On Paper, On Course, Onesto Had Plenty in his Favour

Onesto wins the Grand Prix de Paris | Scoop Dyga

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Blood will out, so they say, and in the case of Onesto (Ire) this is certainly true. The most cursory glance at his pedigree gives you two of the most talked about and revered racehorses of the modern era – his sire Frankel (GB) and broodmare sire Sea The Stars (Ire). But it pretty much goes without saying when it comes to Frankel's offspring that there's an awful lot more going on as you take a closer look at his page. 

Bred by American-based Adam Bowden of Diamond Creek Farm, Onesto could just as easily have appeared in the Juddmonte studbook. In fact, just one generation back his family does just that. His dam Onshore (GB) was sold to Bowden by Juddmonte as a three-year-old for 320,000gns.

“Her pedigree was the huge draw for me,” Bowden said in a TDN interview back in 2022. It is easy to see why. Onshore is a daughter of Kalima (GB) (Kahyasi {GB}), who is a full-sister to the celebrated Hasili (GB), dam of the stallions Dansili (GB), Champs Elysees (GB) and Cacique (GB) as well as the top racemares Banks Hill (GB), Intercontinental (GB) and Heat Haze (GB). 

He added, “We had circled the mare and my agent Mike Akers went to see her and said, 'well if you're willing to spend what it takes to buy her, then I think she is the type of filly that we want.' And it worked out.”

Indeed it did. Onesto was stopping the clock even before his first race, with an eye-catching breeze in Ocala, Florida which sent agent Hubert Guy running almost as fast to ensure that he could assemble a syndicate to buy and race Onesto.

That team, which contributed to him being bought for $535,000, consisted of the former champion trotting trainer, driver and breeder Jean-Etienne Dubois, his father Jean-Pierre-Joseph Dubois, Ecurie Hunter Valley, Ecurie Billon, Onesto's trainer Fabrice Chappet and Guy himself. Crucially, too, Haras d'Etreham was involved from the start and now, after a Group 1-winning career, that is where Onesto finds himself as he embarks on his second career as a stallion. 

Nicolas de Chambure of Haras d'Etreham recalls, “We got a funny phone call from Hubert Guy after he breezed, and he said that he saw something special from a horse that was not meant to do what he did that early in his career, and because of his breeding. And he said he had a lot of faith in the horse since he saw him breeze. So it was mainly him and Jean-Etienne Dubois at the time that put a syndicate together. And we participated because we agreed that we saw something a bit different, a bit special. And that's how it all started.”

Having returned to Europe to begin his training at Chappet's Chantilly yard, the chestnut colt made his winning debut over a mile at Chantilly that September.

“Onesto got a Rising Star from the TDN when he won first time out,” de Chambure says. “He arrived in Chantilly in June with Fabrice Chappet. Fabrice was taking his time with him. He didn't want to rush him into into fast work too early, but you know, the more he was doing with him, the more he was seeing things that the breeze-up suggested. And it was excitement and relief and a bit of a mix when he won so well in a very good maiden in Chantilly. And the way he did it, with that great turn of foot. The dream was really alive then.”

A below-par run when eighth in the G3 Prix de Fontainebleau on his first start at three may have felt like a setback at the time, but Onesto soon put that behind him when winning another important Classic trial, the G2 Prix Greffulhe, on his next start three weeks later. 

His wide draw in gate 14 did not help his chances in the G1 Prix du Jockey Club, in which Onesto was fifth behind Vadeni (Fr) but he again bounced back, this time for his first start in the colours of his new part-owner Gerard Augustin-Normand in the G1 Grand Prix de Paris. Following that first success at the top level, Onesto returned to the land of his birth to run a fine second to Luxembourg (Ire) in the G1 Irish Champion S., with Vadeni just behind him that time. 

“His career has been [a mixture of] great results and unlucky moments as well. He got some bad draws, sometimes it was the wrong ground,” says de Chambure in reference to the heavy conditions the horse encountered in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe of 2022. “But, you know, every time things went his way, he showed how good he was, with that turn of foot, and that he was a true Group 1 horse and Group 1 winner.

“The Grand Prix de Paris is becoming one of the main race days in France of the year because it's Bastille Day, so there is a big concert and a lot of people at the races and a great atmosphere. He beat a really good field that day.”

Remaining in training as a four-year-old, Onesto warmed up with a fourth-place finish over a mile in the G1 Prix Jacques le Marois and also took third, beaten just a length and three-quarters when making his second appearance in the Arc last season. 

De Chambure continues, “In France you have to have that tactical speed to quicken and that's his main attribute, I think. His last 600 metres in the Arc were amazing and he was only beaten a head for second. His last 200 metres were the quickest of the race.”

Onesto's team of owners, a number of whom are also noted breeders, remains fully behind him at stud. 

“It was good because there were some new owners in the game, so it was great for them. There were some older people that have been involved in racing all their life. So it was a good mix,” de Chambure adds. “All of the people that were involved in his career are staying involved for his stallion career. And you know, he's got such a good pedigree, he could really make it as a stallion, and the journey continues because the group is the same. We've opened the horse for syndication but they all stayed involved at a level in the horse.”

Haras d'Etreham's long history of standing stallions includes the recent extraordinary turnaround of Wootton Bassett (GB), from a one-time €4,000 sire to his eventual sale to Coolmore and his current place as the joint-second-most expensive stallion in Europe. It would be no easy feat to emulate that story but de Chambure feels confident that Onesto has enough qualities to at least pique breeders' interest at this crucial early stage. 

“When you talk to breeders, you feel that the last few years, some good horses have done it coming from lighter pedigrees and it was more the racing and the [horse's] sire that were important,” he says. “Then a horse like Onesto retires, coming from one of the best Juddmonte families. And suddenly, breeders come to us and say they're so excited about this horse because he's so well bred. So it is very important to breeders, and it gives him credit. It gives him, I think, more chance than just another horse.”

Onesto's next test comes when the doors of the Haras d'Etreham stallion unit are thrown wide to welcome visitors during this weekend Route des Etalons. He's bound to be busy, but de Chambure is not worried about him coping with the extra attention.

He says, “He's travelled the world. He's been to Japan, he's been to America, he's been to the breeze-ups in Florida. So, you know, he's got a great mind and he has settled really well here.”

 

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