Castlefarm queen Ghurra booked in for visit to Coolmore king Galileo
Dam of sprint hero Shalaa is in foal to Dubawi
Already a Group 1-producing mare thanks to superstar Shalaa landing the Prix Morny and Middle Park, Aisling and Mark Gittins of Castlefarm Stud in County Kildare have lined up a mating befitting a queen as their star mare Ghurra will be covered by Galileo in 2018.
The 16-year-old daughter of War Chant, a three-time winner, visited Dubawi last year and will deliver a foal by him in March before heading to visit Coolmore's perennial champion sire.
"If you have a nice mare like Ghurra that has produced a good horse, you go to the best you can," said Mark Gittins. "It was probably the easiest decision on the farm to make. Galileo isn't getting any younger but it's unbelievable what he's achieved and we're very lucky to have a mare good enough to go to him.
"Ghurra's pedigree speaks for itself and it's a mating that we're very excited about - there's every chance it'll produce a racehorse and that's what we're here to do."
Last year the operation were set to offer an Invincible Spirit sister to Shalaa at the Goffs November Foal Sale but she was withdrawn prior to the auction and Gittins confirmed that the filly will be offered during this year's autumn yearling sales.
War Chant's half-sister, the placed Intidab mare Alkhawarah, delivered a colt by Kodiac earlier this month and has a date with one of Coolmore's new recruits for 2018 in Caravaggio.
The 10-year-old is the dam of two winners - Oceanus and Wilson - and Gittins said: "The Scat Daddy line seems to be working in Europe and I know that some of the other American stuff has struggled over here.
"It's an obvious choice to use Caravaggio. He was a very good two-year-old in his own right and Alkhawarah suits him physically, so we'll take a chance on him."
Another mare scheduled to be covered by a Coolmore sire in 2018 is On Location, a seven-year-old daughter of Street Cry, who will visit Gleneagles this year.
Gittins added: "It's a risk using him in the year that he's in but Gleneagles has every chance of making his mark. He's a son of Galileo and he was proven racehorse."
The Listed-winning Shimmering Moment, a half-sister to last year's Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint hero Stormy Liberal, unfortunately slipped her pregnancy to Galileo and is one of three mares Castlefarm will send to Tally-Ho Stud's Kodiac this year.
Gittins added: "Kodiac is pitched at a good price and three nominations to Kodiac is not far off the price of Invincible Spirit. He's a winning machine and his sales figures are improving year on year and his books are getting better and better.
"Tally-Ho support him fantastically and everyone tries to buy stock by him."
Also set to visit the 17-year-old son of Danehill are Exactement, a daughter of Speightstown in foal to Dark Angel, and the Group 3-winning Lady Springbank, who is currently in foal to Banstead Manor Stud's Oasis Dream.
Rakiza, a Listed-placed daughter of Elnadim who has produced three winners including the Listed runner-up Exactement, was one of the mares that Castlefarm sent to their homebred Shalaa in his first season at Haras de Bouquetot.
Due to foal to the five-year-old in March, she will then head to Yeomanstown Stud for a liasion with Dark Angel and Gittins said: "He's done fabulously well and he's a horse that's producing winners and getting top-class racehorses. As I was saying earlier you have to go to these proven stallions with the mares - we do support first-season stallions too.
"There's so many variables when breeding a horse in the first place, when you use a proven stallion like Dark Angel and Kodiac it takes away one variable as you know what you're breeding to and what they can produce."
Completing Castlefarm's 2018 matings is Ghostflower, an eight-year-old daughter of Dansili, is in foal to Elzaam and is among the first book of mares for Kildangan Stud's four-time Group 1-winning miler Ribchester, and Bawaakeer, a daughter of Kingmambo who has been booked back to visit Teofilo.
"We saw him in January and we couldn't believe how well he looked considering he had started the season in Dubai and ended it at the Breeders' Cup," said Gittins. "He didn't miss a beat all year; he danced every dance and was a very good racehorse in his own right.
"We're probably taking a chance with him but he's a lovely horse, he'll suit the mare but we're happy to use him."
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