Poule d’Essai des Poulains Proves the Renaissance of French Stallions

Brametot and Le Brivid made a beautiful fight for victory in the Poule d’Essai des Poulains, the French 2,000 Guineas, at Deauville. Rajsaman’s son Brametot took the race by a short head, the runner-up Le Brivid is the son of Siyouni. The first two positions were thus taken by the progeny of stallions based in France, which is not quite usual in a French classic race.

Rajsaman, photo Haras de la Cauviniere

In England and Ireland it is different. Looking at the recent results of the 2,000 Guineas and Irish 2,000 Guineas we will only seldom find winners and runners-up sired by stallions outside England and Ireland, or rather Ireland and England, as the achievements of Irish stallions led by Galileo are indeed more numerous. In the Poule d’Essai des Poulains a similar situation like this year occurred in 2012 when the race was won by Lucayan, sired by Turtle Bowl (Dyhim Diamond), based at Haras de la Reboursiere, from Veneto sired by Panis (Miswaki) based at Haras du Hoguenet, but if we were to find another case, we must go long into the past… to 1978 to be precise, when the race was won by Nishapour by Zeddaan from Rusticaro by Caro.

The 1978 results answers the question why the progeny of French stallions were so little successful in the French 2,000 Guineas. Zeddaan, the winner of the Poule d’Essai des Poulains, was sold to Japan after ten seasons at stud. Caro spent just six seasons in France, then moved to Spendthrigt Farm, Kentucky. The departure of a number of promising stallions, who later became stars, weakened the breeding in France and major races in the country were won by progeny of stallions based outside France. We can add to the two names mentioned already stallions such as Riverman, Nureyev, Lyphard, Irish River or Green Dancer, who, too, launched their careers at French studs but left soon. It is easy to make a picture of what breeding in France lost in the 1970s and 1980s.

Even after the departure of the aforementioned stallions there were some top sires based in France, namely Linamix or Highest Honor but when these were retired the French breeders did not have much choice when looking for new top stallions at home. Recently, however, the situation has changed and the offer of stallions is much richer than before. The result of the Poule d’Essai des Poulains can be taken as a proof of this claim.

An important role in the renaissance of the French stallion market was played by the Haras de la Cauviniere, the home not just of Brametot's sire Rajsaman, who has his first crop of three-year-olds on the racecourse, but also the currently most expensive stallion in France, the Prix du Jockey Club winner Le Havre, whose fee rose from EUR 5,000 in 2010 to EUR 60,000. And there was indeed a reason for it. In his first crop he had the winner of the Poule d’Essai des Pouliches and Prix de Diane Avenir Certain, another classic triumph was brought to him by La Cressonniere, also successful in the Pouliches.

The sire of this year’s Poulains’ runner-up Siyouni, based at Aga Khan’s Haras de Bonneval, is a promising stallion too. He, too, has produced a Poule d’Essai de Pouliches winner – Ervedya in 2015, who was successful also on the other side of the channel in the Coronation Stakes. Siyouni’s fee today is EUR 45,000 and he is the second most expensive stallion in France. Kendargent made maximum out of minimum. His original fee was EUR 1,000, today it is twenty-twofold at Haras de Colleville.  

A number of other attractive stallions are yet to see the debut of their progeny, such as the Prix du Jockey Club winner Intello (Galileo), who returned to France after two seasons at Cheveley Park Stud and has been based for two seasons already at Haras du Quesnay. Very interesting names were brought into French breeding by Al Shaqab Racing - stallions such as Shalaa, Olympic Glory, Planteur or The Wow Signal show that the offer of stallions with a strong potential is expanding in France. This year’s result of Poule d’Essai des Poulains or the winners of the past three editions of Poule d’Essai des Pouliches show that this change in the offer of French stallions is reflected on the racecourse too.

Miloslav Vlček

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