Nathaniel's growing influence as a jumps sire should keep paying to follow

By Jess Stafford@jess_stafford_
Tue 19 Jan 2021

It was the always-astute Racing TV broadcaster Jane Mangan who first highlighted the influence of the (Flat-bred) mare Distinctive Look, dam of Supasundae, a stalwart for Jessie Harrington and the Potts family and the winner of an Irish Champion Hurdle, Aintree Hurdle, Coral Cup as well as racking up numerous placings in Grade 1s including the 2018 Stayers' Hurdle at Cheltenham.

It should have been no surprise to eagle-eyed pedigree afficionados that other members of Distinctive Look’s family would also come to prove influential in jumps racing.

Distinctive Look’s dam Magnificent Style also produced Percussionist, who won both the Yorkshire Cup and the American Grand National at Far Hills in 2010, and Nathaniel, who has continued this trend by producing quality jumping stock as a sire.

Nathaniel is still commercially considered a Flat sire but his jump statistics speak for themselves with the latest juvenile jumps crop (of 2017) arguably the strongest to date.

Nathaniel is also the sire of the mighty Enable
Nathaniel is also the sire of the mighty Enable

Nathaniel, who himself is by the great Galileo, joined Newsells Park Stud at four, following an eleven-race career spearheaded by his sensational King George victory over the Derby winner Workforce, and an authoritative success in the 2012 Coral-Eclipse over the Lockinge and Champion Stakes winner, Farhh.

Best known to many racing fans as being the horse who got closest to Frankel on the track, Nathaniel went down by just half a length in a Newmarket maiden in 2010.

His hallmark was his tenacity and he has transferred this tenacity to his progeny – his first crop produced the remarkable and recently-retired mare Enable, as well as Premio Lydia Tesio winner God Given, who gave Luca Cumani his final Group One success in his native Italy.

It comes as no surprise that the stamina Nathaniel possessed on the Flat has been passed down to his progeny, and with the jumping influence on the dam's side of his pedigree, it is even less surprising that he has attracted the interest of those searching for horses capable of transferring their Flat talents to a different discipline.

The interest that Willie Mullins showed in him was rewarded with two of his French-bred Nathaniel fillies doing the job in fine style at the 2020 Cheltenham festival, with Burning Victory taking the JCB Triumph Hurdle, and Concertista the Daylesford Mares’ Novice Hurdle.

The remarkable performances of his progeny can be illustrated clearly in the table below from the 2020 Cheltenham Festival.

Stallion Sire Location 1sts 2nds 3rds
Stowaway Slip Anchor Dead 2 - 2
Kalanisi Doyoun Boardsmill 2 - 1
Nathaniel Galileo Newsells Pk 2 - -
Poliglote Sadler's Wells Dead 2 - -
King's Theatre Sadler's Wells Dead 1 1 1
Milan Sadler's Wells Grange Stud 1 1 -
Oscar Sadler's Wells Dead 1 1 -
Schiparelli Monsun Overbury 1 1 -
Well Chosen Sadler's Wells Kedrah Hse 1 1 -

This table only tells half the story of Nathaniel’s success and the upwardly-mobile trajectory that his National Hunt stock have been on since they were first running in 2017/18.

On the Flat, it will be hard for any future sons or daughters of Nathaniel to get close to the eleven Group One wins of Enable in terms of rating (128) and success on the racecourse. At the end of 2020 the nearest to Enable in terms of rating was 2019 Queen’s Vase winner, Dashing Willoughby, officially rated 13lb lower.

Dashing Willoughby has been the second highest-rated Nathaniel in the UK and Ireland since 2017, with classy handicapper West End Charmer (109) and Andrew Balding’s Recovery Run (107) both exciting horses to go to war with for connections next season.

A daughter of Nathaniel, Lady Bowthorpe is another to note, having bagged a Group Three victory at Ascot as well as some solid efforts in Grade One company.

