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Bloodstock News NANCY SEXTON  - Cheltenham Festival results show the value of sires with jumping ability

Bloodstock News NANCY SEXTON - 22 March 2018 Cheltenham Festival results show the value of sires with jumping ability

Bar the odd exception, the idea of running full horses over jumps with an eye to a future stallion career is one that has never taken off on this side of the Channel.

Often the horses in question are those who made the transition off the back of a successful Flat career, as in the case of Alderbrook, who won the 1995 Champion Hurdle on only his second try at the winter game for Kim Bailey, and Midnight Legend, a Listed winner on the Flat whose win in the Champion Novice Hurdle at Punchestown in 1997 preceded a stud career that would come to be capped by the Gold Cup hero Sizing John.

The scene is quite different in France, where a number of owners are open to the idea of campaigning full horses. For those that succeed, there also seems to be an established willingness from breeders to support them at stud - look no further than the likes of Indian River and Robin Des Champs, both of whom began their careers in France, and the ever popular French veteran Saint Des Saints.

Last season’s leading French jumps sires’ list featured four such horses in Kapgarde (3rd), Saint Des Saints (4th), Balko (6th) and Great Pretender (9th). Between them, they packed in 15 wins over jumps and are now respected sources of talent, not just in France where each have been endowed with consistent support from breeders, but in Britain and Ireland as well.

The same could also be said of the late Nickname, an excellent two-mile chaser during his time with Martin Brassil, who was one of France’s top ten jumps sires of 2016. The younger brigade, meanwhile, includes Buck’s Boum, the Grade 1-placed brother to Big Buck’s whose first crop of six-year-olds includes Al Boum Photo, and Mick Jazz’s sire Blue Bresil, who has covered three-figure books since his arrival at Yorton Farm in 2016. Yorton also stood Great Pretender for a single season in 2014 and have since returned to the well with Clovis Du Berlais, another talented son of King’s Theatre who covered 60 mares in his debut season last year.

It stands to reason that a horse with the durability and aptitude to jump is a fair bet to impart those qualities to his offspring. And such stallions were certainly represented to good effect at the Cheltenham Festival, where they accounted for three of the week’s Grade 1 winners in Gold Cup hero Native River, the best performer sired by the late Indian River, Ryanair Chase winner Balko Des Flos, by Haras du Lion’s Balko, and Benie Des Dieux, who became Great Pretender’s fourth jumps winner at the top level in the OLBG Mares’ Hurdle. Robin Des Champs (sire of Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle winner Blow By Blow) and Blue Bresil (sire of Grand Annual scorer Le Prezien) also featured on the scoresheet.

Native River, bred by Fred Mackey, is from the penultimate crop of Indian River, himself the winner of six races up to Grade 3 level during his pomp. Previously best known as the sire of Madison Du Berlais, the son of Cadoudal spent the latter part of his career at Park House Stud until his death in 2010.

By that stage, Irish breeders had access to the half-brothers Robin Des Champs and Robin Des Pres, both of whom swapped Normandy for Ireland for the 2009 season; Robin Des Champs, whose own career comprised four victories in five starts at Auteuil, joined Glenview Stud, where he deservedly remains popular following the achievements of Quevega, Vautour and Sir Des Champs et al, while the elder Robin Des Pres, the sire of Petit Robin among others, headed to Anngrove Stud. By contrast, Balko has remained in France throughout his stud career. However, he is well represented in yards across Britain and Ireland while several of his imported progeny have landed high-profile touches in the sale ring, among them Vision Des Flos, who joined Colin Tizzard when picked up for €270,000 through Tom Malone at the Goffs Punchestown Sale last April.

Handled by Guillaume Macaire, who also masterminded the careers of Indian River, Robin Des Champs and Saint Des Saints, Balko was a hardy campaigner who won nine of 19 starts including the Prix Georges de Talhouet-Roy and Prix Congress, a pair of Grade 2 races run in the autumn for three-year-olds at Auteuil.

He retired to stud in 2007 with the additional appeal of being a son of Pistolet Bleu - in fact, today Balko is Pistolet Bleu’s only representative listed at stud in France. As such, he allows breeders to tap into Top Ville blood, one of the foremost influences in jumps racing as illustrated by his presence as the damsire of Montjeu (once again to the fore at the Festival, on this occasion via sire sons Authorized, Jukebox Jury and Scorpion) and Yeats (sire of Shattered Love).

