'They've done a phenomenal job' - Trueshan half-sister perked up after web sale
Mark Gichero bought the mare, who is now in foal to Planteur
It was a chance online encounter that led to Mark Gichero purchasing Jolie Comtesse, a half-sister to Long Distance Cup hero and Gold Cup contender Trueshan and a mare he hopes can bring further success for a flourishing family.
Bloodstock agent Gichero came across the daughter of Evasive on a French website, and although she arrived at Byerley Stud in Wiltshire in need of what her new connections felt was some TLC, just several weeks on she has been scanned in foal to the exciting Planteur.
Gichero, who also sold the dam of unbeaten Champion Hurdle winner Honeysuckle, says: "I've got a general remit as an agent and this mare was put up on a French website and as soon as I saw her I wanted to buy her as I loved the pedigree.
"The chap selling her spoke very little English, and my French wouldn't be the best, and I knew he was struggling with her. It was a two-pronged thing as I wanted to buy for the good of the mare and I wanted to buy the mare because of her pedigree."
What was thought to be a straightforward journey to Britain proved more complicated, but Gichero was quick to praise the work of the Byerley team in getting his purchase shipshape.
"We arranged a deal but unfortunately the transporter let us down at the last minute," he explains. "Thank god we got her over. Most of the credit has to go to Byerley Stud, they have done the most phenomenal job with her in just seven weeks."
There was plenty more for the team to celebrate after she got in foal to Chapel Stud's latest recruit, and the sire of none other than Trueshan, from her first cover.
Gichero adds: "She's a really good-looking mare but I thought we'd struggle this season [to get her into foal]. The foal will be bred on a very similar line to Trueshan, so hopefully the stars have aligned. We've got a nice, healthy mare now and hopefully she'll be lucky for us."
Quite what the future holds remains to be seen, although Gichero stresses that she was bought to sell, and a date at the Tattersalls December Mare Sale could be on the cards.
He says: "We're going to look at all options. She was always bought to sell and whatever is the best medium to sell her will probably be the plan, but it wouldn't be the end of the world if we kept her.
"The primary concern was getting her in foal but Tattersalls in December might be the first port of call."
The mare's prospects will receive a mighty boost if her half-brother comes up trumps in any of the Group 1 options in front of him, which include the Gold Cup at Royal Ascot on Thursday.
Trained by Alan King, the five-year-old was an excellent second to Japan in the Ormonde Stakes in May, going down by only three-quarters of a length when giving away 5lb.
Gichero adds: "Trueshan ran a great race at Chester, giving a dual Group 1 winner weight over a trip that is just short of his best. I'd like to think he'd be lining up in a Group 1 this year with a realistic chance."
The mare Jolie Comtesse, who has been looked after by Sarah Clifford and Ian Bradbury's operation, is also a source of pride for stud groom Christian Williams.
He says: "She's let down into a lovely, strong mare who you'd think would produce a good stayer like her brother. She's a pleasure to be around and we're really grateful he decided to send her to us. We're also really excited to watch Trueshan and see what he does from the stud's point of view.
"I've known Mark for a long time through a family friend, he's my best friend's wife's uncle. We'd never really done anything together business-wise in the past, but I'd caught wind he was looking for somewhere to board another mare.
"I phoned him up and asked would you consider using us and we've since built up a good relationship, and then he just mentioned this mare. She'd be a lovely mare to send to something like Nathaniel next year as I don't think we're breeding as many staying types and they're key to the breed."
The future also looks bright for Byerley Stud, which was set up five years ago and has steadily increased the quality and quantity of its broodmare band.
Williams says: "We operate across three different sites and around 300 acres and we're now up to 60 mares. We're foaling 35-40 and have a band of 15-20 maiden mares a year and consign at all the major sales.
"The farm is growing every year and so is the quality of stock; we've sent mares to Mohaather, Showcasing, Zoustar, Kameko and Expert Eye, as well as exciting commercial sorts like Cable Bay, Havana Gold and Ardad. For a farm that's been going only for five years we seem to be doing well on the track with the horses we've bred."