Racing: Millennium's magic lives on in first born of the chosen one

Colts and fillies from a mating game made in heaven are the sole surviving offspring of an esteemed stallion who died too young
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The Independent Online

He does not know it, of course, but for the young foal pictured here, looking for a gap on the rails may one day be part of his destiny. For he is part of a unique and precious legacy, one of the 56 foals born this year who are the sole descendants of Dubai Millennium, by common consent one of the finest racehorses ever to tread the turf.

He does not know it, of course, but for the young foal pictured here, looking for a gap on the rails may one day be part of his destiny. For he is part of a unique and precious legacy, one of the 56 foals born this year who are the sole descendants of Dubai Millennium, by common consent one of the finest racehorses ever to tread the turf.

Dubai Millennium, though, was as ill-starred as he was brilliant. Bred by Sheikh Mohammed and bearer of his royal blue Godolphin silks, he was beaten only once in 10 races and his victories in the World Cup on a night of magic under the floodlights at Nad Al Sheba and in the Prince Of Wales's Stakes at Royal Ascot have become the stuff of legend.

But untimely injury cut short the handsome bay's career as an athlete and, infinitely worse, he died before his time, struck down in April last year at the age of just five by a rare killer disease.

In his brief first season as a stallion in Newmarket, at the Sheikh's flagship Dalham Hall Stud where he was born, he had covered 65 of his scheduled 100 mates before his death. His claim to future immortality now rests with the 28 colts and 28 fillies they produced.

As befitted a horse of Dubai Millennium's gifts, his brides brought genetic dowries of the highest order along with the service fee of some £120,000. Of his sons and daughters, 17 are out of Group One heroines, 11 are half-brothers or half-sisters to Group One winners.

The dark bay colt pictured is the third-born of Cheveley Park Stakes winner Embassy, herself a half-sister to Tarfshi. The colt is the 45th of the line; the first to arrive, on 13 January, was a chestnut half-brother to the promising juvenile Silver Seeker out of multiple winner Zelanda, from the Aga Khan family that produced the French Oaks winner Zainta.

Dubai Millennium's other sons include colts out of Balisada (Coronation Stakes), Flagbird (Presidente della Repubblica), Miss Satamixa (Jacques le Marois), Reve d'Oscar (St Alary), Zomaradah (Oaks d'Italia), Coretta (half-sister to Gossamer and Barathea) and Spirit of Tara (half-sister to Salsabil) and half-brothers to Agnes Digital (Hong Kong Cup), Almutawakel (Dubai World Cup) and Oath (Derby).

His daughters include fillies out of Aqaarid (Fillies' Mile), Cape Verdi (1,000 Guineas), Sunspangled (Fillies' Mile) and Zahrat Dubai (Nassau Stakes) and half-sisters to Crimplene (Irish 1,000 Guineas, Coronation Stakes, Nassau Stakes), Desert King (Irish 2,000 Guineas and Derby) and Mutafaweq (St Leger and Coronation Cup).

In short, an international stud book who's who. Unfortunately, though, excellence as a runner is no guarantee of success as a progenitor. Dubai Millennium certainly had a potent pedigree – his sire Seeking The Gold is by one of the modern era's legends, Mr Prospector, and his dam Colorado Dancer is one of 12 winners out of the celebrated matron Fall Aspen – but it will be two years before indications emerge as to whether he may have been a major loss to the breed or if it was we who revelled in his racecourse glory who had the best of him.

He has, though, stamped his stock as individuals. "He was a large-framed, leggy, backward type as a weanling," said Liam O'Rourke, manager of Dalham Hall, "and as a bunch, they are very like him at the same age. Of course there are exceptions, some of the foals out of the more precocious mares look more precocious themselves. But most are of the type who will improve with age, as he did."

O'Rourke's particular favourite at this stage is the February-foaled filly out of US Grade Two winner Minister Wife. "Perhaps the odds are against us," he added, "but I'd never seen a book like it. He had some of the best mares from the best families in the world and I'm very hopeful that we'll get something special."

The £30 million insurance payment on Dubai Millennium's death was the second largest (to that for Alydar) in bloodstock history but much of it has been directed by the Sheikh towards research into the dreaded grass sickness that killed his favourite horse.

Even before Dubai Millennium's foals began to arrive, Sheikh Mohammed set out to acquire as many as possible, and 38 are now under his Darley banner, with eight more owned by his brothers Sheikh Hamdan and Sheikh Maktoum.

Playing in the late summer sunshine in England, France, Ireland and Kentucky are 56 young horses on whom the future of a dynasty hangs. Their sire's career and life was clouded by tragedy but the silver lining is that one of them may just be the next Millennium.

n Chicken pox has ruled Frankie Dettori out riding Sakhee at Deauville on Saturday. Sakhee, last year's Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe winner, will now be ridden by Richard Hills.

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