ryan were back at Kempton Park on Wednesday and purchased both of the sale's joint top lots, an Intense Focus colt out of Runway Dancer and a Holy Roman Emperor colt out of Catherine Palace who each realised £70,000."
The joint sale-topper was consigned by Church Farm after similarly having been bought as a yearling, this time at the Doncaster St Leger Yearling's Sale when realising €21,000, a year after making 11,000 guineas when offered at the Tattersalls December Foals Sale in 2011. The colt is from the family of Saint Baudolino, a Group 2 winner in France and runner up in last year's French Derby and more distantly Group 1 winners Lycius and Eddington, and is by the Champion 2 year old colt in France, Holy Roman Emperor, who landed two Group 1s in his sole racing season in 2006 and has since gone on to sire three Group 1 winners from his four crops of racing age including Homecoming Queen, last season's 1000 Guineas winner and Rollout The Carpet, winner of the New Zealand 1000 Guineas last November.
The Goffs Sale ended with a smaller aggregate than in 2012 at £1,492,000 due partly to a slightly reduced catalogue. However, the median price paid was an 11% improvement on 12 months ago with the average price paid being a marginal improvement of 3.2% and representatives of the sales company seemed confident that the first Breeze Up of the European season will continue to see improvements in the coming years.
Over the obstacles, the first day of the traditional Easter Irish National meeting at Fairyhouse saw the Ruby Walsh-ridden Annie Power (Shirocco) extend her unbeaten record to seven in the Grade 1 Irish Stallion Farms EBF Mares Novice Hurdle Championship Final for owner Mrs Susan Ricci and trainer Willie Mullins, who teamed up for Grade 1 success at Cheltenham with Champagne Fever. The five year old mare is out of the German Group 3 winner Anno Luce, who as well as Annie Power has produced Grade 3 Chase winner Head Waiter and Listed French flat winner Air Trooper, and herself is out of the Champion German mare Anna Paola.
"Annie Power's victory, which could hardly have been achieved in an easier fashion, was her sire's first success at the highest level over either code, though he is responsible for a few Group 2 winners including last year's Park Hill Stakes victor Wild Coco."
Shirocco, who stands at Dalham Hall Stud for Darley, was also a Champion German racehorse; winning the German Derby and Gran Premio del Jockey Club for trainer Andreas Schutz before transferring to Andre Fabre for whom he won a further two Group 1s including a Coronation Cup triumph over Ouija Board. Annie Power's victory, which could hardly have been achieved in an easier fashion, was her sire's first success at the highest level over either code, though he is responsible for a few Group 2 winners including last year's Park Hill Stakes victor Wild Coco.
The other Grade 1 at Fairyhouse, the Powers Gold Cup, was won by the Gordon Elliott-trained Realt Mor (Beneficial), a full-brother to three-time Grade 1 winner Realt Dubh who landed the same race back in 2011, being out of the Exit To Nowhere-mare Suez Canal. Sunday's win under Davy Condon will help keep his sire, Beneficial atop the N.H. sires standings, fresh off the back of his leading sire honours at the Cheltenham Festival courtesy of Benefficient, Salsify and Salubrious, and will no doubt be helped by the Knockhouse Stud-resident siring two winners earlier on the card.
Finally, just a week after connections of Black Caviar mentioned that her return to Britain could be dependent on being able to arrange a covering with the mighty Frankel, Juddmonte have disclosed that their superstar will cover a select number of mares to Southern Hemisphere time at a fee of £110,000. It now looks increasingly likely that, should the fabulous mare stretch her winning sequence to twenty five in the T J Smith Stakes a week on Saturday, a return to Royal Ascot will occur where she could possibly bid to double up in the King's Stand and Diamond Jubilee Stakes in June.