Before The Roar Ep. 2 – Behind The Scenes Cheltenham Festival Series

Al Boum Photo wins the 2019 Cheltenham Gold Cup

As the build up continues to the Cheltenham Festival, bet365 have released the second episode of their behind-the-scenes Festival series, Before The Roar.

After Hayley Moore visited the Noel Fehily Racing Syndicate in episode one, here she travels to France. The aim is to discover why French horses have dominated at the Festival in recent years, most notably Al Boum Photo, the 2019 Gold Cup winner. bet365 are offering all new customers up to £100 in bet credits upon opening an account here.

Episode Two – The French Connection

Her guide as she traverses France in search of answers as to why French-bred horses have dominated at Cheltenham in recent years is Hubert Barbe. A bloodstock agent, his role is to maintain good relationship with owners and trainers, as well as watching French racing in a search for improving horses who could offer his clients good value for money.

The pair first visit Nicolas Devilder, a businessman who established an Angiers based bloodstock yard twenty years ago. He’s responsible for the wildly successful Des Obeaux dynasty, its most talented offspring being Paul Nicholls’ Clan Des Obeaux. His careful method works particularly well for racing in the UK, as does his technique of combining good jumpers with speedy stallions.

Next stop on the trail is the breeder of two Cheltenham Festival winners in 2019. Envoi Allen and Espoir D’Allen were both bred by Bruno Vagne, who has taken over from his father who was in the business for forty years.

He only uses one family of stock to breed, citing the fact that he knows which combinations will produce the best results. France’s prevalence in the breeding stakes can, for him, in part be explained by its geography. The fields, large open spaces and changing climate make for hardy horses.

Emmanuel Clayeux was responsible for breeding Gold Cup winner Al Boum Photo, a fine moving sort who was rather small as a youngster. One of Willie Mullins’ agents approached him about the gelding, and decided on purchasing him on Clayeux’s recommendation.

His focus on jumping technique rather than speed, as well as getting his horses jumping as early as possible, has been followed by many leading trainers from the UK and Ireland. The way a horse moves is more important than his pedigree.

Particular praise was heaped on Willie Mullins. His patient tactics paid dividends with Al Boum Photo, a horse with whom many trainers may well have not taken as much time. The Closutton based trainer and master of Cheltenham Festival is the focus of the third episode.

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