Best of Both Worlds


Epatante and Sophie Candy on the gallops at Nicky Henderson's Seven Barrows | Racing Post


The latest instalment of Emma Berry's winter series on the crossover between the Flat and National Hunt scenes

On Boxing Day, Epatante (Fr) (No Risk At All {Fr}) followed the example of her stable-mate Verdana Blue (Ire) (Getaway {Ger}) by winning the G1 Christmas Hurdle at Kempton. Her five-length victory (with the previous year's winner back in fourth) came on the back of a similarly impressive win at Newbury in November and launched the 6-year-old mare to the head of the betting for the Unibet Champion Hurdle on Mar. 3. It also shined the spotlight a little brighter on her up-and-coming sire, who stands at Haras de Montaigu in Normandy.

The Forien family farm was the birthplace in 2014 of subsequent Derby winner Wings Of Eagles (Fr) (Pour Moi {Ire}), who started his stud career back 'at home' before being transferred to one of Coolmore's National Hunt divisions at Beeches Stud last year. In November, Haras de Montaigu also lost the useful sire Martaline (GB) to a heart attack, but in No Risk At All they look to have a more than useful successor. Since his retirement to stud in 2013, the 13-year-old has been well supported with three-figure books of mares throughout bar 2017, when he covered 87, a drop from the previous year's high of 144. Having started at a fee of €2,500, his fee for this year has risen to €7,000.

Epatante, whose name translates as 'Amazing' is certainly living up to this title to date. Beaten a neck on debut in an AQPS bumper when trained by Armand Lefeuvre, the son of her breeders Francois-Xavier and Anne Doulce Lefeuvre, she has won six times since then. The only blot on her copybook has been when finishing down the field in the G2 Tattersalls Mares' Novices' Hurdle at Cheltenham last year. Top-rated on 159, she is the star of a first crop which also includes William and Angela Rucker's G1 Henry VIII Novices' Chase winner Esprit Du Large (Fr). Both hold entries for the Cheltenham Festival, along with the seven-time winner Gumball (Fr), the unbeaten Forien-bred Nickolson (Fr) and Cheveley Park Stud's promising novice chaser Allaho (Fr).

No Risk At All's runners have headlined a couple of boutique sales in the last 12 months, while a breeding right in the stallion was sold for €62,000 at Arqana's February Sale this week (see accompanying sales report). Papa Tango Charly (Fr) topped the Goffs UK Aintree Sale last April at £440,000, while the former Timmy Hyde-trained bumper winner Keskonrisk (Fr) set a new record for the Goffs UK January Sale a few weeks ago when sold for £370,000 through Hyde's Camas Park Stud. The 5-year-old will doubtless be remembered fondly by the Hyde family, not just for his chunky sales price but for the fact that he provided Hyde's 16-year-old grandson Daniel with his first winner as an amateur rider on New Year's Day. Keskonrisk was bought in France as a 2-year-old by Daniel's father Timmy Hyde Jr, whose dual-purpose credentials extend to being the breeder of Kentucky Derby winner Nyquist (Uncle Mo).

The gelding will continue his career in Ireland, where he is now trained by Joseph O'Brien for Mike Grech, who has purchased several expensive jumpers this season through former Cheltenham Gold Cup-winning trainer Henrietta Knight.

Coraline's French Influence
The branch of the Juddmonte family which includes Haras de Montaigu's late resident Martaline has had quite an influence on the jumps scene in France and beyond. From two visits to Linamix (Fr), Martaline's dam Coraline (GB) (Sadler's Wells) also produced his full-brother, the G1 Prix du Cadran winner Reefscape (GB). He served one season at stud, siring just a handful runners owing to poor fertility. However, his sole winner, the appropriately named L'Unique (Fr), proved to be a good one, landing the G1 Matalan Anniversary 4YO Hurdle at Aintree for Alan King.

Another of Coraline's offspring, the dual Group 2 winner Coastal Path (GB) (Halling), found his way to one of France's leading jumps studs, Haras de Cercy, where he was retired last year at the age of 15 after he too was found to have fertility problems. He had longer innings, however, lasting 10 seasons, and his name may well be to the fore at Cheltenham next month through the unbeaten Asterion Forlonge (Fr) or the useful staying hurdler Bacardys (Fr), both of whom are trained by Willie Mullins.

Coraline was herself a daughter of Bahamian (GB), whose dynasty includes the Flat sires Oasis Dream (GB) and Kingman (GB). Coraline's half-sister, the Irish Oaks winner Wemyss Bight (GB) (Dancing Brave), is the dam of dual-purpose stallion Beat Hollow (GB), who may yet have more decent jumpers to come since his move to Ballylinch Stud. Another member of the family, New Bay (GB), is also resident at Ballylinch and will have his first runners this year.

