Ice had already been broken – but no mistaking the symbolism
Chris McGrath on Godolphin's €1.2 million bid to let bygones be bygones
So the nettle has finally been grasped: a seven-figure Galileo yearling joins Godolphin – with none other than Coolmore's MV Magnier as underbidder.
A scenario widely anticipated since the start of the yearling sales season was duly enacted at Goffs on Tuesday when a filly from Ballylinch Stud was contested by the rival superpowers of the European bloodstock market.
And when the gavel came down at €1.2 million to the bid of John Gosden and Anthony Stroud it testified that over a decade of frostiness really has come to an end. Having so long renounced stock by Coolmore sires at public auction, Sheikh Mohammed has now thawed to the point that he is prepared to buy a yearling by Galileo himself.
The symbolism was inescapable. The sheikh would be within his rights to claim that there was nothing to see here. His men, after all, had ended a boycott extending to 2005 at Keeneland only a few days previously: initially with a fairly token gesture, joining a frenzy for the last crop of the deceased Scat Daddy; but then with a series of investments arguably more meaningful even than conceding the indispensability of the mighty Galileo. These favoured a young Coolmore sire trying to make his name, Australia, and two others in their prime, Uncle Mo and Lookin At Lucky.
But this filly – at that price, bidding against John Magnier's own son – unmistakably completes the impression that relations between the Maktoum brothers and their longstanding adversaries have entered a new phase.
Whether it might merely be coincidence, that so conspicuous a change of policy should follow the resignation of John Ferguson from the Godolphin helm in June, can only be surmised. After all, there have been other signs of a rapprochement: in Coolmore's gradual acknowledgement, for instance, that the Dubai World Cup meeting is too valuable to ignore.
Either way, the fact is that the sheikh's boycott has proved to be nearly coterminous with the emergence of Galileo as an epoch-making sire. It began even as Galileo's first crop was appearing on the track, and left the sheikh obliged to Jim Bolger for private access to his blood through the likes of Teofilo and New Approach.
All that remains is for Coolmore to reciprocate with an olive branch of their own. Some Godolphin sires offer a perfectly feasible outcross for a farm saturated with Galileo's blood. Once that happens, everyone really will be able to assent to what Stroud and company were evidently eager to imply yesterday: 'Nothing to see here, move along.' Once that happens, everyone can indeed try to move along; to move forward together, even. Because it's a hard enough game, as it is.
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