Grand Du Nord
There can be no denying the prevalence of the French bred horse in British and Irish National Hunt racing. Ever since the turn of the millennium, more and more of our top races are being dominated by the French bred horse.
We purchased him for €23,000, from the Arqana Lumet Show Sale and we’ve brought him across to Micky Hammond's Middleham yard, to summer and strengthen, and then to prep for junior bumpers (National Hunt Flat races.) Our gelding hails from the Grade 1 and Grade 2 French winning family of LOUPING D’AINAY and SIRENE D’AINAY, and being by Montmartre, the sire of Labaik, Bigmartre, Petite Parisienne and Capitaine, no less, he is very much bred to excel over hurdles and fences; we can’t wait to see his schooling and tutelage being used, as he matures and progresses, through the variety of disciplines that National Hunt Racing has to offer. Read about his sire here: https://www.agakhanstuds.com/Horse/200500303/en
The real beauties of the French bred horse are their precocity and their agility. French horses are tutored from a very early stage, often from being yearlings and 2yo’s to canter, gallop and jump adroitly. Most Irish store horses are wrapped up in cotton wool until the time of their sale, through the ring, as a 3yo. Combine the active preparation of the typical French horse with the precocious and active French gene pool, and it pretty much explains why French bred horses, tend to come to hand, much sooner than their GB or Irish bred counterparts.
Our Montmartre gelding has been schooled over numerous obstacles at home, both loose schooling (without a jockey) and with a jockey on board too. At 17hh, he is a big, imposing, chasing type, who is destined for fences. This young gelding affords his owners a long-term project, but offers immediate NH action and therefore sits as a great opportunity for the first time National Hunt owner, to “jump aboard!”
Racing Update: Here’s a very very, exciting horse. He’s a Saturday horse, make no mistake. His form at Weatherby, just before Christmas, when 2nd, behind the Grade 1 horse Hillcrest, now looks exceptional, given what he’s gone on to do. There was even a time, half way up the home straight, when it looked like we’d maybe come to give Hillcrest something serious to think about. Obviously, that wasn’t going to be. A couple of times this season, he hasn’t quite finished his race off as well as we might have expected, Wetherby being one, and subsequently, we’ve found we needed to tidy up his wind. It’s a perfectly regulation procedure in National Hunt parlance and he’s back, as good as ever, in his homework. He’s yet to see a fence, in public, a discipline that his giant 17.1hh frame is crying out for, and we can’t wait to see him novice chasing eventually. He’ll race again this Spring, probably over hurdles, where he looks absolutely ‘thrown in’ off 105 for his handicap debut, given the balance of his form, and now undoubted well-being. God willing, there’s a whole heap of races to be won in 2022.
Here he is enjoying himself at home!