Monceaux's International Reach: From Deauville to Darkest Peru

Henri Bozo and former NBA star Tony Parker | Scoop Dyga


If you are heading into the most important week for your bloodstock business, it never hurts to have a recent Group 1 winner or two to advertise your wares, and in Paddington (GB) (Siyouni {Fr}) and Feed The Flame (GB) (Kingman {GB}), Ecurie des Monceaux has just that.

By Wednesday, we will know if Henri Bozo and his team have eschewed their usual Arqana hospitality offering of foie gras and oysters in favour of marmalade sandwiches but, with or without the favourite delicacy of Paddington, his is the name that has been on most people's lips this season. 

“This is really where we try to put all our efforts, to try to breed those horses. It doesn't always work, but when it works, it's very enjoyable not just for the purchasers, but for all the team here,” says Bozo, who is overseeing the final preparations of his team of 40 yearlings which will no doubt play a dominant role as the Arqana August Sale gets underway on Friday. 

“It's very encouraging for all of us. And I mean, everybody has been trying hard to improve the standards and to try to make French racing and breeding more competitive. From the breeders, we're investing massively here in the broodmares, and the trainers are trying hard to get better horses and trying to get new owners to trust the French racing programme.”

In this regard, the 2023 season has been a gift. At home, in group races which for several years have often been plundered by British or Irish raiders, the French resistance is back. While Paddington is advertising the benefits of his French upbringing overseas, at Longchamp, Saint-Cloud and Deauville, the home team has been rampant, with all four of the French Classics having remained en place, along with the Group 1 contests the Prix Rothschild, Prix Ganay, Prix Maurice de Gheest, Grand Prix de Paris, and Prix Jean Prat.

Bred by Diane Wildenstein's Dayton Investments, Paddington was born and raised at Monceaux and later sold at Arqana at the October Yearling Sale, which he topped at €420,000.

“I'm always repeating it, but that's because it is a programme we are very attached to: we only sell yearlings that have been raised on the farm,” Bozo says. “We raised Paddington for Diane Wildenstein. October is getting stronger every year, and for us French breeders it's a good opportunity to have a second option when you have a yearling that cannot make it or the owner who was undecided, like here. So it's good, to have the opportunity of August and October to sell our crop.”

Feed The Flame, bred by one of a number of successful partnerships at the farm which includes the Harris family's Lordship Stud and Clear Light SAS, was an August graduate that same year. His dam Knyazhna (Ire) (Montjeu {Ire}) has also produced the dual Grade III winner Sacred Life (Fr) (Siyouni {Fr}) and Group 2-placed Khagan (Ire) (Le Havre {Ire}), and he was bought by Gerard Larrieu for owner Jean-Louis Bouchard for €270,000.

“He's always been very highly thought of by Pascal Bary, who wanted him to make his debut in the nice Deauville two-year-old maiden,” says Bozo of the Grand Prix de Paris winner Feed The Flame. “But he had a growth spurt just before the race and it took him a while to settle. He was very impressive and he really caught people's imagination after his first two wins.

“He's a very talented horse and I see a lot of [his broodmare sire] Montjeu in his way of galloping, in his presence, there are a lot of similarities.  I think you need a bit of character to be an outstanding horse, and Montjeu himself was really so spectacular to watch and it's nice to see him passing on his class.”

Monceaux has also featured as a winning part-owner of two particularly exciting fillies in recent seasons. The 2022 Poule d'Essai des Pouliches winner Mangoustine (Fr) (Dark Angel {Ire}) was bred at the farm and retained after the yearling sales, while Ramatuelle (Justify), winner of the G2 Prix Robert Papin and G3 Prix du Bois from four starts this term, was bought last August by Arthur Hoyeau from her breeder Yeguada Centurion. With an entry in the G1 Sumbe Prix Morny on the weekend of the sale, the Christopher Head-trained filly, who races for a partnership which includes basketball star Tony Parker, looks rather special. 

Bozo says of the plan to recruit future broodmare prospects, “Two years ago we talked with Arthur, and I told him we should try to launch a syndicate, because I think the yearling fillies are a very good way for breeders to prepare for the future and try to find a broodmare that you have really chosen. When you buy a broodmare, you have much less choice because not so many people sell their mares. Many people sell their yearlings, including yearling fillies. So we decided to launch a racing syndicate with a view to keeping the fillies as future broodmares.”

He adds, “We went to see some yearlings and Ramatuelle was one of the ones we liked, and Arthur liked her a lot. On the day of the sale she had been cast in the box and was not completely right. Arthur convinced me to forget the small problem she had, and that was a good move, obviously.”

