Classic Principles Underpin the Success of Ammerland 

Lady Frankel, the half-sister to Lope De Vega, is in foal to New Bay 

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Applying the core principles of breeding to stallions who were top racehorses while enhancing their own core families, Dietrich and Annabel von Boetticher's Gestut Ammerland has forged a reputation as one of the best owner-breeder operations in Europe. 

The results of the Bavarian farm speak for themselves but let us offer a reminder here. At one stage Ammerland was home to around 50 mares, but generally the average number has been closer to 30: not quite boutique but also not behemoth. 

Over the last 30 years or so, 60 group race wins have come their way, including 17 at Group 1 level, and not just any old Group 1s either. First Hurricane Run (Ire) and then Waldgeist (GB) won the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe. Hurricane Run had won the Irish Derby in his breeder's colours before being sold to Michael Tabor, who had also raced his sire and fellow Arc winner Montjeu (Ire). And though von Boetticher must have been smarting when Hurricane Run had been beaten a neck in the Prix du Jockey Club, his conqueror Shamardal would later do the breeder a huge favour as the sire of Ammerland's dual French Classic winner Lope De Vega (Ire), who is now one of the most important stallions in the world. 

Crispin de Moubray, who has been helping Ammerland as a consultant for the last 25 years, says of von Boetticher, “He's been passionate about winning big races. His passion has always been for top racehorses and his policy has been to use them as stallions, even if they're not particularly fashionable, and to set up a breeding operation where everything is carefully worked out using the same trainers, the same staff.”

With the breeder now in his 80s, the decision has been taken to wind down the Thoroughbred breeding activities at Ammerland. It has been a gradual process over recent years and now comes the first part of the official dispersal at the Arqana Breeding Stock Sale, where 12 fillies and mares and one colt foal will be offered for sale on Saturday. 

He adds, “There have only been three stud managers in the 25 years since I've been involved. Daniela Nowara, Nicolas Schenke, who arrived when Bernried was bought, and then the last 10 years there's been Steffi Fuchs. 

“Steffi is staying until the end of August next year when we'll sell the eight yearlings in Arqana in August. There is one Almanzor [foal] in the sales because he's big and he's strong and we're selling the mare, and we just thought it made sense to sell them next to each other. The other eight foals are being raised at Ammerland and the plan is for them to be sold in the August sale next year.”

Gestut Ammerland was founded in 1989 on Lake Starnberg, outside Munich, the year after von Boetticher won the Deutsches Derby with Luigi (Ger), the first racehorse he bought. He later purchased Gestut Bernreid on the other side of the lake, which for a time was home to the stallions Hurricane Run (after his return from Coolmore), his homebred G1 Coronation Cup winner Boreal (Ger), Ito (Ger), and most recently Iquitos (Ger), who subsequently moved to Gestut Graditz and has now been transferred to Rottgen ahead of the 2024 season. Iquitos has made an eye-catching start from his first crop of only five foals. Two of them are stakes winners, both out of Hurricane Run mares and both bred by Ammerland. His son Mr Hollywood (Ire) is a Group 3 winner who was second in the G1 Deutsches Derby and G1 Grosser Preis von Baden, while daughter Drawn To Dream (Ger), a Listed winner and Group 3 runner-up, will be sold in training as Lot 208. Her half-sister, the GI Beverly D S. winner Dalika (Ger) (Pastorius {Ger}), was recently sold in foal to Flightline at Keeneland for $1.65 million.

Most of their horses, they breed to top racehorses, and a horse that doesn't stay a mile is basically of no interest whatsoever

“If you look at Ammerland over the last 25 years, they have averaged 20% black-type horses to foals,” says de Moubray. “If you take this year's three-year-old crop, for example, there were 18 and 16 of them have run, which is astonishing. Fourteen have won and four are stakes winners: Mr Hollywood, Drawn To Dream, Chesspiece and Sevenna's Knight.

“If you don't breed for the market, but you breed for the racecourse, in my opinion, you have a much better chance of producing racehorses. They're raised in the same paddocks in Ammerland. It's great land, they have great staff, everything about it is carefully managed. They all go through the same regime. They didn't go to the sales as foals, yearlings. They have gone to be pre-trained and then they go to Peter Schiergen or John Gosden or Andre Fabre. They were never sold until recently. It's been a well-run small operation based around the idea of producing top horses.”

