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Asfoora, from Victoria to Royal Ascot

A sight many Australian racing fans are becoming proudly accustomed to in recent years, Asfoora (Flying Artie) becoming the sixth Australian winner of the Gr.1 King Charles III Stakes (1,000m) on Day 1 at Royal Ascot since Choisir (Danehill Dancer) in 2003. This time it had a particularly Victorian twist to it, with the star speedster trained in Ballarat by Henry Dwyer and owned by the Euroa based breeding operation Noor Elaine Farm.


From humble beginnings of a maiden win at Colac on debut, the filly by Flying Artie (Artie Schiller) quickly managed to put three wins in a row culminating in a city win at Caulfield. Her talent was evident from a very early stage as she went on to score multiple wins at stakes level within 12 months of her debut. Trainer Henry Dwyer knew his star had plenty of ability long before her gallant effort in the Gr. 1 Moir Stakes (1,000m) to megastar sprinter Imperatriz. “She’s a top-level sprinter and that will be proven over the next six to 12 months.”[1]


Asfoora (Image: Racing Photos)


Already a dual Gr. 2 winner and multiple Gr.1 placegetter in her homeland of Australia, the mare's connections hatched a long-range plan full of ambition for Asfoora to chase the all important Gr.1 win abroad. Seeking a Gr.1 win on perhaps the world's biggest stage, the Noor Elaine Farm bred mare rose to the challenge and delivered a performance fit for the occasion, cementing a comfortable win in the end in front of none other than King Charles himself. A triumphant Henry Dwyer showed his elation, “We have so many people here, not only the owners of Asfoora but also 40 or 50 of my owners from home who would do anything to have a runner at Royal Ascot. It’s incredible. I think there will be the mother of all parties tonight!” [2]


“I did believe she could win,” he said after the race. “She’s a good fast mare and, you know, on her day, very few horses can match strides with her. And today was her day.” [3]


Possibly the most incredible aspect of the Asfoora story began long before the fleet-footed mare streaked to her momentous victory down the undulating Royal Ascot straight. It was at the 2016 Inglis December Thoroughbred sale at Oaklands Junction where Noor Elaine Farm selected and purchased a lightly raced mare by I Am Invincible, Golden Child. Whilst she was unable to score a win in her four-start career, she caught the eye and was acquired by Noor Elaine Farm for just $11,000. As they say, the rest is history as El Fahkri decided to serve Golden Child with Flying Artie for her first mating.


The result saw a Bay/Brown filly who was presented at the 2020 Magic Millions Adelaide Yearling Sale under the Noor Elaine banner, where El Fahkri was to be bemused as the daughter of Flying Artie and the first foal from I Am Invincible mare, Golden Child was unwanted. "The peculiar thing with Asfoora is she's by Flying Artie, it was his first year and from memory, I paid $30,000 for the service fee and I told Mark Caldwell that I wanted to get that back and if he didn't, to bring her back with him."[4]

 

With a now meager looking reserve of $30,000, bidding only reached $24,000 and from then it was settled, El Fahkri would take her home and race Asfoora himself. Fast forward a little over four years and Akram El Fahkri has been rewarded for his faith in Asfoora and Dwyer with a fairy tale Gr.1 win. Asfoora is the second Gr.1 winner for her sire Flying Artie who is currently standing at Blue Gum Farm in Victoria and the first Gr.1 winner for I Am Invincible as a broodmare sire. The Asfoora story is perhaps summed up best by Noor Elaine Farm manager Tim Jackson, “They come in all shapes and sizes and nobody can measure how they can gallop," Tim said - "you can't see the little man beating the drums in their chest!” [5]


Of course, Noor Elain Farm is home to Gr.1 Randwick Guineas winner Ilovethiscity (Magic Albert) who has seen success as a stallion in his own right with El Dorado Dreaming the winner of the Gr.1 Sires Produce Stakes (1400m) at Randwick in 2018. He is part of an elite group as a sire who has both won a Gr.1 himself and produced a Gr.1 winner.

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