German Duo Making an Impact in France 

Waltraut Spanner, left, with Absolutly Me, the dam of Ace Impact | Scoop Dyga


In setting a new record time in last Sunday's Prix du Jockey Club, Ace Impact (Ire) (Cracksman {GB}) became the first Classic winner for his breeder Waltraut Spanner and the first to be raised at Barbara Moser's Haras du Long Champ. 

Moser had previously come close to tasting Jockey Club victory as a breeder herself when Patascoy (Fr) (Wootton Bassett {GB}) finished second in the 2018 edition, just half a length off Study Of Man (Ire) (Deep Impact {Jpn}).

“To win a race, any race, is always special, and this victory yielded the strongest emotions that you can imagine,” Moser says, “This win truly was a consecration, an apotheosis, a dream made reality! It is the dream of any breeder! When Patascoy ran, it was somewhat different as it was our first runner in the Jockey Club. I was incredibly stressed before, during, and even after the race. We came so close to winning, beaten by a short distance and with an enquiry.”

She adds, “This time around, I was less anxious before the race. I have already got used to having Classic runners! When Ace Impact began to pass his competitors one after another, it was an indescribable and unforgettable feeling.” 

Waltraut Spanner, who is, like Moser, a German native, first sent her mares to Haras du Long Champ in 2018, and the 2023 Jockey Club hero is the first generation of Spanner's young stock to have been raised there.

“I remember when they came to visit and it was pouring with rain, so I couldn't show them anything,” Moser says. “But I think that they were happy to find someone who spoke their language. They came by when on a tour of Normandy, just out of curiosity. Their first mare arrived here in 2018, and the rest came the following year. Our clientele on the stud is very international, and principally German.”

Owing to a downsizing of Spanner's breeding and racing operation, Ace Impact was sold as a yearling, consigned by Elise Drouet's Domaine de l'Etang, for €75,000 to his trainer Jean-Claude Rouget. His dam, Absolutly Me (Fr) (Anabaa Blue {Fr}), was bred by Eric Puerari and had been bought as a yearling by Henri-Alex Pantall. 

Spanner, along with her husband, had horses in training with Pantall at the time, as she explains. “During one of our visits, he showed us two yearlings that he had recently purchased: one of which was Absolutly Me,” she says. “We were so impressed by her that we bought her straightaway.”

The filly, who won on debut and was stakes-placed at two and three, then became the first broodmare for her owner. Her first cover to Rock Of Gibraltar (Ire) produced the hardy Apollo Flight (Fr), who won or placed on 20 of his 28 starts. Absolutly Me has since visited two sons and two grandsons of Galileo–Nathaniel (GB), Australia (Ire), Cracksman (GB) and Gleneagles (Ire)–each time producing inbreeding to the great Allegretta (GB) through the mare's damsire, the Prix du Jockey Club winner Anabaa Blue (GB) (Anabaa).

“This inbreeding was of course our intention as we soon realised that the Galileo-Allegretta mating worked very well with her pedigree,” says Spanner. “[Absolutly Me] doesn't have a yearling this year, but she does have a very nice colt foal by Waldgeist (GB), another son of Galileo. This year, for different reasons, she was covered by Almanzor (Fr).”

Spanner, who has been an owner since 2006, currently has three horses in training in France: two with Jerome Reynier and the two-year-old half-brother to Ace Impact, named Arrow Eagle (Fr) (Gleneagles), is with Jean-Claude Rouget. Spanner is one of an increasing number of German owner-breeders to cross the Rhine with their breeding stock.

“We decided to come to France as there is more activity here than in Germany, with a higher grade of racing and of course the owners' and breeders' premiums make it very attractive,” she explains. “We then chose to send our mares to Haras du Long Champ as it is a mid-sized stud, and Barbara and her partner [William Thareau] are extremely focused on providing the best possible environment for the horses. And, of course, Barbara is German too! I believe that the success that they have comes from the fact that they both have many years of experience and are personally involved at every step of the process.” 

All well as having bred Patascoy and raised Ace Impact, Moser is also the breeder of the high-class Light Infantry (Fr) (Fast Company {Ire}), who has thrice been runner-up at Group 1 level. His dam, Lights On Me (GB) (Kyllachy{GB}), was sold privately by Moser before passing through the ring at last year's Tattersalls December Sale where she was sold for 330,000gns. “When selecting a mare, there are certain things that I like to see in a pedigree, including a pedigree that is easy to cross with the majority of stallions that are easily available, who descend from Danehill and/or Galileo,” Moser says. “I also like mares that ran over a mile. Physically, I like mares that have an attractive, expressive head, and balance.”

It's also noticeable through Moser's matings that she rarely favours the commercial sires who produce sales favourites, rather tending towards the proven but less fashionable (and less expensive) options. Her sales consignments rarely draw fireworks, with Light Infantry picked from her draft for just €25,000, and Patascoy for €40,000, but Haras du Long Champ has a well-deserved reputation for breeding sound horses. 

“We take each horse on a case-by-case basis,” she says. “And I think it's important not to take them too far away from their natural habits–a horse is made to live outside. At the same time, we want them to become athletes at the highest level and so they need to be robust. Feeding is supremely important in the early years of a horse's life. This profession is one of observation, 24 hours a day, to pick up on any issues as early as possible and ensure the wellbeing of the animal. This, for me, is the base of breeding, although I don't think that we have invented anything new. Each person has their own way of doing things as best they can.”

Three Group 1 horses in five years will count as a success for any breeding operation. It is also worth noting that it is just 11 years since Moser's first experience at the highest level as a breeder when, in 2012, Testa Rossi (Fr) (Dr Fong) took second in the GI Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf. Her results and her personal broodmare band have seen significant improvement over this period. 

“Each year, we cull our broodmare band and invest in new mares,” says Moser. “So we have improved our stock and our results, as seen on the track. We are a small operation, and we treat each horse individually, and with the utmost care. This daily attention means that we miss very little on the farm. I really believe in the importance of surveying everything that happens during the day.”

Based just an hour from Deauville, Haras du Long Champ is part of the property surrounding the magnificent 18th century Manoir de Cléronde, and the stud land was inaugurated by Comte Joseph de Lastours in 1938. 

“Horses were part of my life since childhood,” says Moser. “My grandfather was a trotting trainer. However, my parents forbade me from working with horses and so I continued with my studies, although always keeping one eye on racing.”

Having worked in racing in her home country and Australia, she started breeding in France in 2001, and managed the breeding interests of Maurice de Lastours at Haras de Gruchy, before setting up Haras du Long Champ with William Thareau on part of that property in 2004.

She says, “We had a very modest broodmare band in the beginning, but we regularly produced winners. One of the first of those was Ile De Re (Fr) (Linamix {Fr}), who won both the Chester Cup and the Northumberland Plate in the same year. His dam, Ile Mamou (Ire) (Ela Mana Mou {Ire}) is Long Champ's 'first lady' and has been with us for 29 years–I bought her as a yearling.”

Moser adds, “I love France. There are vast pastures to raise horses, with the ideal climate, and the racing system here is very favourable for the breeder.”

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