Racing News

Churchill writing his own history around the world

Coolmore’s shuttler and barnmate Pride Of Dubai enjoying uplift with on-track performances

Coolmore Stud is preparing for a boom spring for sires Churchill (Galileo) and Pride Of Dubai (Street Cry), whose slight fee drops have coincided neatly with a surge in results on the track.

Churchill will stand his seventh shuttle season at Jerrys Plains this year at $19,800 (inc GST), down from $22,000 in 2023, and could head into spring on the crest of a Brisbane winter wave.

The rising 11-year-old’s Australian record with three crops racing hasn’t quite mirrored his success in the northern hemisphere. With one more crop of runners, he has sired 15 stakes winners in Britain (six), Ireland (five) and France (four). They’ve come from 346 runners in those countries, at 4.3 percent.

In Australia he’s sired four from 105 runners, at 3.8 percent, among 52 winners. That’s alongside his one New Zealand black type victor, from eight runners.

But the major encouraging sign for Coolmore is those four Australian stakes winners have all come this season. They include one of his three Group 1 winners worldwide in MRC Toorak Handicap (1600m) hero Attrition, and in a strong sign of bright things to come, they also include Saturday’s The Phoenix (Listed, 1500m) winner at Eagle Farm, Imperialist.

Having only his third start after coming late to hand for a May 1 debut, Imperialist looked ultra-professional in weaving through a field of 14 two-year-olds to power to a 0.6 length win.

He’s a colt with Coolmore written all over him. He was bred by long-term New Zealand clients Gordon Cunningham of Curraghmore and Demi O’Byrne of Arkle Bloodstock, and, apart from being by Churchill, is the second foal and first runner out of a Fastnet Rock (Danehill) dam, Dancing Hare.

Imperialist is also prepared by Coolmore’s main Australian trainer in Chris Waller, who said after Saturday the colt has “got a bright future, and he’ll definitely be winning another race”.

After taking time to find his feet, Churchill is now fourth among Australian third-season sires.

Imperialist was shortened into $15 on Saturday night for the $1 million JJ Atkins (Gr 1, 1600m) at Eagle Farm on June 15, and was backed in further to $11 on Sunday.

A victory there – and $600,000 prize-money – would draw Churchill close to third-placed Almanzor (Wootton Bassett) on the third-season table. And although he’s unlikely to catch him, it would cap a strong southern season for which Coolmore has been patiently waiting.

Churchill continues to perform strongly in Europe. His outstanding four-time Group 1-winning offspring Blue Rose Cen was the leading Three-Year-Old Filly on the 2023 World’s Best Racehorse Rankings (WBRR). She was also France’s Champion 2YO Filly in 2022, when Churchill’s dual Group 1-winning son Vadeni was Europe’s Champion 3YO.

Imperialist was Churchill’s sixth stakes winner worldwide since May 2, with five other Listed titles coming in Britain, France and the US, giving him 25 black type victors in all, at 5.4 percent of his 466 runners.

With Mark and Levi Kavanagh’s four-year-old First Immortal having won eight from 19 from 1600 metres to 2500 metres – including in Listed class at Caulfield in March – and Waller’s imported Melbourne Cup (Gr 1, 3200m) runner More Felons having two autumn starts for a win first-up in Rosehill’s Parramatta Cup (Listed, 1900m) and a close second in the Tancred Stakes (Gr 1, 2400m), there are plenty of positive signs for Coolmore and Churchill.

“He’s done an amazing job all over the world, and he’s really starting to fire here in Australia. He’s had his first Group 1 winner here now, plus he’s had a very good two-year-old season this year,” Coolmore’s nominations and sales manager Colm Santry said of Churchill, who’s in the midst of his strongest Australian two-year-old season, with five winners from 13 runners.

“Churchill has had a lot of nice two-year-old winners and progressive horses, like Imperialist, for whom there are very high hopes. They obviously like a trip, are maturing into great three-year-olds, and clearly the best is yet to come.

“He’s a very good stallion for owner-breeders. He’s been a good stallion all over the world. He’s needed a little bit of time here, but the results are really starting to come for him now after a few years.”

A four-time Group 1 winner from 1400 metres to 1600 metres – including in the British and Irish 2,000 Guineas – Churchill served his smallest book among six in Australia last year as the jury awaited more results, with 81 mares covered at a $22,000 fee. That compared with 146 in 2022 and his peak of 160 in 2021, both at the same fee, and 140 at $27,500 in his initial Australian season of 2018.

With his fee drop coinciding with an upswing in results, Coolmore is expecting his book to rise well beyond three figures this year.

A marked increase is also expected for barnmate Pride Of Dubai.

The rising 12-year-old has enjoyed a breakout season, thanks mostly to six-year-old mare Pride Of Jenni having matured into near folk-hero status, with her three all-the-way Group 1 wins and an All-Star Mile (1600m).

Aside from her, the Ciaron Maher-trained stablemate Bella Nipotina has added another top-tier success through last month’s Doomben 10,000 (Gr 1, 1200m), after a sharp prizemoney boost by taking Rosehill pop-up, the $3 million Winners Stakes (1300m), with a lucrative bonus last November.

Pride Of Dubai now sits at a career-high fourth on the Australian general sires’ table in his fifth season with runners, up from eighth last term.

And with the last few juicy prize-money pots of 2023-24 ahead in Brisbane in the coming weeks, he has a chance to climb as high as second, if Bella Nipotina can take this Saturday’s Stradbroke Handicap (Gr 1, 1400m), for which prize-money has been doubled this year, to $3 million.

Pride Of Dubai ended Saturday with earnings of $19,626,533, behind barnmate So You Think (High Chaparral) on $19,852,506, and Zoustar (Northern Meteor) on $21,326,053.

If Bella Nipotina can land the Stradbroke’s $1.8 million first prize, it would push Pride Of Dubai to $21,426,533, and likely into second spot behind runaway leader I Am Invincible (Invincible Spirit), who ended Saturday with $30,514,605.

All this coincides with Pride Of Dubai’s serving fee dropping from $27,500 to $22,000.

“Pride Of Dubai is absolutely flying,” Santry said. “The responses to him for this season have been fantastic, and he’s fiercely popular. He’s a very good, proven stallion, with four Group 1 winners. He’s in good shape and is great value for money.”

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