Ten noteworthy Flat-breds taking aim at Cheltenham targets
Derby heroes and Breeders' Cup winners feature among the contenders' pedigrees
Cause Of Causes
Pedigree 9 b g Dynaformer - Angel In My Heart (Rainbow Quest)
Race Cross-Country Chase
Having won at the last two festivals plenty will be expected from Cause Of Causes should he line up in the Cross-Country Chase on day two. However, he has a pedigree that screams Tattenham Corner more so than the Cheese Wedges, with the nine-year-old being a three-parts brother to 2003 Derby winner Kris Kin. He did win one of his Flat starts as a three-year-old, but has proved to be a revelation once faced with staying chases, as evidenced by his wins the National Hunt Chase and the Kim Muir. You have to go a long way back into this deep pedigree, but there are clues as to where his seemingly inexhaustible stamina and jumping prowess may stem from. The names of useful jumps sires, and half-brothers, Luso and Needle Gun both appear under the third dam, as does Champion Hurdle winner Binocular.
Pedigree 6 b g Iffraaj - Eoz (Sadler’s Wells)
Races Arkle, JLT Novices' Chase, County Hurdle
Iffraaj may be a noted source of two-year-old talent, but no one has told Charbel, who has not looked back since failing to sell as a yearling. Kim Bailey’s six-year-old was a dual bumper winner and smart hurdler who beat Champion Hurdle hopeful Brain Power at Musselburgh last year, and has quickly made up into just as good a novice chaser, getting closer to Altior than any other horse has managed over fences in the Henry VIII at Sandown last time. His sire line may not offer much in the way of jumping form, but there is a small but significant performer further back in his dam’s family, as Eoz is a granddaughter of Group 3 winner Gay Hellene, and she is the dam of Fighting Fifth and Christmas Hurdle victor Landing Light.
Pedigree 9 b g Dubawi - Nova Cyngi (Kris S)
Race Grand Annual
Dodging Bullets’ Champion Chase success back in 2015 must have come as something of a surprise to his breeder, Frankie Dettori, who surely did not have Cheltenham in mind when he sent Nova Cyngi to Dubawi in his second year at stud in 2007. The mare is a half-sister to Lingerie, the Niarchos Family-owned dam of Oaks winner Light Shift, who is in turn the dam of the classy Ulysses. Since Dodging Bullets’ finest hour other runners have added more jumps form to the pedigree, most notably Supreme Novices’ entrant and Dovecote Hurdle runner-up Elgin. Dodging Bullets may not have won since his Champion Chase victory, but having slipped down the weights he’s not without a chance in the Grand Annual.
Pedigree 6 ch g Hard Spun - Layounne (Mt. Livermore)
Races Stayers' Hurdle
Not many horses sold at the Keeneland yearling sales end up in the Stayers’ Hurdle, but that is precisely the route that the tough and talented Lil Rockerfeller has taken. Most of his near relatives showed their best form at a mile or shorter, while the likes of Bernstein - sire of Tepin - and Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies winner Outstandingly are just two of the high-profile names that figure further back in his illustrious pedigree. Lil Rockerfeller is by top US sire Hard Spun, a stallion notable for his speedy juveniles, and was bred by Brushwood Stable, who supplied the likes of Ishiguru and the new darling of US racing Unique Bella. He has continued to show a complete disregard for his pedigree ever since Neil King made the inspired move of snapping him up for £31,000.
Pedigree 6 ch m Peintre Celebre - Her Grace (Spectrum)
Races Mares' Hurdle
There remains some indecision over exactly which race Limini will contest come the festival, but there is no doubt that her pedigree is more Champion Stakes than Champion Hurdle. Limini is out of a half-sister to the 2003 Irish Oaks winner Vintage Tipple, while her half-brother was a two-year-old winner in Malaysia. There is some jumping influence in her pedigree, however, with her dam being out of a half-sister to Overbury, a sire of quality jumps performers such as Clondaw Warrior and Champion Bumper winner Missed That. Peintre Celebre has already sired one top flight-winning hurdler in Pittoni, who landed the 2010 Spring Juvenile Hurdle. Limini won three of her six starts on the Flat in France, before catching the eagle eye of Harold Kirk at the 2014 Arqana Arc Sale, where he parted with €100,000 to take her back to Closutton with him.