From such good foundations, the mares and fillies offered this weekend should clearly be coveted by other breeders. It is hard to look past Lady Frankel (GB) as the potential star of the draft. The Group 3-winning daughter of Frankel (GB) is a half-sister to Lope De Vega and is offered as Lot 172 with an April 9 cover by New Bay (GB). Her second and third foals  by Shamardal and Camelot (GB) have sold for €1.6 million and €850,000 respectively. 

Similarly, the five-year-old Wildfeder (GB) (Galileo {Ire}), the full-sister to Waldgeist (GB) and half-sibling to Group 3 winners Waldkonig (GB) (Kingman {GB}) and Waldlied (GB) (New Approach {Ire}), will be presented with a Siyouni (Fr) cover as Lot 202. Form an orderly queue.

Borgia's Best (Ire), whose parents are both Ammerland-bred Classic winners, Lope De Vega and the Deutsches Derby-winning filly Borgia (Ger) (Acatenango {Ger}), is another to be sold in foal to New Bay (Lot 98). The eventual product of that mating will be a full-sibling to the dual winner and 94-rated three-year-old  Liftoff (Fr).

Despite these mares being sold and the prospect of a batch of yearlings appearing next August, the distinctive red-and-green silks will still be seen on racecourses for a while at least.

“What's in the sale, apart from the eight foals, that's it,” says de Moubray. “We have put three yearlings into training with Andre Fabre because they were always going to be kept for various reasons, so we haven't changed our mind. There's still a couple of two-year-olds with Fabre and the three yearlings that have just arrived.

“Dietrich is going to be 82 in March and Annabel does like racing, and they will carry on. They've got a dressage stable at Ammerland, which will also carry on.”

He continues, “If we'd had this dispersal three years ago, it would've been really big. But it has been winding down for the last five years.”

Of the rare purchases made by Ammerland, the most recent, Sea The Sky (Ger) (Sea The Stars {Ire}), a sister to Sea The Moon (Ger) from an outstanding family of multiple German Classic winners, is also catalogued for Arqana as Lot 171. Now four, the Listed winner and Group 3-placed filly topped the BBAG September Yearling Sale at €820,000.

“Sevenna was a mare that I bought for €50,000 as a yearling in Baden-Baden, and now Dietrich has a whole lot of that S-line, which before he didn't have,” de Moubray says.

“Then there's the Lope De Vega family and there's the Waldgeist family and the Borgia family. That is an advantage, if you're breeding and you know the grandmothers, you know what to look out for, so when you're doing your matings, you're thinking, 'This family tend to do this. So let's see if we can balance it out by doing that.' And also managing them to race, not to sell, makes such a difference.”

De Moubray also signed for the Monsun (Ger) filly who would become known as Waldlerche (GB) when agreeing a private sale for her with breeder Newsells Park Stud as a yearling. The two operations formed a partnership which would result in the G3 Prix Penelope winner breeding Waldgeist among her six winners, along with his aforementioned sister. 

He says, “Waldlerche went through the August Sale and no-one liked her apart from me and she didn't sell. So I called Dietrich afterwards and said, 'You should buy her.' Andreas [Jacobs] took my phone and walked off and came back half an hour later and said, 'We've agreed that Dietrich pays €50,000 for half and we'll race her together'.”

Another significant association for Ammerland was formed with Ballylinch Stud, which is now home to Lope De Vega and Waldgeist.

“Ballylinch has been a great partner,” says de Moubray, “And Andre Fabre, obviously, over the years, as has Peter Schiergen, who won the Coronation Cup with Boreal. There are some headline horses really.”

He continues, “It's one of those rare operations in the last 35 years that has been set up by someone new, and those Ammerland colours, they've won races in America, Hong Kong, England, Ireland, and particularly in France. Lope De Vega won the Guineas and the Derby and the following year, Golden Lilac won the Guineas and the Oaks in France. That was in successive years, they won those four Classic races.

“Ammerland don't go for fashionable stallions and they don't go for typical German stallions. They're not really interested in precocious speed at all. Most of their horses, they breed to top racehorses, and a horse that doesn't stay a mile is basically of no interest whatsoever. It's a Classic breeding operation looking to produce Classic winners.”

 

 

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