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Al Shemali wins the Dubai Duty Free Meydan 27.03.2010

Al Shemali: the Dubai Duty Free-winning son of Medicean was bred by Willie and Elaine Carson out of their Generous mare Bathilde

  PICTURE: EDWARD WHITAKER  

 

Carson hits jackpot
with Al Shemali

IN 2001, Willie Carson was on the lookout for a daughter of Generous to add to his broodmare band at Minster Stud near Cirencester. With the assistance of James Delahooke, his attention was drawn to the Listed-placed Bathilde at the Keeneland January Sale, and $195,000 later it was mission accomplished.

Although Bathilde has endured her share of bad luck since then, she has ultimately proven to be en excellent buy; each of her four runners have won led by the Henry II Stakes winner Tungsten Strike and Saturday's impressiveDubai Duty Free hero Al Shemali.

Al Shemali was third in the 2007 Dante Stakes for Sir Michael Stoute before transferring to Godolphin en route to his current trainer Ali Rashid Al Raihe. The son of Medicean took a competitive Meydan handicap in February for his current connections, but victory against some of the world's best 1m2f performers on Saturday seemed unlikely, and he consequently sent off at 40/1.

"Everyone who rode him over here liked him but they all said that he probably wasn't up to winning a Group 1," says Carson, whose 1988 St Leger success aboard Minster Son remains the only instance of a jockey riding a horse he bred to Classic victory. "So it was a lovely surprise to see him win the way he did.

"But he won a handicap nicely earlier this year and I thought he was running on really well in Round 3 of the Al Maktoum Challenge, so I was hopeful of a big run. A lot of the credit has to go to Royston Ffrench as I thought he gave him a very good ride."

Carson, who operates the 155-acre Minster Stud with his wife Elaine, sold Al Shemali for 110,000gns at the Tattersalls October Sale in 2005. The former champion jockey relates that one of the interested parties was Princess Haya although it was Charlie Gordon-Watson - also the buyer of Dubai Duty Free runner-up Bankable - who got the final say on behalf of Saeed Suhail.

"We sent Bathilde to Medicean because we wanted the Mr Prospector cross," says Carson. "We've used him nearly every year and we've just sent Love Me Tender, a close relation to Oaks winner Love Divine, to him.

"Al Shemali was a beautiful, light-footed yearling - he floated round that sales ring. His half-brother, Tungsten Strike, was a more robust, stronger type, and unfortunately, we sold him at Newmarket at a time when no one knew who his sire, Smart Strike, was."

Bathilde, who is closely related to Saturday's Dubai Sheema Classic fourth Deem, has been  covered by Nayef and the Carsons are hoping that the mating yields a happier outcome than what has recently been the case.

"Two years ago, she had a haemolytic foal (when the foal's red blood cells are destroyed by antibodies absorbed from its mother's colostrum) by Dubai Destination that later died," he says. "We've had her in foal both years since but she's aborted both times. If she has a filly by Nayef, we'll definitely have to keep it.

The Carsons are covering 20 mares this year - "a lot more than usual because we haven't been able to sell any -" while as usual, they will offer a strong draft of yearlings at this year's autumn sales. Among them is a Shirocco colt out of the 2002 Oaks third Shadow Dancing, whose three-year-old, Rasmy, won a maiden by five lengths at Bath last season.

 

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