Favourable first impressions
Among a vintage crop of first-season sires, no fewer than ten stallions were represented by their first batch of southern hemisphere-bred yearlings in the Select Sessions of Inglis’ Easter Yearling Sale, Australia’s principal yearling auction which is generally regarded as the best such sale in the southern hemisphere. The quality of these young stallions looks exceptionally high, nine of the ten being Group/Grade One-winning racehorses, including some of Australia’s best gallopers of recent seasons such as Cox Plate winner Savabeel, international galloper Elvstroem, top sprinters Fastnet Rock and Charge Forward, and Guineas winners Niello and Al Maher. However, the real surprise packet was the popularity of the stock of a sire unfamiliar to the Australian race-going public, young Darley stallion Shamardal.
Shamardal is in the unusual position of being a northern hemisphere horse who will have runners Down Under before he is represented by his first sons and daughters in Europe, the result of having come out of training in July 2005 in time to be sent straight down to Aberdeen to commence stud duties for Darley two months later. He then covered his first northern hemisphere book of mares at Kildangan Stud from February 2006 onwards. Although signing off midseason, Shamardal had ended his racing career on a real high, having notched up a sparkling Group One hat-trick on his final three starts in May and June 2005.
Shamardal had actually opened his Group One account the previous year when landing an impressive two-and-a-half-length defeat of triple Group One winner Oratorio in Europe’s most prestigious juvenile race, the Darley Dewhurst Stakes at Newmarket on Champions’ Day. That was the third of the three starts of his unbeaten two-year-old campaign, his previous outings having produced an 8-length victory in a maiden at Ayr on his debut and an emphatic defeat of subsequent Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner Wilko in the Group Two Vintage Stakes at Goodwood.
As a three-year-old Shamardal landed all his three starts on turf, all in Group One races, beginning with a tenacious success over 1600m in the Poule d’Essai des Poulains, France’s equivalent of the 2,000 Guineas, run at Longchamp. Three weeks later he again made the journey across the Channel from Godolphin’s Newmarket base to France, doubling his Classic tally in what has historically been known as the ‘French Derby’, the 2100m Prix du Jockey-Club at Chantilly. Again he showed his courage to prevail in a driving finish, getting home by a neck to inflict the only defeat of the year on Hurricane Run, whose next three starts yielded impressive victories in the Irish Derby, the Prix Niel and the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe. Three-quarters of a length back in third came subsequent dual Group One winner Laverock, while the unplaced runners included Scorpion, record-breaking winner of the following month’s Grand Prix de Paris, and the excellent globe-trotting galloper Doctor Dino. None the worse for these exertions, Shamardal headed to York nine days later for the rescheduled Royal Ascot fixture where, dropped back to a mile, he put up one of the performances of the meeting in annihilating the opposition under Kerrin McEvoy in the Group One St. James’s Palace Stakes, winning by three lengths from the dual Group One winner Ad Valorem, with Oratorio a further 1.75 lengths back in third.
Sadly, a slight setback the following month led to the decision to take him out of training, but the British race-going public’s loss was the Australian breeding fraternity’s gain as Shamardal, despite being a late addition to the roster, found no difficulty in attracting a stellar bunch of mares for his debut season at stud. Fourteen of the offspring of these matings found themselves catalogued in the Select Sessions of the Easter Sale, of which six were allocated to the elite Part One. These six all changed hands, selling for an aggregate of $1,975,000 and at an average of $329,167. This very healthy figure placed Shamardal in the top bracket, straight in among the elite of Australasia’s stallions. Second of the first-season sires with an average less than $3,000 below that attained by the progeny of Fastnet Rock – who had the inestimable advantage of, as a champion Australian sprinter, being familiar to the domestic buying bench – and ninth overall, one place below New Zealand’s pre-eminent stallion Zabeel and one place above Australia’s reigning champion sire Flying Spur.
Most expensive of Shamardal’s stock was a bay daughter of 2001 Blue Diamond Stakes heroine True Jewels, consigned by Twin Palms Stud. This filly, a half-sister to Carnegie’s Stakes-winning son Villain – successful in this season’s Super Impose Stakes at Flemington as well as running a good fourth in the Victoria Derby – fetched $630,000. Three more of Shamardal’s offspring broke the $300,000 mark, including a bay son of another Group One winner, the WATC Fruit ‘n’ Veg Stakes heroine St. Clemens’ Belle. This colt, consigned by Mill Park, Meningie (SA), fetched $325,000.
Two Shamardal yearlings from excellent international families each made $300,000, the Darley-consigned son of Danse D’Ecole and the daughter of Doduo, sold by leading New Zealand nursery Westbury Stud. The former is from the family of the great Dubai Millennium, as well as of successful stallions Timber Country, Fort Wood, Hamas, Charnwood Forest, Medaaly and Elnadim, while the latter is related to the latest boom Green Desert stallion Invincible Spirit.
Also featuring among the higher priced lots were Shamardal’s son of WATC Derby winner Beaux Art, bought from Monarch Stud by Anthony Cummings for $200,000, and his daughter of Dash For Cash’s metropolitan-winning full-sister Jamrah, purchased by Dynamic Syndications from Emirates Park for the same sum.
With these hugely promising youngsters just a few of the sons and daughters of Shamardal about to enter training, this exciting young stallion appears set to make as big an impression in his second career as he did in his first.