Swiss bliss as fledgling operation hits the mark in French Classics
Gestut Zur Kuste sprang to prominence with Teppal and Dice Roll
Switzerland might not have the thoroughbred heritage of its neighbours France, Germany and Italy but the country gave us Walter Haefner, the master horseman who founded Moyglare Stud, as well as a handful of decent horses with the 'SWI' suffix in recent years such as the stakes-winning siblings La Sylphide and Vanishing Cupid.
Now Switzerland is also responsible for a young breeding operation that with its first crop of three-year-olds came up with Sunday's Poule d'Essai des Pouliches heroine Teppal as well as, quite remarkably, Dice Roll – the colt beaten just a neck and a nose into third in the Poulains less than an hour earlier at Longchamp.
Gestut Zur Kuste comprises a Swiss-based group of investors overseen by Christoph Muller, chairman of Frauenfeld racecourse near Zurich. Despite the name, there is no physical stud, with the organisation's stock based at Haras d'Etreham and Haras d'Ellon in Normandy, with others boarded in Britain and Ireland for covering and foaling.
With the assistance of agent Crispin de Moubray, a band of around 30 to 35 mares has been assembled, some owned in partnership with Etreham and Ellon.
Muller says when it came to sourcing those horses, an emphasis was placed on “speed – and we have a particular respect for Juddmonte families as well as those from older French breeders such as the Wertheimers or Etreham”.
It was Juddmonte blood that came through for Gestut Zur Kuste in the Longchamp Classics, with Teppal a daughter of the Juddmonte-bred classy sprinter Camacho and Dice Roll by Camacho's in-demand half-brother Showcasing.
“Showasing is one of around ten stallions we own shares in,” Muller says. “We also have breeding rights to Almanzor, Elusive City, Le Havre, Wootton Bassett and Zarak.”
Gestut Zur Kuste's commitment to the Showcasing family is underlined by the fact they also bought Galipette, a Green Desert three-parts sister to Showcasing, to breed from and have an Intello two-year-old colt and a Dark Angel yearling colt out of her.
Furthermore, the dams of Teppal and Dice Roll also have young offspring by Showcasing. Teppal's dam Jummana, a winning daughter of Cadeaux Genereux who had previously produced the smart sprinter Another Party, has a yearling colt by Whitsbury Manor Stud's son of Oasis Dream, while Schlague, a winning Pulpit mare, has “a very nice colt foal” by him.
Jummana produced a colt from the first crop of Rathbarry Stud-based Gimcrack Stakes winner Ajaya this season and, according to Muller, is in line for a date with Shalaa next.
“She is a large horse and while you can do a lot of matching of pedigrees on paper, you have to judge matings on conformation too,” he says. “Shalaa is a tough, strong horse but not too big, so should suit the mare.”
The astonishing achievements of Gestut Zur Kuste with only its first three-year-old homebreds on the ground are illustrated by the fact that it ranks second among the leading breeders in France by prize-money in 2018.
According to France Galop, its 17 representatives have earned £552,690, which compares very favourably to the current table toppers the Wertheimer brothers, who have had 76 runners amass £565,020.
Besides Teppal and Dice Roll, Gestut Zur Kuste graduates include Duque, an Elusive City colt who finished third to subsequent Pouliches sixth Barkaa in the Listed Prix de la Californie in February, and the dual winners Assiro and Korevsky, by Declaration Of War and Intello respectively.
“It was only four years ago we were planning our first matings. It has been quite unbelievable,” sums up Muller.
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