In-depth Analysis

By Andrew Caulfield and Claire Curry

Green Desert’s success story dates all the way back to 1990, when he became leading first-crop sire with a very impressive total of 15 winners from 24 runners in Britain and Ireland.

Green Desert now boasts over 40 individual Group winners, including 12 Gr.1 winners. It is worth pointing out that Green Desert’s totals have been achieved almost entirely with crops which numbered 71 foals at most.

His Group winners include some middle-distance performers, but Green Desert’s speciality has undoubtedly been his ability to sire top-notch winners over distances at up to a mile – including top sprinters or milers from daughters of such strong influences for stamina as Bustino, Dancing Brave and Vaguely Noble.

When Oasis Dream won the July Cup, he was following in the footsteps not only of Green Desert but also of Green Desert’s son Owington. However, the race which best encapsulates Green Desert’s story is the Sprint Cup at Haydock, which fell to Green Desert and his sons Sheikh Albadou, Tamarisk and Invincible Spirit.

Some of these major winners didn’t have luck on their side once they retired. Tamarisk proved largely infertile at Coolmore, Owington died in the same year that he made his debut at stud and Sheikh Albadou died at the age of 11. In the circumstances, Green Desert has done very well to become recognised as a leading sire of sires.

Owington, who was rated 123 by Timeform, did enough in his brief innings to suggest that he would have been a major player had he lived. From only 37 named foals, he sired performers of the calibre of Jemima (Gr.2 Lowther S.), Gateman (Gr.3 Minstrel S., Gr.3 Diomed S. and Gr.3 Earl of Sefton S.), Whyome (Gr.1-placed), Winning Venture (Gr.1-placed), Flowington (Gr.2-placed) and Jezebel (Gr.3-placed).

Another of Green Desert’s sons, Desert Style, retired with a Timeform rating of 121 after winning nothing more important than three Gr.3 events. Even though he started at a fee of only IR£3,000, he too has advertised Green Desert’s prowess as a sire of sires. Bachir, winner of the 2,000 Guineas in France and Ireland, became his first Classic winner and Next Desert, winner of the German Derby, made it two Classic winners from his first three crops. Desert Style has since added four more Gr.1 winners to his tally. Caradak took the Prix de la Foret in 2006, the same year that Mandesha completed a Gr.1 treble in the Prix d’Astarte, Prix de l’Opera and Prix Vermeille. Then Paco Boy established himself as a top miler, winning the Gr.1 Prix de la Foret in 2008, Gr.1 Queen Anne Stakes in 2009 and Gr.1 Lockinge Stakes in 2010. Desert Blanc was victorious in the Gr.1 Manhattan Handicap at Belmont Park in 2012.

The next success story concerned Cape Cross, a winner of the Gr.1 Juddmonte Lockinge Stakes. This admirably game performer was priced at only IR£8,000 when he took up stallion duties at Kildangan Stud but he has done so well that his fee stands at €30,000 having peaked at €50,000. He has now found everlasting fame as the sire of the exceptional Sea The Stars. He also sired another exceptional performer in his first crop, which was headed by that magnificent filly Ouija Board (Gr.1 Oaks, Gr.1 Irish Oaks, Gr.1 Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf, twice, Gr.1 Prince of Wales’s Stakes, etc). Cape Cross has another major middle-distance winner to his credit in Behkabad, winner of the 2010 Grand Prix de Paris. It is interesting that some of his New Zealand winners have done well elsewhere, with Able One winning the Gr.1 Hong Kong Mile in 2011 and Crossing The Line the Gr.2 Del Mar Mile in California.

This run of success by Green Desert’s stallion sons continued when Invincible Spirit’s first crop reached the races in 2006 and when Kheleyf’s first runners debuted in 2008. Thanks to a huge number of winners, Invincible Spirit took the title of leading first-season sire and his Gr.1 winners now number Moonlight Cloud (Prix Maurice de Gheest, three times, Prix du Moulin, Prix Jacques le Marois and Prix de la Foret), Hooray (the champion two-year-old filly of 2010), Fleeting Spirit (July Cup), Lawman (Prix du Jockey-Club and Prix Jean Prat), Vale of York (Breeders’ Cup Juvenile), Mayson (July Cup) and Rosdhu Queen (Cheveley Park Stakes).

