Bren O’Brien



The folly of a filly in a stallion-making race – Godolphin’s Golden dilemma

Godolphin and James Cummings approach this month’s G1 Golden Rose with a mighty hand and a minor dilemma after the impressive wins of three-year-olds In Secret and Golden Mile at Rosehill on Saturday.

Widden Stud’s Antony Thompson still recalls the 2018 Coolmore Stud Stakes as close to the perfect race. The three-year-old feature was trifectaed by the first crop of resident Widden stallion Zoustar, the race won by Sunlight, a filly bred and sold by the farm and part-owned by Thompson’s wife Katie.

However, the one wistful moment in the Widden domination of the race was that the star filly, Sunlight, had edged out a star Widden-owned colt, Zousain. While the victory contributed significantly to Sunlight’s price of $4.2 million at the end of her racing days, the price of a 0.2l defeat was much greater for Zousain.

The defeat for Zousain, who never got his Group One win, conceivably cost his value in the realms of $20 million. It still stings Thompson a little to this day, knowing that the colt would have stood for at least twice his first-season service fee of $19,800 if he had the stallion-making Coolmore Stud Stakes on his resume.

In that instance, with the colt and filly in different training yards for different ownership groups, Widden had little chance of avoiding the situation, but for Godolphin and James Cummings, the decision to pit a star filly, In Secret, and a star colt, Golden Mile, against each other in the stallion-making Golden Rose later this month is something very much in their control.

Speaking to the Report on Sunday, Vin Cox, Godolphin Australia’s Managing Director, said it was highly likely Godolphin will have two colts – Golden Mile and G1 Blue Diamond winner Daumier – taking on G2 Run To The Rose-winning filly In Secret in the $1 million race on September 22.

“We will have three good horses there, including a colt and a filly that have performed very well in the two weeks leading up to the race and that is a great testament to the team,” he said.

“We haven’t addressed totally what our approach will be at this stage, but you’ve got to win them, whether it’s a colt or a filly that does it.”

It’s a situation which one of Australia’s biggest operations is well familiar with. In the 2019 Golden Slipper, Godolphin filly Kiamichi defeated its colt Microphone, in another race which is hugely important from a stallion-making point of view.

Microphone would go on and get his Group One win in the Sires at his next start but Cox recalls, it may have been a very different story had Godolphin opted to scratch one of its six runners in the race to make way for another colt, Bivouac, who was an emergency in the race.

“If we were going to scratch one, then it would have been the winner to get Bivouac in, but you make your decisions accordingly,” Cox said.

The ‘double jeopardy’ of the Golden Rose situation from Godolphin’s point of view is that not only is Golden Mile a homebred colt, with a possible future at stud at stake, he is also by a young stallion, Astern, a winner of the Golden Rose himself, whose popularity and value would also surge off the back of a Group 1 winner.


Sam Clipperton on Golden Mile wins the G3 Ming Dynasty Quality. (Photo by Mark Evans/Getty Images)

Tommy Berry on In Secret wins the G2 Run To The Rose. (Photo by Mark Evans/Getty Images)

In contrast, In Secret was a relatively rare yearling acquisition for Cox and his team, a $900,000 daughter of champion Yarraman Park stallion I Am Invincible, who was purchased with one eye on the track and the other on her long-term value as a broodmare.

“It’s a hard game buying yearlings to land the right one when you have taken aim on only one,” Cox said. “It’s also important for us to broaden that pedigree profile and that’s part of the reason why we go in there to get a yearling, to add that to our armoury in our retained stock.”

While Godolphin has been a major yearling buyer globally, in Australia it only returned to the yearling sales ring after a decade away in 2018, just before Cox, the former Magic Millions boss and bloodstock agent, assumed the top job of the Australian operation.

The move yielded quick dividends with Magic Millions 2YO Classic winner Exhilarates, a daughter of Snitzel, among its first purchases. It has been a targetted approach, with a handful of yearlings bought each year since, and just one in 2021, In Secret.

“We don’t go in there with a scatter gun to try and get as many as we can, it’s more about being very direct and defined about what we want to achieve and what we can come out with,” Cox said.

With a broodmare band of around 200, and a policy of retaining all its foals for racing, there is no shortage of homegrown talent coming through for Godolphin.

Golden Mile is one of those and has emerged from just one start as a two-year-old – a maiden win at Ballarat – to be one of the more promising early-season three-year-old colts, following up his second in the G3 Up and Coming Stakes with his easy win in the G3 Ming Dynasty Quality on Saturday.

“He’s really stepped out and he was identified by our training team very early on as a colt with a  future and for him to go and do it as he did, it’s a great prospect to have a colt like him,” Cox said.

He is now a clear second favourite in Golden Rose betting, behind only In Secret. The dilemma which Godolphin must now resolve is whether running both horses, as well as Daumier, is in its best interests.



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