Shamardal, a source of classic speed

August 18, 2020Ken McLean0

STALLION managers in both hemispheres must surely be impressed by the rise to fame of Darley’s stallion Shamardal (Giant’s Causeway-Helsinki by Machiavellian), sire of three undefeated juvenile colts in Europe last year, namely Pinatubo, Earthlight and Victor Ludorum. He is also the sire of Blue Point, Champion English Sprinter who last year won the Royal Ascot double of King’s Stand Stakes-Gr.1 and Diamond Jubilee Stakes-Gr.1.

Champion Two Year-Old of Europe in 2004, Shamardal was rated one of the best three year-olds of 2005. At two, he won three times including the Dewhurst Stakes-Gr.1 and Goodwood’s Vintage Stakes-Gr.2. He progressed at three to win the Poule d’Essai des Poulains-Gr.1 (French 2000 Guineas), Prix du Jockey Club-Gr.1 (French Derby) and Royal Ascot St. James’s Palace Stakes-Gr.1. His only unplaced effort was on dirt in Dubai as an early three year-old before shipping to England.

In 2006, Shamardal retired to Sheikh Mohammed’s Kildangan Stud in Ireland and shuttled briefly to Darley’s stud farm in Australia. The grandson of Storm Cat has supplied many high-class Group winners despite a setback in the breeding shed some years ago when he was injured, causing his book of mares to be limited and his fee “private”. Shamardal has developed into a very influential sire and is now an exciting broodmare sire. His genotype shows an affinity with the strains of Galileo, Sadler’s Wells, Nureyev, Mr. Prospector and Danehill. His female line produced Street Cry as well as Territories.

Find all the Stallions listed on with Shamardal within their 5 generation pedigree here.

As a weanling, Shamardal went unsold at Keeneland’s 2002 November Sale. I noticed the handsome little fella was experiencing a major growth spurt. Taken home, the colt’s breeders Dr Philip McCarthy and partners decided to sell him as a yearling at Keeneland but in early 2003 the colt began to show signs of non-co-ordination. When vetted, he was diagnosed a “wobbler”. This condition arises when the neck’s protective spinal cord narrows due to degenerative changes or else due to trauma (caused by an accident). If the space within the spinal canal is reduced it will result in neurological problems arising from spinal cord compression, a condition known as myelopathy.

Of course, lack of coordination will occur in varying degrees and seriously affect gait, balance and bowel function. Shamardal was sent to the Ohio State University where x-rays and a myelogram confirmed the colt had a low Grade 3 level of Cervical Spinal Stenosis. Specialists concluded the colt most unlikely to race, so the yearling’s owners made a successful insurance claim. Ownership of Shamardal was turned over to the insurance company. Contact was made with Richard Ketch, a farrier and horse trainer well known as a specialist in rehabilitating horses declared as “wobblers”.

I was based in Lexington at the time and was able to observe gradual change in Shamardal’s movement. Richard Ketch’s specialist treatment was working well. I learned more about successful methods of treating wobblers. It’s sad to realise nearly all wobblers need
to be put down (euthanized). I visited the Giant’s Causeway colt on a small farm in Lexington. I wanted to follow the colt’s gradual improvement of co-ordination and mindset. Careful nutrition was a major factor in the process of rehabilitation, but time to mature was a key factor.

Then came good news, the colt was certified sound for racing. Shamardal’s spinal cord canal had eventually opened up to relieve all neurological pressure. The insurance company realised Richard Ketch had just enough time to enter the colt in Tattersalls October Yearling Sale at Newmarket.

This was done, and the yearling was shipped to England where he would sell for £50,000 to the bid of Michael Goodbody.
Michael Goodbody, general manager of Sheikh Maktoum’s Gainsborough Stud at Newbury, bought the colt on behalf of Abdulla Buhaleeba, one of the Sheikh’s financial men based in Dubai. I asked Michael to tell me the story, as I wanted to know who would race the colt. He said he was sometimes asked by associates of Sheikh Maktoum to bid on yearlings in England. Abdulla Buhaleeba had given him a small budget to spend at the October Sales and Michael decided to target the American-bred yearling by Giant’s Causeway.

