AL SHAHANIA OPENS THE DOOR TO ITS FRENCH STUD
AN INTERVIEW WITH THIERRY DE CHAMBORD
« TO WORK WITH HORSES OF SUCH QUALITY IS FANTASTIC »
Thierry de Chambord has very diverse experience with the horse world. Coming originally from equestrian sports, he then trained winners on the flat and over jumps. Moving to the breeding side, he then gained solid experience in France and abroad. For several years now he has run Al Shahania’s Normandy base, Haras des Cruchettes.
The French Purebred Arabian. – Why did Al Shahania decide to set up their European base in France?
Thierry de Chambord. – The Sheikh has bred horses for over three decades. He has a long-term vision. With this stud, he can now bring all his horses together in one location, rather than have them across several different locations, as they were in the past. He is not someone that rushes into things. We have the time to do things properly. He is careful, especially when buying. The 4 year olds who are running this year where actually born in England, but were raised here for the most part. The following crops were born and raised here. That is the case for Ebraz, winner of the 2017 edition of the Emir's Sword (Gr. I PA).
His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Khalifa Al Thani has official duties in Qatar as well as a significant number of activities in the country. He rarely has the time or opportunity to come to the stud. In this context, how do you organise your work?
There is one thing that determines our work and gives us the understanding of how to operate: that is that Sheikh Mohamed bin Khalifa Al Thani is passionate and a true connaisseur. That changes everything in his relationship with his employees. He has a complete understanding of what we are doing. Everything is in place to breed top class horses. To work with horses of such high quality is fantastic. It is up to us. The Sheikh has placed his trust in us. Abdulrahman Al Mansoor is his right hand man and Dean Leavy is the manager of Al Shahania Stud Qatar. We report regularly to Abdulrahman Al Mansoor and Dean Leavy, but they let us work independently.
Modern reproductive techniques are allowed, and frequently used, in Purebred Arabian breeding. What is their place at Haras des Cruchettes?
The Purebred Arabian mares are inseminated here at the stud as we are equipped to do so. This insemination center occasionally takes in outside mares to be inseminated by our stallions with fresh semen. We do also transfer embryos, but a limited number, with a maximum transfer per mare each season.
Is Normandy suitable for breeding Purebred Arabians?
In the beginning, some people said to the Sheikh: why breed Purebred Arabians in Normandy? In fact it is absolutely possible, although they need to be monitored, and have their diet limited. They eat less than half of what a Thoroughbred would, as they gain weight very easily. Moreover, the breeding operation of His Highness Sheikh Mansoor bin Zayed Al Nahyan, which is well known for it’s success with Purebred Arabians, is based near our stud.
How do you manage their diet?
We work with Thierry Dutertre, who I have known for many years. He is a nutritionist who manages the feeding rations and the grass. He comes to take samples and helps us manage each individual paddock. We try to rest the paddocks, mostly alternating with cattle. In the last three years the stud has grown by a hundred hectares. Currently we have at least a hectare per horse. We have paddocks for winter and for spring. The objective is to give the horses as much time out at grass as possible, turning them out early in the year and bringing them in late on in the season.
Given that these horses are not prepared for the sales, the horses at the stud are given plenty of time to mature. It’s a real plus. We weigh the foals and the yearlings every month. This is very important, particularly with the Purebred Arabians, as they put on condition easily. If the yearlings put on too much weight, they stress their knees. The foals of 2017 are very nice, with a lot of quality.
How do you prepare the Purebred Arabian yearlings for their racing careers?
The Purebred Arabians remain here as yearlings. At the beginning of their 2 year old year, they go to Haras du Saubouas. At Paul Basquin's, they are managed as individuals. They are broken in as soon as they are ready, and are turned out again after if it is felt needed. In general, our breeding operation is not geared towards the 3 year old season with the Purebred Arabians. Furthermore, our land is not particularly known for producing precocious animals. Sheikh Mohamed Bin Khalifa Al Thani wants above all to have horses for the big races for older horses, in France and Qatar. With this objective in mind, our yearlings are brought on slowly. After they have passed through Haras du Saubouas, the Purebred Arabians are moved on in two lots. One lot will go to Qatar to Julian Smart or Jassim Al Ghazali. The other bunch stays in France, with François Rohaut. For Sheikh Mohamed Bin Khalifa Al Thani, it is very important to have winners in Qatar. Therefore it is ofter the best horses that take the plane. However, happily, Julian Smart comes back to France for a period each year.
