OVER the Christmas period there were a dozen Grade 1 races run in Ireland and Britain, and from a breeding perspective it resulted in a draw between the Irish and French. This week’s Breeding Insights, extended to three pages, features a review of all 12 winners.
We start with Monkfish who, back in March, gave Westmeath native Cyril O’Hara, who operates as Ennel Bloodstock, the thrill of a lifetime when crediting him with his first winner of a Grade 1 race at Cheltenham as a breeder. Now the seven-year-old son of Stowaway (Slip Anchor) has done it again after running out an impressive winner of the Grade 1 Neville Hotels Novice Chase at Leopardstown, following up his debut chase win a month earlier at Fairyhouse.
A winner second time out in point-to-points, having pulled up on his debut, Monkfish won three of his four starts over hurdles and was runner-up on his only bumper run.
Sold for €12,500 as a foal at Tattersalls Ireland to Furziestown Stables, he made a tidy profit for Richard Busher when selling for €36,000 to Monbeg Stables at the Derby Sale. His bumper win saw Cormac Doyle benefit enormously when, at the 2018 Cheltenham May Sale, he sold Monkfish to Harold Kirk and Willie Mullins for £235,000.
Monkfish is the best produce so far for Cyril O’Hara from Martovic (Old Vic), and she was placed a few times for Kim Bailey who also handled the career of Monkfish’s grandam Martomick (Montelimar). That nine-time winner, the majority coming over fences, was runner-up to Monsieur Le Cure in the Grade 1 Sun Alliance Novices’ Chase at Cheltenham and to Merry Gale in the then Grade 2 Martell Cup Chase at Aintree. A listed chase winner, she was also a winning point-to-pointer.
Monkfish is yet another fine advertisement for his sire Stowaway, once the busiest sire in Ireland during his time at Ronnie O’Neill’s Whytemount Stud but who died in 2015.
Rosslare, Co Wexford-based bloodstock agent Richard Busher not only had the distinction of buying Monkfish as a foal, but he also bought the Grade 1 Challow Novices’ Hurdle winner Bravemansgame at the same age. Both horses won Grade 1 races within an hour of each other.
“I’ve only been buying foals for eight years,” he said this week. “I used to knock around with horses as a young man, but I left racing and went fishing for 15 years before getting back into it.” Cormac Doyle trained Monkfish to win his point-to-point and it was Cormac’s brother Donnchadh who bought Bravemansgame from Richard after the latter purchased him privately in France.
Bravemansgame, a son of Brave Mansonnien (Mansonnien), sold at the Derby Sale for €48,000, but his debut success at Lingstown by eight lengths resulted in him being sold at the 2019 Tattersalls Cheltenham Sale to Tom Malone and the six-year-old’s trainer Paul Nicholls for £370,000. He was beaten on his two bumper starts and was denied victory on his hurdling debut by half a length.
However, it has been all good news since and Bravemansgame’s win this week was a third successive victory over the smaller obstacles, and in a race Nicholls won previously with Cornish Rebel and Denman. Brave Mansonnien has been poorly supported at stud and was advertised this year for just €1,500. A winning hurdler, he has been at stud since 2010 and is also sire, from his first crop, of a listed-placed hurdler.
Unsold at Arqana
In November, Haras de Saint Maur offered an unraced four-year-old full-sister to Bravemansgame at Arqana and she was unsold at €2,000, in spite of being in foal to Morpheus (Oasis Dream), a half-brother to Frankel (Galileo). Their dam is a Nickname (Lost World) half-sister to Grade 2 winning hurdler Gray Steel and to the dam of Grade 3 winning hurdler Raffles Sun (Poliglote).
One for the notebook. Busher nominated the five-year-old Setme Straightmate (Malinas) who won at Boulta in December for James and Ellen Doyle. He cost €9,000 as a two-year-old in France and was sold for €38,000 at the Derby Sale.
Guaranteed success with Shantou and Bob Back
YOU can’t go wrong it seems if you cover your Bob Back (Roberto) mare with Shantou (Alleged), though there will be no more opportunities to do so.
It was announced recently by Victor Connolly that the Burgage Stud veteran has been retired.
A classic winner and immensely successful sire, Shantou this week celebrated turning 27 officially, and marked that achievement by delivering yet another Grade 1 winner in the shape of Shan Blue. Bred by Desmond Amond, Shan Blue sold through the Fowler’s Rahinstown Farm and Stud to the Slattery’s Meadowview Stables for €13,000 as a foal.
Shan Blue won on his point-to-point debut in the colours of Sharon Slattery before joining Dan Skelton’s yard where he was placed in a bumper, won over hurdles, and was an 11-length runner-up to Shishkin in a listed novices’ hurdle at Huntingdon. However, he has been a revelation over fences and his Grade 1 Kauto Star Novices’ Chase win was his third success in as many outings.
He is, sadly, the only foal out of Lady Roberta who ran 25 times, delivering a bumper win when trained by Tom Foley and a maiden hurdle win when transferred to Gordon Elliott. She is one of two winners from Lady Marlan (Shernazar), the other being Lady Roberta’s full-sister, the hurdle winner Princess Marlan (Bob Back).
Their grandam Break Fast (Prince Tenderfoot) won on the flat and over hurdles, was placed in a listed race at the Phoenix Park and was runner-up to Derrinore in the Denny Juvenile Hurdle at Leopardstown when trained by Dessie Hughes.
The Shantou/Bob Back cross has also been responsible for recent Grade 1 winner The Storyteller, Grade 1 bumper and hurdle winner Briar Hill, Grade 2 hurdle winners Ashdale Bob and Drop The Anchor, and Grade 2 chase winner Shantou Flyer.
A long wait, but worth the perseverance
IN 1954 Jackie Power partnered the five-year-old Turkish Spice (Turkhan) to the most important of her seven career wins, victory coming at the Curragh in the Irish Cambridgeshire. This was the only time that trainer John Oxx senior saddled the winner of this competitive, and then very prestigious, handicap.
Sent to stud, Turkish Spice produced three winners, but it has taken more than six decades, and a number of generations, for the next significant winner in these parts to appear in the family. Turkish Spice is the fourth dam of Lillymile (Revoque) and that winning point-to-pointer went on to be successful in a couple of hurdle races when trained by Pauline Gavin.
Now she features as the dam of Flooring Porter, the Sean Murphy-bred son of Yeats (Sadler’s Wells) who added the Grade 1 Christmas Hurdle at Leopardstown to a previous win in the Grade 2 Proudstown Hurdle at Navan. This was the fifth win in 14 starts, all over hurdles, for the six-year-old whose younger siblings include a four-year-old gelding and yearling filly, both by Elusive Pimpernel (Elusive Quality).
Yeats will stand again in 2021 at Castlehyde Stud for a fee of €5,000. Four-time winner of the Group 1 Gold Cup, and immortalised in the parade ring with a bronze at Ascot, he also won the Group 1 Coronation Cup, the Group 1 The Irish Field St Leger and the Group 1 Prix Royal Oak. His list of blacktype winners includes Grade 1 winning chasers Shattered Love and Figuero, Grade 1 winning hurdler Augusta Kate and the Galway Hurdle winner Tudor City.