Thursday, December 3, 2015

New Sire Series: Golden Horn

Golden Horn galloping in front of the crowd at Keeneland.
One of the most dominant horses in the world in 2015, Golden Horn (Cape Cross) won four Group 1 races in 2015 including the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe and Investec Derby on his way to Cartier (European) Horse of the Year honors.

The colt started his career on Oct. 29, 2014 as a 2-year-old when beating future multiple classic placed Storm the Stars by a head in a Nottingham maiden. Shelved until April of his 3-year-old year he came back and beat Peacock by 1 ½ lengths in the listed Feilden Stakes, his final start at the non-group stakes level. With William Buick aboard for the final time in the Dante Stakes he took his record to three-from-three over fellow John Gosden trainee Jack Hobbs, who was again his victim a few weeks later in the Derby.

Golden Horn’s first attempt against older horses validated his claims as one of the top horses in Europe on July 4 when he ran away from a field that included multiple Group 1 winner The Grey Gatsby (Mastercraftsman) by 3 ½ lengths in the Coral-Eclipse. His first loss came a month and a half later with the shock win of 50-1 shot Arabian Queen (Dubawi) in the Juddmonte International with Golden Horn finishing second after refusing to settle for regular jockey Frankie Dettori.

The loss ended his unbeaten record of five straight wins but it didn’t hurt his confidence any when he returned to the races the following month.

Shipping out of England for the first time, Golden Horn made the trip to Leopardstown in Ireland for the Group 1 Irish Champion Stakes. While it was a controversial finish with Golden Horn shying in the stretch and bumping Free Eagle (High Chaparral), he crossed the wire first by a length to claim his third Group 1 race.

That was the first of three times Golden Horn traveled outside of England at the end of his career, with France calling next. Running in perhaps the most important race of his career, Golden Horn was looking to spoil Treve’s (Motivator) chance at a third Arc win.

Sitting right behind Treve’s pacemaker Shahah (Motivator), Golden Horn took over the lead in the stretch and the race was over with a group of horses two lengths behind him fighting for second. The ultra-consistent Flintshire (Dansili) took that spot with New Bay (Dubawi) barely beating Treve out for third.
Courtesy of TVG

While earlier in the year it had been thought that the Arc would be Golden Horn’s final run, that came a month later at Keeneland in the United States. Shipping over for the Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf, he went off as the .80-to-1 favorite in the race. But in only his second ever loss he was bested by Found (Galileo) who reversed her one length loss to him in the Irish Champion to beat him by a half-length in this spot.

The loss signaled the close of his career and only a few days later he was named both Horse of the Year and Champion 3-Year-Old Colt.

Retiring to Darley’s Dalham Hall Stud, Golden Horn joins his sire Cape Cross (Green Desert) on the Darley roster, albeit in England while Cape Cross stands at Kildangan Stud in Ireland. In addition to siring Golden Horn, Cape Cross is the sire of fellow Derby and Arc winner Sea The Stars and Oaks winner Ouija Board, who went on to produce last year’s Derby winner Australia (Galileo). 

In all, Cape Cross has produced 11 Grade or Group 1 winners and is one of only four stallions in the last 60 years to produce the winners of the 2,000 Guineas (Sea the Stars), Derby (Sea the Stars and Golden Horn) and Oaks (Ouija Board). The 21-year-old stallion currently stands for €20,000 (~$21,185U.S./~ £14,084) with Golden Horn as his only son on the Darley stallion roster.

Golden Horn galloping before the Breeders' Cup.
Golden Horn is the second foal out of the unraced Fleche d’Or (Dubai Destination), who has had two winners from two to race. The 9-year-old mare also has a 2-year-old Champs Elysees filly named Golden Reign and a yearling filly by Acclamation. She didn’t have a foal in 2015 but is in foal to Shamardal (Giant’s Causeway) for 2016.

Fleche d’Or’s dam Nuryana (Nureyev) won the Grand Metropolitan Stakes to earn her own blacktype but she did even better producing stakes winners. She is the dam of Rebeca Sharp (Machiavellian) who herself produced a stakes winner and a group 3 placed colt. Nuryana’s Mystic Knight (Caerleon) won the 1996 Group 3 Tripleprint Derby Trial Stakes while another daughter, Hidden Hope (Daylami) won the Cheshire Oaks in addition to being group 2 and 3 placed. In all, outside of Fleche d’Or’s branch of the family, Nuryana is the dam or granddam of 15 stakes winner or stakes placed horses.

The success doesn’t stop there for Golden Horn’s family with his third dam, Loralane’s (Habitat), immediate family responsible for 22 stakes winners with 11 of those winning group or graded stakes races. While Loralane’s line has been the most successful from the mare Lora (Lorenzaccio), she isn’t the only successful horse produced by Lora. Lora is the dam of 1,000 Guineas winner On the House (Be My Guest), who has six stakes winners on her branch of the immediate family, and two other daughters other than Loralane or On the House who produced stakes winners.

Golden Horn
Looking farther back to Golden Horn’s fourth and fifth dams, it includes horses like champions Habibti (Habitat), Octagonal (Zabeel), Mouawad (Zabeel) and Danewin (Danehill) among others in both the northern and southern hemispheres. While the most notable Australian branch of Golden Horn’s family is under his fifth dam, the Australian family gives him another connection to Darley as Octagonal stood for the operation and is the sire of notable Darley sire Lonhro.

Golden Horn’s 2016 fee of £60,000 (~€85,195/~$90,231U.S) is the highest fee of any freshman sire in Europe but with his success on the track in 2015, it will be surprising if he doesn’t get a full book of mares in 2016.

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