Nashwa Returns to the Races; Her Dam Returns to Frankel

Imad Al Sagar, right, with Nashwa, Hollie Doyle and Ben de Paiva | Racingfotos

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We may bemoan the fact that Flat horses come and go in what feels like the blink of an eye, but this season we are fortunate to be welcoming back not just the Derby winner Auguste Rodin (Ire) but the four best fillies and mares in the world last year: Liberty Island (Jpn), Inspiral (GB), Emily Upjohn (GB) and Nashwa (GB). The last three named are all trained at John and Thady Gosden's Clarehaven Stables and both Emily Upjohn and Nashwa will make their return to the track next weekend in Dubai.

For three seasons now, Nashwa, a daughter of Frankel (GB) and the Group 1-placed and Listed winner Princess Loulou (GB) (Pivotal {GB}), has been the pride of her owner Imad Al Sagar's Blue Diamond Stud, becoming his first homebred Classic winner in the G1 Prix de Diane of 2022 after finishing third in the Oaks. To that success she added the G1 Nassau S. and G1 Falmouth S. along with another four Group 1 placings. 

Of Nashwa remaining in training at five rather than joining her mother in the broodmare band, Al Sagar says, “It was a difficult decision, but I think that a filly of that calibre is entitled to have another chance as a five-year-old. Especially as, when you go back through the family, they thrive with age. I think she will be competitive at five. She is a very good traveller and very straightforward. Horses like this don't come around every day, that's for sure.”

He adds of her progress towards the G1 Dubai Turf on Saturday, March 30, “She didn't stop over the winter; she was trotting just to keep her weight and a level of fitness. She had some very tough races at the end of the season, especially the Juddmonte and the Irish Champion and the Queen Elizabeth II, so she was entitled to have a break. Now, we are very happy about her physical condition and fitness.”

Princess Loulou, whose first foal, the seven-year-old Louganini (GB) (Zoffany {Ire}), recently won his fourth race in Saudi Arabia having already won three in the UK, is now back in foal to Frankel. Her three-year-old, by Al Sagar's homebred Group 1-winning stallion Decorated Knight (GB), is named Mesmerising (GB) and, like the mare's two-year-old colt by Dubawi (Ire), is also in training at Clarehaven.

“The Dubawi two-year-old half-brother is cantering and we're very excited to see his progress. He's a very correct horse and gorgeous. John knows the family and he has done very well with Nashwa so we don't need to fix something that is working,” says the breeder. 

Al Sagar has already celebrated a winner this year. Last week, the four-year-old Intinso (GB) (Siyouni {Ire}) returned to the track for the first time since August to score emphatically at Wolverhampton. 

“Intinso was a big disappointment last year with a number of physical issues but that is all behind us,” he says. “John and Thady Gosden have done tremendously with him. He showed great signs of ability last year and was entered in the Guineas, the Dante and the Derby but he didn't live up to expectations. His last run was very promising after 206 days off and, with the physical changes that he has made, he is now a very strong animal and I am very excited about him for this year.”

Intinso's dam, the homebred Rose Of Miracles (GB) (Dalakhani {Ire}), is out of Neartica (Fr) (Sadler's Wells), a half-sister to the great Goldikova (Ire) and, with a foal by No Nay Never on the way she is booked to Pinatubo (Ire) this year.

Princess Loulou is not the only visitor to Frankel from Blue Diamond Stud, which is also sending the 10-year-old Tisa River (Ire) (Equiano {Fr}), the half-sister to Group/Grade 1 winners to Order Of Australia (Ire), Iridessa (Ire) and Santa Barbara (Ire), as well as Abscond.

“She is a Blame filly that we purchased in America last year,” says Al Sagar of the GI Natalma S. winner Abscond. “She has just foaled a colt by Not This Time and she is visiting Frankel this year.”

When the breeder names a mare Blue Diamond (Ire) it is easy to guess that she is rather special, and that is indeed the case when it comes to the full-sister to Decorated Knight. By Galileo, her dam is Pearling (Storm Cat), a full-sister to Giant's Causeway and the celebrated matriarch You'resothrilling. 

