The very best showcase when it comes to jumps breeding, the Cheltenham Festival is once again poised to provide a tremendous insight into the talents of those champion sires past and present, as leading runners by stalwarts such as Flemensfirth, Oscar, Milan, King’s Theatre and Shantou take to the stage.
But the beauty of these big meetings lies in the fact that others will also gain their time in the sun. Which young sires may come forward as potential stars of the future? Which emerging family might it pay to watch? Which smaller breeder will enjoy a day to remember? Below are five angles from the bloodstock world that could very well come to fruition.
Coming out party for No Risk At All
Although only 13-years-old, Haras de Montaigu’s No Risk At All has been a buzz name within the jumps world for some time now and with a select but classy group of Cheltenham representatives, looks to possess a strong shot of vindicating those expectations.
On Tuesday, daughter Epatante flies the flag in the Unibet Champion Hurdle as a popular fancy following her win in the Christmas Hurdle at Kempton while Esprit Du Large takes his chance in the Racing Post Arkle Challenge Trophy Novices’ Chase having become his sire’s first British or Irish Grade 1 winner when successful in the Henry VIII Novices’ Chase at Sandown.
The pair hail from No Risk At All’s first crop of 86 foals bred when he stood for €2,500, as does the exciting Allaho, who is currently trading at 9/2 for the RSA Insurance Novices’ Chase on Wednesday. The stallion also holds two early entries, Hook Up and Full Of Surprises, in Thursday’s Daylesford Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle.
In all, No Risk At All is responsible for ten black-type winning jumpers, results that mark him down as a potential champion jumps sire of the future and a worthy replacement at Montaigu to Martaline, their stalwart resident who died late last year.
That No Risk At All is proving such a potent force within the jumps world is not so surprising.
Winner of the 2012 Group 3 La Coupe and Grand Prix de Vichy for trainer Jean-Paul Gallorini, the son of My Risk is out of Sylvia Wildenstein’s wonderful Simply Great mare Newness, a talented jumper who also produced that excellent chaser Nickname. Although short-lived, Nickname also became a high-class sire as the likes of Cyrname and Frodon attest.
No Risk At All covered 119 mares in 2019 at €5,000 and is standing for a career high of €7,000 in 2020.
Coraline sons on path to glory
Speaking of successful sire siblings, expect a good show from sons of Coraline.
A Juddmonte-bred Sadler’s Wells daughter of Bahamian, and therefore a close relation to successful Festival stallions Beat Hollow and Court Cave (in addition to Kingman, Oasis Dream, New Bay et al), Coraline produced Group 1-winning stayer Reefscape as well as a pair of Group 2 winners in Martaline and Coastal Path.
Severe fertility issues restricted Reefscape’s stud career to a handful of foals, yet one of them turned out to be L’Unique, winner of the 2013 Grade 1 Matalan Anniversary 4yo Juvenile Hurdle at Aintree.
Martaline, meanwhile, became an excellent stallion at Haras de Montaigu, supplying the likes of Dynaste, Terrefort, We Have A Dream, Very Wood and Disko. Once again, the son of Linamix will be well represented this week as the source of Ramses De Teillee (Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle), Burrows Edge (Cheltenham Coral Cup Handicap Hurdle) and Elwood (Ultima Handicap Chase) among others.
It’s quite possible, however, that he will be outdone by his half-brother Coastal Path.
At the time of writing, Coastal Path has six entries – five from Willie Mullins’ yard – led by the unbeaten Asterion Forlonge, many people’s idea of the Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle winner on day one. Aione holds an entry in Friday’s Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle while former Grade 1 hurdler Bacardys could be set for Thursday’s Stayers’ Hurdle.
Coastal Path has gained great momentum at Haras de Cercy in recent years but alongside that, has sadly also been afflicted by fertility issues. The son of Halling was ultimately retired from stud duty at the age of 15 last year.
