Presenting the case
Chris Hill brings us our weekly bloodstock review of the British racing scene and news from the sales ring.
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With the Cheltenham Festival just over 2 weeks away, action on the racecourse was slightly lower-key than usual with no Grade 1's on offer in the U.K. or Ireland but there were still plenty of pointers to Cheltenham and possibly even more towards Aintree in April for the Grand National.
Over in Ireland, the Red Mills Chase, Bobbyjo Chase and Boyne Hurdle were all won by horses entered in this year's Aintree Grand National with Chicago Grey (Luso), Roi Du Mee (Lavirco) and On His Own (Presenting) taking the Grade 2-race honours respectively.
Chicago Grey, a graduate of Tattersalls Ireland was sold for €11,500 to current owner John Earls at their November N.H. Sale in 2003 and having won the National Hunt Steeplechase over 4 miles at the Cheltenham Festival his stamina seems assured. Luso, the Italian Derby winner from 1995, has sired an Irish National winner in Hear The Echo and the Gordon Elliott-trained grey's grandam was placed in the Kerry National, and with an Irish National winner in The Bunny Boiler appearing further back in the pedigree you would have to be hopeful that should he experience a better trip than in 2012, when brought down on the first circuit, he would be in contention when others' stamina has given way.
On His Own also passed through the Tattersalls Ireland Sales ring at their November Sale, this time in 2005 when selling to Kevin O'Brien. His original price of €38,000 increased nearly ten-fold when Howard Johnson paid £240,000 for the son of Presenting at the Brightwells Cheltenham January Sale in 2010 after he had won a bumper and a point-to-point in Ireland. Should On His Own win this year's National, it would be the second time in three years that Presenting has sired the winner, as Ballabrigg's won the 4m 4f marathon in 2011, and the Glenview Stud-based stallion is also the sire of Cheltenham Gold Cup winners Denman and War of Attrition as well as Irish National hero Niche Market.
"Should On His Own win this year's National, it would be the second time in three years that Presenting has sired the winner, as Ballabrigg's won the 4m 4f marathon in 2011."
Last Saturday, So Young gave Lavirco another Grade 2 win to his name and a week later Roi Du Mee doubled his personal Grade 2 tally, his first being the Nas Na Riogh Chase at Naas, when successful in the Bobbyjo Chase at Fairyhouse, in the process seeing off a couple of shorter priced horses for the Aintree showpiece in the form of Prince de Beauchene (French Glory) and Seabass (Turtle Island). The sire, who stood at Haras National de Cercy La Tour before his untimely death in 2009, has been well represented by runners in Ireland where since the start of the year his runners have won 4 of the 8 races they lined up in. Roi Du Mee has been a consistent horse for owners Gigginstown House Stud and trainer Gordon Elliott, having won 11 of the 32 races he has contested and being placed in 9 of the others, and holds entries in the Ryanair Chase (sponsored by his owners) as well as in the Grand National and looks to have a good chance of adding to Lavirco's Grade 1 winning N.H. progeny currently solely represented by Mikael D'Haguenet.
This side of the Irish Sea, the Paul Nicholls-trained triumvirate Irish Saint (Saint Des Saints), Grandioso (Westerner) and Prospect Wells (Sadler's Wells) as well as the Nicky Henderson ex-Flat performer Forgotten Voice (Danehill Dancer) won the Grade 2 contests on offer at Kempton Park and Fontwell Park this past weekend.
Irish Saint got back to winning ways after his defeat by the Henderson-trained Rolling Star (Smadoun) when taking the Adonis Juvenile Hurdle at Kempton Park, a race that has showcased future Cheltenham winners Zarkandar, Soldatino and Binocular in recent years. The manner of his success and the race's proximity to the Festival means that Nicholls is unlikely to take the four year-old to Prestbury Park next month and could instead wait until the Grand national meeting to unleash the Saint Des Saints gelding again where he would be bidding to add to his sire's list of Aintree winners currently represented by just Quito De La Roque who took the Mildmay Novices' Chase in 2011 for the Haras D'Etreham-based stallion. Irish Saint is the sole winner to date by the French jumps-winning mare Minirose and has a 2 year-old and yearling full-brother back in France. Further back in his pedigree there is also the Grade 1 Prix Gras Savoye Chase winner Bonbon Rose, evidence that should Nicholls send him over fences he could be an even more useful recruit this side of the English Channel.
"Forgotten Voice completed a quick-fire double for Danehill Dancer, after Planteur had taken the Listed Winter Derby Trial at Lingfield Park just 10 minutes earlier."
Nicholls' Kempton double was brought up by Grandioso in the Pendil Novices' Chase who, like On His Own, races in the colours of Andrea and Graham Wylie and was purchased for €30,000 as a foal at the Tattersalls Ireland November Sale in 2007. Grandioso's win means that his sire Westerner, who stands alongside Scorpion at Castlehyde Stud in Ireland for Coolmore's N.H. breeding arm, has now produced black-type winners in all disciplines following Never Forget, Captain Cutter and Ballynacree being successful in Flat, N.H. Flat and Hurdle races respectively.
