I was sad to hear yesterday of the death of Halling. He was very much a Godolphin great, both on the racecourse and as a successful stallion.
He passed away at Dalham Hall Stud on Tuesday at the grand old age of 25. Trainer Saeed Bin Suroor said of the loss: “It's very sad news. Halling did a great job both for Godolphin and Darley. He won five Group 1s for us, two of them in his first year and then three more in his second. He was a great stallion too. Everybody loved him at Godolphin and Darley, and so did Sheikh Mohammed. He was one of our best horses and it's like losing a friend, but he lived a long and happy life and there are still some babies of his to look forward to.”
Halling started out under the guidance of John Gosden and developed into a quality handicapper at three, winning the Cambridgeshire. He moved to Saeed Bin Suroor at four and quickly established himself as a Group 1 performer. He took the Eclipse at Sandown and followed that with victory in the International Stakes at York. As a five-year-old he took the Group 1 Prix d’Ispahan at Longchamp before repeating his wins in the Eclipse and International.
In a stunning race career he won a dozen of his 18 starts, amassing over $1,300,000. His career at stud was also an impressive one. Halling had a reputation for producing classy stayers. Cavalryman and Opinion Poll are two perfect examples, though the former had enough class to run third in an Arc. The Geezer was another strong stayer on the Flat, finishing second to Scorpion in the St Leger of 2005.
During the most recent Flat campaign we witnessed the rise of the latest Halling star. Jack Hobbs finished second in the Epsom Derby before group 1 success came in the Irish equivalent at The Curragh. Trained like his sire by John Gosden, the huge colt is expected to improve further as a four-year-old and is set to carry the Halling name to further group success. At the end of his latest terrific Flat campaign Gosden said of Jack Hobbs: “He is a next year horse, his dad got good at four and five. If you had told me this horse would do what he has done already I would be blown away.”
Halling also proved his worth as a stallion in the National Hunt sphere. Crow Wood was a classy two-mile hurdler for John Quinn, and won the Elite Hurdle at Wincanton back in 2006. All Yours is a recent addition to the Jumps fraternity. He won the Grade 1 Juvenile Hurdle at Aintree last April. Rayvin Black is another exciting offspring. He chased home The New One at Haydock last time out, and looks capable of winning a valuable handicap before the season is over.
Deep Purple was the most successful of the Halling progeny over obstacles. Trained by Evan Williams, he won numerous graded events over fences including the Charlie Hall at Wetherby, and the Peterborough Chase at Huntingdon. He also finished fourth in a Ryanair at The Festival.
The latest horse of interest taking to the larger obstacles is trained in Ireland. Zabana was runner-up in last year’s Coral Cup at Cheltenham and in recent days has been heavily backed for the JLT in March. I’m not convinced he’s good enough to win that particular race, but he will undoubtedly pay his way over fences and will be at his best on decent ground.
Whilst racing mourns the loss of Halling, his legacy appears to be a strong one. Both racing codes appear to be covered, with the likes of Yanworth and Jack Hobbs sure to bring further success the way of the Godolphin great.