Dubawi still going strong as he achieves notable Book 1 hat-trick

By Andy Stephens@StevoGG
Tue 4 Oct 2022

Economic crisis. What economic crisis? It didn’t take long for the big bucks to flow at Tattersalls on Tuesday. The world may be trying to navigate choppy waters but it seems the bloodstock industry, at least at the highest level, remains immune.

Any early nerves of consignors who will offer more than 500 of the best bred yearlings in the world at the coveted Book 1 Sale over the coming days in Newmarket were settled within minutes when the second horse to be sold, a daughter of Dubawi, changed hands for 1.3 million guineas. You can leave a lot of lights on in your house for that.

Anthony Stroud, representing Sheikh Mohammed’s Godolphin operation, was the purchaser, supporting the No 1 stallion of the Sheikh’s lavish Darley breeding operation, which is just five minutes down the road. Later in the day, two more of Dubawi’s progeny were also sold for seven figures. A notable hat-trick for the Erling Haaland of the stallion world, and great news for those selling his offspring.

 Lot 167 on Tuesdau, by Dubawi out of Ring The Bell, was sold for 1,5 million guineas
Lot 167 on Tuesdau, by Dubawi out of Ring The Bell, was sold for 1,5 million guineas

In total, 139 lots were sold for an aggregate of almost 32 million guineas – an average of more than 230,000gns per sale.

Dubawi’s prowess at stud has been established for a dozen years or more and he has long been able to stand on his own four feet. The Sheikh’s support is unconditional – and he blessed the Sale with his presence in the afternoon - but it takes at least at least two would-be buyers to push a price beyond seven figures.

Breeders, buyers and racing fans take Dubawi’s stock for granted these days and he enjoyed another two Classic winners this year in Coroebus and Eldar Eldarov. Strange to think that this incredible money-making machine – his covering fee is a cool £250,000 - had to overcome incredible odds not once, but twice to become one of the biggest influences on our sport.

For a start, he was one of only 56 foals sired by the brilliant but ill-fated Dubai Millennium, who died as a five-year-old in April 2001 after contracting grass sickness. His passing was a devastating blow to the Sheikh, who hurriedly went about securing his small number of offspring.

Dubawi was one of only two of Dubai Millennium’s offspring who went on to themselves become stallions but initially his sons and daughters were mocked and shunned.

“He was dissed by everybody in his early years because they [his offspring] came out looking like little Dartmoor ponies,” Sam Bullard, Director of Stallions at Darley, said as the giant paraded on Tuesday morning. “They were set, all his colour, didn’t really walk and shuffled along. He was completely written off by the whole market, but how wrong they were.

“Out of his first crop of yearlings, which nobody wanted to buy, he broke the stud book record by having 34 stakes winners. He’s been breaking records from the get-go and is the king – the greatest stallion in the world by any metric.”

The now 20-year-old cannot go on for ever, of course, and Dubawi’s workload will be reduced next year, with “only” 120 liaisons arranged. In a normal year, he would cover 150 mares or more.

Bullard says his temperament gives him prospects of producing more stars and Book 1 money-spinners for many more years to come. “Twenty is par for the course for a stallion,” he said. “Beyond that, you have to respect they are getting older but it’s not that straightforward. Horses, like humans, are all different. He eats, sleeps, does what he’s asked to do [in the breeding sheds]. He doesn’t overdo himself and passes on this incredible temperament. Trainers love them.”

There are a total of 26 Dubawis up for grabs at Book 1 this week, along with a large number of the progeny of Sea The Stars (31), Kingman (also 31), Frankel (28) and Galileo (16). It feels like we are in a golden era but, sadly, these are likely to be the last of Galileo’s offspring on offer here after his passing, at the age of 23, in the summer of 2021.

Five different auctioneers extol the virtues of the young horses passing through the ring. These animals are babies, several months shy of being two, and many betray their excitement by whinnying loudly. Inevitably, it can cause a chain reaction and, before you know it, they are shouting out to each other.

Nobody knows if they are more than just talk. But they have fantastic pedigrees and look the part. The jigsaw is half-complete.

William Haggas is here, just 11 days away from his marvellous champion, Baaeed, having the final race of his decorated career in the Qipco Champion Stakes. He knows he might never train another like him, but the quest to find a successor will be never ending and, in the company of his wife, Maureen, he studies a number of youngsters.

