Where is A Plus Tard getting his ability for Grade One wins from two miles all the way up to three? Pedigree expert Cassie Tully takes a look.
2021. It’s finally here after the universal wishing of 2020 away. But before we rush to forget it all and hurry towards that third week in March, there is much to reflect upon from the flurry of festive action.
In the four days of holiday racing in Britain and Ireland which included 12 jumps races at the highest level, exactly half of the Grade One winners were Irish-breds and the other half originated from France.
Britain drew a blank this year.
It’s not Christmas without a few surprises, however, and in Leopardstown’s Savills Chase (click for repot and reaction) which was essentially a mini Gold Cup, it wasn’t the Irish-bred Henry De Bromhead runner that took the prize as expected, it was his French-bred contender A Plus Tard who provided the upset in a thrilling finish instead.
Even though two of the main protagonists failed to finish, A Plus Tard has still catapulted himself into the dreams of many for glory on the final day of the Cheltenham Festival after running down triple Grade One and Punchestown Gold Cup winner Kemboy, multiple top-level performer Melon, as well as five other Grade One winners.
Bred by Mme Henri Devin in France, A Plus Tard won two races including a Listed Hurdle event from five starts in his native country before being purchased by Cheveley Park Stud and transferring to the yard of Bromhead in 2018.
Just turning seven this year, he has run 10 times for his new connections, never finishing out of the first three.
Although always exciting, the way he demolished 19 rivals in the Close Brothers Novices’ Handicap Chase by 16 lengths at Cheltenham last year was a promise for even greater things to come.
And sure enough, at the same Christmas meeting last December, he defeated Chacun Pour Soi over two miles and one furlong in the Grade One Paddy Power Rewards Club Chase.
Winning the Grade One Savills Chase last Monday was only A Plus Tard’s second run over three miles, the last time finishing third to Delta Work in the Novice Champion Chase at Punchestown last April.
So where is he getting this ability for Grade One wins from two miles, all the way up to three?
Well, beginning with the influence from his sire who happens to be regarded as one of France’s most elite National Hunt stallions, Kapgarde.
Kapgarde himself was a top jumps performer in his home country. Trained by Guillaume Macaire, at just three-years-old he won a hurdle event on his second start and then went on to win a Grade Three in the same discipline and place second in the extended two-and-a-half-mile Grade One Prix Ferdinand Dufaure Chase at Auteuil at four. Most British and Irish-bred National Hunt horses have yet to even see a racecourse at that stage of their lives.
Also a half-brother to Grade One Kempton Christmas Hurdle winner Geos, Kapgarde retired to stud in 2004, and his stud fee has steadily increased year on year from an initial €2,500 to the €15,000 commanded today. Initially popular, he did have that dip in demand before his runners began to show promise, similar to a flat stallion’s usual lull in his third or fourth season.
Far from crying out for mates now, royalty queue outside his Haras de la Hetraie door in the North of France. And on this side of the Channel, Kapgarde is best known for top chasing progeny such as dual King George winner Clan Des Obeaux and Grade One Drinmore Novice Chase winner Fakir D’oudairies.
His Grade One-winning chasers in their homeland include Milord Thomas, Feu Follet and Prince Ali.
A Plus Tard, Clan Des Obeaux and Fakir D’oudairies were all bred off Kapgarde’s much lower fees ranging from €3,300 to €5,000. And if the widely accepted correlation of stallion fee and mare quality is anything to go by, then we can expect to see much more of Kapgarde’s progeny creating storms for years to come.
Now, back to A Plus Tard and his female family which obviously accounts for the other equally important 50 percent of his genetic make-up.
Turboka, A Plus Tard’s dam, won three hurdle events and two races over jumps at four years, running 19 times in total. She is by Kahyasi, who is also the broodmare sire of some real tough champions of the flat including Zarkava, Champs Elysees and Banks Hill, as well as exciting young National Hunt sire Jet Away.
A Plus Tard is the only winner from six foals of racing age to date out of his dam, but one of his sisters has produced a Listed winning filly on the Flat called Style Icon (Doctor Dino).
Their grandam was the three-time Listed winner over a mile and a half in France and as well as A Plus Tard’s dam, she also produced Turbotin, the winner of seven races including a Listed Hurdle event; Dottore, the winner of a Listed chase event and also three more black-type placed horses including L’Aubonniere who at just three years old in 2020, placed in two Grade Three Hurdle races for owner/breeder Mme Henri Devin.
It appears safe to say that there is much more to see from A Plus Tard, his sire, and his family.
So, A Plus Tard 2020, and see you soon A Plus Tard.