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Nureyev (horse)

Sire Northern Dancer
Dam Special
Grandsire Nearctic
Damsire Forli
Gender Stallion
Foaled 1977
Country United States
Color Bay
Breeder Claiborne Farm
Owner Stavros Niarchos
Trainer Francois Boutin
Record 3: 2-0-0
Earnings $42,018
Nureyev is a thoroughbred racehorse out of Special by Northern Dancer. He was born around 1977 in the United States, and was bred by Claiborne Farm.
Major wins
Prix Thomas Bryon (1979)
Prix Djebel (1980)
Leading sire in France (1987)
Leading broodmare sire in Britain & Ireland (1997)
Horse (Equus ferus caballus)
Last updated on February 5, 2007

Nureyev (1977-2001) was a Kentucky-bred Thoroughbred racehorse and Champion sire who was bought in 1978 at the Keeneland yearling sale by Stavros Niarchos for US$1.3-million and raced in France and the United Kingdom. Niarchos named the colt in honor of the famous ballet dancer, Rudolf Nureyev.

Trained by Francois Boutin, in November 1979 Nureyev made his two-year-old racing debut in France. He easily outdistanced the field in the Prix Thomas Bryon at Saint-Cloud Racecourse, winning by six lengths. The following spring of 1980 he won the Prix Djebel at Maisons-Laffitte Racecourse in his 3-year-old debut. He was then shipped to Newmarket Racecourse in the United Kingdom for the 2,000 Guineas. It seems that Nureyev had little patience with the rest of the field and in the race he pushed his way between horses to get to the lead and to victory. However, his win would be overturned by the racing stewards, the first time a winner of the 2,000 Guineas Classic was disqualified. Scheduled to compete in June's Epsom Derby, Nureyev came down with a virus and never raced again.

Nureyev was sent to stand at stud at his owner's Haras de Fresnay-le-Buffard in Neuvy-au-Houlme in Lower Normandy. Renowned French horseman Alec Head recommended Nureyev to Lexington, Kentucky breeder John T. L. Jones, Jr. and in mid 1981 put together a syndicate that purchased Nureyev for US$14 million. Nureyev was brought to Jones' Walmac-Warnerton Farm partnership near Lexington and then under Jones' wholly owned Walmac International.

In 1987 Nureyev suffered a life-threatening fracture to his right hind leg in a paddock accident during breeding season but veterinary surgeons were able to save his life.



Some of Nureyev's prominent offspring includes:

  • Zilzal (b. 1986) - United Kingdom Horse of the Year (1989)
  • Reams of Verse (b. 1994) - United Kingdom Champion 2-year-old filly, won 1997 Epsom Oaks
  • Unusual Heat (b. 1990) - California leading sire and with combined progeny earnings of over $24 Million.

During his breeding career, Nureyev sired 135 stakes winners and more than twenty champions. In 1998, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum set a European sales record when he paid three million guineas for a yearling colt by Nureyev at the Newmarket sales.


Nureyev is the grandsire of:

  • Gentlemen - 1995 Champion Three-Year-Old Colt in Argentina


Nureyev is also the damsire of several top international horses including:

  • Spinning Queen - sold in November 2006 for three million guineas, becoming the most expensive filly ever sold at public auction in Europe[1]
  • Manistique - California millionaire mare who won three Grade 1 races.

Nureyev died aged 24 on October 29, 2001 and is buried at Walmac International in Lexington, Kentucky.



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