x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Second-hand buys can surprise

Geoffrey Riddle finds many horses that have moved on from Ballydoyle are prospering at their new stables.

Joshua Tree has found a new home.
Joshua Tree has found a new home.

The racecourses in the Arabian Gulf are quickly becoming a Petri dish for a much wider equine experiment.

There is a growing belief among the international racing fraternity that among the cast offs each season from Aidan O'Brien's Ballydoyle operation there are a few grains of wheat mixed in with the chaff.

The production line at Coolmore Stud, O'Brien's paymasters, is such that every year a new batch of blue-blooded thoroughbreds arrives at the Irish handler's training complex. O'Brien clearly has to make space for the untapped talent and since 1998 he has sold 212 horses through the Tattersalls autumn Horses in Training auction, generating a return of almost £8.5 million (Dh49.7m).

From this avenue horses have ended up racing in Dubai, but also more recently in the burgeoning thoroughbred arena that is Qatar.

Yet it is the more targeted approach, favoured by the likes of Mike de Kock, Marco Botti and, as revealed in these pages last week, Scottish owner Jimmy Long, that appears to be the more successful tactic.

Botti acquired Joshua Tree last year after the horse had been sold privately out of O'Brien's yard for a new career in Qatar.

Although the son of Montjeu had won the Pattison Canadian International for O'Brien, Botti rejuvenated the horse for an encouraging 2012 Dubai World Cup Carnival, as well as a repeat victory in the Canadian Group 1 in October.

"It is very difficult to improve a horse formerly trained by O'Brien," Botti said.

"We were lucky with Joshua Tree, and I wouldn't say we improved him - his rating is about the same as when we got him.

"He is by Montjeu and he has matured well with us. He has held his form well and is a tough horse. By placing him well we have won a Group 2 and a Group 1 with him, so the ability was still there.

"Of course, Aidan sells them for a reason, but he also needs to make space for his yearlings and some fall through the net."

De Kock, the UAE's most successful foreign trainer, has made a habit of taking O'Brien's unwanted equine talent.

Neither Eagle Mountain nor Archipenko had won at Group 1 level when with O'Brien, but both scored at the highest level for the South African trainer in 2008 when Archipenko took the Audemars Piguet QEII Cup and Eagle Mountain took the Hong Kong Cup.

Both were campaigned in Dubai during the Carnival, as was Viscount Nelson, who registered his first Group 2 win of his career when winning the Al Fahidi Fort at Meydan Racecourse in February.

This season the former Ballydoyle inmates of Await The Dawn, Treasure Beach and Daddy Long Legs will race for the trainer at the World Cup Carnival, which starts in six weeks.

Treasure Beach is being targeted at the Dubai Sheema Classic, while Daddy Long Legs bids to become the first horse to tack on the Dubai World Cup to a victory in the UAE Derby. Await The Dawn has not raced since finishing tailed off behind Cityscape in the Dubai Duty Free in March.

Archipenko provided O'Brien with a 1-2-3 in the 2007 Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial, leading home Macarthur and Yellowstone, both who were subsequently acquired by Jane Chapple-Hyam.

The Australian trainer has not had the greatest success with O'Brien cast offs but has dipped her toe in the water again this year by purchasing Apache at the Tattersalls Horses In Training sale at Newmarket last month.

Chapple-Hyam, who was helping to look after De Kock's team at Abington Place in Newmarket before they arrived in Dubai last week, hopes Apache will become a Melbourne Cup horse and one that might compete at the 2014 Dubai World Cup Carnival.

"Apache is a huge horse at 17 hands and he looked fantastic when he arrived," Chapple-Hyam said.

"Of course you never know why they are sold, but I was told he pulled, so I had him gelded. He's by Galileo, but is never going to be a Group 1 horse so by gelding him I can race him until he is around eight.

"Also, by calming down the hormones over the winter means we will have a chilled out horse for March.

"He's the nicest moving horse I've had for a long time. The others I had were a bit scratchy but this boy moves like a Rolls-Royce."

Apache was bought by Invictus Racing for 48,000 Guineas and was among 25 horses jettisoned into that Newmarket sales ring, many of which have been now earmarked for careers in Qatar.

The owners Mohamed Al Sheeb and Abdullah Al Kuwari, who are well-known Purebred Arabian owners, purchased Exact and Hail respectively, while Jameel Al Bash from Bahrain picked up Vault.

With Dubai regular Rashed Boursely also buying Frontier, who like Long's acquisition Chicago, is another who has been campaigned on soft ground in Europe but is thought to want firmer ground, there are numerous trainers in the region who hope they have found a diamond in the rough.

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