Boudot bound for Cheltenham to cheer on homebred hotpot
Isabel Mathew speaks to the top jockey and breeder of Defi Du Seuil
Top-class jockeys Pierre-Charles Boudot and Frankie Dettori have several things in common, not only as the winners of at least two champion jockey titles, but now also as breeders of a leading jumps performer.
While the Dettori-bred Dodging Bullets landed the Queen Mother Champion Chase two years ago, Boudot has recently become better known in the jumping game thanks to his homebred Defi Du Seuil, the Grade 1 JCB Triumph Hurdle favourite who has won all six of his starts since moving to Britain.
“I love jumps racing, and whenever possible I try to go and see our horses or watch it on the television,” says Boudot, who raised the Philip Hobbs-trained four-year-old together with his mother Catherine and sister Marie-Gabrielle.
Boudot grew up at the training centre of Paray-le-Monial in the Saone-et-Loire region, where his father Marc had up to 50 mainly National Hunt horses. He became involved in the breeding side of racing after his parents bought a farm at the end of the 1990s that became Haras du Seuil.
Defi Du Seuil is the fourth generation of the Boudot family’s breeding that dates back to Pierre-Charles’s grandparents, who used the suffix 'Tennis' for his horses. They notably bred Grade 2-winning chaser Jimmy Tennis, also a close relative of Defi Du Seuil.
“My father constantly tried to improve his broodmare band by keeping the nice fillies that he trained,” Boudot explains.
It was, however, his father's untimely death in 2008 that led the rest of the family to becoming more involved.
At the time, Boudot’s mother Catherine owned a hairdressing salon, while Pierre-Charles had just started his apprenticeship as a jockey, and Marie-Gabrielle, like her brother, was only a teenager.
“It was a very brave thing for her to do, as it wasn’t her job,” Boudot says about his mother’s decision to continue breeding. “We had a few years that were quite difficult, but I think we have really moved back on the right track and things are now going well”.
JOCKEYS WHO HIT THE BIG TIME AS BREEDERS
Became the first jockey to breed a British Classic winner when Minster Son, named in honour of his Minster Stud, won the St Leger in 1988. Has also bred Group 1 scorers Al Shemali and Jack Hobbs.
Sent his mare Nova Cyngi to Dubawi with the intention of producing a Derby winner but admitted to "shaking with emotion" when the resultant foal Dodging Bullets won the Champion Chase.
Produced Derby hero Authorized when he sent the Saumarez mare Funsie to Montjeu, a horse he partnered to famous victories in the Arc and King George.
Lightning-fast two-year-old Superstar Leo is among the best products of the legendary jockey's forays into breeding.
The man who steered Red Rum to his third Grand National victory and a Classic-winning trainer, this renaissance man of racing also bred The Last Lion, The Wow Signal and his Irish 1,000 Guineas heroine Tarascon.
In addition to Defi Du Seuil, homebreds Taquin Du Seuil and Catamaran Du Seuil will also be bidding to give the Boudot family success at the festival.
“It’s unbelievable that we could have three runners,” Boudot says. “I’ve never been to Cheltenham, but I’ve seen it on the television and the atmosphere looks amazing.”
The Boudots now have ten broodmares on their 30-hectare property, which includes Sweet Laly, the dam of Taquin Du Seuil, who is due to be covered by Poliglote this year. Defi Du Seuil’s mother Quarvine Du Seuil, a half-sister to Catamaran Du Seuil, died in 2013.
“We chose to send her to Voix Du Nord for her second covering because, in addition to being nearby, he had already produced Taquin for us and we really liked him as a stallion,” says Catherine Boudot.
“Unfortunately after giving birth to Defi she had colic ten days later and didn’t survive. After being fostered we then sold the colt as a weanling to the Papot family, like Catamaran the year before."
Both horses went into training with Emmanuel Clayeux, who has overseen the early careers of Sir Des Champs, Grands Crus, Une Artiste and Apple’s Jade amongst others, before being sold across the Channel.
While Pierre-Charles is not planning to make his debut over jumps any time soon, the family will make their first trip to the Festival next week.
“I’ve watched Defi’s last three races, and it seems that he won them quite easily including in the Grade 1 at Chepstow. We know it’s going to be harder this time, but I’m really looking forward to it,” Boudot says.
Coincidentally the motto of Le Seuil, the famous French publishing house that carries the same name as the Boudot horses, reads: “The threshold, excitement from start to finish”. It seems appropriate.