The Qatar Derby weekend is one of the most important in Qatar, alongside the Emir's Sword occasion. To shine in them, given the presence of the horses owned by the sheikhs, is a matter of honour for the Qatari owners. Owner Sheail Al Kuwari, advised for over 30 years by Gérard Larrieu, won the feature race for PA horses thanks to Lady Princess (General), in addition to being associated with the victory of Hellénistic (Wootton Bassett) in the big race for English thoroughbreds.

JDG Arabians. – How did Lady Princess come to be owned by Sheail Al Kuwari?

Gérard Larrieu. – I wasn’t there in person when the mare made a winning debut at Toulouse, having instead watched the race on the Equidia channel, but I called Pierre Deymonaz and made an offer to buy her – no sooner had the horses crossed the finishing line.

I’ve rarely seen a PA horse with such an action. It’s true that she isn’t big – hailing as she does from a family which are on the small side. Mister Ginoux (Amer), her brother, was hardly big himself. It’s hardly a minus as far as a filly is concerned. Her success in the Qatar Derby – Easter de Faust had previously won this race in the same colours – was a big moment, and a reward for Thomas Fourcy, Julien Augé, and the team as a whole, after complying with the quarantine process so as to be able to accompany the filly. To be able to win such races and beat stables such as Al Shaqab, Al Shahania and Umm Qarn, which have a great number of horses at their disposal, is really something!

What is Sheail Al Kuwari's purchasing policy when it comes to PA horses?

We mainly buy horses-in-training. We don’t necessarily target previous winners, as Mr Al Kuwari knows the Qatari race programme like the back of his hand, and so he can spot horses which will do well in maidens at Doha for example... Sometimes I have to force his hand a little when I spot something that really catches the eye, as was the case with Hadi de Carrère (Nieshan).

How do you determine which horses remain in France as opposed to those destined for Qatar?

In France, the owner’s PA horses are trained by Thomas Fourcy and Didier Guillemin. Only the very best performers, namely those capable of winning at international level, will remain in France. Those which are a little below this standard are sent to Doha.

Your acumen as a bloodstock agent came to the fore as you acquired the first and second in the Qatar Derby (Gr1) for 3-year-olds. Hellenistique the winner, doesn’t race in the Al Kuwari colours but those of the Injaaz Stud. What is the link with Sheail Al Kuwari?

Injaaz Stud is the concern of Sheikh Mishal bin Hamad Al Thani, the eldest son of the former Emir of Qatar. However, it’s Sheail Al Kuwari who oversees how the money is spent. So when I buy an English thoroughbred, I don't know whether he will race for Sheail Al Kuwari or the Injaaz Stud.

When it comes to English thoroughbreds what are you looking for?

We mainly target sales of horses-in-training. Mr. Al Kuwari makes a list of horses that interest him, and I have to buy from this. He is perfectly au fait with the profile of horses that are capable of succeeding at Doha, and the opportunities on offer for horses there... There are a few exceptions: I had tried to buy Dubday (Dubawi) privately when the then 3-year-old had been earmarked for a race at Deauville during the month of July. The deal didn't go through but we still ended up buying him at the Arc sale. The son of Dubawi (Dubai Millennium) was, for a long time, the top English thoroughbred to race at Doha. He has since passed on the baton to The Blue Eye, another son of Dubawi/purchase at the Arc sale. In addition to those horses-in-training bound for Doha (Hellénistique was a notable example), we also invest annually in a few yearlings whose careers begin in France. Saqr (Dutch Art), having had an unhappy time of it this weekend, enters this category, and had the Covid-19 situation not arisen, he would certainly have been entrusted to the care of trainer Fabrice Chappet. This year (2020) I bought the full sister to Trêve at the Arqana Select Sale. She’s in-training with Fabrice Chappet.

Is Sheail Al Kuwari involved in breeding?

He’s a breeder of PA horses He has been breeding for a long time in Qatar, and has had some success in races reserved for locally-bred horses. However, since this year, he sent around 30 mares to France, which have been split between the Saint-Faust and Montaigu studs. His breeding operation should go up a level: his mares are very good, and, from now on, they will be bred to the best stallions.