Cheltenham 2009 by numbers

Cheltenham is almost overwhelming.  Four days, twenty four races, twelve Grade 1 races and remarkable individual achievements such as Ruby Walsh’s record breaking 7 winners or Tony McCoy’s astonishing never-say-die ride on Wichita Lineman.  21 stallions got on the roll of honour and only 3 stallions managed to sire more than one winner. So what did we learn from the week?


1. Stallion of the week was Presenting. He sired two Grade 1 winners in Weapons Amnesty who battled to win the Albert Bartlett hurdle and Dunguib who was an ultra impressive winner of the bumper. For good measure he sired Some Present who was runner up in the bumper and Denman showed he has retained most of his  ability with a fine second in the Gold Cup. Presenting is still only 17 and has bigger and better crops coming through and he will hopefully be around for a few years yet.  It is also interesting that Weapons Amnesty is out of an Old Vic mare and this is a cross or reverse cross we are likely to see tried a great deal over the coming years. Old Vic and Presenting are the two outstanding National Hunt stallions of our era and it will be interesting to see if this proves to be a potent nick.


2. Well done to Nikos who sired two winners in Master Minded and Oh Crick. Nikos was retired some years ago so his success will have little practical impact on breeders. Nikos won the Prix Edmond Blanc and was twice runner up in the Prix de la Foret. On the flat his best runner was Nononito who won a Prix du Cadran and over jumps he also left Cenkos who won a Victor Chandler Chase and finished third in a Queen Mother. Nikos was a son of Nonoalco the 1974 2000 Guineas winner who also won a Prix Jacques le Marois and at two he won the Prix Morny and Prix de la Salamandre. He was exported to Japan but left behind the great Katies. Trivia fans will be interested to note that Nonoalco was by Nearctic (sire of Northern Dancer) and was bred by Forest E Mars of chocolate bar fame.


3. Old Vic also got two winners in Ninetieth Minute (in the Coral Cup) and Andytown (Martin Pipe hurdle) as well as being broodmare sire of the previously mentioned Weapons Amnesty.


3. Sons of Sadler’s Wells are everywhere. Amazingly 7 different sons of the Coolmore legend sired winners. They were Kings Theatre sire of Wichita Lineman,  Oscar sire of Tricky Trickster,  Old Vic sire of Ninetieth Minute and Andytown, Barathea sire of Silk Affair, Kayf Tara sire of Kayf Aramis, Dolpour sire of Something Wells and Accordion sire of Character Building.  Interestingly none of the wins came in Grade 1 races, however Galileo came close to adding a Champion Hurdle to his role of honour through Celestial Halo who was a close second.  Funnily enough the hurdler who’s reputation was most enhanced after Cheltenham was Hurricane Fly (by Montjeu and subject of a previous article) who had previously hammered the Supreme Novice winner Go Native at Leopardstown.


 4. The diminutive Mill Reef pops up with surprising frequency. It is well recorded that Kauto Star is bred 4*4 to Mill Reef through Moulin and Port Etienne.  Mill Reef’s son Garde Royale is sire of Garde Champetre winner of the cross country chase and is broodmare sire of Master Minded.  Garde Royale is also sire of Robin des Champs the sire of Quevega the easy winner of the David Nicholson hurdle for mares. Finally the Triumph hurdle winner Zaynar is by Daylami who is by Doyoun who is by Mill Reef. 


5. Two sons of Top Ville sired winners. Beneficial sired Cooldine the impressive winner of the RSA chase and Pistolet Bleu sired Cappa Bleu the winner of the Foxhunters.


6.  Nijinsky obviously didn’t want to be upstaged by Mill Reef and crops up with some regularity.  His son Moscow Society sired his second Arkle winner in Forpaddytheplasterer who followed in the hoofprints of Moscow Society.  Champion Hurdle winner Punjabi was out of a Hernando mare and thus has Nijinsky in the fourth generation and he also appears in the fourth generation of Mikael D’Haguenet. World Hurdle winner Big Bucks is by Cadoudal a grandson of Nijinsky through Green Dancer and Triumph hurdle winner Zaynar is out of French Oaks winner Zainta a daughter of Kahyasi who is by Nijinsky’s son Ile de Bourbon.


