[First published March 2020]
INBRED 3mx3m to Danzig and with the Sharpen Up brothers Kris and Diesis 3×3, Shalaa (IRE) won six of his eight starts, five of them at 1200m at two, so it’s no wonder his first crop yearlings have proven so attractive to buyers this year. The son of Invincible Spirit (IRE) was a dual Gr.1 winner as a juvenile and he has 13 yearlings entered for the 2020 Australian Easter Sale at Riverside Stables on April 7-8.
TESTING the market with the first youngsters by a new sire can be stressful but those vendors offering Shalaa (IRE) yearlings at the Gold Coast in 2020 walked away a smile on their faces. With a top price of $600,000 and an average of $250,217 for 23 sold there was plenty of joy all round.
But it is hardly surprising that Shalaa’s first crop babies should command attention as he’s dual Gr.1 winner by Invincible Spirit (IRE), carries a 3mx3m double of speed influence Danzig, is also 3×3 to the brothers Kris and Diesis (Sharpen Up) and has the backing of Arrowfield Stud, where he spent his third southern season in 2019 looking after 147 mares at an unchanged fee of $33,000. The 2020 sale yearlings are from his first southern crop of 113 foals and he has a further 100 weanlings waiting in the wings from his covers in 2018.
His seventh dam Safari Moon (Big Game-Moonstone by Mahmoud) traces to Rose Red (Swynford), family 1w, whose descendants include Larkspur, Alycidon, Cheraw, Acropolis and Agricola, who all made a mark as sires, while closer to home the multiple Gr.1 winner and good US sire Quack is a descendant of Safari Moon. Quack’s second dam Nato (Court Martial) is the sixth dam of Shalaa (Invincible Spirit (IRE)-Ghurra by War Chant).
It’s a feather in his cap that his first yearlings were so well received at our first major sale of the year and there is even more kudos when you look at the buying bench. Those yearlings were purchased by Australian Bloodstock, Mulcaster Bloodstock (for Chris Waller), Belmont Bloodstock (Mitchell/McEvoy Racing), Munce Racing, Gai Waterhouse/Adrian Bott, Paul Moroney, George Moore (for Gary Moore), Freedman Brothers, DGR Thoroughbred services, Ciaron Maher Racing, China Horse Club/Newgate and Dynamic Syndications, some of the most astute judges in racing. The top priced lot by the sire (418) at the Gold Coast Magic Millions in January was the $600,000 half-brother to HK Gr.1 winner Contentment (ex Jemmison by Commands), who carries three lines of Danzig and was knocked down to John Sadler Racing. Second top price was the $450,000 paid by Katelanis Bloodstock/Astute Bloodstock for the half-sister (Lot 428) to Listed winner Hijack Hussy (ex Joy Ride by Redoute’s Choice), another carrying a triple to Danzig and featuring the Green Desert/Danehill cross that is becoming so prevalent locally thanks, to the success of I Am Invincible, the champion Australian-bred sire son of Invincible Spirit (IRE)) whose runners out of Danehill-line mares include Houtzen, Fiesta, Catch Me, Eckstein, Pure Elation, Invincible Star, Overshare, She’s So High, Vinnie Eagle and I’m Wesley. Worth noting too is that doubling Shalaa’s grandsire Green Desert is also working, most notably in Gr.1 winner Hellbent (3mx3m).
“Shalaa displayed the high quality, early maturing speed that Australian breeders demand and offers a fresh take on the Danzig sire line that is clearly working here,” Arrowfield chairman John Messara said when Shalaa retired to stud in 2017. “He is a great physical type and we are delighted to stand such a dominant two year-old at Arrowfield.”
A 100,000 guineas foal at Tattersalls and then a 170,000 guineas yearling, Shalaa campaigned for Al Shaqab Racing (Sheikh Joaan Al Thani of Qatar) and won five of his six starts at two. After an unplaced effort first time out he won a 6f maiden at Newmarket by two lengths and then stepped straight into Group company in the July Stakes-Gr.2 (6f) at the same venue, disputing the lead and then winning by a length with something in hand, despite his 14/1 quote in a strong field.
