Chris Bennett with a bloodstock review of the racing week and news from the sales as we bid a fond farewell to the flat season and say welcome in the National Hunt campaign in earnest.
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The week began with a fond farewell to the flat season and with it the retirement of Frankel to Banstead Manor Stud to begin his new career as a resident stallion for a fee of £125,000 but the week ended with the arrival of a potential successor to Kauto Star's King George crown in the shape of Paddy Power Gold Cup winner, Al Ferof.
As we heralded in the start of the National Hunt season, the eagerly awaited curtain raiser of the 3-day Cheltenham Paddy Power Meeting saw Al Ferof (Dom Alco) make light of conceding 16lbs to nearest rival, Walkon and in the process provide Paul Nicholls with his first Paddy Power Gold Cup victory.
The 7yo capped a good week for Paul Nicholls which started with his stable duo, Prospect Wells and Zarkandar battling it out for the Grade 2 Elite Hurdle at Wincanton last Saturday with victory going to the latter whose long term target will once again be the Champion Hurdle in March.
It's been a good year for Prospect Wells's sire, Poliglote who has had his fee raised to €10,000 after siring the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe winner, Solemia. The fee increase came on the very day that Nicholls unearthed another potentially smart Juvenile Hurdler by the son of Sadler's Wells in Far West who had to work hard under Ruby Walsh but ran out an impressive 7 length winner of the Grade 2 JCB Triumph Hurdle Trial. The son of Poliglote is out of a mare by Cadoudal, the sire of Big Buck's.
Staying on the breeding scene and Plaid Maid (Executive Perk), owned by the late Lord Oaksey produced her second blacktype winner over obstacles when Coneygree (Karinga Bay) made an eye-catching winning performance for trainer Mark Bradstock in the Grade 2 Neptune Investment Management Novices' Hurdle on Sunday. He is a half-brother to Hennessy winner, Carruthers (Kayf Tara). Their dam, Plaid Maid sadly passed away in 2009 but she still has the fittingly named twice raced Maid of Oaksey and an unnamed 3yo gelding and full brother to Carruthers to come.
Cheltenham's popular Countryside Day once again played host to the Thoroughbred Breeders' Association National Hunt Stallion Parade on Friday, 16th November. Now in its eleventh year, the event welcomed a mix of younger and more established stallions from across the country, including Dunraven Stud's latest addition, 2003 St Leger hero Brian Boru (Sadler's Wells), the first Classic winner to stand in Wales. Spectators were also treated, as last year, to a visit by Black Sam Bellamy (Sadler's Wells), a full brother reigning Champion flat sire Galileo, while Shadwell's Sakhee (Bahri), best known as sire of the globe-trotting Presvis and French 2,000 Guineas winner Tin Horse, made a visit to the track on route to his new home a Yorton Farm Stud.
Stallions Making Their Mark This Week
Shantou (Alleged) may be in the twilight of his stud career, but the 19yo has made relentless progress with his progeny in recent weeks. The 1996 St Leger winner who is bred on similar lines to Flemensfirth has produced 4 winners in the last few weeks.
The smartest of them is Dylan Ross, already Grade 1 placed over hurdles, he opened his account over fences with an authoritative victory at Navan. David Pipe has long held the opinion that Our Father is a smart horse in the making and his 20 length win at Cheltenham justified the hype.
Jim Culloty always has some smart bumper performers and he unleashed another smart prospect in Heath Hunter at Thurles. Jeremy Scott's Kilmurvy is bred to get better with age and experience being out of a Definite Article mare and he has taken his record to 1 win and 2 places from 3 starts.
Nicky Henderson's youngsters are always worth close inspection and he produced an interesting winner in Polly Peachum who is out of a full-sister to Denman (Presenting).
Tiger Hill (Danehill) who passed away last month has left a timely reminder of how his stamina laden pedigree is coming to the fore in the national hunt scene in recent weeks. The former Ger Lyons trained, Kashmir Peak was an impressive 9 length winner of a juvenile hurdle while he has sired 2 impressive bumper winners in the last week.
Firstly, Baltimore Rock was an easy winner at Bangor last week while the Margaret Mullins trained Anonis defied a 605-day absence to claim victory in the concluding bumper at Cheltenham on Sunday. Tiger Hill's highest rated performer over obstacles to date is the Paul Nicholls trained Grade 1 placed Ghizao.
We couldn't totally leave the flat scene behind without mentioning Holy Roman Emperor (Danehill) who has sired 3 Group 1 winners this year. Dylan Thomas's half-sister, Homecoming Queen kicked things off with victory in the 1000 Guineas at Newmarket while 2yo, Morandi was an impressive 7 length winner of the 10f Criterium de Saint-Cloud over recent Qatar Racing purchase, Willie The Whipper. On Saturday, Rollout The Carpet made it the hat-trick for the Coolmore sire when winning the New Zealand 1000 Guineas at Riccarton.
At The Sales
With the Goff's Foal and Breeding Stock Sale set to kick off this coming week, the last week was dominated by Tattersalls Ireland National Hunt and Yearling Sales. It produced the highest turnover at the sales in the last 5 years with the median and average both up while the clearance rate was an impressive 71% for the foals.