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National Hunt world in focus; Lee Mottershead looks at some of the sires on show at the TBA-backed event.

IT MAY come as a surprise to find out that the winners of two St Legers, an Irish Derby and a King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Diamond Stakes will be clashing at Uttoxeter on Saturday. It can mean only one of two occasions - either we have the best novice hurdle of the season in prospect, or the Thoroughbred Breeders' Association's National Hunt Stallion Parade is upon us once again.

Britain's National Hunt breeders are set to flock once more to the popular Staffordshire venue for an annual parade that provides a welcome showcase for a number of the country's principal jumps sires. A total of 22 stallions is scheduled to appear, including quite a few familiar names.

Given that the San Siro in Milan and Sha Tin in Hong Kong hosted Silver Patriarch's last racecourse appearances in 1999, his travels this year, via Doncaster and Newmarket to Uttoxeter, seem tame. But no stallion present on Saturday will receive more attention.

The son of Coolmore National Hunt recruit Saddlers' Hall has been one of the most admirable Flat performers in recent years. A triple Group 1 winner, notably in the St Leger and Coronation Cup, and beaten a short head by Benny The Dip in the 1997 Derby, he again did well last year, when his victories included the Group 2 Jockey Club and Geoffrey Freer Stakes.

Silver Patriarch will stand for 2000 at the National Stud in Newmarket, after 50 per cent of the horse was bequeathed to the stud by the grey's late owner-breeder, Peter Winfield.

Miles Littlewort, chief executive of the National Stud, reports that the new resident has settled in well. He adds: "He has a wonderful temperament and is proving popular, not only with breeders who come to see him here at the stud, but also with those at the Doncaster parade last week."

Further Classic spice is added by the presence of both Classic Cliche and Sir Harry Lewis.

Classic Cliche, who is about to commence his third season at Bill Bromley's Wood Farm Stud, has often been classified as a stayer pure and simple on the back of his St Leger and Ascot Gold Cup victories. Nevertheless, the son of Salse was highly effective in top middle-distance company. At three he won the Group 2 Dante Stakes and was fourth behind Celtic Swing in the Prix du Jockey-Club, while at four he was second to Pentire in the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Diamond Stakes.

Sir Harry Lewis won the Irish Derby and was third in the Epsom Derby in 1987. He formerly stood in Kentucky, where he sired a Grade 1 winner in South America.

Silver Patriarch is not the only first-season sire taking his place in the Uttoxeter paddock this weekend. Helshaw Grange sends the fine dual-purpose performer I'm Supposin from its Shropshire base.

Despite a number of respectable efforts on the Flat, including a second to Pilsudski in the Group 3 Royal Whip, the son of Posen will be best remembered as one of the classiest hurdlers of recent years. An honourable third to Istabraq in the 1998 Champion Hurdle, I'm Supposin had earlier delivered a breathtaking front-running performance to claim Wincanton's Grade 2 Kingwell Hurdle, beating a high-class field in the process.

HELSHAW Grange also sends Environment Friend, winner of the Group 1 Eclipse in 1991 and sire of stakes-winning fillies Green Jewel (Louis Rowan H-Gr3), Supercal and Three Green Leaves, and Overbury, winner of the Queen Elizabeth II Cup in Hong Kong and also the Grade 2 American Derby. He shares his grand-dam with Melbourne Cup hero Vintage Crop and is by Caerleon, as is another of the sires on show, useful middle-distance runner Opera Ghost.

One of the most remarkable success stories of 1999 was that of the former Robert Armstrong-trained River Keen. Formerly a regular on the all-weather, the horse landed two Grade 1 events on dirt in the US last year but disappointed in the Breeders' Cup Classic. His sire Keen - a brother to Diesis and Kris who formerly stood in Australia - is also a successful producer of jump stock, his winners including multiple scorer Influence Pedler.

Keen will continue to attract Flat support, as

will Makbul, whose best performers are the

full-siblings Lord Kintyre and Kilbrannon Sound.

The stallions on show certainly offer breeders the choice between youth and experience. The oldest parader is 20-year-old Gildoran, dual winner of the Ascot Gold Cup and formerly based in Australia.

Two years younger than him is Petoski, winner of the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot in 1985 and sire of German Oaks winner Night Petticoat plus several smart jumpers.

Among the younger generation is Busy Flight, winner of the 1998 Group 2 Yorkshire Cup and three Listed races and placed several times in Pattern company. He is very closely related to Further Flight and The Fly, and is out of a full-sister to Teeton Mill's sire Neltino.

Midnight Legend was a smart performer on the Flat - where he won three Listed races and was second in the Group 2 Hardwicke Stakes - and also for racecourse supremo Stan Clarke over hurdles, which he continued to tackle after his retirement to stud.

The stallion parade gets under way at 10.30am and precedes a day of top-quality fare on the track, featuring the pounds 60,000 Singer & Friedlander National Trial and the Grade 2 Persian War Hurdle.

nTHE National Stud 'Shuttle' Stallion Parade takes place from 10.30am today at Tattersalls in Newmarket. Those on show are Air Express, Bahamian Bounty, Bijou d'Inde, Bin Ajwaad, Danzero, Dracula, Golden Snake, Great Dane, Hector Protector, Kirkwall and Silver Patriarch.
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Title Annotation:Sports
Author:Mottershead, Lee
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Date:Feb 3, 2000
Words:945
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