Invincible Spirit’s success accurately suggested that Oasis Dream would prove similarly effective. Both were sprinters despite having dams with classic connections. Whereas Invincible Spirit’s stoutly-bred dam won the Prix de Diane, Oasis Dream is out of a stoutly-bred sister to the Irish Oaks winner Wemyss Bight.

Green Desert’s influence has also extended to the other side of the world. His fast son Shinko Forest, a Gr.1 winner in Japan, sired such good performers as Genki, Close To You, Electric Beat and Moss Vale from limited opportunities in Ireland. Green Desert has also made an indelible mark on Australasian racing through his first-crop sons Desert Sun and Volksraad, who retired to stud in New Zealand.

Volksraad, who earned a Timeform rating of 109 in a brief career, has sired numerous Gr.1 winners in the Southern Hemisphere and he is one of only three stallions in the last 60 years to have been crowned New Zealand’s champion stallion on four consecutive occasions (and seven times in all).

Desert Sun, who was rated 120 at his best, has also excelled in the Southern Hemisphere, notably siring the astonishing Sunline, who notched up as many as 13 Gr.1 wins in Australia, New Zealand and Hong Kong.

In the circumstances, it is hardly surprising that Oasis Dream has enjoyed enormous success with his first seven crops. As he is the only son of Green Desert to have been a champion at two and three, he has undeniable claims to being considered the heir apparent to his veteran sire.

The strength of Oasis Dream’s female line has been amply demonstrated by the fact that he is one of three Gr.1 winners to have represented his dam Hope and her sister Wemyss Bight. Hope’s half-sister Coraline has also produced the excellent Reefscape, to become the third daughter of Bahamian with a Gr.1 winner to her credit. Altogether four daughters of Bahamian have produced a total of eight Group winners, so this female line has developed into one of the most potent families in the Juddmonte stud book.


There was a huge update to the family in 2013 when Oasis Dream’s Classic-winning half-sister Zenda produced two Group winners – the Royal Ascot winner Remote and the unbeaten two-year-old/2000 Guineas favourite Kingman.

Oasis Dream represents another example of Green Desert’s ability to inject speed into mares with plenty of staying influences in their pedigrees. He follows the likes of Tamarisk, whose first three dams were by Vaguely Noble, Lyphard and Hail To Reason, and Desert Prince, whose first three dams were by Bustino, Mill Reef and Relko. Seven furlongs and a mile have been the most fruitful distances for Green Desert’s progeny, but Oasis Dream is proving capable of siring anything from Group-winning two-year-old sprinters to smart performers suited by 1¾ miles.

This versatility no doubt stems from the fact that Oasis Dream’s first three dams were sired by the King George winners Dancing Brave, Mill Reef and Busted. Judged solely on pedigree, you would have expected Oasis Dream to have been a miler. His dam Hope was a sister to Wemyss Bight, a top-class filly who gained all of her Group wins over a minimum of 10.5 furlongs. However, Wemyss Bight might have shown more speed, given the chance. Her second foal, Yaralino, won at Gr.3 level over 8.5 furlongs even though he was by Caerleon, a stallion whose progeny have an average winning distance of 10.7 furlongs. Then there’s Wemyss Bight’s third foal Beat Hollow, who failed by less than a length to add a Gr.1 victory over a mile to his four previous Gr.1 wins, even though he is by Sadler’s Wells.

Hope was every bit as effective as her sister as a broodmare. Oasis Dream is her third stakes winner from her first four foals and her second Group 1 winner, following her French 1,000 Guineas winner Zenda. Oasis Dream is inbred 3 x 4 to Northern Dancer and 4 x 4 to Never Bend, while Zenda is inbred 4 x 4 to Northern Dancer.

All of Hope’s winners had speed and it is perhaps relevant that her grandsires were Lyphard, a horse capable of a formidable burst of acceleration over seven furlongs or a mile, and Mill Reef, who cantered home a facile winner of two major six-furlong contests at two.

