2015 in review; Ajaya the highlight of a memorable year
2015 saw Blue Diamond Stud enjoy a high level of success both on and off the track. Here Paul McIvor reviews the highlights and provides a glimpse of what we can look forward to in 2016 and beyond.
January-March; – A quiet time on the racing front was a far cry from life on the stud as January heralded the dawn of a plethora of new arrivals, the first foal of the season – born on 27th January – a bay colt from the debut crop of multiple Group-1 winner Al Kazeem out of the Marju mare Sensiz. A steady stream followed as we headed into spring, including foals from the first crops of Declaration of War, Lethal Force and Intello and an exciting daughter of War Front out of Maid To Master, a sister to Mastercraftsman.
April; – Blue Diamond Stud got off the mark for the year on 21st April when Ghalib made a winning reappearance at Kempton on his debut for Ed Walker, the old cricket saying ‘one brings two’ bearing fruit less than 24 hours later as Mezajy – also trained by Walker – opened his account in a maiden at Epsom.
May; – Tohfa gave us the perfect start to the month as she deservedly shed her maiden tag in a handicap at Doncaster, her trainer Richard Hannon also delivering success with the debutant Orvar at Salisbury, his victory coming the same day as Ayrad took the Listed Tapster Stakes at Goodwood. Ayrad’s win was the stud’s fourth in May, Ghalib having supplemented his Kempton triumph at Salisbury in effortless fashion.
June; – The winners were now starting to flow, Shaden announcing herself as a juvenile of note by making a successful debut at Nottingham for Lady Jane Cecil, whilst others to break their maiden were the William Haggas-trained Bella Nouf and the Roger Varian pair Aneesah and Musaaid. Doncaster was to prove a happy hunting ground during the month with Igider and Borak scoring for Roger Varian and Marco Botti respectively. In addition, June saw Raucous – a horse bred at the stud – impressing in winning a match race at Sandown for William Haggas and Highclere Thoroughbred Racing.
July; – High summer proved to be something of a purple patch, homebreds Decorated Knight and Bella Lulu getting the ball rolling with an across-the-card double for Roger Varian, Decorated Knight adding to his tally at Sandown a few weeks later. Shaden bounced back from defeat at Royal Ascot to defy top weight in a nursery at Ffos Las in the hands of Hayley Turner who was likewise aboard maiden winners Dutch Gallery, Talawat and Faddwa. Justineo struck a blow for our older division in a conditions event at Newmarket and Nisser gave the retiring Richard Hughes a farewell winner at Windsor, Richard Hannon’s 2-y-o marking himself down as one to keep on side in 2016. Another juvenile to make a big splash was Ajaya, whom William Haggas saddled to win a York maiden prior to running a gallant second in the Prix Robert Papin at Maisons-Laffitte. We did go one better in France, however, with the John Hammond trained Raven Ridge tasting success at Compiegne.
August; – This was to be the month we gained our most prestigious prize of the year, Ajaya defeating subsequent Mill Reef hero Ribchester to claim the Group 2 Gimcrack Stakes at York with Raucous back in third, thus meaning Blue Diamond Stud were responsible for breeding two of the first three home. Special Season further underlined the strength of our breeding operation as he bolted up at Sandown in the colours of Sheikh Rashid Dalmook Al Maktoum, the month ending with Ghalib’s third win of the campaign having commenced with Toofi finishing a brave second in the ultra-competitive Stewards’ Cup. The sales season stepped up a gear with racing manager Tony Nerses in action at Arqana and Doncaster, a €750,000 Frankel colt from Arqana and a sale-topping sister to Galileo Gold from DBS the pick.
September; – A pair of juvenile Group wins were the high points, Orvar taking a trip to Turkey in his stride to land a local Group 3 and Shaden winning the Firth of Clyde Stakes up at Ayr. Decorated Knight maintained his progression with a good third in the Group 2 Joel Stakes and 2-y-o filly Dawn of Hope looked above average when getting off the mark in a maiden at Ascot. The sales circuit continued with the purchase of two yearlings at Goffs, the more expensive being a Holy Roman Emperor half-sister to runaway Irish St Leger winner Order of St George.
October; – The Johnny Murtagh-trained Kasbah crossed the Irish Sea to pick up a Wolverhampton handicap, whilst winners in successive days were provided by Bella Nouf and Jassur. Wide-margin maiden victories for juveniles Aljazzi and Mr Khalid gave us and trainer Marco Botti plenty to dream about over the winter, a bright future also predicted for our nine acquisitions from Tattersalls, headed by a Raven’s Pass half-sister to the dual Group-3 winner and Group-1 placed Magic Artist. There was also success in America as Lamaan – trained stateside by Simon Callaghan – won a maiden special weight at Golden Gate Fields.
November – December; – Things were beginning to wind down, though Princess Loulou (right) managed to sign off her racing career with a listed win at Doncaster, Roger Varian’s mare avenging her defeat in the same contest 12 months earlier, her triumph the final contribution to our haul of 35 winners for the year.
A total of 35 winners leaves us in no doubt that 2015 was a stellar for Blue Diamond Stud, though with a range of proven performers and a number of smart youngsters waiting in the wings, 2016 has the potential to be even better.