Champions Series Stars to Stud: Ribchester
31 Jan 2018
This week we look back at the career of the colt who won or was placed in ten Group 1 races
Ribchester and William Buick after winning the Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes at Newbury. Racingfotos.com
Like a football manager trying to put together the best squad, Godolphin have made a habit of dipping into the transfer market to acquire fresh talent.
Not all of their purchases have achieved the goals expected of them but Sheikh Mohammed’s scouts will have had no regrets about snapping up Ribchester for an undisclosed sum during the summer of 2015.
Ribchester became the property of the boys in blue when still a maiden, albeit he had shown plenty of promise in two starts. He finished second in a maiden on his debut and then filled the same position in the Group 2 Gimcrack Stakes at York.
The Iffraaj colt clicked at the first time of asking for his new owners when landing the Dubai Duty Free Mill Reef Stakes at Newbury.
In his next two seasons, he would go on to win twice at Royal Ascot and scoop four Group One prizes. He also made the frame in six more races at the highest level and Richard Fahey, who trained him throughout his career, said more than once he was the best he has trained.
Highlights in 2016 were his victories in the Jersey Stakes plus Jacques Le Marois at Deauville. He was also third to Galileo Gold in the QIPCO 2000 Guineas and filled the same position behind The Gurkha in a thrilling Qatar Sussex Stakes, being beaten a neck and a short head after meeting trouble in running.
Ribchester signed off his campaign that year with an excellent half-length second to Minding in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes (sponsored by QIPCO) at Ascot on Champions Day and began 2017 with a creditable third in the Dubai Turf at Meydan.
He got back to winning ways with successive triumphs in the Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes and Queen Anne – in the process confirming himself to be Europe’s top miler – before suffering a surprise neck defeat to Here Comes When on heavy ground in the Sussex.
Typically, Ribchester showed no ill effects and went one better in the Qatar Prix du Moulin de Longchamp the following month.
He again gave his all in his final two appearances. On the first occasion he again finished runner-up in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes, this time beaten by the mud-loving Persuasive, and on the second, just a fortnight later, he was a close fifth in the Breeders’ Cup Mile from an unfavourable draw.
Ribchester ended his 16-race career with a rating of 124. He won his £2,641,449 in prize money.
There were numerous highs for Ribchester and his connections, with his Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot in 2017 being the pick.
He looked the form choice beforehand but the race attracted runners from around the world and his 15 rivals included three horses who had won Grade 1 prizes in America. In addition, his draw in stall one was a potential hazard for jockey William Buick.
As it transpired Buick had few, if any, anxious moments.
Toscanini, in the race as a pacemaker for the market leader, set an honest gallop until about a furlong from home from where Ribchester swept to the front.
Once in front, he idled and hung a little but he never looked like being overhauled and won by a length and a quarter from Mutakayyef, with Deauville a further neck behind in third.
What they said:
Richard Fahey said on Ribchester’s retirement: “Horses like this don’t come along very often, he’s been an absolute superstar, a wonderful horse to us and the Godolphin team. He’s tough, very quick and I’m sure he’ll make a super stallion.
“Without wanting to disrespect any of the other horses we’ve trained, the ratings tell you he’s the best we’ve had, so it’s very easy to say that.”
After his win in the Queen Anne, William Buick said: “He’s improved in every department since I first rode him, both mentally and physically. He used to be a bit immature, very energetic, and it was hard to channel it in the right direction all the time. Now he’s really matured and he has turned into top-class horse.
“Richard and his team have done a fantastic job with him. A lot of it is down to them that he is so adaptable in a race. He seemed to enjoy it from the front at Newbury [in the Lockinge] but, equally, he can come from behind. He has got the highest cruising speed of any horse I’ve ridden and he can quicken off it as well, which is a great asset for a miler.”
Where he will stand:
Ribchester now stands at Darley’s picturesque Kildangan Stud in Ireland, where as a stallion he will command a fee of €30,000. A limited number of breeding rights are available.
Sheikh Mohammed bought Kildangan in 1986, and the Kildare stud farm is only one strand of his worldwide operation.
What should we expect from his offspring?:
As Europe’s champion miler in 2016 and 2017, the answer seems straightforward.
However, keep in mind that he came to hand early as a two-year-old and was fully effective over six furlongs as a two-year-old. His youngsters could well be worth keeping an eye out for.
Also, there is stamina on the distaff side of Ribchester’s pedigree because Mujarah, his dam, was a maiden half-sister to the smart Tactic (fully effective at up to 1m6f) and useful 1m3f winner Yaazy.
There is the prospect, then, of him producing winners over a range of distances depending on the mares who visit him.
If his offspring take after him they will be tough, consistent and with a zest for racing – plus effective on all types of ground.