'It took about two minutes until Decorated Knight took his first breath, a moment I'll never forget'

27 March 2023

Racing Post Q&A with Blue Diamond Stud's Andrew Rawlin, a stud staff finalist at the 2023 Thoroughbred Industry Employee Awards

Please tell us about any jobs you had pre-Blue Diamond Stud…

After deciding that teaching in a riding school wasn’t for me, I applied to the National Stud and did their diploma course. I then spent a yearling season at David Powell’s Catridge Farm before returning to the National Stud for seven years, working my way up to assistant manager. I then did two three-year stints managing small studs, before the job at Blue Diamond Stud became available. I have now been here for 12 years.

And in terms of your role at Blue Diamond, what’s involved, and has it evolved at all over the years?

When I started, the stud was in its infancy. We had around eight mares and have over the years built to a broodmare band of around 30 quality mares. As with any growing business, the structure and team has changed and developed over the years to where we are today: a team overseen by CEO Ted Voute, with Lord Grimthorpe as racing manager. Mr [Imad] Al Sagar’s passion for the stud and racing drives us all forward and you couldn’t wish for a better boss.

My role includes the day-to-day management of Blue Diamond Stud South and the stud’s broodmare band. The main aspects of that include foaling, vet/farrier work and covering. Also, communicating with boarding studs and record keeping. On top of that, there is the paddock/staff management, keeping the management team informed of developments, especially in the stud season with the coverings and foalings, and other duties including health and safety requirements and many more.

Leftfield one but if you could invent something that would make your working life easier, what would it be?

If I could invent a reliable way of knowing when, or even which day, a mare would foal well in advance, it would really help the smooth running of the stud season and save a lot of time and make life a lot easier.

Come the end of foaling season, all being well, how many mares and foals will you have on the farm?

Blue Diamond stud aims to keep a broodmare band of around 30 mares. We currently have just over that but eight are in America. We usually have around 25 foals a year now, with the main vision being quality not quantity.

Nashwa has been a recent flagbearer; what was she like as a foal, and what does it mean to you and the team to have raised a Classic winner?

Princess Loulou is one of the nicest, most laid-back mares you could wish for and was a great racemare by Pivotal. When she had Nashwa, she was the last mare to foal that year in early May, but from birth the foal stood out as one of the stronger, most attractive ones when you walked round the stud. She took everything in her stride and never really caused a problem.

To raise a Classic winner on the stud means a huge amount to the team and everyone involved with her. It fills us with immense pride, and to go out every day and deal with mares of her quality is a huge privilege. The main goal now when we are foaling and covering the mares is to produce and look for the next one.

We read about your crucial part in Decorated Knight’s story - would you mind reliving that for us…

I remember it well, Pearling broke water at about 10am on Saturday, February 11, 2012, on one of the worst weather days of the year with a good amount of snow on the ground. There were a lot of niggling little issues with the foaling, such as getting stuck at the shoulders and hips, but nothing major until he was fully out and he was completely unresponsive. We started resuscitation using our foal resuscitation kit and it took about two minutes until he took his first breath, a moment I'll never forget. The relief and emotional rollercoaster of that day will stay with me forever. After that, he never looked back and went from strength to strength. You can have some of your best and worst moments in a foaling unit.

Any Blue Diamond yearlings or two-year-olds you could pass on a particularly good word for?!

I don’t generally like to pick out individual horses as it tends to curse them, but we do have a lot of very nice yearlings this year. The yearlings moved over to our Blue Diamond North site before Christmas to be skilfully managed by Gerry Meehan, Blue Diamond Stud’s yearling manager. These include Nashwa’s half-brother by Dubawi; an attractive Too Darn Hot filly out of Zotilla, dam of Mangoustine; Aljazzi’s half-brother by Lope De Vega; plus a Sea The Stars colt out of Floret and filly out of Dawn Of Hope.

If I was to pick one not in the obvious group, then Lady Rasha has a Night Of Thunder filly who stood out in the field as a foal and hopefully has a bright future.

What did it mean to be a finalist in last month’s Thoroughbred Industry Employee Awards?

Being nominated by Ted Voute and the management team was the biggest reward I could ask for, and to get to the final three and to meet all those dedicated people, all with their own stories and tales from over the years, was an amazing experience.

Any personal favourite mares, sires or racehorses, past or present?

I have quite a few firm favourites in the broodmare band but one who really stands out yet gets fewer mentions is Dawn Of Hope. As well as being a kind, gentle, easier to manage mare, she was a good racehorse, winning a Listed race and being placed in a Group 3. Her first foal by Decorated Knight, Kind Gesture, is a dual winner rated 92. She has a strong Invincible Spirit two-year-old, an attractive Sea The Stars yearling filly and foaled a smart Pinatubo colt this year. She visits Lope De Vega and is definitely one to watch in the broodmare band.

Other than the obvious choices of Nashwa and Decorated Knight, there have been many memorable Blue Diamond-bred racehorses, who are always a joy to watch. For example, Aljazzi winning the Duke of Cambridge Stakes and Amtiyaz winning the Copper Horse Stakes at Royal Ascot, and the dual Group 3-winning Extra Elusive, but it’s his half-brother Ajaya who particularly stands out. When he won the Gimcrack in 2015, in which we had also bred Raucous, who came third, I distinctly remember the commentary team mentioning the quality of horse being produced at the burgeoning Blue Diamond Stud, which made me very proud.


Andrew Rawlin pictured with Dawn Of Hope. Photo - Equuis Images

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