|Breeder||HH Aga Khan|
|Owner||HH Aga Khan|
|Beresford Stakes (2003)|
St. James's Palace Stakes (2004)
Irish Champion Stakes (2004)
Prince of Wales's Stakes (2005)
George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2005)
|European Champion Older Horse (2005)|
BHB Champion Older Male (2005)
BHB Champion Middle-Distance Horse (2005)
Azamour (8 March 2001 – 5 April 2014) was a Thoroughbred racehorse and sire. He won four Group One races including the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes and was Europe's Champion Older Horse in 2005. At his peak, he was rated the third best thoroughbred racehorse in the world.
Azamour was a "powerful" bay horse standing 16.2 hands high. He was bred in Ireland and raced by the Aga Khan. His sire, Night Shift, was a son Northern Dancer who is regarded as the 20th century’s best sire of sires, while his dam was Asmara, a daughter of Lear Fan, a Group One winning son of Roberto.
Apart from Azamour, Night Shift sired many good racehorses in a long stud career, including the multiple Group One winning filly In the Groove and the leading steeplechaser Well Chief, as well as Lochangel (Nunthorpe Stakes), Barons Pit (Diadem Stakes) and Nicolotte (Queen Anne Stakes). Azamour's dam Asmara won the Listed Trigo Stakes in 1996 and was a half-sister of the Prix Ganay winner Astarabad. Apart from Azamour, her best foal has been Arazan, who won the Group Two Futurity Stakes in 2008.
2003: two-year-old season
Azamour made two starts at age two, both at the Curragh. He made his debut in a race for maidens on 14 September 2003, ridden by Johnny Murtagh. Starting at 7/4 he led three furlongs from the finish and won "easily" by two and a half lengths.
He was stepped up in class and distance four weeks later, when he contested the Group Two Beresford Stakes over a mile on soft (officially "yielding") ground. Azamour was made 6/4 favourite in a field which included runners from the leading stables of Aidan O'Brien, Jim Bolger and Dermot Weld. Murtagh tracked the leader Relaxed Gesture throughout the race and Azamour stayed on under pressure in the straight to take the lead inside the last furlong and win by a neck.
2004: three-year-old season
After missing an intended run in the Leopardstown 2,000 Guineas Trial, Azamour began his three-year-old season by going directly to the Group One 2000 Guineas at Newmarket. He was largely ignored in the betting and started at 25/1, but exceeded expectations, staying on strongly up the centre of the straight mile course and finishing third, beaten just under three lengths, behind Haafhd and Snow Ridge.
As a result of his performance at Newmarket, Azamour was made 6/4 favourite for the Irish 2000 Guineas at the Curragh Racecourse three weeks later. Kinane had Azamour just behind the leaders for most of the race before moving into the lead a furlong from the finish, but was caught in the closing stages and beaten a neck by the English-trained Bachelor Duke.
Azamour was then sent back to England for the Royal Ascot meeting, where he faced a strong field, including Haafhd and Bachelor Duke in the St. James's Palace Stakes. Azamour produced his best performance to date, taking the lead in the straight and running on strongly under pressure to hold off the French-trained Diamond Green by a neck. The performance established Azamour as one of the best milers in Europe, but Oxx suggested that the colt's future lay over longer distances.
Oxx withdrew Azamour from the International Stakes at York after being concerned that his horse would be unsuited by the soft ground. He had therefore been off the course for almost three months before he ran again, this time against older horses, in the Irish Champion Stakes. Kinane held the colt up in last place before making his challenge in the straight. Azamour produced a powerful, sustained run (described by RTÉ as a "blistering flourish") to move past the entire field, catching Norse Dancer in the last strides and winning by half a length. The beaten horses included the Group One winners Powerscourt, Grey Swallow, Rakti and the odds-on favourite Doyen.
On his final start of the season, Azamour returned to Newmarket's Rowley Mile course for the Champion Stakes. He was again held up, before making headway in the closing stages, but could never reach the lead, and finished third of the eleven runners, beaten three and a half lengths by Haafhd. Oxx was not particularly disappointed, explaining that the colt was unsuited by the soft ground. Oxx also stated that, unlike most of the Aga Khan's horses, Azamour would stay in training as a four-year-old and nominated the Tattersalls Gold Cup, Prince of Wales's Stakes and King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes as his targets.
2005: four-year-old season
As predicted, Azamour began his season in a strong renewal of the Tattersalls Gold Cup in which he took fourth place behind Grey Swallow, Bago and Ace. He was unable to find a clear run after Bago drifted across in the closing stages, and Kinane felt that he had been an unlucky loser.
Azamour was then sent to Royal "Ascot". Because of redevelopments at Ascot Racecourse, all the course's fixtures were moved in 2005, with the Royal meeting taking place at York. Azamour was made 11/8 favourite for the Prince of Wales's Stakes, and justified his position by leading a furlong from the finish and beating Ace by one and a half lengths, with Elvstroem, Warrsan and Ouija Board among the also-rans.
