Le Festival, by le FRBC - Friday

8 mars 2021

Le Festival, by le FRBC - Friday

Photos scoopdyga.com

The triple we were rooting for didn’t materialize as the French-bred Gold Cup favourite Al Boum Photo (Buck’s Boum) finished “only” 3rd of the Blue Riband, missing a 3rd consecutive victory behind the two hoses trained by Henry de Bromhead, Minella Indo and our À Plus Tard (Kapgarde).

Yet, three horses from France won on the final 2021 Cheltenham Festival day: Vanillier (Martaline) in the Spa Novices’ Hurdle (Gr1), Porlock Bay (Kayf Tara) in the Challenge Cup and finally, Galopin des Champs (Timos) in the Martin Pipe Hurdle.

Saying that this meeting wasn’t a bumper year for the French-bred horses would be an understatement. This result is not up to the success they enjoy at Cheltenham for about 25 years now.

It has been a peculiar edition of the Festival in many ways, and the below-par returns of the French brigade is only one of many other oddities. It won’t stop French breeders to work hard to raise the best possible foals, our trainers to school them on the best training centres, to race them at Auteuil and so many testing racecourses throughout the country, and bloodstock agents from all parts of Europe to come to France to look for potential champions.

Being unlucky one week is something, staying at the top is another matter. And remember: the French prefer the role of the challenger!


Best French-bred on Day Four


1:20 JCB Triumph Hurdle (Gr1) 2m1f

  • 3rd Haut en Couleurs, owned by Mrs J Donnelly

Bred in Allier by Haras de Saint-Voir & SCEA Patrick Joubert

1:55 McCoy Contractors County Handicap Hurdle (Gr3) 2m1f

  • 2nd Petit Mouchoir, owned by Noel & Valerie Moran

Bred in Mayenne by P Gueret

  • 4th Eclair de Beaufeu (AQPS), owned by Gigginstown House Stud

Bred in Sarthe by M Renaud

2:30 Spa Novices' Hurdle (Gr1) 3m

  • 1st Vanillier, owned by Mrs H M Keaveney

Bred in Sarthe by Écurie Haras des Marais

3:05 Wellchild Cheltenham Gold Cup Chase (Gr1) 3m2½f

  • 2nd À Plus Tard, owned by Cheveley Park Stud

Bred in Sarthe by Mrs Antonia Devin

  • 3rd Al Boum Photo, owned by Mrs J Donnelly

Bred in Allier par Emmanuel Clayeux & Jacky Rauch

  • 5th Frodon, owned by P J Vogt

Bred in Côtes-d’Armor by P Gasdoue

3:40 St. James's Place Festival Challenge Cup Open Hunters' Chase 3m2½f

  • 1st Porlock Bay, owned by John Studd

Bred in Sarthe by John Studd

4:15 Libertine Mares' Chase (Gr2) 2m4½f

  • 2nd Elimay, owned by J P McManus

Bred in Calvados by Christophe Toulorge

  • 4th Salsaretta, owned by Mrs Susan Ricci

Bred in Orne by Mrs L Gagneux & D Guindon

4:50 Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys' Handicap Hurdle 2m4½f

  • 1st Galopin des Champs, owned by Mrs Audrey Turley

Bred in Calvados by GAEC Champs

  • 3rd Floueur (AQPS), owned by Claudio Michael Grech

Bred in Meuse by A Hamm

  • 5th Dallas des Pictons (AQPS), owned by Gigginstown House Stud

Bred in Vendée by SCEA Marais des Pictons


Le French-bred of the day


The last two winners of the Albert Bartlett Novices Hurdle (Gr1), aka Spa Hurdle, are Monkfish and Minella Indo, who won the Broadway Novices’ Chase (Gr1) and the Gold Cup (Gr1) this meeting. The fact that 6-year-old Vanillier won the hot 3-miler by no less than 11 lengths, that is 9 to eleven more than the two previous victors on their day, would make one think that there is a lot to look forward to!

Bred by Isabelle and Nicolas Simon in Sarthe, Vanillier was sold at Arqana as a weanling for €46 000 to Irish bloodstock agent Seamus Murphy, who sold him three years later at the Goffs Land Rover sale to Peter and Ross Doyle. In January 2020, Vanillier was unsold at Goffs UK after his first point-to-point win.


Le French breeder of the day

Haras de Marais, Isabelle and Nicolas Simon

The Haras des Marais was created in 1994 by Isabelle and Nicolas Simon, who celebrated one of their best victories ever when their grey Vanillier won the Spa Hurdle (Gr1) today at Cheltenham.

Trained in Ireland by Gavin Cromwell, he made it up for his first test in a Gr1, last time out in Leopardstown, in a race won by Gaillard du Mesnil. He had done little wrong before that, and the Simons’ patience with his dam Virgata, whom they also bred, has finally been rewarded.

They are used to long-shots. Who would have thought that they would breed a three-parts brother to Tiger Roll whom they sold for €45,000 as a weanling last year at Arqana to Sebastien Desmontils’ Chauvigny Global Equine? The colt is named Tiger Blood.

The Haras des Marais was also the first home of Al Bustan, winner of the Gran Premio Merano in 2017.


Bloodstock agent of the day

Pierre Boulard (PB Bloodstock)

Pierre Boulard is now a familiar figure for many top trainers in Britain and Ireland and had two runners to cheer in the Gold Cup this season, Al Boum Photo and Kemboy. He’s been a key operator in the success of the French-breds over the Channel for many years. Pierre hails from a family that is all dedicated to racing, with a brother, François, who just retired as head of the racing programme at France Galop, and another, Dominique, who works with Arqana.

Pierre was honoured with an article in the Racing Post on Sunday before the Cheltenham festival under the headline “Meet the man Mullins trusts to the French winners flowing”. Regardless of the 2021 Festival results, the flow has been strong and steady so far!

Pierre Boulard lives near Paris and is a member of the French Bloodstock Agents Association (AFC): https://www.courtiersafc.com/pierre-boulard