Early season three-year-old maidens littered with Classic-entered runners carry many a hope and dream for owners and breeders, and on an early April afternoon at Saint-Cloud, one exciting winner shone out on a rather bleak day.
Facteur Cheval, a three-year-old gelding from the first crop of Ribchester, was making his debut for young trainer Jerome Reynier and owner Hubert Honore. Handling the deep conditions well, he had little problem beating a promising field by upwards of five lengths.
He is a fine advertisement for the McCracken families small Northern Ireland stud. A family operation headed by Cecil and Hazel along with their sons Martin and Craig, the Co. Down based breeders have been punching well above their weight for a number of years.
Their star mare has undoubtedly been Al Andalyya, purchased from Darley in 2012 for 10,500gns, who has produced two star performers in Godolphin’s three-time G1 winner Best Solution and last year’s G1-winning juvenile El Bodegon (trained by James Ferguson, whose father John bought Best Solution for 90,000gns in 2015).
Expect fireworks later this season when Al Andalyya’s yearling colt, by star young stallion Night Of Thunder, heads to the sales.
Jawlaat, the dam of Facteur Cheval, was also a relatively cheap purchase from a major stud, this time Shadwell Farms for 18,000gns. From the exceptional extended family of Allegretta, whose descendants include the Derby winners Galileo, Sea The Stars, and Masar, Craig McCracken explained the reasons for sending her to Ribchester, “He was a brilliant four-time G1 winner and when we saw him we thought we needed to send him something with speed”
“Jawlaat fitted that bill, being a Shamardal half-sister to Teofilo’s G3-winning sprinter Tantheem. She is a big mare, 16.2 hands high, and we always loved the resultant foal, a big colt that needed a bit of time”
Sent to Tattersalls in late November, the price tag of 145,000gns matched the McCracken’s estimation, becoming Ribchester’s best foal return of the season.
Demand for first-crop sire #Ribchester continues as H Honore goes to 145,000gns for a Ribchester colt out of the #Shamardal mare Jawlaat 👏🏻 Consigned by McCracken Farms @Tattersalls1766 💥 pic.twitter.com/g7KdfnvGWP— Darley (@DarleyStallions) November 28, 2019
“I’m glad he went to France”, Craig continued, “he was always going to be more of a three-year-old type and they tend to take things more slowly over there, which probably will benefit him in the long run”.
Facteur Cheval is an exciting prospect, and while he is a gelding meaning a Classic campaign is out of the equation, he has the potential to reach the very top.
Another Kildangan stallion that has impressed Craig is Ghaiyyath, who they used twice in 2021 and three times this season, “he’s a no-brainer really”.
“He was a fantastic racehorse, a Group-winning juvenile, who was the best in the world as an older horse. When we saw him we were impressed, he is big but also well proportioned. And he has the breeding to back that up”.
“Sons of Dubawi have been impressing us, through the likes of Night Of Thunder, Time Test, and Zarak. Ghaiyyath also has that Classic profile, being out of Galileo’s Irish 1,000 Guineas heroine Nightime. He ticks every box”.
Hope is certainly high as Al Andalyya has recently produced a “lovely big bay filly” by Ghaiyyath.
For a small farm that has only 12-15 mares at any given time, they have made the transition toward selling more as yearlings rather than foals. Going forward, the plan is to keep improving the quality of its mares with the aim of breeding ‘’racehorses’’ while also continuing to run a successful commercial operation.
Every indication is they know what they are doing, are on the up and it could well be the time for hopes and dreams to become reality.