One of Beat Hollow's offspring who may well be worth keeping an eye on is Politesse (Ire). The 6-year-old mare, who was recently runner-up in the G2 mares' bumper at the Dublin Racing Festival, is the apple of her trainer Lorna Fowler's eye and she was bred at her home Rahinston by her husband Harry in partnership with Alex Frost, the CEO of UK Tote Group. Politesse has plenty to live up to as her half-brother is the treble Grade 1-winning chaser Don Poli (Ire) (Poliglote {GB}).

“Our immediate plan is to try to win a bumper with her. She's come out of Leopardstown really well. It was a brilliant run and she stays all day. She's a big girl and we'd like to hope she has a bright long-term future,” said Fowler, who in the same week sent out Lady Heath (Ire) (Califet {Fr}) to win on debut at 66/1. She too was bred at Rahinston by her owner Thomas Bruton.

Festival Triomphe On Cards For Cima
Cima De Triomphe (Ire), one of 15 Group 1 winners bred on the Galileo-Danehill cross, has been represented by 10 stakes winners in South America, including the Grade 1 winners Besitos (Arg) and Sinfonia Fantastica (Arg), from his time spent shuttling to Alberto Stein's Haras La Leyenda in Argentina.

Yet to make much of an impact in Europe from his nine seasons at stud in France, he had a notable breakthrough on Feb. 1 when his son Itchy Feet (Fr) became his first Grade 1 jumps winner in the Scilly Isles Novices' Chase. The 6-year-old's success came at Sandown, scene of his sire's best British victory in the G3 Brigadier Gerard S. for Luca Cumani. Cima De Triomphe started his racing career in Italy under the care of Bruno Grizzetti, for whom he won the G1 Derby Italiano, and he was reunited with the trainer for his final racing season as a 5-year-old, by then in the colours of Teruya Yoshida, who had bought him following his Classic win.

Itchy Feet also provided the first win at the highest level for his young trainer Olly Murphy. The son of bloodstock agent Aiden Murphy and former trainer Anabel Murphy, the 28-year-old is one of the rising stars of the British ranks after only two years with a dual-purpose licence. In addition to the experience gleaned from his parents, he spent five years honing his skills in Ireland with Gordon Elliott, and Murphy was quick to credit his mentor in the aftermath of his biggest success to date, describing Elliott on Twitter as “nothing less than a genius”.

Murphy trains not far from Cheltenham at Wilmcote in Warwickshire and his stable star is currently favourite for the G1 March Novices' Chase at the Festival.

Cima De Triomphe, meanwhile, moved from his long-term base at Haras du Thenney to stand at Haras de Tierce in 2018 but he has not returned to France this season. The 15-year-old was the first son of Galileo to shuttle to Argentina and he will remain there at La Leyenda.

“Breeders were a little bit concerned initially that his offspring might lack precocity but he showed he could produce good horses on dirt and turf, short and long. He will not be going back to France,” said Jose Nelson, who brokered the deal for Cima De Triomphe's passage to South America.

The Caretaker, Take Two
Racing fans of a certain vintage may well remember the Dermot Weld-trained filly The Caretaker (Ire) (Caerleon), the winner of the Derrinstown Stud 1000 Guineas Trial who was then fourth in the Irish 1000 Guineas behind In The Groove (GB) in 1990. At stud she produced the Group/Grade 1 winners Mutafaweq (Silver Hawk) and Dimitrova (Swain {Ire}).

The name has recently been brought back into use by the O'Ryan family, who enjoyed a bumper win at Naas last week with The Caretaker (GB), a 4-year-old son of Mukhadram (GB). The gelding, bred by Bridget Drew's Mildmay Bloodstock, was bought from Book 3 of the Tattersalls October Yearling Sale for 11,000gns by Bobby O'Ryan and, trained by Gordon Elliott, he has made his first two starts in colours of Bobby's wife Sheila.

“I always liked him and I broke him in here myself as a 2-year-old,” said the agent. “He's a big horse but he'd win on the Flat. He's schooled over hurdles and he's a great leaper as well.”

As to how the horse got his name, O'Ryan explained, “We had to come up with a name quickly for him as Gordon wanted to run him. Sheila put in a few names and they were already taken and we only had about ten minutes to get him named.”

He added with a laugh, “The last one Sheila named was Brian The Snail. He worked out well, and this one is for sale!”

Once a trader, always a trader.


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