WHEN Federico Barberini spent €40,000 on an Exceed And Excel (Danehill) yearling filly at the Goffs Orby Sale 12 years ago from the Ballylinch Stud consignment, he could never have imagined that he was buying a half-sister to one of the greatest hurdlers of recent times, and the eventual dam of a dual Grade 1 winning National Hunt performer.
After all, the filly’s dam Scandisk (Kenmare) was a juvenile winner in Italy, and had gone on to produce a few winners in that country, including the stakes-placed Hunzy (Desert King). More recently, Scandisk’s Montjeu (Sadler’s Wells) son had won a listed race at Saint-Cloud, and boosted the pedigree significantly.
That son was none other than Hurricane Fly and he was to go on to win 24 times over hurdles in a career that would lead to him being glorified in bronze at Leopardstown where he was something of a legend. Incredibly, and almost unbelievably, all but a pair of his two dozen wins over hurdles were achieved at Grade 1 level.
Hurricane Run won the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham twice and placed in it a couple of more times. He made the BHP Insurance Champion Hurdle at Leopardstown his own, scoring on five occasions. Four wins in the Punchestown Champion Hurdle was another career highlight, and he won Leopardstown’s December Hurdle the same number of times. Yet another race he captured on multiple occasions was the Morgiana Hurdle at Punchestown.
The filly that Barberini purchased was named Mucho Macabi and she won back just £1,735 of her purchase price when she managed three placings in her two seasons racing in Italy. However, I imagine she cost the Magnier family a few quid when they sourced her and brought her back to Grange Stud where, as a four-year-old, she was covered by Flemensfirth (Alleged).
The resulting foal, a colt, went to the Goffs December National Hunt Sale and sold to Gerry Hogan for €30,000. Only two other foals made more at the same sale. As a three-year-old the now gelding was offered from Pine Tree Stud and more than doubled in value, realising €63,000 when he was purchased by Peter and Ross Doyle.
He was named Tornado Flyer and he gained the most important win of his career the day after Christmas when he landed the Grade 1 King George VI Chase at Kempton. Mind you, he also won at that level as a bumper horse, following up his third place run in the Grade 1 Weatherbys Champion Bumper at Cheltenham with victory in the Champion Bumper at Punchestown.
While his victory last Sunday was described as an upset, winning as he did at 28/1, he had solid form at up to Grade 1 level over fences prior to Kempton, running a length second to Min in the 2020 John Durkan Memorial Punchestown Chase and beaten half a length for the runner-up spot behind Allaho in last March’s Ryanair Chase.
Tornado Flyer will now be a candidate for the Connolly’s Red Mills/The Irish Field Breeder of the Month competition for December, and his breeders, Sweetmans Bloodstock, have previously won a couple of these awards. David Magnier was named when Araafa won the first of them in June 2006, and then Andrew and Catherine Magnier had their moment of glory in June 2018 when Latrobe earned them the salver.
Mucho Macabi’s ninth foal in nine years was a filly by Walk In The Park and she sold at Tattersalls Ireland in November for just €35,000 to Jamestown House Stud. I say ‘only’ because two years earlier the mare’s Flemensfirth filly foal, albeit an own-sister to Tornado Flyer, cost Rathmore Stud’s Peter Molony €88,000. Between that pair of recent fillies is a newly turned two-year-old son of Flemensfirth, and he is also at Jamestown House Stud after they purchased him for €50,000 as a foal.
Tornado Flyer was joined on the winners’ roster in 2021 by his half-sister Arizona Flyer (Fame And Glory). She had a good month in June when she won over hurdles at Tramore and Downpatrick.
Arizona Flyer’s full-brother Famosa (Fame And Glory) sold to Tom Malone and Paul Nicholls for €175,000 as a three-year-old but, in spite of being placed a couple of times, he has been a huge disappointment. Ian Williams will be hoping for better from Walk In The Storm (Walk In The Park). This now five-year-old was runner-up on her bumper debut and a victory of any sort would boost her eventual stud value.
Stakes winners in India, Italy and the UAE populate the third remove of Tornado Flyer’s family. That third dam Yankee Lady (Lord Gayle) was a winning own-sister to Yankee Gold (Lord Gayle), winner of the Group 2 Ballymoss Stakes twice in the mid-1970s, and the Group 2 (now Group 1) Pretty Polly Stakes heroine Lady Singer (Lord Gayle).
Flemensfirth, a Group 1 winner in France and Italy, has sired the winners of almost £25 million under National Hunt rules. He has been an ever-present source of high-class winners since his first crop, born in 1999, contained the Grade 1 Weatherbys Champion Bumper winner Total Enjoyment.