'The quality of stallions in France has really improved a lot'
Richard Powell is in the hot seat for the latest in our series of interviews
Name Richard Powell
Occupation Breeder and owner/manager of Haras du Lieu des Champs
How and when did you become involved in racing? My father built the farm in 1980. I had been travelling a lot before that, working in the UK, Ireland, the US and Australia in stud farms and for trainers.
Who has been the greatest influence on your career? My old man. He gives very good advice and has given me a lot of support. His clients have also been very helpful.
What aspect of your job do you most enjoy? Spending time with the horses. When you are following a mare, and you're the first one to see that foal that may go on to be a Derby winner, it’s a fabulous time. When you are feeding the horses at six in the morning and the sun is coming up, you feel like you’re the only one to enjoy that moment.
And least enjoy? If something is wrong with the mare and you have to pass on that information to the client. No one likes to give bad news. You want to have your horses healthy and your clients happy.
Best days in the business? Milord Thomas winning the Grand Steeplechase de Paris and Blue Dragon winning the Prix Renaud du Vivier were special moments. Also Kick On when he won the Anjou Loire Cross Country Challenge at Lion D’Angers, that was a great day.
If you intended to spend £1,000,000 on a yearling / £300,000 on a store, whose opinion would you seek? And who would you want to train and ride it? I would like a trainer that would give them time to develop, and has experience with the family and sire’s stock. If I had a Galileo, I would send him to Aidan O’Brien. On the Flat I would use Frankie Dettori and Olivier Peslier. Someone like Ruby Walsh or Jacques Ricou over jumps.
If you could have owned any broodmare, past or present, who would it have been? Urban Sea, she's one of those mares that's changed the world a bit. I'm very lucky as I have two great broodmares in Nathalie Blue, the dam of Blue Dragon and Latran, the dam of Laterano, Land Baron and La Garde Royale.
Who do you most admire in bloodstock? I have a lot of admiration for Juddmonte and the Aga Khan Studs, and he quality of the stock and the professionalism of the staff working there. Vincent O’Brien was a visionary. He has really changed the face of European bloodstock.
What would you like to see change in the industry? I would like to see a level playing field across Europe, whether it’s the rules of racing and bloodstock or taxation, like they have in the US, so everyone has a chance.
What has changed most during your time working in the bloodstock industry? The quality of stallions in France has really improved a lot in recent years as some big players have stood very good stallions over here. Beforehand, the quality mares were going to Britain or Ireland, now we're importing quality mares to be covered.
What is your ambition? I'm trying to breed good racehorses, whether it's for the Flat or for the jumps. My target is to get the best out of my clients’ stock.
Advice for someone hoping to get into the industry? You need faith and passion. Horses are dream machines, and you have to keep the passion alive. If you are not passionate about your horses, there is no point breeding.
If you could only breed to one stallion who would it be? If I wanted a good jumper I could go to Galileo, so I would use him for both codes!
Which young French stallions should the rest of Europe be taking note of? Le Havre and Siyouni, both of them are after breeding Group 1 winners and their stud fees have risen up like crazy. They're proof we can stand really good quality stallions here in Normandy.
Which graduate of Lieu des Champs are you most looking forward to seeing hit the racecourse? I'm looking forward to seeing all of them running. For me, all the horses are the same, and you do your best with each of them. You put everything into getting them ready to run. It's interesting to see what you’ve got.