2020 in review: a year of majestic stakes success

Despite the dark clouds of Covid-19, 2020 was a momentous year for Blue Diamond Stud, highlighted by the appointment of Hollie Doyle as retained jockey and the wonderful performances of star homebreds Extra Elusive and Majestic Noor.

Added to that, various Blue Diamond graduates outside the stud’s fold performed with credit, notably Raucous, an older warrior who now boasts seven wins and a rating of 103, and Fourhometwo, a promising two-year-old by our homebred Group 2 Gimcrack Stakes winner Ajaya.

The first yearlings by our brilliant homebred Decorated Knight were also well received. The early signs coming out of the pre-training yards are positive and we are looking forward to supporting him strongly again in 2021.

Extra Elusive was a major highlight of 2020. Photo – Grossick Photography/Racing Post

Flying to start to Doyle partnership

Hollie Doyle, one of the rising stars of the weighing room, was appointed as retained jockey to Imad Al Sagar in late July and the partnership got off to the perfect start just days later with the victory of homebred Faisal.

Making his debut in a Lingfield novice, Faisal showed understandable signs of inexperience but Hollie let him find his feet and the son of Golden Horn went on to show a striking turn of foot to run down the leader and win going away. 

“I’m grateful for Imad to give me the opportunity like this,” Hollie told Sky Sports Racing. “Faisal didn’t jump great – he took a furlong or two to get into a rhythm and but once he did, they steadied the pace up and he was carting me up the back straight. Luckily I managed to keep a lid on him and then I was just looking for a run. He gave me a great feel and a furlong out, he really changed gear.

“I’m sure this track wouldn’t be his track so there might be plenty of improvement to come.”

Improvement was certainly forthcoming as Faisal went on to turn in a bloodless win in a similar novice at Wolverhampton. This quality colt, who is out of homebred Bella Lulu, could well be a stakes horse in 2021.

The partnership between Hollie Doyle and Imad Al Sagar got off to a great start courtesy of Faisal

Group success not so elusive

As exciting as Faisal is, however, the season’s highlights came courtesy of homebred Extra Elusive. A horse who has always promised plenty with Roger Charlton, that came to fruition in 2020 with a pair of Group 3 victories, both in the hands of Hollie Doyle.

The son of Mastercraftsman benefitted from an excellent ride to win the Group 3 Rose Of Lancaster Stakes at Haydock Park and later followed up in the Winter Hill Stakes at Windsor.

On both occasions, Extra Elusive was allowed to bowl along in front and on both occasions, had enough in hand to repel the competition and win with great authority. 

“I just dropped my hands and rode him where he was happy and he settled well in front,” said Doyle following the Rose Of Lancaster Stakes. “He’s a long striding horse, he pricked his ears and I managed to get into a good rhythm for the first half mile which really suited.”

Extra Elusive and Hollie Doyle win the Rose of Lancaster Stakes. Photo – Grossick Photography/Racing Post

Extra Elusive later ran third in the Group 3 Dubai Duty Free Legacy Cup at Newbury and wasn’t disgraced when not beaten far in the Group 1 QIPCO Champion Stakes at Ascot. He has been freshened up over the winter and could make his seasonal reappearance at the Saudi Cup Festival.

Extra Elusive’s development into a 115-rated performer pays further credit to the excellence of his dam Nessina. Purchased as an early mare for the stud, the daughter of Hennessy is also the dam of our Group 2 Gimcrack Stakes winner Ajaya.

Extra Elusive’s exploits also saw Blue Diamond Stud feature as the Racing Post’s Breeder of the Week in mid-August.

Majestic filly

Extra Elusive wasn’t our only homebred stakes winner of 2020.

Majestic Noor progressed through the ranks for John Gosden to emulate her dam Nouriya by winning the Listed EBF Fillies John Musker Stakes at Yarmouth.

Majestic Noor has always been a valuable commodity as a Frankel half-sister to our homebred Group 2 Duke Of Cambridge Stakes heroine Aljazzi, and very good-looking to go with it. She broke her maiden at Yarmouth when racing resumed in June and after following up in handicap company at Newbury, gained that valuable stakes win at Yarmouth. She was compromised by soft ground on her final run at Newmarket but stays in training for 2021, when an array of Group races will be on the agenda.

Majestic Noor pictured as a yearling

As it is, Majestic Noor is incredibly valuable to Blue Diamond as a representative of two generations of the stud’s breeding. In addition to being a half-sister to Aljazzi, she is out of Nouriya, another stud homebred who carried our colours to victory in the Listed EBF Lyric Stakes in addition to the 2010 John Musker. In turn, Nouriya is a half-sister to the Listed-placed Lady Nouf and Balmoral Handicap winner Yuften, who also finished second past the post in the Prix Jean Prat. They are out of foundation mare Majestic Sakeena.

