Come the end of the Cheltenham Festival and the jumps sires’ standings will be defined for another year with the week’s array of major races having either underlined the importance of a veteran sire or highlighted the emergence of a younger name.
At the time of writing ten stallions had broken through the £1 million barrier by prize-money for the 2019-20 season, led by the Coolmore veterans Milan and Flemensfirth. Both promise to exert some kind of influence on this year’s Festival, as does their stud mate Yeats, who currently lies in third.
However, as is typical of the jumps game, the current standings are dominated by stallions who are either in the veteran stage or deceased; indeed, the 19-year-old Yeats is the youngest horse within the top eight.
Thankfully, as outlined below, there are as ever a number of younger horses coming through, some of whom may even come out of this month’s Festival having gained vital further recognition.
THE BRITISH SCENE
British jumps racing remains indebted to Kayf Tara, an immense influence who has reigned as the country’s leading jumps sire for well over a decade now.
At 26, the Overbury Stud stalwart is in the twilight of his stud career, however, making the hunt for Britain’s next jumping success story that bit more urgent.
Overbury Stud itself has a pair of interesting young horses coming through in Irish Derby winner Jack Hobbs, an excellent middle-distance performer with the looks to match, and Frontiersman, a Group 1-placed Dubawi half-brother to Australia, to complement the older Schiaparelli. The latter is in the midst of one of his best seasons yet thanks to the classy mare Indefatigable and the Grade 1-placed novice chaser Ronald Pump.
Big season in store for Yorton
Meanwhile, change has been afoot at David Futter’s Yorton Farm Stud in Shropshire, where the addition of a proven Classic sire, an emerging young sire son of Monsun and a noted source of jumps talent has led to a high-profile and varied roster for 2020.
In Preis von Europa winner Scalo, Yorton provides access to a Group 1-winning son of Lando who has already hit Classic heights on the Flat as the sire of Deutsches Derby winner Laccario.
Hopes also run high for the former French-based Masterstroke, a Group 2-winning relation to Galileo and Sea The Stars whose first crop includes Grade 3-winning jumper Floridee and the Group 1-winning Sadler’s Wells horse Linda’s Lad, the sire of Cash Back who has shifted from Vauterhill Stud.
“Scalo has got some pretty good stats,” says Futter. “He’s also had a couple of jumps winners in France despite covering very few jumps mares, and he’s out of a mare by Exit To Nowhere, who is obviously an excellent influence.
“We’ll really get behind him now and support him.”
He adds: “The one thing we try to do is support our own stallions. With Masterstroke, I’ve seen lots of his stock in France and we’ve bought five or six of them ourselves to put into training.
“We actually thought we had Masterstroke bought in 2018 but that fell through. But we kept an eye on him and thankfully we were able to buy him from Darley last year.
“The response has been good. Obviously he has a very good pedigree and he’s a quality looking horse with good conformation.”
Futter is also looking forward to watching the first three-year-olds by Coronation Cup winner Pether’s Moon work their way through the system.
“We could well have half a dozen in training in France this year and that will give us a gauge of where we are with him,” he says. “He was a terrific racehorse and he’s breeding good stock with good minds. At the moment I wouldn’t swap him for anything else.”
No British shortage of Galileo
Linda’s Lad’s place at Vauterhill was swiftly filled by Irish St Leger hero Sans Frontieres, whose early Irish-bred runners include the exciting Venetia Williams-trained Easy As That. The son of Galileo joins another well-bred Group 1 winner at Vauterhill in the Lemon Drop Kid horse Cannock Chase, winner of the Canadian International.
With Sans Frontieres, Telescope and Norton Grove’s classy stayer Forever Now among those British-based sons of Galileo, there really is no lack of opportunity for jumps breeders to tap into the blood of the most dominant sire of our time.
In Telescope, Shade Oak Stud offers a high-performing son who was a dual Group 2 winner in the Hardwicke and Great Voltigeur Stakes. Also well-related, he has really caught the imagination of breeders, who sent him 190 mares in 2019. His first-crop are three-year-olds.
Galileo is also the damsire of Shade Oak’s other Hardwicke winner, Dartmouth. A tough son of Dubawi who also won the Yorkshire Cup, he has been well supported by his connections, including the Queen.
Shade Oak, of course, is also home to Might Bite’s sire Scorpion, who looks to have another star to his credit in Riders Onthe Storm.
Anyone in search of Classic form need look no further than either Harbour Law or Falco.
Batsford Stud’s Harbour Law, by Lawman, ran out the popular winner of the St Leger and boasts the additional appeal of hailing from a fine Hascombe and Valiant family.
As for Poule d’Essai des Poulains winner Falco, he is already proven under both codes as the sire of Group 1 winner Odeliz on the Flat and Triumph Hurdle hero Peace And Co over jumps from his time in France.
He joined Elusive Bloodstock in Lincolnshire in 2019, where he stands for £3,000.