“She was covered three days ago by Siyouni,” says Al Sagar of the six-year-old mare. “Her first foal, a yearling colt, is also by Siyouni. She was in foal to Dubawi but unfortunately the foal died.”

Another of the elite mares on Dubawi's list this year is Zotilla (Ire). “She's a Zamindar mare and the dam of the French Guineas winner Mangoustine (Fr),” says Al Sagar. “She is already in foal to Dubawi and she has a two-year-old named Sandirella (GB) by his son Too Darn Hot (GB), and we have great confidence in him.”

Among the young stallions on the rise in Britain, Al Sagar cites Blue Point (Ire) and Havana Grey (GB) as being of particular interest.

“I have a breeding right in Havana Grey and we are sending him Breath Of Joy (Ire), who is a very nice Kodiac (GB) mare,” he adds. 

“Then in America there is also a number of young stallions we are keen on. Not This Time is one of them, and I used Bolt d'Oro on a mare I purchased from Keeneland, Angle Of Attack (Maclean's Music), and I have a beautiful filly from her. We're also using Juddmonte's first-season stallion Elite Power.”

Princess Nadia (GB) (Sea The Stars {Ire}), a daughter of the Group 3 winner Princess Noor (Ire) (Holy Roman Emperor {Ire}), is named in honour of Al Sagar's wife and his granddaughter and she is among the first group of mares to be visiting the Arc winner Ace Impact (Ire) at Haras de Beaumont this season, while Sophie (GB) (Farhh {GB}), a half-sister to 1,000 Guineas winner Cachet (Ire), is visiting New Bay (GB). The six-year-old mare has an Oasis Dream colt foal and a yearling filly by Cachet's sire Aclaim (Ire).

Another recent purchase, this time from Australia, is the Camelot (GB) mare Countessa (Fr) who hails from a family synonymous with the Niarchos operation. “Her second dam is the dam of Alpha Centauri (Ire),” says Al Sagar. “She's a winner and she is now in foal to Siyouni.”

While Al Sagar has long been associated with Blue Diamond Stud, which operates across two sites just outside Newmarket, a diversification over the last year has seen his purchase of Stonereath Farm in Kentucky. A recent overview of the mating plans for the America mares was published in the US edition of TDN.

“We now have 15 mares in America and I'm going there in early April with Ted Voute, my CEO,” he says.

“The theory I am working on is the Roberto bloodline. It has done wonders through the years but unfortunately, after Arch and Dynaformer, there are only a few living stallions from that line, such as Blame and Temple City. Blame in particular is proving to be a very good broodmare sire. 

“A few days ago I read an article in TDN about him being the best young broodmare sire in America. I noticed this some years back and have sent a number of mares to Blame – Star Of Bristol (Speightstown) last year and again this year; I'm Wonderful, a Giant's Causeway mare, has a colt by Blame. This year we are sending Manasarova (More Than Ready) to him. She just foaled this week to Not The Time. I am trying hard to get fillies from the Roberto bloodline.”

Floret (Ire), a Galileo (Ire) half-sister to Moonlight Cloud (GB) (Invincible Spirit {Ire}), has blessed the breeder with a longed-for Blame filly foal and  is now heading to Justify. 

He says, “Justify has exploded with that cross of Scat Daddy and Galileo, on the evidence of City Of Troy, Statuette – you name it. I have two mares going to him this year as we are also sending Dawn Of Hope (GB) who has recently foaled a colt by Lope De Vega (Ire).

“I saw most of the stallions in America and with each visit to any country – whether it's Ireland, England, France or America – I make sure to go to see the stallions. That way I can develop good ideas for our matings plans and decide what mares we want to send them, that will suit them physically.”

Al Sagar is aided in his mating plans by the aforementioned Ted Voute and also by Nancy Sexton.

“I take the opinion of my team – I am proud of my team, of their experience and knowledge – and their opinions are highly regarded by me. Nancy has very deep knowledge when it comes to pedigrees and she has a very good memory of the bloodlines and the progeny. It is a very difficult process but I make the final decision,” he says. 

“Our strategy at Blue Diamond is not numbers. We would like to have the quality and we are trying to create a proper outcross for the stallions that are in our target range. These purchases are a true demonstration of our thinking.”

 

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