Grade 2 double
Many of the Cheltenham Trials continue to go the way of Highflyer-sourced horses as both Yanworth (Gr 2 Kingwell Hurdle) and Zarkandar (Gr 2 Rendlesham Hurdle) took the honours on the weekend of 19 February. Indeed, Zarkandar led a 1-2 for Highflyer buys as he beat Aux Ptits Soins at Haydock and Yanworth was pushed hard by Sceau Royal who is now also Champion Hurdle-bound, whilst the smart chaser Saphir Du Rheu booked his place in the Gold Cup line-up with a smooth victory in the Ivan Straker Chase at Kelso.
With 10 winners over the weekend, Highflyer-bought horses are continuing to set the pace in the run-up to the Cheltenham Festival. The shining star was undoubtedly Altior, who sauntered to victory against his elders in the Gr.2 Game Spirit Chase at Newbury. He is now a heavily odds-on favourite for the Arkle Trophy at Cheltenham. Other smart prospects to win over the last four days included Daphne Du Clos (Listed bumper), Ballyandy (Gr.3 Betfair Hurdle), Politologue and Impulsive Star – all of which head to Cheltenham with high hopes in their respective races there.
Flawless start to February
The first weekend of February saw Highflyer-bought horses win 12 races including the first five races on Musselburgh’s Trials Day on Sunday, 5th February. However, the most prestigious winner of the dozen won Top Notch is the Gr.1 Scilly Isles Novices’ Chase at Sandown – this was the third consecutive victory in this race for the owners (Simon Munir and Isaac Souede) and for jockey Daryl Jacob, following other Highflyer-bought victors Bristol De Mai and Gitane Due Berlais. The other big winner on the Sandown card was another Anthony Bromley purchase, namely Buveur D’Air who has since shot to prominence in the Champion Hurdle betting and may even go off as favourite on the big day in March. Highlights for the Musselburgh 2-day Festival include Frodon, Lough Derg Spirit and Minella Charmer who will all be seen next at the Cheltenham Festival.
The Great Many Clouds
Cheltenham Trials Day was one of very mixed emotions as we lost the amazing Many Clouds after a ding-dong tussle to beat the Gold Cup favourite Thistlecrack in the Gr.2 Cotswold Chase. Bought by David Minton as a foal for his owner Trevor Hemmings, Many Clouds had had many other big days in the sun previously for the Oliver Sherwood stable including the 2014 Hennessy Gold Cup and the 2015 Grand National. He had 12 career victories and had earned almost £1 million in prizemoney for his devoted team. His loss overshadowed what else had been a great day for Highflyer, with seven winners being sourced by the buying team, of which four were in Graded/Listed events. Wholestone and Constantine Bay won both the Grade 2 novice hurdles at Cheltenham and Doncaster and will now head for the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle at the Festival on March 17. Whilst Ziga Boy’s second consecutive victory in the Skybet Chase at Doncaster should hopefully pave a way for him to contest the Grand National in April now.
January has so far proven to be a good month for Highflyer-sourced horses despite a number of high-profile abandonments due to the weather. Bristol De Mai and The New One notched up a smart Grade 2 double over fences and over hurdles at Haydock on Jan 21. Indeed, Bristol De Mai thrust himself firmly into the Gold Cup picture with a demolition display to win the Peter Marsh Chase by 22 lengths. He could next go for the Grade 1 Ascot Chase on 18 Feb. The New One, bought as a 3yo store by David Minton for €25,000, was gutsy in taking the Haydock Champion Hurdle Trial for the third time and whether he goes for the Champion or the Stayers’ Hurdle at Cheltenham, his backers will know they will get a great run for their money as he is a real battler. Willoughby Court was a hugely impressive Grade winner over hurdles at Warwick on Jan 14 and he was a €48,000 store purchase by Highflyer’s Tessa Greatrex. He is Cheltenham-bound now for either the Neptune or the Albert Bartlett.
Fabulous festive period
Christmas week saw Highflyer-bought horses win 29 races for their owners from Boxing Day through to New Year’s Day. The highlights were undoubtedly Yanworth’s impressive victory in the G1 Christmas Hurdle at Kempton and Altior’s facile win in the G2 Wayward Lad Novices’ Chase at the same track. Messire Des Obeaux’s Grade 1 success in the Challow Hurdle on New Year’s Eve was owner Simon Munir’s 101st victory of 2016, with the 100th winner coming courtesy of Missy Tata when she easily took the listed hurdle at Limerick on Dec 28. New Year’s Day at Cheltenham saw a Highflyer 1-2 in the G2 Dipper Novices’ Chase with Whisper narrowly denying the promising 5yo Clan Des Obeaux. Whisper’s victory was the 41st Graded/Listed win by Highflyer purchases this season in what looks like being a record-breaking one for the agency.
Red Letter Day at Cheltenham
The International Hurdle Day at Cheltenham on Dec 10 saw Highflyer-buys scoop 4 of the big races on the card. Led by the indomitable The New One in the £130,000 Hurdle, the Nigel Twiston-Davies trained superstar was winning this actual event for the third time in a row. Frodon, at the other end of the age range being only a 4yo, was a terrifically game winner of the prestigious Caspiar Gold Cup for Paul Nicholls, whilst former Festival Hurdles winner Whisper came back to something like his best when a decisive winner of the Novices Chase. To cap a great day for Anthony Bromley's purchases, Wholestone saw off all challengers to win the Gr2 Albert Bartlett novices hurdle and took owner Simon Munir and Isaac Souede's tally of winners in the calendar year to an astonishing 96.e
Another prolific weekend
With 13 winners sourced by Highflyer, the weekend of 25-27th November was another good one for the firm. Many of the highlights were at Newbury’s 2-day Winter Festival with the likes of Clan Des Obeaux (Gr.2), Who Dares Wins (Listed), Jenkins all winning very impressively. At Newcastle some young stars of the future made winning UK debuts in the shape of Domperignon Du Lys and Calett Mad, whilst Keeper Hill, bought by Tessa Greatrex, looked a particularly promising prospect when winning at Bangor for her husband and owner Max McNeill. Earlier in the week another of Tessa’s buys Surtee Du Berlais took the Listed mares’ hurdle at Kempton – she was shrewdly picked up for only €5,000 when purchased as a 3yo store at the Fairyhouse August Sales.