Monday 3 January 2011
Aga Khan-breds are renowned for their versatility and class if they proceed to a second career over hurdles and during the festive period a host of former bearers of the famous green and red silks have once again demonstrated their talents in the National Hunt discipline.
Mourad lead the way with victory in the Gr 2 Christmas Hurdle during Leopardstown’s important December meeting. The son of SINNDAR and Kahyasi mare Mouramara has already scored at Gr 3 level over hurdles, taking the Ladbrokes.com Hurdle at Fairyhouse last April, and has been placed on five occasions in Gr 1 company including at the Cheltenham and Punchestown Festivals. A half-brother to Stakes-placed middle-distance and staying performers Mourilyan and Mourayan, Mourad won a pair of races on the flat for John Oxx before changing hands for £80,000 at the Doncaster Horses in Training sale in October 2008. Now trained by Willie Mullins, he is now likely to be aimed for the Gr 1 World Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival in March.
Mourad could meet fellow Aga Khan-bred ASHKAZAR (Sadler’s Wells) in the World Hurdle after the latter put in an impressive finish to win the valuable Skybet.com Handicap Hurdle at Cheltenham on New Year’s Day. Now aged seven, ASHKAZAR showed plenty of class on the flat to take second in the Listed Prix de l’Avre before a sixth in the Gr 2 King Edward VII Stakes at Royal Ascot and fifth place in the Gr 1 Grand Prix de Paris. After a private sale he has adapted well to the jumping discipline and now counts seven wins over hurdles for handler David Pipe, including the Gr 2 Kingwell Hurdle, plus a victory over fences.
At Cagnes-sur-Mer’s winter meeting, French champion hurdler Mandali (SINNDAR) was back to winning ways to pick up the Prix Alain du Breil conditions event under Nathalie Desoutter, from his consistent stablemate Viotti. Future plans have not been revealed for this half-brother to champion filly Mandesha.
Back in Leopardstown, exciting novice hurdler ZAIDPOUR finished second in the Gr 1 Future Champions Novice Hurdle. The son of Red Ransom and Prix de Diane heroine Zainta was suffering his first defeat over hurdles but lost nothing in this reverse of fortunes as the race came just two weeks after his previous outing, a spectacular twelve-length win in the Gr 1 Royal Bond Novice Hurdle. Trainer Wille Mullins felt that ZAIDPOUR was still feeling the effects of his exertions and was not asked too much by his jockey Paul Townend. ZAIDPOUR remains on course for the Cheltenham Festival in March, where his half-brother Zaynar lifted the Gr 1 Triumph Hurdle in 2009.