Get set for another Monceaux masterclass at Arqana
Martin Stevens speaks to Henri Bozo, manager of the elite nursery
If Ecurie des Monceaux were a horse, it would be Frankel. If it were a trainer; Aidan O'Brien. Jockey; Ryan Moore. The Normandy nursery is breathtakingly dominant in its field, selling yearlings in Deauville.
Monceaux will this year bring its tenth draft to the Arqana August Yearling Sale. It has been the leading vendor by gross receipts every year since 2012 and did so by a margin of €7 million or more in each of the last three renewals.
It has prepped and sold no fewer than 11 seven-figure lots at the auction, and was responsible for selling the Dubawi colt who holds the record price of €2.6 million, subsequent Grand Prix de Paris sixth Parabellum.
Stars sold by Monceaux at Deauville in August include Chicquita, Ectot, Most Improved and National Defense, as well as this year's closely beaten Poule d'Essai des Pouliches third Wind Chimes. The farm's Group 1-winning graduates Charm Spirit and Sistercharlie were sold at Arqana's October fixture.
The Monceaux draft at Arqana this month is, as usual, replete with relations to elite performers by blue-chip sires. But what is extraordinary this time is that three of the 35 lots have been subject to significant updates close to the top of their pages since the catalogue was published.
The Gleneagles filly out of Nuit Polaire (lot 8) is a half-sister to Intellogent, winner of the Prix Jean Prat last month; the Charm Spirit colt out of Starlet's Sister (43) is a half-brother to Sistercharlie, who added victory in the Grade 1 Diana Stakes and Beverly D Stakes to her resume in recent weeks; and the Lope De Vega colt out of Black Dahlia (94) is a half-brother to Dark Vision, who stormed to success in the Vintage Stakes at Glorious Goodwood.
The updates have not appeared by coincidence, insists Monceaux manager Henri Bozo.
“This is exactly what we've been aiming for – improving the broodmare band and the efficiency of results,” he says. “Our goal is to build up a broodmare band that is full of lively pedigrees that are frequently producing top-class horses, so I'm delighted.”
Monceaux sells only horses that have been raised on the farm, whether they were bred by the farm itself, by its clients or partnerships between both parties.
“I'm always on the farm and have seen the horses since they were born, so I know them thoroughly,” Bozo says.
Of the Gleneagles half-sister to Intellogent, a €320,000 Arqana August graduate, he reports: “She is full of quality. She's always been a lovely, strong filly and a good walker. There is no knocking the dam, she has been a remarkable servant to the farm. The family keeps coming up with good horses, it's a very current pedigree.”
Nuit Polaire – a Kheleyf half-sister to Oaks d'Italia winner Night Of Magic, the dam of German horse of the year Nightflower, and to Neele, the dam of Group 1 winners Nutan and Nymphea – was bought by Monceaux as a yearling in Deauville for €100,000. She is also related to German Oaks-winning mother and daughter Night Petticoat and Next Gina, and Hong Kong celebrity Pakistan Star.
Moving on to the Charm Spirit half-brother to Sistercharlie, Bozo says: “He's a classy, forward type – very strong – and he walks well and looks like he could be quite precocious. He is also a half-brother to My Sister Nat, a close second in the Prix Chloe last month to Crown Walk, who went on to run second in the Prix Rothschild.”
Sistercharlie – sold at Arqana in October for just €12,000 but also the winner of the Grade 1 Jenny Wiley Stakes – and My Sister Nat are the first and second foals out of the exciting broodmare Starlet's Sister, a Galileo sister to Prix Cleopatre winner Leo's Starlet.
Dark Vision was bred by SF Bloodstock and sold as a yearling by Ballylinch Stud for a scarcely believable 15,000gns, but his dam Black Dahlia – a Listed-placed daughter of Dansili – was sent to France for the Monceaux treatment when she was carrying the Lope De Vega colt on offer in Deauville.
“Full credit to the people who raised Dark Vision, he appears to be the best two-year-old in Europe at the moment,” says Bozo. “His yearling half-brother is very strong and actually quite stunning. He's a good size without being overly big. Just very, very impressive.”
