2019 was a staggering year for Darley and Godolphin, as the exploits of its stallions and racehorses dominated much of the European racing scene.
Shamardal, located at Kildangan Stud, enjoyed a sensational year thanks to his juvenile sons Pinatubo, Earthlight and Victor Ludorum.
Course Specialist was privileged to visit Dalham Hall recently and caught up with Darley’s Director of Stallions, Sam Bullard.
What is the history of Dalham Hall Stud and which stallions stood here before the stud was purchased in 1981?
Dalham Hall Stud was bought by Lord Milford in 1942 from the executors of the prominent owner/breeder Sir Alec Black and was originally called Derisley Stud. The stud was requisitioned by the army during the war, with the current stallion boxes utilised as soldiers’ billets. They still bear the stove chimneys today.
Lord Milford originally stood his homebred July Cup winner Honeyway at Derisley Stud with his son, Jim Philips, standing Honeyway’s son Great Nephew some years later.
Prix du Moulin winner Great Nephew, most famously known as the sire of Derby winners Grundy and the infamous Shergar, was purchased as part of the package during the stud’s sale to Sheikh Mohammed.
What year did His Highness purchase the property and how has it evolved since then?
The stud was purchased in the autumn of 1981, together with the stock that resided on the land. As previously mentioned, this included the stallion Great Nephew plus a number of mares, including the American-bred Oh So Fair. She was carrying to Kris at the time and the resultant foal was none other than 1985 fillies’ Triple Crown winner, Oh So Sharp.
Since its purchase, several new American barns have been erected, while various neighbouring studs have been acquired to accommodate broodmares and their progeny.
The original yard at Dalham Hall itself is now home to the UK roster of Darley stallions.
How much land does Godolphin cover and what other stud farms are owned globally?
The entire Godolphin area in Newmarket covers roughly 3,500 acres, which encompasses 12 farms.
Godolphin also owns farms in Oxfordshire and Berkshire which foal mares and are home to some of our retired stallions.
Globally, Godolphin now foal mares and stand stallions at a number of studs across the globe including Australia, Ireland, Japan and the US.
How many stallions will stand at Dalham Hall Stud in 2020?
There will be 13 stallions standing at Dalham Hall in 2020, including world-leader Dubawi, his outstanding son Too Darn Hot and the 2018 Derby winner Masar.
How many mares and foals will be based at Dalham Hall Stud?
Our mare numbers often fluctuate each season depending on the mating plan for each individual mare but in 2019 we foaled over 150 mares in Newmarket.
Shamardal, based at Kildangan Stud, enjoyed an extraordinary 2019 with his juveniles, headed by Pinatubo, Earthlight and Victor Ludorum. Is there anything you can attribute this astonishing success to?
Shamardal is a brilliant stallion in his own right and the quality of Godolphin mares covered in the last few seasons has only enhanced his credentials. The meticulous mating plans undertaken by the Godolphin team have no doubt contributed to his fantastic year.
Pinatubo and Earthlight have a very similar profile on their dam’s side, carrying both Darshaan and Sadler’s Wells lines, each of which have produced Group winners when crossed with Shamardal in the past.
Victor Ludorum is an example of inbreeding to a fantastic mare, as he is 3×3 to the highly influential Helen Street, a cross which has already successfully produced Shamardal’s Group 1 performer Lucida.
Blue Point retired from racing in 2019 and will go to Kildangan, where Night Of Thunder is returning to … what consideration goes into where a Darley stallion will be based?
There are a number of considerations that go into choosing a location for each stallion. We always aim to have a balanced roster within our European farms and try to avoid stallions directly competing against one another, for example Blue Point in Ireland and Harry Angel in the UK.
We also try and place each stallion in an area where they will be suited to the local mare population. The factors for this can vary from stallion to stallion but we want to make each stallion a success, so they are placed at a farm where we feel they will attract the best quality of mare.
With so many stallions, how much of a challenge is it to match the right mare to the right stallion? How scientific is this nominations process and how has this been refined over time?
The diversity of our roster means we cater to the requirements of most clients and their mares. The stallion needs to complement the mare and there are many things to consider such as pedigree, race record, their physicality and whether the intention is to sell the progeny or race themselves.
The old notion “breed the best to the best and hope for the best” can still ring true but the accessibility of nicking programs and gene testing within bloodstock has made it easier to assess compatibility between bloodlines.
How many mares will a stallion typically cover in one year? How many of these will be Darley-owned and how many will be for commercial breeders?
We would average around 140 mares a season depending on the stallion’s circumstances and a large proportion of these will be client mares.