Oasis Dream’s second dam Bahamian and third dam Sorbus were accomplished performers on the track, with Timeform ratings of 115 and 121 respectively. Sorbus was speedy enough to finish second of 17 in the Irish 1,000 Guineas on fast ground and she also crossed the line a length ahead of the Epsom Oaks winner Fair Salinia in the Irish Oaks, only to be demoted.

The fifth dam in Oasis Dream’s female line is Sixpence, a very fast filly who took the title of champion juvenile filly in 1953. Her five wins from six starts included a six-length victory in the Cheveley Park Stakes, when she went close to the track record despite winning unchallenged. Could this champion filly be the source of some of Oasis Dream’s exceptional speed?

It seems that everyone was aware of Oasis Dream’s considerable potential from the moment he first set foot on a racecourse, at Salisbury in August 2002. He started a clear favourite in a 12-runner maiden race but a combination of inexperience and lack of peak fitness took its toll and he finished fifth.

Oasis Dream’s reputation proved to be very well founded, nonetheless. Another race was needed to bring him to top form, but he was very impressive on his third start, when he led throughout to win a six-furlong maiden race at Nottingham in September – impressive enough to start third favourite when he stepped up to Group 1 company in the Shadwell Stud Middle Park Stakes only 13 days later. Needless to say, he faced some very strong opposition in this historic contest. Elusive City, the favourite, had passed the post in front in both the Richmond Stakes Gr.2 and Prix Morny Gr.1; Tomahawk, the second favourite, had cost $2,500,000 as a yearling and was to go on to finish second in the Dewhurst Stakes Gr.1; Country Reel was an unbeaten winner of the Gimcrack Stakes Gr.2; and Zafeen had followed his second in the Prix Morny Gr.1 with a victory in the Mill Reef Stakes Gr.2.

Well though they performed, none of these very smart colts was fast enough to beat Oasis Dream, who ran on strongly to win by one and a half lengths in the astonishing time of 1:09.61. No horse had ever covered the six furlongs on the Rowley Course in less than 1:10.00.

“I was quietly confident of him being quite hard to beat today,” John Gosden told the Racing Post afterwards.

“He’s the fastest two-year-old at Manton and probably the fastest two-year-old in Europe over 6f.”

The compilers of the International Classifications and the Timeform handicappers also agreed that Oasis Dream had no equals among the juveniles of 2002, rating him their champion two-year-old, and the son of Green Desert thoroughly vindicated their assessment in 2003.

As early as January, John Gosden was reporting that Oasis Dream had made very good physical progress, adding that the colt would need a race before tackling one of the Guineas races – “he carries a great deal of condition” – and that he wouldn’t want soft ground - “he’s got a lovely action and he doesn’t really like it soft.”

Unfortunately, the picture had changed by mid-April, when Gosden decided that Oasis Dream wasn’t sufficiently forward to step up in distance to a mile. With the approval of Prince Khalid, a patient approach was adopted and a decision was taken to concentrate on the top sprint events later in the season.

Oasis Dream was ready to return to action at Royal Ascot, when the King’s Stand Stakes Gr.2 was chosen in preference to the Golden Jubilee Stakes Gr.1 over an extra furlong, even though he had to carry a Group 1 penalty in the shorter event.

The sensational Australian colt Choisir grabbed most of the headlines with his display of tremendous pace from start to finish but Oasis Dream also caught everyone’s eye, turning in a performance packed with promise in finishing third of 20.

From that point, Oasis Dream’s career progressed along similar lines to that of his highly successful sire, Green Desert. Both contested the July Cup, the Nunthorpe and the Haydock Park Sprint Cup and both emerged with two victories and an honourable defeat before heading for the Breeders’ Cup.

Choisir started favourite to confirm the form with Oasis Dream in the Darley July Cup Gr.1. Choisir’s price reflected his win in the Golden Jubilee Stakes Gr.1 and was also influenced by his having drawn the optimum position of the number one stall at Newmarket. Oasis Dream, on the other hand, appeared to have been done no favours with the 11 draw in a 16-runner field, which also included the champion filly Airwave.