And the Thoroughbred yearlings?
The Thoroughbred yearlings are broken in and pre-trained by Philip Prévost-Baratte near Lisieux. In 2016, at the beginning of July, the most precocious fillies went into training. It’s something that we had never done before. Philip kept them for a month and then sent them back to us. It was very beneficial. When they came back to the stud, they grew a lot. They left again two months later. The colts and the more backward fillies went to be broken at the end of August. In France, the Thoroughbred are in training with André Fabre, Philippe Sogorb, Alain de Royer Dupré, Francis-Henri Graffard and Mikel Delzangles. In England we have put them with Ralph Beckett, Roger Charlton and Roger Varian. The first Thoroughbred that we bred here in 2014, has won from three starts. She is a sister to Flotilla by Galileo, Camerone. She runs in England, trained by Ralph Beckett.
What stallions are based here?
We have five stallions on the stud. Almas (Tidjani) is out of a full sister to Dormane (Manganate). He won the Emir's Sword. Asraa Min Albarq (Amer) is the full brother to Areej, winner of the Qatar Arabian World Cup (Gr. I PA). He himself won the Shadwell Dubai International Stakes and the Qatar National Day Trophy (Gr. Is PA). Assy (Amer) won the Emir's Sword and the Emir's Trophy (Gr. I PA). Jaafer (Amer) is the full brother to Almas. Ice won four Group I’s PA, including the Emir's Sword and the Kahayla Classic (Gr. Is PA). Mebrouk (Manganate) is the full brother to Dormane. He won the Emir's Sword (Gr. I PA).
There are not just racehorses at Al Shahania
The stud has it’s own troupe of Salers, a breed of cattle that is the favoured by a number of Normandy studs. Purebred Arabians for show competitions are also bred at Haras des Cruchettes. They are very different to the Purebred Arabians that are bred to race. Less rustic, they require special attention from the staff at the stud farm.
Functionality first and foremost
Haras des Cruchettes was, for a long time, the property of Pierre Julienne, who bred trotters and jumpers. Since it was bought by Sheikh Mohamed Bin Khalifa Al Thani, the work has been focused on improving a structure that is above all functional. It is a working farm, where efficiency and cleanliness prevail over the superficial. Fifteen people work on the 200 hectares of the stud.
An exceptional record
The record of Al Shahania with Purebred Arabians is above the norm. They count eleven wins in the Emir's Sword, two in the Kahayla Classic and three in the Qatar Arabian World Cup. In total, eighteen Group I PA winners have won twenty-seven races at this level.
SOME OF THE PUREBRED ARABIAN MARES
Al Shahania has around a hundred Purebred Arabian broodmares, in France and Qatar. Here we talk you through eight exceptional mares from their breeding stock.
