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The English page - Monsun´s influence in N.H. racing

The Gr. I-winner Notebook. www.galoppfoto.de - JJ Clark


David Conolly-Smith


Ausgabe 654 vom Freitag, 05.02.2021

With next to no racing in Germany at present - only a very low level meeting on Dortmund´s sand track every second Sunday, with most races worth 2,000 euros or less to the winner – it is an opportune moment to look beyond the border and discover what German-breds are up to in other countries. And of course the N.H. scene in Britain and Ireland has to be the first port of call.

The weather in the IU.K. has been very unfavorable recently with many fixtures cancelled because of frost, fog or flooding, but Ireland, where they are used to wet weather in the winter, has been able to keep most of its fixtures, and although they have all been held behind closed doors, there has been some excellent racing and there will be much more this weekend at the Dublin Festival, featuring two days of top class N.H. racing at Leopardstown, including four Grade One races each day. These are not only great races in themselves but also very significant trials for the Cheltenham Festival in mid-March and in many cases the leading Irish hopes will be getting their final prep races here.

When we refer here to German-breds, we are in particular thinking of horses by German sires, of which there are now many active in N.H. racing, a lot of them of course sons and grandsons  Monsun (Königsstuhl), whose reputation has taken a huge jump following the discovery that his stock are so well suited to N.H. racing; soundness, stamina, the ability to keep improving with age and keep form for many years –these are all characteristics typical of many Monsuns and which are especially desirable in N.H. performers, and the fact that as a general rule they act well or heavy ground is another bonus.

Coolmore, Ireland´s leading stud farm and stallion station, now stands no fewer than four sons of Monsun. Getaway at Grange Stud is the most expensive of the quartet at 9,000 euros, quite a bargain when we considers what prices his offspring are fetching. His son Gallyhill won an Irish point-to-point in 2019 and was shortly afterwards sold for an amazing 450,000 euros. The buyer was Henrietta Knight, who in her training days sent out triple Gold Cup winner Best Mate, and certainly know what´s what in the jumping world. Gallyhill, now owned by Mike Grech, is in training with Nicky Henderson and recently on his first race under rules, a novice hurdle at Newbury in which he started at long-odds to beat his 14 rivals, and did no easily enough despite being described as “rusty” by trainer and jockey. He certainly looks capable of winning at a much higher level. Getaway is the leading N.H. sire in Britain and Ireland this season by number of winners; he has huge crops on the ground, but is still waiting for his first Grade One victory but that is only a matter of time.

Coolmore also stand recent arrival at Grange Stud Vadamos for 6,000 euros, a Group One mile winner on the flat, as was Maxios (who started his stud career at Fährhof) who stands at Castlehyde Stud for 7,000 euros. The fourth Monsun stallion owned by Coolmore is Ocovango at The Beeches (5,000) euros. Colmore´s advertising for these stallions relies heavily on the Monsun connection: Maxios for example is promoted as being “by leading N.H. influence Monsun!” Of course one important factor for Coolmore is that almost all their mares as well as their other stallions are from the Northern Dancer sire line, whereas Monsun is a complete outcross. In fact the Northern Dancer/Monsun cross has become one of the most successful in recent years, on the flat as well as over jumps.

The N.H.  career of Monsun and his sons really took off about a decade ago with Sprinter Sacre (by his French-based son Network) and Annie Power (by Shirocco). The former, foaled in 2006, was almost unbeatable in 2 mile steeplechases, winning the Champion Chase at Cheltenham twice and was the highest –rated chaser since Arkle; the latter, basically a hurdler, won the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham and his sire Shirocco is still going strong at the Irish Rathbarry Stud.

This weekend will see many of Monsun´s descendants in action at Leopardstown and it will be extremely disappointing if there are no winners among them. In particular we would mention Ganathapi (by Samum), entered in both the novice hurdles, Notebook (also by Samum), a leading fancy for the Dublin Chase, Aramax (Maxios) in the valuable handicap chase on Saturday, and Quilixios (Maxios) in the 4yo hurdle on Sunday; should be win there, he will almost certainly start favourite for the Triumph Hurdle at Cheltenham. Aramax, bred by Röttgen,is especiallyinteresting as he is a three parts brother at Aramon (from Monsun´s own final crop) who won last year´ s Galway Guinness Hurdle in impressive style and would probably have been favourite for this year´s Champion Hurdle had not an injury set him back.

Not in action this week, but also entered at Cheltenham is Khan (Santiago), bred by Karlshof, a recent winner over hurdles at Plumpton. Khan, a specialist for heavy ground, and a winner of a weak edition of the Group One Preis von Europa when the going was in his favour, raced for Henk Grewe and Darius Racing on the flat; he was sold for 22,000 euros at Arqana in November to Panorama Bloodstock, acting on behalf of Christian von der Recke, who passed him on to trainer Milton Harris. The latter, currrently enjoying a purple patch, has often co-operated with von der Recke in sourcing German horses for the British and Irish N.H. scene, and with considerable success. Khan actually has no Monsun in his pedigree, but his half-brother Kamsin, a multiple Group One winner on the flat and also now a successful N.H. sire based in Ireland, is a son of Samum, the German Derby winning sire who was Monsun´s first top class winner. Next week we hope to report on many successes by runners with German connections at Leopardstown and elsewhere.

David Conolly-Smith

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