Saint Pair: A Boutique Operation With a Global Outlook

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Andreas Putsch at Arqana | Scoop Dyga

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Performance or pedigree? In an ideal world a breeder would choose both when buying a mare but, depending on budget, almost inevitably there has to be a compromise. In recent weeks in TDN we have heard from Mark Johnston about his selection process when buying yearlings, in which he is particularly keen on a decent rating for the dam. On the opposite side of the equation this week as vendor, Andreas Putsch is in agreement.

“For us it is all about selection, of the matings, of culling, and trying to introduce new blood. When I read the interview with Mark Johnston that was music to my ears because that's very much our approach. The form of the dam is so important,” says Putsch, who at Arqana will be selling seven of the eight yearlings born on his sumptuous Normandy-based Haras de Saint Pair last year. 

Indeed, Putsch had outlined this strategy when interviewed in these pages five years ago. At the time he said of his early days in the breeding business, “I was breeding to sell. I tried to buy mares with good pedigrees who didn't have such good racing records. Some of their offspring sold well, so commercially it was a success, but what bothered me was that there weren't enough good results on the racecourse with those horses. Then I read Joe Estes's book which compared mares' performances and I studied all the dams of the good stallions. I decided that the way to go was to buy performance over pedigree–it's very difficult to afford both.” 

Certainly that shift in direction, which has been incorporated into the broader perspective at Haras de Saint Pair, has reaped dividends on the track, both with the graduates of the farm who race in Putsch's own colours, such as the multiple group winner Pearls Galore (Fr) (Invincible Spirit {Ire}), and with those bought by other owners. 

It is no surprise that Saint Pair, just outside Cambremer, is capable of producing top-class racehorses as the farm has a rich history rolling, like its paddocks, back to 1883. Four Arc winners have been born there, and in the 15 years in which it has been under the ownership of Putsch, the Group 1 winner Vadamos (Fr) (Monsun {Ger}) has been born and raised there among some other notable group winners, including Glycon (Fr) (Le Havre {Ire}), Waldbiene (Fr) (Intello {Ger}), Lucky Lycra (Fr) (Olympic Glory {Ire}) and Guildsman (Fr) (Wootton Bassett {GB}). 

Siblings to two of those mentioned can be found in the septet which forms the Haras de Saint Pair Arqana August draft. The Kingman (GB) colt out of Dardiza (Ire) (Street Cry {Ire}), lot 249, is a half-brother to the American Grade III winner Guildsman, who was also third in the G2 Coventry S. when trained by Archie Watson. It is a family with roots in the Aga Khan Studs and also features the Classic winners Almanzor (Fr) and Darjina (Fr).

A colt and a filly by Kingman's stud-mate Frankel (GB) also feature, with the son of G2 Rockfel S. winner Spain Burg (Fr) (Sageburg {Fr}) being the third horse set to sell on Sunday evening (lot 148). With the remainder of the draft being concentrated on Monday, the Frankel filly appears as lot 284 and is one of three members of the same illustrious family to pass through the ring within four lots. Bred on a cross which has been successfully advertised by Group 1 winners Nashwa (GB), Cracksman (GB) and Hungry Heart (Aus), the filly is out of the Pivotal (GB) mare Girl Friday (Fr), who was a winner at two and is a half-sister to the aforementioned G2 Grand Prix de Deauville winner Glycon. Their dam Glorious Sight (GB) (Singspiel {Ire}) was talented herself, as a Listed winner who was placed in both the G1 Poule d'Essai des Pouliches and G1 Prix de Diane. Furthermore, she is a half-sister to another talented Pivotal mare, Beauty Is Truth (Ire), a Group 2 winner who has produced the Group 1 winners Hermosa (Ire), (Hydrangea (Ire) and The United States (Ire) from her repeated matings with Galileo (Ire).

The Frankel filly will be followed through by a daughter of Wootton Bassett (lot 285), whose young winning dam Glad Eye (Fr) is by Dansili out of Glorious Sight, while the third filly from the family (287), and perhaps the draft's pièce de resistance is the full-sister to Glycon, whose sire Le Havre died earlier this year. With Glorious Sight being a Kilfrush Stud-bred descendant of the great matriarch Mill Princess (Ire) (Mill Reef), the family has been given a further boost in recent seasons by the exploits of dual Group 1 winner Tenebrism (Caravaggio) and her sister Statuette (Justify).

“The full-sister to Glycon, certainly, is a superstar,” says her proud breeder. “She will be very popular. And if you look at the pedigree update, at the mares that Coolmore have, Hydrangea has a Deep Impact and two Dubawis, and Hermosa has a No Nay Never and two Dubawis. [Their Dansili half-sister] Fire Lily has two Galileos. There aren't many families that have that sort of support. As Coolmore aren't selling, it's really almost an exclusive entry into the family.”

