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The English page - Cheltenham around the corner

Getaway. Foto: Coolmore


Daniel Delius


Ausgabe 659 vom Freitag, 12.03.2021

The winning run of German-bred N.H. stallions in British and Irish races over jumps continues, and hardly a day goes by without another winner sired by Getaway, Aizavovski, Maxios, Ocovango,  Network, Salutino, the full brothers September Storm and Shirocco, and two more brothers Samum and Schiaparelli – all of them of course sons of Monsun. Getaway is probably the current star; he stands at Coolmore´s Grange Stud in Fermoy, Co. Cork. He is in fact the most expensive of Coolmore´s N.H. sires – who also include three more sons of Monsun – at 9,000 euros. This might sound like peanuts compared to the prices charged for Galileo and other flat stallions at Coolmore, but Getaway has been covering huge books and 9,000 multiplied by 250 or more soon adds up to a nice sum.

Getaway was bred by Baron Georg von Ullmann and raced throughout his lengthy and distinguished  career in his colours, winning two Group Ones in Germany and Group Two races in France (the Grand Prix de Deauville twice) and England (Newmarket´s Jockey Club Stakes). He retired to stud in 2011 and has really hit his stride in the past couple of years. He is currently the leading sire over hurdles and over fences in the U.K. and Ireland by number of winners, an impressive statistic. In terms of prize-money he does not figure quite as well, as many of his wins have been at low levels. His biggest winner this season is Sporting John, owned by J.P. McManus and trained by Philip Hobbs who gave the sire his first Grade One winner when taking Sandown´s Scilly Isles Novice Chase a month ago. To be honest, that was not the greatest of Grade Ones and the prize-money was not that brilliant either, but Sporting John has two entries next week at Cheltenham and victory there would of course put a different complexion on things. Getaway is also sire of Verdana Blue, who won the Scottish Champion Hurdle (not a championship race, but a valuable handicap) two years ago; she also has Cheltenham entries but it is not clear if she will run there.

Since the beginning of March Getaway has had winners over hurdles at Leopardstown on Saturday (She´s Commanche), at Southwell on Monday (Docpickedme) and at Catterick this Wednesday (Fire Away), and over fences at Ayr last Monday, Leicester last Tuesday, at Wincanton last Wednesday, at Doncaster on Saturday, as well as a hunters´ chase winner at Ludlow last Thursday, a bumper winner at Gowran Park last Tuesday and a flat race winner (!) at Dundalk on Friday, good going by any standard, even taking into account the huge number of runners he has on the ground.

Cheltenham N.H. Festival

The Cheltenham National Hunt Festival starts on Tuesday; it feature 28 races over four days, all of them extremely competitive  and with really good prize-money. It is by far the most important jumps meeting of the year, possibly even to an unhealthy extent, as the preceding big meetings, such as Kempton at Christmas and the Dublin Racing Festival last month, are now seen as stepping stones to the main event rather than as top meetings in themselves. Cheltenham will certainly be different this time, with no racegoers (250,000 last year!) and some big names will be missing, for example all amateur jockeys, who normally have a major role here but, as is the case in other countries, will not be allowed to ride as only professional sport is currently permitted, and especially top Irish trainer Gordon Elliott, suspended for six months for his “moment of madness”.

Some of his horses have been transferred to other stables, but the stable will still have plenty of runners with Denise “Sneezy” Foster now running the yard. She has a show jumping background, and is hardly known in the world of racing (this writer had never even heard of her before last week) but comes highly recommended and has already sent out a winner from the stable, AreutheoneIwant (by Ocovango!!!), who won the bumper at Clonmel on Tuesday. Obviousy we hope that she does well, but it would appear that trainers Nicky Henderson and Willie Mullins hold most of the aces for nest week; they are in any case the two winningmost trainers of all time at the Festival.

Top race on Tuesday is the Chamption hurdle, where two mares head the betting, Henderson´s Epatante, who won last year and is now back to her best after a poor effort at Christmas according to her trainer, and the admirable Honeysuckle, unbeaten in ten races over hurdles and out of the German-bred mare First Royal (Lando) from a family that done so well for Ittlingen as well as the Leisten family. Other possibilities with German connections are Saldier (Soldier Hollow out of a Monsun mare) and Abacadrabas, by the German-bred sire Davidoff.  Saldier is a horse we really like, but is probably not Willie Mullins´ main hope here. Main supporting feature is the Arkle Chase, where the betting is dominated by three entries, Henderson´s Shishkin (Sholokhov), Mullins´Energumane (Denham Red) and the Skeltons´ Allmankind, unbeaten in three chaysing starts and by the German-bred Sea The Moon (himself out of a Monsun mare). Numitor (Schiaparelli) is also entered, but is a 100/1 chance.

Wednesday´s main event is the Champion Chase, won last year (a weak renewal) by Politiologue, and in the two previous years by Henderson´s Altior, now reportedly coming back to form after a poor 2020 year and with a definite chance if that is true. However the one to beat is Mullins´French-bred Chacun Pour Soi, who has looked extremely impressive this season. The only other one with a chance is probably Nube Negra, a very rare Spanish-bred runner here. German-bred Notebook (Samum) would have a squeak if it came up heavy (seems unlikely) while Ibleo, out of a German mare, looks a forlorn hope. However French-trained Easyland (by Gentlewave, another son of Monsun) is hot favourite for the cross country race, in which French raiders have a good record.  Mullins´ Monkfish looks a “good thing” for the 3 mile novice chase, but Eclat de Rire (Saddex) as well as The Big Breakaway and Sporting John (both by Getaway) are three of his likeliest rovals according to the betting, but at the time of writing we do not have the final field for this race, nor for Thursday´s card.

Next week we shall a more detailed look at Friday´s card, which not only feature the Gold Cup, the top race of the whole year for all N.H. fans,  but also the Triumph Hurdle for 4yo´s, possibly the most interesting race of the week from the German point of view with several German-bred runners.

David Conolly-Smith

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