When Shamardal came into the sale-ring, Scottish trainer Mark Johnston began bidding on the colt.

As luck would have it, Johnston looked over to see who was bidding against him and when he discovered it was his mate Michael Goodbody, he stopped bidding. This kind gesture was rewarded because Johnston was chosen to train the colt. Abdulla named the yearling Shamardal. Making his debut at Ayr as a juvenile, Shamardal won a six furlongs Maiden by eight lengths. Next time out he won the seven furlongs Vintage Stakes-Gr.2 by 2.5 lengths at Goodwood, defeating Wilko, a classy colt who would go on to win the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Stakes-Gr.1 in November. Timeform’s experts were impressed with this victory.

Enter into the picture Sheikh Mohammed. He decided his brother Sheikh Maktoum should have the privilege of racing Shamardal rather than Abdulla Buhaleeba. Thus a change in ownership was registered. Mark Johnston was allowed to train the colt up until the
end of the year. On October 16, Shamardal won the Dewhurst Stakes-Gr.1 over seven furlongs by 2.5 lengths and was crowned Champion 2YO. The Maktoum family’s Godolphin raced the colt as a three year-old and he was trained by Saeed bin Suroor.

After an unplaced effort on dirt in Dubai (the only time the colt was defeated) Shamardal was sent to Europe to win important Gr.1 races, but just before the Eclipse Stakes-Gr.1 news came he had fractured a front fetlock. His style of racing was to lead and defy his opponents. Shamardal possessed tremendous courage, which he transmitted to many of his progeny.


CONCERNING “wobblers” another interesting case worth mentioning is that of Anabaa, a Danzig colt out of Balbonella by Gay Mecene. Bred by Gainsborough Farm in Lexington, Anabaa was sent to France to be trained by Criquette Head-Maarek, daughter
of Alec and Ghislaine Head.

Unfortunately as an early two year-old the colt was diagnosed as a “wobbler” and when notified, Sheikh Maktoum decided he would gift the colt to Alec Head’s wife to perhaps use as a teaser on their Haras du Quesnay stud near Deauville. Alec Head, a great horseman and trainer, liked the young colt and programmed a process of rehabilitation. Anabaa began to respond to treatment. By mid-year he was sound enough to be put into work. Thus, with maturity, the colt’s spinal canal had expanded to relieve neurological pressure.

Upon news of the colt’s clean bill of health, Madame Head advised the Sheikh’s general manager Michael Goodbody the Danzig colt was ready to be put into training. Sheikh Maktoum honoured his promise to Madame Head who would retain ownership and race Anabaa in France. Years later, Sheikh Maktoum would patronise Anabaa with some of Gainsborough Stud’s young broodmares.

Although unable to win at three years, Anabaa showed enough ability from a few starts towards the backend of the season to suggest he could make a stakes runner. It’s history how in 1996 at four years, Anabaa progressed to become Champion Sprinter of Europe. Among his six victories was the prestigious July Cup-Gr.1 in which he defeated Pivotal and Mind Games. In the autumn, he won a hotly contested Prix Maurice de Gheest-Gr.1.

Wobbler syndrome CSM (cervical stenotic myelopathy) is a neurological disease created by the deformities of the neck vertebrae in horses, causinga narrowing of the spinal canal and compression of the spinal cord. Nutritional therapy and specific restricted exercise can sometimes contribute to recovery as these two cases have shown.

Corticosteroids may be prescribed to perhaps reduce spinal cord swelling but there is no guarantee it will be effective. It seems many young horses experiencing very rapid growth are prime prospects to develop CSM.

Shamardal’s major stakes winners include Able Friend (Champion in Hong Kong), Lope de Vega (Prix du Jockey Club-Gr.1), Blue Point (Champion Sprinter in Europe), Pakistan Star (Queen Elizabeth II Cup), Castle Lady (Poule d’Essai des Pouliches-Gr.1), and brilliant filly Lumiere (Cheveley Park Stakes-Gr.1).

