OVER the past decade, the double green silks of owners Simon Munir and Isaac Souede have become an ever more familiar sight to jump racing followers in Ireland and Britain. Under the guidance of racing manager Anthony Bromley, the partnership has enjoyed big race success at the major festivals such as Cheltenham and Aintree. This year Munir and Souede have a number of live chances of adding to their growing tally.
The foundations of the existing relationship began with Simon Munir entrusting bloodstock agent Anthony Bromley with buying horses before the 2009/10 season.
One of those first investments, Soldatino, provided an immediate return, winning the Grade 2 Adonis Hurdle at Kempton on his British debut, before following up in the Grade 1 Triumph Hurdle at Cheltenham. Later that same afternoon, Radium went close to making it a double for Munir, when finding just one too good in the Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys Handicap Hurdle.
Over the next three years, Simon Munir enjoyed considerable success as an individual owner before friend and business associate Isaac Souede came on board in 2013.
“Utopie Des Bordes, a mare I bought in France, was the first horse Simon and Isaac owned together,” said Anthony Bromley. “She won her first two starts and was later second in a Grade 2 hurdle at Aintree.” Now a broodmare in France, like every horse registered in their names, she is owned 50-50 between the pair.
Peace And Co provided Munir and Souede with a first Cheltenham success together, when narrowly winning the 2015 Grade 1 Triumph Hurdle. In doing so, he only had a neck to spare over Top Notch, who also carried the colours of the victorious owners.
Footpad credited the pair with a second Cheltenham win when taking the Grade 1 Arkle Chase in 2018, and two years later, Concertista easily won the Grade 2 Mares’ Novices Hurdle. Three-time Betfair Chase winner Bristol De Mai has reached the frame in both a Gold Cup and JLT despite having an obvious preference for a flat track.
Cheltenham and Aintree are very important to Munir and Souede, as Anthony Bromley explains. “Simon and Isaac never miss either festival, so it’s important to them to have runners and in turn, winners. With more and more horses in training in Ireland, Punchestown has also taken on a similar level of importance in recent years. All going well, they hope to be in attendance to watch their horses race at all three festivals in 2022.” Concertista, a previous Cheltenham Festival winner and current market leader for the Mares’ Chase, is a leading hope for Munir and Souede come March. Already proven over both course and distance, she is unbeaten in two starts over fences and will head straight to Cheltenham for her next run. Although also holding a backup entry in the Mares’ Hurdle, Anthony Bromley confirmed that right now the Mares Chase’ is the plan.
Blue Lord, who looked booked for second place when falling at the final flight in last year’s Grade 1 Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, has strong claims in the Grade 1 Arkle Chase 12 months on. Three from three over fences, he did all that was required to win the Irish Arkle at Leopardstown on February 6th. At the time of writing, he is the 3/1 joint favourite for the second race on the opening day of the Festival, his task eased by the absence of stable companion Ferny Hollow.
“Simon and Isaac were really pleased to be there to witness him win a first Grade 1,” said Anthony. “Paul Townend felt he was idling a bit up the run-in and was still a bit green. He seems fine after the race and all roads lead to the Cheltenham Arkle.
“He still has a tendency to race a bit keenly and I’d say there is still more room for improvement. I think the horse is getting better and you wouldn’t swap him for anything else in the race.
“He is a lovely big, scopey horse, who has done nothing wrong and his future is very much in front of him.”
Anthony also spoke glowingly about El Fabiolo, a horse he feels has a real future; “He couldn’t have done it any easier on his Irish debut at Tramore but we will know a lot more about him after his next start. If he takes the step up in class in his stride, then he could be a dark horse for one of the novice hurdles at Cheltenham.”
Carnfunnock, a bumper winner at Hexham in November, is another excellent prospect, despite finishing a distant third behind the freakish Facile Vega at the Dublin Racing Festival.
“He was third in the Goffs Land Rover bumper on his debut then improved to win [at Hexham],” said Bromley. “He is the best bumper horse we have.”
The team had a surprise second success at the Dublin Racing Festival when Lily Du Berlais came out best in a five-horse photo-finish for the Grade 2 mares’ bumper. It was a huge result, the daughter of Shirocco having been bought for just €25,000 by Stuart and Ben Crawford, who trained and rode the winner.
Anthony said: “We were thrilled for the Crawford family to get a winner on a big stage like the Dublin Festival. It was a great piece of training and a great riding performance, because she is not a straightforward mare – she has two ways of going: steady and flat-out.
“The gaps opened for Ben quite well and it did get a bit tight, but she battled hard and finished with a bit of a flourish. I think her momentum got her home.
“She was a couple of lengths down with 100 yards to go. It did not feel as close as the photograph showed, but the nods of the head meant it was exceptionally close and there was very little in it. I’m sure if you ran the race 10 times again, you’d get different results.”
Bromley added: “But at the end of the day she is the mare who has now won a Grade 2 and there were a lot of unbeaten horses going into that race. It looks a deep renewal and she is the only one who has come out of it and stays unbeaten. She has come out of the race fine and I would envisage we will try to get her to the mares’ bumper at Aintree.
One horse who won’t be making the trip to Cheltenham is recent acquisition Impulsive Dancer. An impressive debut winner of a Naas bumper for Richard O’Brien, the son of Dragon Pulse was subsequently bought privately and sent to Willie Mullins.
However, being just a four-year-old, Bromley feels that he needs time to develop so will skip the Cheltenham for another year. “He is an exciting horse who has it all ahead of him, so we won’t rush him this year. He could run in a listed bumper at Limerick.”
O’Toole, an easy winner of his maiden hurdle at Down Royal over Christmas, will also be minded this year. Runner-up in the Grade 1 bumper at Punchestown last season, he is a horse of immense potential. The Auction Hurdle Series Final at the Punchestown Festival is the main target this season.
Crawford on team
Having had horses trained in Ireland since 2013, the owners added Crawford to the roster a year later.
“Wearing my agent’s cap, I always had a very good relationship with the Crawfords over the years,” Anthony said. “When Simon and Isaac wanted to expand their Irish interests, it blended in nicely. Working with the Crawfords is a big project which is primarily focussed on producing young horses. It was a new angle for us, one which has been quite successful.”
Simon and Isaac have also become more involved on the flat. Seisai won a listed race at Tipperary last year and although relatively exposed going into her three-year-old season, she remains an exciting filly for connections. Nusret, a once-raced son of Golden Horn is less exposed and Bromley views him as a nice staying prospect for the year ahead: “He is a big scopey maiden who should do well once stepped up in trip.”
With three unraced juveniles in training with Joseph O’Brien, there is much to look forward to later in the summer. For now, however, the sights are very much firmly fixed on Cheltenham in March and the festivals at both Aintree and Punchestown. ?