Putsch adds, “We have a very consistent draft, I would say. The horses are where they should be. The two colts are also very popular, they are very strong, very racy, very well developed. I'm very happy with them. They're all ready to go.”

Only one of the crop of 2021 has been retained this year at Haras de Saint Pair, for practical reasons as well as perhaps a sentimental one, for the Siyouni (Fr) filly is the final foal of another successful Singspiel mare for the stud, Via Milano (Fr), the dam of the black-type trio of Via Ravenna (Ire) (Raven's Pass), Via Medici (Ire) (Medicean {GB}) and Via Manzoni (Ire) (Monsun {Ger}). The G3 Prix Lieurey winner Via Medici has subsequently been exported to Japan, where she produced the dual Group 1 winner and young Shadai stallion Admire Mars (Jpn) (Daiwa Major {Jpn}).

“We have to keep the filly, because Via Milano is now retired in the paddocks. But we really bring our 'A game' to the August Sale,” Putsch says. “Because we don't know, as the buyers don't know, which ones are going to be the ones who race successfully. If I'd have known that Sicilian Defense was as good as she is, I wouldn't have sold her for, what, €30,000.

“If you look back at the figures, Saint Pair does produce a high percentage of stakes winners year after year, but obviously we don't know which ones are going to be the 20/25% of the stakes winners–and over the last four years, with four or five crops, that's what we've been producing, from small crops of on average 11 foals.”

He continues, “I think if you look at all these operations that are successful, they have a very good ratio of land to horses, and that's the key on our land. We have a strict policy of a minimum of two hectares per horse, and that allows us to rest the paddocks. All our paddocks have a minimum of six months of rest every year, and we see very few horses. We see lots of cows during the season, and empty paddocks. And I think that, in terms of management and especially parasite management, is absolutely key. I couldn't do it any other way.”

As already outlined in Saturday's TDN by Arqana's Freddy Powell, there will be no shortage of international buyers prowling the sales grounds in Deauville. Like many in the business, Putsch can see both sides of the coin when it comes to the increasing globalisation of the racing and breeding industry.

He says, “I welcome it and I am concerned. First of all, I'm not the emperor of racing and breeding so I cannot change the reality. And it's the reality of things right now that Europe has become huge. Look at it historically, I think right now in terms of quality of stock you have Europe and Japan that are leading the world. Japan has different reasons, but why Europe is so good is historically that amazing competition between Coolmore and Darley, and also Juddmonte playing this phenomenal role.”

He continues, “This gives us the stallions, on which we feast. And only because we can feast on these amazing stallions, we have superior breeding. I think really the power, in history, has always been led by stallion power. Where the top stallions are, you have the best breeding. I strongly believe in that.”

Of the sires responsible for the yearlings in the Saint Pair draft, the champion sires of France and Britain and Ireland, Siyouni and Frankel, are represented, along with the proven names of Le Havre, Kingman, and Wootton Bassett. Only one is yet to prove himself, and that is the Darley freshman Blue Point (Ire), whose filly within this consignment (lot 311) features late in the sale and is the second foal of the Poule d'Essai des Pouliches runner-up and Listed winner Irish Rookie (Ire) (Azamour {Ire}).

Putsch explains, “I only use first-season sires when I really was impressed with them as a racehorse. Obviously Blue Point winning twice in the one week at Ascot, very few horses can do that. It takes a top horse to do it. And that convinced me to use Blue Point in his first season, but usually I prefer to go with proven sires.”

Returning to the theme of Europe's current glut of classy sires, he adds, “We have this situation in Europe where we breed top stock because of top stallions. But that is not a given that it will last forever, and now we have these very important breeders disappearing for age, slowly, and it's a whole new game. We also have ridiculous prize-money, and I include France in that, all over Europe. If you compare it to America, Australia, Asia, the Middle East, our prize-money is a joke. And that is the big problem, because we're becoming right now a nursery for stock for international racing. I have to look at international markets to market my horses. I've got no choice. And long term that can hurt.”

With a Group/Grade 1 winner in Japan and Hong Kong advertising the strength of the merits of the Saint Pair broodmare band in no less a stallion farm than the Yoshida family's Shadai operation, Putsch can also see the benefits of this global mingling of bloodlines. 

 “It is positive as well,” he says. “We really try to get our horses in as many jurisdictions as possible. As small as we are, I very much believe in this international market, and also international racing, and again prize-money. If you look at all our races, apart from the Classics that really are for breeding, but once the Classic season is over, the best horses automatically go to the races where the most money is. I think the Japanese showed us that, they're much more progressive than we are, but Europe is catching up, America is catching up. And the championship races today are the big races internationally that have the most prize-money.”

He adds, “So it's important for me, as a breeder, to be represented at the big meetings. Everything that is outside these meetings is just lesser racing, in general, and that is an important development. If you want to be in the limelight as a breeder you have to make sure your horses compete in this kind of company.”

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