An Irish banker with a distinctly French flavour
Tom Peacock speaks to Vanessa Teehan-Rouzier about Supreme fancy Appreciate It
Should there have been a punter with an Irish tricolour in their pocket next week, Paul Townend and Appreciate It would be likely candidates to be the recipients.
The hot favourite for the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, trained by Willie Mullins and bred in County Tipperary, appears to have all the attributes to set into motion another good week for the visiting party.
Should the strapping seven-year-old have possessed the gift of speech, however, he might just respond with a similar Gallic lilt to Vanessa Teehan-Rouzier, who brought him up at Charel Park Stud near Carrick-on-Suir.
By the late Jeremy, Appreciate It is out of the French-bred Saint Des Saints mare Sainte Baronne, who placed in three Irish bumpers for Teehan-Rouzier’s compatriot Matthieu Palussiere before he returned home.
"The mare was bought from France as a two-year-old and has been here forever," she explains. "She was from a decent family and showed plenty on the gallops in the morning, I think she got a chip in her knee as she was coming into finish her last race really well, her career was very, very short, but, between her family and what she’d been showing, she was definitely one to go and breed from."
Owned by various interests in partnership, Sainte Baronne has produced several winners prior to Appreciate It, who was sold for €18,500 before winning an Irish point and finding his way into the Mullins stable.
"There was Danny Kirwan, he’s still running, then there’s a Soldier Of Fortune called Saphir Blue Star who is in France with Francois Nicolle," says Teehan-Rouzier.
"They ran him first time out in a Listed hurdle, the Prix Finot at Auteuil; he looked a big, raw horse so they decided to put him away and give him a bit of time. But Francois Nicolle thinks he’s a very nice horse as well.
"Usually the fillies are kept until they’re three and if a foal is very nice they go to Tattersalls Ireland November, so that’s the reason that Appreciate It went there. He was a nice, scopey, very good-walking horse. After that I saw him back as a three-year-old, he was still the same - a very fair and square horse."
Appreciate It has demonstrated that selfsame professional manner throughout his racing education, taking a Grade 2 at the Dublin Racing Festival before finishing second in the Champion Bumper and adding two more Leopardstown Grade 1s this season.
Teehan-Rouzier has been monitoring developments so closely that she even has a spy in the camp.
"My daughter rides out at Willie Mullins’ regularly, at the weekends and during her holidays, so I’d go down and see him, have a chat with them now and again, but my daughter keeps an eye on everything," she says.
"I believe the horses are split up among grooms and people have their own few horses, so she’s not been on him yet, but she’s loving it there. Eventing was her game but she rides loads of nice ones, gets to work them on the flat a bit as well, and Willie apparently loves that."
Ireland is home-from-home for the enthusiastic Teehan-Rouzier, who arrived on work experience when studying in France and essentially never went back.
She has established a useful niche, explaining: "I have a few Irish boarders full-time but the seasonal boarding of French mares is a big thing on the farm.
"A lot of French mares are doing the breeding season, they come to Ireland to be covered and some decent horses would have been born here, but they’re more so French than Irish ones.
"I suppose me being French, it’s easy with the language barrier. I’ve been doing that for over 20 years now, so I have some very long-standing French clients. When you’re an ex-pat it’s a great thing to have a link to your country, so that’s the way I do it."
She has managed to join the breeding partnership with Sainte Baronne, who is the only female producing from her particular line. A Jukebox Jury colt topped a day of last December's Tattersalls Ireland event at €70,000, and there are decisions to be made about whether to keep two of her younger fillies, a three-year-old daughter of Soldier Of Fortune and a recent Westerner foal.
All of which will assume greater significance should a Cheltenham Festival winner be added to their page.
"After raising them all, eventually I wiggled my way in and managed to be involved fully, as they say," explains Teehan-Rouzier. "Whether boarders, my own or a partnership, they’re all important, but it’s nice to be officially part-breeder of whatever’s to come.
"You have the nice horses, the good horses and then you have the exceptional ones, and I think Appreciate It is one of them.
"Willie said they haven’t found the bottom of him yet, he seems to be going on and on and on. I know Cheltenham can turn over a lot of favourites, I’m a bit afraid of that, and it’s been seen in the past, there are shocks and surprises all the time, but he’s done it already. Cheltenham to us would be the icing on the cake."
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