He is also the sire of Baltic Baroness (Prix Vermeille-Gr.1), Mukhadram (Eclipse Stakes-Gr.1) Sagawara (Prix Saint-Alary-Gr.1), Faint Perfume (VRC Crown Oaks-Gr.1), Puissance de Lune (VRC Blamey Stakes-Gr.2), and most recently Pinatubo (Champion 2YO
in Europe, Dewhurst Stakes-Gr.1), Earthlight (Prix Morny-Gr.1, Middle Park Stakes-Gr.1) and Victor Ludorum (Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere-Gr.1).

The US Champion Giant’s Causeway is considered to be the best son of North America’s leading sire Storm Cat. Giant’s Causeway is the sire of Bricks and Mortar, US Champion last year whose record shows 11 wins from 13 starts for earnings of more than $US7m. Bricks and Mortar’s victories include the Breeders’ Cup Turf-Gr.1, Pegasus World Cup-Gr.1, Manhattan Stakes-Gr.1 and Turf Classic-Gr.1. He was recently purchased to stand stud duty in Japan. Inbred 3mx3m to Storm Bird, Bricks and Mortar is line bred to those great stallions Princequillo and Nasrullah.

Lope de Vega

LOPE de Vega (Shamardal-Lady Vettori by Vettori) was trained by Andre Fabre. In his care the colt won the Poule des Poulains-Gr.1 (defeating Dick Turpin) and Prix du Jockey Club-Gt.1, thus emulating his sire who captured both classics. At two, Lope de Vega won twice before finishing fourth to Siyouni in the Prix Jean Luc Legardere-Gr.1. Retired to Ballylinch Stud, Ireland and shuttled to Australia, Lope de Vega and Scat Daddy (Johannesburg-Love Style by Mr. Prospector) are recognised as among the most influential sires from Storm Cat’s male line. Standing for €15,000 in his first year, Lope de Vega now commands a service fee of €100,000 and no longer shuttles.

Lope de Vega’s progeny include Belardo (Dewhurst Stakes-Gr.1, Lockinge Stakes-Gr.1, who stands at stud in New Zealand), Santa Ana Lane (multiple Gr.1 winner and world class sprinter), Vega Magic (The Goodwood-Gr.1, Memsie Stakes-Gr.1), Phoenix of Spain (Irish 2000 Guineas-Gr.1), Zabeel Prince (Prix d’Ispahan-Gr.1), Jamayel (Prix Saint-Alary-Gr.1) and Newspaperofrecord (Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies-Gr.1).

Shamardal’s fast son Blue Point twice won Royal Ascot’s King’s Stand Stakes-Gr.1. His wins also include the Diamond Jubilee Stakes-Gr.1 and Al Quoz Sprint-Gr.1, scoring in 11 of 20 starts to earn £2.6m. At two years he won the Gimcrack Stakes-Gr.2 at York, was runner-up in the Middle Park Stakes-Gr.1 and finished third in the Dewhurst Stakes-Gr.1.

Shamardal’s son Puissance de Lune is a young stallion who I promoted in previous articles as having potential to get classic runners. He stands at Adam Sangster’s Swettenham Stud in Victoria. A 16.2 hand grey horse, he deserves solid support because he is one of the best young stallions standing in Australia.

He is three-quarter brother to Gr.1 winner Zabeel Prince and closely related to Champion Irish Two Year-Old filly Rizeena, winner of the Royal Ascot Coronation Stakes-Gr.1, Curragh Moyglare Stud Stakes-Gr.1 and Queen Mary Stakes-Gr.2. Puissance de Lune is inbred 4fx3f to Rahy (Blushing Groom-Glorious Song by Halo) and line bred to champion Native Dancer via Raise a Native and Natalma.

The pedigree pattern of Puissance de Lune shows Nasrullah, his three quarter brother Royal Charger and duplication of Mahmoud’s daughter Almahmoud.

The dam of Puissance de Lune is by Unbridled’s Song, US Champion Two Year-Old and now Leading Broodmare Sire in North America. This is the family of Serena’s Song, Sophisticat and Doubles Partner. Winner of eight races worth more than $900,000, Puissance de Lune was a front-runner like his dad.

