Group 1 Winners Angel Bleu and Belbek to Join Sumbe Roster

Dual Group 1-winning juvenile Angel Bleu is one of two new stallions for Sumbe in 2024 | Scoop Dyga


Nurlan Bizakov's investment in French racing and breeding has been significant since 2019 when he bought Haras de Montfort et Preaux, followed later by the purchase of Haras du Mezeray. Branding his stallion and breeding operation as Sumbe, he added Golden Horde (Ire) to the roster for the 2021 season, and last year announced that Mishriff (Ire) would stand for Sumbe, with De Treville (GB) also on the roster. The line-up for 2024 has been enhanced again with the announcement that Bizakov's homebred Group 1 winner Belbek (GB) (Showcasing {GB}) has been retired, and that he has bought another Group 1 winner, Angel Bleu (Fr) (Dark Angel {GB}). The latter, now four, has been supplemented for Saturday's G1 Queen Elizabeth II S., and will race for his original owner Marc Chan in partnership with Bizakov.

A dual Group 1 winner at two, taking the Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere and Criterium International after also winning the G2 Vintage S. at Glorious Goodwood, Angel Bleu was named the French Champion juvenile and was the second-highest-rated two-year-old in Europe in 2021. His distinctive Group 1 double was previously achieved by Blushing Groom in 1976 and Irish River two years later.

“Not only is he a tough, sound horse, but he looks the part, and he's from a real stallion family,” says Sumbe's manager Tony Fry while taking a break from yearling inspections at Arqana. “The dam side is full of Group 1 performers. We followed him as a two-year-old and liked him, but the deal couldn't be done, and then two years later it has been done. Sometimes it's worth the wait.”

To date, Angel Bleu, who was Dark Angel's highest-rated juvenile, has won seven of his 17 starts, including the G2 Celebration Mile in August. His pedigree has plenty of depth, too, as his dam, Cercle De La Vie (Ire) (Galileo {Ire}), is a full-sister to the Group 1 winners and stallions Highland Reel (Ire) and Idaho (Ire). His third dam is the Australian Oaks winner and champion broodmare Circles Of Gold (Aus), whose sons Elvstroem (Aus) (Danehill) and Haradasun (Aus) (Fusaichi Pegasus) were both globe-trotting Group 1 winners and stallions.

Reflecting on the career of Angel Bleu, his trainer Ralph Beckett said, “As well as being really talented, Angel Bleu is a very tough individual, whose race record shows he took his racing very well and kept coming back for more. To do it at two, three and four is a rare thing nowadays.” 

Belbek followed Angel Bleu on the list of winners of the Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere, and it is a roll of honour which includes the names Siyouni (Fr) and Wootton Bassett (GB), who have made such an impact on the French stallion ranks in recent years. A son of the Makfi (GB) mare Bee Queen (GB), who was purchased by Bizakov from Juddmonte, his third dam is the brilliant racemare and black-type producer Banks Hill (GB) (Danehill), sister of the stallions Dansili (GB), Champs Elysees (GB) and Cacique (GB), making his fourth dam none other than the blue hen Hasili (GB) (Kahyasi {Ire}).

“He'll always be very special, whatever he does,” says Fry of Belbek. “Again, as a son of Showcasing, he'll be popular. He's a Group 1-winning two-year-old. Things just didn't quite go his way this year through no fault of his own. But he's a beautiful-looking horse, and again it's a Juddmonte family through and through. I don't think you can ever really go wrong with those.”

Though Mishriff joined Sumbe last year, a foot injury sustained after retirement ruled him out of his first covering season, meaning that the farm is launching three new stallions. As a winner of the Prix du Jockey Club, followed by the Saudi Cup, Dubai Sheema Classic, and Juddmonte International for Prince Faisal, Mishriff needs little introduction, but the breeding fraternity will need a small reminder that he is essentially a new stallion in 2024.

“A lot of people were with us for the journey last year,” Fry says. “We had to disappoint them. I don't think anyone was more disappointed than us, the boss, and Prince Faisal, obviously.

“But he's back, he's healthy, he looks fantastic. He's let down, and you have to remember what a good racehorse he was. And I think anybody that saw him before the setback said what a beautiful-looking horse he was. He really fills the eye. People have just got to go back, look at his races and realise that it's just a wonderful opportunity to have a horse like that in France. And again, people are very quick to knock horses being retired, but he stood three years of training and racing.”

He adds, “Prince Faisal had eight mares for him last year. He was very patient. He bought a couple of expensive mares for him, including [dual Group 3 winner and Group 1-placed] Oscula. He's still keen and the horse is very dear to his heart. So he'll be sending a good batch of his broodmare band to Mishriff.”

That home support for the Sumbe stallions also holds true for the G1 Commonwealth Cup winner Golden Horde. With an average just above €43,000 for his eight yearlings sold at Arqana in August and the V.2 Sale, he has another nine members of his first crop to be sold this week.

“We've got 18 by Golden Horde at home and I could open the gate and show you those and there's nothing I'd be hiding because they are just solid, attractive horses,” says Fry.

“To send 18, 20 mares to Golden Horde, everybody knows the success rates of stallions. That's the big belief that we have in that horse.” 

He adds, “Our broodmare band now numbers 50 or 50-plus, and we'll be in the market to look at mares for our stallions. As I have said on a number of occasions, it's very easy to go out and sell the stallions; you can be a salesman and you can sell your nominations but we want to say 'We believe in this horse. We are backing him with our own mares. We're behind you. We want him to work for us and the breeders.' So we will be investing in mares for all of our new stallions and our existing stallions. That's important.”

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