Nicolas de Chambure toasts transatlantic seven-figure success
Etreham's hook-up with Runnymede Farm bears fruit
Two fourth generation stud masters from France and America joined together with prized bloodlines developed in Ireland to celebrate a $1 million yearling sale to the Dubai-based Godolphin stable of Sheikh Mohammed during Thursday’s final session of Book 1 at Keeneland’s September yearling sale.
The sale of a statuesque Medaglia D’Oro filly from the stellar Moyglare Stud family of Group 1 winner Royal Diamond and European highweights Irresistible Jewel and Princess Highway is the capstone of a partnership forged between Normandy’s Haras d’Etreham and Kentucky’s Runnymede Farm.
“We couldn’t have dreamt of a better result,” said Nicolas de Chambure, the fourth generation member of his family to oversee Etreham. “She was just such a nice filly. We would have been really happy to race her, but we are commercial breeders, so we have to sell some. Hopefully, she’ll be really good on the track for Godolphin.”
The roots of what was very high-level international commerce go back to a longstanding friendship between de Chambure and Runnymede’s French-born general manager Romain Malhouitre.
“Because of our relationship, I got to meet [Runnymede chief executive] Brutus Clay and the Clay family, and we got along really well,” de Chambure recalled. “We used to have mares here in the US at the time when my grandfather [Roland de Chambure] and my uncle [Marc de Chambure] were at Etreham, and we were keen to diversify a little with our breeding and have a few mares here again.
“That’s how it started,” he said.
Clay’s great grandfather founded Runnymede, which also sold a seven-figure filly to Godolphin during Wednesday’s Keeneland September sale session. He and de Chambure, as well as Runnymede’s longtime partner Peter Callahan and the Ecurie des Charmes of Lucien Urano, took a big step when paying $500,000 for the unraced Moyglare-bred broodmare prospect Esprit De Vie at the 2015 Keeneland November breeding stock sale.
Their goal was nothing short of creating a new foundation mare, Malhouitre said, although none of the partners could have imagined that her first foal would bring back twice the substantial sum that she cost.
“What we were trying to achieve with this mare and our partners was like what Mr [Catesby] Clay did in developing two or three foundation families,” Malhouitre said, referring to the 95-year-old father of Brutus Clay who operated Runnymede for decades prior to his retirement.
“We went to get a mare from a family that we could develop, and this Moyglare Stud family is just one of the best,” Malhouitre said.
“They are one of the best breeders in the world, and that mare was a target as soon as we saw her. We are lucky to have her, and for this mare to already give back what she’s given us is quite unbelievable.”
“Thank God for such a wonderful outcome,” Brutus Clay exclaimed, noting that for Runnymede to consign two seven-figure yearlings in the same sale was unprecedented over its 151-year history. Prior to Wednesday, Runnymede had only sold one other horse at such a level, a $1.9m colt from the first crop of Galileo consigned to the 2004 Keeneland September sale.
“We couldn’t be more delighted for our partners,” Clay said, “and Romain has done an extraordinary job for us over the last five years.”
The mating of Esprit De Vie, who is by Godolphin’s late Dubai World Cup winner and outstanding sire Street Cry to the operation’s current American stallion star, Medaglia D’Oro, seemed certain to attract at least cursory attention from Sheikh Mohammed’s team.
The filly born on February 3, 2017, from the mating proved to be a tall, elegant, athletic specimen who demanded respect from many buyers at Keeneland.
“Class - she’s all class. She’s just like her mother,” Malhouitre said.
Runnymede and Etreham have other mares together, and de Chambure said that part of the beauty of the partnership is that both farms can enjoy diversification through each other’s market.
“It gives us the opportunity to try different things, sometimes to bring one home and sometimes to send one over here from home. It’s good to be on both sides of the Atlantic,” he said.
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