Bloodstock Bites: What a week
Chris Hill brings us the latest from the bloodstock world and reflects on the action from the track and the sales ring.
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After weeks of anticipation, the Cheltenham Festival provided its usual drama and intense competition with a couple of sons of the great Sadler's Wells (Milan and Oscar) continuing their ascent up the National Hunt stallion ranks with their offspring claiming two of the week's Championship races.
Tuesday's Champion Hurdle saw the J P McManus owned pair Jezki (Milan) and My Tent or Yours (Desert Prince) fight out a thrilling finish up the famous Cheltenham hill with the Jessica Harrington-trained Jezki coming out on top and maintaining his unbeaten record under Barry Geraghty.
Jezki's greatest victory came just a few months after the sad death of his dam La Noire (Phardante) - a half-sister to Grade One winners Strong Run (Strong Gale) and Leading Run (Supreme Leader) - a fantastic broodmare for Gerard McGrath having produced Noel Meade's fellow Grade One winning hurdler Jered (Presenting), a Grade Two hurdle winning full brother to Jezki, Jenari (Milan), and the Grade Two placed hurdler Jetson (Oscar), with the latter two being trained to success by Harrington.
Some consolation for McGrath is that he has Miss Squiff (Saddlers' Hall), an eleven year-old daughter of La Noire to breed from, as well as the top broodmare's last couple of foals - a three year-old colt named Jett (Flemensfirth) and an as yet unnamed two year-old full sister to Jezki - who will hopefully continue the fine legacy of their dam.
Wednesday's Champion Chase saw probably the most heart-warming success of the Festival when the Gary Moore-trained Sire de Grugy (My Risk) finally got the recognition he deserved for a stellar season that has seen him land three Grade One victories for owners The Preston Family and Friends Ltd, when running out an emphatic winner of the Champion Chase under trainer's son Jamie Moore.
"Martaline had a Grade One double courtesy of Dynaste and Very Wood whilst Robin des Champs maintained the good record of his offspring at Prestbury Park with the Grade One victory of Vautour and the remarkable Quevega making history."
Out of Hirlish (Passing Sale), an unraced half-sister to the Listed Grand Steeplechase de Loire Atlantique winner Orlando Magic (Assessor), Sire de Grugy is a half-brother to three other jumps winners including the Listed Prix Alain du Breil Chase third Nassor de Grugy (Assessor) with the eight year-old gelding hailing from the family of French black-type winning chasers Oteiul, French Kankan and Okaido as well as the Ascot Listed United House Handicap Chase winner Hot Shots.
The World Hurdle on Thursday saw the J P McManus-owned More of That (Beneficial) extend his perfect record to five from five at the expense of that of Annie Power (Shirocco) when seeing off Willie Mullins' hitherto unbeaten mare to land the feature race under Barry Geraghty.
The winner of the Grade Two Relkeel Hurdle on his previous start, the Jonjo O'Neill trained six year-old gelding was bought as a foal for €28,000 at the 2010 Tattersalls Ireland November National Hunt Sale. Out of the dual French jumps winner Guigone (Esprit du Nord), he is a full brother to Eastlake (Beneficial), a ten time winner under National Hunt rules for the same connections, as well as being a half-brother to the Grade Two Elite Hurdle winner Santenay (Mister Mat), the French Grade Three Hurdle runner-up Chamirey (Cadoudal) and Icone (Nikos), a French Listed-placed hurdler.
Lord Windermere (Oscar) added his name to the illustrious Cheltenham Gold Cup roll of honour when narrowly claiming the week's festival highlight under Davy Russell, in the process making his trainer Jim Culloty just the fifth man in history to have both ridden and trained a Gold Cup winner, ten years on from his third victory in the Cheltenham Grade One aboard the great Best Mate.
