Opportunities to buy yearlings by Shamardal fast running out
Martin Stevens on the last publicly bred sales offerings by a great sire
Time is fast running out for most owners and trainers to add a young horse by one of the world's elite sires to their string.
Shamardal, the source of 18 Group/Grade 1 winners and an influential sire of sires thanks chiefly to his brilliant son Lope De Vega, was withdrawn from public use at Darley's Kildangan Stud last year and covered only mares owned by Sheikh Mohammed and his brother Sheikh Hamdan, as well as other members of the Maktoum family and their associates, in 2016 and 2017.
That means the current crop of Shamardal yearlings going under the hammer will be the last commercially bred one. The Maktoums do sell a certain amount of untried stock each year, but it is doubtful they will let go of any pedigree picks or physical standouts by the sire.
So far this sales season, two lots by Shamardal have gone under the hammer, both at Arqana, and they have commanded prices commensurate with their increasing scarcity. American agents Alex Solis and Jason Litt gave €450,000 for a half-sister to US Grade 3 winner Marbre Rose, while Marc-Antoine Berghgracht went to €400,000 for a filly out of Purely Priceless, a daughter of Galileo and Peeping Fawn.
Two further opportunities for buyers outside of Godolphin to secure a Shamardal runner present themselves at the Goffs Orby Yearling Sale this week: a colt from Roundhill Stud who is a brother to multiple Group 2 winner Bow Creek (lot 333) and another colt from Grove Stud who is out of Group 3 winner Danelissima, a half-sister to the dam of Dewhurst winner Intense Focus (391).
Then next month at Tattersalls there is a veritable beanfeast of Shamardal yearlings up for grabs: 21 at Book 1 including another pearl from Roundhill Stud, a sister to Puissance De Lune, and a colt consigned by Corduff Stud as part of the Ballymacoll Stud dispersal who is out of a daughter of Sadler's Wells and the operation's blue hen Hellenic.
After that come four more Shamardal yearlings at Book 2, among them a half-brother to Defoe from Jamie Railton: and that, bar some late-comers at Arqana next month and Tattersalls in December, or at the midwinter mixed auctions next year, will likely be the end of a glorious era of independently bred untried lots by the great sire at the sales.
Shamardal has been busy in the last week reminding us just why independent breeders will miss him so sorely, and what the Maktoums can continue to look forward to now they have sole control over his future progeny.
He has had three promising two-year-old winners: Sheikh Hamdan's homebred colt Tansheet, a half-brother to the useful Tawdeea who gained a comfortable success on his second start at Newcastle, as well as Magnolia Springs, sent off at 25-1 on debut but easily the best of her seven rivals for a competitive Newbury conditions race, and Hazapour, a colt closely related to Harzand who was a ready winner at Galway for the Aga Khan.
Magnolia Springs illustrates the allure of sourcing a Shamardal yearling at the Orby Sale. The filly was presented by her breeders Airlie Stud there last year, but races for the operation after being knocked down for €105,000.
After 2018, though, nearly all the juveniles by the sire will be carrying Maktoum family silks. Shamardal covered 109 mares last year, including 46 black-type winners – a clear demonstration of the deserved high esteem in which he is held. They included Group 1 scorers Be Fabulous, Certify, Gonbarda, Hibaayeb, Indian Ink, Lailani and White Moonstone.
This year the sire, who has had his health issues in recent years, was sent a smaller book of 63 mares, 23 of those black-type winners including Indian Ink again as well as fellow top-level winners Asi Siempre and Nahoodh.
An incidental, but nonetheless intriguing, footnote to Shamardal's book this year is the indulgence in a spot of Boussac-esque inbreeding by the Maktoum family. No fewer than nine of his 63 concubines this season – so around 15 per cent of the book – are daughters of Street Cry, a full-brother to Shamardal's dam Helsinki.
Only two of Shamardal's three-figure book in 2016, or less than two per cent, were Street Cry mares, which suggests a concerted effort to produce foals who will be bred 3x3 to both Machiavellian and Helen Street, the parents of Street Cry and Helsinki. Lucida, bred on that cross, no doubt encouraged the Maktoums to repeat the recipe after winning the Rockfel Stakes and finishing second in the 1,000 Guineas.
Other breeders can no longer try that little experiment for themselves, with the stallion firmly designated as private. But buyers can still, in the short term at least, tap into these magnificent bloodlines.
The message to visitors to the yearling sales in the coming weeks is clear: catch them while you can.