France was where one of Nathaniel’s other leading mares, Channel, ran for Francis Graffard. She achieved considerable success as a three-year-old, topped by the Group 1 Prix de Diane. Further afield, Geelong Cup winner Steel Prince flies the flag for Nathaniel in Australia.

France was where last season's Triumph Hurdle winner Burning Victory had plied her trade on the Flat. She joined Willie Mullins in January 2020 following a sixth placed effort in a 1m 4f Group Three at Chantilly.

Relive Nathaniel's victory in th 2012 Coral-Eclipse

Nathaniel's other winner at the Festival, Concertista, was similarly purchased from France. Previously owned (and bred) by the Wertheimer family, she ran creditably over middle distance trips for Christophe Ferland before being sold to Anthony Bromley at the Arqana Summer Sale in July 2017 for €75,000.

Perhaps Gordon Elliott and his advisers had half an eye on the Cheltenham sire stats when he saw Zanahiyr record some eyecatching results on the Flat over staying trips for Mick Halford.

Bred by The Aga Khan, Zanahiyr is out of the Marju mare Zariyna and hails from the family of Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe winner Zarkava, with her lineage going all the way back to the Aga Khan’s great mare Petite Etoile.

Zanahiyr changed hands privately in October 2020 and is now unbeaten over hurdles for Elliott and new owners Noel and Valerie Moran. Zanahiyr’s two graded victories over hurdles have given him the lofty position of ante-post favourite for the JCB Triumph Hurdle.

Another significant owner on the Flat and over jumps, Alan Spence, was responsible for purchasing daughter of Nathaniel and ex-Cheveley Park mare Progressive for 55,000gns at last autumn’s Horses in Training Sale.

The four-year-old has already made a smooth transition to the jumps, starting her hurdling career with a win for champion trainer Nicky Henderson at Doncaster in November.

The support of Nathaniel by those in the jumping game has been rewarded with some impressive stats in terms the percentages of those making the switch to jumps racing winning races.

2017/18: 5 winners from 9 individual runners

2018/19: 10 winners from 21 individual runners

2019/20: 22 winners from 41 individual runners

2020/21: 29 winners from 61 individual runners *(and counting!)

(Source: Weatherbys)

Digging deeper uncovers some eyecatching results for progeny of Nathaniel that are sent chasing: just four runners, with three of them winners!

One of those, Kitty’s Light, grabbed serious attention in 2020, for one race in particular.

I implore those who like to see skill and determination challenged in a race to watch Kitty’s Light win at Warwick last September in the clip below.

Rarely do you see a horse win despite such a severe saddle slip. Jack Tudor was thrown to the ground moments after going past the post and nearly hit the floor again in the Badger Beer Chase two months later, when badly impeded three out before keeping on to finish an honourable third.

Unlike others to have been purchase from the Flat, Kitty’s Light was purchased as a yearling with a jumps career in mind.

Bought for just 5,000gns at the 2017 Tattersalls Book 3 Sale by JD Moore, the third foal of the Aga Khan's mare Daraiyna was sent straight to trainer Christian Williams.

He is not the only Nathaniel who has taken the eye of Christian Williams - himself and JD Moore returned to Tattersalls last December, going to 11,500gns for a colt out of Luvly Rita from the family of Yesterday and Galileo Chrome.

Likely take the same route to the track as Kitty’s Light, this colt could be one to follow come 2024!

Last week, Harry Derham shared footage of some of next seasons bumper horses due to head to his boss, Paul Nicholls. In amongst the progeny of high-profile National Hunt sires, including Saints Des Saints, Buck’s Boum, and Kapgarde was a Nathaniel.

If the trainer that is responsible for producing some of the best staying chasers we have ever seen approves, something must be going right.

If last year Nathaniel came out of Cheltenham the unlikely success story of the leading sire list, it will be less surprising if he adds to his tally this year with Zanahiyr and Concertista the likeliest of winners according to the current betting market.

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