Being first is all he knows
As we gear up for the start of the official two-year-old trials in Sydney, in which Wilful Defeat, a Dubawi half-brother to Takeover Target and Predatory Pricer, is certain to attract a huge amount of attention, it’s worth reflecting on the tremendous success currently being enjoyed by the first crop runners of this colt’s sire in Europe.
Sheikh Mohammed’s all-time favourite horse Dubai Millennium left just 56 foals, having died of grass sickness halfway through his first season at stud in Newmarket. Needless to say, there was much anticipation surrounding the appearance of this small crop at the races and on 4 June 2004, Dubawi became his sire’s first ever winner with a cosy victory in a 1200m maiden.
His record beyond that is well-documented: unbeaten as a two-year-old when subsequently challenging for the G3 Superlative Stakes and the G1 National Stakes, he would go on to become a Classic winner when landing the Irish 2000 Guineas the following year. A valiant third in the Derby at Epsom tested his reserves of stamina but returned once more to 1600m, he emulated Dubai Millennium in winning France’s premier mile contest, the G1 Prix Jacques le Marois at Deauville.
On the track, Dubawi was quite clearly the star of his sire’s one small crop and, judging by the start he has made to his stud career, it is a position he will retain. In Europe to date, he has sired 23 individual winners and leads the first-season sires’ table by both prize-money earned and number of winners.
Dubawi celebrated a memorable St Leger Festival in mid-September when Poet’s Voice won the G2 Champagne Stakes just 24 hours after the G2 Flying Childers Stakes victory of Sand Vixen. A Darley homebred out of Bright Tiara (Chief’s Crown), Poet’s Voice made his debut in hot maiden company during Newmarket’s July meeting, finishing third to subsequent G3 Acomb Stakes winner Elusive Pimpernel (by Elusive Quality). His performance was eye-catching, however, and it was no surprise to see him start as odds-on favourite on his return to the July Course when beating Pallantes Cross (Cape Cross) by ten lengths. Poet’s Voice gained his first black type when third again to Elusive Pimpernel in the Acomb before making all when travelling smoothly to victory in the Champagne Stakes. This convincing victory and his statuesque good looks have already drawn comparisons to his grandsire Dubai Millennium.
As far back as February, leading breeze-up consignor Emma O’Gorman was already predicting that her Dubawi Filly out of Fur Will Fly (Petong) was the best ready-to-run prospect among her sales draft. O’Gorman is a notably good judge and she has been proved right once again courtesy of that filly, now named Sand Vixen after being bought by Godolphin at Tattersalls’ breeze-up sale for 130,000gns ($258,000). Having won on her second start in July, Sand Vixen ran third in the G3 Princess Margaret Stakes at Ascot on her next outing before annexing a 1000m Listed contest and the G2 Flying Childers, one of the most competitive juvenile sprints of the British season. Both Poet’s Voice and Sand Vixen have Group One engagements in their diaries for the end of the season with the colt entered in the Darley Dewhurst Stakes, Shadwell Middle Park and Racing Post Trophy, while Sand Vixen is likely to stretch out to 1200m in the Cheveley Park Stakes.
While they have certainly provided the highlights from Dubawi’s first runners to date, they are by no means his only exciting prospects. Dubawi Phantom, ex Anna Amalia (In The Wings), won his maiden in July before going on to be placed in the G3 Solario Stakes and booking his entry for the Darley Dewhurst Stakes on 17 October. The lightly-raced Dubawi Heights posted a highly creditable effort when third in the G2 Lowther Stakes (which was won last year by Exceed And Excel's daughter Infamous Angel) and she also holds an entry for the G1 Cheveley Park Stakes.
Dubawi’s nearest rival in the race to be leading first-season sire in Europe is Shamardal, who has already started to prove his worth in Australia courtesy of horses such as Marquardt and Premardal. His first European crop has so far thrown up a pair of Group Three winners in Shakespearean and Arctic.
The grey Arctic, owned by Australian Richard Pegum, is unbeaten in three starts, which include the Listed Grangecon Stud Stakes (by five lengths) and the G3 Round Tower Stakes (by four-and-a-half lengths). He is another who has the Dewhurst on his end-of-season agenda, in which he may encounter his paternal half-brother Shakespearean, who was so impressive on his debut at Haydock in May and has since added the G3 Solario Stakes to his CV.
Among his 12 individual winner's in Europe, Shamardal also has the G3-placed Noble Alpha running for him in Germany and the unbeaten Lope De Vega in France, who is now being aimed at the G1 Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere on Arc day at Longchamp.
These two young stallions have been a source of great excitement for Darley’s team in Europe, where Cape Cross leads the general sires’ table and is responsible for the world’s top-rated horse, the five-time Group One winner Sea The Stars, and where Dubawi seems almost certain to end the year with another first: the title of champion freshman.