From Adelaide to Ascot- Asfoora is ready to run

When Asfoora was put up for sale at the 2020 Adelaide Yearling Sale, she was passed in after bidders failed to meet the modest $30,000 reserve price. Fast forward four years, the five-year-old is currently in England, where a performance in the King Charles III Stakes (1006m) at Royal Ascot awaits her on 18 June. 

Bred from current owners Noor Elaine Farm in Euroa, which is comprised of brothers Akram and Daniel El-Fahkri, Asfoora, who has won over $1.3 million in prizemoney, will be the sole Australian entrant at the world’s most prestigious racing event, first run in 1911. 

The daughter of Group 1-winning sprinter Flying Artie, Asfoora will provide the opportunity of a lifetime for her owners when she lines up next week. 

“It’s really a money can’t buy experience,” Akram said. 

“The fact that we have a mare who can compete at that level- it’s a chance to put our farm on the map and she’s a really elegant and lovely mare, so it’s exciting.”

Akram will make the journey to the UK to watch the mare, along with his mother (whom Noor Elaine Farm was named after), two sons and two nephews, along with trainer Henry Dwyer.

“Henry went to Xavier College with my boys and he’s my trainer of choice and was very keen to get her to England and so in the end, I couldn’t say no,” he said.

Whilst Daniel will remain on Australian shores, he is hopeful Asfoora will deliver a performance similar to when she won the Group 2 McCafe Sprint (1000m) on Caulfield Cup Day in 2022. 

“I was in Queensland on a golf trip and watched in from a pub and everyone there was on her and when she won it was just so exciting as the whole pub had backed her and came out a winner,” he said. 

The mare quickly followed up her performance at Caulfield two weeks later by winning the Group 3 Furphy Sprint (1100m) on Penfolds Victoria Derby Day. In 2023, she took home both the Group 3 McCafe Stakes and the Group 2 Metcap Finance Schillaci Stakes, both over 1100m. 

Dwyer explained that it’s the choice of sprint races that ultimately led him to sending Asfoora overseas.

“The number of 1000m to 1100m races in Australia is limited, as the majority are over 1200m, but there are a lot in the UK and there’s actually a series of highly competitive races coming up and so we had the chance and thought why not?

“She’ll definitely be over there for a while, as after Ascot she’ll go to the Qatar Sussex Stakes (1000m) at Goodwood and then there’s the Group 1 Nunthorpe (1000m) at York and then a race at The Curragh in Ireland called the Flying Five (1000m). From there, she may even go over to Longchamp in France, so she’ll definitely get some sun on her back and hopefully I will too.

“Most importantly, the top and tails have also been hired and will be ready for me when I arrive for Ascot,” Dwyer joked.

Asfoora placed fourth in her first overseas run in the Group 2 Temple Stakes at Haydock in the United Kingdom on Saturday, May 25. Australian jockey and regular rider Mitch Aitken was aboard that day, however champion Irish hoop Oisin Murphy will take the reins for her run at Ascot. 

“I’m confident there’s improvement still to come,” Dwyer said.

“It was the fine balance of not training her too hard in the new environment and then potentially ruining the whole campaign and not doing enough, but she’s relaxed into her surroundings really well and she’s staying in Newmarket on the quieter side which has helped her a lot.

“It’s very exciting being the sole Australian ‘tourist’ this year and the hospitality that everyone showed me when I was there was fantastic. Everyone’s wanted her to race at their tracks and so it’s been really nice and I really think the best is still yet to come.”

Daniel El-Fahkri is also hopeful it will be the best result possible for the mare. 

“If she wins it’ll be a great racing story, considering how her life began with the lack of interest at the sales,” he said.

“It turns out she was a lucky retention for us and if she wins it’ll be a fantastic feelgood racing story for everyone.”