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Bloodstock Bites: Super Smad tops memorable day for King

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For the second time this season, Alan King’s nine-year-old grey gelding Smad Place (Smadoun) put in a breath-taking display of jumping to land the Grade Two BetBright Trial Chase at Cheltenham under Richard Johnson by twelve lengths, and in the process initiate a treble at the course for the Wiltshire trainer, having earlier in the season claimed the Grade Three Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury for owners Peter and Patricia Andrews in similar fashion.

Bred by Eric and Maryse Aubree out of Bienna Star (Village Star), a half-sister to the 1988 Listed Swiss St Leger runner-up Silverkaia (Son of Silver) and the French Listed hurdle runner-up Wisscal (Cadoudal), who they purchased for 10,000 francs at the 1996 Agence Francaise Deauville December Mixed Sale following her two French chase wins, Smad Place is a half-brother to the French flat winner Pouradam (Rifapour) and hails from the family of the 2012 Grade Two Adonis Juvenile Hurdle winner Baby Mix.

Should Smad Place go on to claim the Grade One Cheltenham Gold Cup in March, his designated target at the Festival, he would join the 2011 Aintree Bowl winner Nacarat as a jumps winner at the highest level by Smadoun, the eight-time French Listed flat winner who stood at Haras des Sablonnets before his death in December last year aged twenty-five, and who has also been represented by a winner at the highest level on the flat courtesy of the two French Group One victories achieved by Chichicastenango in 2001.

The most eye-catching performance of King’s three Cheltenham winners was that of the J. P. McManus-owned Yanworth (Norse Dancer) who cruised to a seven-length victory in the Grade Two Classic Novices’ Hurdle in the hands of Barry Geraghty, causing bookmakers to shorten the six-year-old gelding into favouritism for the Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle at the Festival.

A £16,000 purchase by Highflyer Bloodstock at the 2013 Doncaster Spring Stores Sale, Yanworth is one of five winners produced by the French flat and chase winner Yota (Galetto), a half-sister to the 2009 Grade Three Prix Juigne Hurdle winner Juntico (Robin des Champs) and the triple French Listed hurdle winner Azulejo (Pistolet Bleu), with the further family being that of last season’s French Grade Two Prix Jean Stern Chase winner Laterano (Saint des Saints) as well as that of the 1974 Oaks winner Polygamy and the 2012 dual Derby hero Camelot.

Should Yanworth justify favouritism next time out at Cheltenham, he would become the first winner at the top level to be sired by Yorton Farm Stud stallion Norse Dancer, a two-time Group Three winner and three-times a runner-up in Group Ones for David Elsworth, who has also produced a Group Two winner on the flat in the shape of the 2013 Prix du Conseil de Paris winner Norse King.

With an incredibly impressive twelve-length victory in the Grade Two Cleeve Hurdle under Tom Scudamore, Colin Tizzard’s two-time Grade One-winning hurdler Thistlecrack (Kayf Tara) confirmed himself the one to beat in the World Hurdle in March.

Twice a graduate of Tattersalls Ireland, on the latter occasion when purchased by John Snook for €43,000 at the 2011 August National Hunt Sale, the eight-year-old gelding Thistlecrack is a half-brother to two other winners, the bumper winner and 2015 Grade Two Bristol Novices’ Hurdle third West Approach (Westerner), who is also trained by Tizzard and carries the colours of John and Heather Snook having been picked up by John Snook for £10,000 at the 2013 Doncaster August Sale, as well as the bumper and two-time hurdle winner Kennel Bridge (Classic Cliche).

Out of the four-time winning chaser and three-time point-to-point winner Ardstown (Ardross) and from the further family of the 2004 Grade One Scilly Isles Novices’ Chase winner Patricksnineteenth, Thistlecrack’s latest victory continues the fine form for offspring of leading British jumps stallion Kayf Tara, the dual Ascot Gold Cup and Irish St Leger hero, who stands at Overbury Stud and has been responsible for Grade One winners Identity Thief and Tea For Two in recent months.

In the opening Grade Two hurdle on the Cheltenham card, Nicky Henderson’s four-year-old gelding Protek Des Flos (Protektor) advertised his Triumph Hurdle claims with a one-and-a-quarter length victory under Noel Fehily on his British debut in the Finesse Juvenile Hurdle.

Running in the colours of Potensis Bloodstock Limited, Protek Des Flos is a half-brother to the dual French chase winner Saint Des Flos (Saint des Saints) out of Flore de Chantenay (Smadoun), an unraced half-sister to the European Listed chase-placed pair Duc d’Elbeuf (Lashkari) and Scream (Subotica), from the further family of the 1994 Peruvian Grade Two flat winner Julio Andre and the 2010 Group Three Zukunfts Rennen winner Salona.

By Protektor, the two-time German Group Two winner and top rated three-year-old stayer in Germany in 1992 who currently stands at Haras de la Courlais, Protek Des Flos became his twenty-seven-year-old sire’s first Graded winner over jumps, though he has been responsible for the Listed jumps winners Protektion and Nuevo Leon as well as the 2002 Group Two Henkel Rennen (German 1,000 Guineas) winner Portella on the flat.

Up at Doncaster, Ben Pauling’s six-year-old gelding Barters Hill (Kalanisi) extended his unbeaten record to seven with a gutsy three-quarters-of-a-length victory in the Grade Two River Don Novices’ Hurdle under David Bass, keeping the dream of Cheltenham Festival glory well and truly alive for owners Circle of Friends.

