‘It’s all in the genes’ they say, as a young racing superstar in the making begins to make their mark.
That was certainly the case for Sprinter Sacre, the brilliant two-mile chaser who is ranked by Timeform as the third best horse of the modern era.
While the French horse owes much to his ability to handle big crowds for many of his Grade 1 successes, a word should also go to the expert training of John Gosden – a man who knows a thing or two about schooling champions of the future.
And, of course, a huge nod should go to Network, the sire who has fathered a whole number of talented progeny including Sprinter Sacre.
At the ripe old age of 22, Network passed away this week after suffering a heart attack at the Haras d’Enki yard at which he has stood for the past couple of years.
Esteve Rouchvarger, of the Haras d’Enki school told the French publication Jour de Galop:
“Beyond his stallion career, we’ll remember him as a great horse. He’s changed our lives, both personally and professionally.
“We had all dreamed of a beautiful retirement for this stallion.”
No Network Failure Here
Network was still active, as it were, up until his death. He was imported by the French National Studs firm from Germany back in 2002 after a decent but unspectacular racing career; the highlight of which was a win in the Group 2 Union-Rennen.
He was a stud for hire, travelling the length and width of the country to sow his oats before taking up residence at Haras d’Enki when Ecurie du Chene purchased his rights for €290k.
Network will be succeeded at Enki by the likes of Buck’s Boum, a busy sire who is a full brother to the legendary Big Buck’s, who was a four-time winner of the World, Liverpool and Long Distance Hurdles.
A couple of his progeny have already enjoyed high-profile success at the Cheltenham Festival, with Duc Des Genievres taking the Arkle and Al Boum Photo an unlikely but deserving Gold Cup champion.
The Pick of Network’s Crop
Just a selection of Network’s progeny include Sprinter Sacre, Rubi Ball, Delta Work and Saint Are, who between them won a litany of Grade 1 outings.
Of course, Sprinter Sacre is the pick of the bunch. He won an outstanding nine Grade 1 titles during his career, with 18 wins from 24 starts all told. A three-time Queen Mother Champion Chase winner, the bay was particularly prolific between 2012-13.
The likes of Delta Work and La Richebourg are also cementing themselves as leading chasers. The former has won a number of Grade 1 novice chases, while the latter triumphed in a pair of excellent novice chases either side of the new year at Leopardstown.
Saint Are twice placed at the Grand National in 2015 and 2017 at 25/1 while winning the Sefton at Aintree, and Rubi Ball was a close third to Bob’s Worth in the Lexus Chase after a decent career in France.