Marcel Dupont: a tale of patience, passion and determination
His breeding operation has been going great guns for a few years now thanks to the PA Group class performers such as Fettah du Loup, Eiman du Loup and Oleya du Loup. Very discreet by nature, the company director has agreed to thrown open the doors of his secret garden.
Those hailing from the South-West of France, or those born in that particular region, are immediately apparent. Accent apart, and thus can be lost after leaving their region, they are restrained and modest by nature, which explains why there is no room for ostentation south of Limoges or to the west of Montpellier. Despite being warm-hearted and approachable by nature, the people from the South-West remain mysterious. They play their cards close to their chest. So it isn’t entirely incidental that the region has embraced rugby: a sport devoid of stars but one which is very tough and demanding when it comes to courage and stubbornness. These attributes also correspond to our subject matter: Marcel Dupont. Having set up shop at Gensac-sur-Garonne (31), he has proved to be discreet and determined in equal measure. Furthermore, his story diverts from the beaten track.
How do we define a French Purebred Arabian? Some will refer to bloodlines. Others will allude to the birthplace. However, in a world synonymous with globalisation, it’s above all the reflection of the ‘selection’ process which goes hand in hand with a racing programme and the accumulation of know-how. This involves breeders and trainers and also extends to those administering the feed. So thousands of people by virtue of their experiences, and their knowledge, have and continue to shape the French PA horse on a daily basis. In this setting, an exotically-bred mare, devoid of a racing ancestry, has been able to produce racing types in the space of a few decades via the breeding process…Recalling his initial baby steps in the sport, Marcel Dupont reminisced: "The story of my breeding operation is a topsy-turvy one. I’ve been passionate about horses since my youth. So when I bought a farm, a PA mare was acquired at the same time. The nobility and elegance of the breed appealed to me. Awadj (Zulus), a magnificent mare, was born in 1987 and with show competitions in mind. Neither she nor any of her close relatives had being tested in a racing environment. It’s a bloodline which has yielded good results in endurance races, and, above all, with certain horses whose training regimes had been the subject of mistakes. Vahina du Loup (Djebel Lotois), having scored a victory in a 130kms endurance race, is a case in point. She was ridden by Émilie Quessada. You really need to be passionate about horses. Failing that, you can’t take the plunge. In order to make a start, you need a certain amount of capital. However, you also need to enlist the help of others. This was a domain in which I was found wanting at the beginning. Shortly after my breeding operation was launched, I began to take an interest in PA racing after meeting Francis Lopez."
Difficult beginnings. After setting up shop at domain called "Le Loup" some 50kms from Toulouse, Marcel Dupont added: "Francis Lopez suggested that I should stand the stallion Olympe la Coste (Elaborat), who was to be based at my stud for five years. It was a horse that he had trained. However, it wasn’t a good choice. He was hardly a success story and I wasted a number of years on his account. The only winner I bred from him was Henour du Loup (Olympe La Coste) following a victory at Dax in 2001! The failure to achieve results is very discouraging. So I was tempted to stop. I came very close to giving up. However, horses are my passion and I hung in there. Therefore, I continued to breed horses while working at the same time. I love competition, and a challenge, and it’s this which attracted me to the racing world. My aim is to improve the quality of my breeding operation. I’m passionate about the idea of building from scratch in the form of a project. I always strive to do better at all the various stages when a horse is in residence at my stud, and with the aim of trying to make a positive impact as regards developing them into future athletes." Descending from a good French line, Olympe la Coste proved to be a modest performer, having won just one of his 20 career starts at Eauze. A total of 37 of his progeny are classed as ‘Purebred Arabians’. Nine of these have raced to date and three have won. He seems to have proved more successful as a broodmare sire, and this is particularly down to Ina Scot de Colmar (Olympe la Coste). We will elaborate on this particular mare later on in the article.
Learning from one’s mistakes. "As in the business world [editor's note: Marcel Dupont oversaw the running of a company which handles the transportation of goods overseas], it was very much a case of having to teach myself when I first came in to contact with the horse world. It called for a certain tenacity. You also need to put the work in. As for the breeding aspect, I wasn’t really advised at the outset. So it proved to be a long apprenticeship: empirical [by nature] and one characterised by mistakes and failures….Happily, I refused to throw in the towel and this perseverance has paid off. After a lengthy barren spell in terms of results, a change of course was called for and so I tapped into the bloodline of Awadj and blended it with French stallions such as Dormane (Manganate), Kerbella (Kesberoy) and Tidjani (Flipper). Consequently, a granddaughter of Awadj by the name of Paida du Loup (Dormane) has proved to be the source of much satisfaction." The same Paida du Loup gifted a Marcel Dupont a foal called Fettah du Loup (Kerbella), which started his career under Anthony Lopez training. He was to be the breeder’s first PA Group winner after landing the 2019 edition of the Prix Tidjani (Gr3 PA). Prior to his export when still under the training of Élisabeth Bernard, he also finished third in the Al Rayyan Cup - Prix Kesberoy (Gr1 PA). Paida du Loup’s next offering was the filly Hyla du Loup (No Risk Al Maury). The latter made a winning debut on May 29th for the trainer-owner combination of Thomas Fourcy and Sheikh Saad Al Mukhani Bahwan. Marcel Dupont has entrusted Houary du Loup (Nieshan) to the care of David Morisson and he added: "I believe that he’s a promising horse if a little backward. I appreciate the candour and honesty of this trainer."
A crucial meeting. After tapping into the Awadj lineage, Marcel Dupont went on to make use of another bloodline. For the arrival of Ina Scot de Colmar meant that he had availed himself to a descendant of Nevadour (Ourour). The mare was to prove an instant hit and her first foal, Oleya du Loup (Kerbella), won seven races, including the Prix Baroud II and the Prix de l'Élevage, before going to translate that success in the breeding shed. She also produced the Hatta International (Gr1 PA) third Eiman du Loup (Kerbella). Marcel Dupont recalled: "My first real success story in terms of racing results was Oleya du Loup. She gained her first career win in 2006. It was partly down to her that I opted to continue. Breeding is a very consuming passion. I make my own hay and personally take care of the horses. I’m down to three broodmares." The turning point proved to be meeting Karin Van Den Bos and he added: "I had never met her. One evening, on returning from Pau, she visited the house. We showed her the horses which were out in the field at midnight! The following morning we got another chance to see the horses in the light of day. She was also able to see the horses work and Oleya du Loup was the one she chose. After going into training, Karin Van Den Bos was upbeat about the filly and the results ensued." Oleya du Loup, third in the Critérium des Pouliches (Gr2 PA), has already generated three black type performers including Samima (Dahess), whose roll of honour comprises the Qatar Arabian Trophy des Juments and the Prix Dragon at Longchamp (Grs1 PA). The others are the Dubai International Stakes and Arabian Derby (Gr1 PA) winning Lightning Bolt (Munjiz), and Dynamites (Nashwan Al Khalidiah).
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