fter seventy-six days without horseracing due to the COVID-19 pandemic, June saw racing enthusiasts unite over the much anticipated and welcome return of horses to racecourses across the country. Whilst our sport has resumed in an unusual format with strict social distancing measures in place and owners and punters forced to tune in from their homes, we have still enjoyed magnificent racing. Namely a thrilling classic 2000 & 1000 Guineas weekend at Newmarket and five days of absolutely top-class racing at Royal Ascot.

Without racegoers the atmosphere on course is lacking, however racing has been given a grand show of support with record TV viewing figures. Reportedly more than 1 million tuned in to watch ITV coverage of the 2000 Guineas and more than 1.5 million watched ITV coverage of Watership Down Stud graduate Stradivarius making history by winning a third consecutive Gold Cup at Royal Ascot.

Stradivarius won in breathtaking style for Watership Down Stud client Bjorn Nielsen. The remarkable ten length win by Stradivarius is deemed by many to be one of the best staying performances of this era. An exciting season lies ahead of the incredibly talented horse by Sea The Stars (ex Private Life). Trainer John Gosden commented, “I’m very proud he’s won three and particularly proud for the man who’s done it, Bjorn Nielsen, the owner-breeder –he’s passionate about breeding and keeps trying to breed a Derby winner, but he’s got a very good Cup horse. For him it is profoundly fulfilling and it’s just a pity he can’t be here today.“ (BBC Sport)

Next on the agenda for the star stayer is a potential trip to the South Downs to contest a fourth consecutive Gold Cup at Goodwood or even the Prix De L’Arc De Triomphe in October.

We’ve witnessed plenty of Watership Down Stud progeny perform well since racing’s resumption. Notably an impressive win by the Charlie Appleby trained Boccaccio. The three-year-old son of Dubawi (ex J Wonder) stylishly pipped rivals to the post in a Class 2 Handicap (7f) at Newmarket racecourse, 27th June. Trainer Charlie Appleby told Sporting Life, ‘I think he is about ready for another step up in grade now. We will probably have a look at a Listed race for him.” Boccacio was bred by Watership Down client Andrew Rosen and sold by Watership Down Stud at Tattersalls Book 1 in 2018 for 850,000gn to Stroud Coleman Bloodstock.

The Andrew Balding trained Bell Rock (Kingman) was off the mark as soon as lockdown was lifted for owner Mrs Fitri Hay, over 1m in a Class 2 Handicap at Newmarket, 7th June 2020. He went on to run a respectable 6th in a huge field of twenty-three in the Royal Hunt Cup for the in-form Kingsclere stables, just ten days later. His Dam, Liberally has another Kingman on the ground, this time a yearling filly, for owner/breeder Andrew Rosen.

Precocious two-year-old colt Victory Heights (Siyouni ex Zibeling) broke his maiden over 5f at Newcastle, 2nd June 2020 and went on to finish well in a competitive Windsor Castle Stakes (Class 1, Listed, 5f) at Royal Ascot, 17th June 2020. Victory Heights was bred by Watership Down client Rifa Mustang Europe Ltd and sold by Watership Down at Tattersalls October Book 2 to Rabbah Bloodstock.

Watership Down clients, Al Wasmiyah Farm have a sharp-looking two-year-old on their hands with Kadupul (Dark Angel). The homebred broke her maiden well over 6f at Yarmouth on 10th June 2020. Her Dam, Cup Cake has a smashing Sea The Stars colt at foot.

The Roger Varian trained Waliyak who finished second in the Royal Ascot Sandringham Stakes (Class 2, 1m), 18th June 2020 is an exciting prospect to join Bjorn Nielsen’s string. Waliyak’s Dam, Vadariya was recently purchased by Bjorn Nielsen from France and is in foal to Le Havre for 2021.

In other news, the yearlings are set to be gro-tracked this week and our stud staff are anticipating the beginning of yearling prep season. Keep an eye on our social channels for an insight into the yearlings heading to the sales and the preparation process at the stud from Simon Marsh over the coming weeks.

We will also be talking to a number of mare owners who have selected Too Darn Hot this season in our ‘famililes-to-follow’ campaign. We will be delving into the pedigree and progeny of the mares that Too Darn Hot has covered to date.

Notable June results below

All For Laura progeny result – Red For All (GB)) (3G) (2017 All For Laura x Muhaarar) finished 2-14 Follow At the Races On Twitter Handicap (Div I) (0-65) (Class 6) 1m 2f, 3yo at Windsor, 24th June 2020

Vadariya progeny result – Waliyak (FR) (3F) (2017 Le Havre x Vadariya) finished 2-15 Ascot Sandringham Stakes (Handicap) (Fillies) (0-105, 3yo) (Class 2) 1m, 18th June 2020

Cup Cake progeny result – Kadupul (FR) (2018 Dark Angel x Cup Cake) (2F) finished 1-5 British Stallion Studs EBF Maiden Fillies’ Stakes (Plus 10/GBB Race) (Class 5), 6f, 2yo at Yarmouth 10th June 2020

Liberally progeny result – Bell Rock (2016 Kingman x Liberally) (GB) (4G) finished 1-10 Setting Odds On the Betfair Exchange Handicap (Class 2) (0-100, 4yo+) 1m at Newmarket 7th June 2020

Cosmic Fire progeny result – Cosmic City (2012 Cosmic Fire x Elusive City) (GB) (8G) finished 2-8, Prix du Vesinet (Claiming) 2300m, Le Mans, 6th June 2020

Super Sleuth progeny update – Give ‘Em The Slip (2018 Oasis Dream x Super Sleuth) (GB) (2F) finished 2-9 Heed Your Hunch At Betway EBF Stallions Maiden Fillies’ Stakes (Div I) (5) 2yo at Newmarket, 4th June 2020

Zibeling progeny update – Victory Heights (2018 Siyouni x Zibeling) (IRE) (2C) finished 1-12 Betway / British Stallion Studs Ebf Maiden Stakes (Div II) (5F) 2yo, Newcastle 2nd June 2020