While Silviniaco Conti, Hurricane Fly and Faugheen were hitting the headlines over the holiday period, the offspring of a former Flat racing star were running with their fair share of success.
In a short yet illustrious career Kayf Tara became one of the great stayers of his time, winning both the Gold Cup at Royal Ascot and the St Leger in Ireland on two occasions, along with the Goodwood and Yorkshire Cups. Dominant from 1998 to 2000, a sparkling career was cut short by injury and though now a 21-year-old, his career as a stallion continues at the Overbury Stud, just north of Cheltenham.
Owned by Godolphin, the son of Sadler’s Wells was a powerful, relentless galloper. His second Irish St Leger victory epitomised his strengths, when simply running his opponents into the turf. It’s no surprise that many of his offspring have similar qualities, and he has become one of the most prodigious sires of National Hunt racehorses.
He is the sire to over 140 winners with an incredible 70 jumpers rated over the 120 mark. The likes of Carruthers and Planet of Sound were Grade 1 winning staying chasers. The former was successful in the Hennessy at Newbury and a lover of the mud, while Philip Hobbs’ chaser had his greatest day in the Punchestown Gold Cup on decent ground, beating War Of Attrition and Denman in the process.
In Boxing Day’s Christmas Hurdle, Sign Of A Victory was thrown in at the deep end by trainer Nicky Henderson, a step-up in class that proved a little overwhelming at this stage of his career. Though beaten heavily in a race won by the stunning Faugheen , the six-year-old son of Kayf Tara has a bright future, and a step up in trip would come as no surprise. He travels through his races like a classy sort and followers should not lose faith on the back of one disappointing run.
One son of the Godolphin star who continues on a steep upward curve is Lieutenant Colonel. His Grade 1 victory at Leopardstown in the three mile Christmas Hurdle makes him a live contender for the World Hurdle in March. Plans for a winter campaign over fences were aborted when he lost in a beginners chase at Naas. But the switch back to hurdles now appears a master-stroke. Owner’s Gigginstown have a host of novice chasers, and this fella will no doubt take high order over the larger obstacles in time. For now, he continues to strengthen into his large frame, and progress as a classy staying hurdler.
On the same day at Leopardstown another from the talented bloodline announced himself as a horse with a bright future. Identity Thief also runs in the famous Gigginstown silks, and his victory over a smart Noel Meade novice was eye-catching. Trained by Henry De Bromhead, the shape he made jumping the last flight suggested he will become a natural over fences.
But it hasn’t just been the Kayf Tara youngsters catching the eye in recent weeks; in fact one of the most stunning runs came from the now eight-year-old chaser Special Tiara, who treated the Kempton public to a sensational round of jumping. Barry Geraghty sent the De Bromhead chaser to the front and his willing partner did the rest. Several giant leaps had the crowd gasping as he made all to take the Desert Orchid Chase in style.
And yesterday it was the turn of Exeter races to become the ‘stage’ for yet another talented Kayf Tara youngster. Philip Hobbs loves the Devon track and he unleashed a six-year-old named War Sound to win cosily, beating another talented horse in Neil Mulholland’s Southfield Royale. Sure he was in receipt of plenty of weight, but for his first racecourse outing it was a mightily impressive performance.
It’s a successful Jump racing dynasty that shows no sign of waning. Kayf Tara continues to produce horses capable of reaching the very highest level, following in their father’s hoof prints.