Carrying a 3lb penalty next time out, he was even more impressive in the Richmond Stakes-Gr.2 (6f) at Goodwood, beating Listed winner Tasleet by 2.75 lengths and prompting Timeform to note, “he enhanced his claims to be one of the season’s top juveniles”. Trainer John Gosden was also impressed, saying for the first time that Shalaa reminded him a lot of Oasis Dream (Green Desert) and would be kept strictly to sprinting. “He’s so fast and he enjoys sprinting, so let him sprint,” he said, rating the youngster the fastest two year-old he’d trained. “He’s got a good mind on him too, which is important.”
Although previously racing on only good or firm tracks, Shalaa handled the very soft turf at Deauville with aplomb and was always in control in the Prix Morny-Gr.1 (1200m), cruising home to a very easy win for Frankie Dettori. Timeform reported the winner had “confirmed himself as the top two year-old in Europe” after his first Gr.1 victory. His final start of 2015 came a month later (September 26) in the Middle Park Stakes-Gr.1 (6f) and he started 2/1 on in a field of seven, which included Coventry Stakes winner Buratino and Gimcrack winner Ajaya. Shalaa was soon in front and stayed there all the way to beat Buratino by half a length after being eased in the final strides to win with a bit in hand.
“He’s got tremendous speed and is the fastest two year-old I’ve ridden,” regular rider Dettori said after this second Gr.1 success. “I haven’t met a horse fast enough to lead him.” He was off the scene for most of his three year-old season after suffering a pelvic injury in a routine training gallop, reappearing on October 1, 2016 with a neck win in the Ascot Bengough Stakes-Gr.3 (6f) and was retired after finishing 10th of 13 in the British Champion Sprint-Gr.1 behind Tin Man after starting joint favourite and racing prominently until the final half-furlong on October 15. He won six of eight starts and £450,208.
In its essay on Shalaa at the end of his juvenile season Timeform said the dual Gr.1 winner “looks champion sprinter material and could well emulate Oasis Dream (also trained by John Gosden) in that regard”. Racehorse of 2015 also wrote, “Shalaa confirmed himself the top two year-old in Europe with another very smart performance”, after his impressive win in the Prix Morny-Gr.1 and he was rated 123p at end of the season.
Like boom young sire I Am Invincible (dam by Canny Lad), who is current leader of the Australian Sires’ Table by earnings and covered 205 mares at $247,500
in 2019 at Yarraman Park Stud, Shalaa is a son of former shuttler Invincible Spirit (IRE) (Green Desert-Rafha by Kris), who commands a fee of €100,000 at the
Irish National Stud in 2020. His 120 stakes winners (18 Gr.1) include European Horse of the Year Kingman, English 2000 Guineas winner Magna Grecia,
Champion European Sprinter Moonlight Cloud, French Derby winner Lawman and tough Australian Gr.1 winner Yosei among more than 900 winners. Invincible Spirit’s dam Rafha won five of her seven starts including the French Oaks-Gr.1 and is 4fx4m to Rockefella and line bred to that horse’s sire Hyperion (dam sire
Shalaa’s Gr.3 placed dam Ghurra, a winner of three races to 1700m and a three-quarter sister to Gr.1 winner and sire Hayil (USA), is the dam of three winners and
is by the Gr.1-winning Danzig son War Chant and from Listed placed Futuh by the Middle Park Stakes winner and successful sire Diesis. This is a pedigree with some interesting inbreeding as sire and dam are by sons of Danzig from mares by brothers (Kris and Diesis).
Breeders’ Cup Mile-Gr.1 winner War Chant (Danzig-Hollywood Wildcat by Kris) was relocated from the US to Yarradale Stud in WA in 2011 (shuttled to 2013, then full-time from 2014) and has left nine stakes winners here, notably the William Reid Stakes-Gr.1 heroine Silent Sedition (Dubai Destination) and the Gr.2 winners Variation and War Saint (dams by Don’t Say Halo (USA)) and Gr.3 winners Dainty Tess (Bletchley Park) and Chantski (Marauding). His northern runners include the Gr.1 winners Midnight Interlude (Groom Dancer) and Kingsfort (Kris, from the same family as Shalaa) and world wide he has more than 525 winners (43SW) of $62m, a 70.2% winners-to-runners ratio. His daughters have produced more than 330 winners of more than $40m, their 24 stakes winners led by Shalaa and promoted Kentucky Derby-Gr.1 hero Country House (Lookin’ at Lucky; inbred 4fx4m to No Class, a daughter of Nodouble and also with Danzig 4mx3m). They have also produced Group winners by More Than Ready (and his son Verrazano), Medaglia d’Oro, Mastercraftsman, and Lonhro. War Chant’s dam Hollywood Wildcat (Nashua 4fx4f), a triple Gr.1 winner, was Champion 3YO Filly in the US and is a daughter of Kris S (Roberto-Sharp Queen by Princequillo) and the Mr. Prospector (Native Dancer grandson) mare Miss Wildcatter.
