ÉLISABETH BERNARD: “I LOVE THE GULF COUNTRIES”
Élisabeth Bernard came to Abu Dhabi with Sylvine Al Maury (Munjiz), who finished third of the Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan Jewel Crown (Gr. I PA), the richest Purebred Arabian race in the world. We met her a few days before the race, and she talked about her in a country she likes very much.
The French Purebred Arabian. – This is your first big travel abroad since you took over your husband’s stables. How do you see things?
Élisabeth Bernard. – I travelled a lot with Jean-François, but he was my boss and I was his right-hand. Here I need to manage everything by myself. It is not easy, because I put myself in doubt easily. We have to take care of every detail… My first motivation is to please my owners. Make them happy…
Abu Dhabi is not a very foreign racecourse for you…
Indeed, we spent a year here, before staying two years in Oman. I love the Gulf countries. I am not religious, but if I was, I think I would have been a Muslim! I feel better here than in Western countries. I appreciate their sharing values, the respect of older people which are really important here. The fact that there is not any jealousy, because Muslims think that there is only one person responsible for what happens, and it is God. We could consider this like fatalism, but it makes relationships between people way better! I feel a little nostalgic coming back here. Surely I have lots of good memories associated with Jean-François. If I like Abu Dhabi, I think I like even more Oman. My heart is in Oman! I was the first lady to win a race under the eyes of Sultan Kaboos, who was the first one in a country of the Gulf to name a lady in his government. It impacts the life of a rider.
Do you still ride in the morning?
Absolutely! Sylvine Al Maury, for example, I rode her when she was 3yos. She was not very easy, and I love working with young horses. When they are all set I hand the horse over… I still ride four lots every morning. I can’t stop. After Jean-François passed away, my horses were my psychanalysts. And riding helps with reflexes, attention, flexibility. It is good for your body and spirit.
What can you say about 2016?
We had a fabulous year, with Naziq’s (Mahabb) success in the Qatar Arabian Trophy des Juments (Gr. I PA) during the Arc weekend, but also Alsaker’s (AF Albahar) win in the Derby (Gr. I PA) at Chantilly. I am also proud to have won with Al Mounteze Monlau (Nashwan Al Khalidiah) and Aïcha de Monlau (No Risk Al Maury) the two races for 3yos at Toulouse at the end of May. It is a sign that work was well done with the young horses. I am also very pleased with the results of the first horses I presented at the sales. Caïd de l’Ardus (Mahabb) made the top price of the horses in training. I was told the horse was beautiful, and that he made people want to buy him. I am a big fan of aesthetic. Perfectly presenting horses at he races, is also contributes in making the owners happy.
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