Mount Nelson’s focus switched to the jumps

Penhill: lands the Grade 2 Guinness Novice Hurdle at Limerick

PICTURE: Alain Barr Mount Nelson's focus switched to the jumps By Ollie O'Donoghue 11:21AM 6 JAN 2017

EYEBROWS were raised last year when Mount Nelson was sold to Ireland to have his focus switched to the jumps, many lamenting the loss of a solid British-based Flat sire.

Boardsmill Stud is the new owner of Mount Nelson, but the son of Rock Of Gibraltar is still available to Flat breeders as he will stand in a dual-purpose role at the County Meath operation for a fee of €4,500 this year.

Mount Nelson has in recent months proved his appeal to Flat and jumps breeders, with a cluster of high-class performers on the Flat and a timely result over Christmas when Penhill was an easy winner of the Grade 2 Guinness Novice Hurdle at Limerick.

Boardsmill Stud manager John Flood says the 13-year-old, who arrived with him in October, will still cover a fair number of Flat mares.

"Mount Nelson has been settling in very well after coming over from Britain," he says. "He has a great temperament and was well managed at Newsells.

"He has plenty of appeal for Flat breeders. We already have a number of Flat mares booked into him from Ireland, France and the UK. His stock are versatile, both trip-wise and ground-wise. They are tough horses who train on and seem to improve year on year. We've seen from his early crops that he seems to be upgrading his mares. He also has plenty of quality Flat runners yet to run for him.

"Librisa Breeze is one I'm particularly looking forward to. He is unexposed and I'd expect him to become a Group 2, if not a Group 1 sprinter – he looks like he might improve from four to five.

"Highlands Queen is another by Mount Nelson and I'm hoping she'll stay in training. She was impressive in her Group 2 in France [won the Prix de Pomone by two and a half lengths last August]. She is also a big mare – Mount Nelson was a big, imposing type who gets big horses, which may be why his stock improve with age.

"Qatar Racing have Mountain Bell, who won a Listed race at Chester in September and was touched off by Duretto in the Group 3 St Simon Stakes at Newbury in October. She has the makings of a Group-class filly."

Boardsmill is better known as a home of jumps stallions and has three good sources of hurdlers and chasers on its roster in Califet, Court Cave and Kalanisi. Flood expects Mount Nelson will appeal to jumps breeders too.

"They will benefit from his speed – he was a Group 1-winning two-year-old. Rock Of Gibraltar and his damsire Selkirk were both good milers. He should put speed and class into National Hunt mares. He has a nice physique, and is one of the best walking stallions I have seen. He is a lovely mover, and we would hope he imparts that into his jumps stock."

Nothing helps a stallion more than high-profile winners and Penhill, a six-year-old son of Mount Nelson trained by Willie Mullins for Tony Bloom, has arrived just at the right time.

"Penhill is the obvious one we are looking forward to over jumps," says Flood. "He's been the flagbearer for his sire over jumps so far, and one that could also revert to Flat handicaps or even Group races.

"Nelson's Touch is another who did well, finishing second in a bumper at Exeter the same week. The first two pulled a good way clear of the third-placed horse."

As well as new blood in Mount Nelson, the stud's other residents have been enjoying a recent hot spell as well.

"The ones that raced were tough but Court Cave was unraced," says Flood. "He also upgraded his mares, and has done it the hard way. His first big crop after the success of Champion Court and Court Minstrel is just turning five. He was covering smaller books before then."

Barters Hill, who is by another Boardsmill resident in Kalanisi, won seven in a row for trainer Ben Pauling including the Grade 1 Challow Hurdle at Newbury, and now Pauling has a son of Court Cave in Willoughby Court who Flood hopes can emulate Barters Hill.

"He was entered in the Challow Hurdle, but didn't run. He has a bright future. Roger Brookhouse has Clondaw Cracker with Neil Mulholland and is another promising sort."

Flood is also pleased with the success of Califet, whose runners having been doing well recently, particularly in France.

"Califet is a proper Grade 1 sire who will be popular this year. He has already had Clarcam and Adrien Du Pont."

"Blue Dragon is a highly-rated hurdler in France and finished the year with a Grade 2 win. He is also a previous Grade 1 winner.

"Carriacou was a new Grade 1 winner for Califet, having won a four-year-old chase at Auteuil in November and Solway has also been Graded-placed.

"Cilaos Emery is with Willie Mullins and won a bumper at the Punchestown festival in April and won his maiden hurdle at Navan two weeks ago. He looked very impressive that day. Of the younger ones, he would be the one we are looking forward to most."

Completing the quartet is Kalanisi, whose name has been in lights with a Nicky Henderson runner.

"Brain Power is coming up through the ranks and the penny is finally dropping with him. After his Ascot win he is up to a rating of 161, which is pretty much Champion Hurdle class. He won pretty easily so the 12lb rise was no surprise.

"Kalane won the Listed mares' chase at Doncaster last week. Both of them happen to be out of Old Vic mares."

While there is plenty to be optimistic about in the Boardsmill Stud stallion roster, Flood is also well aware of the issue of overproduction in the industry.

"Judging by recent sales, I think we all have to look at what we are covering," he says. "Ultimately, the market decides, and if someone goes to the sale with something they can't sell, they need to ask themselves why that was and whether they should be covering the same mare.

"The market suggests too much was bred to meet the demand. With National Hunt, some people are breeding for stores so it is still early doors for some jumps breeders.

"There are mixed messages about overproduction. The authorities and racecourses want more runners, yet there is not enough demand in the market. We need more end users as the majority are now are buying to resell. We need to attract new owners under both codes."

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