He adds, “It's nice for the French industry to have someone like Tony Parker really getting more and more interested in the business, the sport, and showcasing it to a wider audience. It's good news.

“Mangoustine is back with us. She's in foal to Frankel and she's in very good shape.”

For now though, the more pressing matter is the 40 yearlings from the farm arriving at the sales ground in Deauville. Where once the draft would have had a liberal sprinkling of sons and daughters of Galileo (Ire), now it has the monopoly on Dubawi (Ire), with five of the seven yearlings by the Darley powerhouse to have been catalogued for the sale appearing in the Monceaux consignment. 

The quintet, which will be sold within the first 39 lots, includes two colts from Monceaux's signature family of Platonic (GB) (Zafonic), and another for Diane Wildenstein, out of Pretty Spirit (GB), a winning three-parts-sister to the treble Group 1 winner Persian King (Ire), who has his first yearlings on offer in Deauville.

“We used Dubawi as much as we could, because he's an outstanding stallion and we know that his legacy will be very important for us, with future broodmares as well as foals,” Bozo says. “He's so exciting, because he's a horse that's easy to mate and he can add a bit of speed, and he adds the will and the temperament.”

The theme of breeding partnerships has long been at the core of the success of Monceaux, which has occupied the top spot at the Arqana August Sale since 2012. It is a model which is also emulated across the globe.

Bozo says, “I think not only with us, but with different operations, it's quite obvious that people enjoy gathering and sharing the risk and sharing also their particular knowledge and strengths. I find it very positive, because you are adding some input that can be interesting. I'm trying to make sure that everyone has the same long-term plan. That's very important so that no-one is disappointed. And on our side, we really try to focus on improving our broodmare band. We're not really sellers of our mares or our fillies in training, but we are sellers of our yearlings, obviously. So it's important to team up with people who share the same view, and also with whom you can easily share views and discuss the matings and things like that.”

He adds, “It's also a good entrance for people who are interested in the sport, but who want to be helped to discover more about it. And often I found that they start by sharing a mare with us and then they're happy to go into the horses-in-training market and buy a yearling and share the real sport, which is horse racing. I think it's maybe easier to start with having a leg in a broodmare to understand the game and then skip to having horses in training and yearlings.”

One recent broodmare purchase by Monceaux and partners in 2019 was that of Birch Grove (Ire) (Galileo {Ire}). Her full-sister Magic (Ire) has recently given their shared page a terrific lift through the exploits of her dual Group 1-winning Shaquille (GB). Extra satisfaction is derived from this update by Bozo, as Shaquille's sire, the top-class miler Charm Spirit (Ire), was bred by Monceaux.

“Birch Grove has a Lope De Vega filly in the sale. Shaquille has so much personality and speed, and so had Charm Spirit really. I mean, the sire won five group races and three Group 1s. So they're tough, tough horses. And it's nice to see [Shaquille] doing the same, because he's got an impressive series of wins. It's always remarkable, I think, in a horse, not only to see the big win, but also a series of wins.”

Among the 14 first-season sires whose yearlings feature in the August catalogue is the Prix du Jockey Club and Arc winner Sottsass (Fr) (Siyouni {Fr}), who is another top campaigner bred at Monceaux and whose siblings have played a leading role in the sale in recent years. His full-brother, now named Shin Emperor (Fr), topped last year's sale when selling to Yoshito Yahagi for €2.1 million, and in 2020 their Dubawi half-sister was sold to Bahrain's Shaikh Nasser and Shaikh Khalifa for €2.5 million. There is no yearling from their dam Starlet's Sister (Ire) (Galileo {Ire}) in this year's draft from Monceaux and, surprisingly, none of Sottsass's first yearlings, though 15 of them are consigned by other vendors.

Bozo continues, “We have a mix between some young stallions, like Pinatubo and Kameko, and some more proven like Dubawi, Wootton Bassett, Siyouni, Lope De Vega, Frankel, Sea The Stars and Kingman.

“It's the same with proven mares and the young mares, because we try to renew our broodmare band to bring in new blood and new mares. Then you've got some young ones like Enchanting Skies (Ire), whose first foal is [Listed Prix Roland de Chambure winner] Beauvatier (Fr). And we've got her second foal here, who is a cracking filly by Siyouni.

“All of these yearlings have been conceived with the help of Camilla Trotter, who all year round is helping us to share data, to share information, to share remarks, on the stallions and the families of our mares. She's a great help to our operation.”

Asked to give an opinion on which of the three-year-old colts might hold the upper hand by the end of the season, Bozo replies diplomatically, “I suppose the Arc would be an interesting World Cup Final.”

For this week, though, the field of play is the sale ring at Arqana, featuring a development squad, if you like, for future stars of the track.


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