Easter de Faust, made by Larrieu


Easter de Faust, made by Larrieu

Gérard Larrieu holds a special place within the horse racing industry. He is both a bloodstock agent (Chantilly Bloodstock) and a breeder, through Haras de Saint-Faust which is managed by his brother Jean-Paul Larrieu. The recent performances from Easter de Faust (Mahabb) and Rodess du Loup (Dahess) provide an occasion to look back over the history of these two men.

In the spotlight

After a very easy win on her debut at Dax, Easter de Faust then finished second in the Prix Nevada II (Gr. III PA) before winning the Qatar Arabian Trophy des Pouliches (Gr. I PA). She is the seventh Group I PA winner to be bred or sold by the Larrieu brothers. Easter de Faust was raised and bred at Haras de Saint-Faust by Jean-Paul Larrieu on behalf of his brother Gérard Larrieu. She was in the same paddock as Rodess du Loup, who had been bought as a foal from Jean-Marc Saphores. Third in the Prix Chéri Bibi (Gr. III PA), he then finished second in the Qatar Arabian Trophy des Poulains (Gr. I PA). The Thoroughbred horses bought by Gérard Larrieu have also been distinguishing themselves in 2017. This is especially the case for Sacred Life (Prix Thomas Bryon, Gr. III), one of the best 2 year olds seen on the track in France in 2017, Monroe Bay (2nd in the Prix Vanteaux and Chloé, Gr. IIIs), Thaïs (2nd in the Prix Prix Imprudence, Gr. III) and City Light (2nd in the Prix Texanita, Gr. III).


It all began with an Arabian mare

Gérard Larrieu explained how he came to take his first steps into the racing industry: “I come from the South West of France, the traditional region in France for Purebred Arabian racing and breeding. My parents bred Anglo-Arabs and jump horses with some success. However the first horse that I bought, when I was 14 years old, was an Arabian mare. She was called Medica (Ourour) and she can still be found today in the pedigrees of some decent winners. The South-West was not at that time what it is today. I was lucky to cross the path of Monsieur Costedoat, who was a trainer, breeder, and advisor for the local breeders. He mentored both Roger Goaille and Étienne Pollet. During the war, the latter had taken refuge in Pau, in the free movement zone. Each time that he won a Group 1, Étienne Pollet [editor's note: three wins in the Arc, in 1953, 1965 and 1968] would send him a cheque to say thank you. My studies languished behind, as I was more interested in pedigrees than science. So I found myself talking to Monsieur Costedoat, who read me a letter from Étienne Pollet explaining that two of his assistants were setting up training. I was absolutely determined that I wanted to learn from Pollet. However, he retired and so I began working for his former assistant, François Boutin. I left the South West for Chantilly with the intention of becoming a trainer. Whilst working for François Boutin, I met Pascal Bary, with whom I have worked for a very long time. After a while, to widen my experience, I decided to travel. In the United States, at New York, I worked for MacKenzie Miller. I began to do business in Kentucky and one thing led to another and the idea of a career as a bloodstock agent took over that of becoming a trainer”.

Three decades of bloodstock

When discussing his commercial activity within the Purebred Arabian industry, Gérard Larrieu commented: “I set up as a bloodstock agent in the mid-1980s. When the Middle-Eastern owners began to buy Arabian horses, I quickly became interested in that market. My first client was Sheikh Hamdan, through Richard Lancaster as intermediary. I spent a lot of time looking for Purebred Arabian horses for them. At that time, very few bloodstock agents were interested in Arabian horses. My second client was Al Shahania for whom I found a lot of mares who went on to have excellent results. More recently, I sold Djainka des Forges (Qatar Arabian World Cup, Gr. I PA) and her dam to them. At the beginning of the 1990s, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Khalifa Al Thani invited me to Qatar. In Chantilly, there was not one person capable of pointing out the country on a map. Things have changed since. I bought Arawak d'Aroco (Manganate) for him, who won the Purebred Arabian Derby at Chantilly, and the Prix Trophée du Président at Évry. That day, Ragmar won the Prix du Jockey Club for another client.It was then that I met one of my current clients, the Qatari Khalifa Bin Sheail Al Kuwari. So I have been buying and selling Purebred Arabians for three decades”.

Easter de Faust’s pedigree

Gérard Larrieu reflected on the breeding that produced the winner of the Qatar Arabian Trophy des Pouliches: “Little by little, with my brother Jean-Paul, we built a Purebred Arabian breeding operation, by buying fillies. The first mare that we invested a significant sum in, with the objective of breeding from, was in fact the grand-dam of Easter de Faust, Gabie de Carrère (Manganate). This granddaughter of Nevadour (Ourour) produced several black type horses for us. When she was 15 years old, we were made a big offer for her, and so we sold her. However as to not lose the bloodline, we kept two of her daughters to breed from: Vega de Faust (Munjiz) and Ayisha de Faust (Al Sakbe). Despite numerous offers for them, we have always held on to these two fillies. The victory of Easter de Faust, a daughter of Ayisha de Faust, is a wonderful reward for the work done by those at Haras de Saint-Faust. To find out which was the best broodmare, the two sisters, Vega de Faust and Ayisha de Faust, were mated for successive years with the same stallion. They carry the bloodlines of Kesberoy and Nerva du Cassou, and so they were mated with stallions from different bloodlines. They were covered by Mahabb (Tahar de Candelon) in 2013 and by Af Albahar (Amer) in 2017. This year, Fihr de Faust (Njewman & Vega de Faust), who is a really good looking horse, was bought for 45,000 euros at the Saint-Cloud sale. He was purchased by Marc-Antoine Berghgracht’s Russian clients. Easter de Faust is a really good filly, with a big engine. Élisabeth Bernard likes her a lot. She told me that she hasn’t seen such ability since Kiss de Ghazal (Dormane) and Sylvine Al Maury (Munjiz). However Easter de Faust will not stay in France. Her owners want to run her in Qatar”.

