Shea Shea arrived in England on May 10 2013 on a mission – to become the first South African-trained horse to win at Royal Ascot.
Given that his dam, Yankee Clipper, won over a mile and his first three wins all came over seven furlongs, it was no surprise that Shea Shea was initially thought of as a possible contender for South Africa’s Classic races of early 2011.
But a modest effort in the Group 3 Gauteng Guineas prompted his trainer, Geoff Woodruff, to concentrate on sprinting and, as the son of National Emblem has got older (and in particular since he was gelded in early 2012) he has just got quicker and quicker.
He broke his Group 1 duck in the Golden Horse Casino Sprint in May 2011 over six furlongs but it was his performance in landing the Computaform Sprint over five furlongs some 11 months later that convinced connections that Shea Shea was good enough to merit an international campaign.
Owing to the regulations concerning Afican Horse Sickness, this currently involves serving a long quarantine period, in part on the island of Mauritius, before a horse can come to Europe or Dubai.
It also meant that Woodruff passed on the training responsibilities to Mike de Kock, who has such a successful record with travelling South African horses overseas.
This decision was fully vindicated when Shea Shea won the last two of his three starts at the 2013 Dubai World Cup Carnival, breaking the Meydan track record on both occasions and winning over £430,000 in prizemoney.
He looked all over the winner of the King’s Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot when hitting the front inside the final furlong, but Sole Power came with an incredible late run to get in the shadow of the post to win the second sprint in the QIPCO British Champions Series by a neck. Next time he stepped up to six furlongs in the Darley July Cup and ran an honourable fourth behind sprint star Lethal Force.
The Coomore Nunthorpe Stakes at York looked the perfect race for him, but a heavy thunderstorm the night beore softened the ground – he is always best on a quick surface – and Shea Shea was beaten half a length in second place by outsider Jwala, a nose ahead of his old rival, Sole Power. That was his final race of the 2013 season.
After a six and a half month break, he resumed at Meydan with victory by a head in a Group 3 which will bring him on for sure. He then started hot favourite for a second Al Quoz Sprint on Dubai World Cup Night, but he was last for the first half of the race and just like in the Coolmore Nunthorpe Stakes, he could not get to the winner, Amber Sky, or the second, Ahtoug, and was beaten a neck and a head. He is much better when racing more prominently.
He next took part in the King’s Stand but was never involved while the horse that beat him narrowly last year, Sole Power, won again. He then contested the Coolmore Nunthorpe Stakes but weakened to finish second last and is now retired.