Oasis Dream showed that Choisir wasn’t the only one with excellent early pace, quickly taking up a position stalking the front-running favourite.

“He was electric away from the gates,” rider Richard Hughes related. “When I joined Johnny [Murtagh] Choisir picked up and I picked up with him and shook him off in the last 100 yards. I was hard-held all the way. Oasis Dream is very fast.

“At Ascot, I was a length behind Choisir at the furlong pole and was just going to pick him off when Oasis Dream took a heave and blew up with me.”

“What Choisir achieved at Royal Ascot was so phenomenal,” Gosden acknowledged. “We weren’t ready then but we had to get on the track. We were basically prepping there to come here.

“We knew we had to go out and attack Choisir because he’s an exceptional sprinter,” Gosden said. “We saw what he did at Ascot and, with that plum draw, he was going to be hard to catch.

“Oasis Dream broke a length slow but made it up in 50 yards and what I liked was that, halfway through the race, Richard had no contact with the mouth. The reins were just flapping and they were cruising. I knew there was a lot more to come, and there sure was.”

Once again Oasis Dream stopped the clock in a very fast time, 1:09.94.

The next stop was the Gr.1 Victor Chandler Nunthorpe Stakes, in which Oasis Dream started long odds on. Oasis Dream trounced his opponents in imperious style. As the Racing Post reported, Oasis Dream was “quickly away and soon in front, setting a deceptively strong pace which had most of the rest in trouble before halfway. He upped the tempo over 1f out and came away effortlessly - he was still full of running in the final 200 yards and left the strong impression he could have found more if pressed. This was a very good performance on the clock.”

The colt’s winning time of 56.2 seconds fell just 0.04sec short of the track record, and there was speculation that he might have broken the record had he been pushed harder by Richard Hughes in the closing stages.

“I’ve been lucky enough to train some fast horses in my time in America and in Europe,” John Gosden told the media, “but I've never trained anything as fast as this. He is seriously quick. I've had some really fast ones in America and they do know how to trap.

“If ever Noel Murless talked about a horse that really made his eyes light up it was Abernant. He said he would kill them over the first three furlongs and this horse is the same. He kills them for pace. They are all off the bridle and after that he just toys with them. He is in the Abernant class.”

For the record, Timeform rated Abernant 142.

“I wanted to run him after the July Cup but there was no race,” Gosden revealed. “I’ve sharpened him up at home. I’ve got nothing to go with him. He went 34 and one [seconds] on the clock in two three-furlong spins.

“The trouble is he gets bored and he got bored here with Hughesie. He obviously could have gone a bit faster but there was no-one to challenge him. He was just pulling himself up, changing his legs and looking at the crowd.”

“It was easy,” Hughes stressed. “The amazing thing is you don’t know how fast you are going on him. I grabbed hold of him at the two-pole and it was all over.”

Green Desert had finished only third in the Nunthorpe before returning to winning form in the Haydock Sprint Cup, the next race on Oasis Dream’s agenda. However, whereas Green Desert encountered good ground, Oasis Dream wasn’t so fortunate. With torrential rain falling on a course which had already been watered, the ground turned good to soft which took the edge off Oasis Dream’s speed. The Juddmonte colt was unfortunate that his opponents included Somnus, a soft-ground specialist. Even so, Oasis Dream accounted for his eight other rivals, including Airwave.

The parallel careers continued, with father and son both being dispatched to Santa Anita for the Breeders’ Cup. Neither showed anything approaching his best form (Green Desert finished last in the Sprint on his first attempt on dirt) but Oasis Dream wasn’t disgraced from a tough draw in the Mile, being beaten less than eight lengths even though he clearly found the distance beyond him. That defeat didn’t deter the compilers of the International Classifications from rating Oasis Dream the year’s top sprinter by a margin of 4 lbs and the best three-year-old in Britain.

Oasis Dream was rated superior to Green Desert as a racehorse and the early signs are that he is also going to outstrip his very successful sire at stud.

