Channel's Filly The Star Act in Classy La Motteraye Draft

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Lucie Lamotte and Gwen Monneraye with their sale-topper of 2018 | Zuzanna Lupa

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Gwen Monneraye and Lucie Lamotte, collectively known as La Motteraye Consignment, have come a long way since setting up their business in December 2009 with €92 in their pocket.

Less than a decade later they topped France's premier yearling sale in 2018 when selling a Dubawi (Ire) colt out of Just The Judge (Ire) for €1.4 million, and at this year's Arqana August Sale their draft is headed by another yearling with two Classic-winning parents. The Sea The Stars (Ire) filly, who will have the lot number 234 attached to her rump as she circles the ring in Deauville, is the first foal of the G1 Prix de Diane winner Channel (Ire) (Nathaniel {Ire}).

“She's very exciting, and it's exciting that people trust us for this kind of thing. She wasn't raised at our farm, she came to us for the prep, so we put her in cotton wool and she's been really well,” says Monneraye from the couple's farm in the idyllic Normandy hamlet of Les Autels-Saint-Bazile. If you love French cheese as much as you love fledgling racehorses, then this is the farm for you, located between Camembert and Livarot.

The filly was bred at Haras des Authieux by Samuel de Barros, and she represents something of a dream start for the Parisian lawyer and his wife Elodie, for whom Channel was a first foray into owning a racehorse. Channel's racing career is lovingly chronicled on the website for their stud, a breeding operation just five years in the making and currently home to six broodmares. While her story is something of a fairytale, similar can be said for the rise of La Motteraye, though it is one which has involved an enormous amount of work by two people who had travelled the world gaining experience in the bloodstock business prior to returning to their native France. 

“It was a dream,” says Monneraye as he reflects on the last 13 years, during which time their operation has expanded to incorporate three farms which are now home to around 50 broodmares. 

“We just wanted this and we worked very hard to get it. The only thing we couldn't know beforehand is whether people would trust us to work with them. We need people to trust us and to put their horses with us. 

“When we first started, the first five first years, I'm a very hard worker, but thinking back I don't think now if I could do it again. It was madness. We had zero money.

We couldn't just buy 50 broodmares and start a farm, so we needed to earn the trust of people, and it worked. So now we are very happy and we still want to develop the farm. We have had a goal since we started and it's still in working progress.”

As well as results in the sales ring, the farm has also been represented by decent performers on the track, most recently the G1 Tattersalls Gold Cup winner Alenquer (Fr) (Adlerflug {Ire}), bred by Michael Andre, who also acts as Coolmore's representative in Germany. 

Monneraye notes, “Alenquer was from the first full crop that was bred on the new farm. Before, when the farm was small and we couldn't really breed horses, we just mainly did pinhooking and consigning. And since we bought the other farm, we had the first crop which wasn't fully bred over there, but that included [Group 3 winner] Pao Alto (Fr). And then the next crop was Alenquer, so it gave us belief in what we do and in the quality of the land over there. And we were absolutely thrilled with Alenquer, and especially for his breeder, Michael Andre, who is also a friend.”

La Motteraye's clients also include some English and Irish breeders but it is predominantly backed by those in France, which is enjoying a rejuvenation of the breeding ranks with a notable range of younger participants.

Of the team at Haras des Authieux, Monneraye says, “It's great for France to have these kind of people, and they love the racing. And it is the same with Haras du Thenney and David Salabi. He's very keen in the horses, he's young, he's enthusiastic, and we also sell his yearlings. It's really a pleasure to work with these kind of people because they're nice people, they love what they do, they trust us. And so it makes our job easy.”

Monneraye and Lamotte were themselves at the forefront of a new wave of major consignors in France, their fluency in English making them popular with an increasing number of breeders from across the Channel wishing to take advantage of the lucrative French premium scheme.

“I think the first was maybe Haras de Grandcamp and then Anna [Sundstrom of Coulonces Sales] and then us, and of course we have Monceaux, that was the beginning,” Monneraye says.

“And since then, there have been a lot of young people and they work really hard to set up their consignments. And now we have also a lot of people that are setting up farms, breeding operations, and I think when I look to Europe, there are more young French breeders than probably in the rest of Europe.”

He adds, “I think one of the key factors is that land is more affordable here than in England. It's so expensive there that people maybe have to be a farm manager or they have to find another way of doing it. So that's the luck we have.”

Monneraye and Lamotte keep nine of their own mares on the farm and are keen to develop their families in the long term.

“When I go to England to Tattersalls I say to my English friends 'I want to buy a foundation mare' and they all laugh at me,” says Monneraye. “They say 'do you believe in Santa Claus?' But that's why I came into this business. I didn't come into the business just to trade. I came to one day have an amazing broodmare.”

He continues, “That's the real goal of the whole shebang, rather than to trade. My father is a farmer and I think maybe that's why I see it this way. It's the agricultural part of it, and the breeding. You need to focus on the long term. And of course you need a bit of cash and to be able to sell well at the sales, but you have to think of both ways because otherwise I don't really see the point. I don't see the passion. I think it's a very French thing; the passion is so important in France.”

Away from the farm for the next week, and in Deauville with their four-month-old daughter Olivia and some babysitting parents, Monneraye and Lamotte will be putting all their passion into selling yearlings for their clients.

A recent update has been provided for lot 143, a colt by Wootton Bassett out of Soniechka (GB) (Notnowcato {GB}), who is the dam of recent Glorious Goodwood-winning 2-year-old Sparkling Beauty (Fr), trained by Richard Hughes. He is being sold on behalf of English-based breeders Tim and Gill Bostwick of Biddestone Stud.

Another Wootton Bassett in the draft, lot 68, a filly out of Nouvelle Vague (Ire) (Henrythenavigator), also benefited from a recent update when her 2-year-old half-sister Arinniti (Fr), also bred at La Motteraye, was second first time out at Naas. She has now been sold to Team Valor and will be trained by Paddy Twomey, who has given her an entry for the G2 Debutante S. later this month. 

On behalf of breeder Al Shahania Stud, La Motteraye will also consign a filly by American Triple Crown winner Justify, who has made a promising start with his first runners this season. Lot 167 also has a strong Juddmonte family behind her as she is a daughter of Time Being (GB) (Zamindar), a full-sister to Group 1 winner Timepiece (GB) and half to her fellow top-level scorer Passage Of Time (GB) (Dansili {GB}), who has also found fame as the dam of Time Test (GB) (Dubawi {Ire}).

“Sometimes you think to yourself 'I don't know if this horse can really make it to this sale',” Monneraye explains as he expresses his satisfaction with the team of 20 yearlings which has just arrived in Deauville. “But this year, we haven't had this. We really like them all and I think overall it's a very strong draft. In France it's very popular for people to come and see them on the farm, so pretty much every second day we had people visiting. They have had a lot of practice and now we just have to make sure everything goes smoothly at the sale.”

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