Forgotten Voice, in winning the Dovecote Novices' Hurdle, completed a quick-fire double for another Coolmore stallion, Danehill Dancer, after Planteur had taken the Listed Winter Derby Trial at Lingfield Park just 10 minutes earlier for his trainer Marco Botti, and joins Unaccompanied and Lightning Strike as his sire's best jumps progeny to date. A Royal Ascot winner on the flat when trained by Jeremy Noseda, the eight year-old improved his hurdles record to three wins from four starts in his first start in a Group/Graded race since finishing last over 7f in the Lennox Stakes at Goodwood in 2010. The better ground at Kempton Park obviously helped the well-related gelding, who cost 230,000 gns as a yearling at the Tattersalls October Yearlings Sale back in 2006, and is from the family of Group 1 winners Arcangues, Artiste Royal, Aquarelliste and Cape Verdi to name but a few.
Andrea and Graham Wylie's week got even better at Fontwell Park on Sunday when Prospect Wells took the National Spirit Hurdle over 2m 4f putting him on track for Cheltenham where he holds entries in the World Hurdle, County Hurdle and Coral Cup. The paternal brother to the great Istabraq and last year's Gold Cup winner Synchronised has a fantastic pedigree being out of the broodmare Brooklyn's Dance and therefore is a three-parts brother to last year's Arc winner Solemia and descends from a family that also contains Derby-winner Authorized and Silasol, the Prix Marcel Boussac winner from 2012.
In comparison to the week experienced by Nicholls and the Wylie's on the racecourse, this past week was a fairly quiet one in the sales world with just Brightwells holding their Ascot February Sale in the U.K. whilst in Australia, the Magic Millions Perth Yearling Sale took place, but in a slightly revised format to previous years.
"The paternal brother to the great Istabraq and last year's Gold Cup winner Synchronised has a fantastic pedigree being out of the broodmare Brooklyn's Dance."
Venetia Williams, who had trained the wildcard entry Saroque (Revoque) to win a Wetherby novice hurdle on Boxing Day for Ascot vendors Connect Racing, paid £13,000 to secure the six year-old gelding on behalf of a private client. The outlay was enough to make the gelding, who is out of a sister to the Grade 1 Sefton Novices' Hurdle winner Unsinkable Boxer, the top lot at the sale where the aggregate was down almost £30,000 on the 2012 sale but the average and median were comparable from a reduced number of lots.
Though there were plenty of 2 year-olds on offer at the sale, it was primarily the N.H. performers who made the better money, exemplified by the twice-raced bumper horse Kaki Island (Heron Island) being the second top lot when
selling for £10,000 to property developer Mark Matthews who is sending the five year-old gelding to point-to-point trainer and jockey Louis Muspratt.
In Western Australia where Magic Millions had revised their Perth Yearling Sale from four days to two, a filly by Champion sire Lonhro out of the Listed-winning mare Most Secret topped the sale when selling to John Chalmers Bloodstock for AUS $260,000. Most Secret has produced seven foals who have raced to date, all by different sires and all have won, with four achieving black-type, highlighted by the Group 1 Railway Stakes winner Covertly.
"Colts by Testa Rossa, the sire of 3-time Group 1 winner Ortensia, and Choisir, sire of Starspangledbanner and Olympic Glory, were joint second top lots."
Colts by Testa Rossa, the sire of 3-time Group 1 winner Ortensia, and Choisir, sire of Starspangledbanner and Olympic Glory, were joint second top lots after the first day of selling and the AUS $190,000 paid for each of them was enough to keep hold of that position after the final day's action. The Testa Rossa yearling was offered by Dawson Stud, who were also the vendors of the sale-topper, and is out of Tantra Dancer, a Listed winning mare by Hideyoshi, and is therefore related to Group 1 winners Dark Eclipse, Denman and Preserve. The Choisir yearling is the first foal out of the Bletchley Park mare Flight Path who was placed in a Group 3 and is a half-sister to 3-time Group 1 winner Scenic Shot.
There were fears before the Perth sale that the strong Australian dollar would reduce the number of Asian buyers, who are traditionally such big contributors to the aggregate in the Western Australia sales and who have not been as active in the Australian sales so far this year. Though this was borne out, it seems that the Australian purchasers increased their general spend to help the sale gross AUS $11.1 million, with the average being AUS $39,514 and the clearance rate being a pretty healthy 73%.
All Too Hard (Casino Prince) reappeared for the second time in 2 weeks when easily taking the Futurity Stakes at Caulfield and continued his dam Helsinge's fine produce record. Following his win in the C. F. Orr Stakes and Black Caviar (Bel Esprit), his half-sister's record-breaking win in the Black Caviar Lightning Stakes, Saturday's win means that her produce have accumulated a further three Group 1 wins in as many weeks. As All Too Hard has been purchased by Vinery Stud to stand there once retired from racing, which may be at the end of this season, the top lot at the Inglis Australian Easter Yearling Sale in 2011 will probably have to go some to match his big sister's achievements though being entered in this weekend's Australian Guineas at Flemington is a start and what price a Royal Ascot double for their dam in a dream finale?