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Sunday, 20 January, 2019

Why past Betfair Hurdle winners will not be forgotten in a hurry

Ollie O'Donoghue with four intriguing breeding angles from Sunday's racing

Folsom Blue (left): out of the 2003 Tote Gold Trophy scorer Spirit Leader
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1 Fairy Blaze family burning brightly

Just a day after Kalashnikov made light work of his Betfair Hurdle opposition, Golden Sunrise, who also counts the unraced Good Thyne mare Fairy Blaze as his granddam, overcame a last-flight mistake to record his first win in an Exeter novices' hurdle.

The five-year-old Stowaway gelding - bred, like Kalashnikov, by Michael Hickey's Sunnyhill Stud - is out of the winning Old Vic mare Fairy Dawn, a sister to Kalashnikov's dam Fairy Lane.

Golden Sunrise ground out victory by three quarters of a length over the year-older Shantou gelding Mount Rushmoore.

For Fairy Lane to have produced the winner of Europe's richest handicap hurdle is no mean feat, but Fairy Blaze was also remarkably consistent in her own broodmare career, producing no fewer than nine winners from 11 runners, including Cheltenham Gold Cup hero Kicking King.

With a page replete with black type, Golden Sunrise was the fourth most expensive lot at the Goffs UK Spring Stores Sale last year, when knocked down to trainer Colin Tizzard for £80,000.

After Sunday's hard-fought victory, that is now starting to look like money well spent.

2 Old Vic and more

A second victory for the 11-year-old Folsom Blue in the prestigious Grand National Trial at Punchestown on Sunday capped a remarkable weekend for his sire Old Vic

Fairy Lane, a daughter of the former Sunnyhill Stud stalwart Old Vic, supplied the winner of the Betfair Hurdle just 24 hours earlier, while another daughter, Fairy Dawn, produced exciting Exeter novices' hurdle scorer Golden Sunrise.

However, it is more than just the Old Vic connection that links Folsom Blue and Saturday's Betfair Hurdle winner, for the former is out of Spirit Leader, who won the same contest as Kalashnikov in 2003, when it was staged as the Tote Gold Trophy.

Spirit Leader, a daughter of Supreme Leader, added her name to the Vincent O'Brien County Hurdle roll of honour in 2003, and has also produced Grade 1 Christmas Hurdle winner Prince Of Scars at stud.

That's The Spirit

Hardline, the Gordon Elliott-trained winner of the Listed novice hurdle at Punchestown, and Folsom Blue would appear to be polar opposite types - one a crack novice hurdler over two miles, the other a gutsy staying chaser.

It is therefore intriguing to learn that Hardline's third dam, the unraced Mandalus mare That's The Spirit, is also the granddam of Folsom Blue.

Hardline, a €155,000 store purchase by Mouse Morris at the 2015 Goffs Land Rover Sale, is a half-brother to two other winners, out of the winning mare Hidden Reserve.

The daughter of Heron Island has served as a regular concubine for Aizavoski in recent years, resulting in a four-year-old old gelding named Chez Hans, a three-year-old filly named Hidden Figure, and an unnamed two-year-old colt.

Chez Hans became the most expensive of Aizavoski's progeny sold at public auction when Ryan Mahon went to €110,000 to secure him at last year's Tattersalls Ireland Derby Sale, although that position could soon be threatened after Envious Editor, another Aizavoski gelding, ran out an impressive four-length winner of a Belharbour maiden earlier this month and has since been entered in the Cheltenham sales.

4 Oh my Geos

Nicky Henderson holds the record as the winning-most trainer of the Betfair Hurdle, and of his four winners that won five separate renewals between them, perhaps it is Geos, one of two dual winners of the race, that is held in the highest regard.

Time To Move On - who recorded his second bumper success from as many starts on Sunday, both at Exeter - hails from the same family as Geos, a son of Pistolet Bleu.

The five-year-old son of Flemensfirth was purchased by Kevin Ross for £52,000 at the Goffs UK Spring Stores Sale in 2016, two months after his half-brother Barney Dwan landed a Graded handicap hurdle at Sandown.

Barney Dwan, who also caught the eye when finishing a valiant second to Presenting Percy in the Pertemps Final last year, made it a month to remember for their dam Kapricia Speed, when recording a second chase win at Musselburgh earlier this month.

His two chase wins, by an aggregate 20 lengths, have seen him priced up for the four-miler and RSA Novices' Chase at Cheltenham in March.

Kapricia Speed and Geos are also half-siblings to the popular jumps sire Kapgarde, source of Garde La Victoire, Clan Des Obeaux and Milord Thomas.

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It is more than just the Old Vic connection that links Folsom Blue and Saturday's Betfair Hurdle winner Kalashnikov
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