The staff of the consignors bring their horses out for show on request, dutifully walking them up and down. First impressions can count. Mr and Mrs Haggas jot down notes and swap observations. They don’t always agree on what they are looking at, and then there is another significant barrier.

“Most of the time we can’t buy the ones we want because they make too much money,” Haggas says. “That’s the frustration of all this but that’s the way world goes. People say the market might be a bit patchy but when the horse we want comes in, everyone else seems to want it as well!”

Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe winning-trainer Sir Mark Prescott, who cannot move at this sale without someone wanting to shake his hand or pat him on the back, told me similar here a few years back. “You can look a future champion in the eye and put your hands on him or her. But being able to afford the price tag is another matter,” he said.

The “experts” don’t always get it right. The most expensive horses can disappoint, while those who relatively cheap, or even led away unsold after not meeting their reserve, can thrive. And it’s not all about Book 1. Horses bought at Books 2, 3 and 4, usually for progressively cheaper sums, can rise to the top.

“At Book 1 they want everything – the page [pedigree] and good looks,” former top jump jockey Robert Thornton, now racing/stud manager for Apple Tree Stud in the North Cotswolds, says. “I’ve got two selling next week and we were offered Book 1 with one of them. She’s a nice horse, but for me she hasn’t got a solid enough page for Book 1. At Book 2, you can get away with a bit more. Unless you think your horse is worth half a million, you shouldn’t be in Book 1.

“We bought a Dark Angel filly here last year [Heavenly Breath] and she was friendless. I loved her and was mortified, so we kept her. She won a maiden at Kempton by four lengths in August and was second in a Group Three in France about a month ago, to the horse who won the Prix Marcel Boussac on Sunday. They [the buyers] are not always brilliant judges, and sometimes horses can get missed.”

But not the progeny of Dubawi.

Book 1 continues on Wednesday and Thursday at Tattersalls (start 11am) and is free to view. Books runs from October 10-12.

Anthony Stroud on the Dubawi darlings

Leading the way on the opening day of Europe’s premier yearling sale was the DUBAWI half-brother to the Listed-placed VOICE OF ANGELS who was knocked down to Anthony Stroud for 1,500,000 guineas. Stroud secured the colt after he saw off the efforts of leading Japanese trainer Mitsu Nakauchida.

Consigned by Adrian and Philippa O’Brien’s Hazelwood Bloodstock, the regally bred colt is out of the GALILEO mare RING THE BELL, a sister to dual Group 1 winner HYDRANGEA, the English and Irish 1,000 Guineas winner HERMOSA and Group 1 winner THE UNITED STATES. He was bred by John Camilleri’s Fairway Thoroughbreds.

“He’s by Dubawi and comes from an excellent farm,” Stroud said . “It’s a cross that works and it’s a wonderful family. The boss is here and he’s choosing these horses. He’s just a wonderful specimen of a thoroughbred really.”

The DUBAWI filly out of the Group 2 Prix de la Nonette winner and Group 1 Prix de l’Opera second JAZZI TOP, who hails from the great Meon Valley Stud family of COLORSPIN, sold for 1,300,000 guineas. Charlie Gordon-Watson was amongst the bidders to set the early pace and Moyglare Stud’s Fiona Craig soon joined the fray, before the pair were usurped by Stroud.

The DANEHILL DANCER mare JAZZI TOP is herself the daughter of the Group 1 Prix de l’Opera winner ZEE ZEE TOP and a half-sister to the dual Group 1 winner IZZI TOP, and the filly today was consigned by her breeder Meon Valley Stud.

"It's a good way to start the sale," Stroud said. "She is a very attractive filly from a very good farm and there is nothing more to be written about Dubawi is there? The boss picked her out and he has had a lot of success with the family going back to Opera House and Kayf Tara."

A third yearling by DUBAWI topped the million guineas mark during the opening session when Cheveley Park Stud’s colt out of the Group One Queen Elizabeth II Stakes winner PERSUASIVE realised 1,000,000 guineas to the bid of Anthony Stroud on behalf of Godolphin.

"He is a very nice horse and Cheveley Park Stud do a fantastic job. He is out of a very good mare and by Dubawi, so there's a lot to like. He will go back to Moulton Paddocks," Stroud commented.

It's a family that trainer Charlie Appleby knows very well as the colt is a close relation to last season's Group 1 British Champions Sprint winner CREATIVE FORCE by DUBAWI. "He is about twice the size of Creative Force," remarked Stroud in answer to queries about similarities between the two. "But if his heart is half as big as Creative Force's then we will be very happy."

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