Robert Litt, a breeder in the midst of a purple patch


Robert Litt, a breeder in the midst of a purple patch

Solenzana (Af Albahar) won the French Arabian Breeders' Challenge-Pouliches (Gr2 PA) at La Teste-de-Buch on 3rd September in the colours of her breeder Robert Litt. A former top jockey turned trainer, he is now a successful breeder despite having a reduced number of horses.

In the space of eight seasons, Robert Litt won 519 races as a jockey from 1978 to 1986. Plagued by weight problems, he later set up as a trainer at Mont-de-Marsan in 1985 at the age of 33. In the domain of English thoroughbreds, he oversaw the preparation of Marichal (Highest Honor), a quadruple Listed winner, who raced in the colours of the Marquise de Moratalla. In 2011, his final year as a trainer, Robert Lit landed the Hatta International Stakes (Gr1 PA) with Sanagham (Al Sakbe). The latter raced in his wife's colours and was one of the couple’s homebreds. He recalls: "I trained the classy Edelphy (Tidjani) – the winner of the Prix d'Abu Dhabi at Deauville and third in the Goffs Cup. A few years later, when at Saint-Cloud, I noticed her dam Ennagham (Talmud) going through the ring. No one was bidding and I secured her for €6,000. After losing her product by Akbar (Djelfor), she subsequently foaled Sanagham after being bred to Al Sakbe (Kesberoy). In the Hatta International Stakes, Sanagham beat Qatar Arabian World Cup (Gr1 PA) winner Areej (Amer) no less. Following her good performances at Gr1 PA level, we received an offer that was hard to refuse. Sadly, once sold, Sanagham later died of colic. So we no longer have any ties with this family."

A mare who is a hit in the breeding shed. Robert Litt, in tandem with his wife and daughter, have managed to produce three black type performers in four years after tapping into a different bloodline. This followed the purchase of the quality mare Salma Thabeth (Dormane). He explained: "I met Claude Attal at a race meeting at Newmarket. He had just won the Hatta International Stakes (Gr1 PA) with Ouassila Thabet (Akbar). We got on well and he sent me some horses. Salma Thabeth (Dormane), Ouassila Thabet's sister, proved to be notable presence among the intake which I trained. A quality type, she was an unlucky third in the French Arabian Breeders' Challenge (Gr1 PA). Salma Thabeth then experienced a few problems, but that didn't prevent her from getting back on the podium at PA Group level. She is a beautiful chestnut but without being overly big. When Claude Attal decided to stop breeding horses, I bought Salma Thabeth. She’s a very good producer."

From a family in full bloom. Robert Litt added:  "Her first foal, Zlatana (Akbar), was placed a few times. I chose to keep her and, in turn, she produced Solenzana (Af Albahar). This is one of the first times that I have bred a mare to a son of Amer (Wafi). Af Albahar (Amer) is also doing well as a sire. I currently have three broodmares: Salma Thabeth, plus her two daughters, Zlatana and Tamarinda (Mahabb). They board with Pierre-Yves Juillard. I only board retired horses at my stable as this is less demanding than breeding. Salma Thabeth then foaled Saleema (Munjiz). Placed at PA Group level, she is now a broodmare at the Haras du Saubouas. Salma Thabeth's fifth foal, Emporio (Josco du Cayrou), was involved in an accident during transportation as a foal. So I couldn’t send him to the sales. Instead, he was sent into training with Philippe Sogorb. Second in the French Arabian Breeders' Challenge - Poulains (Gr2 PA), he was then second to Lady Princess (General) in H.H The Amir Silver Sword. At the Saint-Cloud sale in October, I will be consigning a 2-year-old colt (lot 28) who is out of Salma Thabeth, and whose sire is Mahabb (Tahar de Candelon). He’s a very nice colt. The same applies to lot 38: a colt by Munjiz (Kesberoy) and Zlatana."

Producing in order to sell. The Litts have also bred a few English thoroughbreds in the past, such as Juror (Sollicitor) – the winner of 11 races and second in the Grand Critérium de Bordeaux (L). The breeder continued: "It's too complicated, as you need to have deeper pockets than our ones in order to be competitive in the English thoroughbreds’ sector. Jumping isn’t really my thing but I have a real affinity with PA horses. They’re pleasant horses and less complicated to breed. I endeavour to breed my mares to commercial stallions. However, in general terms, this also means that they are established and good producers. I regularly use His Highness Sheikh Mansoor Bin Zayed Al Nahyan's stallions. When it comes to Munjiz and Mahabb, you don't often tend to be wide of the mark.."