Three breeders to side with during the Cheltenham Festival
Sunnyhill Stud gunning for more glory at the meeting
With the Cheltenham Festival less than a week away, we identify three breeders whose names could be worth seeking out on the racecard.
Michael Hickey’s Sunnyhill Stud in County Kildare has experienced a remarkable level of breeding success at the meeting, having been the source of the likes of dual Cross Country Chase winner Balthazar King, Gold Cup winner Kicking King and third Road To Riches. Sunnyhill also sold Lora Lady, a half-sister to Road To Riches, for a mere €400 at Goresbridge in 2010, when carrying this year’s Gold Cup fancy Road To Respect.
Nahthen Lad, an eight-length winner of the RSA Chase in 1996, was sold by Sunnyhill as a four-year-old on behalf of his breeders Denis and Mary Brennan, while the operation also stood Old Vic who, as well as Kicking King, counts Ninetieth Minute, Our Vic, Spring Heeled and Sunnyhillboy among his winners at the meeting.
Sunnyhill appears to have two aces up its sleeve at this year’s meeting. Kalashnikov, bred out of a sister to Kicking King, won the Betfair Hurdle, was runner-up in the Tolworth Hurdle and has received quotes as short as 4-1 for Tuesday's Sky Bet Supreme Novices' Hurdle. Springtown Lake, meanwhile, was second to On The Blind Side in a Grade 2 novices’ hurdle at Sandown in December and has engagements in the Coral Cup Handicap Hurdle on the Wednesday and Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys' Handicap Hurdle on the Friday.
Gordon Elliott will surely not forget the Wednesday of the 2011 Cheltenham Festival in a hurry. Having landed a first success at the meeting in the opening National Hunt Chase courtesy of Chicago Grey and Derek O'Connor, he was soon celebrating a second when Carlito Brigante surged clear by six lengths under Davy Russell in the Coral Cup.
The latter was bred by Ballylinch Stud, the same source as the 2013 Ballymore [then Neptune Investment Management] Novices’ Hurdle winner The New One, a son of King’s Theatre bred in partnership with Ronald Brown. King’s Theatre’s other elite winners at the meeting include Captain Chris, Cue Card, Glens Melody, Menorah and Riverside Theatre. The New One, a three-time winner of the International Hurdle, has had 14 starts at Cheltenham’s various meetings and appears to hold a live chance in the Sun Bets Stayers’ Hurdle this year.
Ballylinch also look set to be represented as the breeder of Grade 1 novice hurdle winner Mengli Khan, a son of resident stallion Lope De Vega who goes for the Supreme, and the owner of Punchestown bumper winner and leading Weatherbys Champion Bumper fancy Hollowgraphic, who shares his sire Beat Hollow with past Festival winners Cinders And Ashes and Wicklow Brave.
From the same area of County Cork as Pat Tobin, the breeder responsible for Festival-winning trio On The Fringe, Pause And Clause and Wichita Lineman, Edmond Coleman bred two star performers at the Cheltenham Festival from his Satco mare Satellite Dancer - the Gold Cup and RSA Chase scorer Lord Windermere and Sub Lieutenant, runner-up to Un De Sceaux in last year’s Ryanair Chase.
Sub Lieutenant looks set to tackle the Ryanair once again this year, a race for which he is a general 20-1 shot. Coleman also has a live chance of breeding another Festival winner in The Last Samuri, runner-up to Rule The World in the 2016 Grand National at Aintree and placed twice in the Becher Chase in 2016 and 2017. He has been quoted at single-figure odds for the Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase, a race which will also be used as a National prep for Cause Of Causes.
WATCH Leading bloodstock agent Tom Malone joins Martin Stevens and James Thomas to discuss his experiences of riding at the festival, the Tattersalls Ireland Cheltenham Festival Sale and his hopes for this year's meeting
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