Coolmore culls Churchill Downs to Libya

Former Coolmore controlled stallion Churchill Downs was part of a consignment of horses exported to Libya last month.

Churchill Downs (Danehill) was based at Blue Gum Farm in Victoria and he was joined on an IRT flight by rising two year-old colts Our Bahi (Ombra Della Sera) and Al Thagalin (Greenwood Lake).

After a stopover in Newmarket, another three thoroughbreds from Europe boarded the second leg of the flight to Al Shaab Stud.

Horse racing had been a very popular spectator sport in Libya before the overthrow of Colonel Gaddafi and it has continued under the new regime.  The Abu Sitta Riding School in Tripoli organises programmes that include various races in different categories.

The Abu Sitta neighbourhood was under constant attack when freedom fighters entered Tripoli last August.  News correspondents reported the rebel flag flew over many buildings in the area while heavy artillery, mortar-fire and booming explosions could be heard in the background.

“The Libyans love horses and enjoy their racing,” IRT spokesman Jamie Madsen said.  “There are no concerns about horse welfare.”

Coolmore exported Churchill Downs after he failed to sire a stakes winner in his first two crops.  He will join several stallions with Australasian links at Al Shaab Stud.

Brut Force (Giant’s Causeway), a son of Group 1 mare Champagne, has been based there since 2010.  So has Randwick winner Backdraft (Testa Rossa).

Another resident is Irish bred stallion Raise A Grand (Grand Lodge).  Victorian breeder Gerry Ryan shuttled him to Independent Stallions for a one-off season in 2002.