Death of legendary sire GREEN DESERT

Posted on: 9th Sep 2015

GREEN DESERT in his paddock at the Nunnery Stud

The increasing toll of old age and infirmity led to the mutual agreement that this giant of the stallion ranks was euthanized in the peaceful and familiar surroundings of the Nunnery Stud following veterinary advice.

Visited by a lucky few in recent years including Channel 4 Racing, Racing UK and the Racing Post Bloodstock team, GREEN DESERT maintained a good level of health throughout his retirement.  On visiting him in 2013, Emma Berry (reporting for the Racing Post’s Bloodstock World) wrote: “Now 30, the son of Danzig still has a glint in his eye … The dark, stocky GREEN DESERT, his coat still dappled even in his dotage, is more than just a name on numerous catalogue pages.”

Her sentiment alluded to the vital role that GREEN DESERT played not only in the commercial bloodstock world but in the pride and morale of the staff at Shadwell. Richard Lancaster, Shadwell Stud Director, whose association with GREEN DESERT stretches back to when he was a yearling reflected:

“Although small in stature, GREEN DESERT had a big personality and was hugely loved and revered by everyone at Shadwell.

On behalf of all concerned with his management, I would firstly like to thank the stallion men who have looked after GREEN DESERT throughout his time with us: Phil Vernon, Ron Lott and Bela Kristoff; their unwavering care for him and the excellent age he reached, is a credit to them.  

We also appreciate the support that GREEN DESERT received throughout his time at stud from breeders across the world. Although not owned by Shadwell, we have always thought of him as our flagship stallion and we are very proud to be a part of his legacy.

It goes without saying that this is a very sad time for everyone connected with GREEN DESERT and we hope that people will remember him as an excellent racehorse, a ground breaking sire and a lasting influence on modern Thoroughbred racing and breeding.”

Sam Bullard, Director of Stallions at Darley expressed how GREEN DESERT had influenced not only the bloodstock industry but the Maktoum family’s role in it: 

“GREEN DESERT has been a wonderful stallion for the Maktoum family, and firmly established himself as one of the most pre-eminent sire of sires in Europe. It is fitting that his grandson by Cape Cross is the 2015 Epsom Derby winner.”

Foaled in 1983, GREEN DESERT was the first foal out of Foreign Courier (Sir Ivor), a mare from the family of Arch and Althea who produced a series of smart sprinters, the most notable, of course, being GREEN DESERT himself, a son of Danzig.

He was owned by HH Sheikh Maktoum bin Rashid Al Maktoum; bred by Eaton Farms Inc & Red Bull Stables.  He was trained by Sir Michael Stoute who commented:

“GREEN DESERT was a horse I loved training, he had a huge amount of vitality and personality.  He was a good miler, for Dancing Brave was the only horse to beat him in the Guineas, but his exceptional speed meant he was able to win Group races over 6f.  He has left a great legacy, and one that I think will become larger and larger over time.”

His most notable wins include:
Gr.1 July Cup (1986)
Gr.2 Flying Childers Stakes (1985)
Gr.2 Vernons Sprint Cup (1986)
Gr.3 July Stakes (1985)

He was also 2nd in the 2,000 Guineas (1m) beaten by DANCING BRAVE.

GREEN DESERT, who retired from stud duties in 2011 at the age of 28, has been responsible for producing some of the most popular and prolific stallions in modern times.  
To his credit are the likes of OASIS DREAM, INVINCIBLE SPIRIT and CAPE CROSS, who all currently occupy top 10 leading sire positions in Europe. 

During his career he sired 12 individual Gr.1 winners and over 90 stakes winners in total including:

Classic winner (Irish 2,000 Guineas) DESERT PRINCE
Gr.1 Lockinge winner CAPE CROSS
Gr.1 July Cup winners OWINGTON and OASIS DREAM
Gr.1 Haydock Sprint Cup winners INVINCIBLE SPIRIT, MARKAB, OASIS DREAM, SHEIKH ALBADOU & TAMARISK
Gr.1 Prix de l’Abbaye winner DESERT LORD

His legacy continues as a sire of sires being the grand-sire of the likes of Gr.1 winners ARCANO, AQLAAM, MOONLIGHT CLOUD, OUIJA BOARD, SEA THE STARS and more recently 2015 triple Gr.1 winning sprinter MUHAARAR and the this year’s Epsom Derby winner GOLDEN HORN.

At his peak popularity in 2001, his yearling sales average reached a formidable 247,621gns; in the same year, his most valuable yearling sold for 1,300,000gns.  

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