Vadeni and Erevann Boost Bonneval's Sire Power

Erevann settling in at Haras de Bonneval | Emma Berry

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It is hard to remember a time when France had a stronger intake of new stallions than the group which comprises the class of 2024.

At Haras de Bonneval, the domain of the Aga Khan Studs' French line-up, the deluxe stallion unit contains two of the most sought-after sires in the country. They have recently been joined by another duo who will be aimed at emulating the feats of their elders.

For the new recruits Vadeni (Fr) and Erevann (Fr) it will be no easy task to follow in the wake of France's leading sire Siyouni (Fr) and the fast-rising Zarak (Fr). But then again, few would have predicted the lofty heights that Siyouni has reached when he started out on his second career in 2011 at a fee of €7,000. He is now the most expensive stallion in France at €200,000. Only Frankel (GB) and Dubawi (Ire) command a higher fee in Europe, and the latter is well represented in the Bonneval quadrangle, as both Zarak and Erevann are sons of Dubawi, whose sire-line extends with each passing year.

It would do those two a disservice, however, simply to label them as sons of Dubawi, for at the Aga Khan Studs the emphasis has always been on creating families. Here, broodmare power is every bit as important as sire power. 

Zarak's female line tells the century-long story of one of the most successful breeding operations of all time. His dam Zarkava (Ire) wrote a few important chapters of her own to follow, some 50 years later, that of his sixth dam, the champion Petite Etoile (GB), and back through another four generations to the hugely influential Mumtaz Mahal (GB), who in many ways was the start of it all. Indeed, Zarak's rise, from a €12,000 stallion to the upper tier at €60,000, will have pleased many within the Aga Khan Studs, and for more significant reasons than mere fiscal concerns.

What then of Erevann, who brings with him more Siyouni blood, his dam Ervedya (Fr) having been the first Classic winner by the stallion back in 2015, and arguably the most important member of his first crop?

Erevann's dam was very special to us,” says Georges Rimaud, manager of the Aga Khan Studs in France. “Unfortunately we lost her a couple of years ago, but she still has a couple of offspring coming. So Erevann is very special to the family and to the operation. He's a beautiful horse, a beautifully-bred son of Dubawi, who is a sire of sires now. Ervedya was a multiple Group 1 winner at three and at four, and we are all very proud to have offspring from her worthy of being a stallion.”

Erevann, the mare's second foal, sailed unbeaten thorough his first three starts, which included the G3 Prix Paul Moussac, before finishing third in the G1 Prix Jacques Le Marois, just half a length behind the winner Inspiral (GB) but ahead of Group 1 winners Coroebus (Ire), Prosperous Voyage (Ire), Order Of Australia (Ire) and State Of Rest (Ire). The winning continued when Erevann completed his three-year-old season with victory in the G2 Prix Daniel Wildenstein. Though winless at four, Erevann again posted some decent performances, notably in the G1 Prix d'Ispahan and G1 Prix du Moulin.

Rimaud continues, “Erevann is very interesting, in a similar fashion to Zarak, as a son of Dubawi from a very good broodmare and racehorse. When we attempt to stand a horse as a stallion, we think about his pedigree. We think of what he can offer to breeders in terms of performances, and pedigree is very important in that case. 

“And there's probably a large amount of luck in this, but there's also a little bit of knowhow from His Highness and his way of wanting to develop not only the broodmare band but also the stallion operation. We certainly would not put a stallion at stud without wanting to use him ourselves. So we think [Erevann's] pedigree, his performances are really worthy of of standing him at stud. It's a great adventure every time we start and we hope for the best. Sometimes it doesn't happen but we've been fortunate so far.”

One way in which Zarak and Erevann differ is that the former, like his dam, was a Group 1 winner over 2,400m. Tall and elegant, Erevann has plenty of scope, but he emulated his dam in doing his best work over a mile, a factor which is increasingly appealing to breeders with a more commercial focus. 

Of the same vintage as Erevann is Vadeni, the colt who ensured that the centenary year of the Aga Khan Studs in 2022 was truly memorable. From his Classic trial victory in the G3 Prix de Guiche, the son of Churchill (Ire) set a new record time when winning the G1 Prix du Jockey Club against a field which included Modern Games (Ire) and Onesto (Ire). It is one thing to beat your contemporaries but the first real test of a three-year-old comes when pitted against his elders, as Vadeni was for the G1 Coral-Eclipse. Three of his five rivals that days, Mishriff (Ire), Native Trail (GB) and Bay Bridge (GB), are also about to embark on their own first covering seasons. Talented though each of them is, they had no answer for Vadeni at Sandown, who had been supplemented for the race and duly became the first French-trained winner of the Eclipse in more than 60 years.

Vadeni showed an impressive turn of foot over 10 furlongs, but the question was how he would fare going two more for the Arc. Following a close third behind Luxembourg (Ire) in the G1 Irish Champion S., Vadeni then set about answering that query at Longchamp, where he was a staying-on second to Alpinista (GB) in arguably the best performance of his career.

Vadeni is a second-generation Aga Khan homebred, his grand-dam, the G1 Prix Saint Alary winner Vadawina (Ire) (Unfuwain), having been purchased among the stock acquired from the family of her breeder Jean-Luc Lagardere.

“It is an achievement of the families that His Highness has been buying or developing over the last decades that at the end of the centennial year and the next year following that, he has been able to produce two horses worthy of being stallions,” says Rimaud. 

Vadeni's performances were incredible. He is a mid-sized stallion with strong hindquarters, very deep shoulder, very deep girth, a lovely correct horse, and quite chic in himself.”

Vadeni, who gilded the lily by snaring the title of Cartier Champion Three-Year-old Colt in 2022, starts his stallion career at a fee of €18,000 while Erevann has been introduced at €8,000.

“We have set up two new horses in a very attractive bracket, and Vadeni in a higher bracket because he really deserves it with his performances, his quality and his overall genetic proposition,” says Rimaud.

“There is a very strong interest in the French racing and breeding industry and there is definitely a strong market for stallions in France,” says Rimaud. “Our intention was to develop that in France when we started [at Bonneval] really from the year 2000. It takes a while to settle it down and make it work but I think it's given confidence to [other] stallion operations to stand good horses. For some it's a large investment – we have been fortunate to breed these stallions – but I hope and think they do get a return from their investment. 

“The prize-money in French racing really helps, along with the breeders' premiums, owners' premiums and all this. It's very important to keep that up because it attracts a number of people from overseas – particularly from Europe, from England and Ireland, and even some German and Americans breeders – to use France as a breeding base.

“You can go to just about anything you'd like. If you want a sprinter, if you want a mile-and-a-half horse, stayer or a miler, you have a great array of choices in just about in all price brackets.”

 

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