# ARC DE CIEL (Djendel & Akie Croix Noire, by Tidjani)
Born in 1995. Winner of the Emir's Sword and the President Cup (Gr. Is PA)
Dam of five black type performers including Rathowan (Amer), second in the Qatar Arabian World Cup (Gr. I PA) and Gazwan (Amer), winner of the Emir's Sword and second in the Qatar Arabian World Cup (Gr. Is PA)
2016 cover: Amer. 2017 cover: Amer
# AREEJ (Amer & Akie Croix Noire, by Tidjani)
Born in 2005. Winner of the Qatar Arabian World Cup (Gr. I PA). Second in the Coupe d’Europe des Chevaux Arabes (Gr. I PA)
2016 cover: Munjiz. 2017 cover: Munjiz
# DJAINKA DES FORGES (Kerbella & Djamour des Forges, by Tidjani)
Born in 2009. Winner of the Qatar Arabian World Cup and the Arabian Trophy des Pouliches (Gr. Is PA)
2016 covers: Amer & Mebrouk. 2017 cover: Jalnar Al Khalidiah and Amer
# DJAMOUR DES FORGES (Tidjani & Djala, by Manganate)
Born in 2000. Dam of two black type performers, including Djainka des Forges (Kerballa), winner of the Qatar Arabian World Cup and the Arabian Trophy des Pouliches (Gr. Is PA)
2016 cover: Amer. 2017 cover: Assy
# MARGOUIA (Tidjani & Margau, by Manganate)
Born in 1999. Dam of three black type performers, including Assy (Amer), winner of the Emir's Sword (Gr. I PA)
2016 cover: Amer. 2017 cover: Amer
# MKEEFA (Amer & Nisae, by Dormane)
Born in 2008. Winner of the Qatar Arabian World Cup (Gr. I PA)
2016 cover: Amer. 2017 cover: Al Mamun Monlau
# NISAE (Dormane & Naiada Al Maury, by Baroud III)
Born in 1994. Dam of six black type performers, including Mkeefa (Amer), winner of the Qatar Arabian World Cup (Gr. I PA) and Chaddad (Amer), winner of the Qatar Arabian Trophy des Poulains (Gr. I PA)
2016 cover: Amer. 2017 cover: Assy
# QUEEN KONG (Kong & Sahara Croixnoire, by Ala Croixnoire)
Born in 2001. Dam of three black type performers, including TM Fred Texas (Burning Sand), winner of the Dubai Kahayla Classic (Gr. I PA).
2016 cover: Assy. 2017 cover: Jaafer ASF
SOME OF THE THOROUGHBRED MARES
Al Shahania has around thirty Thoroughbred broodmares. Here we have selected six high quality mares.
# FLOTILLA (Mizzen Mast & Louvain, by Sinndar)
Born in 2010. Winner of the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf and the Poule d'Essai des
Pouliches (Gr Is)
2016 cover: Dubawi. 2017 cover: Dubawi
# LOUVAIN (Sinndar & Flanders, by Common Grounds)
Born in 2002. Winner of the Miesque Stakes (Gr. III). Dam of two black type performers, including Flotilla (Mizzen Mast), winner of the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf and the Poule d'Essai des Pouliches (Gr. Is)
2016 cover: Frankel. 2017 cover: Golden Horn
# SAMBA BRAZIL (Teofilo & Sasuela, by Dashing Blade)
Born in 2009. Winner of the Grosse Europa Meile (Gr. III). Sister to Seismos (Grosser Preis von Bayern, Gr. I). Niece of Samum (German Derby, Grosser Preis Von Baden, Gr Is), Schiaparelli (Gran Premio Del Jockey Club, twice, German Derby, Preis Von Europa, Deutschland-Preis, Gr Is)…
2016 cover: Frankel. 2017 cover: Dubawi
# PEARLS OR PASSION (Monsun & Pearly Shells, by Efisio)
Born in 2009. Prix Panacée (L). Her dam Pearly Shells (Efisio) won the Prix Vermeille (Gr. I) and the Malleret (Gr. II)
2016 cover: Teofilo. 2017 cover: Soldier Hollow
# VORDA (Orpen & Velda, by Observatory)
Born in 2009. Winner of the Cheveley Park Stakes (Gr. I) and the Prix Robert Papin (Gr. II).
2016 cover: Teofilo. 2017 cover: Invincible Spirit
# WHAT A NAME (Mr Greeley & Bonnie Byerly, by Dayjur)
Born in 2010. Winner of the Prix Imprudence and La Rochette (Gr IIIs). Second in the Prix
Jean-Luc Lagardère - Grand Critérium (Gr. I)
2016 cover: Invincible Spirit. 2017 cover: Siyouni
AN INTERVIEW WITH BERTRAND LE MÉTAYER
“WE ALWAYS STRIVE FOR EXCELLENCE”
Bertrand Le Métayer is the racing manager for Al Shahania in Europe. From a family in the breeding industry, he is a successful bloodstock agent for flat and jumps. He explains the strategy behind Sheikh Mohamed Bin Khalifa Al Thani’s racing activity in Europe to us.
