Diminuendo (horse)

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Racing silks of Sheikh Mohammed.svg
Racing colours of Sheikh Mohammed
Sire Diesis
Grandsire Sharpen Up
Dam Cacti
Damsire Tom Rolfe
Sex Mare
Foaled 9 Feb 1985[1]
Country United Kingdom
Colour Chestnut
Breeder Nancy S Dillman
Owner Sheikh Mohammed
Trainer Henry Cecil
Record 10:6-1-2
Earnings £590,079
Major wins
Cherry Hinton Stakes (1987)
Fillies' Mile (1987)
Musidora Stakes (1988)
Gold Seal Oaks (1988)
Irish Oaks (1988)
Yorkshire Oaks (1988)
Top-rated European three-year-old filly (1988)
Timeform top-rated three-year-old filly (1988)
Timeform rating 126

Diminuendo (9 February 1985 – 2010) was an American-bred, British-trained Thoroughbred racehorse and broodmare best known for winning the classic Epsom Oaks in 1985. She was one of the best two-year-old fillies of 1987, when she won all four of her races including the Cherry Hinton Stakes and Fillies' Mile. In 1988 she was beaten in her first two races, but won her next four, taking the Musidora Stakes, Epsom Oaks, Irish Oaks and Yorkshire Oaks. She finished second when favourite for the St. Leger Stakes and ended her racing career by finishing unplaced in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, but was rated the best three-year-old filly of the season in Europe. She was then retired to stud, where she had some success as a broodmare.


Diminuendo was a chestnut filly with a white star and three white socks,[2] bred in Kentucky by Nancy Dillman.[3] She was from the first crop of foals sired by Diesis, a British-bred stallion who was the top-rated two-year-old in Europe in 1982. Diesis went on to become a successful breeding stallion, and though based at Mill Ridge Stud in Kentucky, he had his greatest successes in Europe: his best winners included Love Divine, Ramruma, Elmaamul and Halling.[4] Diminuendo's dam, the American-bred mare Cacti, also produced Pricket, a filly who finished second in the 1996 Epsom Oaks.[3]

Diminuendo was bought by Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum (always known as "Sheikh Mohammed" in racing circles) and was sent to be trained by Henry Cecil at his Warren Place Stables in Newmarket. The filly was ridden in all her major victories by the American jockey Steve Cauthen.

Racing career[edit]

1987: two-year-old season[edit]

As a two-year-old in 1987, Diminuendo was undefeated in four races, beginning with a maiden race at Leicester Racecourse in June,[5] in which she was ridden by Willie Ryan and won by ten lengths despite starting slowly.[6] In late June she won the six furlong Ewar Stud Farm Stakes on the July course at Newmarket Racecourse by 2½ lengths[7] and in July she returned to the same course and distance for the Group Three Cherry Hinton Stakes and won at odds of 6/4[8] from Magic of Life, a filly who went on to win the Mill Reef Stakes against colts and the Group One Coronation Stakes. In September, Diminuendo was moved up in distance and class for the Fillies' Mile at Ascot Racecourse. Starting at odds of 2/1[8] she won from Haiati with the subsequent Prix Marcel Boussac winner Ashayer in third place. Despite her success, Cecil reportedly felt that the filly was past her best for the season.[9]

1988: three-year-old season[edit]

On her three-year-old debut, Diminuendo started 7/4 favourite for the Nell Gwyn Stakes, a trial race for the 1000 Guineas, over seven furlongs at Newmarket on 12 April. She was restrained by Cauthen in the early stages and despite making progress in the closing stages she was beaten three quarters of a length by Ghariba, to whom she was conceding five pounds.[10] Sudden Love and Ela Romara, the fillies in third and fourth place, went on to win the E. P. Taylor Stakes and the Nassau Stakes respectively. On 28 April, Diminuendo started the 6/1 second favourite for the 175th running of the 1000 Guineas over Newmarket's Rowley Mile. In a change of tactics, Cauthen sent the filly into the lead from the start, but in the final quarter mile she was overtaken and beaten into third place by Ravinella and Dabaweyaa.[11] Twelve days after her defeat at Newmarket, Diminuendo was moved up in distance for the Musidora Stakes over ten and a half furlongs at York. Startin the 8/13 favourited, she took the lead three furlongs from the finish and accelerated clear of the field to win impressively[12] by four lengths from Asl, with Princess Genista five lengths back in third.[13]

On 4 June, Diminuendo was one of eleven fillies to contest the 210th running of the Oaks Stakes (known for sponsorship reasons as the Gold Seal Oaks) over one and a half miles at Epsom Downs Racecourse. She was made 7/4 favourite ahead of Dabaweyaa and the Prix Cleopatre winner Indian Rose. Diminuendo turned into the straight before accelerating into the lead approaching the final quarter mile. She drew clear in the closing stages to win by four lengths from Sudden Love, with the French-trained Animatrice in third.[14] Five weeks after her win at Epsom, Diminuendo started the 2/9 favourite for the Irish Oaks at the Curragh. Diminuendo was held up by Cauthen in the early stages before moving up to join the leaders in the straight but soon came under pressure and it was only in the final strides that she caught the Michael Stoute-trained Melodist to force a dead heat.[15] Melodist, the winner of the Oaks d'Italia was also owned by Sheikh Mohammed, whose Kildangan Stud sponsored the race.[16] At York in August, only five fillies appeared to oppose Diminuendo in the Yorkshire Oaks. Starting the 30/100 favourite, she was never in danger of defeat and won impressively by five lengths from Sudden Love.[17]

