The battle between the navy blue of Ballydoyle and the royal blue of Godolphin has been one of the most compelling subplots in 21st century horseracing, with the powerful owner/breeder operations locking horns in the biggest events time and time again.
Both Ballydoyle and Godolphin have a squadron of talent which is the envy of the racing world, and behind every great team of horses lies an equally impressive roster of stallions. The great Galileo, of course, flew the flag for Ballydoyle until his passing in 2022, but Godolphin have a prolific sire of their own in their ranks, and he goes by the name of Dubawi.
Sired by an All-time Great
Given the many talented performers to have sported the famous royal blue silks, it takes a pretty special horse to claim the title of the greatest runner to emerge from the Godolphin stable. However, whenever anyone involved in the operation is asked to name the most talented Godolphin horse, the answer is almost always the same – Dubai Millennium.
Sheikh Mohammed al Maktoum’s pride and joy won nine of 10 starts at the track – his only defeat coming when failing to handle the Epsom undulations – and ended his career with a mighty rating of 136. When on song, no horse could get near Dubai Millennium, who won by 2½l or more in all nine of his career successes, including four Group 1 triumphs. Highlights abound during that stellar career, but never was he better than when pulverising the field in the 2000 edition of the Dubai World Cup.
Retired at the end of his four-year-old campaign, Dubai Millennium sadly died of grass sickness, having sired only 35 foals. That’s a tiny number compared to the superstar stallions of today, but thankfully for the Godolphin operation, there was a superstar lurking in the mix.
Excellent at the Track
Sired by Dubai Millennium, and out of the Italian Oaks-winning mare Zomaradah, Dubawi certainly had everything in his favour on paper and wasn’t long in delivering on that potential at the track. A perfect three from three during his juvenile campaign, he was then sent off the 11/8 favourite for the 2005 2000 Guineas.
Managing only fifth behind Ballydoyle’s Footstepsinthesand that day, he soon made amends when storming clear in the Irish 2000 Guineas. Subsequently finishing third behind Motivator in the Epsom Derby, he added a third career Group 1 when landing the Jacques Le Marois at Deauville before heading off to stud – where he would enjoy much more luck than his ill-fated father.
Sensational at Stud
To say that Dubawi has proven a success as a stallion would be an understatement of huge proportions. As of 2023, the Godolphin flagbearer has sired the winner of over 50 Group/Grade 1 events, including three Classics, with his progeny amassing the phenomenal sum of just over £146m in total prize money.
What impresses most about Dubawi is his versatility, with his sons and daughters winning top-level events over almost all distances, ranging from Platinum Jubilee Stakes winner, Naval Crown, to St. Leger hero Eldar Eldarov. Not content with flat success, Dubawi also sired 2015 Queen Mother Champion Chase champ, Dodging Bullets. Having finished second to Galileo on no fewer than six occasions, Dubawi was crowned the Champion Sire in Great Britain and Ireland for the first time in 2022.
Five of the Best
There are so many to choose from but here are perhaps the five greatest Dubawi progeny.
5. Lord North
Announcing himself on the big stage with a cosy success in the 2019 Cambridgeshire, Lord North has gone on to prove himself to be significantly better than a handicapper. A winner of 10 races in total, the big highlight on these shores came with his win in the 2020 Prince Of Wales’s Stakes. However, it is for his exploits out in Meydan on Dubai World Cup night that the horse is best known, having won the Dubai Turf in 2021, 2022, and 2023. Those three triumphs account for the lion’s share of Lord North’s massive £6m+ career prize money, making him the highest earner of any of Dubawi’s progeny.
4. Al Kazeem
Coming in at number four is one of the greatest horses to emerge from the Roger Charlton operation. Something of a slow burner, Al Kazeem, didn’t earn his first crack at a Group 1 contest until his five-year-old campaign, but soon made up for lost time in landing the Tattersalls Gold Cup, Coral-Eclipse, and a thrilling edition of the Prince of Wales’s Stakes. Retired to stud in 2013, Al Kazeem proved a flop as a stallion but returned to the track to add three further Group successes to his CV, headlined by a second triumph in the Tattersalls Gold Cup in 2015.
The French-trained runner Makfi holds the distinction of being the first Dubawi-sired runner to come out on top in a British Classic – that breakthrough success coming when the Mikel Delzangles star caused a 33/1 shock in the 2010 edition of the 2000 Guineas. Adding to his Group 1 tally when mastering Goldikova in the Jacques Le Marois, Makfi was retired at the end of his Classic campaign and is now a successful sire in his own right. Watch this space!
Initially based with Mark Johnston, Monterosso showed definite signs of promise during his time at Middleham, picking up a Group 2 success in the King Edward VII Stakes and finishing fourth in the Irish Derby. However, the switch to the yard of Mahmood Al Zarooni and racing in the sunnier climbs of Dubai certainly seemed to suit this strapping bay, who in 2012 emulated his famous sire with a huge performance in the Dubai World Cup.
Topping the pile is a horse that combined the two most powerful breeding lines in the sport. Sired by Dubawi and out of the Irish 1000 Guineas-winning Galileo mare, Nightime, Ghaiyyath didn’t come cheap at €1.1million. However, he certainly lived up to his billing in winning nine of 13 career starts, including four successes at the highest level. Derby winner Anthony Van Dyck, superstar mare Enable, and Lord North all failed to reel in this bold-running frontrunner during his blistering five-year-old campaign, with his relentless style never better advertised than in the 2020 Coral-Eclipse. Retired to stud in 2021, his first runners will be hitting the track next season, and he looks well-placed to carry on this famous breeding line.