SA Connection To French Oaks Winner

Star performance at a packed Chantilly

Blue Rose Cen proved herself France’s top three-year-old filly with a resounding four-length victory in Sunday’s €1,000,000 Gr1 Prix de Diane (French Oaks), whilst completing a rare Gr1 treble after also capturing the Gr1 Poule d’Essai des Pouliches (French 1000 Guineas) and last season’s Gr1 Prix Marcel Boussac.

Dare we say it, but no one would have been prouder of her achievement than Queen Elizabeth II, for it was her late Majesty who bred the filly’s third dam Dream Time.

Intriguingly, she was a daughter of Grey Angel, who had raced with distinction in South Africa during the early nineties.

Aurelien Lemaitre steers Blue Rose Cen to victory in Sunday’s French Oaks (Pic – Racing TV)

Grey Angel was imported with her dam, the Seattle Slew mare Seattle Sway, by one of the more colourful characters of that era, Dr Hilda Podlas, who enjoyed a giddy run of success in the mid-nineties.

Twice the country’s champion owner, her shocking pink silks were carried to Gr1 success by the likes of Miss Averof, Vigliotto, Chief Advocate, Kundalini and Fire Arch.

Grey Angel, a daughter of the high class French sprinter miler Kenmare, proved her prowess at three and four, winning the Gr3 Gosforth Park Fillies & Mares Stakes, Gr3 Racecourse Bookmakers Handicap, Silver Slipper Sprint and Tibouchina Stakes Gr3 and also ran second in the Gr1 Gosforth Park Fillies & Mares Challenge.

Hilda Podlas

Dr Hilda Podlas

At the end of her four-year-old season, Dr Podlas sent Grey Angel overseas and after being covered by Night Shift, she was entered for the Tattersalls December Sale, where the BBA purchased her on behalf of The Queen.

After producing two foals by Night Shift and Green Desert, Grey Angel visited Rainbow Quest and in due course produced the filly Dream Time. She showed little on the track, and with just one modest place to her name, it came as no surprise that she was sold at the end of her three-year-old season.

Dream Time proved quite a prolific broodmare as the dam of 11 foals, one of which was the Gr3-placed filly Mark Of An Angel. A daughter of Mark Of Esteem, she was mated to Danehill Dancer’s accomplished son Jeremy and produced Queen Blossom, a Gr3 winner in both Ireland and the States, who in turn features as the dam of Blue Rose Cen.

Bred on the proven Galileo x Danehill cross, Blue Rose Cen is by the former’s champion son Churchill, a dual Gr1 winner of the Dewhurst and National Stakes at two and both the English and Irish 2000 Guineas at three. He retired to Coolmore Stud with much fanfare but following a quiet start with his first runners, was in imminent danger of being regarded as a slow burner.


That soon changed when first crop son Vadeni hit the tracks. The Aga Khan homebred flashed his credentials by claiming both the Gr1 French Derby and Gr1 Eclipse Stakes and running second in the Arc, feats which earned him a 130 rating from Timeform. Blue Rose Cen hails from her sire’s second crop. Not every sire manages to produce ten stakes winners in their first crop, let alone two exceptional classic winners.

By the way, Grey Angel returned to South Africa as a 14-year-old broodmare but sadly produced just one foal before her death in 2004.

That was the National Assembly filly Band Of Angels, who scored once as a three-year-old and would become the dam of Gr2 Debutante runner-up and three-time winner Spiritofthegroove, who is pictured below.

A fascinating confluence of factors contributed to Blue Rose Cen, for let’s face it, if Grey Angel had not returned to Britain after her racing career, we would not be celebrating Blue Rose Cen’s classic double.

Such is the international nature of the bloodstock business.

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