'True champion' Le Havre retired from stud duties due to health issues

His top progeny include Wonderful Tonight, La Cressonniere and Avenir Certain

Le Havre: sire of five top-level winners
Le Havre: sire of five top-level winnersCredit: Montfort & Préaux

Sumbe has announced the retirement of multiple Classic-winning and leading French sire Le Havre at the age of 16 due to health issues that occurred at the end of last year.

The son of Sussex Stakes winner Noverre and Marie Rheinberg, a half-sister to the great Polar Falcon, Le Havre has been responsible for 79 stakes performers to date including 20 individual Group winners, of whom five have struck at the highest level.

One of the most enduring and popular performers is the recently retired Wonderful Tonight, who struck in the Prix de Royallieu, British Champions Fillies & Mares Stakes and Hardwicke Stakes for David Menuisier and owner Chris Wright. She is due to visit Frankel for her first covering this season.

Other notable alumni of Le Havre's are Prix de Diane and Poule d'Essai des Pouliches heroine La Cressonniere, fellow dual French Classic heroine Avenir Certain, Prix de l'Opera victress Villa Marina, and the admirably durable Shadwell Turf Mile Stakes winner Suedois.

CHICHESTER, ENGLAND - JULY 31: William Buick riding Wonderful Tonight win The Qatar Lillie Langtry Stakes during the Qatar Goodwood Festival at Goodwood Racecourse on July 31, 2021 in Chichester, England. (Photo by Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images)
Wonderful Tonight: one of Le Havre's flagbearers on the trackCredit: Alan Crowhurst (Getty Images)

Bred by the Sundstrom family's Team Hogdala and sold to Jean-Claude Rouget for €100,000 at Arqana's August Yearling Sale in 2007, Le Havre was himself a top-class performer on the track, winning his first two starts at two before a run in the Criterium International.

Le Havre struck in the Listed Prix Djebel on his first start at three before a fine second to Silver Frost in the Poule d'Essai des Poulains. His career highlight undoubtedly came when landing the Prix du Jockey Club on his following, and ultimately final, start when beating the likes of Fuisse and the aforementioned Silver Frost.

He subsequently retired to Haras de la Cauviniere, now known as Montfort et Preaux after a name change in 2017, in 2010. The Normandy stud was purchased by Kazakhstan-born businessman Nurlan Bizakov in 2019 to combine with Hesmonds Stud in East Sussex.

Mathieu Alex with Haras de la Cauviniere resident Le Havre
Mathieu Alex with Le Havre

Starting off from a fee of €5,000, Le Havre's stock rose accordingly as his progeny showed their considerable talents on the track. He was due to stand this year for an unchanged fee of €40,000 - at his peak he stood for €60,000 in 2017 and 2018.

A release from Sumbe said: “Due to health issues that occurred at the end of last year, the decision has been made to end his stallion career. We owe him so much and our priority is his wellbeing.

"Le Havre is a true champion. The winner of a magnificent Prix du Jockey Club, he was a leading stallion from his debut at stud having sired 50 stakes winners including two dual winners of the Poule d'Essai des Pouliches and the Prix de Diane.

"He is a French pride and we know how rare these horses are. He gave us the most beautiful emotions. We have lived with him for more than ten years and are enjoying every moment.”

The Montfort et Preaux roster now features promising second-season sire and the royal-bred Recorder, Commonwealth Cup winner Golden Horde, who welcomes his first foals this year, and De Treville, an Oasis Dream half-brother to Too Darn Hot, Dar Re Mi and Lah Ti Dar.

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Kitty TriceBloodstock journalist

Published on 12 February 2022inNews

Last updated 20:17, 12 February 2022