Nicholls rules with French-breds
Saturday was a day to remember for trainer Paul Nicholls as he sent out eight winners across Britain, headed by Cyrname’s devastating performance in the Grade 1 Ascot Chase.
Six of those eight winners were by French-bred sires. Quel Destin got the ball rolling when stretching his unbeaten run to five with an easy six-length success in the William Hill Victor Ludorum Juvenile Hurdle at Haydock.
Bred by Haras des Sablonnets et al, Quel Destin is by Haras du Mezeray resident Muhtathir – also the sire of another inmate at Ditcheat Stables, Pacha Du Polder.
Dom Alco’s son Brio Conti made a return to the winner’s enclosure for the first time since November 2017 when battling to a hard-fought win in the 2m3½f handicap hurdle at Ascot.
Nicholls is no stranger to progeny of the late Dom Alco as he landed multiple Grade 1s with Silviniaco Conti, a Grand National with Neptune Collonges and two Scottish Grand Nationals with Vicente.
At Wincanton, it was the turn of Magic Saint, a son of Saint Des Saints, to get his name on the board at the third attempt for Nicholls. Having finished second behind Activial on his British debut in November, the five-year-old was then fifth to Hell’s Kitchen in a competitive handicap chase at Ascot in December.
Returning after a 56-day absence, Magic Saint justified favouritism and scooted clear of Gino Trail to win the 1m7½f handicap chase.
Clan Des Obeaux, who had landed the Grade 1 King George VI Chase at Kempton in December, continued his preparation ahead of the Cheltenham Gold Cup in March with a facile 11-length victory in the rescheduled Grade 2 Denman Chase at Ascot.
The son of Kapgarde, who was bred by Marie Devilder, has continued to improve with each run this season and looks certain of running a big race at the Festival.
Rounding off the French-bred winners for Nicholls at Ascot on Saturday was Cyrname, who emulated his sire Nickname by landing a Grade 1 contest over jumps. The seven-year-old made all in the Ascot Chase and was not to be caught, winning by an astonishing 17 lengths.
The late Nickname, who secured the Grade 1 Paddy Power Dial-A-Bet Chase at Leopardstown in 2006, is also the sire of another Nicholls inmate in the shape of multiple Graded winner Frodon.
Grand Sancy, who has shown plenty of promise this season, got his head back in front when a resilient winner of the Grade 2 Kingwell Hurdle at Wincanton to add to Nicholls’ stellar day.
The five-year-old was bred by Brigitte Poulve out of the Risk Seeker mare La Courtille and is by Diamond Boy, who stood in France before moving to Ireland in 2018 to stand at Kilbarry Lodge Stud.
Chris’s Dream rounds off a dream week for Mahler
The Beeches Stud resident Mahler was responsible for four winners last week, which were headed by the impressive performance of the Henry de Bromhead-trained Chris’s Dream in the Grade 2 Ten Up Novice Chase at Navan on Sunday.
The seven-year-old was bred by Mary O’Connor out of the unraced Silver Patriarch mare Janebailey and was bought by Tom Malone for £175,000 following his maiden hurdle success for Eugene O’Sullivan.
Chris’s Dream, a Grade 3 winner over hurdles, is a half-brother to the dual US Grade 1-winning hurdler Scorpiancer.
Mahler’s other winners last week included Annie Odds in the 2m3½f maiden hurdle at Clonmel, Glen Forsa who upset Kalashnikov with a 19-length win in the Grade 2 Kingmaker Novices’ Chase on Friday, and Coopers Square in the 2m7½f handicap chase at Huntingdon on Sunday.
Another Coolmore National Hunt sire to post strong results last week and over the weekend was Castle Hyde resident Yeats, who was responsible for four winners.
That number included the Shane Crawley-trained Dragon Houdini, a comfortable winner of the 2m4f mares handicap hurdle at Navan on Sunday, and the Stuart Edmunds-trained A Little Chaos, herself successful in the 2m½f mares novices’ hurdle at Market Rasen on Sunday.
Over at Huntingdon on Sunday, the Noel Williams-trained Breaking Waves secured a first victory since March 2018 when staying on well to land the 2m4f novices’ hurdle.
Earlier in the week, another daughter of Yeats took poll position in a novice hurdle at Fontwell for trainer Alan King in the shape of The Cull Bank.
The five-year-old, who was purchased for £50,000 at the Tattersalls Ireland Cheltenham December Sale, was making her first start under rules and duly obliged to win by six lengths.