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Allaho, the banker of the festival?

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Allaho was one of the most impressive winners at last year’s Cheltenham Festival when he produced a flawless performance to beat Fakir d’Oudairies by twelve lengths in the Grade 1 Ryanair Chase. On Thursday, following another recent twelve lengths defeat of old rival Fakir d’Oudairies in the Horse&Jockey Hotel Chase at Thurles in Ireland, Allaho is going to try to defend his title and for many he is the banker of the Festival. Hence it is no surprise that his breeder Eric Leffray has already packed his bags and is on his way to Cheltenham.

“I’m going to come to Cheltenham with my son Thomas who works for Arqana,” Eric Leffray, who is based in the Sarthe region, confirms. “We obviously couldn’t come last year because of Covid, but we were not going to miss this year’s event.” Leffray, who currently only has three broodmares, has been breeding horses for twenty-five years and recalls growing up in Montfort Le Rotrou in Normandy where trainer Alain de Royer Dupré’s horses would regularly cross the road in front of his school. “That is when I got the bug,” he smiles. “I was a kid when Mister Royer Dupré was training there and I would see the horses every day from the school and I knew early on that I wanted to spend my life with horses. I ventured into show jumping, but I wasn’t very good, so I decided to try my hand at breeding.” While he only has three broodmares, he has certainly hit the jackpot with Allaho, a son of No Risk At All who stands at Montaigu and Idaho Falls, a mare that his son Thomas discovered. “Yes,” he says proudly. “My son Thomas found her. I went to see her and she was just beautiful so I immediately bought her.” Idaho Falls is by Turgeon out of Shannon Bells and was bred by the Devin family at Mesnil just a few kilometres down the road. The purchase proved an excellent decision and certainly changed his life as he has just concluded the sale of Allaho’s full brother Attaho, who was born in 2020. “Yes, his full brother has been sold to England, but I do have his half-brother by Goliath du Berlais,” Leffray confirms. “He is called Illaho.” Looks like this might not be the only trip he might be making to Cheltenham then…