Essaouira: The Power Behind the Glory - Jack Cripps

For avid racing fans, horses such as Makybe Diva, Winx, Black Caviar and So You Think are names that come into conversation more often than not when a discussion arises about the four legged beast. However, names such as Tugela, Vegas Showgirl, Helsinge and Triassic are swept under the carpet. 

The latter four names of the eight mentioned in the above paragraph are the mothers of the champions mentioned in the first sentence. Since joining the Thoroughbred Industry Careers Explorer Cadetship program I have been able to learn and experience a lot of what goes on behind the scenes in order to get a horse to the track – and moulded into a champion. 

During my 4.5 month work placement at Godolphin in Northwood Park, my focus has been shifted from the race track to the breeding barn where champions such as Sepoy and Lyre have been foaled down and raised. The broodmare band at this farm has black type blood as far as the eye can see, horses such as Accessories (Helmet/Epaulette), Miss Right Note (Pierro), Alltitude (Exosphere) and Jerezana (Osborne Bulls) but there is one that has really stood out in my eyes as the best at this farm, if not Australia.

Essaouria, named after a city in Western Morocco only had two starts as a racehorse. She broke her maiden on debut back in 2009 at Moonee Valley before running sixth of eight in the 2-year-old Chairman Stakes at Caulfield behind the subsequent Coolmore Stud Stakes winner Headway. But it was the broodmare barn where her name will be seen in pedigrees for years to come.

Essaoria’s first two offspring were not much to write home about when talking about her lofty standards, with the first Marrakesh (Lonhro) winning 3 of 19 starts and the second, Mogador, (Lonhro) running third in a Group 3 and collecting $311,000 In prizemoney during his racing career (which is still pretty darn good). 

Her third offspring was a Medaglia D’Oro colt by the name of Astern. Astern had nine starts for five wins, those wins included the G2 Kindergarten Stakes, the G2 Run To The Rose and the G1 Golden Rose. Throw in a second in the G2 Roman Consul and a second in the stallion making G1 Coolmore Stud Stakes Behind Flying Artie.  After his racing career, Astern’s success has moved from the track to the breeding barn, with the stallion covering a full book of mares in his first two seasons at stud and a full book expected in 2019 with an average service price of around $35,000. He has also shuttled to Darley in the United States for the past two seasons, His first crop of weanlings look terrific and he has all the attributes to become a stallion people will be talking about for many years to come.


Alizee

Essaouira’s fourth cab off the rank was a filly by Northwood Park’s own Champion 2-year-old Sepoy by the name of Alizee. A horse that needs no introduction, the now 5-year-old bay mare is rated as one of Australia’s top sprinters and is the hot tip to take Godolphin’s slot in the world’s richest turf race, the $13 Million Everest. Alizee has won 9 of her 21 career starts with three of those at G1 level and four of those at G2 level, amassing $2.3 Million in prizemoney. With plenty of racing still ahead of her she will go down as one of the greats.

The fifth of Essaouira’s offspring is a four year old unraced Animal Kingdom mare named Leopard. Leopard has had a tough run of shoulder injuries over her career so her full potential is yet to be seen. In saying that, she is back in the swing of things and may see the track this spring.

The great mare’s latest superstar to hit the track is a colt by the name of Tassort. 


Tassort

The son of Brazen Beau, rated by Godolphin as their top 2-year-old last year, speaks volumes considering we had the trifecta in the Golden Slipper. Tassort has had only two career starts with injury hampering his Golden Slipper campaign in his 2-year-old season. In the first of those two starts Tassort showed the Australian racing scene he was a force to be reckoned with when pulverizing the field by 5.3 lengths in the $150,000 Golden Gift. The victory saw him go into early betting Golden Slipper markets as the $3 favourite. He then ran second in the G2 Silver Slipper Stakes at Rosehill before being forced to the paddock with hoof bruising, which put his Slipper campaign to bed. His horrible run with injury has continued with throat surgery putting him out until 2020. It is hard to look into a crystal ball and see the future of this horse but if he can make a full recovery from his injuries and get back to the track in the right order, he could be anything.

The mare’s current 2-year-old Tangier is a full sister to Astern and will be one to keep an eye on in the late spring and early autumn.  She also has a yearling full brother in the paddock here at Northwood Park and Essaouira has a full sibling to Alizee in the oven.

I must admit I am very new to the bloodstock side of the industry but to my immature eye I don’t think you’ll find a much better resume than that. The special thing about her is she still has plenty of years to furthermore cement her place in bloodstock immortality!

As I sit here today writing this piece in the foal hut whilst on dog watch, viewing day old foals breathing their first breaths of fresh air I feel grateful and privileged to be given the opportunity by TIC to be in this situation, to be a part of something so special and to be a part of something I didn’t know much about before joining