He won the VRC Blamey Stakes-Gr.2, Caulfield P.B. Lawrence Stakes-Gr.2, VRC Queen Elizabeth Stakes-Gr.3, Listed Bendigo Cup, was runner-up to Happy Trails in the Turnbull Stakes-Gr.1 and runner-up to Dissident in the Makybe Diva Stakes-Gr.1.

I love pedigrees that feature Tesio’s famous mare Nervesa, half-sister to unbeaten Nearco. She is the only daughter of champion mare Nogara and is found in the make-up of Caro, a grey horse voted Champion Miler of France. Nervesa is one of the main reasons why Unbridled’s Song is the broodmare sire of so many high-class performers.

The 16.1 hand grey stallion Crackerjack King (Shamardal-Claba di San Jore by Barathea) was Champion Older Male in Italy and stands at Miner’s Rest in Victoria. Of his seven victories he won the Premio Presidente della Repubblica-Gr.1 and Derby Italiano-Gr.2. His dam carries reinforcement of the mix of Princequillo with three-quarter brothers Royal Charger and Nasrullah. Crackerjack King is likely to sire his best runners from mares possessing the strains of Danehill and Star Kingdom. He stands at Wyndholm Park for a service fee of $6600. Mares by Stratum, Sebring, Danehill and More Than Ready are ideal genotypes to match with this stallion.
Shamardal has a strong pedigree pattern. Like many stakes winners sired by Giant’s Causeway he is from a mare who is a descendant of Mr. Prospector. Significantly, Shamardal has three sources of champion Hail to Reason (by Turn-to), twice via Halo and once via Roberto. Helen Street, second dam of Shamardal, inherits speed from half-sisters Lady Juror (dam of Fair Trial x 2) and Mumtaz Mahal, second dam of Nasrullah and the third dam of Royal Charger.

Helen Street’s pedigree shows Nasrullah duplicated via a “daughter” Thicket (dam of Hornbeam) and via a “son” Never Bend. Worth noting, Shamardal has three ancestors who are products of the famous Nasrullah and Princequillo mix, namely,
* Secretariat (Bold Ruler-Somethingroyal by Princequillo)
* Chieftain (Bold Ruler-Pocahontas by Roman-How by Princequillo)
* Riverman (Never Bend-River Lady by Prince John, son of Princequillo).

Whenever Shamardal covers mares with a source of Sir Gaylord (Turn-to-Somethingroyal by Princequillo) or his son Sir Ivor, this mix nearly always produces quick maturing runners. Sir Ivor’s son Sir Tristram provides a dynamic pedigree pattern when it meets up with Shamardal’s ancestry.

In the complicated pedigree pattern of dual French classic winner Lope de Vega (Shamardal-Lady Vettori by Vettori) not only does this successful sire inherit powerful genes from his 3fx3m inbreeding to Machiavellian, but also from Sir Gaylord’s “son”
Sir Ivor and “daughter” Gay Missile (dam of Gay Mecene). As well, note Vettori’s third dam Quill adds more Princequillo to the pattern. Mr. Prospector’s champion son Machiavellian is out of Coup de Folie by Halo (Hail to Reason-Cosmah). It’s important
to note Coup de Folie is inbred to Almahmoud via two of her daughters, Cosmah and Natalma, because this brings in Mahmoud (Blenheim-Mah Mahal by Gainsborough-Mumtaz Mahal) who is three-quarter brother to Nasrullah’s dam Mumtaz Begum (Blenheim-Mumtaz Mahal by The Tetrarch). Perhaps now we are beginning to understand why Lope de Vega sired such brilliant sons as Santa Ana Lane, Vega Magic, Phoenix of Spain and Belardo.

In the pedigree of Victor Ludorum (Shamardal-Antiquities by Kaldounevees) with his unique triple of champion Petingo (5mx5m,5m), we discover this unbeaten juvenile colt is inbred 3fx3f to Helen Street, winner of the Irish Oaks-Gr.1, thus reinforcing the superior genes of Fair Trial, Nasrullah and Princequillo. Victor Ludorum’s dam Antiquities was bred by Sheikh Mohammed and won twice from eight starts. She was stakes placed second in the Prix Cleopatre-Gr.3 over 2100m, Listed Prix Melisande and Listed Prix Madame Jean Couterie. She produced Mary Tudor (by Dawn Approach), winner of the Listed Salsabil Stakes and a gallant third in the Irish Oaks-Gr.1.


