Trainers nominate favourites
So who will be the leading sires of the future? Neil O'Donnell asked several of our top jumps trainers to nominate their favourite young National Hunt stallions, roughly defined as those whose first crop of foals are no more than seven years of age.
TWO horses cropped up quite prominently in the choices of the trainers: Oscar and Flemensfirth.
The duo stand under the Coolmore banner and their first crop are both 6-year-olds in 2005. Oscar resides at the historic Grange Stud outside Fermoy while Flemensfirth is based at The Beeches Stud near Tallow.
The now 11-year-old Oscar was a top racehorse himself and, a 16.1 HH bay, he is a son of the mighty Sadler's Wells. Although he won just one race, Oscar had the class to finish second to the subsequent 'Arc' winner Peintre Celebre - beaten two lengths - in the 1997 French Derby at Chantilly. That was to be his final racecourse start and he was trained throughout his 4-race career by Pascal Bary. Importantly, Oscar is an own-brother to the 1990 Epsom Derby runner-up Blue Stag, while he is also closely related to the 2001 European champion Sakhee.
A good barometer is when a stallion can get off the mark quite quickly. Oscar did so in this regard as two members of his first crop, Knock Down and Sargon, both won on the flat as 3-year-olds in France in 2001. Tony Mullins is a confirmed Oscar fan.
Mullins has sampled success with the Oscar-sired William Bonney who made a victorious career debut as a 4-year-old in a Listowel bumper and he also sent out another one of his sons, the currently-sidelined Bold Jack Donohue, to finish third in two bumpers last year.
"Oscar is one of the rare sires who does not necessarily stamp his stock," said Mullins. "He can get a small horse or a big scopey type but yet they all seem to have ability. That's the thing about him I love."
Paul Nolan saddled his first winner by Oscar when the then 5-year-old Escrea, won a mare's maiden hurdle at Clonmel on December 8.