The rise of the Purebred Arabian

Jean-Paul and Gérard Larrieu want to continue to expand their Purebred Arabian stable. The latter elaborated: “We regularly try to buy young mares, preferably with 100% French pedigrees. Our attempts with Tunisian mares were not very fruitful. The best was undoubtedly El Afia (Dynamite III), the dam of Hiderne de Faust (Tornado de Syrah), third in the Hatta International Stakes (Gr. I PA). I particularly like the bloodlines of Tidjani (Flipper), Djourman (Manguier) and Akbar (Djelfor). There is often a lot of inbreeding in the French mares, and so they are easy to cross with the current stallions dominating the scene, such as   Munjiz (Kesberoy) or sons of Amer (Wafi). French pedigrees are always highly sought-after. We currently have seventeen Purebred Arabian broodmares. We would like to take that up to around thirty over the next few years. The market for well-bred Arabian horses is very strong internationally. We can’t supply the demand as things stand at the moment. Haras de Saint-Faust is developing and we are focusing on Purebred Arabians. We have built an insemination centre and we stand the Shadwell stallions Al Saoudi (Nuits St Georges), Madjani (Tidjani), No Risk Al Maury (Kesberoy) and Af Al Buraq (Amer). The latter, who will soon get here, has had a lot of interest. He is a beautiful horse, whose offspring have been performing well on the track, from just a small crop. No Risk Al Maury, a stallion with a 100% French pedigree, has had an excellent start at stud. Madjani is just getting into his stride. He is attractive to both racing and endurance breeders. Some of Sheikh Hamdan’s mares are boarding with us. The Shadwell homebreds who carry a 'FR' suffix are often raised at Haras de Saint-Faust, before leaving it at the weanling period. That’s the case for the very talented Muraaqib (Munjiz) for example, but we can also think about Quaolina, Hafid du Bac, Nisae, Prince d’Orient, Have Fun,  Nez d’Or, Nivour,  Kaolino,  Money Maker….). The Group I PA winners Sivit Al Maury (Akbar), Bon Baiser de Faust (Madjani) and Karmel de Faust (Akbar) were born and bred here. The latter is champion sire of winners in Russia”.

Back to basics with Thoroughbreds

After a foray into breeding for the flat, Haras de Saint-Faust will now focus on breeding jumps horses, as did Jean-Paul and Gérard Larrieu’s parents: We have around a dozen Thoroughbred mares, daughters of Monsun, Galileo, Linamix, Rainbow Quest… Our best mare is without a doubt Zain Al Boldan (Poliglote), third in the Bahrain Trophy (Gr. III), who is the dam of Poetic Dream (Poet’s Voice), winner of the 2017 German 2,000 Guineas. He was sold for 900,000 euros to Australia at the Arc sale. However, at the moment we want to redirect our operation towards jumping. My brother, André Larrieu, runs Haras d’Idernes. I am a partner in Haras de Saint-Faust which is run by my other brother, Jean-Paul. All three of us work together. The horses are split between the two sites, which cover about 150 hectares of pasture. We have tried to find the best conditions for each individual horse. Haras d’Idernes has large irrigated fields. Haras de Saint-Faust has an ideal amount of rainfall”.

An Arc winner and four winners of the Jockey Club

Gérard Larrieu’s record with Thoroughbreds is one of the most embellished in French bloodstock. He explained: “The best horse that I ever bought was without doubt the champion Trêve (Motivator), a two time winner of the Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (Gr. I). The success of this mare beget the creation of Al Shaqab Racing. Recently, Sacred Life (Siyouni) won the Prix Thomas Bryon (Gr. III) impressively. I have worked for his owner, Jean-Louis Bouchard, for over three decades. The first very good horse that I bought was Caerlina (Caerleon), who won the Prix de Diane (Gr. I). Since the 1980s, I have bought four winners of the Prix du Jockey Club (Blue Canari, Celtic Arms, Ragmar and Dream Well). In Qatar, The Blue Eyes (The Emir’s Trophy) and Dubday (The Emir’s Trophy) have won plenty of races. They are following on from Sierra Madre (Prix Vermeille and Prix Marcel Boussac), Creaking Board (Hollywood Starlet Stakes, Gr. I) and Grand Flotilla (Hollywood Turf Cup, Gr. I). I also bought Rajsaman (Linamix) who is now well-known amongst the breeders”.