Godolphin’s massive racing, training and breeding empire

The size and scope of the Godolphin racing, training and breeding empire in Australia is mind boggling writes Chris Scholtz today following their latest big race win in Saturday’s $3.5m Golden Slipper.

Clearly it is the largest horse racing and breeding operation in the southern hemisphere, growing exponentially year on year since 2008 when Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the Vice President and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates and Ruler of the Emirate of Dubai, became the leading individual player in the Australian thoroughbred industry by purchasing the vast bloodstock and land holdings founded by the Ingham brothers.

James Cummings with the Golden Slipper trophy

Godolphin's massive racing, training and breeding empire 2 James Cummings with the Golden Slipper trophy

Sheikh Mohammed made his first serious inroads into racing and breeding in Australia in 2003 when he purchased Kelvinside Stud in the NSW Hunter Valley. In 2006 Godolphin acquired Northwood Park at Seymour in Victoria and these two studs are still at the core of his local breeding operation, standing some 22 Darley stallions.

Originally Sheikh Mohammed raced all his horses in Australia under the Darley banner but in 2014 he called for his local racing and training interests to be identified under his global Godolphin racing brand.

Godolphin/Darley now has nearly 800 horses in Australia including 22 stallions, 199 broodmares and 375 racehorses plus foals and yearlings.

They are spread across six studs and training locations in Victoria and New South Wales, employing 385 staff made up of 190 in the racing and training sector, 166 breeding staff and 29 in corporate and administration roles.

Sheikh Mohammed’s purchase of the Ingham empire in 2008 enlarged his land ownership to include Woodlands Stud at Denman in the Hunter Valley and the sister Woodlands Cootamundra farm in southern NSW.

The takeover encompassed 1000 horses and also included the Crown Lodge stables at Warwick Farm in Sydney and Carbine Lodge at Flemington in Melbourne along with pre-training and spelling farms in the Richmond district west of Sydney.

Horses previously running in the Ingham’s famous cerise colours overnight raced in Sheikh Mohammed’s ownership and Darley racing colours with former Crown Lodge assistant trainer Peter Snowden employed as his first head trainer in Australia.

In 2014, after Snowden’s departure to begin a training partnership with his son Paul, Sheikh Mohammed appointed John O’Shea as head trainer.

O’Shea held the post until his departure in 2017 and the arrival of James Cummings as his successor.

At the start of the current season Victorian-based Anthony Freedman was also entrusted with a select group of Godolphin two-year-olds, having previously trained under the Darley banner for Sheikh Mohammed in partnership with his brother Lee Freedman.

Sheikh Mohammed

Godolphin's massive racing, training and breeding empire 2 Sheikh Mohammed Picture:Pat Healy Photography

James Cummings is now responsible for the training of 250 horses at any one time, spread across the Godolphin training facilities at Osborne Park at Agnes Banks northwest of Sydney, Crown Lodge at Warwick Farm and Carbine Lodge at Flemington.

Osborne Park is a private training facility covering 126 acres with 84 boxes split between four barns plus an eight-horse quarantine barn used for acclimatising horses arriving from Godolphin’s other international stables.

Osborne Park has three private grass and all-weather gallops, complete with starting stalls.

Crown Lodge has 125 boxes including 16 semi-open yards, a heated salt water swimming pool and walking machines while Carbine Lodge boasts 50 boxes and two walking machines.

Sheikh Mohammed’s Australian breeding arm is a fascinating operation.

Woodlands Stud is the principal home for his broodmares, foals and yearlings and the property where the young Godolphin racehorses are raised and nurtured before they enter the racing system.

Kelvinside Stud, a property first developed as a stud farm by former champion jockey Hilton Cope, is home to the Darley stallions in NSW and is also used as a pre-training facility for Godolphin yearlings and spelling farm for racehorses.

Godolphin yearlings are pre-trained at this facility before entering the racing system.

Northwood Park Stud in Victoria is an historic horse and cattle property that is home to eight Darley stallions plus Godolphin broodmares and foals. It also serves as a spelling facility for Godolphin horses racing in Victoria.

Kiamichi wins the Golden Slipper

Godolphin's massive racing, training and breeding empire 2 Kiamichi wins the Golden Slipper Picture:Steve Hart

The 2018/19 racing season has been the most successful for Team Godolphin with 157 winners and 231 placings to March 23 including 40 stakes wins at a strike rate of 19%.

The 841 Godolphin starters this season have earned more than $18.684 million prizemoney.

The stable has had 24 juvenile winners this season including 12 2YO stakes winners. James Cummings has trained 20 of the 2YO winners with Anthony Freedman winning four races.

Together they have won the two richest Group One races in Victoria (Blue Diamond Stakes) and NSW (Golden Slipper Stakes) with Lyre Horseform (Freedman ) and Kiamichi Horseform (Cummings), the pair being two of the six G1 winners in Australia this season for Godolphin.

The other four G1 wins for Godolphin this season have been recorded by the Cummings-trained quartet Hartnell Horseform (Epsom Handicap) Best Of Day (Kennedy Mile), Alizee Horseform (Futurity Stakes) and Avilius Horseform (Ranvet Stakes).

Kiamichi is the second Golden Slipper winner for Sheikh Mohammed, joining his 2011 winner Sepoy.

Sepoy Horseform also won the Blue Diamond as a 2YO and stands at his birthplace Northwood Park in Victoria.

Sidestep Horseform, the Darley-bred sire of the 2019 winner Kiamichi finished second in the 2013 Golden Slipper and now stands at stud in Queensland under a lease agreement with Telemon Thoroughbreds.

The homebred Kiamichi is out of a half-sister to Denman, another Darley stallion.

Since 2008 Darley/Godolphin have won 30 Group One races in Australia, including the 2018 Melbourne Cup with the UK-trained Cross Counter Horseform from the stable of Charlie Appleby.

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