Masar: an absorbing pedigree and a crucial win for Godolphin breeding
A look at the bloodlines of the Epsom Classic hero
Godolphin proved an important point with their homebred colt Masar landing the Investec Derby at Epsom on Saturday. With Britain and Ireland's Classics so regularly annexed by Coolmore horses trained by Aidan O'Brien, questions have been raised as to why Sheikh Mohammed's operation, with its vast resources, has not achieved more.
Masar went some way to answering those questions with a fluent victory over Dee Ex Bee – a fellow Godolphin homebred by Farhh, trained by Mark Johnston for Sheikh Mohammed’s son Hamdan – with Roaring Lion, a Kentucky-bred and raised son of Kitten’s Joy, in third.
Masar is a star pupil for Godolphin, as not only is he the first to carry the royal blue silks to victory in the Derby and trained at home by Charlie Appleby, but he is also by a Darley sire in New Approach out of Khawlah, winner of the UAE Oaks and Derby at Meydan, Sheikh Mohammed’s showcase racecourse in Dubai.
Moreover, Masar wintered in Dubai himself before returning to Britain to win the Craven Stakes and finish third in the 2,000 Guineas, although he did not sparkle on his only start in Meydan, beating only three horses home in the Al Bastakiya.
It is a result of vital importance to New Approach, as his stud career had gone a little quiet since he burst on to the scene when his first crop yielded three Royal Ascot two-year-old winners, including subsequent 2,000 Guineas hero Dawn Approach as well as Oaks winner Talent and Derby runner-up Libertarian.
Indeed, his covering fee at Dalham Hall Stud had fallen from a high of £80,000 in 2014 and 2015 to £30,000 in 2017 and this year.
New Approach is now the sire of seven top-level winners, including Australasian Oaks scorer May’s Dream from his short spell shuttling to Darley in Australia.
The stallion has played an intriguing part in the dynamic between the superpowers of Godolphin and Coolmore. Although Sheikh Mohammed declined to buy stock of Galileo at source until last year, he was happy to buy proven horses by Coolmore’s great sire from connections and it was after New Approach’s champion two-year-old season for owner-trainer Jim Bolger that the chestnut Galileo colt was bought to race in the colours of Sheikh Mohammed’s wife Princess Haya.
That was in the same period that Teofilo – another son of Galileo sent out by Bolger to be leading two-year-old in Europe in the year before New Approach – was also bought to join the Darley roster, and he is responsible for 14 Group/Grade 1 winners including European Classic scorers Pleascach and Trading Leather, and Australasian-bred stars Happy Clapper, Humidor, Kermadec, Palentino and Sonntag.
New Approach went on to carry Princess Haya’s dark green silks to finish second in the Newmarket and Curragh 2,000 Guineas and to win the Derby and both the Irish and British Champion Stakes in 2008 before embarking on his successful stallion career.
He has become the first horse since 1978 Derby winner Shirley Heights to be a son of a Derby winner (Mill Reef in Shirley Heights’ case) and to sire a Derby winner (Slip Anchor).
It might be considered one of the great ironies of modern breeding that for all that Godolphin for a long time would not buy Galileo’s stock at the sales, they stole the march on Coolmore in developing his sire-line, thanks to those purchases from Bolger.
What will give the Maktoum family and Darley even more satisfaction is that Masar’s dam Khawlah is a daughter of Cape Cross, the late Kildangan Stud stalwart who has left such a lasting legacy on Epsom – as sire of Derby winners Golden Horn and Sea The Stars (himself sire of a winner in Harzand) and Oaks heroine Ouija Board (dam of Derby winner Australia).
Khawlah has a two-year-old colt by Shamardal for Godolphin to look forward to racing, and she delivered a chestnut filly by Dubawi on February 4 this year.
Another clue in Masar’s bloodlines that he was made to triumph at Epsom is that he has a double dose of the legendary mare Urban Sea in his pedigree.
Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe heroine Urban Sea is one of few mares to have produced two winners of the Derby, in Galileo and Sea The Stars, and they have in turn sired four winners – Australia, New Approach and Ruler Of The World for the former, and Harzand for the latter.
As well as the strain of Urban Sea received from New Approach, Masar is also directly descended from the Miswaki mare in the maternal line, as dam Khawlah is a granddaughter of Oaks third Melikah, in turn a daughter of 1995 Derby winner Lammtarra and Urban Sea.
In a fascinating pedigree for breeding pundits that makes Masar inbred 3x4 to Urban Sea. He is also inbred on the same pattern to the top sprinter-turned-Classic source Ahonoora, as he was the sire of New Approach’s Irish Champion Stakes-winning dam Park Express as well Cape Cross’s Group 1-winning dam Park Appeal.
Again, the Epsom clues were there in the pedigree. Ahonoora was the sire of 1992 Derby winner Dr Devious, while Lammtarra was the only horse other than Australia to be by a Derby winner out of an Oaks winner, with Nijinsky and Snow Bride as parents.
This is surely one of the most fascinating Derby-winning pedigrees in years; and it is one that has delivered a crucial victory not only for Godolphin, but also for the countless breeders and vendors who rely on Sheikh Mohammed’s ongoing enthusiasm for a sport into which he has poured many, many millions of pounds, euros and dollars – both Australian and American.
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