DUBAI World Cup night was a celebration of age, the five Group 1 races falling to a five-year-old, a trio of six-year-olds, and a seven-year-old. Most are very familiar to followers of global racing, and three of the five were Irish-bred.

The night’s feature, the Dubai World Cup won by the US-bred Laurel River, had an Irish element to it, winning trainer Bhupat Seemar’s wife being a Tipperary woman, Caroline Joyce. There have been few more popular winners of the race, a local training success that was a masterclass in coolness by the successful trainer.

Seemar, again with the skill of another Irishman, Tadhg O’Shea, in the saddle, had earlier combined to win the Group 1 Dubai Golden Shaheen with the second US-bred Group 1 on the night, the seven-year-old Tuz.

The Juddmonte homebred Laurel River was winning at the highest level for the first time, and took his sire Into Mischief’s (Harlan’s Holiday) tally of Group and Grade 1 winners to 20. A Grade 1 winner at two, Into Mischief is one of the most successful sires in the USA, heading the sire list on five occasions, and he is approaching a very important landmark this year, with 146 stakes winners already to his name.

Originally in the care of Bob Baffert, for whom he won the Grade 2 Pat O’Brien Stakes at Del Mar as a four-year-old, Laurel River was only making his tenth start in the Dubai World Cup. Still an entire, his future programme will be very interesting, as a place at stud surely beckons next year were he to build further on this success. Laurel River is the best winner from the placed Calm Water (Empire Maker).


Calm Water is an own-sister to the brilliant Emollient (Empire Maker), and four of that mare’s six wins were in Grade 1 races, namely the Juddmonte-sponsored Spinster Stakes, American Oaks, Ashland Stakes and Rodeo Drive Stakes. She has two stakes-winning daughters now, the best of which is Raclette (Frankel), the Group 2 Prix de Malleret winner.

Calm Water has two more blacktype-winning siblings, including Hofburg (Tapit) who was runner-up in the Grade 1 Florida Derby and third in the Grade 1 Belmont Stakes.

Laurel River’s fourth dam was the champion Coup De Genie (Mr Prospector). That classic-placed winner of the Group 1 Prix Morny and Group 1 Prix de la Salamandre bred four winners, all stakes winners, and her daughter Denebola (Storm Cat) numbered the Group 1 Prix Marcel Boussac among her two juvenile victories.

Though she has three stakes-winning daughters, it was Coupe De Genie’s unraced Moonlight’s Box (Nureyev) who proved most successful at stud. Her best were Bago (Nashwan), winner of five Group 1 races including the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, and the Group 1 Prix du Moulin de Longchamp and Group 1 Prix d’Ispahan winner Maxios (Monsun), now a Coolmore National Hunt stallion.

Keeneland bargain

The second Seemar-trained Group 1 winner on the card was Tuz, bred by Calumet Farm in Kentucky. Sold as a yearling for $7,000 at Keeneland, the son of the Grade 1 Preakness Stakes winner Oxbow (Awesome Again) made his way to Russia where he won both of his juvenile starts. He has been with Bhupat Seemar since he moved to the UAE.

All four of Tuz’s wins in his new home have been in stakes races, though never beyond Group 3 level until last Saturday. With winnings that are now close to £.25 million, he has been some bargain purchase. He is one of just two Group/Grade 1 winners for his sire, and one of just 15 stakes winners in total. Oxbow is still at Calumet where his fee is just $7,500. Tuz is a grandson of the Watership Down stud-bred Grande Melody (Grand Lodge), a Grade 2 winner in the USA.

THE McCracken family had much to be joyous about when Facteur Cheval, a multiple Group 1-placed runner in France and England, and a Group 3 winner in France, took his racing career to a new level when he won a nail-biting Group 1 Dubai Turf at Meydan on Saturday.

Trained by a former graduate of the Irish National Stud Management Course, Jérôme Reynier, the five-year-old gelding boosted his career earnings to just short of £3 million, an amazing figure. Though he was just a Group 3 winner heading into the big weekend contest, Facteur Cheval chased home Big Rock in the Group 1 Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot, and was also runner-up last year to Paddington in the Group 1 Sussex Stakes. In France he reached the frame in both the Group 1 Prix de Moulin de Longchamp and the Group 1 Prix d’Ispahan.

Sold for 145,000gns as a foal, and now by a mile the best runner sired by the disappointing Ribchester (Iffraaj), Facteur Cheval is a half-brother to a winner, and he has a yearling half-brother by Sottsass (Siyouni) waiting in the wings. They are all out of the unraced Shamardal (Giant’s Causeway) mare Jawlaat, an 18,000gns purchase as a three-year-old carrying her first foal. A few years after purchasing Jawlaat, her half-sister Tantheem (Teofilo) won three Group 3 races in France.

The family continues to improve, with the third remove giving us the Group 1 Irish Derby winner Santiago (Authorized), stakes winner and Group 1 Prix du Jockey Club-French Derby third Motamarris (Le Havre), and this year’s classic hope and last year’s pattern-winning juvenile Grosvenor Square (Galileo).

Dozen wins

The Godolphin homebred Rebel’s Romance, a six-year-old gelded son of Dubawi (Dubai Millennium), took his career record to 12 wins in 18 starts with victory in the Group 1 Dubai Sheema Classic. These successes have come in five different countries.

This now means that he has overtaken Lord North and become the biggest money-earner sired by his Dalham Hall-based sire. This latest win also means that he has now banked some €7.5 million. A striking feature of his race record is that he has never finished second or third in the six races he didn’t win.

This year Rebel’s Romance’s half-brother Measured Time (Frankel) has joined him on the Group 1 podium after that colt won the Jebel Hatta Stakes.

Double up

In December 2022 California Spangle (Starspangledbanner) won at the highest level for the first time, capturing the Group 1 Hong Kong Mile. He took his tally of victories to 13 last weekend, adding the Group 1 Al Quoz Sprint to an earlier success last month in the Group 1 Queen’s Silver Jubilee Cup. These wins, along with eight placed efforts, have come from 25 starts, and take his earnings to more than €8.8 million.

Bred by Michael Enright, and a €150,000 Goffs Orby Sale graduate, California Spangle is a son of Pearlitas Passion (High Chaparral) who raced at three for Enright and showed little in five starts. He tried to sell her as a four-year-old but she didn’t reach her reserve of €30,000, and instead has gone on to breed five winners. Her Lope De Vega (Shamardal) son Wychwood Warrior was placed in listed races at Cork, Dundalk and in Meydan.

A sibling to five winners, Pearlitas Passion’s is a half-sister to the Group 2 Hungerford Stakes winner Shakespearean (Shamardal). He won more than £1 million thanks to landing the hugely valuable Goffs Million Mile.