Cheltenham Review

The Irish dominated the trainers’, owners’ and jockeys’ lists at the Cheltenham Festival, and that monopoly stretched to the breeding ranks too with the Ire suffix controlling the majority of results.

In total, 46 horses bred in Ireland won or placed through the week, taking over half of the 84 total win and place opportunities available over the four days. Of those 46 horses, 14 were winners with seven of those successes coming in Grade 1s: Native River, Relegate, Altior, Samcro, Summerville Boy, Kilbricken Storm and JLT winner Shattered Love all boasting an Ire suffix. French-bred horses won or placed in 28 races, with 11 winners including four Grade 1 successes – in the Triumph Hurdle with Farclas (Jukebox Jury), the Arkle Chase with Footpad (Creachadoir), the Ryanair with Balko Des Flos (Balko) and the Champion Hurdle courtesy of Buveur D’Air (Crillon).

In total, 10 British-produced horses won or placed over the four days with three of them winners – Presenting Percy (Sir Percy), winner of the Grade 1 RSA Chase, Penhill (Mount Nelson), winner of the Grade 1 Stayers’ Hurdle, and the last day producing the County Hurdle winner Mohaayed (Intikhab). Mount Nelson has since moved from Newsells Park Stud to stand as a NH sire at Boardsmill Stud but when Penhill was produced he was standing as a Flat stallion. Of the ten British-bred horses in the money, seven were by stallions standing predominately as Flat sires when the horses were conceived. The three by NH stallions being Splash Of Ginge, a son of Oscar, Santini by Milan, and Midnight Tour by the late Midnight Legend. She was the only British-bred performer by a British-based sire, and continued to back up Midnight Legend’s reputation as a good sire of race fillies and mares.

It was a very open year for stallions and no sire managed to bag two winners.

Five of Oscar’s progeny finished in the money with his one winner coming at Grade 1 level in the Albert Bartlett courtesy of Kilbricken Storm, who is out of a Supreme Leader mare. Gods’ Own, also by Oscar and third in the Queen Mother Champion Chase, is out of a Phardante mare. Oscar’s fellow Grange Stud-based sire Milan picked up four results, including Santini, who followed Kilbricken Storm home, and Monalee, who finished second in the RSA Novices Chase. Flemensfirth, the most expensive stallion of 2018 standing at a fee of €15,000, took a win and three places, including a one-three in the Champion Bumper with the filly Relegate and the gelding Tornado Flyer. At the other end of the fee scale, Sandmason, a son of Grand Lodge who stands at the Paul Rothwell’s Lacken Stud in County Wexford for just €1,000, picked up his first Festival success with Summerville Boy’s Supreme Novices Hurdle victory. The six-year-old was bred by Rothwell and is out of a Carroll House mare Suny House, who is from the family of Annacotty and Big Sun.

It was to prove a good week for the sire – on day two his seven-year-old gelding Black Op, also bred by Rothwell, backed up the performance by his paternal half-brother with a strong effort to finish 3l second to Samcro in the Ballymore Novices Hurdle. Black Op is out of the Desert Story mare Afar Story from the family of Afsoun and Balthazar King.

Boardsmill Stud stallions enjoyed a very good week and the farm’s long-standing sire Kalanisi picked up two Grade 1 runner-up spots – Kalashnikov finished second in the Supreme and Brains Power followed ­Footpad home in the Arkle. Interestingly, both are out of Old Vic mares. The farm’s new sire Mount Nelson produced the winner of the Stayers’ Hurdle, while Mister Whitaker, by the stud’s 17-year-old Court Cave, won the Close Brothers Handicap Hurdle. Dubai Destination, like Mount Nelson a stallion who has transferred from the Flat ranks to standing as a jumps sire, is based at Rathbarry Stud and gained two Grade 1 thirds – Elegant Escape in the RSA and Next Destination in the Ballymore. They are out of Flemensfirth and Orchestra mares.

Bleu Bresil, sire of the French-bred Grand Annual winner Le Prezien and the Champion Hurdle (G1) third Mick Jazz, has stood at Yorton Farm Stud since the 2016 covering season. His other runner through Festival week Ibis Du Rheu finished fifth in the Listed Close Brothers Handicap; the son of Smadoun could prove to be a significant future influence on the British NH stallion ranks.

The late Presenting led the way as a broodmare sire with two winners and a second – Presenting Percy, winner of the RSA, Rathvinden, successful in the NH Challenge Chase, and Might Bite such an honourable runner-up in the Gold Cup.

In the breeders’ ranks Newsells Park Stud took the Grade 1 honours with Penhill and Supasundae’s one-two in the Stayers’ Hurdle and Melon’s second in the Champion Hurdle. He is by Cheveley Park Stud’s Medicean and out of the Platini mare Night Teeny.

The French-based Trapenard family achieved two top podium finishes with the Grand Annual winner Le Prezien, bred by Thomas Trapenard with Jean-Raymond Breton, and Coo Star Silova, who was bred by Gilles Trapenard. Brothers Philip and John Hore of Mount Eaton Stud individually bred Rather Be, second in the Close Brothers Handicap Chase, and Sizing Tennesse, third in the NH Challenge Chase.

Thursday’s Cheltenham Sale maintained the form of the recent NH sales with a six per cent increase in aggregate, a rise of 23 per cent in the median, an 11 per cent increase in average to £158,250 and competitive purchasing by the big name owners. Two horses shared top lot honours at £330,000. The Borris House point-to-point winner Andy Dufrense (Lot 10), a son of Doyen, was sold by Camilla Sharples, travelling head groom for Gordon Elliot. She had bought the gelding for £30,000; JP McManus purchased her horse from her and is sending him into training with Elliot.

Elliot and Mags O’Toole also gave the same amount for Feel My Pulse (Lot 13), a son of Stowaway and 15l maiden winner on March 10 for Donnchadh Doyle’s Monbeg Stables. The four-year-old was a €60,000 Derby Sale purchase last spring from Castletown Quarry Stud and is a half-brother to a Listed hurdle-winning mare by Presenting and a placed hurdler by Kayf Tara. It is the further family of the Grade 1-placed The Railway Man and Zuzka, and the Grade 2 winner Puffin Billy.

Another four horses sold for €200,000 or more with two purchased by Willie Mullins and Harold Kirk ­ – Lot 12, the Ballyboy Stables-consigned Ontheropes by Presenting, and Lot 23, The Big Getaway, a son of Getaway sold by Monbeg Stables. StroudColeman went to €220,000 for The Captains Inn, a son of Flememsfirth also sold by Ballyboy, the same amount also spent by Highflyer Bloodstock on Interconnected, a British point-to-point winner by Network and sold by Tom Lacey’s Cottage Field Stables.

Two fillies were offered and Tim Vaughan with Select Racing gave £185,000 for Tippingituptonancy, a four-year-old daughter of Stowaway and runner up in her sole point-to-point start to date. She was sold by Sam Curling’s Skehanagh Stables. Leading consignor by average was Monbeg Stables with three horses sold for an average price of £248,333, while Stowaway topped the sires’ list ­– this three averaged £225,000.

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