In 2020 Imad Al Sagar made two decisions. He chose to put his homebred Frankel filly in training with John and Thady Gosden and he chose to retain the riding services of the emerging force that was Hollie Doyle.
Doyle’s stock has done little but rise since and the filly, named Nashwa and seen only once as a two-year-old, has followed a similar path to eminence this year.
A novice and Listed winner earlier in the season, the three-year-old was well-fancied for the Oaks but proved to ultimately lack the stamina needed for the one-mile-four-furlong Epsom Classic when finishing third.
Classic success was not far away, however, and a trip Chantilly for the Prix de Diane, the French version of the race, saw Doyle hit another significant milestone when the pair were triumphant by a short neck.
In the Nassau Stakes at Goodwood Nashwa was set off in a gentle gallop by her rider, a patient stalk at the rear of the field while her rivals changed lanes ahead and perhaps thought the 6-5 favourites had let the race get away from them.
Three furlongs from home the duo were still last of all, but when Doyle swung out wide and picked up her whip we were afforded a glimpse of that Frankel-esque lengthening of stride as Nashwa picked off each opponent.
Two strides from the line and in an unassailable lead, the seemingly ego-less Doyle gave us a rare and endearing act of showmanship when standing in the stirrups and brandishing her whip at the grandstand.
Nashwa was led into the paddock by her delighted owner and breeder, to whom the success of the filly holds a significance that will live on into countless phases of his Blue Diamond bloodstock operation.
“That was a great performance,” he said. “She has proved her versatility and her ability and she has produced a great performance.
“I thought she ran a very good race in the Oaks but we were going into unknown territory, that was the first time over a mile and a half and she ran out of stamina.
“She was beaten only in the last 50 yards, she was beaten three and a half lengths but when we brought her back to a mile and a quarter, she showed what she is made of in the French Oaks.
“Nashwa is a homebred and I must admit that I am very emotional when it comes to her. She is my first Classic homebred and I am very proud of her.”
More missions overseas are on the horizon for the filly, who will be aimed at Group One races in both France and America and is likely to stay in training for another term next year.
“For the time being she will stay at a mile and a quarter, we are looking at the Prix de l’Opera for her next target and then the Breeders’ Cup (Filly & Mare Turf) at the end of the year,” said Al Sagar, who in 2007 saw his colours carried to victory in the Derby by Authorized, in partnership with Saleh Al Homaizi.
Prior to Nashwa’s superb recent form Al Sagar had the foresight put her dam, Princess Loulou, in foal once again to Frankel and the mare carries a filly foal that will be his Classic heroine’s full-sister.
Racing requires long-term thinking and rewards those who are always a few paces ahead, something Al Sagar succeeds at both in his horsemanship and his choice of personnel.
Doyle and Al Sagar have repaid each other handsomely and when it comes to Nashwa, the trio form a truly likeable partnership that makes them the headline act wherever they go.
“It is very important, Nashwa is Blue Diamond’s first Classic winner. This is very important to me,” he said.
“What I saw in Hollie is what she demonstrated today, but two years ago.
“She is a very humble person, but most importantly she is very loyal and professional.
“It’s been a win-win situation all the way.”