Looking elsewhere in this year's yearling consignment from Monceaux to Arqana, one thing springs from the catalogue: the incredibly strong support the farm lent to 2015 champion sprinter Muhaarar in his first year at stud.
It offers four by the sire – a filly out of Pacifique and thus a half-sister to the record-breaking Parabellum (9); a colt out of Grade 1 Beverly D stakes heroine Royal Highness and thus a three-parts brother to dual Group 2 scorer Free Port Lux (23); a colt out of Princess Margaret Stakes winner African Skies making him a half-brother to the smart Calypso Beat (70); and, most notably, a colt out of Listed winner Prudenzia (16).
The last-named is particularly significant because Prudenzia, by Dansili out of Monceaux foundation mare Platonic, is something of an Arqana August legend. She has produced four yearlings who have sold for €1 million or more at the venue, including this year's Ribblesdale Stakes winner Magic Wand but excluding Irish Oaks heroine Chicquita, bought for €600,000 before she won the Irish Oaks and was sold to Coolmore at Goffs for an Irish auction record of €6m.
Explaining the decision to throw in its lot with Nunnery Stud resident Muhaarar, Bozo says: “I think he's got the potential to become a very interesting stallion. He had such speed, turn of foot and class, and a very attractive physique. I like his breeding too.
“I'm very happy with the results. We gave him a good chance and we've been rewarded with some outstanding individuals.”
Paying tribute to Prudenzia, he adds: “That family is just full of quality, top to bottom. And I don't think we have seen the last of Magic Wand, either. She was better than she showed [when fifth] in the Irish Oaks.”
Bozo has also overseen the preparation of one of two first-crop yearlings by US Triple Crown legend American Pharoah in the Arqana catalogue, a filly who is the first foal out of the Grade 3-winning Smart Strike mare Marbre Rose (158) bred and offered in partnership with Andreas Putsch of Haras de Saint-Pair.
Her international appeal is enhanced by the fact Monceaux sold Gidu, a Frankel half-brother to Marbre Rose, for €460,000 to Justin Casse on behalf of American Pharoah's owner-breeders Zayat Stables at Deauville in 2016. He has run with plenty of credit when fourth in the Grade 2 Hall of Fame Stakes at Saratoga this month and sixth in the Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot in June.
“She's a beautiful filly with a great walk,” says Bozo of the American Pharoah filly. “That's not surprising as when I saw the sire I noted he too is an amazing walker, and he has that balance that makes you believe he could have been a very successful turf performer. She looks really racy.”
The American Pharoah yearlings sold like hot cakes in Saratoga this month, with ten changing hands for an average of $554,500, but it was Medaglia D'Oro who stole the show, accounting for the sale's two most expensive lots, a colt and filly who made $1.35m and $1.3m.
Naturally, Monceaux also has a yearling to offer at Deauville by Medaglia D'Oro, source of racing matriarchs Rachel Alexandra and Songbird and last year's Breeders' Cup Turf winner Talismanic.
He is a colt out of dual Grade 3 winner and Grade 1-placed Rusty Slipper (25) offered on behalf of Trinidad and Tobago-based owner-breeder Zanim Meahjohn and family.
“They're very nice people and they should be very well rewarded for taking the long road from buying an expensive yearling filly, putting her in foal to Medaglia D'Oro and bringing her to France, as the result is an extremely nice colt,” says Bozo.
All this is to merely scratch the surface of the Monceaux draft at Deauville this month. Diminishing space allows only honourable mention to the Galileo filly out of Grade 2 winner Naissance Royale (1) and a colt by the champion sire out of Danedream's Listed-placed half-sister Debutante (106), Siyouni half-brothers to National Defense (79) and Ocovango (102), and progeny of premium sires such as Dark Angel, Frankel and Invincible Spirit.
Safe to say the stud will be leading consignor for a seventh consecutive year.
Like Ryan Moore and Aidan O'Brien, its domination is set to continue for a long time yet.