Though sadly no longer with us, there’s a French National Hunt Stallion that continues to make a huge impact on the sport.
There’s no doubting that Saddler Maker’s offspring are becoming hot property. The son of Sadler’s Wells out of an Alleged mare died in May 2016 at the age of 18. He’d been a resident at Haras de Cercy in central France. His untimely death came when his services were in great demand. Thankfully, Jumps racing currently has an exciting crop of youngsters that continue to showcase the talents of the late stallion.
Bristol De Mai has become the highest rated of his progeny, following the devastating performance at Haydock on Saturday. Though not essential, it does appear that his offspring prefer soft ground, and indeed many thrive in it. That’s certainly the case with BDM, though Kempton at Christmas may prove just how ground dependant he is.
Another to make a mighty impact in recent weeks is the Nicky Henderson-trained Apple’s Shakira. The sister of Cheltenham Festival winner Apple’s Jade, romped to success at Cheltenham’s November Meeting, coping best with the testing conditions. She leapt to the head of the betting for the Triumph Hurdle in March, and the way she moved at Prestbury Park suggests she’ll prove just as effective on a sounder surface.
Venetia Williams has also got in on the act, and has a young chaser who looks sure to win sooner rather than later. By Saddler Maker out of a Dom Alco mare, Cepage finished faster than anything when runner-up to Sir Valentino in a valuable two-mile handicap chase at Ascot on Saturday. The five-year-old is still a work in progress, and his jumping remains sloppy at times. Nevertheless, he’s on a cracking handicap mark and is sure to be visiting the winners’ enclosure before too long.
Over in Ireland, Alpha Des Obeaux was back to winning ways recently, when capturing the competitive Grade Two Clonmel Oil Chase, beating A Toi Phil by five lengths. He’s still only a seven-year-old and though he may never reach the pinnacle over fences, he’s undoubtedly a classy sort on his day. Unlike others by the stallion, he has looked more at home on a sound surface. It’s maybe a little surprising that he didn’t come over for the Ladbrokes Trophy at Newbury, as he looks the ideal type.
One that will be at Newbury for the ‘big one’ on Saturday is Label Des Obeaux. Alan King’s young chaser needs to improve if he is to win and may be high enough in the handicap. He looks an out-and-out stayer, and at six is open to further improvement. He can be a little erratic over the obstacles, but if managing a clear round, he could be staying-on strongly at Newbury.
Another that has proved something of a sensation this season is the Gordon Elliott-trained Dinaria Des Obeaux. She’s only four, but is making a huge impact over fences and could be running in the Grade One Drinmore Novice Chase this weekend. This filly loves testing ground and has proved a natural over the larger obstacles. Her age and sex allowance has proved a huge advantage thus far, and Elliott is looking to capitalise during the winter. Another of the Gigginstown brigade, she’s an exciting prospect.
Connections are also responsible for the aforementioned Apple’s Jade, who runs this weekend in the Fighting Fifth at Newcastle or the Hatton’s Grace at Fairyhouse. She’s high-class and was impressive on return at Navan. She’s proved to be adaptable regarding ground conditions. Her optimum trip is probably two-and-a-half miles, though she’s class at two and would probably stay three. A return to Cheltenham in March to defend her Mares’ Hurdle crown is likely to be the main target, but she’s sure to gather other major prizes on the way.
It's an exciting time for followers of Saddler Maker, with owners and trainers fully aware of the impact his progeny can make on the National Hunt scene. Punters too can join the ride and hopefully make a few quid on the journey.