Out of Satellite Dancer (Satco), an unplaced half-sister to the dam of the 2010 Dorans Pride Novice Hurdle runner-up and 2012 Kerry National third Start Me Up (Winged Love), Lord Windermere is a full-brother to Tizzy Blue (Oscar), a dual winner over hurdles, and half-brother to the one-time hurdle winner Lady Elite (Lord Americo), whilst Culloty also owns Satellite Dancer's unnamed four year-old gelding by Brian Boru having purchased him for €12,000 at the Tattersalls Ireland November National Hunt Sale back in 2011.
Lord Windermere himself was purchased by Culloty for £75,000 at the Brightwells Cheltenham December Sale in 2010, having previously been through both the Tattersalls Ireland and Doncaster sales rings, and further back in his pedigree appears the 1982 Queen Mother Champion Chase winner Rathgorman and the 1974 Massey Ferguson Gold Cup Handicap Chase winner Garnishee.
At the end of the four days the Champion Cheltenham Festival sire honours - decided by number of winners and placed horses - went to the late King's Theatre who was responsible for two winners, Balthazar King and Fingal Bay, as well as three runners-up and an additional third place finisher. A close second was Oscar, who was represented by the Grade One RSA Chase winner O'Faolains Boy as well as the aforementioned Gold Cup winner Lord Windermere and also had two third place finishers in Grade One hurdles, ensuring that the Coolmore sire finished the four days as leading money earner.
"Top lot was Minella Rocco, a half-brother to the Listed Flat winner and Grade One Challow Hurdle runner-up Big Moment with the further family being that of the 2010 Derby hero Workforce and 2012 Supreme Novices' winner Cinders And Ashes."
Other notable performances at the Festival include Haras de la Reboursiere et de Montaigue resident Martaline who had a Grade One double courtesy of Dynaste in the Ryanair Chase and Very Wood in the Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle whilst Robin des Champs maintained the good record of his offspring at Prestbury Park with the Grade One victory of Vautour in the Supreme Novices' Hurdle and the remarkable Quevega making history as the first horse ever to win six times at the meeting when recording a sixth victory in the Grade Two David Nicholson Mares' Hurdle on the opening day.
Following racing on Thursday, the inaugural Brightwells Cheltenham Festival Sale took place in the winner's enclosure with sixteen horses changing hands for a total of £1,688,000 at an average of £105,500.
Top lot was the recent Irish point-to-point winner Minella Rocco (Shirocco) who was bought by Kieran McManus on behalf of his father, leading Irish jumps owner J P McManus, for £260,000. Out of the dual Listed-placed mare Petralona (Alleged), herself a full sister to Eva Luna, the dam of two-time Group One winner Brian Boru, Minella Rocco is a half-brother to the Listed Flat winner and Grade One Challow Hurdle runner-up Big Moment (Be My Guest) and Weatherbys Champion Bumper runner-up Pressgang (Unfuwain) with the further family being that of the 2010 Derby hero Workforce and the 2012 Supreme Novices' winner Cinders And Ashes.
Two lots made £200,000 each, the first being Scorpiancer (Scorpion), the winner of an Irish point-to-point on his only start in February, who went the way of Gearoid Costelloe, the partner of trainer Rebecca Curtis. Curtis had already had success at this year's festival with a past purchase from Brightwells when O'Faolains Boy (Oscar), bought for £100,000 at the 2012 Cheltenham April Sale, landed Wednesday's Grade One RSA Chase.
Blackthorn Prince (Black Sam Bellamy), runner-up in an Irish point-to-point on his only start to date, was the other lot to make £200,000 when selling to Highflyer Bloodstock. Out of an unraced full sister to the three-time Listed French jumps winner Positron (Perrault) and French Grade One Chase third Yanau Lapin (Perrault), Blackthorn Prince is set to join fellow four year-old gelding Minella Rocco by running in the colours of J P McManus, though no trainers have been mentioned for the pair as yet.
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.
For further information please visit http://www.weatherbys.co.uk/bloodstock