BREEDERS’ Cup 2021 will be well-remembered by Team Godolphin. They enjoyed no fewer than three Grade 1 wins, all with homebreds and all sons of their outstanding stallion, Dubawi (Dubai Millennium).
The treble was achieved by Modern Games, who carries an Irish suffix, in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf, the three-year-old gelding Yibir in the Breeders’ Cup Turf, and the new Kildangan Stud stallion Space Blues in the Breeders’ Cup Mile on the turf.
Space Blues holds the distinction of being Dubawi’s fastest stallion son and he’s also from the same female family as his sire, both tracing back to Sunbittern (Sea Hawk). This success on his last outing added to a sensational win in the Group 1 Prix de la Foret on Arc day. Last year he was successful in the Group 1 Prix Maurice de Gheest. He will stand next year at a fee of €17,500.
Space Blues is the best offspring of the Group 2 Challenge Stakes winner Miss Lucifer (Noverre), and she is also responsible for the multiple group winner Shuruq (Elusive Quality), a champion in the UAE.
Group or Grade 1 winner number 48 for Dubawi was achieved when Yibir stepped up in class to win for the sixth time in a dozen starts, and set a new course record in the Breeders’ Cup Turf. He is unbeaten stateside as earlier this year he won the lucrative Jockey Club Derby Invitational Stakes at Belmont.
Yibir comes from a family that has previous associations with Sheikh Mohammed and Godolphin. Electrocutionist (Red Ransom) crops up in the pedigree, the 2006 Group 1 Dubai World Cup winner who was also successful in the Juddmonte International and the Group 1 Gran Premio di Milano. Sadly he died unexpectedly at the age of five from a heart attack.
Yibir is the second Group 1 winner out of the stakes winner and German-bred Rumh (Monsun). She was bought as a yearling for 300,000gns, and it was no bad thing perhaps that her dam was the talented, and aptly named, Royal Dubai (Dashing Blade).
While he has now won at the Breeders’ Cup, Yibir still has a way to go to emulate his full-sister Wild Illusion (Dubawi), three of her four wins coming at Group 1 level – the Prix Marcel Boussac, Nassau Stakes and the Prix de l’Opera.
Wild Illusion came close herself to a Breeders’ Cup win, running second in the Filly and Mare Turf, while she also occupied that position in the Oaks at Epsom.
The disappointment felt at the unfortunate withdrawal of Dubawi’s son Albahr from the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf was somewhat eased when his stablemate, Modern Games, ran out a most convincing winner. Recording his fourth win in six starts, Modern Games last won the Group 3 Somerville Tattersall Stakes.
Gerald Leigh will be remembered as an outstanding owner and breeder, and he raced Modern Games’ grandam Epitome (Nashwan). From an outstanding female line, she was placed on two of her three starts but was certainly entitled to her place at stud and is the dam of eight winners, the Group 1 Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere victory of her son Ultra (Manduro) providing her with her biggest success as a broodmare.
Her daughter Modern Deals (New Approach) showed nothing in two starts, but her first four foals have given up three winners and a placed horse. Imagine the joy of bloodstock agent Barry Lynch as he watched the latest win. He paid 34,000gns at this year’s Tattersalls July Sale for Feminism (Shamardal), a winning half-sister to Modern Games, while Cashel trainer, owner and breeder John Grogan owns the placed half-sister Cartesienne (Pivotal).