Al Zahir is the catalyst for Xavière Ducoloner Cauhape’s successful introduction to Purebred Arabian racing


Al Zahir is the catalyst for Xavière Ducoloner Cauhape’s successful introduction to Purebred Arabian racing

The French-bred Al Zahir (Madjani) didn’t stand on ceremony after landing a second consecutive success in one of the most prestigious prizes of the Emirati racing calendar, the H.H. President Cup (Gr1 PA), at Abu Dhabi on February 10th. Blinkered for the first time, the Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum runner created a big impression by dominating two fellow French-breds, Al Shamoos (No Risk Al Maury) and Darius du Paon (No Risk Al Maury). Here we talk to the successful breeder, Xavière Ducoloner Cauhape.

The Petit Lande Stud is based near Pau. It was originally geared towards Anglo-Arabians, an area in which the stud enjoyed notable success, thanks primarily to the triumph of Uniklande (Annapolis) in the Prix du Ministère de l’Agriculture, the equivalent of the Prix du Jockey Club for this breed, without forgetting the accomplishments of his sister Astridlande (Saint des Saints). The latter was the best filly of her generation over jumps. Xavière Ducoloner Cauhape said: "I set up shop in 2003. I divide my time between my place of work and the stud. I’ve always liked Arabian horses. I acquired the dam of Al Zahir, Petite Class (Barour de Cardonne), in 2007, as a riding proposition. However, granted her injury and the quality of her pedigree, I decided to breed from her en route to her regaining her full health. That is how I took the plunge with Purebred Arabians."

A mare worth her weight in gold. It proved to be a good choice.  "All of the mare’s progeny have won either at home or abroad. It’s proved to be a stroke of luck. She is my only PA mare. I own four Purebred Arabians and have a three-year-old and a four-year-old which are in training with Charles Gourdain. The latter is based at Pau and I enjoy seeing my horses and particularly when they work in the mornings. The duo in question have been christened Petit Crack (Séraphin du Paon) and Petit Princes (Josco du Cayrou). The former is more backward but I rate him. The latter’s racecourse debut is imminent. He’s a little more complicated. Strong physically, he still needs to learn. Above all you need to be patient with Purebred Arabians. You mustn’t rush them as they are susceptible types by nature. I’ve also a two-year-old filly by Josco du Cayrou (Munjiz) out of a full sister to Al Zahir (Madjani), The filly shares the same birthday as her uncle although she came into the world six years later. It certainly wasn’t pre-planned in any form! It’s uncanny as the filly bears a striking resemblance to her older relative."

Let’s hope that she turns out to be as good as her brother. The latter is described as "a horse who has followed a conventional training regime. He is of pleasant disposition but with a mind of his own and you couldn’t get near him if he isn’t in the mood. He inherited his dam’s temperament, although physically he has taken after his sire and he has his father’s head carriage. I was a fan of Madjani (Tidjani) as he certainly delivered on the racecourse and his covering fee was very reasonable. That assumes an importance all of his its own and it’s good to have a quality stallion based in the region." Regarding the choice of the sire responsible for Al Zahir, it resulted from the visits undertaken "to Jean-Paul Larrieu. I had previously bred Petite Class to Monsieur Al Maury (Djelfor) but had decided that Madjani would be her next husband."

A tough nut. Before distinguishing himself in the Gulf region, Al Zahir "was in the care of

Thierry de Laurière. He ran four times before breaking his duck. After two below par efforts, his career really took off. He’s a tough horse with a temperament to match, and this has enabled him to succeed in the United Arab Emirates. Proving successful in the UAE isn’t a foregone conclusion by any means, but he has a strong temperament and is a battler.  Since transferring to the UAE, he was twice successful at Gr3 PA level before enjoying Gr1 PA successes in The Emirates Championship and H.H. The President Cup – both of which are turf events run at Abu Dhabi. This year he scored a repeat success in the President Cup before injury struck." The breeder, though, does have a tinge of regret and added: "I wasn’t there in person to see the horse ‘double up’ in the latter race. Last season, we asked if we could see him race and permission was granted. However, it wasn’t possible to approach the horse. It’s a bit frustrating (…). In France, in your guise as a breeder, you are allowed to have contact with the horse." Explaining the decision to sell him to the UAE, she added "Thierry de Laurière made this particular call. He was aware of the horse’s quality. I’m happy that Sheikh Hamdan bought him as his career has been well managed. His repeat success in the President Cup during the winter proved to be easier than last year when he was boxed-in before he extricated himself and went on to victory. He’s better suited to turf rather than dirt racing. His track record speaks for itself in this domain." She added that the successes of Al Zahir "are the source of personal satisfaction and a conduit to the UAE market place, even if the bloodstock agents are an essential part of the equation. If the horse regains his fitness, he will race again during the winter. Whatever the outcome, I hope that he will become a stallion one day. He deserves that. "