FRENCH-BREDS have been enjoying a great time, posting success after success in many of the top National Hunt races of last season in Ireland and Britain.
Last week it was time for them to play host to some overseas challengers for their big weekend of racing at Auteuil, and they successfully repelled the invaders, with one exception. Willie Mullins saddled trained Gala Marceau to win their equivalent of the Triumph Hurdle, the Grade 1 Prix Alain du Breil d’Ete Hurdle, but he did so with a French-bred.
The four-year-old Kenny Alexander-owned filly could not have been more impressive as she ran out a seven-length winner, with another Mullins challenger, Zarak The Brave, five lengths adrift in third place.
With €125,000 on offer for the winner, Gala Marceau pushed her winnings past £285,000, and this victory was added to her success here in the Grade 1 Spring Juvenile Hurdle at Leopardstown. She was runner-up in the Grade 1 Triumph Hurdle.
Bred by Guy Pariente Holding, Gala Marceau is by his own stallion, Galiway (Galileo). A listed winner and Group 3-placed, Galiway went to stud in 2016 with an average race record but a desirable pedigree. He stood for a number of years for €3,000, but last year and this season his fee is 10 times that amount.
Being a son of a multiple champion sire, and out of a group-winning daughter of Danehill (Danzig), and being an attractive looker, he was well supported by Pariente.
His rise to his present heights was helped immensely with the emergence in his second crop of the Group 1 two-year-old winner Sealiway, and the following year he added the Group 1 Champion Stakes to his list of victories, and ran second to St Mark’s Basilica in the Group 1 Prix du Jockey Club-French Derby. Sealiway is out of a Kendargent (Kendor) mare, as also is Gala Marceau. This cross is also responsible for the Group 3 winner Kenway and the listed winner Gregolimo.
Now, over jumps and from limited opportunities, Galiway has shown his versatility and Gala Marceau is one of three blacktype winners he has sired.
At this early stage yet in his sire career he can claim top-level winners under both codes.
The dam of Gala Marceau, Alma Marceau, was sold to Richard Venn Bloodstock at Arqana in 2021 for €29,000 in foal to Galiway, just 10 days after her second foal, and second winner, Gala Marceau was successful for the first time over nine furlongs as a two-year-old. Now that mare is the dam of a dual Grade 1 winner, and has a couple of full-sisters to the Mullins star in the pipeline.
Alma Marceau only raced five times, winning over jumps at three and being placed three times. She had two successful siblings, her full-sister Villa Marceau (Kendargent), and the listed-placed chaser Square Marceau (Kapgarde), to whom she is very closely bred.
They are all out of Avenue Marceau (Enrique), a five-time winner over jumps in France whose victories included the Grade 3 Prix de Maisons-Laffitte Hurdle and the Listed Prix Sagan Hurdle, both at Auteuil. She was placed in the race her granddaughter won at the weekend.
THE weekend feature at Auteuil was the Grade 1 Grand Steeple-Chase de Paris, with a winners’ purse of more than €400,000.
The most prestigious race over jumps in France, it was won by Rosario Baron, a son of Zambezi Sun (Dansili) who stands with David Stack at Coolagown Stud near Fermoy. That Juddmonte-bred won the Group 1 Grand Prix de Paris, sponsored by the winning owners, and he stood in France until moving to Ireland in 2017. That happened to be the year that Rosario Baron was born.
A six-year-old, Rosario Baron was bred by Jean-Yves Baron, and he is out of the only mare he has on his farm. Rosario Baron was winning his biggest prize to date, his seven other victories including the Grade 3 Prix Troytown Chase in Auteuil. In between his two biggest wins over fences, he warmed up for his weekend success with victory in the Listed Prix du Mont-Dore Hurdle at Compiegne.
Rosario Baron is the sole blacktype winner in four generations of his family. He is the best of three winners from Early La Hutte, a winning daughter of Daliapour (Sadler’s Wells).
Purchased at the Arqana Grand Steeple Sale last year by Highflyer Bloodstock for €45,000, and bred by the late Magalen Bryant, it was hugely appropriate that the four-year-old Juntos Ganamos (Martaline) should win his first Grade 1 at this great two-day meeting.
The rate of progress the gelding has made since he made his debut last September has been phenomenal. His two starts over hurdles resulted in a second-place finish on his debut, and then falling next time out. He made his chasing debut in the Grade 2 Prix Congress at Auteuil and won, and is now unbeaten in four runs over fences.
He added a pair of Grade 3 wins over fences before landing the Grade 1 Prix Ferdinand Dufaure Chase on Sunday. These four graded successes over fences have done no harm at all to the sale chances of his three-year-old half-brother, Karonacho (Saint Des Saints), at next month’s Derby Sale. That gelding was purchased by Peter Vaughan’s Moanmore Stables two years ago for €50,000, long before anything out of the dam ran,
That dam is Usted Me Cara, a five-time winning daughter of Turgeon (Caro). All her wins were over fences, and her many placed efforts included being placed in a Grade 3 hurdle at Auteuil. Juntos Ganamos is her only runner to date, but with a few young progeny by Saint Des Saints (Cadoudal) following on, he won’t be the last.
A notable feature for prospective buyers of Vaughan’s Lot 133 in the Derby Sale is that the first four dams all won, and were successful from four to seven times. The grandam Licara D’Airy (Oblat) won five, and was surely deserving of a big race win, given that she was runner-up three times in listed hurdle and chases, and also placed a few times in Grade 3 chases. By contrast, her daughter Victoria’s Star (Poliglote) only won once, but it was an edition of the Listed Prix Finot Hurdle.
Victoria’s Star, along with Usted Me Cara and the winning Belle Princesse (Nickname) are the only three offspring of Licara D’Airy. All three mares have bred blacktype performers, and two daughters of Belle Princesse and Victoria’s Star, Just A Princess (Ivanhowe) and Just A Star (Balko) sold for €260,000 and €170,000 respectively at last year’s Arqana Grand Steeple Sale. This is not an easy family to get into, and Peter Vaughan will surely be run off his feet showing his son of Saint Des Saints at the Tattersalls Ireland Derby Sale.
Licara D’Airy is the best of the four winners out of Carali D’Airy (Marasali), who was the only winner from Mareotis (Researching), and that mare won seven times on the flat in France.