Mare of the Month – NYALETI

Martin StevensMare of the Month

Mare of the Month by Martin Stevens


6yo roan mare by Arch out of America Nova, by Verglas

A select few broodmares owned by outside breeders are boarded at Chasemore Farm, and one of the most famous of those is Nyaleti.

The six-year-old daughter of Arch, who was trained by Mark Johnston to win the German 1,000 Guineas and was twice Group 1-placed, last month produced her first foal on the stud — a cracking colt by Frankel. She now visits the mighty Dubawi.

Nyaleti is owned by Chris Batterham, who has been in racing since the 1990s. The emerald green and maroon silks carried by Nyaleti to Classic victory were originally borne by several high-class jumpers of that decade.

“My dad and grandad were into racing and always enjoyed having a bet, but never had the wherewithal to own a horse of their own,” says Chris. 

“So it was always on my bucket list that if I ever made enough money, I’d buy a racehorse. After working in various technology companies and having share options, one eventually came off and I was able to do it.

“At that point I enjoyed jump racing more than the Flat, and on the recommendation of a friend I went to Martin Pipe and had a horse with him, a French-bred filly called Miss Ondee. 

“She won first time out, and then a few more races, and so of course I got the bug and bought more horses, all of whom were registered as owned by myself, my wife and my dad.”

Thanks to an innovative way of sourcing his runners, the Batterhams owned some popular jumpers in the 1990s and 2000s.

“I was one of the first guys to go out and buy horses in France,” says Chris. “I was involved in a business in France at the time, so I used to arrange my visits to Paris so that I could go to meetings in the morning and to Auteuil in the afternoon!

“We had a winner at the Cheltenham Festival with Majadou, while Galant Moss and Rodock both won some nice races for us. We bought Carlovent out of a French claimer.

"He was a real runt of a thing, blind in one eye, but he won seven races for us including twice at the Aintree Grand National meeting.”

Chris and his family would later sample the delights of Flat racing.

“My dad came up with the idea of having a Flat horse, and I thought why not?” he says. “One of the first yards I ever visited was Mark Johnston’s on an open day, so I bought one from Mark’s list of available horses. That turned out to be Takes Tutu, who did alright and won a handicap at Glorious Goodwood for us.

“I got a little more involved in Flat racing and tailed off with the jumpers, as lots of other people had cottoned onto buying French horses, and a horse like Majadou, who had cost us around £50,000, started making £500,000 — not my sort of bracket.”

Chris’s racing interests fell into abeyance for a few years as his father died and he was busy helping his children through university and setting up in their own homes. But his family encouraged him to get back into the game.

He explains: “My children were going racing socially and then six or seven years ago my daughter suddenly said, ‘come on, why don’t you get another horse?’

“I thought okay, and so I gave Mark Johnston a few clues to the identity of one particular race I really wanted a runner in, named after the town in which I lived and with a quirky set of entry conditions. 

“He got it in three clues — the Chesham Stakes. He found Masham Star, and although he ran 12th behind Churchill in the Chesham, he did win three other races for us at two and we still have him at the age of seven. He’s won eight races in total, including a Group 3 in Italy.”

The Batterhams’ second stab at the Chesham Stakes was with Nyaleti, who had been bought by Mark Johnston for just 40,000gns at Book 1 of the Tattersalls October Yearling Sale. 

Chris wanted a filly, as he had become more and more interested in pedigrees and studying catalogue pages. If Nyaleti turned out to be any good, he would keep her and breed from her.

The Toby Balding Memorial Novice Stakes at Salisbury in mid-june was appointed for her racecourse debut, but it looked like a stiff task as she would have to take on the future 1,000 Guineas heroine Billesdon Brook, who had finished a close second on her last start.

“Nyaleti looked in good order on the day but she drifted out to 16-1,” remembers Chris. “I’d got talking to a local vet, so unfortunately I didn’t get down to the bookies to place a bet.

“She made the running under John Egan and, although she was headed by Billesdon Brook two furlongs from home, she fought back to win by three quarters of a length. 

“James Willoughby, who interviewed me for Racing TV after the race, told me he thought Billesdon Brook was a certainty, so we likely had a nice horse on our hands.”

Nyaleti was turned out just six days’ later for the Chesham Stakes, where she blazed a trail but was caught close home by September to finish second. 

The third home that day was none other than the subsequent Derby victor Masar, so history will show that the filly managed to beat two Classic winners on her first two starts! 

Nyaleti went on to win the Princess Margaret Stakes by five lengths, and to finish placed in the Duchess of Cambridge Stakes, May Hill Stakes and Rockfel Stakes that season.


She was an underwhelming sixth in the Nell Gwyn Stakes at Newmarket in her trial for the 1,000 Guineas, so the decision was made to take a different route.

Chris recalls: “She never ran very well on the Rowley Mile —she didn’t seem to handle the dip very well — so Mark said let's forget the 1,000 Guineas. He dropped her in class a bit and went to Goodwood for a Listed race, which she won, and then we went to Dusseldorf for the German 1,000 Guineas.

“That day was right up there with my Cheltenham Festival success. I had all my family there apart from my wife, and although it seemed a long way for a race that would be over in two minutes, it was worth it.

“We were really looked after, Nyaleti won the race nicely and we spoke to all the top names in the German racing industry who were delighted to have us there.

“We were presented with our trophy on the track in front of the stands, with a 16-piece brass band playing the British national anthem as the Union Jack was raised on a flagpole. It was quite a moment!”

YouTube video

Nyaleti later ran third in the Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup at Keeneland and a neck second in the Premio Lydia Tesio at three, and was Group 2-placed at four although her form tailed off a little due to a foot problem.

She was then retired to Chasemore Farm, and put in foal to unbeaten dual world champion Frankel.

“Mark Johnston suggested a few studs where we could board her but I didn’t want to be just another owner,” says Chris. “Also, I know Andrew Black well, as I was Betfair’s first non-executive director, and I had been to Chasemore once before and liked what Andrew had done with the place.

“The other big factor in my decision was Chasemore's vet Pat Sells. My biggest fishing mate for 40 years is Mike Heaps, and he’s Pat’s father-in-law. Pat is great at giving me ideas for matings and other advice.

“Another beauty of Chasemore is that it’s a 40-minute drive from home, so I’ll be able to visit regularly when things return to normal after coronavirus. But I’ve been getting great updates on Nyaleti and her new foal from Pat — lots of videos, photos and reports. 

“There’s a real feeling of being part of the family at Chasemore, while remaining very professional in all that they do.”

The feeling is mutual, and we at Chasemore are honoured to have the Batterhams as clients and their wonderful mare Nyaleti here on the stud.