7. The other sires to get on the scoresheet are Double Eclipse who gave his career a nice fillip as sire of Supreme Novice winner Go Native.  Komaite sired Punjabi the winner of the Champion Hurdle, Lavirco sired Mikael D’Haguenet and it will be interesting to see if we are about to witness German breds make an impact on the National Hunt scene in the same way that Monsun has led their assault on the flat. Turgeon sired Chapoturgeon and Sendawar sired American Trilogy. Finally Flemensfirth sired Ryanair chase winner Imperial Commander.  Considering he stood for €10000 and is hyped by Coolmore as one of the hottest jumps sires around it was important he sired a winner. However it is interesting that he is the same age as Presenting and to me he still has a long way to go to match the achievements of his Rathbarry rival.

Binocular-difficult to forsee?

 Binocular is a very short priced favourite for the Champion Hurdle, especially for a horse who was beaten on his only previous visit to Prestbury Park. That aside his pedigree is interesting and serves as a reminder of some stars of yester-year who had disappeared from the public eye.  His sire Enrique ran 8 times for three wins, three seconds and two unplaced runs. At two he won his maiden, the listed Tattesalls Sommerville Stakes before being sent off as joint favourite for the Dewhurst along with Stravinsky. He seemed to be going very well with a furlong to go but found little to finish a disappointing fourth. At three he returned with a win in the Group 3 Greenham, before finishing a close second to Island Sands. It was a substandard Guineas and probably not Kieran Fallons finest hour. He gained his revenge on Island Sands in the Irish Guineas but this time he was convincingly beaten by Aidan O’Briens Saffron Walden.  Enrique was dropped back to 7 furlongs at Royal Ascot for the Jersey Stakes but unfortunately for him he was again beaten into second by outsider Lots of Magic who never before or after showed such a level of form. It was a good renewal of the Jersey as the third was Bertolini and fourth was Stravinsky with fifth going to Industrialist who subsequently did well in Hong Kong.  Back to a mile and Group one company Enriques next and final start was in the Sussex Stakes where he made no impression behind Aljabr. Whether injured or not Enrique’s next public appearance was in the August 1997 Deauville Sales where he fetched a paltry 350000 French francs. Fate is fickle, had the Guineas gone his way he would have been an attractive stallion prospect instead the length of Island Sands neck meant he retired as only a Group 3 winner. His dam Gwydion was a speed machine winning the Queen Mary finishing second in the Diadem and third in a July Cup. In hindsight it would have been interesting to see Enrique dropped back to sprint distances. There was no major demand for Enrique at stud but the fact that he now stands for €4000 at Haras de Hoguenot indicates that some success has come his way and he was certainly a shrewd purchase at 350000 Ffr. His best flat runner is Obrigado (Enrique-Banakill by Funambule by who won a Grade 2 in the States and was narrowly beaten in the Hollywood Turf Cup. He also sired Group 2 placed Baby First (Enrique-First Turn by Alleged). Binocular was useful on the flat winning his only two starts at two, before being listed place at three. However once he switched to the UK and started hurdling he really blossomed and his only defeat from 6 starts was in last years Supreme Novice Hurdle when beaten by the older Captain Cee Bee who is also owned by JP McManus. The dam of Binocular, Blue Ciel et Blanc (literally blue sky and white) is by Pistolet Blue who covered huge books when moved to Coolmores National Hunt division later in his career. He left behind the likes of Sizing Europe, Geos and Katarino with large numbers of runners still to come. Blue Ciel et Blanc bred another winner in Assassino (by Kabool) but Binocular is by far the star of the family. It was difficult to see the union of Enrique of Blue Ciel et Blanc producing a top runner but such fairytales keep the sport from becoming too predictable. The real winner in all this is the slightly unlucky racehorse Enrique who is now lucky enough to be guaranteed decent books as a dual purpose stallion.

