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Golden Horn proving a winner at stud

17 May 2016

The horse who dazzled in last year’s QIPCO British Champions Series has hit the deck running as a stallion

Golden Horn Derby

Frankie Dettori celebrates after winning the Derby on Golden Horn. Picture courtesy of

Golden Horn excelled on the racecourse and is proving equally prolific in his new vocation as a stallion. He has almost completed his first book of 145 star-studded mares and his strike-rate of getting them in foal has been 93 per cent.

The horse who lit up last year’s QIPCO British Champions Series, when he won the Derby and Eclipse before going on to win the Irish Champion Stakes and Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, was paraded at an Investec Derby Festival media trip at Dalham Hall Stud in Newmarket this morning.

He was relaxed and inquisitive throughout but it was a busy day at the office for him. Having already been on duty at 8am, three more unions were planned for 1pm, 6pm and midnight.

There is not much romance and the liaisons can be over in 20 seconds, but he is not a cheap date. Those seeking his input pay £60,000 if their mare is scanned in foal on October 1.

Before the day is out, he will potentially have earned his connections £240,000 – not much less than first prize for the Eclipse.

“I’m delighted to say he’s started off his new career as he finished his old one,” said Sam Bullard, director of stallions at Sheikh Mohammed’s sumptuous stud. “He’s incredibly efficient; unbelievably good.

“He has a long-time closed book of 145 mares. Of those, 74 were Group 1 winners, dams of Group 1 winners or immediately related to Group 1 winners, so it is of the highest quality.

“Of our horses, only Dubawi and Shamardal would claim to have a superior book of mares than he has got to start out with.”

Golden Horn was bred by his owner, Anthony Oppenheimer, and was trained by John Gosden throughout his nine-race career.

The four-year-old, who is 45 kilos heavier than when winning the Derby, stands at Dalham Hall in a partnership between Oppenheimer and Sheikh Mohammed.

“He’s got a fantastic temperament,” Bullard said. “He’s a very busy horse who loves things going on around him, more so than many others.”

Golden Horn made a habit of eating his own tail during his racing days and it remains a trait. The strands of hair that he has left look rather sorry for themselves.

“I’m hoping that when we turn him out for his holiday and he gets a bit thicker [in condition] he will not be able to reach it, and then his tail will grow,” Bullard said.

Golden Horn raced for about 20 minutes but, provided he stays healthy and willing, could stand at stud for another 20 years and father 3,000 racehorses.

As with all forms of racing, there are no guarantees that his progeny will flourish. Many top-class racehorses have been failures as stallions and the breeding world is full of cautionary tales of woe.

The most famous occurred in 1983 when Sheikh Mohammed, seeking a son of Northern Dancer who could be a foundation stallion for his breeding operation, paid $10.2 million for a yearling called Snaafi Dancer.

He was so slow that he never ran and, when retired to stud, he had fertility problems and sired only four modest foals.

However, if Golden Horn needs inspiration it is close at hand in the neighbouring stable of Dubawi.

Now 14, Dubawi has proved a marvel in the breeding sheds and been responsible for 23 individual Group 1 winners. Among his offspring have been QIPCO British Champions Series heroes such as Al Kazeem, Postponed, Night Of Thunder and Arabian Queen.

He commands a fee of £225,000 and covers 160 mares per year. Demand for him is so great that Darley have to reject half the applications that arrive at their door.

“He’s nothing short of a sensation,” Bullard said. “He’s a remarkable stallion. He’s breaking all the records; he and Galileo are the two best.”