French trio in Cheltenham Gold Cup

15 March 2019

French trio in Cheltenham Gold Cup

Photo Hippodrome édition & Communication

Difficult to picture this as a cherry on the cake as the feat exceeds the French breeders' wildest hopes: the first three home in the 2019 Cheltenham Gold Cup (Gr1) were all bred in France.

Al Boum Photo (Buck's Boum), who gave Irish trainer Willie Mullins a first win in the race, finished ahead of Anibale Fly (Assessor) and Bristol de Mai (Saddler Maker). Offered between 12/1 and 22/1, they beat all the favourites including defending champion, Native River, eventually fourth.

The French breeders were waiting for another win in the Gold Cup for eight years, but they had never been able to sweep the top three places in the English blue ribbon of the National Hunt scene.

The winner Al Boum Photo is a 7-year-old thoroughbred bred in the Allier by his first trainer Emmanuel Clayeux and Jacky Rauch. The horse fell in his first and only attempt in France, over hurdles at Moulins in September at 3. He had just been bought back € 70,000 at Arqana summer sales. Passed under the training of Willie Mullins for owner Marie Donnelly, Al Boum Photo did not reappear until December 2016, at 4 years-old. He won two hurdle races in this first season, including a first Group 2 as a novice. During the 2017-2018 season, he switched to chases and fell again on his second attempt after a successful start, then fell once more at Cheltenham in the RSA Novices' Chase (Gr1), but he ended up winning his Group 1 at Fairyhouse. Easy winner for his comeback this season in a Listed Chase at Tramore in Ireland, he was running for the second time only in the Cheltenham Gold Cup ...

His dam Al Gane (Dom Alco) was bred by by Colette and Jacky Rauch. She did not run, but her dam was a sister to two good performers, Al Tip (Dom Alco) and Al Co (Dom Alco). It is also the family of Grands Crus (Dom Alco), who won at Group 1 level in England. The family does get along well with Dom Alco! Buck's Boum, who sired Al Boum Photo, is a brother to the mighty Big Buck's (Cadoudal), winner of 18 consecutive races between April 2008 and December 2012, including four editions of World Hurdle (Gr1) at Cheltenham ...

Al Boum Photo is Al Gane's first foal. She also gave a full sister born in 2013 called Diteou, who won at Cluny, then a filly by Khalkevi still unraced but trained by Emmanuel Clayeux, a full brother to Al Boum Photo named T'Araison and finally Cokoriko filly born in 2018.

The Gold Cup second Anibale Fly is a 9 year old AQPS. Third in the same race last year, he left France in July 2016 after being bought €16,000 by his trainer Tony Martin at Arqana summer sales, he joined JP McManus' string 18 months later in February 2015 after starting in a bumper with a second place. He has consistently been at the top level in Ireland and managed to finish fourth at the Grand National Liverpool last year, which is a testament to his stamina.

Anibale Fly was bred in Vendée by the Baty family and Freddy Lemercier. His dam is Nouba Fly (Chamberlin). She never raced but it is a sister to the good Petit Robin (Robin des Prés), who has reached the best level in Britain as a 2-mile chaser! Anibale Fly's younger brother, 5-year-old Calgary Fly (Great Pretender), won three times, over hurdles and fences, at Vichy and La Roche Posay.

The gray Bristol de Mai (Saddler Maker), also an AQPS, won the Isopani Hurdle at Auteuil at 3 before moving to Paul Nicholls' yard for owners Simon Munir and Isaac Souede. He had started his career for his breeder Jean-Yves Touzaint and trainer Guillaume Macaire. He has now won 19 times across the Channel, six times at Group 1 and Group 2 level ...

This formidable trio eclipses Ch'ti Bello (Sageburg) 's very deserving victory in the County Handicap Hurdle (Gr3) on Friday, again before two other Frenchbreds, namely We Have A Dream (Martaline) and Countister (Smadoun). ). Finally, the last race of the festival was won by Early Doors (Soldier of Fortune), bred in the Orne by Derek Clee. He won a Handicap Hurdle on Friday beating ... two other horses imported from France.

In total, the Frenchbreds won 14 of the 28 races at the Festival this year, including seven Group 1 races, the Gold Cup and the Champion Hurdle.

This is a tribute to French breeders and horsemen's ability. They have been able to produce and train great horses that today wave the flag in Britain and Ireland. While waiting maybe to challenge those who remained in France, at Auteuil. It sounds like a plan for Al Boum Photo!