The King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes, often regarded as Britain's most prestigious weight-for-age race was run at Newbury in 2003. Azamour was made 5/2 favourite in a field which included Bago, Grey Swallow, Doyen and several other major winners, although the absence of top-class three-year-olds was noticeable. Kinane held the colt up in last place before making "smooth" progress in the straight to take the lead inside the last quarter of a mile. He ran on strongly in the closing stages to record what one commentator called an "insultingly easy" win by one and a quarter lengths from Norse Dancer, with Bago third. In winning the race, Azamour broke the course record, which had stood for more than fifty years. Oxx described his colt as being "in a different league."
Azamour was made 6/4 favourite in his attempt to win a second Irish Champion Stakes in September, despite the presence of the Derby winner Motivator. As Kinane had been injured in a fall at the Curragh, Azamour was ridden by Christophe Soumillon. Oxx expressed some concern about the situation, pointing out that Kinane had "a real rapport" with the horse. Azamour failed to reproduce his best form, and finished fifth of the ten runners behind Oratorio. Azamour slipped on the turn into the straight at Leopardstown sustaining a muscle injury, and was then forced to miss an intended run in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe after suffering from a hoof abscess.
Azamour's final race was a challenge for the Breeders' Cup Turf at Belmont Park. He was held up as usual, but when Kinane attempted to make his move he was unable to find a space, and was forced to drop back and switch to the outside. Azamour made rapid progress in the closing stages, but his effort was too late, and he finished third behind Shirocco and Ace.
Azamour's retirement was announced shortly afterwards. Oxx paid tribute to the horse, calling him "phenomenal" and emphasising his toughness and ability to win over a range of distances.
|Date||Race||Dist (f)||Course||Class||Prize (£K)||Odds||Runners||Placing||Margin||Time||Jockey||Trainer|
|14 September 2003||Pizza Stop EBF Maiden||7||The Curragh||M||8||7/4||9||1||2.5||1:25.40||Johnny Murtagh||John Oxx|
|12 October 2003||Beresford Stakes||8||The Curragh||2||54||6/4||6||1||Neck||1:42.00||Johnny Murtagh||John Oxx|
|1 May 2004||2000 Guineas||8||Newmarket Rowley||1||174||25/1||14||3||2.75||1:36.64||Michael Kinane||John Oxx|
|22 May 2004||Irish 2,000 Guineas||8||The Curragh||1||164||6/4||14||2||1||1:40.00||Michael Kinane||John Oxx|
|15 June 2004||St. James's Palace Stakes||8||Ascot||1||139||9/2||11||1||Neck||1:39.02||Michael Kinane||John Oxx|
|11 September 2004||Irish Champion Stakes||10||Leopardstown||1||407||8/1||8||1||0.5||2:01.90||Michael Kinane||John Oxx|
|16 October 2004||Champion Stakes||10||Newmarket Rowley||1||215||6/1||11||3||3.5||2:06.90||Michael Kinane||John Oxx|
|22 May 2005||Tattersalls Gold Cup||10.5||The Curragh||1||109||4/1||6||4||2||2.15.10||Michael Kinane||John Oxx|
|15 June 2005||Prince of Wales's Stakes||10||Newmarket York||1||203||11/8||8||1||1.5||2:08.15||Michael Kinane||John Oxx|
|23 July 2005||King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes||12||Newbury||1||408||5/2||12||1||1.25||2:28.26||Michael Kinane||John Oxx|
|10 September 2005||Irish Champion Stakes||10||Leopardstown||1||396||6/4||10||5||2.25||2:03.90||Christophe Soumillon||John Oxx|
|29 October 2005||Breeders' Cup Turf||12||Belmont Park||1||617||100/30||13||3||2||2:29.30||Michael Kinane||John Oxx|
Azamour was also named Champion middle distance horse and Champion older horse by the British Horseracing Board.
Azamour had some success as a sire of winners. His best offspring is probably Covert Love, winner of the Irish Oaks and Prix de l'Opera in 2015. Other offspring include: Valyra, winner of the 2012 Prix de Diane, Native Khan (Craven Stakes), Eleanora Duse (Blandford Stakes), Best Of Days (Royal Lodge Stakes), Hawksmoor (German 1,000 Guineas), Azmeel (Dee Stakes), Puncher Clynch (Ballysax Stakes), Liber Nauticus (Musidora Stakes), Aloisia (The Thousand Guineas), Best of Days (Cantala Stakes) and No Explaining (Gallorette Handicap) as well as the leading hurdler Zarkandar.
On 5 April 2014 Azamour was euthanised. The Aga Khan Studs tweeted "We are sad to announce that the stallion, Azamour, was put down after sustaining a serious injury in his box this morning. Despite the best efforts of both vets and attending staff, the four time Group 1 winner had to be euthanised on humane grounds today".
Night Shift (USA)
|Roberto||Hail To Reason|
|Arcana (Family: 4-i)|
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