The Greatest Racehorses - Ever

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Night Shift (USA) - Asmara (USA)
Foaled 08/02/2001 Bay Colt
Runs: 12 Wins: 6 Places: 4 Earned: £1,499,558
Form: 11 - 32113 - 41153
Timeform: 128

Big Races Won
Beresford Stakes 1m Gr 2 (2003) Curragh
Irish Champion Stakes 1m 2f Gr 1 (2004) Leopardstown
St James's Palace Stakes 1m Gr 1 (2004) Royal Ascot
Prince of Wales's Stakes 1m 2f Gr 1 (2005) York
King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes 1m 4f Gr 1 (2005) Newbury

I'm not usually a fan of horses owned by rich Arabs but in this case I'll make an exception. Any horse that can change my strong opinion regarding the above must be special as indeed Azamour is. Although he started his 3yo season by losing his unbeaten tag by finishing 3rd in both the English and Irish 2000 Guineas and eventually retired from racing after coming 3rd to the magnificent German owned Shirocco in the 2005 Breeders Cup Turf at Belmont Park (New York) in between he put up some breathtaking performances, which cemented his place in my heart permanently.

A Test Too Far?

When the heavens opened at York for its June meeting a groan must have gone up in the camps of the main contenders for the Prince of Wales's stakes as despite its good drainage and hard wearing surface, York racecourse becomes something resembling a bog when it gets too wet. Although the ground was race-able many runners that day had problems with their balance and quite a number of them slipped and lost their footing, thus ruining their chances in their respective races.

One horse that managed to keep his feet with ease was the mighty Azamour and although he never looked happy on the ground in the first half of the race, once he was switched to the centre of the track in the home straight (notorious for being the better ground) he asserted his authority over rivals such as Ace, Ouija Board, Norse Dancer and Warrsan, all well established Group race performers. With pricked ears, suggesting he had more to give should it be required, he crossed the line to win by one and a half lengths.

Record Breaker

It was said by racing pundits & punters that Azamour wouldn't stay. His owner, trainer and jockey felt differently and so it was that he lined up for the King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Diamond Stakes at Newbury; one of my favourite races of the entire flat season. Azamour's rivals also felt he may not stay the extra distance and just to make sure they set a ferocious pace to try and blunt Azamour's trademark fast finish.

However you can't keep a good horse down and having sat quietly at the back of the pack for over a mile, Azamour was called on for an effort three furlongs out as the 12 strong field turned into the straight. He began to motor and swept past Doyen and Bago just over a furlong out, which only left the luckless Norse Dancer as the challenger. As consistant as that colt was, he didn't have the class to stay with Azamour who went on to win the race by one and a half lengths, breaking the track record in the process.

Below Azamour (green colours) forges by Norse Dancer (purple colours) with Bago in the background (navy & blue colours)

Where Are They Now?

Azamour has just completed his first season as a stallion at his owner, The Aga Khan's Gilltown Stud in Kilcullen, County Kildare in Ireland. His first crop of foals will be born next year and will set foot on a racecourse near you in 2009.

I keep my fingers crossed that his progeny inheret his stunning good looks and delightful burst of speed.



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