IN THE NEWS: First foals to market for Earthlight and Ghaiyyath

Jessica Owers | TDN Australia and New Zealand

As weanling season continues this week on the Gold Coast, a number of new sires will be making their first-crop debuts, among them the Darley shuttlers Earthlight and Ghaiyyath.

This pair didn’t have weanlings at Riverside a fortnight ago, so the 2023 Magic Millions National Weanling Sale is the first look that many will get of their respective stock, which number four across the catalogue this week.

First-crop foals are always a talking point, and while this week’s sale features 22 debut sires, only five are yet to put stock through an Australian sale ring. Earthlight and Ghaiyyath are among them.

For the shuttlers, first-crop foals are particularly important. Their success in the sale ring can contribute to later decisions about the future of stallions continuing to shuttle. Lately, the Godolphin operation has enjoyed a brilliant run in that respect, with Blue Point (Ire) topping both the Magic Millions Perth Yearling Sale back in February and the recent Inglis Gold Yearling Sale last weekend, and finishing leading first-season sire by average at the Magic Millions Gold Coast Yearling Sale. Meanwhile his barnmate Too Darn Hot (GB), delivered the highest-priced colt at the New Zealand Bloodstock Karaka Yearling Sale.

The appetite for Blue Point and Too Darn Hot stock, in the last two seasons, has proved that the age of the shuttler is alive and well in Australia, so let’s break down what Earthlight and Ghaiyyath have to offer this week.


Six-year-old Earthlight commenced shuttle duties in Australia in the spring of 2021. He covered 109 mares that season at Darley Victoria, which was a respectable number.

The strapping son of Shamardal (USA) was sold as an ideal fit for the Australian market. He was an undefeated, dual Group 1-winning 2-year-old over the sprint courses, with track-record ability and a Classic pedigree.

As a juvenile, Earthlight won five races in five starts, including the G1 Middle Park S. in record time, the G1 Prix Morny at Deauville and the G3 Prix de Cabourg. As a 3-year-old, he won the G3 Prix du Pin and was second by a neck in the G1 Prix de la Fôret at Longchamp.

He posted a Timeform of 121 and since his first stock emerged in Europe last year, he’s been on the radar of some of the biggest guns up there, including Eddie O’Leary of Lynn Lodge Stud and pinhooker Harry Dutfield.

In Australia, Earthlight has some hefty competition as a son of Shamardal. He competes with Blue Point, Pinatubo (Ire) and Victor Ludorum (GB) on his own roster, both successful sons of Shamardal vying for a slice of the Australian market. Blue Point has already proven his success this year, while Pinatubo and Victor Ludorum are expecting their first foals this spring.

Earthlight’s debut book, as mentioned, numbered 109, and he followed that last spring with 90 mares. He will have three weanlings at the Magic Millions National Weanling Sale this week, two from the draft of Three Bridges Thoroughbreds (Lots 168 and 223) and one from Bhima Thoroughbreds (Lot 420).

For Darley Australia, which has a long history of successfully shuttling both European and American success-stories to Australia, Earthlight represents a particularly exciting option, according to Lisa Manning, its nominations sales consultant.

“He is certainly the sort of horse that is much in the mould of what Australian buyers/breeders are after,” she said, speaking to TDN AusNZ. “It’s that 2-year-old speed that works so well here. Local horses that are dual Group 1 winners at two are very well-sought after, and European form is just as respected. So Earthlight is definitely a horse that people have looked at.”

“He (Earthlight) is certainly the sort of horse that is much in the mould of what Australian buyers/breeders are after.” - Lisa Manning

Earthlight has that relatable 2-year-old sire power seen in such horses as SnitzelNot A Single Doubt and Exceed And Excel. All things considered, there aren’t many horses in Australia heading to stud with a pair of juvenile Group 1 victories behind them. It’s a valuable ticket.

“His European form is very relatable,” Manning said. “We’re looking at a global audience for racing these days, and in Earthlight’s case, the Middle Park S. is known as a very good Group 1 race for 2-year-olds. It translates similarly down here, and obviously he went on from that to win the G1 Prix Morny in France.”

Manning said there’s little pressure on Darley this week with the emergence of Earthlight’s first market foals.

“These days, the shuttle-stallion audience is so much bigger,” she said. “We’ve had Blue Point and Too Darn Hot hit the market this year with their yearlings, and they’ve both been so well-received.

“Blue Point was leading first-season sire on the Gold Coast in January and at Inglis Easter. Too Darn Hot yearlings also sold extremely well, bringing up to $1 million in the sale ring and his average price bringing over five times his service fee.

“Breeders are quite welcoming of the shuttle sires these days as they have been such a success here. They’re aware of the good horses on the market, wherever they may come from. The likes of Shamardal and Dubawi are no strangers to Australian breeders, so breeders have willingly supported their sons.”

“Breeders are quite welcoming of the shuttle sires these days as they have been such a success here. They’re aware of the good horses on the market, wherever they may come from.” - Lisa Manning

On complex, Earthlight’s three weanlings are Lot 168, Lot 223 and Lot 420. They are all colts. Toby Liston’s Three Bridges Thoroughbreds has the former two, and Bhima the latter.

Lot 168 is from the Lonhro mare Euryale, who is a half-sister to the dam of Newgate’s new sire, the Capitalist horse Profiteer. Lot 223, also for Three Bridges, is from the I Am Invincible mare Invincible Pride, a half-sister to the Group 3-winning Literary Magnate (Written Tycoon).