BINOCULAR (FR) 2004 c b

(GB) 1996
(IRE) 1990
Wells (USA) 1981
Dancer (CAN) 1961
Bridge (USA) 1975
(GB) 1981
(USA) 1966
Silk (GB) 1970
(USA) 1983
A Cup (USA) 1971
A Native (USA) 1961
Sunshine (USA) 1966
(USA) 1973
(USA) 1946
2nd (USA) 1953
Ciel Et Blanc (FR) 1995
Bleu (IRE) 1988
Ville (IRE) 1976
Top (IRE) 1969
Ville (USA) 1968
Bella (FR) 1981
(IRE) 1967
(FR) 1963
De La (USA) 1990
(USA) 1984
Up (GB) 1969
(FR) 1977
(FR) 1978
(USA) 1969
And Lovely (FR) 1963

Montjeu jumps to the fore

Sadler’s Wells has had a profound effect on the jump racing scene, even more so than his impact on the flat. A look at the current jump stallions standings shows Sadler’s Wells himself in 15th position by prize money and an astonishing 7 of his sons are ahead of him in the stallion rankings. These are Old Vic, Oscar, Accordion, Saddlers’ Hall, Kayf Tara, King’s Theatre and the new kid on the block Montjeu who sits one place ahead of his sire in the table. To date in the 2008/09 season Montjeu has been represented by 60 runners and 11 winners and considering that his oldest progeny have just turned seven he is likely to move nearer the top of the table over the coming years.  Montjeu’s merits as a jumps sire were highlighted over the Christmas period when he sired a grade 1 hurdles winner, and two placed grade 1 runners. The placed runners were Blue Bajan (2002 Montjeu-Gentle Thoughts by Darshaan) who finished a close up third to Harchibald in the Christmas Hurdle at Kempton and Won in the Dark (2004 Montjeu-Mesata by Lion Cavern) who ran Sublimity to half a length in the Festival Hurdle at Leopardstown. Won in the Dark had previously scored in Grade 1 company when running away with the champion 4 year old hurdle at Punchestown and he is currently quoted at 25-1 for the Champion Hurdle. However Montjeu’s Christmas cracker was Hurricane Fly (2004 Montjeu-Scandisk by Kenmare) who won his second Grade 1 in spectacular fashion when quickening right away from the field in the champion novice hurdle at Leopardstown. Hurricane Fly showed real acceleration after the last and it was no surprise that he had been more than useful on the flat where he once won a listed race defeating no less than Literato and Spirit One in  France.  He is now clear favourite for the Supreme Novices at Cheltenham and he is even quoted in the Champion Hurdle betting by some firms. The dam of Hurricane Fly produced another stakes horse in Hunzy (by Desert King) who picked up some cheap Italian black type. Hurricane Fly’s second dam Yankee Lady was a sister to Yankee Gold who won a Royal Whip and Ballymoss Stakes. She was by Lord Gayle who is now in so many National Hunt pedigrees because of the impact of his son the champion sire Strong Gale. Hurricane Fly was not bred for the National Hunt game but it is no surprise that he has shown such talent in the field. As for Montjeu’s credentials as a jumps sire, they could hardly have been better. Sadlers Wells was an outstanding sire of hurdlers siring Istabraq, Theatreworld, Pridwell and French Ballerina amongst others. Montjeu’s broodmare sire Top Ville sired a number of top jumps sires and promising younger sires including the tragically short lived Toulon, Beneficial, Un Desperado, Pistolet Bleu and Norwich. Had Montjeu not been such a success on the flat no doubt he would now be a very stallion at Coolmores National Hunt division. As it is he seems set to follow in his fathers footsteps as a top class stallion in both realms.