At Doncaster Racecourse on 10 September, Diminuendo was matched against colts for the first time in the St Leger Stakes over fourteen and a half furlongs. Ridden by Walter Swinburn (Cauthen was injured),[18] she was made odds-on favourite, but was beaten a length by the colt Minster Son. She was expected to be retired after the Leger, but Cecil allowed the filly to travel to Longchamp Racecourse for the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, for which she was well-fancied despite an unfavourable draw.[19] After reaching fourth place early in the straight she faded in the closing stages and finished tenth behind Tony Bin.

Assessment and honours[edit]

The independent Timeform organisation gave Diminuendo a rating of 126 in 1988, making her the highest-rated three-year-old filly. In the same year, she was also the top-rated filly of her generation in Europe on the official International Classification.[20] In their book, A Century of Champions, based on the Timeform rating system, John Randall and Tony Morris rated Diminuendo an "average" winner of the Oaks.[21]

Stud record[edit]

Diminuendo was retired from racing to become a broodmare for her owners Darley Stud and died in 2010.[22] She was not a great success but produced at least three winners, one of whom won at Group race level:


Pedigree of Diminuendo (USA), chestnut mare, 1985[1]
Diesis (GB)
Sharpen Up (GB)
Atan Native Dancer
Mixed Marriage
Rocchetta Rockfella
Doubly Sure (GB)
Reliance Tantieme
Soft Angels Crepello
Sweet Angel
Cacti (USA)
Tom Rolfe (USA)
Ribot Tenerani
Pocahontas Roman
Desert Love (USA)
Amerigo Nearco
Desert Vision Roman
Desert Sun (Family: 1-d)[26]


  1. ^ a b "Diminuendo pedigree". equineline.com. 2012-05-08. Retrieved 2013-06-25. 
  2. ^ "Diminuendo photograph". sporthorse-data.com. Retrieved 2013-06-26. 
  3. ^ a b Deirdre Biles (2011-08-23). "Pinnacle Year: Nancy Dillman". BloodHorse.com. Retrieved 2013-06-26. 
  4. ^ "Diesis Stud Record". Bloodstock.racingpost.com. 2012-02-15. Retrieved 2013-06-26. 
  5. ^ "Hotspur" (Jim McGrath) (16 June 2007). "Cecil filly follows familiar path". Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 2013-06-26. 
  6. ^ Peter Bolton (6 July 1987). "Cecil to hit back". Evening Times. Retrieved 2013-06-26. 
  7. ^ Flat Results In Full 1987. Queen Anne Press. 1987. ISBN 0-356-14823-8. 
  8. ^ a b Abelson, Edward; Tyrrel, John (1993). The Breedon Book of Horse Racing Records. Breedon Books Publishing. ISBN 978-1-873626-15-3. 
  9. ^ "White and Gold" (12 April 1988). "Leading fillies aim to boost classic chances". Glasgow Herald. Retrieved 2013-06-26. 
  10. ^ "White and Gold" (28 April 1988). "Extra distance will favour Diminuendo". Glasgow Herald. Retrieved 2013-06-26. 
  11. ^ "1000 Guineas result". Racing Post. 28 April 1988. Retrieved 2013-06-25. 
  12. ^ Peter Bolton (3 June 1988). "Cecil going for gold". Evening Times. Retrieved 2013-06-26. 
  13. ^ "Musidora Stakes result". Racing Post. 10 May 1988. Retrieved 2013-06-25. 
  14. ^ "Okas Stakes result". Racing Post. 4 June 1988. Retrieved 2013-06-25. 
  15. ^ "Irish Oaks result". Racing Post. 9 July 1988. Retrieved 2013-06-25. 
  16. ^ "Dead-heat Oaks". New Straits Times. 10 July 1988. Retrieved 2013-06-26. 
  17. ^ "Yorkshire Oaks result". Racing Post. 16 August 1988. Retrieved 2013-06-25. 
  18. ^ "Minster Son springs an upset". New Straits Times. 12 September 1988. Retrieved 2013-06-26. 
  19. ^ "English invaders poised for clean sweep". New Straits Times. 2 October 1988. Retrieved 2013-06-26. 
  20. ^ Morris, Tony; Randall, John (1990). Horse Racing: Records, Facts, Champions (Third Edition). Guinness Publishing. ISBN 0-85112-902-1. 
  21. ^ Morris, Tony; Randall, John (1999). A Century of Champions. Portway Press,. ISBN 978-1-901570-15-1. 
  22. ^ "Mare Produce Records- Cacti". Equineline.com. The Jockey Club Information Systems, Inc. 
  23. ^ "Carpathian race record". Racing Post. 2011-06-02. Retrieved 2013-06-26. 
  24. ^ "Calando race record". Racing Post. Retrieved 2013-06-26. 
  25. ^ "Knight´s Victory race record". Racing Post. Retrieved 2013-06-26. 
  26. ^ "Thoroughbred Bloodlines - Promise - Family 1-d". Bloodlines.net. Retrieved 2013-06-25.