Shirocco is about to start covering his first book of mares officially under the National Hunt stallion banner in less than a month’s time and his profile among the jumping ranks has been given a tremendous boost by the exploits of the unbeaten duo of Annie Power and Red Sherlock.
Six-year-old super mare Annie Power, whose breeder Eamon Cleary was honoured at Saturday’s ITBA Awards, hails from Shirocco’s first crop and maintained her spotless record on Saturday when winning the OLBG.com Mares’ Hurdle at Doncaster by a facile 15 lengths from Doyly Carte. The victory was her third at Grade 2 level, and she has also won the Grade 1 EBF Mares’ Novice Hurdle Final, taking her tally of wins to 10 on the bounce.
The main question for Annie Power’s trainer Willie Mullins and owners Rich and Susannah Ricci is which of the Cheltenham Festival races she will be aimed at – the Champion Hurdle or the World Hurdle. She clearly posseses a decent amount of speed but there’s also plenty of stamina in her family, which has German influences on both sides.
Shirocco was bred by Baron Georg Von Ullmann and is by Monsun, whose stallion sons are becoming increasingly popular in the jumps world. Annie Power’s dam Anno Luce, by former champion jumps sire Old Vic, was a Group 3 winner on the Flat at up to a mile and a half and is herself a daughter of Anna Paola, the German champion two-year-old and three-year-old whose wins included the Preis der Diana (German Oaks). The family has been represented on the Flat of late via the ill-fated Piping Rock, winner of the Horris Hill Stakes last season for Richard Hannon and owner/breeder Bob McCreery. The son of Dubawi, who was put down earlier this month after a severe colic attack, was out of Anno Luce’s full-sister Anna Oleanda.
A year younger but equally impressive is Red Sherlock, the fifth foal of the terrific race mare Lady Cricket. Bred by the late David Johnson, Red Sherlock still carries his colours, now registered to the Johnson Family, and he has borne them with great honour, winning all six of his starts, including Saturday’s Grade 2 Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham. His target now is likely to be the Grade 1 contest of the same name at the Cheltenham Festival.
Glenview Stud, which now stands Shirocco, was also celebrating a Grade 2 victory for the offspring of another of its stallions, Robin Des Champs, on Saturday. The Malcolm Jefferson-trained French-bred Urban Hymn, who has won three of his four starts in Britain, looks a name to follow at the Festival after his victory in the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle at Doncaster. Most famous of all Robin Des Champs’ offspring is the outstanding mare Quevega, who will be bidding for a record sixth Cheltenham Festival victory come March.