Patrick Lombrail, a newcomer to the French PA scene
In his capacity as the guiding light of an estate near Montauban, Patrick Lombrail has enthusiastically embraced his role as a PA racehorse breeder. In tandem with his three partners, he has effectively laid down the foundations of the Haras de l’Aigle.
The French Purebred Arabian. – What is your background?
Patrick Lombrail. – I sold my company, which specialised in personal protective equipment for employees, three years ago. I had always wanted to breed cattle and so I bought some land near Montauban. I came across a 54 hectare site, complete with living quarters, and which was situated some 10 minutes from the town centre. So I indulged my temptation of wanting to breed Angus cattle. I created a herd and, after doing some number crunching, toyed with the idea of buying a few horses. Indeed, it turned out that the land had previously been used to breed racehorses, which explains the presence of 25 boxes and a number of paddocks. It had previously been the preserve of the Écurie de Syrah. Completing the sale also went hand-in-hand with acquiring some of the resident horses and broodmares.
Is that how the Haras de l’Aigle came into being?
The Aigle estate is where I breed cattle, and the stud farm nestles at the very heart of this. I’ve set up shop with my two fellow partners as regards creating the Haras de l’Aigle. I manage it. A certain investment has been called for with the cost factors involving the buying of horses and training fees. However, it’s something I feel passionate about even if it’s new to me. In fact, none of us has a racing background as we are all ‘company’ men. All three of us have held managerial roles. My two partners don’t interfere in the day to day running, as they have confidence in me. I try to work with the utmost professionalism. That is by surrounding myself with people which I deem to be up to the job.
Were you familiar with cattle and horses?
Three years ago, I knew nothing about cattle and was frightened of horses. As regards horses, I was perhaps ill advised as a result of not dealing with the right people. After two years had elapsed, and, taking stock of what was happening right, left and centre, I concluded that my horses weren’t of the required quality for the PA market. After a number of discussions, and taking account of the results, I concluded that things were far from straight forward, and this was particularly relevant to my first batch of horses. I realised that we are dealing with a niche, high-end market. When you aren’t firing on all cylinders, it invariably comes back to haunt you. That is what happened to me – on account of having made some purchases which were far from judicious. I ultimately blame myself but, in the wake of that observation, heading in a new direction was called for, and this entailed getting the insight of other people, and gaining a fresh perspective. That’s how I made the acquaintance of three people which all know their mind. Lastly, it serves no purpose when it comes to having lots of horses. Quality needs to be prized above all else.
Can you reveal the identity of these three people?
My first meeting of real note proved to be with Mathieu Daguzan-Garros of Haras des Granges fame. He sold me a horse which was sourced via Arqana. I spent three days in his company when he explained the mechanics of what is a racehorse. He put a lot of energy into this and told me how it is. It proved to be a very full-on three days. I subsequently met Robert and Marie-Ange Bourdette from the Haras de Monlau. They, too, went into a lot of detail about their breeding methodology. They also outlined their modus operandi. Lastly, I met Paul and Virginie Basquin. When in the company of people which talk a lot of sense, you ask a lot of questions with a view to listening and learning. Subsequently, I purchased three horses in tandem with Paul. That explains why I became the owner of a filly in training by the name of Sante Al Maury (Munjiz).
Was this done from a breeding perspective?
I made three relatively expensive purchases in the form of two fillies and a broodmare.
Regarding the fillies, the aim is to race them and enhance their paddocks’ value. Sante Al Maury is currently in training with Élisabeth Bernard. Appealing as a promising type, she gives the impression of having a bit of quality about her. The aim is to gear her towards a big event at Saint-Cloud (Gr1 PA) in the autumn. I’m also in the process of registering my colours and have been completing the necessary formalities. I wouldn’t say that it has been a particularly arduous process as everyone at France Galop, a body which I know little about, has been pretty helpful. Sante Al Maury is a graduate of the breeding academy of Madame Koch. I have also acquired another 3-year-old from the same source, No Drug Al Maury (Mahabb), who has gone into training with Thomas Fourcy. The broodmare goes by the name of Dormalla (Dormane) [editor's note: she’s a full sister to the dams of three Gr1 PA winners: Dormah de Brugere (Dormane), Balladore (Dormane) and Dormadora (Dormane)].
How many horses do you own in total?
In the wake of acquiring this domain, I was able to absorb some of the 'Syrah' bloodlines in the form of two other mares, Jilie (Tornado de Syrah) and Pamela de Syrah (Nehs d’Or Al Maury), although the latter is very old. I’ve a couple of 2-year-olds and three foals. I’ve also a juvenile filly, Syracuse (Dahess), and she’s out of Sia (Akbar) – a mare which I’ve since sold on. She’s quite an attractive and elegant filly but not very big. Through my dealings with Paul Basquin and Mathieu Daguzan, I’ve understood that you need to be able to develop an eye for horses, which calls for a certain sensitivity. You intuitively pick up on the finer details with some horses. You develop a feeling for it all…
Does this decision to set your sights on the top end of the market apply equally to your Angus cattle operation?
Yes, we’re an organic concern and attach great importance to animal welfare. Taking into account that horses weren’t really for me at the beginning, the reverse is now true. They’re lovely animals and I’ve been bowled over by them. Furthermore (laughing), I’m no longer afraid of them!
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