Monday, January 23, 2017

New Sire Series: Awtaad

Only months after his son Golden Horn topped off a stellar career with a Cartier Horse of the Year award in 2015, Cape Cross was back with another big horse with Awtaad.

Awtaad started his career on Oct. 11, 2015, a week after Golden Horn won the Group 1 Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe. While it wasn’t a victory, with Awtaad getting nosed out for second close to home, it was the final time he’d lose for over six months.

From his debut, Awtaad went on a four race win streak, winning those four starts by a combined 11 ½ lengths. While he looked the real deal early on in Ireland, it was the Group 1 Irish 2,000 Guineas that confirmed that fact when he faced Group 1 QIPCO 2,000 Guineas winner Galileo Gold (Paco Boy), who was looking to win back-to-back classics.

Awtaad took the lead with less than two furlongs to go and won by 2 ½ lengths over Galileo Gold. The win made him his sire’s second classic winner in as many years after Golden Horn’s win in England’s Group 1 Investec Derby Stakes in 2015.


In one of the most competitive races in the miler division last year, Awtaad lined up in the Group 1 St. James’s Palace at Royal Ascot. While good fields are always expected for Royal Ascot races, the St James’s Palace brought together the winners of the English, French and Irish 2,000 Guineas in the field of seven horses.

Coming down to the wire, Galileo Gold was in the lead but Awtaad was closing quickly with French 2,000 Guineas winner The Gurkha (Galileo) close behind. With time running out to catch Galileo Gold, the real battle was between the other two horses for second as The Gurkha closed on Awtaad with every step. Awtaad fought hard, but in the end The Gurkha proved to be too fast, finishing half a length in front at the wire.

The three met up again in the Group 1 Qatar Sussex Stakes but in an uncharacteristically dull performance, Awtaad finished eighth in his only performance on a Good to Firm track.

The colt retuned back home to Ireland for his next race, running at Leopardstown for the first time since he’d broken his maiden for the Group 2 Clipper Logistics Boomerang Stakes. Back on a track labeled yielding, a surface he had seemed to like in the past, he took on a field that included Breeders’ Cup winner Hit It a Bomb (War Front) and multiple group stakes winners Custom Cut (Notnowcato), Sruthan (Arakan) and Gordon Lord Byron (Byron).

The track and drop in class seemed to help the colt as he went from third to first in less than a furlong and extended his lead to 1 ½ lengths in the final furlong. That would be the final victory for Awtaad, with the colt retiring to Derrinstown Stud after a fourth place finish behind Minding (Galileo)  by 3 3/4 lengths in his final start.

Golden Horn
Cape Cross doesn’t have many sons listed on the Weatherbys’ Stallion Book site with four, including the aforementioned Awtaad and Golden Horn. The only four of those to have horses of racing age is Sea the Stars. Though if they can all throw racehorses as good as that sire, Cape Cross is going to be a good sire-of-sires.

Cape Cross has produced 13 Grade or Group 1 winners and 54 group winners overall with the stallion having 107 horses (as of Jan. 19) win at the stakes level. Perhaps fittingly, Golden Horn joined Cape Cross in Darley’s stud barn at just the right time with Darley announcing Cape Cross was pensioned due to fertility issues in late March last year. A quietly successful stallion, Cape Cross holds the distinction of being one of only four stallions in the last 60 years to produce the winners of the English versions of the 2,000 Guineas (Sea the Stars), Derby (Sea the Stars and Golden Horn) and Oaks (Ouija Board).

Awtaad is the first foal out of maiden winner Asheerah (Shamardal), who was trained, bred and owned by the same connections as her son. A young mare at just nine years of age, Asheerah’s 3-year-old daughter Aneen (Lawman) is keeping the family active as her half-brother goes to stud. Following close in his footsteps, she finished fourth (of 18) in a Leopardstown maiden in September before breaking her maiden at the Curragh on Oct. 10 by 4 ¼ lengths. Not surprisingly, the filly holds an early entry to the Group 1 Darley Irish Oaks in July.

Asheerah has two other foals on the ground, a 2-year-old filly by Tamayuz and a yearling full brother to Awtaad.

Awtaad’s second dam, Adaala (Sahm) was a stakes winner herself, taking the Kilboy Estate Stakes in 2005. The mare was also third in the Group 3 Derrinstown Stud 1000 Guineas Trial and the best horse produced by her dam. Adaala has produced four stakes placed horses with the best being Group 3 winners Aaraas (Haafhd) and Alshahbaa (Alhaarth). She is also a full sister to Glow Stakes third place finisher Biggerbadderbetter with those two being the only stakes horses out of Alshoowg (Riverman).

Fourth dam Ghashtah (Nijinsky) was unraced but is a full sister to Seattle Dancer, a multiple group stakes winner, and a half-sister to U.S. Triple Crown winner Seattle Slew (Bold Reasoning). She is also the granddam of Group 2 winner Nasheej (Swain), who was also third in the 2006 Group 1 Stan James 1,000 Guineas.

Interestingly, Awtaad is a fourth generation homebred for Shadwell Farm, who started the family on their farm when they bred Ghashtah to Riverman (Never Bend) to produce Alshoowg.
Shamardal's sire Giant's Causeway

Not surprisingly for a European family, all but one of the stakes horses under Awtaad’s first two dams are by grandsons or great-grandsons of Northern Dancer (Nearctic). That lone horse who finds Northern Dancer farther back in the sireline is Awtaad’s dam, whose sire Shamardal has Northern Dancer in his fourth generation.

When looking at the damsires of Cape Cross’ Grade/Group 1 and 2 winners, it’s easy to see that the stallion has a bigger range of mares he’s been successful with. Of his 32 Group 1 and 2 winners, only nine of his winners are out of dams by stallions from the Northern Dancer sireline. Granted, some of the mares not included in that count have Northern Dancer elsewhere in their pedigrees, though not as many as may be expected.

Mr. Prospector (Raise a Native) was also a popular cross found in the pedigrees of these winners with five mares who produced those group stakes winners by Mr. Prospector, his sons, or grandsons. Most came from daughters or granddaughters of his son Kingmambo but one was a Mr. Prospector daughter and the other was a granddaughter (Urban Sea) of Mr. Prospector from another line.

With those two lines only producing 14 of the 32 stakes winners (44 percent) and no other line having more than one or two successes, Cape Cross didn’t seem to have a particular nick breeders had to stick to. If Awtaad is able to replicate that as a sire, it could be very helpful for the stallion.

Awtaad is already an outcross of sorts with the only Northern Dancer in his first five generations moving to the fifth generations in his foals. The stallion also shows relatively little inbreeding with the closest on his pedigree being a 4 x 5 cross to Mr. Prospector and the only other inbreeding being 5 x 5 to Never Bend.

At a reasonable €15,000, Awtaad could be worth a chance for many breeders. Especially those who are trying not to add much more Northern Dancer blood. He is one of nine new stallions in Europe to stand in the £10,000 - £15,000 range who are listed on Weatherbys and the only one by Cape Cross.

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