IN its essay on Shalaa (IRE) (Invincible Spirit (IRE)-Ghurra by War Chant) at the end of his juvenile season Timeform said the dual Gr.1 winner “looks champion sprinter material and could well emulate Oasis Dream (also trained by John Gosden) in that regard”.
Racehorse of 2015 also wrote, “Shalaa confirmed himself the top two year-old in Europe with another very smart performance”, after his impressive win in the Prix Morny-Gr.1 and he was rated 123p at end of the season. A 100,000 guineas foal at Tattersalls and then a 170,000 guineas yearling, Shalaa campaigned for Al Shaqab Racing (Sheikh Joaan Al Thani of Qatar), who also shuttle another star in four-time Gr.1 winner Olympic Glory (IRE) (Choisir) to Arrowfield.
Shalaa won five of his six starts at two and after an unplaced effort first time out he won a 6f maiden at Newmarket by two lengths and then stepped straight into Group company in the July Stakes-Gr.2 (6f) at the same venue, disputing the lead and then winning by a length with something in hand, despite his 14/1 quote in a strong field.
Carrying a 3lb penalty next time out, he was even more impressive in the Richmond Stakes-Gr.2 (6f) at Goodwood, beating Listed winner Tasleet by 2.75 lengths and prompting Timeform to note, “he enhanced his claims to be one of the season’s top juveniles”. Trainer Gosden was also impressed, saying for the first time that Shalaa reminded him a lot of Oasis Dream and would be kept strictly to sprinting.
“He’s so fast and he enjoys sprinting, so let him sprint,” he said, rating the youngster the fastest two year-old he’d trained. “He’s got a good mind on him too, which is important.” Although previously racing on only good or firm tracks, Shalaa handled the very soft turf at Deauville with aplomb and was always in control in the Prix Morny-Gr.1 (1200m), cruising home to a very easy win for Frankie Dettori.
Timeform reported the winner had “confirmed himself as the top two year-old in Europe” after his first Gr.1 victory. His final start of 2015 came a month later (September 26) in the Middle Park Stakes-Gr.1 (6f) and he started 2/1on in a field of seven, which included Coventry Stakes winner Buratino and Gimcrack winner Ajaya. Shalaa was soon in front and stayed there all the way to beat Buratino by half a length after being eased in the final strides to win with a bit in hand.
“He’s got tremendous speed and is the fastest two year-old I’ve ridden,” regular rider Dettori said after this second Gr.1 success. “I haven’t met a horse fast enough to lead him.” He was off the scene for most of his three year-old season after suffering a pelvic injury in a routine training gallop, reappearing on October 1, 2016 with a neck win in the Ascot Bengough Stakes-Gr.3 (6f) and was retired after finishing 10th of 13 in the British Champion Sprint-Gr.1 behind Tin Man after starting joint favourite and racing prominently until the final half-furlong on October 15. He won six of eight starts and £450,208.
Like boom young sire I Am Invincible, sire of the 2017 MM 2YO Classic winner Houtzen among 95 winners of $7.2m this season, Shalaa is a son of former shuttler Invincible Spirit (IRE) (Green Desert-Rafha by Kris), who commands a fee of €120,000 at the Irish National Stud.
His 98 stakes winners include European Horse of the Year Kingman, Champion European Sprinter Moonlight Cloud, French Derby winner Lawman and tough Australian Gr.1 winner Yosei among 880 winners. Shalaa’s Gr.3 placed dam Ghurra, a winner of three races to 1700m and a three-quarter sister to Gr.1 winner and sire Hayil (USA), is the dam of three winners and is by the Danzig son War Chant and from Listed placed Futuh by the Middle Park Stakes winner and successful sire Diesis.
This is a pedigree with very close inbreeding as sire and dam are by sons of Danzig from mares by brothers (Kris and Diesis). Kris (Sharpen Up-Doubly Sure by Reliance) was unbeaten at two and Champion Miler in Europe in 1979-80, counting the Sussex Stakes, St James’s Palace Stakes, Waterford Crystal Mile, Queen Elizabeth II Stakes and Lockinge Stakes among 14 wins and he was Leading Sire in Great Britain and Ireland in 1985.
His brother Diesis, who stood in Kentucky but whose stock had great success on the turf in Europe, was England’s Champion 2YO Colt of 1982 when his four wins included the Dewhurst Stakes-Gr.1 and Middle Park Stakes-Gr.1. Their stakes winning brother Keen (GB) stood for a time in Australia (1985-89) where his runners included Gr.1 winner Gamine. They are sons of outstanding juvenile Sharpen Up (Atan-Rochetta by Rockefella), also a Middle Park Stakes winner and a grandson of all-time great Native Dancer, whose daughter Natalma features as the dam of Northern Dancer and third dam of Danehill (Danzig).
Sharpen Up is also dam sire of Danehill Dancer (IRE), and mares by that horse’s Choisir appeal as suitable mates for Shalaa as do mares by High Chaparral (IRE), whose second dam is by Kris and whose sire Sadler’s Wells has worked with the Danzig line. Green Desert (Danzig-Foreign Courier by Sir Ivor) was a July Cup-Gr.1 winner who sired more than 100SW and has had a remarkable impact on the breed, featuring in the pedigrees of numerous high-class horses including sons Cape Cross (IRE), Kheleyf (USA), Oasis Dream, Desert Prince (IRE), Desert Sun (GB), Tamarisk, Volksrad (GB) and of course the Haydock Sprint Cup-Gr.1 winner and sire of Shalaa in Invincible Spirit.
Shalaa has another connection with Australia as his dam is by Breeders’ Cup Mile-Gr.1 winner War Chant (USA) (Danzig-Hollywood Wildcat by Kris S), a horse who began his stud career in Kentucky before relocating to Yarradale Stud in WA, shuttling from 2011 and full time from 2014, where his runners include Ascot Gimcrack Stakes-LR winner Chantski and he has the winners of more than $1.1m so far this season.
Hollywood Wildcat was a multiple Gr.1 winner with her wins including the Breeders’ Cup Distaff and Hollywood Oaks and she was Champion US 3YO Filly. Her dam, Miss Wildcatter is a daughter of Mr. Prospector, a champion sire and grandson of Native Dancer, while her sire Kris S, was one of the best sire sons of classic winner Roberto.
Shalaa’s third dam Hardship (Drone-Hard and Fast by Etonian) was Gr.1 placed and has many black type descendants including Gr.1 winner and sire Wild Rush. This is family 1w tracing to Moonstone (by Mahmoud, sire of the dam of Natalma and Halo). Moonstone’s dam Rosetta (Kantar-Rose Red by Swynford) is a half-sister to Aurora (Hyperion), dam of Alycidon and Agricola, two sires who feature in many pedigrees here.
Shalaa is covering his first book at his owner’s Haras de Bouquetot in France, world champion and dual Arc winner Treve among them. “Shalaa is a standout individual, well balanced, correct and a great mover,” Benoit Jeffrey, manager of the Al Shaqab breeding operation said. “As a son of Invincible Spirit he should undoubtedly prove as popular with Australian breeders as he has been in Europe.” “We are delighted to stand Europe’s dominant sprinting two year-old at Arrowfield,” John Messara said. “He displayed the high-quality, early maturing speed that Australian breeders demand and offers a fresh take on the Danzig sire line that is clearly working here.”