In the domain of both English thoroughbreds and PA horses, the breeder Berend Van Dalfsen, who doesn’t own a stud but boards his mares elsewhere, is beating his own drum via his successes and consistency. 


The Netherlands is not a major horse racing nation. However, the Dutch have a flair for commerce and breeding. They’re also not afraid to travel or up sticks and move abroad. If you wish to obtain confirmation of this, then tune into the documentary Golden Genes on Netflix (complete with English and French subtitles). It illustrates the success of the Dutch when it comes to breeding saddle horses, cattle, sheep, pigeons... The few who have ventured into the horse racing domain have been very successful, such as Cornelis Drost (jumping), Gerardus Beemsterboer (Écurie Melanie) and Paul Vandeberg – the breeder of the Arc de Triomphe winner Torquator Tasso (Adlerflug). However, in France, we are above all familiar with the breeder Berend Van Dalfsen who doesn’t actually own his stud: a discreet character whose sporting success commands respect. He has successfully bred sheep for their wool and cattle. He has also started an Angus cattle breeding operation in France, using Shadwell strains, which are among the best in the world...


On the subject of his discovery of horse racing, he explained: "I was working in Paris, in the cereal crops trade, when I met Xavier de Moussac. Via his intermediary, I was offered a share in a horse. This was the starting point. My first good horses were the homebreds Turtle Bowl (Dyhim Diamond), Lady Vettori (Vettori) and Irish Source (Irish River)…which date back to the 1990s.Irish Source, the winner of the Prix de Lieurey (L), proved a real hit in the breeding shed for Berend Van Dalfsen. As around ten black performers have this mare in their pedigree page, including Irish Wells (Sadler's Wells) – the dual winner of the Grand Prix de Deauville (Gr2). Lady Vettori, the winner of the Prix de Calvados (Gr3) and third in the Prix Marcel Boussac (Gr1), was sold on, and she went on to foal the high class and prolific stallion Lope de Vega (Shamardal) for her new owner. However, Berend Van Dalfsen kept her daughter Bal de la Rose (Cadeaux Généreux), the winner of the Prix André Baboin (Gr3), and the future dam of the Grosser Dallmayr Bayerisches Zuchtrennen (Gr1) winner Danceteria (Redoute's Choice). 


The success story of Clara Bow. At the recent Tattersalls’ sales, Berend Van Dalfsen consigned Nooramunga (Siyouni), in-foal to Zarak (Dubawi), and she was sold for 270,000 Gns to Graham Smith-Bernal. It proved an inspired mating plan as Berend Van Dalfsen bred the Prix Amandine (L) third to the rising star of the French stallion division, and his judgement had been similarly spot-on when it came to breeding his stock to Siyouni (Pivotal) – at a time when the latter was very much an unknown quantity as a sire. The mere fact that this particularly strain was eventually assimilated within the prestigious breeding academy, Newsells Park Stud, is a real boon for Berend Van Dalfsen. When he acquired the granddam Clara Bow (Top Ville), a mare hailing from a distinguished Aga Khan bloodline and sister to a black type performer, it was difficult to envisage the extent of the success which the mare’s progeny would eventually enjoy. Yet that's exactly what happened. Clara Bow is the ancestress of 11 black type performers, split over two generations, thanks to the breeder's acumen. She is notably the dam of Turtle Bowl, the winner of the Prix Jean Prat (Gr1) and the sire of two winners of the Poule d'Essai des Poulains (Gr1), in addition to Age of Aquarius (Galileo). The latter caused quite a stir when fetching a big sum at the Deauville Yearling Sales, and who went on to be second in the Ascot Gold Cup (Gr1). On this particular Wednesday, Berend Van Dalfsen said: "I am delighted that Nooramunga is joining such a successful stud. Under the direction of Julian Dollar, Newsells has really shone at the racetrack/sales arenas. I would like to thank them for buying Nooramunga. I acquired the grandam Clara Bow when she was a yearling via the intermediary of Marc-Antoine Berghgracht, and this on the advice of Bernard Salvat, who provided considerable help when it came to dispensing advice. And in particular regard to mating plans. Turtle Bowl’s talents were very well showcased by François Rohaut. He knew all the ins and outs of the horse. Bernard Salvat didn't have enough acreage for all his purposes, and so he put me in touch with Jean-Marc and Cécile Lucas regarding Clara Bow. He is a very successful breeder in all disciplines, both in his own right and on behalf of his clients."

Success also extends to the PA domain. Berend Van Dalfsen is also the owner outright or co-owner of several PA mares which board at the Haras du Berlais. Anastasya (Dormane), a Gr1 PA winner, and who had already produced a Gr1 PA winner at the time of her purchase, is a case in point. To source this type of PA mare at public auction is very rare indeed, and the breeder, clearly well advised, was in his element. For she has produced no less than six black type performers for him, including three Gr1 PA winners in Russia. The 3-year-old PA filly Ariadna (Dahess) was second in the Prix Ourour (L PA) at Toulouse in the colours of Berend Van Dalfsen. Aksinya (General), second in the Critérium des Pouliches (Gr2 PA), was later sold to His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Khalifa Al Thani. Berend Van Dalfsen added: "Anastasya produces tough and durable sorts... When the Qataris arrived in France, the purses for PA races increased, and races for the breed were not only created, but also added to the cards of major French meetings. This encouraged me to get involved with the breed."

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