Solid gold coverings in store for Blue Diamond's flawless broodmares
The stud is throwing its full weight behind newcomer Decorated Knight
Run through the list of mares who belong to Blue Diamond Stud, the breeding operation of Saleh Al Homaizi and Imad Al Sagar, and you will find some rare jewels indeed.
None, however, can claim to be quite so precious as Pearling, the dam of Decorated Knight, a son of Galileo who landed no fewer than three Group 1s during the 2017 campaign and who has recently joined the stallion ranks at the Irish National Stud.
Having produced such an exceptional performer, Blue Diamond will bid to repeat the trick by sending the sister to Giant's Causeway and You'resothrilling - the dam of Gleneagles, Happily and Marvellous - on a return visit to the Coolmore kingmaker in 2018.
"Not many mares produce a multiple Group 1 winner in their first year and, of course, she's supported by one of the best pedigrees in the book, one that keeps getting better and better," said Al Homaizi and Al Sagar's long-standing racing and bloodstock adviser Tony Nerses, who explained how he came to buy the unraced daughter of Storm Cat back in 2011
"Obviously she's beautifully related. We were looking for mares at that time to help lay a foundation for the stud, one that could help realise our vision. Pearling, as a young, good-looking Storm Cat sister to Giant's Causeway in foal to Galileo, obviously fitted that bill.
"We bought her for 1,300,000gns, an investment that she's fully justified many times over. Decorated Knight was her first foal and, of course, the family has also taken off again since then through You'resothrilling. It's an outstanding family and a real stallion family too, which is why we are so excited about Decorated Knight."
There is also a commercial aspect to Blue Diamond's outlook, and nowhere was this more evident than during Book 1 of the Tattersalls October Yearling Sale last year.
The stud offered a Dubawi filly out of the Listed-winning Galileo mare Soon, and was duly rewarded when Alastair Donald parted with 1,300,000gns to secure the regally bred lot. Having supplied the stud with that seven-figure yearling as well as the Hugo Palmer-trained Jousi, a likely candidate to display big improvement at three, a return to Dubawi is now on the cards for Soon.
"Soon has had two fillies by Dubawi already," said Nerses. "Although they're quite different, they're each highly promising - we have high hopes this season for Jousi, who won at Ascot last year, and then there's her two-year-old, a stunning filly that we sold for 1,300,000gns. Given what they could both achieve in the future, returning to Dubawi was the most logical option."
A number of Blue Diamond's mares will also be heading across Newmarket to visit the up-and-coming sires among the ranks at Banstead Manor Stud. Princess Loulou is in line for arguably the most exciting mating among the Juddmonte-bound mares, as the Listed-winning daughter of Pivotal is due to be covered by Frankel after delivering a foal by Invincible Spirit.
"Princess Loulou was a top performer on her day who deserves the best chance," said Nerses. "And this mating is a variation of the Galileo - Pivotal cross - we've already seen it at work with Frankel through Cracksman and Veracious."
Also destined for Banstead Manor are the maiden Choumicha - a winning sister to 2,000 Guineas hero Galileo Gold - and Loulwa, the dam of five winners from five runners, including dual Listed-winning sprinter Justineo, a son of Oasis Dream. Both mares will visit champion miler Kingman.
"Choumicha had a fair bit of ability," said Nerses. "We liked what we saw from the first Kingman yearlings last year, he was an outstanding miler and she herself is a sister to another excellent miler. And on paper doubling up on Green Desert via Kingman is quite appealing given his relation Oasis Dream sired Goldream out of the family.
"Loulwa has been a grand servant to us. She's done really well with the Green Desert sire line. Kingman also promises to suit physically."
Also heading across town is one of Loulwa's daughters, Bella Lulu. The winning daughter of Iffraaj - who delivered her second foal, a colt by Authorized, last month - is scheduled for a date with champion sprinter and exciting young sire Muhaarar.
"It's a fast family that we know really well - her dam Loulwa is one of our foundation mares," said Nerses. "And although Loulwa stayed well, it's actually a very fast family. Loulwa's first foal, Justineo, was probably the fastest horse we've ever owned and he's a son of Oasis Dream, so we thought Muhaarar would be a horse who would complement the mare and her family."
Another new addition to the Blue Diamond broodmare band is Fadillah. The daughter of Monsun, bought as a yearling for €1.2 million, is a half-sister to Group 1 winner Seismos and a sister to Group 1-placed Soberania. She descends from the family of top German performers such as Samum, Salve Regina and Sea The Moon. Coolmore shuttler Fastnet Rock has been selected for her maiden covering.
"She was another filly with a lot of ability and is from one of the best European families around. Fastnet Rock is a horse we've had a bit of luck with - we have high hopes for Euginio this year - and he's a strong proven option who has already produced a stakes winner, Tres Rock Glory, out of a Monsun mare from a small pool of runners," said Nerses.
Blue Diamond is also sending a strong squad of mares across The Channel, with five visiting Haras de Bouquetot's Shalaa and a high-class brace going the way of Haras de Bonneval to visit rising star Siyouni.
Those pencilled in for a covering from the Aga Khan's young gun are Ambrosia, a winning daughter of Frankel and close relation of Decorated Knight, and Nessina, the dam of Ajaya.
"We've been watching Siyouni for a while. There's no doubt that he has the ability to upgrade his mares and he's a horse I think we’re only going to hear more of," said Nerses. "We are delighted to be supporting him."
The stallion set to receive the strongest numerical support from Blue Diamond is, of course, the homebred Decorated Knight, who has taken up covering duty at the Irish National Stud at a fee of €15,000.
With a flawless pedigree and an exceptional race record, Decorated Knight is blessed with an abundance of the attributes needed to succeed at stud. He is all set cover some of the very best mares Blue Diamond has to offer.
"We are sending 25 of our best mares to Decorated Knight - Princess Noor, Dawn Of Hope, Lady Wingshot, Shaden and Aljazzi’s dam Nouriya to name but a few," said Nerses. "He had a breathtaking turn of foot and on top of that is closely related to Giant's Causeway. It's one of the best stallion families around. We couldn't be more excited about him."
The stud also retains an interest in Rathbarry Stud resident Ajaya, who carried Al Homaizi and Al Sagar's silks to victory in the 2015 Gimcrack. The son of Invincible Spirit has his first crop of foals on the ground this year.
"We have three foals by Ajaya on the ground at Blue Diamond Stud," said Nerses. "We supported him with some nice mares last year and so far we're very happy - the ones we have are all good-looking, strong types with size and good minds. As a result, we are sending a few of the mares back to him again."
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