Champions Series stars to stud: Belardo
14 Dec 2016
In the latest of our weekly series, we focus on a colt who was champion two-year-old and the winner of this year's Lockinge
Belardo and Andrea Atzeni (white cap) winning the Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes at Newbury. Picture: Racingfotos.com
Belardo won five of his 16 races and earned his connections around £900,000 in prize money. A champion two-year-old, he never hit the heights during a winless campaign the following year but as a four-year-old got back to winning ways in Group 1 company.
Belardo’s reputation went before him as a juvenile and he started at 8-13 for his debut over 6f at Yarmouth in late June 2014 when he won in taking style.
After that, he kept good company – finishing fourth in the Group 2 July Stakes at Newmarket and Group 2 Champagne Stakes at Doncaster. He also won a Listed contest at the latter track in between.
The leading juveniles that year took it in turns to beat each other, so the title of champion was still up for grabs in the autumn. Belardo took the crown with a decisive two-length defeat of Kodi Bear in the Dewhurst when equipped with a first-time hood.
It never quite happened for the son of Lope De Vega as a three-year-old. He ran in seven races – five at the highest level – without managing to get his head in front, although he did finish a close fourth to Gleneagles in the Irish 2000 Guineas.
Retirement looked on the cards – he had been champion two-year-old after all – but his final effort of the year, when chasing home Solow in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes, convinced his connections to keep him in training.
He was then rested with an autumn campaign revolving around another tilt at the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes in mind. He was among the leading fancies for the race on Champions Day but was scratched days beforehand after meeting with an untimely setback.
Swooping from off the pace, at 8-1 under Andrea Atzeni, to beat Euro Charline by a length in the Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes in May 2016.
“To win a race like this is why connections kept him in training, so I’m delighted for Sheikh Mohammed and his Godolphin operation and also Prince Faisal,” Roger Varian said. “They kept patience with the trainer and they’ve been rewarded.”
What they said
Trainer Roger Varian said: “Belardo has been a magnificent horse to train, winning Group One races at two and four as well as being crowned European champion juvenile. His victories in the Dewhurst Stakes and Lockinge Stakes were special moments in my career and those wins will live long in the memory.
“The horse has been a pleasure to have around the yard and I am sure he will make a successful stallion as he embarks on the next stage of his career.”
Where he will stand
At Kildangan Stud, Co Kildare, which forms part of Sheikh Mohammed’s Darley breeding empire. The grounds of Kildangan Stud, sold to the Maktoum family in 1986, feature rare ornamental trees and shrubs, plus an abundance of woodland. Darley was founded in 1981 and has more than 50 stallions around the world: in England, Ireland and the United States. Belardo will stand for an initial fee of €15,000.
What should we expect from his offspring?
Potentially top-class juveniles, for starters.
Belardo was a quick learner and won the Dewhurst on his way to being crowned champion two-year-old, while he himself was out of a Danehill mare who was also a champion at two.
Belardo was also much more than just a one-season wonder, shining in some of the top mile races at three and four.
If his offspring take after him, then they are unlikely to be screaming for distances in excess of a mile but, conversely, it is not difficult to envisage him throwing up useful sprinters.