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Cue Card wins the Weatherbys Champion Bumper Cheltenham 17.03.2010

Cue Card: Weatherbys Champion Bumper winner one of just two British-bred winners at this year's Cheltenham Festival



Irish-breds rule
festival roost

IRISH-trained horses lagged some way behind their British counterparts at last week's Cheltenham Festival, but in the breeding stakes Ireland routed its rivals.

Horses bred in Ireland enjoyed their best result since 2007, with 37 win and placed horses in all races. They increased their tally of wins to 15 from 14 last year, and the number of all-important Grade 1 races they won was eight, two more than last year.

Last year Irish-breds drew a blank in the Festival's four showpiece races - the Champion Hurdle, the World Hurdle, the Champion Chase and the Gold Cup - but this time around they won two.

Both winners, Big Zeb and Imperial Commander, gave a shot in the arm for slower-maturing horses, who in recent seasons have struggled to maintain supremacy in championship races against earlier-starting Gallic jumps horses such as Kauto Star and Master Minded.

The increase in Irish-bred Grade 1 victories came at the expense of French-breds, whose tally of three was two fewer than last year. British-breds replicated their record at the 2009 Festival, fielding two winners, one at the top level - Champion Bumper scorer Cue Card.

Neither British-bred winner was by a British-based stallion, however.Cue Card is by Ballylinch Stud stalwart King's Theatre and gritty Grand Annual Chase winner Pigeon Island is by former Gilltown Stud stallion Daylami, who after a stint in South Africa has this year returned to stand at Coolagown Stud.

Suffixes aren't always a reliable indicator of a horse's heritage, though, and while imperious World Hurdle winner Big Buck's is chalked up as a triumph for French-breds, his grand-dam was British and exported across the English Channel in the 1980s.

On the other side of the coin, Cue Card must owe a lot of his ability to his dam, the high-class Irish-bred hurdler and chaser Wicked Crack, who has justified the faith that Welsh farmer Roland Crellin had when paying €120,000 for her at Tattersalls Ireland in November 2002.

The sole active, British-based sire on the board with a black-type winner at the festival was Great Palm, whose son Great Endeavour won the Grade 3 Byrne Group Plate, and who stands at Nunstainton Stud in County Durham.

The stallion story of the Festival, however, was Sadler's Wells. As grandsire of six of the week's Grade 1 winners and a further three winners, as well as great-grandsire of Champion Hurdle hero Binocular, the now-retired Coolmore colossus proved that he is not only a dominant force in Flat racing.

Oscar and King's Theatre, with two winners each at the Festival, were the chief agents of Sadler's Wells influence, with another, Golden Tornado, who is unraced and has until this season received only a few unexceptional mares, revealing himself as an emerging talent by supplying surprise Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle winner Berties Dream.




King's Theatre £947,392
Presenting £887,432
Oscar £771,633
Beneficial £757,104
Milan £707,790
Westerner £558,887
Flemensfirth £500,575
Kayf Tara £464,883
Stowaway £400,620
Midnight Legend £391,209