“We were looking for a stallion that we would be happy to use on our own broodmare band,” says Elusive’s James Gray of the son of Pivotal. “He has enough going on on the Flat but now there are the National Hunt-bred crops coming through. The other thing about him is that they seem to come to hand early. Obviously Peace And Co won the Triumph but he’s also had his four-year-old point winners.
“He’s a big horse with a good walk and plenty of presence, and the response has been good – the half-sisters to Penhill and Master Dino were among his book last year.”
He adds: “Gordon Elliott bought one, Folcano, for £110,000 at the Tattersalls Cheltenham Sale in January and Guillaume Macaire trained another, Hitman, to win by eight lengths the other day. So they’re in the right hands.
“We’ll certainly be supporting him and we’re also keen to support the foals, as we are with our other stallion Sun Central.”
Another relatively recent import from France is Nunstainton Stud’s Dragon Dancer, the narrow 2006 Derby second. A well-bred son of Sadler’s Wells, his early crops contain the Grade 1 jumper Lord Dragon, while he currently has a noteworthy British flagbearer in Goodbye Dancer.
2020 also features the addition of Frammassone to Peel Hall Stud. It is well known how successful some high-class jumpers have been at stud – think Kapgarde, Midnight Legend and Saint Des Saints – and in Grade 1-winning jumper Frammassone, breeders have the option of a similar type whose early winners to runners statistics read very well from his time in Ireland.
THE VIEW IN IRELAND
The Irish stranglehold of the leading jumps’ sires list shows little sign of abating, however.
A deep passion for the winter game allows for a healthy intake of new jumps stallions each year into Ireland, each with that eye from connections of developing into the next Flemensfirth, Milan, Getaway, King’s Theatre, Presenting or Yeats.
As with King’s Theatre, several are now fulfilling a dual-purpose role having transitioned away from the Flat.
Doyen, the sire of Battleoverdoyen, is one such example and no doubt his base, Sunnyhill Stud, will be hoping that their recent recruit Casamento follows a similar path; the sire of talented juvenile hurdler City Dreamer in his first crop, he has been embraced by breeders in his new role.
Similarly, Glenview Stud has reaped the rewards of standing Shirocco and Sholokhov, both Group 1-producing sires under both codes, alongside the successful Malinas, and is now in the process of developing Youmzain, already the sire of Grade 2-winning hurdler Saglawy, into a similar dual-purpose force.
In the meantime, it should pay to follow Blue Bresil, a talented jumper himself whose early crops are headlined by Mick Jazz and Le Prezien. A new addition to Glenview Stud following a stint at Yorton Farm Stud, the son of Smadoun enjoyed a bold showing in the auction ring in 2019 as the sire of stock that sold for up to €280,000.
Boardsmill Stud offers a similarly varied roster, one that comprises proven Grade 1 sires Court Cave, Kalanisi and Califet alongside Poet’s Word, who joined the stud following the death of Mount Nelson last year.
Court Cave boasts the achievement of having sired a Cheltenham Festival winner for each of the past three years, while Califet, one of the leading active sires of French-bred Grade 1 winners, has a live Champion Hurdle contender in Cilaos Emery.
Boardsmill continues to have one eye on the future, however, and with that there must be some satisfaction in the acquisition of Poet’s Word, the 2018 King George hero who switches following a debut season at Nunnery Stud.
“His race record stands up very well,” says Boardsmill’s John Flood. “The response has been excellent. He’s a very good looking horse and a good mover – people come to see him and seem to like what they see. He’s getting quality support too, the dams of Grade 1 winners and the half-sisters to Grade 1 winners. We’re very happy to have him.”
Much anticipation also abounds ahead of the first jumps-bred crops for Burgage Stud’s Jukebox Jury. The dual Group 1 winner has sired a clutch of Flat stakes winners from his seasons in Germany, but as a middle-distance son of Montjeu he was always a strong possiblity to end up in the National Hunt game and in December 2017 it was announced that he was to join Shantou and Sea Moon at Burgage Stud in County Carlow.
“At that time his first-crop son Farclas was a winner on the Flat and of course he went on to win the Triumph Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival,” recalls Victor Connolly of Burgage Stud.
“As a Montjeu we had been watching him anyway, and when he became available we were lucky enough to buy him. It was interesting how many people knew of him. They had seen his stock in Germany and in some cases were already using him.
“And he had a very similar profile to Shantou – he started overseas, didn’t cover huge books of mares but got a Group 1 winner early on and has a high percentage of winners to runners.”
Breeders have obviously liked what they have seen from Jukebox Jury, having sent him a total of 309 mares over the past two seasons.
The popularity of Montjeu is partly at play here. Well established as a force via the likes of Fame And Glory, Scorpion and Walk In The Park, he could well have another name to add to his legacy in Coolmore’s St Leger winner Leading Light, the regular recipient of three-figure books.
Similar comments apply to the regally-bred Group 2 winner Ol’ Man River, while it wouldn’t be surprising to see Kilbarry Lodge Stud’s new son of Montjeu, three-time Canadian International hero Joshua Tree, follow suit.
Breeders now also have the option of a Derby-winning member of the sire line in Wings Of Eagles. A good-looking individual, he covered 227 mares in his first season at the Beeches in 2019.
