City Light Shines On Siyouni’s French Legacy

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City Light at Haras d’Etreham | Liam Norris

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As Siyouni (Fr) embarks on his 10th season at the Aga Khan’s Haras de Bonneval, his fee has increased in line with his profile. From a relatively lowly €7,000 starting price to being France’s most expensive stallion at €100,000, it is a rise closely mirroring that of his own very successful sire Pivotal (GB).

As of this year, Siyouni now has two sons at stud—Le Brivido (Fr) at Overbury Stud in Britain and City Light (Fr) at Haras d’Etreham in his native France. They will doubtless be joined in the coming seasons by the Prix du Jockey Club winner Sottsass (Fr), recently acknowledged as the top-rated 3-year-old of 2019 in the Longines World’s Best Racehorse Rankings.

The fast City Light naturally aroused the interest of a number of potential buyers when coming within a nose of being his sire’s first Group 1-winning colt at Royal Ascot in 2018. Ultimately, however, a deal was done for the now 6-year-old to remain in France for his stud career, and he is the latest addition to an impressive Flat roster at Haras d’Etreham, which is also home to rising star Wootton Bassett (GB) and his champion son Almanzor (Fr), whose first yearlings will hit the sale-rings later this year.

“His last year on the track was as a 5-year old so we have been seeing him and following him for a while now,” said Nicolas de Chambure in a quick break during the busy weekend of the Route des Etalons. In unseasonably warm January weather, plenty of breeders from home and abroad made the trip to see the stallions at the stunning 250-hectare Haras d’Etreham, near Bayeux.

The bright bay City Light gleamed in the sunshine amid the honey-stone walls of the stallion yard where he has been resident since his final outing on the turf at ParisLongchamp in October, where once again he came agonisingly close to Group 1 glory.

His short-head defeat by Merchant Navy (Aus) (Fastnet Rock {Aus}) in the G1 Diamond Jubilee S. as a 4-year-old will doubtless rank as his finest hour, certainly on the international stage, and he was just half a length behind One Master (Ire) (Fastnet Rock {Aus}) for his swansong in the G1 Qatar Prix de la Foret during the Arc meeting.

Consistency has been City Light’s watchword, and he knew how to win right from the start, having made a successful debut at two at Saint-Cloud. In 22 starts, he saluted the judge seven times, including two Group 3 wins at ParisLongchamp and in Britain’s All-Weather Sprint Championship at Lingfield, as well as finishing second on nine occasions. More than ever, a progressive consistency is a trait to be valued in a breeding prospect of either sex.

“He was second in the Diamond Jubilee at Ascot, beaten almost nothing by Merchant Navy,” added de Chambure. “There were a lot of people trying to buy him at the time and we were lucky that the owners decided to keep him in France and, little by little, we managed to secure him.”

City Light was bred at Jedburgh Stud in Normandy by Isabelle Corbani and Alec Waugh, who of his formative years working at Etreham. Corbani raced him in partnership with Jean-Louis Bouchard from Stephane Wattel’s Deauville stable.

“He’s the only son of Siyouni to have performed at Group 1 level over shorter distances so he’s a very exciting prospect,” added de Chambure. “He has settled really well at the stud since he’s been here. He’s enjoying the new routine. He’s by Siyouni out of a Kendor mare so some of the breeders were asking questions about his attitude and his mind but he’s been really easy to deal with and really quiet. And he did show that courage and consistency on the track so on that side of things I think breeders can be confident that he will pass something positive to his progeny.”

At least half of City Light’s first book of mares will come from the shareholders who were quick in invest in him, along with a number of Etreham’s own mares. The farm has had extra cause for celebration in the last week as the breeder of GI Breeders’ Cup Mile heroine Uni (GB) (More Than Ready), who was one of the winners at the recent Eclipse Awards. Her dam Unaided (GB) (Dansili {GB}) is now in the ownership of Peter Brant after being sold for €1.25 million at Arqana in December, but Etreham has her yearling colt by Almanzor to offer this August.

“These days we see that it’s very difficult to launch a stallion if you don’t have strong syndicate behind you and if you don’t support the horse yourself as the stud standing them, so we will be sending about 10 mares and he will probably be covering about 70 to 80 mare from shareholders,” de Chambure explained. “He was well received: we sold the shares within two weeks when he was announced, and being a son of Siyouni was obviously a big help. He will probably start at 130 [mares] and if he manages the numbers in his book well we could open it back up and sell maybe 10 or 15 more [nominations], but I don’t really like going above 150 on any stallion. I think that’s plenty to give a horse a chance and to protect him a bit.”

 

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