Top Novice With American Blood Fancied For Cheltenham Festival Glory

Given their unique combination of speed and stamina, it’s no great surprise that some of the world’s leading thoroughbred breeders have turned to American stallions to help them create the next generation of racing superstars. 

Take Tapit, for example. The gray horse had a fairly average racing career, winning a Grade 1 outing but finishing ninth in the Kentucky Derby, and most assumed he would enjoy a relaxing retirement in his stables.

But relaxing is not the word that can now be used to describe what the most prolific breeding stallion in the world is up to: he gets ‘down to business’ with as many as 125 mares every year. With his stud charging a mind-boggling $300,000 per ‘session’, Tapit is America’s most valuable stallion and earns an annual income many businesses would envy.

Over in the UK and Ireland, it is rumored that the Coolmore Stud – the world’s largest breeding outfit – charge more than $500,000 for the services of their chief stallion Galileo.

Is he worth it? Well, he has sired – directly or via the progeny of his own – some 60 Group One winners worldwide, with foals in his bloodline regularly selling for over $1 million.

His is a different family tree, and a much-reduced stud fee as well, but the American horse Exit to Nowhere is building his own reputation as a sire of some repute. And at the Cheltenham Festival 2020, he could finally have a major champion in his bloodline.

Shishkin Looking Supreme

Exit to Nowhere is the grand-sire of Shishkin, a six-year-old who has enjoyed plenty of success in his young career in the UK already. The Nicky Henderson trained novice won on his maiden start and has since followed up with a pair of victories – both by the extraordinary margin of eleven lengths.

Such eye-catching form has seen Shishkin installed as the favorite for the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle in the Cheltenham 2020 odds from Paddy Power, and it is hard to really contest such a status.

The Supreme Novices’ Hurdle is one of the standout races on the opening day of the Cheltenham Festival, and usually it takes a high-quality operator to win it – Altior, Douvan, Vautour, and L’Escargot are all former Supreme champions.

Shishkin will face competition from the likes of Abacadabras (a strong winner at Leopardstown), Asterion Forlonge (a Willie Mullins trained novice that has won at left-handed tracks), and Fiddlerontheroof (who has won a Grade One outing at Sandown Park). 

All pundits will have their own take that they publish in their horse racing tips, but it is certainly hard to dispute Shishkin’s chances based on the evidence witnessed so far.

And if he can go on to win the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, his connections will bank a handsome $100,000 payday. At which point, let’s hope that they say a big thank you to Exit to Nowhere, the American stallion without whom none of this would be possible.