Good Land looks an exciting prospect
Good Land shares his sire Blue Bresil with Constitution Hill

French-bred jumpers sweep the board at the Dublin Racing Festival

All nine Grade 1 races at the weekend - the Scilly Isles at Sandown and eight races at Leopardstown - fell to French-bred horses.

Last weekend’s Dublin Racing Festival highlighted again – should anyone really need reminding – the strength of Willie Mullins’ stable. Mullins won six of the eight Grade 1 races over the weekend fixture, including three of those races with horses who stole the limelight when the yard’s odds-on shots were turned over. But as well as being an opportunity for its best trainers to excel, you might think that with Ireland being such a large and renowned producer of jumpers, the Dublin Racing Festival would also be a showcase for Irish breeding.

But instead it was French-bred horses which swept the board on a weekend when all nine of the Grade 1 races over jumps in Britain and Ireland were won by Irish trainers with horses who began their lives in France. As well as Mullins, who won the Irish Gold Cup with Galopin des Champs, the Irish Champion Hurdle with State Man, the Dublin Chase with Gentleman de Mee, the Irish Arkle with El Fabiolo, the Spring Juvenile Hurdle with Gala Marceau and one of the novice hurdles with Il Etait Temps, Gordon Elliott and Barry Connell were the other trainers to be successful in the biggest races. Elliott won the Dublin Racing Festival’s other Grade 1 novice chase with Mighty Potter, as well as the Scilly Isles Novices’ Chase at Sandown with Gerri Colombe, while Connell won the longer of the two Grade 1 novice hurdles with Good Land.


Including the Scilly Isles with the eight Grade 1 races at Leopardstown, just over half the total number of runners in those races – 30 of the 58 – were bred in France which tells its own story of what a popular source of jumping talent France has become for Ireland’s top trainers. All five of the runners in the Dublin Chase were bred in France, guaranteeing at least one French-bred winner over the weekend, but in five of the other Grade 1 races the French-breds were in the minority. As a group, they therefore performed well above what might have been expected of them statistically.

While the nine Grade 1 winners might have had being bred in France in common, they were actually quite a varied group in terms of background. Good Land and Elliott’s pair had begun their careers in Irish bumpers, though Gerri Colombe had previously won an Irish point. All six of Mullins’ winners had raced previously in France, though interestingly only Galopin des Champs, winner of his only start at Auteuil, and Gala Marceau, successful on the Flat before winning both starts for her French yard over hurdles, had winning form there.

They were a mixed group on pedigree too. Good Land, Gentleman de Mee and Il Etait Temps all belong to the AQPS breed rather than being thoroughbreds like the remainder. All nine were by different stallions, too, which points to a diverse range of French stallions capable of siring top-level winners.

Sky Bet - Cheltenham Festival odds

Most of them were sired by stallions who have already made some sort of a name for themselves in the British Isles with other high-achieving imports. State Man, for example, is by Doctor Dino, whose son Sharjah had won four Matheson Hurdles for Mullins before State Man won the latest edition of that race with Sharjah back in third. Doctor Dino’s best-known British-trained jumper is Sceau Royal who took third in the Dublin Chase.

Gentleman de Mee’s sire Saint des Saints (also the sire of El Fabiolo’s dam) is another to have served Mullins well with the likes of dual Cheltenham Gold Cup runner-up Djakadam, Irish Grand National winner Burrows Saint and Irish Gold Cup winner Quel Esprit, and he’s also the sire of the stable’s Gaillard du Mesnil who was third in the 2m5f novice chase for the second year running on Sunday. Mullins had also had success before with El Fabiolo’s sire Spanish Moon who was also the sire of Laurina, winner of the Dawn Run Mares’ Novices Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival.

El Fabiolo and Daryl Jacob go clear
El Fabiolo and Daryl Jacob go clear

It will be no surprise to see more offspring of Galiway finding their way to Closutton in future too. He had a notable winner on the Flat in 2021 when his French-trained son Sealiway won the Champion Stakes but on Saturday Gala Marceau became a second successive Mullins-trained winner of the Spring Juvenile Hurdle by Galiway after Vauban (third in the Irish Champion Hurdle this time) the year before.

Martaline, sire of Mighty Potter, has had plenty of good jumpers in Britain and Ireland, headed by the David Pipe-trained Ryanair Chase winner Dynaste, while Gerri Colombe shares his sire Saddler Maker with the likes of Bristol de Mai (a Scilly Isles winner himself) and Apple’s Jade suggesting he’ll have no trouble stepping up to three miles.

Good Land’s sire Blue Bresil now stands at Glenview Stud in County Cork but Good Land comes from his sire’s final French crop, being a year older than Constitution Hill, a product of Blue Bresil’s first season in Britain. Blue Lord’s shock defeat in the Dublin Chase denied his sire a Grade 1 double at the Dublin Racing Festival but he had a second runner-up on the Sunday with Inthepocket finishing second to Il Etait Temps.

Il Etait Temps shares his sire Jukebox Jury with Farclas, a former Triumph Hurdle winner who’s a smart staying chaser nowadays. They are the two highest-rated jumpers by their sire, though Jukebox Jury is also responsible for smart Flat stayer Princess Zoe who showed plenty of promise when dead-heating on her recent debut over hurdles. Although he has raced only at around two miles so far, Il Etait Temps’ breeding points to him being well suited by further in time as he’s out of a mare by strong stamina influence Dom Alco like his stable’s dual Gold Cup winner Al Boum Photo.

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Galopin des Champs was the best of the weekend’s Grade 1 winners but he’s also by much the most obscure stallion. In fact, he’s the only runner to date in Britain or Ireland for German-bred Timos who has sired mostly very small crops in France. Timos was one of the best Flat performers sired by Shishkin’s sire Sholokhov.

He had the size to go jumping, as well as the connections – he was trained by Thierry Doumen for the Marquesa de Moratalla – but was a smart performer over middle-distances, winning at up to listed level but proving out of his depth in races like the Arc and Japan Cup.

Galopin des Champs is favourite to succeed another French-bred, A Plus Tard, on the Cheltenham Gold Cup roll of honour. A Plus Tard, along with two more of the best chasers in Ireland, Allaho and Energumene, were absent from the Dublin Racing Festival, though all three French-bred geldings were among the winners at last year’s Cheltenham Festival and are due to run there again next month along with many, if not all, of those who were successful last weekend.

There were nine French-bred winners at last year’s Cheltenham Festival but it wouldn’t come as a surprise if that total reached double figures this year, Mullins no doubt supplying many of them again.

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