A €16,000 purchase by Highflyer Bloodstock at the 2013 Tattersalls Ireland Derby National Hunt Sale, Barters Hill is the sole winner produced to date by Circle The Wagons (Commanche Run), an unraced half-sister to the 2004 Grade One Royal & SunAlliance Novices’ Hurdle winner Fundamentalist (Supreme Leader) and the five-time winning chaser Run For Cover (Lafontaine), herself the dam of the 2011 Grade Three Wiltshire Greatwood Gold Cup Handicap Chase winner Fine Parchment (Presenting).

From the family of Michael Dickinson’s triple Grade One Champion Chase winner Badsworth Boy and the 1999 Punchestown Grade One Paddy Power Bookmakers Champion Flat Race winner Our Bid, Circle The Wagons was retired from broodmare duties in 2013, with her most recent foal being a 2012 full brother to Barters Hill that has recently joined Pauling’s yard. However, she was covered last season by the two-time Group One winner Kalanisi, so should all go well she should produce another full sibling to Barters Hill and the now four-year-old gelding later this year.

Another sire to have had success in recent weeks, though in his case posthumously, is former Haras de Cercy resident Voix Du Nord, a dual French Group One winner who sadly died from a heart attack in 2013 at the age of twelve. A week on from the easy victory of Willie Mullins’ Vroum Vroum Mag (Voix du Nord) in the Grade Two Warfield Mares’ Hurdle at Ascot, the Nicky Henderson-trained Vaniteux (Voix du Nord) claimed the Grade Two Lightning Novices’ Chase at Doncaster under Nico de Boinville by three-and-a-quarter lengths for owners Richard and Lizzie Kelvin-Hughes.

One of eight winners produced by Expoville (Video Rock), a winner over hurdles in France and twice placed third in French Listed hurdles who is a half-sister to the French Listed winning chasers Bilbao V (Bad Conduct) and Alcaloide (Maiymad), Vaniteux is a half-brother to the winning French chaser Moskoville (Kadalko) who is the dam of the 2014 Listed Prix General Donnio Chase winner and two-time French Grade Two chase runner-up Vieux Morvan (Voix Du Nord).

In the Grade Two Doncaster Mares’ Hurdle, the Mrs Julie Martin-owned six-year-old mare Smart Talk (Hubbly Bubbly) recorded a second consecutive black-type success under Paddy Brennan with a three-and-a-quarter length victory for trainer Brian Ellison, having claimed Haydock’s Listed Abram Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle on her previous start in December.

One of three winners produced by the once-raced mare Belon Breeze (Strong Gale), Smart Talk is a full sister to the two-time hurdles and chase winner Idle Talk (Hubbly Bubbly), runner-up in the 2006 Grade One Royal & SunAlliance Novices’ Chase and Grade Three Servo Computer Services Trophy Handicap Chase at Cheltenham for Tom George, and the two-time chase winner Belon Gale (Hubbly Bubbly), and hails from the family of the 2006 Grade Three William Hill Trophy Handicap Chase and Thyestes Handicap Chase winner Dun Doire.

Their sire Hubbly Bubbly was a four-time flat winner in the U.S. and fourth in the Grade Three Ak-Sar-Ben Omaha Gold Cup in 1988. Hubbly Bubbly stood at Lacken House Stud in County Wexford until his death in 2010 at the age of twenty-five and as well as Smart Talk and Idle Talk is also responsible for the dual Listed Wilf Dooly Chase and 2004 Pierse Leopardstown Handicap Chase winner Cloudy Bays and the 2002 Grade One Royal Bond Novice Hurdle third Macs Valley.

Over at Punchestown, Andrea and Graham Wylie’s ten-year-old gelding Felix Yonger (Oscar) recorded a sixth victory at Grade Two level with a comfortable length-and-three-quarters success for trainer Willie Mullins in the Tied Cottage Chase on Sunday in the hands of Ruby Walsh.

The second of two winners produced by the unplaced mare Marble Sound (Be My Native), a half-sister to the unraced dam of the 2008 Listed Newbury Mares’ Chase winner Strawberry (Beneficial), Felix Yonger is a half-brother to My Valley (Saddlers’ Hall), an eight-time winner under both codes and runner-up in the 2007 Grade Three Scarvagh House Stud Mares’ Novice Hurdle.

Finally, in sales news, DBS held their first sale of the year with their January Sale posting an aggregate increase of 21% on the 2015 sale with £1,426,250 changing hands and the average price of £8,390 a 2% improvement on the previous renewal.

Topping the sale when selling to Brendan Bashford Bloodstock for £38,000 was a yearling colt by Kayf Tara out of Molly Flight (Saint Cyrien), an unraced full sister to the French Grade One Prix La Haye Jousselin Chase winners Sunny Flight (Saint Cyrien) and Golden Flight (Saint Cyrien). Two lots tied for the sale’s second priciest with Kieran Cotter paying £35,000 for the twelve-year-old broodmare Katmai (Bob Back), a bumper-winning half-sister to the legendary Best Mate (Un Desperado) and in foal to Kayf Tara, matching the price paid by Tom Malone for a yearling colt by sire-of-the-moment Walk In The Park out of the one-raced French mare  Mandchou (Mansonnien), from the family of the Grade Two-winning hurdler and six-time Cheltenham cross-country course winner Garde Champetre.