Shantou dies at 28: Five of his best jumpers

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man riding horse
Photo by Jeff Griffith on Unsplash

The racing world came together to applaud an all-time great this week, after it was announced that Shantou had died at the age of 28.

Shantou enjoyed a stellar career on the track for John Gosden, the highlight of which came in September 1996, when he was guided to victory in the St Leger by a young Frankie Dettori. After picking up two further Group Ones in Italy, Shantou was retired and enjoyed 15 fruitful years standing at Burgage Stud before his second career came to an end during 2020.

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Shantou will be remembered as one of the best horse racing sires, producing multiple Grade One winners in England, Ireland and across Europe.

Blackbook.com.au takes a look at five of Shantou’s most successful offspring.

Shantou Flyer

During his seven year career on the track, Shantou Flyer has collected several lucrative prizes. He even ran here at Limerick in 2015, finishing second on his first start over fences. Shantou Flyer broke his duck over fences at the Galway Festival later that year, before scoring in the Grade Two Florida Pearl at Punchestown.

On his first start for British trainer Rebecca Curtis, Shantou Flyer won the Grade Three Handicap Chase at Cheltenham on New Years’ Day. In 2018, he came agonisingly close to winning the Ultima Handicap Chase at the Cheltenham Festival, losing out to Coo Star Sivola by a neck. Shantou Flyer remains active today, finishing third in the 2021 Kim Muir Handicap Chase at the ripe old age of 11.

Beware The Bear

The year after Shantou Flyer came within a whisker of winning the Ultima, another of Shantou’s progeny, Beware The Bear went one better. Under an excellent ride by Jerry McGrath, Nicky Henderson’s star held on gamely to deny Vintage Clouds and win that lucrative handicap at the 2019 Cheltenham Festival.

Although he hasn’t been able to recapture the winning thread since, Beware The Bear has run with credit in the last two renewals of the Ladbrokes Trophy at Newbury, and could be in line for a sneaky tilt at the Grand National come the end of the 2021/22 season.

Airlie Beach

This imposing daughter of Shantou enjoy a prolific novice campaign over hurdles in 2016, winning her first six starts over obstacles. Airlie Beach defeated Shattered Love in a Grade Three at Down Royal, before landing a maiden Grade One success in the Royal Bond at Fairyhouse’s Bar One Racing meeting.

Her performances over hurdles dwindled there-after, but Airlie Beach did manage to land a Listed race on the flat in 2017, winning the Oyster Stakes at Galway. A successful career as a brood mare beckoned, until her life was cruelly cut short in 2019.

Ballynagour

After winning a couple of times in France, Ballynagour made the move to David Pipe’s yard in 2013, winning on his first start for new connections at Warwick. During his time with Pipe, Ballynagour won the Paddy Power Chase at the Cheltenham Festival, finished second to Silviniaco Conti in the King George VI Chase on Boxing Day, and returned to France to win the prestigious Prix la Barka in 2015.

Ballynagour didn’t win again following that victory. He did, however, manage to finish eleventh behind One For Arthur in the 2017 Grand National, before being retired in the point-to-point field at Higham in February 2020.

The Storyteller

Gordon Elliott’s star became the second son of Shantou to win at the Cheltenham Festival, when he followed in Ballynagour’s footsteps by winning the Paddy Power Plate. The Storyteller then sealed a shock victory in a dramatic renewal of the Champion Novice Chase at the Punchestown Festival, scoring by six lengths under a jubilant Davy Russell.

A run of one win in 17 starts followed, before The Storyteller returned to form with two wins at Galway in 2020. Those victories kick-started a fantastic run of form for Elliott’s star, as The Storyteller went on to win the Grade One Ladbrokes Chase at Down Royal, and claim runner-up finishes in the Christmas Hurdle and the Irish Gold Cup at Leopardstown.