Racing Post reported today that Sheikh Mohammed is sending 12 yearlings to six different trainers in Ireland for the 2010 season. This is significant for several reasons: 1) the sheikh will now have a presence in arch rival Coolmore’s “back yard”; 2) the sheikh is no longer placing all his eggs in Saeed bin Suroor’s basket; and 3) two yearlings are going to John Oxx, the trainer of Sea the Stars and the single most influential person with the Tsui family that owns him. Sending some horses to Mr. Oxx is a wise business decision, because no doubt the sheikh would like to patronize Sea the Stars, and Mr. Oxx has swag. But Mr. Oxx is also an outstanding trainer, and his handling of Sea the Stars to defeat the Big Three at Coolmore — Rip Van Winkle, Fame and Glory, and Mastercraftsman, plus a brigade of pacemakers — must have impressed the hell out of the sheikh. In fact, I’m sure that he wished Mr. bin Suroor could have pulled an “Oxx” on the opposition, too.
Unfortunately, when it comes to Europe, the Coolmore group somehow seems to have the sheikh’s number, both on the track and in the breeding shed. Had this not been the year of STS, Coolmore would have cleaned up with Rip, Fame, and Master. And next year promises to be huge for Coolmore, with the two Montjeu Group 1-winning colts St. Nicholas Abbey and Jan Vermeer leading the way.
Those two Coolmore-connected colts, by the way, defeated well-regarded Godolphin runners — Al Zir and Emerald Commander — in the Group 1 races, and how’s this for adding insult to injury? Both colts, ironically, are out of mares bred by Sheikh Mohammed himself.