SHAMARDAL’S son Pinatubo, Champion European Two Year-Old of 2019 and current favourite for the English 2000 Guineas-Gr.1, belongs to the wonderful family of elite mare Eljazzi, his fourth dam. Pinatubo’s pedigree pattern is quite exceptional. Readers should make an effort to extend the colt’s pedigree to at least six generations because it is fascinating to understand why he was so brilliant.
Lava Flow (Dalakhani-Mount Elbrus by Barathea), dam of Pinatubo, possesses the Nasrullah and Princequillo mix via champion Mill Reef (sire of Shirley Heights) and via Miswaki’s second dam Rose Bower (Princequillo-Lea Lane by Nasrullah). Next, we see support from Sir Gaylord (sire of Habitat) with his Royal Charger and Princequillo mix, plus extra input from Princequillo via Artaius. Pinatubo’s zigzag line of influence goes via his broodmare sire Darshaan to Daltawa to her sire Miswaki. This is the same zigzag line of champions Galileo and Sea the Stars. It’s easy to predict many future stakes winners will be bred with a double of Miswaki.

Shamardal’s fast son Blue Point (ex Scarlet Rose by Royal Applause) inherits speed via his dam with the Nasrullah and Princequillo mix represented by Bold Bidder, sire of Auction Ring. Lumiere, England’s Champion Two-Year-Old Filly of 2015 is by Shamardal from Screen Star by Tobougg (by Barathea). A homebred raced by Sheikh Hamdan, she won the Cheveley Park Stakes-Gr.1 and was runner-up in York’s Lowther Stakes-Gr.2. She traces in dam line to La Troienne (see pedigree).

At three Lumiere progressed to win the Listed Sir Henry Cecil Stakes at Newmarket, was runner-up in the Challenge Stakes-Gr.2 and finished third in the Sceptre Stakes-Gr.2. Tobougg, broodmare sire of Lumiere, reinforces Nasrullah, Royal Charger and Princequillo, ancestors all highly suited to Shamardal’s genetic make-up. Tobougg is actually a close relative of Miswaki because his second dam Hope For All is by Secretariat from Hopespringseternal by Buckpasser from Rose Bower by Princequillo from Lea Lane by Nasrullah. Able Friend, Horse of the Year in Hong Kong, is by Shamardal from Ponte Piccolo by Volksraad, and Volksraad is a product of the mix
of Sir Gaylord and Secretariat plus Mahmoud.

Faint Perfume (Shamardal-Zona by Zabeel), five wins including the ATC Storm Queen Stakes-Gr.1, VRC Crown Oaks-Gr.1 and Wakeful Stakes-Gr.2, has a pedigree pattern revealing 4mx4f duplication of Storm Bird via “son” Storm Cat and “daughter” Stormy Exchange. Her broodmare sire Zabeel is by Sir Tristram, inbred to Princequillo via Sir Gaylord and Round Table. Faint Perfume has
an ideal pedigree pattern to become the dam of Group winners.

In conclusion, Shamardal upgrades families with classic speed. His sons Puissance de Lune, Crackerjack King and grandson Belardo should do well here.

The thing is, we already know Shamardal’s strain nicks with Danehill’s genotype; therefore I hope when Sheikh Mohammed retires Pinatubo from racing, this fantastic son of Shamardal might shuttle to Australia.

Pinatubo was given an exceptionally high Timeform rating. He is one of the most brilliant two year-olds ever to grace turf in the United Kingdom. It’s rather nice the male line of Storm Cat is growing in popularity. Naturally, I have a soft spot for Storm Cat seeing I managed the first three years of his stud career at Overbrook Farm in Kentucky. Shamardal’s young daughters are becoming increasingly expensive to buy because experienced horse breeders already acknowledge their ability to produce Group winners. n

Ken McLean

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