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BREEDING INSIGHTS: Ferguson's Monmiral is a real Saint
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BREEDING INSIGHTS: Ferguson's Monmiral is a real Saint
on 18 December 2020
Leo Powell looks at the family of Monmiral, another smart runner for Ales Ferguson

ALL being well the 22-year-old Saint Des Saints will cover in 2021 at a fee of €15,000, unchanged since he was jumped to that figure in 2017. At stud since 2003, he was, for one season, as low as €3,000, but success has its rewards.

Saint Des Saints stands under the National Hunt banner of Haras d’Etreham and the son of Cadoudal (Green Dancer) is joined there by his son Goliath Du Berlais, the Grade 1 Prix Ferdinand Dufaure Chase winner. It is so refreshing to see horses such as these given a chance at stud, something that is very much a French phenomenon.

Winner of seven races, Saint Des Saints’ biggest success was gained in the Grade 2 Prix Amadou Hurdle at Auteuil. He was runner-up at Grade 1 level and went to stud with winnings of €432,017. He enjoyed success immediately and has built on that over the years. His very first crop included the Grade 1 Hennessy Gold Cup winner Quel Esprit.

Winners emerge

Five crops later and the dual Grade 1 John Durkan Memorial Punchestown Chase winner Djakadam emerged, while other winners at this level include Me Voici (Champion Finale Juvenile Hurdle), Quito De La Roque ( Champion Chase and Punchestown Champion Novice Chase), Le Rocher (Champion Finale Juvenile Hurdle), Whetstone (Prix Ferdinand Dufaure Chase), Storm Of Saintly (Grand Steeplechase de Paris and Prix Ferdinand Dufaure Chase), the aforementioned Goliath Du Berlais, Fusil Raffles (Champion 4YO Hurdle) and Northerly Wind (Grande Steeple Chase di Milano). He also sired the Irish Grand National winner Burrows Saint.

The latest smart juvenile hurdle winning son of Saint Des Saints is Monmiral and he carries colours that have graced many an important winners’ enclosure, those of Sir Alex Ferguson. At the weekend the three-year-old stepped up from a debut success at Auteuil for French champion jumps trainer François Nicolle to remaining unbeaten in two further starts since joining Paul Nicholls. His latest success was in the Grade 2 Summit Juvenile Hurdle at Doncaster.

French connection

Bred in France at SARL Carion EMM, Monmiral is the best of three winners to date for the winning hurdler Achere (Mont Basile).

The best of the rest was Soulongy (Turgeon) who won four times and was runner-up in a listed chase at Auteuil. In the next two removes of the family there are six blacktype winners, and four of them earned this distinction racing in Britain and Ireland.

Achere is a half-sister to the ultra-smart racemare La Landiere (Synefos) who was a decent hurdler and a much smarter chaser. Over the larger obstacles she won the Grade 2 Cathcart Chase at Cheltenham and the Grade 3 Racing Post Chase at Kempton. She and Achere had another winning half-sister in La Feuillarde (Nikos) and her best winner was the smart chaser Drop Out Joe (Generous).

Monmiral’s third dam Asania (Ace Of Aces) was group-placed on the flat, and her 12 winning offspring included a minor stakes winner on the flat in France.

However, she has been the source of a number of talented winners over jumps, her son Astronomer (Fabulous Dancer) winning a listed hurdle race at Enghien, while her grandsons include the Grade 1 Long Walk Hurdle winner Lough Derg (Apple Tree) and Turf War (Sleeping Car), a Grade 3 hurdle winner at Listowel.

Shantou’s success is a good story

THIS is far from being any final tribute to Shantou, the 1996 classic winner who is set to enjoy a retirement of grace and comfort, befitting a horse who has been an enormous part of the life, and success story, of Victor Connolly and Burgage Stud. Rather it is an acknowledgement of his achievements so far as his tale of success will surely continue for another decade or so.

The first classic winner for John Gosden, and one of the springboards to his success story, Shantou won the St Leger in the colours of Sheikh Mohammed and with Frankie Dettori sporting the maroon silks. The Italian jockey got the best out of the colt who was certainly a character, though one with great heart and ability.

Only 10 days or so after finally winning a maiden, Shantou was third to Shaamit and Dushyantor in a 20-runner field for the Derby at Epsom. He had a busy three-year-old season, beating his old rival Dushyantor by a neck in the St Leger, Dettori and Pat Eddery going head-to-head in a thriller.

He wasn’t finished that year and it is often overlooked that Shantou was the first of his age group home in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Turf at Woodbine, behind such racing luminaries as Pilsudski, Singspiel and Swain.

He warmed up for that Canadian challenge with a trip to Italy where he won the Group 1 Gran Premio del Jockey Club, and at four he returned to Milan and opened his four-year-old season with victory in the Group 1 Gran Premio di Milano. Though it was only a field of six, his rivals included Needle Gun, Taipan, Luso and Strategic Choice.

Shantou’s final career victory, one of six in all, was a defeat of Swain in the Group 2 Princess of Wales’s Stakes at Newmarket. It was then off to stud in Italy where he was based with Paolo Crespi for five years. In his initial crops he sired Sweet Stream who won the Group 1 Prix Vermeille, the multiple stakes-winner Bening and more.

Victor Connolly spotted his potential and acquired him for his Co Carlow farm where he stood his first season in 2003. The emergence of the highly-talented Da Valira demonstrated early on that the decision to bring him to Ireland was a good one, and the successes kept coming. Now his record of siring runners of the highest calibre is appreciated, both on the racecourse and in the sales ring.

His Grade 1 National Hunt winners include Airlie Beach, The Storyteller, Death Duty, Briar Hill and Morning Assembly. This level of success has vindicated Victor Connolly’s belief in the talented racehorse with a top-class pedigree, he being a son of the dual Arc winner Alleged (Hoist The Flag), sire also of Flemensfirth and Montelimar.

Shantou was cribbed by some breeders for his ‘lack of size’, something that he shared with many of the greatest National Hunt stallions of the past. While the fashion may have been for breeders to seek bigger models, Shantou showed that it was the size of his progeny’s heart that mattered most, and he also has the ability to upgrade pedigrees.

Brought to Burgage as a result of Bob Back’s advancing years, Shantou has now matched that stallion’s feat in retiring from stud duties at the age of 27. Bob Back went on to live another three years. This week Victor Connolly paid tribute to Shantou, while also looking forward to more years of following the progress of his youngstock – and those yet to be born.

“Good stallions have many qualities, but what sets some apart from the rest is that X-factor, that special ingredient. Shantou was what I would call a street fighter; he’s never lost his ‘attitude’ and thankfully he remains hale and hearty. I am very glad we got the last few seasons with him and, as long as he is comfortable, we will look after him well in retirement. He has been a good story”, Connolly said this week.

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