The Cheltenham Festival may be Britain’s most prestigious jumps meeting, but, this year in particular, there were a number of Flat-bred winners who proved too good for the purpose-bred jumpers.
Darley’s French-based stallion Authorized was the only sire to strike twice at the Festival, doing so with the Stayers’ Hurdle winner Nichols Canyon and the National Hunt Chase winner Tiger Roll who added the meeting’s longest race to his Triumph Hurdle success in 2014. Both horses, incidentally, feature Sadler’s Wells in the bottom half of their pedigrees in addition to through his grandson Authorized.
Tiger Roll was a 70,000 guinea yearling purchase by John Ferguson though never ran on the Flat for Godolphin, unlike his year-older brother Ahzeemah who won the Lonsdale Cup at York and the Nad Al Sheba Trophy in Dubai and twice finished second in the Irish St Leger. Tiger Roll’s dam Swiss Roll earned black type from finishing second in the listed Vintage Crop Stakes and is a sister to the National Stakes runner-up Berenson. Swiss Roll’s half-sister Pollen won the Park Express Stakes and they were out of a half-sister to the Prix de Malleret winner Another Dancer.
Nichols Canyon, a 48,000 guinea yearling, was already a dual listed winner on the flat before embarking on a hurdling career. His dam is an unraced half-sister to the Winter Derby winner Nideeb from a tremendously successful family of pattern-race winners emanating from Nichols Canyon’s great grandam Lucayan Princess. Besides producing four group winners of her own – Luso, Warrsan, Needle Gun and Cloud Castle (the first two both multiple Group 1 winners), her more recent descendents include the Poule d’Essai des Pouliches and Prix de Diane winner Avenir Certain and last year’s Breeders Cup Filly & Mare Turf winner Queen’s Trust.
Authorized was one of three sons of Montjeu to have winners at the Festival, along with Scorpion and Montmartre. The latter, winner of the Grand Prix de Paris, is the sire of Labaik who won the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle. Labaik had been a €130,000 yearling purchase by Shadwell though had failed to win on the flat. He’s out of a winning daughter of the German listed winner Anthurium who was a half-sister to the German dual Group 2 winner and Deutsches Derby third Arcadio, a son of Monsun, who is himself now standing as a National Hunt sire in Ireland.
Another Festival winner from a German flat family was the County Hurdle winner (and former Champion Hurdle runner-up) Arctic Fire, by the four-time Group 1 winner Soldier Hollow, a son of In The Wings. He had cost only €3,000 as a yearling at Baden-Baden, indicate a fairly ordinary family background, though his grandam was an unraced sister to the German 2000 Guineas winner Alkalde.
No fewer than six sons of Sadler’s Wells sired Festival winners – Court Cave, Galileo, High Chaparral, Kayf Tara, Poliglote and Saddler Maker – most of whom are, or were, National Hunt stallions. Galileo was responsible for the Coral Cup winner Supasundae who had been bought back by his breeders, Newsells Park Stud, for 195,000 guineas as a yearling. Unraced on the flat, Supasundae is certainly one of the most choicely-bred Cheltenham winners as his dam Distinctive Look (by Danehill) is one of ten winners out of the Musidora Stakes winner and excellent broodmare Magnificient Style.
Among Magnificient Style’s offspring are the King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes winner Nathaniel and his Irish Oaks-winning sister Great Heavens (both of those also by Galileo), Fillies’ Mile winner Playful Act, Sun Chariot and Park Hill Stakes winner Echoes In Eternity and Yorkshire Cup winner Percussionist.
Newsells Park also bred the Supreme Novices’ runner-up Melon and were joint-breeders of the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle winner Penhill who had been sold for 24,000 guineas as a yearling. He’s by Newsells Park’s former stallion Mount Nelson, winner of the Eclipse Stakes, and won five races on the flat before going over hurdles. Penhill’s unraced dam (by High Chaparral) is a half-sister to the US Grade 2 winner (La Prevoyante Handicap) Herboriste, the Hollywood Derby runner-up and Breeders’ Cup Mile third Fast And Furious and to the dam of Derby second At First Sight.
Galileo’s Irish Derby and Coronation Cup winner Soldier of Fortune was responsible for the Fred Winter Juvenile Handicap Hurdle winner Flying Tiger, a €38,000 yearling purchase in France, and another who hasn’t run on the flat despite his breeding. His dam Ma Preference won the Group 3 Prix Fille de l’Air at Toulouse and was out of a half-sister to the Prix de Diane winner Resless Kara.
Her Majesty the Queen bred the winner of the Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Challenge Cup Domesday Book. He’s a half-brother to the listed Chesham Stakes winner Free Agent out of Film Script whose wins included the listed Oaks Trial at Lingfield. Film Script’s grandam Starlet finished second in the Nassau Stakes and Sun Chariot Stakes and won at Group 2 level in Germany and comes from a family that has been in the Royal Studs for decades.
The other flat-bred winner of note at the Festival was Cause of Causes whose latest win there (successful in three different races at the meeting now) came in the Glenfarclas Chase over the cross-country course. It’s an unlikely record for the son of Dynaformer who’s closely related to the 2003 Derby winner Kris Kin as we’ve reported before.