THE Listed Sky Bet Fillies’ Juvenile Hurdle winner is owned by Peter Savill and was bred at his Co Wicklow stud farm, Oak Hill Stud. Today, at Leopardstown, she goes in search of Grade 1 glory, having won the right to take part after she beat Sea Sessions at Doncaster.
Mind you, she was probably not meant to be carrying the Savill colours, given that she was sent to the Goffs February Sale two years ago and was bought back for a mere €1,000 – the minimum bid at the sale. Placed in a late season maiden last year at Punchestown, one of just a pair of flat starts, she is now winner of two of her four outings over hurdles.
Savill has enjoyed plenty of success as an owner and as a breeder, and among the horses to carry his silks to victory have been the champion two-year-old and French Derby winner Celtic Swing, another Lady Herries-trained Group 1 winner in River North, dual Group 1 Ascot Gold Cup winner Royal Rebel, and the Italian Group 1 winner Rainbow Peak. The late Con Collins saddled both Almaty and Raphane to win group races in Ireland for him.
It has been some time since he had any decent runners over hurdles, and for these you have to go back to the time of Mary Reveley who won the then Grade 2 Fighting Fifth Hurdle for Savill with Batabanoo, seven years before Whistling Dixie won a listed hurdle for the same owner/trainer combo.
Six Feet Apart is related to a couple of those big race winners. She is a daughter of Mount Nelson (Rock Of Gibraltar), the former Newsells Park and Boardsmill Stud stallion who is responsible for three Group 1 winners on the flat and the Grade 1 National Hunt winner Penhill. Mount Nelson now has two sons at stud in Ireland, Berkshire and Boscaccio.
A Gleneagles (Galileo) half-brother to Six Feet Under sold last year as a yearling for 45,000gns to Alex Elliott, while their dam Celtic Cygnet (Arcano) has a yearling colt by Churchill (Galileo). Celtic Cygnet is a half-sister to five winners, including a pair of full-siblings, the Royal Ascot listed winner Celtic Heroine (Hernando) and the aforementioned Rainbow Peak (Hernando).
Like Six Feet Apart, Rainbow Peak was offered for sale and retained at 20,000gns. He too was a listed winner at Royal Ascot before travelling to Milan and winning the Grand Premio del Jockey Club, a Group 1. He ended up winning a hurdle race at the age of eight. Rainbow Peak was the best runner from Celtic Fling (Lion Cavern), a winning half-sister to Celtic Swing (Damister).
Although he won the Prix du Jockey Club in 1995, Celtic Swing was best known for his performances in the previous autumn, when his wins at Ascot and at Doncaster led to him being one of the highest-rated juveniles in modern European racing. He was bred by Lavinia, Duchess of Norfolk and trained by her daughter Lady Herries. He was named after a Van Morrison song.
At two Celtic Swing won a maiden over seven furlongs at Ayr, followed up in October by winning at Ascot by eight lengths from Singspiel, before running away with the Group 1 Racing Post Trophy by 12 lengths, He was given the Cartier Racing Award as the top European two-year-old colt, and was one of the most anticipated classic contenders for generations..
Stepping back to seven furlongs, Celtic Swing made his seasonal debut in the Greenham Stakes and won, eased down, from Bahri. He was beaten a head in the 2000 Guineas by Pennekamp, after which Savill decided not to go to Epsom, and head instead for the Group 1 Prix du Jockey Club-French Derby. He won from Poliglote.
Celtic Swing injured himself in the Irish Derby and, eventually, plans to race again at four had to be abandoned.
At stud Celtic Swing sired two outstanding runners. Takeover Target won eight Group 1 races and they included top sprints in Australia, England, Japan and Singapore, while Six Perfections won six races including the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Mile in 2003.
Celtic Swing died at the Allevamento di Besnate in Italy in September 2010 after contracting colitis.