(IRE) 1996
Wells (USA) 1981
Dancer (CAN) 1961
(USA) 1954
(USA) 1957
Bridge (USA) 1975
Reason (USA) 1968
(USA) 1969
(FR) 1985
Ville (IRE) 1976
Top (IRE) 1969
Ville (USA) 1968
Cy (FR) 1979
(FR) 1955
Toumignon (IRE) 1971
(IRE) 1995
(FR) 1975
(GB) 1970
(GB) 1965
(GB) 1960
Of Ireland (GB) 1964
(GB) 1953
Of The Ball (GB) 1958
Lady (IRE) 1977
Gayle (USA) 1965
Gaylord (USA) 1959
Case (USA) 1958
An Oir (GB) 1961
(FR) 1952
An Oir (IRE) 1956

The other Santa Claus…

‘Tis the festive season and here at we are keen to enter into the spirit of things.  Not wishing to upset anyone with religious sensitivities I won’t speculate on the pedigree of Jesus 🙂 and I won’t mention King of Kings to avoid upsetting the hundreds of breeders who used that flop. I considered writing about the Blandford Stakes winner Kris Kringle, the great Generous and decent sire Cadeaux Genereux but at the end of the day it was an easy decision. These days Christmas has little to do with religion and everything to do with the man in red, so I dusted off my history books and did some research on Santa Claus.

The equine Santa Claus was one of the best horses trained in Ireland in the 20th Century. At two he won the National Stakes and entered the winter as ante-post Derby favourite. At three he was successful in the Irish 2000 Guineas, Epsom Derby and Irish Derby. He also finished second in the King George to the four year old Nasram and the Prix de l’Arc to Prince Royal (beaten 3/4 length).  He was trained on the Curragh by Mick Rogers who had won the 1958 Derby with Hard Ridden. His sire Chamossaire was a St Leger winner and he sired another Leger winner in Cambremer along with 2 other Irish Derby winners in Chamier and Your Highness. His grandsire Precipitation was a winner of the Ascot Gold Cup and his great grand sire Hurry On was one of the leading sires of the early 20th Century siring three Derby winners in the 1920’s in Captain Cuttle, Coronach and Call Boy. His broodmare sire Arctic Prince won the 1951 Derby for Joe McGrath. Interestingly Santa Claus was the last representive of the Godolphin Arabian line to win an Epsom Derby. At stud Santa Claus died early but from 121 foals he had 89 runners, 54 winners and 9 (7%) Black Type winners. These included a pair of Irish classic winners in Reindeer (winner of the 1969 Irish Leger for Vincent O’Brien) and Santa Tina winner of the 1970 Irish Oaks (and closely related to Reindeer).  Bonne Noel won an Ebor and became a National Hunt sire, Father Christmas won the Rose of York stakes and also got a shot at stud. None of his sons made much impact with Reindeer more of a National Hunt sire before he was moved to New Zealand. I noticed Reindeers name in the pedigree of Yachtie the sire of Happyanunoit, who was a Group/Grade 1 winner in Australia/New Zealand and the US. As a broodmare sire Santa Claus’ record is solid but not spectacular. Santa Tina became the dam of Young Mother who won a Prix Vermeille and she is granddam of Equalize a Grade 1 winner of the United Nations Hcp. Santa Claus also sired Sleat winner of the 1970 Sun Chariot stakes and ancestress of Reprimand, Wiorno and a host of other stakes horses. Canaan was an unraced filly who became the great granddam of Yeats and Solskjaer. His stats read 50 mares responsible for 371 foal, 147 winners and 13 (4%) black type winners.  He may not have been a major influence on the breed but Santa Claus is a reminder of a radically different bloodstock world, when stallion books were small but carefully managed and maybe that’s something we should all wish for a return to this Christmas.


(GB) 1942
(GB) 1933
On (GB) 1913
(GB) 1903
Suite (GB) 1904
Life (IRE) 1926
Double (GB) 1906
Joan (GB) 1918
(GB) 1937
(GB) 1928
(GB) 1920
Cameron (GB) 1922
(GB) 1930
(GB) 1917
(GB) 1911
Clara (GB) 1953
Prince (IRE) 1948
Chevalier (FR) 1943
Rose (GB) 1928
(FR) 1933
Sun (GB) 1941
(ITY) 1935
Flower (GB) 1935
Clara (GB) 1938
Tiger (GB) 1930
(GB) 1923
(GB) 1923
(GB) 1934
(GB) 1919
Veil (GB) 1930