Multiple scorers

Other multiple winners of the campaign included promising stayer Amtiyaz. The son of Frankel, bred by the stud out of Goldikova’s relation Rose Of Miracles, broke his maiden at Newcastle in October and later followed up in a handicap at Wolverhampton. He has finished out of the first three only once in seven starts and remains a stayer to follow.

Breath Of Joy, a plucky homebred Kodiac filly out of Island Dreams, won twice for Amy Murphy, notably when defying top weight to score at Haydock Park in June. Although she rose 11 pounds in the ratings during 2020, Breath Of Joy never ran out of the first two places over the course of her three-year-old campaign.

Similarly, homebred Louganini, a son of our high-class racemare Princess Loulou, filled the frame in each of his four outings for Roger Charlton, notably when winning at Haydock Park and running a game second in a 17-runner Old Rowley Cup at Newmarket. The son of Zoffany has hit a career high of 93 and appeals as a likely candidate to keep improving into his four-year-old year.

Homebred Louganini pictured after winning at Haydock Park. Photo – Grossick Photography/Racing Post

Winners galore

Nor was the stud’s success restricted to winners outside our own colours.

Between them, graduates of Blue Diamond Stud won 26 races across Europe.

In addition to Imad Al Sagar’s stakes winners Extra Elusive and Majestic Noor, they included the aforementioned high-class sprinter Raucous, who struck in a Group-class conditions race at Chelmsford City in September.

The 93-rated Establish, an Australia colt out of Azenzar, looked a horse to keep on the right side of with a pair of back-to-back victories in mid-summer. They included a competitive handicap at Newmarket, which prompted his sale to Hong Kong.

Cozone, another member of the Majestic Sakeena family, won well at Sandown in the summer for Amanda Perrett while another three-year-old Summer House, a Lope De Vega filly out of Soon, made a striking winning debut at Lingfield for Godolphin. 

The three-year-old crop also included Luke Short, who won at Leopardstown for Noel Meade in July, Sefton Warrior, who won at Yarmouth for Richard Spencer in August, and Alioski, who won at Ayr for Kevin Ryan in August.

Among the two-year-olds, Fourhometwo developed into a smart sort, winning second time out at Galway for Johnny Murtagh before running fourth in the Listed Star Appeal Stakes. He is already rated 98 and is particularly satisfying given he hails from the first crop of our Group 2 Gimcrack Stakes winner Ajaya.

Ajaya is also sire of Wolverhampton winner Split Elevens, out of Woodland Scene.

No Recollection, by Dansili and out of Talawat, also looked a horse to follow when winning at Wolverhampton for Hughie Morrison.

Further afield, six-year-old Obeya, out of Loulou, won three races in Sweden.

Establish and David Egan score at Newmarket. Photo – Racing Post

Future bright for Decorated Knight

Blue Diamond Stud is an evolving operation and as ever, some smart purchases were made to join the stud.

Chief among them was Tisa River, who was bought for 400,000gns out of the Tattersalls December Sale. The daughter of Equiano boasts illustrious connections as a half-sister to two Breeders’ Cup winners; the Filly & Mare Turf heroine Iridessa and last year’s Mile hero Order Of Australia. Indeed their dam, Senta’s Dream, is one of only six mares in history to produce multiple Breeders’ Cup winners.

Tisa River: regally-bred mare was added in December. Photo – Tattersalls

Iridessa was also a top-class two-year-old for Joseph O’Brien who won the Group 1 Fillies’ Mile and later took the Group 1 Matron and Group 1 Pretty Polly Stakes at three.

Another half-sister, Santa Barbara, also looked smart when winning her debut at the Curragh last year and is among the early favourites for the Oaks.

The Scat Daddy mare New Jazz, meanwhile, was added at a cost of 130,000gns out of the Tattersalls July Sale. While offering access to the highly popular Scat Daddy line, New Jazz is also backed up by an excellent family that includes the Group 1 performer Traffic Guard.

The stud also added another Decorated Knight yearling to its portfolio in a filly out of Lost Icon, who was purchased for 40,000gns out of Book 2 of the Tattersalls October Sale. 

Blue Diamond Stud will have seven two-year-olds from the first crop of Decorated Knight to run for it in 2021. They are a well-bred group of good-looking individuals that include:

A half-brother to Aljazzi and Majestic Noor out of Listed winner Nouriya with John Gosden

A filly out of Group 3 winner Lady Wingshot

A colt out of Group 3-winning two-year-old Shaden

And fillies who are close relations to Classic winner Desert King and Group 2 winner Cable Bay.

Decorated Knight is represented in many of the leading yards, including John Gosden, Marco Botti, Roger Charlton, Roger Varian, Sir Mark Prescott and Mark Johnston.

Decorated Knight won the Group 1 Irish Champion Stakes, Tattersalls Gold Cup and Jebel Hatta during his illustrious career. He is also impeccably bred, being a Galileo son of a sister to champion sire Giant’s Causeway. 

In short, he possesses all the tools for stallion success, making him excellent value at €7,500 for 2021.

Decorated Knight. Photo – Bronwen Healy/Irish National Stud

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