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UNIONISTE Cheltenham 15-12-12.

Unioniste: yet another Paul Nicholls-trained star by Dom Alco

  PICTURE: Edward Whitaker (  

Saturday's jumps races - the breeding angles

Cheltenham: International Hurdle (Grade 2), 2m1f

ZARKANDAR (5 g Azamour - Zarkasha by Kahyasi)

Bred by His Highness The Aga Khan's Studs SC in Ireland

As a half-brother to the unbeaten Arc heroine Zarkava, Zarkandar owns a Flat pedigree out of the top drawer. However, after a relatively successful Flat career, during which he won at Clairefontaine, the Aga Khan-bred has developed into a top-class hurdler.

Zarkandar is from the first crop of the Aga Khan's King George winner Azamour, also the sire of recent Henry VIII Novices' Chase third Third Intention as well as this season's Prix de Diane heroine Valyra. The son of Night Shift stands at Gilltown Stud for €10,000.

He is out of the unraced Kahyasi mare Zarkasha, who is a half-sister to Group 3 winner Zarkiya as well as the classy French jumper Zarkali. Zarkasha, a direct descendant of Prince Aly Khan's multiple Group 1 winner Petite Etoile, has a yearling filly by Sea The Stars.

Osborne House Relkeel Hurdle (Grade 2), 2m41/2f

OSCAR WHISKY (7 g Oscar - Ash Baloo by Phardante)

Bred by Stephanie Hanly in Ireland

Oscar Whisky's easy victory over Crack Away Jack handed Oscar a second major winner within a week following the success of Days Hotel in the Hilly Way Chase at Cork last Sunday.

It also saw the son of Sadler's Wells, who stands at Coolmore's Grange Stud and is also responsible for the likes of the 2010 Champion Chase winner Big Zeb and top hurdler Peddlers Cross, climb into third behind Beneficial on the leading jumps sires' list.

Oscar Whisky is a half-brother to last year's Listed-placed hurdler Taraval (by Milan) and out of Ash Baloo, a daughter of Phardante who was successful in a 2m maiden hurdle at Fairyhouse for Charlie Swan.

She is closely related to the useful Grade 2 bumper-winner Drumbaloo.

Oscar Whisky was bought as three-year-old by his owner Guy Walters for €80,000 at the Goffs Land Rover Sale in 2008.

Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle (Grade 2), 3m

CONEYGREE (5 g Karinga Bay - Plaid Maid by Executive Perk)

Bred by Lord Oaksey in Britain

Coneygree, a half-brother to Hennessy winner Carruthers, continued his progression up the ranks with a six-length victory in this competitive novice affair.

Coneygree is from the final crop of the tough, Group 3-winning globe-trotter Karinga Bay, who died at Mickley Stud in 2006, and shares his sire with last season's Grade 2-winning novice chase Our Mick.

His victory also paid a posthumous tribute to breeder Lord Oaksey, who died in September, as well as his dam, the 2011 TBA Broodmare of the Year Plaid Maid, who died in 2009. The five-time winner initially struck notoriety as the dam of popular chaser Carruthers, whose victories include last year's Hennessy Gold Cup and the 2009 Reynoldstown Novices' Chase.

Paul Stewart IronSpine Charity Challenge Gold Cup (Handicap Chase) Grade 3, 2m5f

UNIONISTE (4 g Dom Alco - Gleep Will by Cadoudal)

Bred by Haras de Saint-Voir et al in France

Paul Nicholls has enjoyed plenty of success with the progeny of the late Dom Alco thanks to the likes of Neptune Collonges, Silviniaco Conti and Al Ferof, and he appears to have another smart prospect by the sire on his hands in Unioniste, who became the youngest ever winner of this race when successful over Walkon.

Unioniste also hails from a family that Nicholls knows well since he is a half-brother to former Ditcheat stalwart My Will, whose achievements included running third in the 2009 Grand National.

They are out of the placed Gleep Will and from the further family of last season's Grade 3-winning juvenile hurdler Ut De Sivola.




King's Theatre £948,417
Presenting £889,316
Oscar £772,014
Beneficial £757,104
Milan £711,606
Westerner £562,432
Flemensfirth £516,588
Kayf Tara £470,195
Stowaway £400,859
Midnight Legend £396,669