Balko stood for as little as €1,500 at one stage but his first four crops averaged 44 foals, a healthy enough figure when compared to various other stallions in the same price bracket. Out of his first crop emerged two talented and durable jumpers in Michto and Walk Sibo, but it was a member of his third, Willie Mullins’ 2015 Scilly Isles Novices’ Chase winner Gitane Du Berlais, who brought him to wider attention.

Balko Des Flos: emulated half-brother Salut Flo with Cheltenham win Alan Crowhurst

The likes of Balko Des Flos and his close relation Vision Des Flos, who hails from the same 2013 crop as Emma Lavelle’s promising bumper mare Dissavril, have served to maintain that momentum, and understandably, Balko now stands for a career high of €6,000 at Haras du Lion, his home since 2013.

In scoring at the Cheltenham Festival, Balko Des Flos emulated the achievement of his elder half-brother Salut Flo, successful in the Byrne Group Plate back in 2012. The pair were bred by Clovis and Florence Bardin out of the Garde Royale mare Royale Marie, also the granddam of Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle sixth Vision Des Flos.

Royale Marie’s dam Marie Des Epeires, by Rose Laurel, was a talented jumper whose six wins included the Prix Gerald de Rochefort Hurdle. However, it is also a productive Flat family further back that has been well represented in recent seasons by the popular Tiberian, last year’s Grand Prix de Deauville and Prix d’Hedouville winner.

WINNING JUMPERS WHO SIRED WINNERS AT THIS YEAR’S CHELTENHAM FESTIVAL BALKO (Pistolet Bleu - Ella Royale); sire of Balko Des Flos, won Ryanair Chase (Gr.1). Stands at Haras du Lion for €6,000 BLUE BRESIL (Smadoun - Miss Recif); sire of Le Prezien, won Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Challenge Cup Handicap Chase (Gr.3). Stands at Yorton Farm for £4,500 GREAT PRETENDER (King’s Theatre - Settler by Darshaan); sire of Benie Des Dieux, won OLBG Mares’ Hurdle (Gr.1). Stands at Haras de la Hetraie for €7,000 INDIAN RIVER (Cadoudal - The Fun); sire of Native River, won Timico Gold Cup (Gr.1). Stood at Park House Stud ROBIN DES CHAMPS (Garde Royale - Relayeuse); sire of Blow By Blow, won Martin Pipe Conditional Jockey’s Handicap Hurdle. Stands at Glenview Stud for €8,000

Breeders’ Digest Daughters do Presenting proud While former champion jumps sire Presenting drew a blank at this year’s Festival, he did strike a double of sorts courtesy of his daughters Hunca Munca, dam of RSA Chase hero Presenting Percy, and Peggy Cullen, dam of National Hunt Challenge Cup Amateur Riders’ Novices’ Chase winner Rathvinden. The late Glenview Stud stalwart is also the damsire of Might Bite, who ran such a gallant second in the Gold Cup.

Sadler’s Wells holds sway Sadler’s Wells’ contribution to the jumps game is such that it’s only a matter of time before we see an increasing number of high-profile jumpers carry inbreeding to the great stallion. There were two instances last week at the Festival; Arkle Chase winner Footpad, by Creachadoir out of the Sadler’s Wells mare Willamina, carries 3x2 inbreeding to Sadler’s Wells - the same pattern behind Enable - while the Glenfarclas Chase winner Tiger Roll, by Authorized out of an Entrepreneur mare, is inbred 3x3. Overall, Sadler’s Wells’ sire line was responsible for eight of the week’s winners, among them Altior, Kilbricken Storm, Farclas, Shattered Love and Laurina.

Shattered Love (left): keeping up the family tradition Family love affair continues Shattered Love’s win in the JLT Novices’ Chase maintained quite the Festival tradition set by her family. Firstly, the daughter of Yeats is a half-sister to Irish Cavalier, who landed the Listed novices’ handicap chase for Rebecca Curtis in 2015. The pair were bred by Limetree Stud out of Tracker, a Bustino half-sister to Make A Stand - of course, he enjoyed his finest moment when making all in the 1997 Champion Hurdle. Trapenards at the double

It was also a memorable Festival for the Trapenard family of Haras de Sivola. Gilles Trapenard bred Tuesday’s Ultima Handicap Chase winner Coo Star Sivola, by Assessor, while his son Thomas bred Le Prezien, successful in Friday’s Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Challenge Cup, in partnership with Jean-Raymond Breton. The Trapenards are perhaps best known on this side of the Channel as the breeders of Reve De Sivola, also a son of Assessor.

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