Arqana Yearlings: Select By Name And Nature

Patrick Chedeville and Antoinette Tamagni-Bodmer with Watch Me's half-brother | Emma Berry


DEAUVILLE, France—Another tranche of prospective buyers appeared on the sales grounds at Arqana on Tuesday. As second looks, third looks and vettings are being completed, there is now just the nervous wait for vendors until 2pm local time on Wednesday when the Arqana Select Sale finally gets underway and they begin the learn their fate.

There is not one member of the bloodstock fraternity who believes that this sales season will be in any way easy. As one major breeder observed on Tuesday morning, “If we get through this year and find that the market has dropped by a third then that would actually be a relief.” 

Set against world events, just to be healthy in 2020 is a win, and there will be some breeders and pinhookers who fare well in the next six weeks and those who will not. Most people with a horse to sell are accepting of that situation, and all that remains to be seen now is which of the major buyers decide to participate in Deauville, or perhaps keep their money in pockets for later sales.

There should be plenty here in Normandy to tempt them, however. No shortage of well-related individuals can be found in what is usually known as the August Sale. One standout simply has to be the Galileo (Ire) half-brother to last year's €1.625 million sale-topper, whose other siblings include his full-sister Magic Wand (Ire) and her fellow Group 1 winners, Chicquita (Ire) (Montjeu {Ire}). This is Ecurie des Monceaux's signature family, stemming from the purchase 16 years ago of the colt's grandam Platonic (GB) (Zafonic) from Fittocks Stud for 100,000gns. As such, he needs little introduction, though there will be plenty of fanfare when the colt enters the ring on Thursday as lot 199 and, just to gild the lily, last year's leading lady, now known as Philomene (Ire), won on debut for Andre Fabre last Thursday.

The siblings and half-siblings to Group 1 winners are plentiful in the pages of the Arqana catalogue. Lot 27 from Fairway Consignment is the Dariyan (Fr) half-sister to Danceteria (Fr) (Redoute's Choice {Aus}), from a family which Dariyan's sire Shamardal has worked so well with, namely as the father of Lope De Vega (Ire), who is a half-brother to this filly's dam Bal De La Rose (Ire) (Cadeaux Genereux {GB}).

Another filly with enhanced claims this season is lot 39, Haras de Montaigu's Dream Ahead half-sister to dual Australian Group 1 winner Addeybb (GB) (Pivotal {GB}). Then there's the jewel that is the full-sister to dual Arc winner Treve (Fr) (Motivator {GB}), who right from her first show on Sunday had all the composure of a horse who will be ready to face far busier environments than a sales ground. As lot 269, she follows 18 lots behind the Dubawi (Ire) (251) filly out of Starlet's Sister (Ire) (Galileo {Ire}), and of course the starlet in question as the half-sibling of this filly is Sistercharlie (Ire) (Myboycharlie {Ire}), but then she has a pretty famous brother, too, in last season's G1 Prix du Jockey Club winner Sottsass (Fr) (Siyouni {Fr}).

The catalogue for the three-day sale also features the offspring of no fewer than 23 first-season sires, with the biggest representation among the pack coming from the former champion 3-year-old Almanzor (Fr). Bred by Haras d'Etreham where he now stands, and whence his sire Wootton Bassett (GB) recently departed for Coolmore, he naturally features strongly among his home farm's draft, which has eight catalogued, including a half-brother to GI Breeders' Cup Mile winner Uni (GB) (More Than Ready) (lot 274).

Watch This Family
The draft of Haras du Petit Tellier, the Normandy farm which has belonged to Patrick Chedeville's family for five generations, boasts not just a half-sibling to a Group 1 winner but also a number of offspring from the stud's own freshman sire, the G1 Prix du Jockey Club and G1 Irish Champion S. winner The Grey Gatsby (Ire).

Lot 286 from the Petit Tellier consignment is a half-brother to the dual Group 1 winner Watch Me (Fr) (Olympic Glory {Ire}), who was bred and raced by Chedeville's partner Antoinette Tamagni-Bodmer, who now offers the colt by another of the stud's residents, Elvstroem (Aus). 

“In many ways it has been a wonderful year,” reflected Tamagni-Bodmer, who in 2017 welcomed the first crop of foals at her own private farm, Haras de Saint Julien, where Watch Me, the recent winner of the G1 Prix Rothschild, now resides. 

“She had a little problem in February in her fetlock, so then COVID for her was not a problem as I knew she would not be running before July. In the Rothschild the track was really fast and she likes it a bit softer, but she's such a fighter and she won. She wasn't lame coming straight out of the race but afterwards when we realised there was a problem with the fetlock again we said 'stop' straight away. By the Friday she was back home in the paddock.”

It is Tamagni-Bodmer's intention to keep a select clutch of well-bred black-type mares at Saint Julien, and her operation could hardly have welcomed a better newcomer than the filly who also won last year's G1 Coronation S., giving her trainer Francis Graffard, as well as her owner-breeder, a first Royal Ascot success.

Tamagni continued, “To me she is really a champion. To have bred a filly like this and then to have her back not long after I have created a completely new stud from scratch is a dream. If you want to make a proper breeding operation you need to have black-type fillies at the stud. My plan is mainly to sell the colts and to race the filies.”

One filly who will certainly be a keeper is the current foal of Watch Me's dam Watchful (Ire) (Galileo {Ire}), who is by Golden Horn (GB). The mare is now in foal to Almanzor. For her newly-retired daughter, Tamagni still has her thinking cap on regarding her first mate next season.

She said, “I have some ideas for Watch Me and, with all the concerns about Brexit, I will send her to a stallion in France rather than go to Britain or Ireland. We have good stallions in France and it is important to support them with good mares.”

She added, “In this business, which I would call a passion, you always have to go forward and always ask questions about what you could do better. Every day you have to learn and you have to ask what you can learn from someone else.”

It is clear that Tamagni-Bodmer has learned plenty from Chedeville, whom she describes as a “traditional breeder”.

She says, “He doesn't like to see the yearlings in their boxes. We prepare the yearlings from Petit Tellier and from my stud in exactly the same way. We don't put them on a walker, they are only walked in hand and they go out in the paddocks, which is a risk, but I think it is very good for them mentally to do this.”

It's not only Watch Me who has provided an update for the draft since the catalogue was printed but also Sunday's winner of the British EBF Future Stayers Novice S. At York, Lenny's Spirit (Fr) (Intello {Ger}), who is a half-brother to another Haras de Saint Julie-bred, lot 419. The chestnut colt by The Grey Gatsby is out of the G3 Prix des Reservoirs winner Moon Valley (Fr) (Aqlaam {GB}).

“The Grey Gatsby has such a good temperament and he is really stamping his yearlings with that same mentality and plenty of bone,” Tamagni-Bodmer said. 

“He was syndicated in five days when Patrick first bought him and had around 100 mares in his first crop. He had 99 mares again this year. We have supported him with our good mares and we are looking forward to seeing how the market accepts his yearlings.”

In an uncertain year, the same can be said for all yearlings, but the breeder and consignor was quick to praise Arqana in its rescheduling of the sale not once, but twice.

She said, “I don't think Arqana could have done more than they have. It's very hard to say what will happen but I'm sure with fewer trainers able to travel then fewer yearlings will be sold, even though the agents are all here. The quarantine in England is not helping as a lot of trainers aren't here, but when I look around I see beautiful yearlings and I see clients, so we just have to be hopeful.”

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