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Pilgrims brave freezing temperatures to see French stallions

Le Havre was one of the stars on show

Siyouni on parade at Haras de Bonneval on Saturday
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Pilgrims on the Route des Etalons on Saturday braved subzero temperatures to see the stallion talent on offer in Normandy, as stud owners threw open their gates for the annual open weekend.

A hard overnight frost hardly thawed all day as the mercury did not rise above zero, although there was bright sunshine that made conditions far more preferable to the torrential downpours that greeted visitors last year.

The freezing temperatures came as a shock to Italian Derby winner Cima De Triomphe, who arrived at Haras du Thenney from shuttling duty in Argentina only on Friday.

Among the star stallions on show were Le Havre, the sire of dual Classic heroines Avenir Certain and La Cressonniere from just three crops, at Haras de la Cauviniere; Siyouni, who has proved to be a rich source of black-type talent and covered a bumper book last year, at Haras de Bonneval; and Kendargent, the rags-to-riches stallion who rules over Haras de Colleville.

As ever, Criquette Head-Maarek charmed the crowds at her family's picture-perfect Haras du Quesnay as she curated the parade of stallions there, including Motivator and Youmzain.

“The Route des Etalons is a great idea, it is well organised and allows people to see the stallions and socialise,” said Head-Maarek. “I only wish I were able to travel around and see all the studs, but I have to be here!”

Most studs lay on lavish hospitality with food and drink from the Normandy region on offer to guests.

The open weekend continues on Sunday.

I only wish I were able to travel around and see all the studs
E.W. Terms