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Stars To Stud: Ghaiyyath

22 Jan 2021

Ghaiyyath is headed to the breeding sheds after a superb 2020 - what can we expect from the Godolphin star at stud?

Trainer: Charlie Appleby. Owner: Godolphin. Regular jockey: William Buick

Races: 13. Wins: 9. Group 1 wins: 4. Highest Official Rating: 130. Prize-money: £879,923. Form in Champions Series races: 111.

OVERVIEW:

British racegoers did not get much opportunity to see Ghaiyyath beyond his days as a two-year-old when he had three races towards the end of the 2017 season.

His races in 2018 and 2019 were all on foreign shores and the world was gripped by the coronavirus pandemic by the time connections turned his attention to targets back on home soil in 2020. As a consequence, each of his performances took place behind closed doors.

However, the son of Dubawi had a captive TV audience and you imagine he had plenty on the edge of their seats with his compelling front-running displays that led to him being the highest-rated horse in the world.

Less than a week after racing was finally given the green light to resume after being halted by the pandemic, Ghaiyyath put smiles on plenty of faces by running his rivals ragged in the Hurworth Bloodstock Coronation Cup, which had been switched to Newmarket from Epsom.

He won in a course record time, with Anthony Van Dyck, the 2019 Derby winner, and staying star Stradivarius chasing him home. The latter would win a third Gold Cup 13 days later.

A month later, Ghaiyyath was at it again, making all in the Coral-Eclipse with no less than Enable being unable to lay a glove on him. She was making her return and possibly at a fitness disadvantage, but the Godolphin horse won with authority by two and a quarter lengths.

Any doubts about the merit of that performance were dispelled when he completed a notable Group 1 hat-trick in the Juddmonte International at York the following month.

William Buick again controlled things to perfection from the front with Ghaiyyath staying on strongly to beat brilliant mare Magical by three lengths.

The following month, Ghaiyyath and Magical met again in the Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown. This time the tactics were different on Magical – she kept tabs on him the whole way – and she turned the tables, winning by three-quarters of a length. Sottsass, the subsequent Arc winner, was fourth.

A minor setback prevented Ghaiyyath running in the Breeders’ Cup Turf and it was announced he had run his final race.

The son of Dubawi won the Group 3 Masar Godolphin Autumn Stakes at Newmarket as a two-year-old and looked a potential Derby candidate but was then absent almost a year before winning a Group 3 race at Longchamp on his only start as a three-year-old.

At four, he won a Group 2 at the track plus the Group 1 Longines Grosser Preis von Baden at Baden-Baden by a remarkable 14 lengths. Plenty fancied him for the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe on the back of that runaway success but it seemed to have left a mark as he faded tamely after forcing the pace.

Many had come to the conclusion that Ghaiyyath was perhaps not the most robust and best when fresh. However, they had to rethink that after his exploits this year when he put in one big shift after another.

HIS FINEST MOMENT:

August 19, 2020 at York – the Juddmonte International Stakes

Ghaiyyath had taken the scalp of Enable on his previous start, in the Coral-Eclipse at Sandown Park, but this effort even trumped that.

Six-time Group 1 winner Magical stood in his way, as did Lord North, the emphatic Prince of Wales’s Stakes victor, plus Kameko, the QIPCO 2000 Guineas hero.

The punters kept faith in Ghaiyyath, sending him off the 11/8 favourite, but the front-runner was going to have a big target on his back plus niggles persisted as to whether his all-the-way wins in the Coronation Cup and Coral-Eclipse might have taken the edge off him.

Racing typical freely at the head of affairs, it briefly looked like Ghaiyyath might be in trouble when Buick asked for more two furlongs out with his pursuers still in the battle.

However, the leader responded willingly and pulled out more to stretch clear. At the line, he had three lengths in hand of Magical, with Lord North another length and a quarter back in third. Kameko didn’t get home and was beaten an aggregate of five lengths.

Rated 127 going in to the race, he was raised to 130 afterwards – making him the highest-rated horse in the world.

WHAT THEY SAID:

“His high-class cruising speed and relentless style of galloping was a joy to watch – and as I have said before, this year he came together both physically and mentally and looked the finished article.

“He was an outstanding part of the Moulton Paddocks team, and I know that his numerous top-level successes gave our Principal, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed, a great deal of pleasure.”

Charlie Appleby after Ghaiyyath’s retirement

“Everything he did was just so flamboyant and so explosive – he really wore his heart on his sleeve, and I’ve been very privileged to have ridden him to some great wins

“As a physical specimen, he’s an amazing-looking horse – and everything he did early on was always ahead of everyone else. He’s just been a fantastic horse, from day one. He became renowned for that ability to go the pace he went and keep going, and even then at the end of his races to quicken from that pace and really put the race to bed.

“As he got older, more mature, he managed to channel his energy a little bit better – which we really saw this year. For me, his crowning moment was probably at Sandown when he really confirmed that he was absolute top-drawer. Then he backed it up at York in the Juddmonte (International) – so those are the two that stand out.”

William Buick on his explosive partner

WHAT SHOULD WE EXPECT FROM HIS OFFSPRING?

The imposing Ghaiyyath is standing at Godolphin’s Kildangan Stud in Ireland with his covering fee initially set at 30,000 euros.

That price seems certain to tempt plenty of breeders given that Ghaiyyath is himself bred in the purple (by Dubawi out of Galileo mare Nightime) and officially established himself as the best horse in the world in 2020.

It goes without saying that the stallion’s stock seem likely to be well-served by middle-distances.

But that’s not to say they will not make their mark as juveniles.

And if they are chips off the old block, juveniles with a relish for taking rivals out of their comfort zone from the front.