Back where he started
In June 2002, Sulamani became the second son of Hernando to follow in his father's footsteps by winning the Prix du Jockey-Club, writes Emma Berry. Holding Court beat him to it, strolling home by six lengths in 2000, and went on to win the G2 Grand Prix de Deauville the following season. Sulamani was also continuing a family tradition on his dam's side as Soul Dream had provided the 1998 winner of the race via her Sadler's Wells son, Dream Well.
Holding Court and Dream Well may have had a headstart but Sulamani would go on to prove himself to be the better son of Hernando, and of Soul Dream, by a wide margin. After being beaten three-quarters of a length by Marienbard in the Arc of his three-year-old season, Sulamani was sold by his breeder, the Niarchos family, to Sheikh Mohammed and globe-trotting victories in Dubai, America, Canada and the UK ensued. Despite regular unkind references to his physique - his lean frame led to the nickname 'the flying toastrack' - there was no doubting his grit and courage. Sulamani retired to the sheikh's Dalham Hall Stud in Newmarket in 2005 a six-time Group One winner.
Also among that year's intake for Darley were the Australian sprinter Exceed And Excel, as well as Kheleyf, who would go on to become this season's leading first-season sire in Europe by number of winners, and Refuse To Bend, a top-class miler by Sadler's Wells. Despite Sulamani's obvious racecourse credentials, his was not a pedigree that would appeal to commercial breeders and thus his first crop of foals numbered only 57. Of them, 15 have been seen in action as two-year-olds this summer and five have won a total of seven races between them. When one considers Kheleyf's statistics - 31 winners from 68 runners out of a total of 101 foals - then clearly Sulamani cannot compete with his juveniles but nor would one expect him to do so. He himself didn't run as a two-year-old, at least not officially. An April foal, he was first tried two days before his third birthday, finishing seventh of 13 runners in the Prix de Champerret at Longchamp. This inauspicious start did not give much of a hint that just two months later he would be hailed a Classic winner.
Of his winners, the Italian-trained, British-bred Sulabe is his most prolific scorer to date with three wins under her belt. Sold at Tattersalls Ireland for €13,000 to Italian agent Federico Barberini, she is a daughter of the US Grade One winner Bequest. Highest rated is Mastery on a Timeform mark of 99p. While Sulabe is out of a Sharpen Up mare, Mastery, who impressed on debut with a four-and-a-half length win at Nottingham over a mile, is out of Moyesii, a mare by one of Sharpen Up's sons, Diesis. Homebred by Darley, Mastery is a half-brother to the juvenile Group One winner Kirklees. The brothers, who appeared on the same card at Newmarket in October this year, were both trained by Mark Johnston as two-year-olds but it would seem likely that Mastery will follow Kirklees to the Godolphin stable for next year.
At 50,000gns, Quai d'Orsay was the second highest-priced of Sulamani's yearlings to have gone through a sales ring. Bred by Kirsten Rausing and bought by Mark Johnston, he was a stable-mate of Mastery, also running in the green and red silks of Sheikh Mohammed's son Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed al Maktoum. Another impressive wide-margin debutant winner, he stepped straight up to Group Three company for his only other start of the season and was found wanting, finishing last of eight in the Autumn Stakes at Ascot, which was won by current Derby favourite Kite Wood. As with all of Sulamani's offspring, there's every reason to expect this colt to improve with age and distance. Quai d'Orsay's dam Entente Cordiale has bred four winners by Hernando; with 27 victories between them, the quartet is headed by the remarkable seven-time Listed scorer Foreign Affairs, who raced on until he was nine. It's asking much of his very close relative Quai d'Orsay to emulate this feat but if he has inherited any of his sire's toughness, we should also see more from him in years to come.
Dazinski became his sire's first winner in July at Yarmouth. Bred by Darley but sold as a yearling to his trainer Mark Tompkins, Dazinski is the sole representaive of Sulamani's first crop to hold a Derby entry though, as he is now listed as a gelding, there seems little chance of him appearing at Epsom in June.
Equipe De Nuit will be another interesting prospect to keep an eye on next season. He is not a winner but his only two starts in 2008 saw him finish in the runner-up slot, the second of these being to subsequent Group Three winner and Godolphin close-season purchase Ashram. Equipe De Nuit's strong front-running performance at Newmarket that day, in which he was only caught by the winner in the final 50m, gives cause for optimism.
It would be folly to make a case for Sulamani featuring prominently in the sires' tables of the near future, though his move to France last year and subsequent rise in patronage would certainly give him a chance to flourish in the country where he first made a name for himself as a racehorse. It doesn't require a great leap of faith, however, to imagine that this inexpensively priced stallion, with a tendency to throw neat, athletic-looking stock, could again follow in his sire's footsteps. Neither father or son represent a particularly commercial option but Hernando, whose great merit was advertised again this year by the Oaks winner Look Here, has already proved to be eminently capable of siring Classic gems. There's no reason to believe that Sulamani won't follow suit.
[attachment deleted by admin]