“Earthlight is probably a chestnut sprinting version of Not A Single Doubt,” said Toby Liston, speaking to TDN AusNZ. “He’s in that shape and mould that will really work in Australia. This industry loves speed and he had that in spades.

“The sires that have been successful here generally have that 2-year-old turn of foot, and Earthlight is versatile. He’s the right fit for Australian mares because they’re big and strong, and that aligns with him.”

“Earthlight is probably a chestnut sprinting version of Not A Single Doubt. He’s in that shape and mould that will really work in Australia. This industry loves speed and he had that in spades.” - Toby Liston

Lot 168 has the Profiteer factor about him from a strong, stakes-winning Lonhro mare. Liston said this colt has been busy.

“He’s a lovely horse from a mare with a few coming up for her,” he said. “This colt could be a nice option for a pinhooker or end user. The other colt then, Lot 223, is speed on speed. These won’t be expensive horses but they’ll be good little racehorses.”

For Bhima, Lot 420 is from Syzygy Blossom, a daughter of Testa Rossa. This is an old family, with second dam Pimpinella (Flying Spur) herself the dam of the Darley stakes winner Anise (General Nediym), in turn the dam of the stakes winner Troach (Epaulette). The third dam here is the lovely Twiglet (Twig Moss {Fr}).

“He’s a nice, medium-sized horse that moves well,” said Bhima’s Mike Fleming of Lot 420. “Reception has been pretty good on him. Obviously, the colonial horses might stand out a little bit more, but he’s been on a lot of lists and we’ve pulled him out a lot for people to have a look.”

Fleming admits that a lot of this is first-season sire curiosity.

“People want to get a line on what these first-season sires are leaving, even as to what these weanlings might look like come next year when they’re yearlings,” he said. “It’s interesting getting feedback as to where they stand up. From a farm’s perspective, and we mate a few mares ourselves, it’s good to get that feedback on the first-crop sires because it might point to what people are breeding back into this year.”


On the other end of the spectrum, Ghaiyyath is more a middle-distance option for Australian breeders. By Dubawi (Ire) from a Galileo (Ire) mare, he won four Group 1s in Europe from 10 to 12 furlongs.

Ghaiyyath was a Group winner at two, three, four and five years of age, a winner of the G1 Juddmonte International and G1 Coronation Cup, and World Champion racehorse with a Timeform of 133. He defeated Enable (GB) (Nathaniel {Ire}) in the G1 Coral-Eclipse and is Dubawi’s highest-rated son so far.

He was also an outstanding foal himself, fetching €1.1 million (AU$1.8 million) when selling to John Ferguson at the 2015 Goffs November Foal Sale.

“Ghaiyyath is definitely a different style of horse to Earthlight,” Manning said. “While he won the G3 Autumn S. at two, he got better as he got older and won over those more Classic distances, winning four Group 1s over the journey.

“His horses won’t be the types that people are looking to buy as 2-year-olds, but he was well-patronised in those first two years and breeders recognise him for the brilliant way he won his races and recognise what a fantastic horse he was.

“There are a lot of breeders out there who aren’t necessarily looking to breed a Golden Slipper winner. If you’re trying to breed a Cox Plate or Caulfield Cup horse, or even a Melbourne Cup horse, Ghaiyyath could be the sort of stallion that can get you there.” - Lisa Manning

Ghaiyyath covered near-identical numbers to Earthlight the last two Australian breeding seasons. In 2021 he got 103 mares, and in 2022 he served 97. He will stand the upcoming spring for $27,500 (inc GST), which is favourable against the other son of Dubawi on Darley’s Australian roster, Too Darn Hot (GB), who will command $44,000 (inc GST).

Darley also has a policy of committing to its shuttlers. Its Northern Hemisphere horses will continue to return to Australia for second, third and fourth seasons until at least the first crop has hit the track.

“It’s our commitment to the Australian breeders who support us,” Manning said. “Otherwise, we’re not backing our product.”

Ghaiyyath has one weanling this week in the National Sale catalogue. She is Lot 268, a filly for Erinvale Thoroughbreds from the French-bred mare Mandistana (Fr) (Azamour {Ire}). The latter is a good choice for Ghaiyyath as a dual Group-placegetter in France. This is the stout family of Manighar (Fr) (Linamix {Fr}) and his Group 3-winning full sister, Minatlya (Fr).

John Kenneally, studmaster at Erinvale Thoroughbreds, said his filly has been very popular with inspections ahead of this week’s sale on the Gold Coast. As the only Ghaiyyath in the catalogue, Lot 268 is something of a limited edition.

“I haven’t see a lot of the Ghaiyyaths but she is quite a nice filly and she’s been well-received,” he said. “She moves well and she’s quite popular. We’ve got seven foals here this week and we only bring the best ones to the Gold Coast, so we expected she’d get attention.”

Kenneally said that buyers are generally interested in any first-season sire at a sale, and Ghaiyyath is no exception.

“I think people are interested in seeing any first-season horse, but I definitely think people are interested in seeing Ghaiyyath,” he said. “This filly has been going really well this week and we’re very happy with her.”

Lot 268 will be offered by Erinvale Thoroughbreds on behalf of Miscellany Associates.