So you want to be a stallion? You have an outstanding race record? Check. A stellar pedigree? Check. The kind of physique that breeders yearn to produce? Check. Then surely you’re ready to go?
Settling a new recruit into his second career as a stallion is not just a matter of sitting back to await the arrival of mares. A team effort drives the development and promotion of the stallion’s new role, spearheaded by those who oversee his daily routine.
The young stallion arrived at Dalham Hall Stud in mid-November, coincidentally at the start of a glittering awards season which saw him sweep the board in the category for Horse of The Year at the prestigious Cartier awards, where he also scooped the Champion three-year-old male award, and at the Racehorse Owners’ Association awards where he also claimed top honours as Horse of The Year and champion middle distance horse.
Fresh from the hustle and bustle of the busy racing yard at John Gosden’s Clarehaven stables, Golden Horn once again displayed his remarkable temperament by settling straight into the more sedate pace of life in the stallion yard at Dalham Hall Stud after his arrival.
Afforded a box in the middle of the stallion yard, Golden Horn can survey his new kingdom from the ideal vantage point, keeping track of all that goes on around him.
“He’s an intelligent horse with a fantastic temperament but he has an active mind — he takes a real interest in other horses,” Sam Bullard recently told journalists. “He certainly appears to be enjoying his new role and getting to grips with it."
“He’s a very happy horse and a very proud horse; I think he likes showing himself off to people!”
Golden Horn has certainly had plenty of opportunity to do just that since his arrival at Dalham Hall Stud. Unsurprisingly, the four-time G1 winner is a huge draw for breeders and enthusiasts alike, and the horse has had press calls from various media outlets including Channel 4’s The Morning Line, the Racing Post, Owner & Breeder magazine, and other publications.
Breeders got their first official look at the new stallion recruit during the four open days in December, and Golden Horn was once again the star attraction over the two days of the Dalham Hall Stud open days in January.
His popularity is of course no surprise, and Golden Horn will cover a full book of 140 mares this season.
“We’ve promoted him to the world’s biggest breeders to try and get the best mares that we can to him. He’s been so hugely popular that we have been able to make quite a lot of selections,” Sam confirmed recently. “We need a good spread of mares for him as we want to breed a Classic winner in his first crop, and we want to get two-year-old winners from his first crop.”
As the winner of the several of the crown jewels of European racing, Golden Horn’s first book of mares is fit for a king, including no fewer than 72 Stakes performers, and 123 mares who are either the dam, siblings or daughters of Group winners.
The G1 winners who will be welcomed to his court include two of Godolphin’s racetrack stars – Folk Opera (Singspiel) who landed the EP Taylor Stakes at Woodbine, and Hush Money who triumphed in both the Derby and Oaks in her native Chile.
Golden Horn’s owner-breeder Anthony Oppenheimer, who now owns the stallion in partnership with Sheikh Mohammed, will also support his star with mares including the winning Galileo mare Sinnamary, a three-parts sister to the G1 Irish Oaks heroine Chicquita, purchased for 700,000gns at the Tattersalls December Mares sale last year. Another blue-blooded mare due to visit Golden Horn in the coming months is Juddmonte's multiple G1 winner and Breeders' Cup winner Banks Hill.
Since his arrival at stud in mid-November, Golden Horn has been walked out daily in-hand to keep him in peak fitness for the task ahead. Along with some of his fellow stud mates, he covers approximately six kilometres each morning at a brisk pace around some of the 2,000 acres at Dalham Hall Stud.
With his groom John Weldon, Golden Horn is either at the head of the string each day that also includes Dubawi and fellow new recruit Outstrip, or takes second place behind the dual G1 winner Farhh, who shares his own long stride and also enjoys setting the pace on the morning walk.
Golden Horn passed the sternest of challenges on the racecourse in scintillating fashion, and he has also passed a test of a different kind by successfully covering his test mares, another vital step in his education as a stallion.
With less than a week to go until the start of the northern hemisphere breeding season, Golden Horn looks set fair to begin his second career, giving rise to dreams of what lies ahead.