Invincible Spirit’s dam sire Kris (Sharpen Up-Doubly Sure by Reliance), was unbeaten at two and Champion Miler in Europe in 1979-80, counting the Sussex Stakes, St James’s Palace Stakes, Waterford Crystal Mile, Queen Elizabeth II Stakes and Lockinge Stakes among 14 wins and he was Leading Sire in Great Britain and Ireland in 1985. His brother Diesis, sire of Futuh, second dam of Shalaa, who stood in Kentucky but whose stock had great success on the turf in Europe, was England’s Champion 2YO Colt of 1982 when his four wins included the Dewhurst Stakes-Gr.1 and Middle Park Stakes-Gr.1. Their stakes winning brother Keen (GB) stood for a time in Australia (1985-89) where his runners included Gr.1 winner Gamine.
They are sons of outstanding juvenile Sharpen Up (Atan-Rochetta by Rockefella), also a Middle Park Stakes winner and a grandson of all-time great Native Dancer, whose daughter Natalma features as the dam of Northern Dancer and third dam of Danehill (Danzig). Sharpen Up is also dam sire of Danehill Dancer (IRE), and mares by that horse’s son Choisir appeal as suitable mates for Shalaa, as do mares by High Chaparral (IRE), whose second dam is by Kris and whose sire Sadler’s Wells has worked with the Danzig line.
Green Desert (Danzig-Foreign Courier by Sir Ivor) was a July Cup-Gr.1 winner who sired more than 100SW and has had a remarkable impact on the breed, featuring in the pedigrees of numerous high-class horses including sons Cape Cross (IRE), Kheleyf (USA), Oasis Dream, Desert Prince (IRE), Desert Sun (GB), Tamarisk, Volksraad (GB) and of course the Haydock Sprint Cup-Gr.1 winner and sire of Shalaa in Invincible Spirit.
Shalaa’s third dam Hardship (Drone-Hard and Fast by Etonian) was Gr.1 placed and has many black type descendants including Gr.1 winner and sire Wild Rush. This is family 1w tracing to Moonstone (by Mahmoud, sire of the dam of Natalma and Halo). Moonstone’s dam Rosetta (Kantar-Rose Red by Swynford) is a half-sister to Aurora (Hyperion), dam of Alycidon and Agricola, two sires who feature in many pedigrees here.
Shalaa’s first northern book at his owner’s Haras de Bouquetot in France included world champion and dual Arc winner Treve (Motivator) whose subsequent filly, foaled in 2018, has been named Paris and carries a triple of Danzig (4m,4mx4m) as her second dam is by Anabaa (USA).
“Shalaa is a standout individual, well balanced, correct and a great mover,” Benoit Jeffrey, manager of the Al Shaqab breeding operation said. “As a son of Invincible Spirit he has proved as popular with Australian breeders as he has been in Europe.”
Buyers will have 13 yearlings by Shalaa to inspect at Easter, nine of them from home stud Arrowfield and including a colt (Lot 69) from Golden Slipper winner
Miss Finland (Redoute’s Choice), a five-time Gr.1 winner and already dam of Gr.1 winner Stay With Me. There is also a filly (Lot 37) from Gr.2 winner Longport (Casino Prince) from Yarraman Park; a filly (Lot 196) from Gr.3 winner Sharnee Rose (Nadeem); a three-quarter brother (Lot 461) to triple Gr.1 winner Yosei (ex Fuji Fairy by Fuji Kiseki (JPN)) from Edinglassie Stud and a colt (Lot 513) from Gr.2 winner and Gr.1 placed Just Dancing (Fusaichi Pegasus (USA)) in this select draft.