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Bloodstock Bites: Cue Card reached new heights at Kempton

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The resurgence of the popular chaser Cue Card (King’s Theatre) reached new heights at Kempton Park on Boxing Day when trainer Colin Tizzard’s nine-year-old gelding claimed a last-gasp victory under Paddy Brennan in the Grade One King George VI Chase at his fourth attempt, just denying Irish raider Vautour (Robin des Champs) by a head.

Out of the six-time winner under National Hunt rules and two-time Grade Two chase runner-up Wicked Crack (King’s Ride), a half-sister to the dual Grade Two chase runner-up and 1991 Grade One Sun Alliance Novices’ Chase third Whats The Crack (The Parson), Cue Card is a half-brother to the five-time jumps winner Hidden Crack (Lahib) from the further family of the 2007 Grade Two Towton Novices’ Chase winner Heltornic.
 
Twice a graduate of Tattersalls Ireland, having passed through the ring as a yearling back in 2007 when purchased by Aiden Murphy for €75,000, Cue Card returned to the venue at the 2009 Derby National Hunt Sale and was purchased by Aidan Kennedy for €52,000, since when he has gone on to record six victories at the highest level under National Hunt rules for owner Mrs Jean Bishop, who very sadly lost her husband Bob just days after the King George victory.
 
Having lost his unbeaten record when defeated by stablemate Nichols Canyon in the Morgiana Hurdle in November, Faugheen (Germany) looked back to his scintillating best when cruising to a seven-length victory under Ruby Walsh in the Grade One Christmas Hurdle, a race the seven-year-old gelding won 12 months earlier on his way to Champion Hurdle glory, for Irish Champion trainer Willie Mullins.
 
Running in the colours of Mrs Susannah Ricci, Faugheen has twice been through the sales ring, on the first occasion when bought privately by Peter Quinlan for €4,000 following the 2008 Tattersalls Ireland November National Hunt Sale before most recently changing hands for €12,000 when purchased by Meadowview Stables at the 2011 Goffs June National Hunt Sale.
 
The only winner produced to date by the unraced mare Miss Pickering (Accordion), a half-sister to the five-time winning chaser Trotsky (Jurado), Faugheen hails from the family of the 1973 Group Three Premio Royal Mares winner Ombra Del Sol - herself the dam of the 1981 Old Newton Cup winner Dogberry - and the seven furlong Listed winning pair Borderline and Sapper.
 
Last Monday at Leopardstown saw Willie Mullins finally claim one of the few top-level races to have previously eluded him when his six-year-old gelding Don Poli (Poliglote), in the hands of Bryan Cooper,  led home a one-two for owners Gigginstown House Stud in the Grade One Lexus Chase, finishing half-a-length ahead of Mouse Morris’ ten-year-old gelding First Lieutenant (Presenting).
 
A €42,000 purchase by Blue Spirit at the 2011 Arqana Saint-Cloud Summer Mixed Sale, Don Poli is a half-brother to the triple French jumps winner Do You Jump (Trempolino) and the two-time French jumps winner Dalino (Trempolino) being out of the two mile French Flat winner Dalamine (Sillery), herself a full-sister to the 2001 Grade Two Prix Georges de Talhouet-Roy Hurdle winner Multipass (Sillery) and half-sister to the French Flat-placed dam of the 2014 Grade Two Prix Leon Olry-Roederer Hurdle winner Dulce Leo (Priolo).
 
Interestingly, Dalamine was purchased for €16,000 at the 2013 Tattersalls Ireland November National Hunt Sale by Harry and Lorna Fowler, owners of Rahinston Farm and Stud in County Meath, where the winner of the following day’s Grade One Challow Hurdle, Barters Hill (Kalanisi), was foaled back in 2010.
 
Don Poli’s victory came barely an hour after Gigginstown House Stud-owned horses had filled the first two places in the other Grade One run at Leopardstown that day, the Squared Financial Christmas Hurdle, with the Gordon Elliott-trained five-year-old gelding Prince of Scars (Flemensfirth) defeating the more fancied Alpha des Obeaux (Saddler Maker) by four lengths under Davy Russell.
 
Twice a graduate of Tattersalls Ireland, having originally been bought by Swanbridge Bloodstock for €37,000 at the 2010 November National Hunt Sale before returning at the 2013 Derby National Hunt Sale where Conor O’Dwyer went to €175,000 to secure the then three-year-old, Prince of Scars is one of three winners produced by the two-time Grade Three winning hurdler Spirit Leader (Supreme Leader), a half-sister to the 1995 Grade One Royal Bond Novice Hurdle winner That’s My Man (Remainder Man), making him a half-brother to the 2012 Listed Powerstown Novice Hurdle and 2014 Punchestown Grand National Trial Handicap Chase winner Folsom Blue (Old Vic).
 
The following day at Newbury, Gloucestershire trainer Ben Pauling was represented by his maiden Grade One winner when the aforementioned Barters Hill (Kalanisi) stretched his unbeaten record to six when running out an impressive twelve-length winner of the Challow Novices’ Hurdle in the hands of David Bass for owners Circle of Friends.
 
The winner of four bumpers including the Grade Two Weatherbys Champion Open National Hunt Flat Race at Aintree and now two from two over hurdles Barters Hill is another graduate of the 2013 Tattersalls Ireland Derby National Hunt Sale when purchased by Highflyer Bloodstock for €16,000.
 
The sole winner to date produced by the now retired broodmare 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), Barters Hill descends from the family of Michael Dickinson’s triple Grade One Queen Mother Champion Chase winner Badsworth Boy.
 