Signs encouraging for Galileo sons
In contrast to Montjeu’s established standing, it remains early days for his paternal half-brother Galileo. However, as a supreme source of middle-distance talent who invariably passes down a degree of mental and physical soundness, it stands to reason that the son of Sadler’s Wells will follow Montjeu’s example.
Breeders certainly think so; no fewer than five sons of Galileo standing within a dual-purpose capacity covered in excess of 100 mares in 2019, led by Coolmore’s Soldier Of Fortune (276 mares) and Order Of St George, the Ascot Gold Cup hero for whom the combination of talent, soundness, pedigree and looks saw him attract 275 mares in his first season.
There was also a warm welcome towards the Classic-placed Idaho, the recipient of a 225-strong book.
The early signs for Galileo’s sons within this world are encouraging. For instance, Soldier Of Fortune’s early French crops yielded the Grade 1-winning hurdler Mega Fortune, while Mahler continues to go from strength to strength, particularly as a source of classy staying chasers.
Recent weeks have also featured a series of promising point winners for Imperial Monarch, another under the Coolmore banner whose first crop already includes Paul Nicholls’ promising Cill Anna.
Whytemount Stud’s Feel Like Dancing and Coolagown Stud’s Shantaram, both of whom won the Bahrain Trophy for Lady Bamford, are also off the mark with their early runners.
Early promise has also been shown by New Approach’s son Libertarian, the 2013 Derby runner-up whose first runner, Holymacapony, recently made a winning debut between the flags at Kirkistown.
Libertarian stands at Knockhouse Stud alongside another Classic performer in Workforce, the Derby and Arc hero of 2010 who was repatriated from Japan in 2017.
The Monsun cross
As potent as Sadler’s Wells’ blood is, however, its prolific nature underlines the need for an outcross. With that in mind, stallion masters and breeders have latched on to the Monsun sire line, and with some early success, as the likes of Getaway, Shirocco and Network attest.
Thus, hopes must run high for some of the younger names coming through in Ireland, in particular Coolmore’s Ocovango, whose first runner under rules turned out to be Dan Skelton’s Listed-winning juvenile hurdler Langer Dan. Recent Tallow point winner Glenglass also looks to have a bright future.
A warm reception is also likely to head the way of Maxios. A new recruit to Coolmore’s jumps arm, his early German crops include several promising hurdlers including Aramax, Wild Max and Global Freedom.
Jet Away, a Group 3-winning relation to Dansili at Arctic Tack Stud, is already off the mark with his first four-year-olds, which include recent point winners Supreme Jet and Brandy Love.
It will also be interesting to see how Diamond Boy fares following his switch from France to Kilbarry Lodge Stud.
The son of Mansonnien has been quick to make his presence felt on this side of the Channel thanks to the likes of Grand Sancy and Monsieur Lecoq, and with approximately 470 mares coming his way during the past two years alone, he has every chance to build on that promising beginning.
The best is also likely yet to come for Elusive Pimpernel. Although his fee didn’t shift beyond €1,000 until this season, he has managed to sire a pair of Flat stakes winners alongside a host of promising hurdlers.
They include Coeur Sublime, a €260,000 three-year-old purchase by Kevin Ross who continues to acquit himself well at Grade 1 level for Gordon Elliott, and recent Grade 3 scorer Soviet Pimpernel.
Well liked by trainers and increasingly popular in the sale ring, it was no surprise to hear that he is already full at his new fee of €3,000 at the Irish National Stud this season.
Crystal Ocean tops classy intake
The dual-purpose market was given a tremendous lift this year with the addition of Crystal Ocean to Coolmore’s National Hunt division at a fee of €8,000.
Beautifully-bred as a Sea The Stars half-brother to Group 1 winner Hillstar, himself available at Garryrichard Stud, Crystal Ocean boasts the talent and constitution to match, having won eight races including the Prince of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot.
Joining Crystal Ocean within Coolmore’s jumps wing is another tough Group 1 winner in Capri. The son of Galileo was top-class on his day, as he showed when defeating Wings Of Eagles in the Irish Derby and Crystal Ocean in the St Leger.
British breeders, meanwhile, have gained access to another Group 1-winning son of Galileo in Irish St Leger hero Flag Of Honour, who is new to the National Stud.
A fee of £4,500 has been set for the horse, who was also forward enough to win at Group 3 level as a two-year-old.
“He’s getting great support from breeders across the spectrum,” says Tim Lane, stud director of the National Stud. “He’s a quality individual and he’s very light on his feet – he moves like a cat. We’re excited about him.”
It will also be fascinating to see how Tiger Roll’s half-brother Austrian School, a tough five-time winner and stakes performer, fares in his new role at Clongiffen Stud.
A lengthy race record and attractive bloodlines are also key elements behind Kilbarry Lodge’s Group 2-winning Success Days, a son of the much-missed Jeremy.
Nocturnal Fox, the sole son of Farhh to stand at stud and winner of the Prix Hocquart, is another new option, at Windmill View Stud.