Shaamit was only the third horse this century to win the Derby on his seasonal debut, and while that immense promise was not fully realised later in the season, Haggas had long insisted that, like his sire Mtoto, he would be a far better four-year-old. His best performance after the premier Classic was in finishing third to Pentire in the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot, while he was unplaced in both the Irish Champion Stakes and the Arc.
It was in the latter race that Shaamit suffered the injury which would end his career. "Fears that a knock received in the Arc might have caused more damage than mere bruising have been confirmed," Justin Wadham, managing director of Darley Stud Management Ltd, said yesterday. "He has been retired after injuring a tendon.''
Unlike some of his Newmarket neighbours, Haggas's relatively small string is not riddled with potential champions, and for him the news was particularly painful. "I am very upset, and now we have got to go and find another star," he said. "The injury is not so bad and I'm sure a lot of time will cure it, but you can't afford to take a year off with a horse like him. It is such a pity because I said all along he would get better as he got older, and no-one will see that now.''
Stud plans for Shaamit have yet to be finalised, though Wadham is in little doubt that his future is bright. "He is by Britain's leading sire out of a Habitat mare, so as well as being a horse of exceptional good looks and conformation, he is a complete outcross to Northern Dancer. His performances as a three-year-old are all the more meritorious when you consider how much improvement was expected of him.''
Shaamit is the sixth Derby winner in the last 20 years to be retired without winning another race. His final career record shows six outings and just two successes - he won the second of his two races as a juvenile - but the form of his Derby victory has looked much stronger since Shantou, third at Epsom, won the St Leger at Doncaster last month.
For all the talk of the Classic's decline in recent years, nothing excites thoroughbred breeders quite like a Derby winner.
We can only hope that, unlike every other Epsom winner of the 1990s, Shaamit will be allowed to improve the breed in Britain, not Japan.Reuse content