2023 in Review - by Cornelius Lysaght
Cornelius Lysaght takes a look back at our last season...
As Opulence Thoroughbreds’ TV advert has it, “Horse racing is changing – shared ownership allows anyone to be part of racing like never before”, and in this increasingly competitive sector Opulence continued to hold its leading position in 2023.
Of course, after a spectacular previous twelve months, the bar was set sky high for the expanding roster of top-notch trainers employed by Opulence, but again they delivered a memorable year.
There have been a whole range of highlights, from the Ed Walker-trained Hedonista making a significant contribution to the rise up the greasy pole by jockey Saffie Osborne to, again for Team Walker, the well-bred Mubhijah making a flying start at Carlisle after joining the string.
Seeing the silks being part of the powerful Roger Varian operation has clearly been a pleasure in itself, and the Varian stable was responsible for six individual winners, but Dashing Darcey’s successes before Christmas were particularly sweet.
The Muhaarar colt has long been well regarded by his trainer so there was some concern when on debut he was pulled up early, because Jack Mitchell wasn’t happy with the way in which he was moving.
Happily, just three weeks later, the ‘real’ Dashing Darcey turned up at Newcastle for an incident-free second place which was followed by a couple of very promising wins over a mile at Lingfield.
PUROSANGUE - The fastest son of ACLAIM!
Taking owners to the marquee days at places like Newmarket, Ascot, York, Goodwood, Newbury and Ayr is at the centre of Opulence’s ambitions, and Purosangue paid visits to some of the top tracks during a stellar season.
The colt by Aclaim was only once out of the first two – and that was when not beaten far at all in a hot staging of the group Two July Stakes at Newmarket – and rounded off his year when demonstrating that he could dig as deep as any in the Listed Rockingham Stakes at York.
It was striking that Purosangue made one of the longest appearances in Andrew Balding’s end-of-season review in which he confirmed the exciting news that the “pocket rocket” should improve further and is being aimed now at the Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot in June.
While it’s great to plan ahead along those kind of lines, sometimes money is offered for a horse that is simply too much to reject as happened with Yacowlef, which is racing on in the US, having given all involved a healthy profit. Celtic Champion meanwhile was sold to Bahrain.
But talking of the future, as well as all the exciting racehorses, the Opulence Thoroughbreds breeding operation is in full swing with Something Enticing successfully covered by New Bay and Marbling by Lope De Vega; a foal is due from the former in mid-February while the latter is due at the end of March. Truly the Opulence dream gallops on.