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Sire of Douvan and Min surely on the path to greatness

Martin Stevens looks at the warm reception given to Walk In The Park in his first year at Coolmore

Min and Ruby Walsh stroll to victory in the Grade 1 Racing Post Novice Chase
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Altior, Bellshill, Cue Card, Douvan and Native River. The dams of all those stars who shone brightly over the Christmas period were covered by the same sire this year.

In the case of Douvan’s dam Star Face it was a return visit as the stallion in question is Walk In The Park, who demonstrated why he in such strong demand among jumps breeders with a notable Grade 1 double at Leopardstown in recent days when Douvan strolled to victory in the Paddy Power Chase and Min scored easily in the Racing Post Novice Chase.

Walk In The Park, from the first crop of Montjeu and out of Irish 1,000 Guineas winner Classic Park, was trained by Montjeu’s handler John Hammond to finish second to Motivator in the Derby.

At the end of his racing career – which failed to yield a stakes win despite his achieving a best RPR of 121 – he was sold to stand at Haras du Val Raquet in France, where he covered 58 mares in his first season. The resultant crop produced no stars although daughter Eaux Fortes is talented over jumps in France.

Douvan, who is looking more and more like a modern great of jumps racing, hails from Walk In The Park’s second crop of around 39 foals now rising seven years old, along with Antony, winner of a valuable handicap chase at Ascot in October for Gary Moore, and Auteuil Listed scorer Park Light.

Min, who could be on course for a mouthwatering rematch with his Supreme Novices’ Hurdle conqueror Altior in the Arkle, is among 27 products of Walk In The Park’s third season at stud, while Koshari – like Douvan and Min, trained by Willie Mullins for Susannah Ricci – is one of a fourth crop of 18 and beat the classy Bello Conti to win a Punchestown novice hurdle in April.

Such concentrated quality caught the eye of Coolmore and at the beginning of the year he was reacquired by the operation, which had raced him, and sent to stand under its National Hunt banner at Grange Stud in County Cork.

Breeders gave Walk In The Park an enthusiastic welcome home to Ireland – where he was bred by Lodge Park Stud – and he covered 222 mares this year, including 58 who were
black-type performers themselves.

Their number included two winners of the Irish Grand National – Bluesea Cracker and Liberty Counsel – and the best jumps racemare of recent times in Quevega, who had initially been slated to travel to France for a liaison with Network.

Walk In The Park’s first book at Grange Stud included a remarkable roll-call of dams of high-class jumpers, including those Christmas crackers

Monte Solaro, the dam of Wayward Lad Novices’ Chase winner Altior; Fairy Native, the dam of Limerick Grade 2 scorer Bellshill; Wicked Crack, the dam of King George VI Chase second Cue Card; and Native Mo, the dam of Welsh National hero Native River. There were also the dams of Black Hercules, Rogue Angel and Simonsig.

Throw in sisters or half-sisters to Albertas Run, Arctic Fire, Bobs Worth, Djakadam, Flemenstar, Harchibald, Hurricane Fly, Moscow Flyer, Our Conor, Sprinter Sacre, Synchronised, Vautour and Vroum Vroum Mag, and you have something approaching the jumps equivalent of Frankel levels of support.

If those mares transmit their ability or family’s talent to their offspring, Walk In The Park is a sire who should be to the fore well into the 2020s.

In the meantime we can look forward to the debuts of some of the young stock by Walk In The Park who have changed hands for fortunes since the ascent of Douvan and Min.

They include Choungaya, a three-year-old gelding who topped the Goffs Land Rover Sale in June when bought by Harold Kirk and Willie Mullins for a sale-topping €165,000, and Gentleman Walker, another three-year-old who was bought by MV Magnier for €160,000 at the Tattersalls Ireland Derby Sale.

A book you can’t put downSelected mares covered by Walk In The Park in 2016 

Black-type winners covered include Bitofapuzzle, Bluesea Cracker, Chomba Womba, Emily Gray, Give It Time, Glens Melody, Golden Sunbird, Highland Retreat, Jacksonslady, Jeanquiri, Jolivia,
La Segnora, Liberty Counsel, Little King Robin,
Lunar Path, Myska, Nadiya De La Vega, Quevega, Refinement, Sparky May, Violin Davis

Black-type winners whose dams were covered include Abbyssial, Adrien Du Pont, Altior, Barney Dwan, Beat That, Bellshill, Black Hercules, Blackstairmountain, Brave Vic, Captain Cutter, Cue Card, Douvan, El Bandit, Johns Spirit, Minella Foru, Native River, Noble Prince, Raya Star, Rogue Angel, Simonsig, Time For Rupert and Timesremembered

If those mares transmit their ability or family’s talent to their offspring, Walk In The Park is a sire who should be to the fore well into the 2020s
E.W. Terms