Bloodstock Bites: Oscar winner

  • Last Updated: February 8 2014, 13:17 GMT

Chris Hill returns to bring us the latest news from the bloodstock world and reflects on the action from Sandown and Punchestown.

Oscar Whisky: Top-class winner over fences at Sandown
Oscar Whisky: Top-class winner over fences at Sandown

Oscar Whisky (Oscar) recorded his first Grade One victory over fences when successful in Saturday's Scilly Isles Novices' Chase at Sandown Park for trainer Nicky Henderson, a remarkable achievement considering that for much of the race Barry Geraghty's mount looked far from his usual exuberant self.

Bought for €80,000 by Dai Walters at the Goffs Land Rover National Hunt Sale back in 2008, having changed hands for €36,000 two years earlier at the Tattersalls Ireland November National Hunt Sale, the nine-year-old gelding must be a dream to own having now won 16 times from 24 starts, including twice in Grade One hurdle races with back-to-back victories in the Aintree Hurdle.

One of two winners out of Ash Baloo (Phardante), a two mile hurdle winner for Charlie Swan, Oscar Whisky's year younger three-parts sister Taravel (Milan) was also trained by Swan to a two and a half mile hurdle success as well as a third placed finish in the 2011 Cork Grade Three Dial-A-Bet Novice Hurdle. Ash Baloo herself is a half-sister to the Grade Three Nas Na Ri Chase winner Lucky Baloo (The Parson) as well as to the unraced dams of the Grade Two winners Kahuna (Mister Lord) and Drumbaloo (Flemensfirth).

Being by Coolmore's leading National Hunt stallion Oscar out of a Phardante mare means that Oscar Whisky is bred along the same lines as fellow Grade One scorer Oscar Dan Dan, winner of the 2009 Hatton's Grace Hurdle, as well as this season's Grade Three Ladbrokes Handicap Hurdle winner Fiery Oscar and Jetson, who returned to the winner's circle at Punchestown on Sunday having previously finished third in last month's Grade Three Galmoy Hurdle.

In the following race at Punchestown, Arvika Ligeonniere (Arvico) extended his unbeaten record at the course to five - achieved by a cumulative distance of fifty-four and a half lengths - with a bloodless victory under Ruby Walsh in the Grade Two Tied Cottage Chase, to put the imposing nine year-old gelding on track for a crack at the Champion Chase at the Cheltenham Festival.

Willie Mullins' four-time Grade One winning chaser is one of five winners bred by Yves Lepage out of the unplaced mare Daraka (Akarad), whose most notable foal prior to Arvika Ligeonniere was the Grade Two Grand Steeplechase d'Enghien and Grade Three Prix Juigne Hurdle winner Darastan (Dastaan), with the further family also containing the Listed Grand Prix de Lyon winner and Group Two Prix Maurice de Nieuil third Black Dancer (Fabulous Dancer).

Arvico, who stands at Vauterhill Stud in Devon alongside With The Flow, sire of dual Grade One winner Kauto Stone, was an eight-time winner on the flat and over hurdles in his native France and other than Arvika Ligeonniere, who hails from his first crop, has been represented at black-type level by the 2012 Listed Prix Violon II Chase runner-up Startling du Magny.

At Wetherby on Saturday the Charlie Longsdon-trained Ely Brown (Sunshine Street) earned his first black-type success - and his eighth win in all - with a determined victory in the Grade Two Towton Novices' Chase at Wetherby, a triumph that was also a first in graded races for offspring of his sire Sunshine Street, the winner of the 2000 Grade One San Juan Capistrano Invitational Handicap.

The first foal out of James Meagher's unraced mare Browneyed Daughter (Broken Hearted) and from the further family of the 1987 Grade Three Munster Chase winner Orwell Times, Ely Brown was originally bought as a foal by Nicholas Morrissey at the 2005 Goffs December National Hunt Sale for €4,200 and has been offered a further three times at different sales without attracting bids.

DBS held their January Sale last week with a couple of classy mares heading proceedings and helping the aggregate reach £1,187,550, an increase of 24% on the 2013 renewal, with the average an improvement of 3.5% at £7,711.

Trade was headed by Kentford Grey Lady (Silver Patriarch), a four-time winner for Emma Lavelle and runner-up to the great Quevega in the 2012 David Nicholson Mares' Hurdle at Cheltenham, who sold to breeder Patrick Burling for £65,000 and will be retired to the paddocks at Goldford Stud.

Harry Fry's Grade Two Warfield Mares Hurdle winner Violin Davis (Turgeon) was the sale's second priciest lot when selling to Stephen Kemble for £59,000 and her future also looks to be in the breeding shed.

Having originally been set to stand at Coolmore's Ashford Stud in Kentucky, dual U.S. Grade One winner Verrazano (More Than Ready) will instead continue to race this year in Europe for Irish Champion trainer Aidan O'Brien, where a European campaign featuring Royal Ascot looks a likely target for the four year-old, winner of the Grade One Haskell Invitational and Wood Memorial Stakes when trained last season by Todd Pletcher.

With the quality of the book of mares that Frankel covered during his first season at stud it was inevitable that there would be regular foalings that would take the breath away. Hot on the heels of European champion Danedream foaling a filly by the 10-time Group One winner, Juddmonte's own star mare, the six-time Group One winner Midday, gave birth to a filly foal on Saturday February 1, with the foaling recorded on video and available to view on the Juddmonte website.

Chris Hill

Chris is a Pedigree Researcher for Weatherbys Ltd, the company that provides the majority of pedigrees for thoroughbreds sold at public auction in Britain and Ireland and who offer a range of products and services to suit your Bloodstock needs.

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