Oasis Dream may not have ended 2007 as leading first-crop sire in terms of prize-money, but he achieved more than any other new sire at stakes level. As many as five of his 20-plus winners became stakes winners and four of these five – the colts Captain Gerrard and Young Pretender and the fillies Visit and Starlit Sands – were triumphant at Group level.

Anyone who expected Oasis Dream’s progeny to be less effective after their juvenile season was in for a shock. The majority of his first-crop juvenile winners also won again at three and as many as 37 members of this crop won as three-year-olds. These first-crop runners also remained in tremendous form at the ages of four and five, prime examples being Aqlaam, Lady Jane Digby, Tuscan Evening, Main Aim, Mullein, Perfect Stride and La Sylvia. Some members of this crop even shone at the age of six in 2011, with Prohibit winning the Gr.1 King’s Stand Stakes and Anne of Kiev taking two Listed races. They helped boost this crop’s figures to 16 stakes winners. There are four G1 winners among this crop’s nine Group/Graded winners, from a total of under 110 foals.

Oasis Dream’s second crop helped maintain the momentum. A record total of 38 scored at two years, headed by the French champion Naaqoos and his fellow Group winner Sri Putra. Once again, though, this crop has taught everyone that many of the Oasis Dreams improve with age. Midday went close to becoming Oasis Dream’s first classic winner, when narrowly defeated by Sariska in the Oaks, and has gone on to win the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf, the Yorkshire Oaks, Prix Vermeille and three editions of the Nassau Stakes. Another Gr.1 winner from this second crop is Querari, who landed the Premio Presidente Repubblica, and Sri Putra was a close second in the Gr.1 Coral-Eclipse. Altogether six members of this second crop became Group winners, three of them at Gr.1 level.

While many of Oasis Dream’s older progeny were shining over a mile or more in 2009, his third-crop juveniles were busily making their mark in the top two-year-old sprints. Arcano, Misheer and Showcasing collectively won the July Stakes, Cherry Hinton Stakes, Prix Morny and Gimcrack, and Oasis Dancer and Kona Coast filled first and second places in the Tattersalls Timeform Million. Between them they helped Oasis Dream take third place among the top sires of two-year-olds.

The stakes winners continued to flow from this third crop, fine examples being the fillies Rainfall, conqueror of the colts in the G3 Jersey Stakes, and Sandbar, winner of the G3 Prix Cleopatre prior to taking third place in the G1 Prix de Diane. The colts have also done well, with Frozen Power winning the German equivalent to the 2,000 Guineas. Its number of stakes winners stands at 13.

Needless to say, Oasis Dream’s fourth crop also proved a prolific source of stakes winners. The likes of Approve (G2 Norfolk Stakes and G2 Gimcrack Stakes), Waiter’s Dream (G3 Acomb Stakes) and Rimth (second in the G1 Cheveley Park Stakes) all highlighted Oasis Dream’s talent for siring excellent two-year-olds. Quiet Oasis scored at Gr.2 level in the USA, while Welwitschia attained a similar level in South Africa.

This ability also came to the fore in 2011, when Power – a colt from Oasis Dream’s fifth crop – was rated the year’s joint-third-best juvenile after winning the Gr.1 National Stakes and finishing a rather unlucky second in the Gr.1 Dewhurst Stakes. Bronterre, another of Oasis Dream’s sons, was a close fourth in the Dewhurst, while another – Reply – was a good third in the Gr.1 Middle Park Stakes after winning the Weatherbys Insurance £300,000 2-Y-O Stakes. Power went on to win the Irish 2000 Guineas as a three-year-old. The ill-fated Gr.1 Nunthorpe Stakes winner Jwala also came from this crop.

To the end of 2013, Oasis Dream’s first seven crops had produced the extraordinary total of 37 Group winners, including 10 winners at the highest level. A further 38 members of these crops have also scored at Listed level.

Oasis Dream was the leading British-based sire by yearling average at Tattersalls October Book 1 in 2012 and 2013, with an average of 289,000 guineas. He was also the leading sire in Europe in 2013 by individual wins and winners as well as being the leading sire of two-year-olds in Europe by prize money thanks to 10 individual juvenile blacktype performers and the sales race winners Oklahoma City and Wedding Ring.