FRANCIS MONTAUBAN, THE FIRST OWNER OF FRODON, HAS ALSO TRANSLATED HIS SUCCESS TO PUREBRED ARABIANS
He was the very first owner of Frodon, a horse that has made the headlines in Britain. The recent Christmas period also ushered-in further success for Francis Montauban… It’s one further chapter in what has proved an exceptional equine odyssey.
Few French owner-breeders can match his achievements. So judge for yourself. In 2018, the
jumper Terrefort (Martaline) provided Francis Montauban with a third Gr1 success as a breeder after following in the hoofprints of the classic winner Torrestrella (Poule d'Essai des Pouliches), and the hurdler Lingo (Tolworth Hurdle). However, he has also bred a very smart 2-year-old Penny's Picnic (Kheleyf), the winner of the Critérium de Maisons-Laffitte (Gr2) and the Prix Eclipse (Gr3). Not that it ends there! Francis Montauban is also the co-breeder of the PA horse Kahzo (Dormane), successful in the Prix du Président des Émirats Arabes Unis (which enjoys Gr1 PA status nowadays), and the Anglo-Arabian Synaptique (Saint des Saints). The latter filled third in the Ferdinand Dufaure (Gr1) when pitted against English thoroughbreds. All this must be seen against the backdrop of Francis Montauban breeding from just four mares during the course of the last few years!
Colours which are destined to succeed. The man from the South-West is one of the rare French owners to have won Gr1 races over jumps outside France following the successes of Tempo d'Or (a Gr1 winner at Chepstow and Merano), although those recorded by the legendary Jair du Cochet (a Gr1 winner at Kempton) take pride of place. A horse that once made the front pages of the Racing Post: his name still resonates in Britain almost 20 years after his last race. In 2018, we asked Francis Montauban whether the emotions of winning a Gr1 race resonate stronger as a breeder or as an owner. He said: "Definitely as an owner. There’s no comparison. My runners have returned to the winner’s circle to the strains of La Marseillaise five times. These are unforgettable moments. When you've just won the Grand Steeple-Chase de Paris [editor's note: with Arenice in 1996 and El Triunfo in 1992], or a Group race at Cheltenham, it brings tears to your eyes. You think of your family. It unleashes powerful emotions. After Arenice won the Grand Steeple, Guillaume Macaire and I were both emotionally overcome. At that very moment, you have the impression of being untouchable. It doesn’t get much better than that." On this particular Wednesday he added: "Breeding is my great passion. However, the fact of winning in your own colours tops it all." He continued: "I’ve been incredibly lucky. Sandwiched between two wins in the Grand Steeple-Chase, I won the Grande Course de Haies d'Auteuil (Gr1) with Matchou (Matahawk) in 1995. I can't explain that. I've always had a small number of horses. I’ve always been lucky during my life."
Anglo-Arabians and the family connection. These same yellow and black colours have also shone in the Anglo-Arabian sphere in recent years, as denoted by the successes of Frisson Bleue (Frisson du Pecos), Paban de France (Benevolo de Paban) and Fifty du Pecos (Carghese des Landes). When it was pointed out to him that it’s not down to luck when this tends to repeat itself, Francis Montauban replied: "If I have to confess to having one quality, it’s the ability to detect fairly quickly if a horse isn’t going to make the grade. From the outside looking-in, we only see the successes. I also remember all my failures! For there have been many... However, I’m aware of the need to win races and sell horses so as to finance this passion." On the subject of how this passion took hold he added: "When I was a child, I used to go racing at La Cépière (Toulouse racecourse) with my uncle or grandfather. I have always followed racing. As a 15-year-old, I said to myself that I would be president of Toulouse Racecourse one day... That's actually what happened much later... Once I had the necessary means, I turned from equestrian sports to racing!" The future is also about passing on your passion. "As things stand, I’m very happy that my grand-daughters love horses and follow racing. They are the co-breeders the Anglo-Arabian Petronas (No Risk at All): a dual winner during the course of last season."
The tale of Frodon. By winning the King George VI Chase (Gr1) recently, Frodon (Nickname) carved his niche in British racing history. His success has had a phenomenal impact. This particular story traces back to the sales in December 2012. At that time, the first products of Nickname (Lost World) were mere 2-year-olds: so it was difficult to predict their future success. Francis Montauban told us on this particular Wednesday: "The FIPS Bloodstock Agency bought two foals for me at €18,000 apiece. I liked their origins, but I wasn't there. At the time, I wasn't very happy having set my budget at €30,000. These two foals were Frodon and Sanpaco (Saint of the Saints), and the latter was really going great guns in-training. Initially, it was Sanpaco who had been earmarked for the Prix Grandak. However, he got injured. Of course, I wasn't very happy but Guillaume Macaire suggested that I should enter Frodon in this race. Confronted by my troubled state of mind, he convinced me that everything was going to work out fine. In fact, Frodon ended up by winning the race after beating Punch Nantais (Puit d'Or)... He then ran a further five times in my colours. Subsequently, I was unable to resist some very large offers to buy the horse, who has gone on to enjoy an exceptional career in Britain. When he won at Kempton, my thoughts turned to Jair du Cochet, as he was a faller in this same race in 2003 when I had travelled over to Britain to see him. Frodon's victory provided for a great sporting moment. I’m delighted for the horse. Although, I would of course preferred seeing him win in my yellow and black silks. This was also the case with Torrestrella in the French 1,000 Guineas... So I was happy and unhappy at the same time. In fact, I rarely run horses in partnership as I like to run under my own colours."
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