Jean Cambon handed over the reins of the Haras de Ghazal to his daughter Rose Cambon, and Karabosse de Ghazal rose to the occasion of this ‘handover’ by taking the Qatar Prix de l'Élevage in good style. Her success is the result of a family passion handed down from father to daughter.

Karabosse de Ghazal (Munjiz) has proved to be one of the revelations of the first-half of the Purebred Arabian racing season. She runs in the colours of her breeders and will certainly be among the leading fancies for Group I PA races at the backend. The light of this breeding operation also shines brightly thanks to the promising Citronnier de Ghazal (Madjani), who recently won in good style at Toulouse. Rose Cambon, Karabosse de Ghazal’s breeder, told us: "I would say that Karabosse de Ghazal’s start to the 2018 season has given us great pleasure and is a reflection of the profession of a breeder and namely: lots of work, patience and constant awareness. You need to be aware of what is happening with each of your horses individually and need to adapt to any given situation. You also need luck. We store much hope in the future of Karabosse which includes that as a future breeding prospect."

The French Purebred Arabian. – How did you get into breeding?

Jean Cambon. – I started in the 1980s and gradually acquired a few mares who were best suited to the breeding shed. Fairly quickly, the results on the racetrack started to speak for themselves, and they helped underpin the success of the breeding operation. These initial successes encouraged me to take this particular direction. Having taken these steps, I managed to make the enterprise work by operating on commercial lines. I have the support and take advice from my partner, Renée-Laure Koch. We run two different breeding operations but we exchange ideas which provides the necessary stimulation. A little while after I embraced the racing sector more fully in the 1990s, the business really took off. Consequently our breeding operation expanded as a result of the positive evolution of the market place. In 2018, twelve mares were covered with a prime view to producing potential winners. However, some horses can also be geared towards endurance races.

How did you source your foundation mare, Key du Cassou, who had an unbelievable pedigree?

I bought her through Renée-Laure Koch and she comes from the great French bloodline of Nevada II (Djanor). At the time, I also bought Chérie d’Espiens (Chéri Bibi) and Best (Besbes). However, at present I’m concentrating on the bloodlines of Key du Cassou. The mares from other bloodlines lines have either been leased to or entrusted to the care of relatives on a co-breeding basis. Key du Cassou had a sturdy frame and was both bay and of solid constitution: a bit like those girls from the other side of the tracks. She proved a big hit at stud as her descendants have gone on to shine at black type level, and notably Kiss de Ghazal (Dormane): the winner of nine races including the Qatar French Arabian Breeders’ Challenge, the Arabian Trophy and English Derby for Purebred Arabians (Gr. Is PA); Kaoe de Ghazal (Kesberoy) won the Coupe Goffs France and Boum de Ghazal (Zippy Al Maury) was successful in the Prix Dormane (Gr. III PA). Chamade de Ghazal (Dormane) also did the ‘line’ proud in the Prix Nevada II (Gr. III PA)

How have you managed to sustain such a long career as an elected representative and combine it with your breeding operation?

For approximately 30 years, I worked as an elected representative at communal level [editor's note: Mayor of Nègrepelisse, pop. 6,000, from 1995 to 2014] and then as part of the Conseil General. So I had staff who helped me run the stud. Since retirement, I have the time to play a full part in this activity again, as I previously had to hand over the reins as regards running it to my daughter Rose Cambon. She also works as a psychologist for the elderly, and I help her because she has another job besides that of being a horse breeder. It allows me to take time doing something that I am passionate about and that sometimes gives me a few satisfactions! 

Karabosse de Ghazal is improving at a rate of knots and has gone up 5kgs in the ratings on the evidence of just one run. How do you explain such an improvement as a four-year-old?

She ran for the first time at Dax and took the third place in a quality field as the winner, Easter de Faust (Mahaab), went on to win at Group I PA level. Karabosse de Ghazal was then unfortunate in her next two races at Mont-de-Marsan and Toulouse. She was badly hampered in both races and jockeyship has also been a factor. Whatever the case may be, she has made big strides forward since. Karabosse de Ghazal is a late maturing sort and probably benefited from her being put out to grass at the end of the year. Under Didier Guillemin’s watch that she is reaching full physical maturity. She was still a little too light-framed in 2017. She has also evolved mentally and, despite getting bumped in the Qatar Prix de l'Élevage, she held on and found the energy levels to take first place.

Another discerning feature regarding Karabosse de Ghazal is that she is in-bred 2x3 to Kesberoy. What was the thinking behind this?

This bloodline is… my passion. I am most certainly one of the breeders who have most tapped into the Kesberoy (Saint Laurent) bloodline. At first, I used him a lot as a stallion. Most of my mares share his blood and, via Munjiz (Kesberoy), I’ve been able to reconnect with this great stallion. There are several examples of the ‘Kesberoy’ name appearing twice in some of the pedigrees of our homebreds.

Will Karabosse de Ghazal form part of your broodmare band one day?

I don’t know although we’ve had to deal with numerous enquiries. However, we’ve taken the decision not to sell her. She is being aimed at a big race for 4-year-old fillies: the Qatar Total Arabian Trophy des Juments (Gr. I PA). She will almost certainly have a prep race in between. The idea of retaining a Group winner for stud purposes is, of course, very appealing. However, there are times when offers are hard to turn down. Her pedigree offers numerous ‘breeding’ possibilities as it is devoid of ‘Amer’ blood. It’s one of my aims and I’m of the opinion that those breeders which stick to the formula of pedigrees which are performing well and essentially French, and therefore easy to breed from, will be rewarded in the future.

Your daughter Rose has taken over the running of the stud. Is this a guarantee of its sustainability for all the work you put in during the last decade?

She owns the breeding operation and I’m only her assistant! There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to the domain of the horse. You have to deal with a whole plethora of details and, to run a stud of a certain size, requires a huge ‘personal’ investment. We try to organise ourselves the best way we can and my daughter’s involvement in stud matters revolves mainly around weekends.

What trainers do you work with?

Mrs Koch and I work with the same trainers and namely Didier Guillemin, Damien de Watrigant and Élisabeth Bernard, and have good relationships with all three. Regarding Karabosse de Ghazal, she is under Didier Guillemin’s watch. He is honest, direct and knows his horses. The competition between the different Purebred Arabian breeding operations in France is fierce – being big structures of means and ones with first rate broodmares bands at their disposal. We consequently have to be intuitive and show perseverance granted our more limited means.