Irish-breds lead the way 

It was another Festival to remember for Irish breeding, which celebrated the victories of 15 Irish-bred winners.  

As ever, French-breds also more than held their own, in their instance as the source of 11 winners. 

The Irish haul included an array of feature winners, namely Lisnagar Oscar (Stayers’ Hurdle), Put The Kettle On (Arkle Chase), Shishkin (Supreme Novices’ Hurdle), Samcro (Marsh Novices’ Chase), Monkfish (Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle), Ferny Hollow (Champion Bumper) and Champ (RSA Novices’ Chase), who was upholding his family tradition as a relation to triple Gold Cup hero Best Mate. 

Meanwhile, the victories of Epatante (Champion Hurdle), Politologue ( Queen Mother Champion Chase), Min (Ryanair Chase) and Al Boum Photo (Cheltenham Gold Cup) ensured a French-bred sweep of the week’s showpiece events. 

As for the British industry, that could lay claim to the brilliant Close Brothers Mares’ Hurdle heroine Honeysuckle, bred by Dr Geoffrey Guy at Doug Proctor’s The Glanvilles Stud in Dorset. The daughter of Sulamani was the only British-bred winner of the week but that at least was an improvement on last year’s blank. 

Samcro (left): Marsh Novices’ Chase hero was one of 15 Irish-bred winners at the Cheltenham Festival. Photo – George Selwyn


Stowaway on top 

When it came to sire standings, success was evenly spread across a quartet of names, all of whom fired in a pair of winners apiece. 

As can be a hazard of the jumps game, two of the stallions in question – Stowaway and Poliglote are dead. Another, Boardsmill Stud’s Kalanisi, is still in operation but at the grand age of 24. The youngest is Nathaniel, best known as the sire of Enable whose week consisted of two successful members of the fairer sex in the French-bred pair Concertista (won Daylesford Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle) and Burning Victory (won Triumph Hurdle). 

Stowaway pulled off the great achievement of siring two Grade 1 winners in Put The Kettle On, successful in the Arkle Chase, and Monkfish, winner of the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle. 

The son of Slip Anchor was a real rags-to-riches story for Ronnie O’Leary’s Whytemount Stud. As an example, that high-class pair Hidden Cyclone and Champagne Fever were the products of crops that consisted of less than 25 foals. Another, Grade 1 winner Outlander, belongs to a crop of 36. But then the penny dropped with breeders and Stowaway became one of Ireland’s busiest stallions until his death at the age of 21 in 2015. 

Indeed, Put The Kettle On and Monkfish are both members of his 2014 crop sired in the year that he covered 280 mares. 

Former Haras d’Etreham stalwart Poliglote, meanwhile, was represented by the Queen Mother Champion Chase hero Politologue and Pertemps Network Final Handicap Hurdle winner Sire Du Berlais, while Kalanisi fired in a brace of opening day winners in The Conditional (won Ultima Handicap Chase) and Imperial Aura (won Northern Trust Company Novices’ Handicap Chase). The son of Doyoun also sired Champion Hurdle third Darver Star and featured as the damsire of Indefatigable, winner of the Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle. 

Kalanisi: Boardsmill Stud stallion featured prominently – Photo: Irish Thoroughbred Marketing


Sons do Monsun proud 

Long identified as an effective answer to the prolific Sadler’s Wells within the jumps world, Monsun once again assumed a regular presence. 

Four sons of the late German super sire tasted success including two British-based names in Yorton Farm Stud’s Gentlewave, who has a rising star to his credit in Glenfarclas Chase hero Easysland, and Schiaparelli, for whom an excellent Festival was highlighted by Indefatigable’s brave win under a big weight in the Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle. Schiaparelli’s son Ronald Pump also ran second in the Stayers’ Hurdle. 

Arctic Tack Stud’s Arcadio, one of the first jumps orientated sons of Monsun to stud in Ireland, also supplied the Brown Advisory & Merriebelle Stable Plate Handicap Chase winner Simply The Betts. 

Of particular interest going forward, however, is the younger Maxios. A new recruit to Coolmore’s jumps arm this year, he has already thrown several promising hurdlers out of his early German crops including Aramax, who handed him a first Festival winner with victory in the Boodles Juvenile Handicap Hurdle. Not only that, the gelding is out of an In The Wings mare, Aramina, and therefore an example of Maxios clicking well with Sadler’s Wells line mares, something that will stand him in good stead in his new role at Castle Hyde Stud. 

Schiaparelli: one of four sons of Monsun to be represented by a winner. – Photo: Overbury Stud


First crop achievements advertise No Risk At All 

The rapid ascent of No Risk At All as a jumps sire of note hit its anticipated crescendo with the victory of first-crop daughter Epatante in the Champion Hurdle. Another first-crop representative, Allaho, also ran a game third to Champ in the RSA Novices’ Chase. 

Haras de Montaigu’s exciting sire is still relatively young at 13-years-old so granted good luck, should remain a force for some time to come. There was always a sense of what might have been had his half-brother Nickname lived beyond three seasons at stud at Haras de Victot; as it was, he left behind Frodon and Cyrname among others. 

Special mention must go to a veteran of the French ranks, Saint Des Saints. The son of Cadoudal missed out on hitting the winning roll of honour but fared admirably nonetheless as the sire of five placed horses in Lord Du Mesnil, Saint Calvados, Dolcita, Elfile and Saint D’Oroux while featuring as the damsire of Envoi Allen (won Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle) and Saint Roi (won County Hurdle). 

Epatante, seen winning the Christmas Hurdle, is from the first crop of No Risk At All – Photo: George Selwyn


Boutique purchasing reap rewards 

No fewer than eight of the week’s winners were sourced by present connections out of boutique horses in training sale. 

It was a notably fine Festival for the Colin Bowe academy, which could celebrate selling Samcro, who topped the 2016 Goffs UK Aintree Sale when bought by Gordon Elliott for £335,000, alongside the Cheveley Park Stud-owned pair Envoi Allen (a £400,000 purchase through Tom Malone at the 2018 Tattersalls Cheltenham February Sale) and Ferny Hollow (a £300,000 through Harold Kirk and Willie Mullins at the 2019 Tattersalls Cheltenham Festival Sale). 

The merits of purchasing at such auctions were also underlined by the victories of Monkfish, Shishkin and Chosen Mate, all of whom are other graduates of Tattersalls Cheltenham. Honeysuckle and Lisnagar Oscar, meanwhile, were fine advertisements for Goffs, having passed through the Goffs Punchestown and Goffs UK Aintree Sales respectively.