GODOLPHIN’S EXHILARATING START TO SEASON

Bivouac races away to win the Group Three Vain Stakes by 4.25 lengths (racingphotos.com)

 

It hasn’t taken the massive Godolphin operation long to pick up where it left off.

In 2018/19, the Godolphin blue was sported by the winners of 68 stakes races, 13 of those at Group One level, including the Melbourne and Caulfield Cups.

However, it was Godolphin’s dominance of the 2YOs that snared much of the headlines with victories in the Golden Slipper (Kiamichi), Blue Diamond (Lyre) and ATC Sires’ Produce (Microphone) … 16 black type wins overall in the 10 months or so of juvenile racing.

While nothing is ever a given in racing and yesterday’s rooster can often become today’s feather duster, Godolphin showed at Caulfield on Saturday that the hoof isn’t about to come off the accelerator.

Racing in the two 3YO features – the Group Three Vain Stakes and Group Three Quezette Stakes (both over 1100m) – dual stakes winner, Bivouac, spread-eagled his rivals in the Vain, racing away to score by 4.25 lengths, while $2 million Magic Millions 2YO Classic star, Exhilarates resumed with a comfortable victory in the Quezette: leaving stablemate (and Black Opal winner) Pin Sec and Lyre in her wake.

There was something particularly exciting about the performance of Exceed And Excel colt, Bivouac who absolutely flew under the steering of Hugh Bowman, racing away to score by over a second quicker than Exhilarates some 40 minutes later.

Bivouac dominated proceedings and it’s worth noting that Dubious, winner of the Group Three Breeders’ Plate and the Group Two Champagne Classic in May, was relegated to fourth, finishing over six lengths off the pace.

Among 160 stakes winners for Exceed And Excel, Bivouac has almost certainly secured his future as a stallion: he is a full brother to Group Two placed 2YO, Coruscate, from the multiple winning More Than Ready mare, Dazzler, in turn a half sister to Exceed And Excel’s 4-time Group One winner Guelph (dam of Group Two winning sprinter, Encryption) and Group Two winning 2YO, Ghibellines.

Bivouac’s granddam is Group One winning 2YO, Camarilla, a daughter of Queensland Derby winner, Camarena, while other close relations include Golden Slipper winning and leading sire, Canny Lad.

With Godolphin breeding between 100 to 150 foals annually in Australia, the vast majority of its stakes winners, not surprisingly, are raised on farm, but Exhilarates was actually purchased from the Vinery Stud draft for $600,000 at the 2018 Gold Coast Magic Millions Yearling Sale.

Shortly after Godolphin Australia’s Managing Director, Vin Cox, was appointed to the position, a decision was made to play a more active role at yearling sales and some 20 yearlings were thus purchased last year.

Exhilarates is the most successful of the buys to date with three wins and three placings from eight starts for $1,466,900 in stakes.

(Godolphin again ‘opened the shoulders’ at 2019 yearling sales, purchasing a Medaglia D’Oro filly from dual Group One winner Miracles of Life for $1 million at the Magic Millions Gold Coast Yearling Sale and a Vancouver filly – the first foal of 3-time stakes winner Arcadia Dream – for $950,000 at the Inglis Australian Easter Yearling Sale).

Like Bivouac, Exhilarates boasts an impressive pedigree, being by Snitzel and the second foal of Champion sprinter and dual Group One winner, Samaready, a half sister to Group Two winning 2YO, Night War. Three-time Group One winner, County Tyrone is up close and personal too.

“Bivouac’s dam, Dazzler, is in foal to Lonhro and due to go back to Exceed And Excel this spring,” Godolphin Australia’s Managing Director, Vin Cox points out. “That was a great result on Saturday, particularly with Pandemic (by Sepoy) winning so well in Sydney and making it two from two.

“Microphone is about a month away from resuming and will be targeted at the (Group One) Coolmore, while there are around 140 3YOs gearing up for the season. There are also 95 2YOs in work, so we’re all very excited about the next few months.”

Apart from being a huge contributor to racing and breeding world-wide, the ‘Blue Army’ also sponsors the annual Godolphin Stud & Stable Staff Awards, with the Australian finalists named earlier this month.

There are 14 worthy finalists who will compete for awards in categories such as Leadership, Horsemanship, Dedication to Breeding, ATC Dedication to Racing, MRC Foundation Administration and Ancillary, TABCORP Thoroughbred Care and Welfare and Newcomer.

As has so rightly been pointed out, all finalists started closer to the bottom of the racing ladder than the top, and they have all graduated to a level that makes them indispensable to the operation of one of Australia’s biggest industries.

The awards offer cash and trophies to both the winners and runners-up in seven categories, with the winner of the Newcomer award also receiving a trip to Dubai. One of the winners is also chosen for an overall Thoroughbred Excellence Award.

“The GSSSA, now in its fifth year, is not only a fantastic initiative supported by Godolphin, Racing Australia and Thoroughbred Breeders Australia, but it provides great encouragement and opportunity for our participants. It rewards the talent, dedication and commitment of those in our vibrant racing and breeding industry,” Johan Petzer, the Chairman of Stewards, Thoroughbred Racing South Australia and the Chairman of the Awards judging panel, points out.

The winners will be announced at an award ceremony at Royal Randwick on 6 September.