Tradition to uphold for Court Cave
Court Cave is marketed by Boardsmill Stud as the ‘Cheltenham Festival sire’ and little wonder when you consider that he has hit the scoresheet for the each of the past three meetings.
Indeed, he is one of only two active stallions to have pulled off such a feat alongside Burgage Stud’s veteran Shantou. Authorized, who was recently sold to Turkey, has been a similarly regular force alongside the late High Chaparral, who owes his presence to a single horse, Altior.
At the time of writing, Court Cave held six chances of adding to his record led by City Island, a 14/1 shot for Thursday’s Paddy Power Stayers’ Hurdle. Mister Whitaker also holds an entry in the Brown Advisory & Merriebelle Stable Plate Handicap Chase, two years after striking in a novices handicap chase at the meeting.
Court Cave, an unraced brother to Beat Hollow and therefore yet another member of the famed Bahamian clan, stands for €4,000 at Boardsmill Stud.
Week starts off on right note for Robbe
It’s already been a good week for breeder Jean-Francois Magnien and his Video Rock mare Robbe following the success of her first foal Cap Rock (by Ballingarry) in Sunday’s Leinster National at Naas for Gordon Elliott and Gigginstown House Stud.
However, it could be about to get even better for connections since blue hen Robbe is also the dam of none other than Delta Work (by Network), who lines up in Friday’s Magners Cheltenham Gold Cup with a pair of recent scores in the Savills Chase and Paddy Power Irish Gold Cup to his name.
Not only that, Robbe will also be represented on the opening day in the Ultima Handicap Chase by her third foal Elwood (by Martaline).
Big money buys out in force
Racing might be an unpredictable business, yielding as many expensive disasters as it does big winners. But when it comes to Cheltenham, deep pockets obviously help, whether buying privately, particularly out of France, or at auction.
Anyone playing near the top end of the Tattersalls Ireland Cheltenham April Sale in 2017 could have come away with either Global Citizen, Brewin’Upastorm or Battleoverdoyen, all Festival hopefuls who filled three of the top four prices.
Leading the way was Global Citizen, who fell to Stroud Coleman Bloodstock on a bid of £275,000. Subsequently winner of the Wayward Lad Novices’ Chase for Ben Pauling, the Alkaadhem gelding heads to the Racing Post Arkle Challenge Trophy Novices’ Chase as a 14/1 shot.
There he takes on Brewin’Upastorm, a £250,000 purchase by Ryan Mahon and Dan Skelton Racing who has since run Grade 1-placed over hurdles and won both his starts over fences. The son of Milan is priced at around 11/2 to oblige for Olly Murphy on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, Neville Hotels Novices Chase winner Battleoverdoyen – a £235,000 purchase by Gordon Elliott on behalf of Gigginstown House Stud – could be seen in Wednesday’s RSA Insurance Novices’ Chase.
The week looks set to also feature appearances from former sale-toppers such as Maire Banrigh, another Arkle hopeful who topped the 2017 Tattersalls Ireland Cheltenham Festival Sale at £320,000 to John Hales and Ryan Mahon; Samcro, a £335,000 purchase out of the 2016 Goffs UK Aintree Sale who is 6/1 for Thursday’s Marsh Novices’ Chase; Chantry House, an 11/2 shot for the Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle who cost £295,000 out of the 2018 Tattersalls Ireland Cheltenham December Sale; and Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle fancy The Big Breakaway, who headed last year’s Goffs Punchestown Sale at €360,000.
Other pricey high-profile runners include Envoi Allen (£400,000 by Tom Malone; Tattersalls Ireland Cheltenham), Ferny Hollow (£300,000 by Harold Kirk and Willie Mullins; Tattersalls Ireland Cheltenham), Asterion Forlonge (£290,000 by Harold Kirk and Willie Mullins; Tattersalls Ireland Cheltenham) and Slate House (£260,000 Tom Malone; Tattersalls Ireland Cheltenham).