The French Purebred Arabian. – Previously, Julian Smart would bring a selection of horses from his stable to England for the season, and from this base, made trips into France. This year, he has set up near Chantilly. Why the change?
Bertrand Le Métayer. – The opportunity came up to lodge the Purebred Arabians who have come over for the European season at Avilly-Saint-Léonard. Christophe Aubert’s yard has paddocks, which is important for our horses. The European campaign for Sheikh Mohamed Bin Khalifa Al Thani’s horses is hinged around Arc weekend. Therefore it is a lot simpler if the horses are based in France. This is no way impedes them from making the trip over to Newbury to run in the summer.
How do you allocate the yearlings to the different trainers?
As far as the Thoroughbreds go, the allocation is done by the Sheikh with my help: 60% are in France and 40% are trained in England. For the Arabians, Abdulrahman Al Mansoor chooses the horses. We try to find a balance between the stable in France, with François Rohaut and those in Qatar. The current aim is to raise the number of young Purebred Arabians trained in France a little, to have a bigger presence in the races for younger horses in the future. The silks have not been seen too frequently in these races up until now, and we will try to evolve on this, although knowing that we do not really have precocious Purebred Arabians families.
What are the objectives with the Thoroughbreds?
Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa Al Thani is an owner-breeder. He doesn’t have any commercial objectives. As with the Purebred Arabians, his aim is to be competitive at Classic level and put Al Shahania on the international scene, in Europe and Qatar. We are in a period of transition. Little by little, the number of horses being bought is going down and the number of horses being bred is rising. There are a good twenty horses going to be broken in this year. From this Classical perspective, we will continue to buy nice mares and use the best stallions. We have plenty of diversity within the broodmare band, with dams who have speed, and others who have stamina. The number of broodmares is going up, but we always strive for excellence. The Thoroughbreds will follow the successful path set by the Purebred Arabians a few years ago.
How many horses does Al Shahania have in training?
In Europe, between thirty and fourty Thoroughbreds are in training, with a dozen Purebred Arabians. In Qatar, there are around forty Purebred Arabians, and about fifteen Thoroughbreds.
How are the matings done?
For the Purebred Arabians, the work is done by Sheikh Mohamed, Abdulrahman Al Mansoor and Lisa Deymonaz. For the Thoroughbreds, it begins with a team meeting, with suggestions coming from everyone. The first draft is then completed by an international pedigree specialist, who helps us to refine the matings and see which bloodlines work best together. Finally, the matings are submitted to Sheikh Mohamed Bin Khalifa Al Thani who makes the final decision and validates the budget.
SHEIKH MOHAMED IS VERY INVOLVED IN THE STALLION SELECTION PROCESS
Lisa Deymonaz is the bloodstock manager for Al Shahania in Qatar. She supervises the mating plan for the Purebred Arabians.
How is the mating plan for the Purebred Arabian breeding operation created every year? Is it difficult to cross Amer’s daughters?
Every year I sit with our director, Mr. Abdul Rahman Al Mansoor and farm manager and we discuss each mare individually to see what she has produced physically and which bloodline works best with her pedigree. Once this has been discussed and the stallions decided, the list is then proposed to Sheikh Mohamed for his approval, as he is very involved in the stallion selection process. It is difficult to mate Amer’s daughters, as it really limits the options available. We are using French and American stallions for these mares.
In recent years, Al Shahania has bought new mares, especially from France. How do you choose them? Are you looking for new bloodlines on the dam’s side?
Breeding Arabian horses can be challenging, as we do not have the range of stallions to choose from, however the good thing is we can obtain frozen semen from around the world, which makes things a little easier. We have many mares and stallions that are related from the best bloodlines in France. To expand our gene pool we purchased some new proven bloodlines that we can cross with our stallions.
Could you describe the mating that created Ebraz ?
The mating of Ebraz was an easy decision, as his dam, Massamarie, has produced Mared Al Sahra and Mu’Azzaz both by Amer and Group I PA winners, this is a well proven cross for her.
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