Five up-and-coming sires to follow at Cheltenham
Martin Stevens picks the young stallions who could shine
12yo Smadoun-Miss Recif (Exit To Nowhere)
Yorton Farm Stud, £3,500
It stands to reason that Blue Bresil should be proving to be a fine source of jumpers as he is by Smadoun, sire of Nacarat and Smad Place, out of a mare by Exit To Nowhere, who supplied Noland and On The Fringe, and was talented himself on the Flat (third in the Prix Noailles and Prix Hocquart) and over jumps (beaten less than a length by Long Run in a Grade 3 hurdle at Auteuil).
Ibis Du Rheu put Blue Bresil's name in lights with victory in the Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys' Handicap Hurdle at last year's festival and has a number of engagements next week. The sire could also be represented at Cheltenham by the consistent sorts Le Prezien – he is only around 10-1 for the Grand Annual – and Mick Jazz, entered for the County Hurdle and Martin Pipe.
Blue Bresil's festival entries were bred during the first years of his stallion career in France. He was snapped up by Yorton Farm Stud last year, when he covered 135 mares including the dams of high-class racemares Colin's Sister and Midnight Jazz.
12yo Cadoudal-Buck's (Le Glorieux)
Haras d'Enki, €3,000
Breeders may not have been able to send mares to the gelded Cheltenham Festival legend Big Buck's, but in his two-years younger brother Buck's Boum they have the next best thing.
Buck's Boum – also by Cadoudal out of the winning hurdler and chaser Buck's - may not have possessed the same talent as his sibling, a four-time winner of the World Hurdle, but he was no slouch either, managing a one-length second to Long Run in a Grade 1 hurdle at Auteuil.
Retired with his reproductive equipment intact, he was retired to Haras d'Enki in France and five of his early offspring have raced in Britain and Ireland. Three of those – Al Boum Photo, Captain Buck's and Coup De Pinceau - have won and another, Dynamite Dollars, was third in a Listed bumper at Cheltenham in January.
Only the Willie Mullins-trained Thurles maiden hurdle scorer Al Boum Photo holds entries for Cheltenham next week, but it would be no surprise to see him have plenty more at future festivals.
13yo Rock Of Gibraltar-Independence (Selkirk)
Boardsmill Stud, €4,500
The Eclipse hero was snapped up by Boardsmill Stud for dual-purpose duty this year and, while he still offers a lot to Flat breeders having supplied the likes of Berkshire, Librisa Breeze and Purr Along, he is assured strong support from the jumps fraternity after several of his progeny have excelled over obstacles.
Penhill, a seven-length winner of the Grade 2 Guinness Novice Hurdle in December, has been the flagbearer for Mount Nelson over jumps and he holds an entry in the Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle, while Allee Bleue is climbing up the handicap ranks and has a few entries at the festival, and Nelson's Touch, fourth in a Listed bumper at Newbury last month, has also been deemed worthy of an entry in the Champion Bumper.
Mount Nelson should impart class to his offspring, being by Rock Of Gibraltar, whose best jumps representative Recession Proof was a close fifth behind Al Ferof, Spirit Son, Sprinter Sacre and Cue Card in the famous Supreme Novices' Hurdle of 2011, out of a Sun Chariot Stakes winner who also produced Great Voltigeur Stakes scorer Monitor Closely.
Soldier Of Fortune
13yo Galileo-Affianced (Erins Isle)
Beeches Stud, €6,000
By the time Weatherbys published the Return of Mares at the end of last year and it emerged that Soldier Of Fortune had been Europe's busiest sire of 2016 with 304 covers in his first season under the Coolmore National Hunt banner, the son of Galileo had been represented by only two jumps black-type winners.
But breeders don't pile into a stallion for no reason and it appears they must have caught wind of the exciting talents Soldier Of Fortune had in the pipeline.
Since the turn of the year the stallion has fired in a first Grade 1 winner with Mega Fortune, the decisive winner of the Spring Juvenile Hurdle at Leopardstown last month who is among the leading fancies for the Triumph Hurdle next Friday, while Tin Soldier struck in the Grade 3 Michael Purcell Memorial Novice Hurdle at Thurles in recent weeks and has a number of entries at the festival.
Mega Fortune is the best of a battalion of potential four-year-old hurdle runners at the festival for his sire, which also includes Flying Tiger, Icario, Soldier In Action (a 14-length winner at Doncaster last month) and Zalvados.
14yo Galileo-Vahine (Alysheba)
Anngrove Stud, on application
Unfortunately for this recent import from France to Alistair Pim's farm in County Laois, his best flagbearer Arzal died only weeks after winning the Grade 1 Manifesto Novices' Chase at Aintree last year. That situation can be severely damaging for a young stallion building his profile, so it is just as well Vendangeur has several other irons in the fire.
Vendangeur's son Chateau Conti impressed by winning a Cork maiden hurdle on his debut for Willie Mullins and was far from disgraced when sixth behind Bacardys in the Grade 1 Deloitte Novice Hurdle on his next start. He held entries for the Neptune Investment Management Novices' Hurdle and Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle.
A daughter, the Gordon Elliott-trained Barra, would appear to hold a decent chance if she lined up in the Trull House Stud Mares' Novices' Hurdle having scored in a Fairyhouse maiden hurdle by 12 lengths in January and finished one place in front of Chateau Conti in the Deloitte.
A well-bred son of Galileo who has produced a high concentration of quality in his small delegation of British and Irish runners, Vendangeur deserves his share of support at Anngrove Stud this year.