Gold Cup winner is rare blacktype horse in his family

THE 100th Boodles Gold Cup was won by a true champion in Galopin Des Champs, trained by a man who reached 100 winners at the Festival on Wednesday, and was the highlight of a week at Prestbury Park that had much that was good about National Hunt racing. He also became the second dual winner of the race for Mullins.

Crowning glory of the 2023 Cheltenham Festival was also the victory of Galopin Des Champs (Timos) in the Gold Cup. Expected to seal last year’s championship season with victory at Punchestown was not to be, and Galopin Des Champs was beaten by Fastorslow, sadly a faller yesterday.

The latter inflicted a comeback defeat on Galopin Des Champs in the John Durkan in November, but any doubts about the gelding’s wellbeing were put to bed when he beat Gerri Colombe 23 lengths in the Grade 1 Savills Chase at Leopardstown. Now his 12 wins in 18 starts push his earnings to more than £1.375 million.

Galopin Des Champs and his full-sister Flute Des Champs (Timos) are the only blacktype horses in four generations of his dam’s side of the equation. The mating of Timos with the four-time flat winner Manon Des Champs, a daughter of Marchand De Sable (Theatrical), has been rewarding, and the listed Auteuil chase winner Flute Des Champs was born a year before her Grade 1-winning full-brother. Manon Des Champs bred three winners in all.

A son of Sholokhov (Sadler’s Wells), Timos was a listed winner in France at three and four, and was beaten a length by Allied Powers in the Group 2 Grand Prix de Chantilly and ran third to Duncan in the Group 2 Prix Foy.

Japanese influence over jumps

A GROUP 3 winner in Japan, Martinborough (Deep Impact) is making his mark now as a sire of jumpers, his four-year-old son Majborough combining the owner-prowess of J.P. McManus and the training skills of Willie Mullins to land the Grade 1 Triumph Hurdle at Cheltenham yesterday.

Last year Martinborough made a breakthrough on the flat when his daughter Elusive Princess won the Grade 3 Saratoga Oaks, while he is also responsible for a couple of blacktype winners over jumps in France.

Bred in France by Hubert Langot, Majborough won on his debut at Auteuil last April for Daniela Mele, and his Irish debut saw him in at the deep end at the Dublin Racing Festival where he was edged out by stable companions Kargese and Storm Heart in the Grade 1 Juvenile Hurdle.

Majborough is one of a pair of winners out of an unraced half-sister to a Grade 3-winning chaser in Britain, Majala (Lavirco). There is a previous Cheltenham Festival winner in this immediate family. Majborough’s third dam Majathen (Carmarthen) bred the Mildmay of Flete Chase winner Majadou (Cadoudal), and she is also the third dam of another McManus/Mullins Grade 1 winner, Janidil (Indian Daffodil) whose victories include the Grade 1 Powers Gold Cup and Grade 2 Red Mills Chase.

Forty minutes after training the winner of the opener, Willie Mullins saddled winner number 102 at the Cheltenham Festival when the Ebor Handicap winner Absurde (Fastnet Rock) showed his class to land the County Hurdle under a peach of a ride from Paul Townend. A stakes-placed winner in France, the trio of Pierre Boulard, Harold Kirk and Mullins paid €260,000 for Absurde at the Arqana Summer Sale in 2022.

Absurde is the best of five winners for the listed-placed Incroyable (Singspiel), and that mare is the best of seven out of Soft Pleasure (Diesis). The latter’s siblings include the Group 1 Prix Marcel Boussac winner Juvenia (Trempolino), Group 3 winner and sire In Extremis (Sharpen Up), and the dam of the Hong Kong champion miler and Group 1 Japanese winner Bullish Luck (Royal Academy).

Stellar’s fascinating backstory

TWO years ago Gordon Elliott bought Stellar Story (Shantou), a five-year-old point-to-point winner, for £310,000 during the Tattersalls Cheltenham Festival Sale. This was a fair profit on the gelding’s €60,000 Goffs Land Rover Sale price to Monbeg Stables. Now he is the Grade 1 Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle winner.

Stephen Lanigan-O’Keeffe and Rowena Cotton bred this full-brother to the Grade 1 Ladbrokes Champion Chase winner The Storyteller. More than three decades ago Stephen purchased Betty’s Girl (Menelek). A point-to-point and dual chase winner, she was a half-sister to a useful chaser in Ballysheehan (Ragapan). Her new owner’s intention was to breed eventers from her.

Betty’s Girl was carrying a filly, Moscow Money (Moscow Society), and that mare produced a few winners. Betty’s Girl meanwhile bred Demi Tasse (Quidam De Revel), Sam Watson’s junior European event horse and a five-star show jumper for Jessica Kuerten.

One of the winners from the aforementioned Moscow Money was Bally Bolshoi (Bob Back), and Stephen sold her to his friend Rowena Cotton. She won a couple of hurdle races before becoming a successful broodmare for Rowena and Stephen in partnership.

Bally Bolshoi is the dam of five winners, two are Grade 1 winners. The Storyteller also won the Grade 1 Champion Novice Chase at Punchestown and was victorious at the Cheltenham Festival.

Better Days Ahead related to smart staying chasers

BECTIVE Stud, owned by Noel and Valerie Moran and managed by Michael Lynam, had a deserved win yesterday when Better Days Ahead (Milan) made amends for the near misses by Firefox and Found A Fifty on the opening day of the meeting, leading home a clean sweep in the Martin Pipe Hurdle.

Bred by T.J. Nagle, Better Days Ahead was sold by Lakefield Farm to Warren Ewing for €47,000 at the Goffs Land Rover Sale, and then was resold for a massive £350,000 at the 2022 Tattersalls Cheltenham Festival Sale – and that wasn’t the top price on the night!

Better Days Ahead is one of four racecourse winners, all by Milan (Sadler’s Wells) out of the placed point-to-pointer Bonnie And Bright (Topanoora). She had three winning siblings, the best of which was The Bishop Looney (Oscar), a graded winner over hurdles and fences. Skip back to the fourth dam and up pops such as Breedsbreeze (Fresh Breeze), a talented runner who won a pair of Grade 1 races, the Tolworth Hurdle and the Feltham Novice Chase.

Good week

A good week for J.P. McManus and his wife Noreen continued when Limerick Lace (Walk In The Park), in the second colours, got the better of Dinoblue in the Grade 2 Mares’ Chase. The win was doubly joyful as it came less than 24 hours after the winner’s full-brother Inothewayurthinkin (Walk In The Park) landed the Kim Muir.

More pedigree details can be found on the previous page about the family, but the victory was another feather in the cap of the Gavin Cromwell-trained Limerick Lace, gaining her seventh success in 19 starts.

Saint Des Saints (Cadoudal) joined Flemensfirth on the three-winner mark for the week of Cheltenham when Sine Nomine won the previously-named Foxhunters. Unusually, this Caroline Bailey-bred carries the GB suffix, and winning trainer Fiona Needham picked him up as a three-year-old at Goffs UK for £2,400.

Sine Nomine us one of a pair of winning offspring from the French jumps winner Hymn To Love (Turgeon), and the other is the five-time hurdle winner Midnightreflection (Midnight Legend) who was placed in a listed race at Haydock. Hymn To Love’s siblings include French Grade 3 hurdle winner Gastibellzza (Lavirco) and listed hurdle winner I Have A Dream (Villez).