Champagne West may have stuttered a little on his way to victory at Cheltenham on Saturday, but he remains a horse of huge potential. Whether the winter campaign culminates in a tilt at the JLT or the RSA at Cheltenham in March, he’s sure to be a decent each-way prospect. Ground conditions at The Festival are sure to play a part in the decision making process.
His owner Roger Brookhouse is rightly excited by the prospect of further big wins, having tasted recent success in the Arkle Chase with Western Warhorse. But he’s not one to rest on his laurels, and was again splashing the cash at the latest Brightwells Sale at Cheltenham on Friday.
A three-year-old son of Westerner, the same sire as Champagne West, was purchased for £31,000, while the tidy sum of £130,000 was blown on a four-year-old son of Royal Anthem out of a Bob Back mare. He spent exactly the same amount in the November sales on a gelding named Stilletto, who not surprisingly is yet another son of Westerner.
A high-profile purchase from the spring was Alisier D’Irlande, who disappointed slightly when only third on debut at Ascot behind an exciting newcomer from Team Ditcheat called Arpege D’alene. A winner of his sole point to point in Ireland, the horse cost £300,000 at the Brightwells Sale in April. A chaser in the making, the son of Kapgarde is only a four-year-old and looks sure to improve as the season progresses.
Neck or Nothing is another carrying the familiar light blue silks, and could well start out over hurdles this week. The winner of a Punchestown bumper for Tom Hogan last year, he was then transferred to Philip Hobbs prior to his run in the Champion Bumper at the Cheltenham Festival. He ran with the ‘choke out’ that day and it is hoped that he will learn to settle and should make into a decent novice hurdler. He has the size to make a lovely chaser in time.
Brookhouse also has two potentially smart types under the guidance of Tom George. Some Buckle was a facile winner at Southwell on his reappearance just over a week ago. The five-year-old son of Milan is another that looks a chaser in the making. He beat little at the Midlands track, but was a close third to Zeroeshadesofgrey and Relick Rock in a bumper back in February. The former has boosted the form with three impressive wins since being sent over hurdles.
Stellar Notion is another under the care of the Gloucestershire trainer. A lovely big son of Presenting, the horse is made for fences and was impressive on his chasing debut at Leicester. The owner paid a lofty sum for him again at a Brightwells Cheltenham Sale. He looks to have a bright future.
The Whateley’s, Ricci’s and a certain Michael O’Leary are prepared to pay big money for some of the best jump racing stock around. There seems little doubt that Mr Brookhouse is keen to compete with such owners, and is happy to get the cheque book out on a regular basis to do so.