Pedigree 4 gr g Mastercraftsman - Miss Blueyes (Dushyantor)
Races Fred Winter, Triumph Hurdle
Mastercraftsman is better known as the sire of the likes of The Grey Gatsby and Kingston Hill, but in Master Blueyes he is set to be represented by one of the most progressive performers due to line up at this year’s festival. Despite his sire being one of the most promising Flat stallions around, Master Blueyes's hurdling aptitude does not come as a complete surprise once you delve into his pedigree. His dam, Miss Blueyes, is a half-sister to the dual Grade 3-winning hurdler Talina’s Law, who is in turn the dam of Listed hurdle winner Queen Astrid and very useful chaser Majestic Concorde.
Pedigree 5 ch g Medicean - Night Teeny (Platini)
Races Supreme Novices' Hurdle, Neptune
The Supreme Novices’ Hurdle favourite boasts a pedigree littered with quality Flat performers, with Melon being a half-brother to Italian Oaks winner Night Of Magic - also the dam of two-time German Group 1 winner Nightflower, and the Group 3-placed Neele - dam of another German Group 1 performer in Nymphea. After being bought for €100,000 as a yearling Melon went on to win one of his four starts on the Flat. The only jumper of note on Melon’s page appears under the second dam with Night Rider being a Listed-winning hurdler in Italy. Medicean is also the sire of Mullins’ dual Grade 2 winner Sempre Medici, Dovecote Novices’ Hurdle winner Trenchant and Nicky Henderson’s promising Gaitway.
Pedigree 7 b g Galileo - Distinctive Look (Danehill)
Races Coral Cup, Stayers' Hurdle
Judged on pedigree Supasundae would not look out of place at Royal Ascot. He is by Galileo and out of a Danehill mare, meaning he is bred on the same cross as the likes of Frankel and Highland Reel. His grandam is the blue hen Magnificent Style, producer of no fewer than eight black-type winners including Nathaniel and Great Heavens. Despite his blue-blooded lineage Supasundae failed to find a buyer at Book 1 of the Tattersalls October Yearling Sale in 2011, and he subsequently changed hands for just £5,000 at the Doncaster November Horses in Training Sale. There is some jumping form in his pedigree, albeit from across the Atlantic, with Percussionist - a half-brother to Supasundae’s dam - having landed the 2010 US Grand National. Supersire Galileo’s talents are not just restricted to the Flat, having supplied a brace of Festival winners in Celestial Halo and Windsor Park.
Pedigree 7 b g Halling - La Spezia (Danehill Dancer)
Races Coral Cup, Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys' Hurdle
Halling may be making his mark as a sire of jump sires with sons Coastal Path and Norse Dancer both having leading players entered at the festival, but one of his own sons due to line-up was bred with the Flat very much in mind. Thomas Hobson is out of a Listed-placed Danehill Dancer mare who is a half-sister to Dick Hern Fillies Stakes winner Brindisi, while underneath his third dam, the Rockfel Stakes-winning Yawl, is 2013 Oaks winner and St Leger runner-up Talent. There is some jumping form in the family though, as Thomas Hobson’s dam is also a half-sister to the Listed-winning hurdler Torphichen.
Pedigree 5 b g Pivotal - Zaidiyna (Azamour)
Race Champion Bumper
Zaheer comes from a family that boasts high-class Flat form as well success at the home of jump racing. A cast off from the Aga Khan, Zaheer is out of Zaidiyna, an Azamour half-sister to Triumph Hurdle winner Zaynar and very useful hurdler Zaidpour, whose own dam is the French Oaks winner Zainta. Further back on his page is Zaiyad, a three-time Grade 1 winner over hurdles in France. Zaheer won his sole start to date with a bloodless success in a Naas bumper, and with his high-class mixed pedigree the demands of the Champion Bumper could prove to be right up his street.