By Kalanisi, who has stood at Boardsmill Stud in County Meath since 2008, Barters Hill became the third winner at the highest level over jumps to be sired by Sir Michael Stoute’s dual Grade/Group One winner following the triple Grade One winning hurdler and 2008 Champion Hurdle hero Katchit and the Punchestown Champion Four-Year-Old Hurdle winner Barizan, with other useful recruits to the jumping game being the Grade Two winning hurdlers Alaivan, Kyrie Eleison and Simarian as well as the Listed winning mare Kalane.
 
Willie Mullins and Ruby Walsh teamed up for a fifth successive victory in the Grade One Ryanair Hurdle, formerly the December Hurdle and won by the great Hurricane Fly between 2012 and 2014, at Leopardstown when Walsh galvanised the Andrea and Graham Wylie-owned Nichols Canyon (Authorized) to a two-length success over the Fighting Fifth Hurdle winner Identity Thief (Kayf Tara), the five-year-old gelding’s sixth success at the highest level over hurdles.
 
Formerly trained on the Flat by John Gosden, having been purchased by Blandford Bloodstock for 48,000 guineas at the 2011 Tattersalls October Yearling Sale, Nichols Canyon hails from the family of multiple European Group One winners Avenir Certain, Luso and Warrsan being a half-brother to the 2014 Listed Cheshire Oaks third Bright Approach (New Approach) out of Zam Zoom (Dalakhani), an unraced half-sister to the 2011 Group Three Winter Derby winner Nideeb (Exceed And Excel) as well as last year’s Group Two Doncaster Cup third Suegioo (Manduro).
 
A day on from the victory of Prince of Scars, Gigginstown House Stud and Gordon Elliott combined for another Grade One success when Bryan Cooper steered No More Heroes (Presenting) to a nine-length triumph in the Grade One Neville Hotels Novice Chase, his second successive victory over fences at the highest level following his success in the Drinmore Novice Chase at Fairyhouse in November.
 
A three-time graduate of Tattersalls Ireland, on the latter occasion when purchased by Elliott for €57,000 at the 2012 Derby National Hunt Sale, No More Heroes is a half-brother to the four-time winner under National Hunt rules Balding Banker (Accordion) and the dual hurdles winner Escudero (Snurge). Out of the unraced mare What A Breeze (Naheez), a half-sister to the two-time Grade One winning hurdler Fiveforthree (Arzanni), the triple Graded-winning chaser Celestial Gold (Persian Mews) and What A Mewsment (Persian Mews), the point-to-point placed dam of the 2013 Guinness Handicap Chase winner Klepht (Great Palm) and Dan Skelton’s 2015 Listed Newton Novices’ Hurdle winner Welsh Shadow (Robin des Champs), No More Heroes is also from the further family of the dual Cheltenham Gold Cup winner and 1975 Grand National winner L’Escargot.
 
Completing a Grade One double over the festive period for Presenting, the leading National Hunt sire who stands at Glenview Stud in County Cork, was the Willie Mullins-trained Yorkhill (Presenting) who handled the testing conditions at Sandown Park with ease to record a two-and-a-quarter length victory in the Tolworth Hurdle under Ruby Walsh.
 
From an exceedingly strong jumping family, Yorkhill, who was purchased by Ian Ferguson for €41,000 as a foal at the 2010 Tattersalls Ireland November National Hunt Sale, since when he has passed into the ownership of Andrea and Graham Wylie, is the first winner to be produced by Lightning Breeze (Saddlers’ Hall), an unraced half-sister to the four-time Grade One winning chaser and 2006 Lexus Chase hero The Listener (Roselier), the 2007 Grade One Ellier Novice Chase winner Offshore Account (Oscar), the 2005 Grade Two Reynoldstown Chase winner Distant Thunder (Phardante), the 2004 Grade Three National Hunt  Handicap Chase winner Fork Lightning (Roselier) and the 2010 Foxrock Handicap Chase winner Dooneys Gate (Oscar).
 
Another sire to be responsible for a Grade One double over Christmas was the reigning Champion National Hunt sire and three-time winner in all, the sadly deceased King’s Theatre. Following the popular victory of Cue Card (King’s Theatre) in the King George VI Chase on Boxing Day, Bellshill (King’s Theatre) completed the double last Sunday when the Andrea and Graham Wylie-owned six-year-old gelding gained a first victory at the highest level with a five-length success for trainer Willie Mullins in the Lawlor’s Hotel Novice Hurdle at Naas under Ruby Walsh.
 
Like Yorkhill, Bellshill was purchased as a foal at the 2010 Tattersalls Ireland November National Hunt Sale by Ian Ferguson, in his case costing €21,000, before being bought privately by Mullins, since when he has run in the familiar black and gold colours of the Wyllie’s’. One of four winners produced by the unplaced mare Fairy Native (Be My Native), Bellshill is a full brother to the four-time jumps winner Foxbridge (King’s Theatre) and the triple winner under National Hunt rules Chieftain’s Choice (King’s Theatre), and hails from the family of the dual King George VI Chase hero and Queen Mother Champion Chase winner One Man. In addition, being by King’s Theatre out of a Be My Native mare means Bellshill is bred along the same lines as another exciting Mullins inmate, the dual-Grade Three winning hurdler Morning Run (King’s Theatre).
 
Finally, in breeding news John Deer’s Oakgrove Stud near Chepstow is reported to have foaled the first foal, a bay filly, by the four-time Group One winning miler and 2014 Champion three-year-old miler, Kingman. The mare who foaled the filly is their recent 240,000 guineas purchase from the 2015 Tattersalls December Mares Sale, Exceptionelle (Exceed And Excel), a winner over six furlongs when with Roger Varian and a half-sister to the 2006 Group Three Kolner Herbst-Stuten-Meile winner Turning Light (Fantastic Light), herself the dam of the 2011 Listed La Puente Stakes winner Surrey Star (Dubawi).