BOTH of the graded race winners at Punchestown on Saturday were French-bred sons of two of that country’s top National Hunt stallions. Riviere D’Etel raced in France for Hugues Rousseau and breeder Yannick Fouin where she was runner-up in a listed hurdle race for three-year-olds at Auteuil last September.

Purchased to race in the Bective Stud colours of Noel and Valerie Moran, she opened her account over hurdles on New Year’s Eve at Punchestown and, two starts later, was not disgraced when a close up seventh behind Jeff Kidder at Cheltenham. Now she is two for two over fences after her win in the Grade 2 BetVictor Casino Novice Chase, and she has a bright future.

Her sire Martaline (Linamix) was retired from stud duties at Haras de Montaigu before the start of the 2019 stud season, and he died in November of that same year. Not only did he become a leading sire, but he is part of an amazing group of sire sons from the Sadler’s Wells (Northern Dancer) mare Coraline, and from a great Juddmonte family.

Martaline won at Group 2 level in France and was a solid performer. He established himself early on as a dual-purpose stallion, but it was when faced with a jump that his progeny excelled. A look at a list of his major winners shows that he got stars such as Nirvana Du Berlais, Chimere Du Berlais, Kotkikova, Beaumec De Houelle, Styline, Kamelie, Srelighonn and Paul’s Saga in France, Martinstar and Athena Du Berlais in Italy, Very Wood, Dynaste, Vanillier, Terrefort and We Have A Dream in Britain, and Disko in Ireland. All have one thing in common – they won a Grade 1 in those countries.

Martaline’s own-brother Reefscape (Linamix) was a top-class stayer among whose successes was the Group 1 Prix du Cadran, while he was second in the Ascot Gold Cup. He too is a Grade 1 sire. Their sibling Coastal Path (Halling) was a European champion three-year-old stayer in 2007, scoring in the Group 2 Prix Hubert de Chaudenay, and he was third in the Ascot Gold Cup. His best winners are double Grade 1 hurdle star Bacardys and Asterion Forlonge.

Pillar Coral

Could there be a fourth Grade 1 sire among the progeny of Coraline? All the early indicators – based on reaction to his youngstock – are that people believe the unraced Pillar Coral (Zamindar), who stands at Con O’Keeffe’s Kilbarry Lodge Stud in Co Waterford, could be the one. After all, he comes from a deep stallion’s female family.

Wemyss Bight (Dancing Brave), a half-sister of Coraline, won the Irish Oaks in 1993 before becoming the dam of the Group 1 Grand Prix de Paris hero and leading sire Beat Hollow (Sadler’s Wells) and she was an own-sister to Hope (Dancing Brave), the dam of champion sprinter and outstanding sire Oasis Dream (Green Desert).

Zenda (Zamindar), a half-sister to Oasis Dream, won the Group 1 French 1000 Guineas and she is the dam of European champion miler Kingman (Invincible Spirit), an outstanding young sire of the moment.

Indian River

Back to Riviere D’Etel’s dam Angesse. Twice a winner over jumps in France, she was a daughter of Indian River (Cadoudal) who stud in Ireland and is the sire of Native River and Madison Du Berlais. Angesse is also dam of Riviere D’Etel’s full-sister Ria D’Etel (Martaline), a listed winner over hurdles at Auteuil and who made just two starts for Willie Mullins after moving to Ireland.

This is a branch of a family that had been in the doldrums for some years, and you must trawl back to the weekend’s graded chase winner’s fourth dam, Assez Cuite (Graustark), to find more blacktype. That mare won a listed race, was second in the Group 1 Prix de la Salamandre, and her winners are headed by the Group 1 Prix Royal Oak winner El Cuite (Vaguely Noble).

Staying power is evident in this generation as Assez Cuite is the grandam of the champion three-year-old stayer Michelozzo (Luthier), and he gained that accolade thanks to his success in the 1989 Group 1 St Leger at Doncaster.