'We always thought Siyouni's qualities would suit Australian racing well'
The Aga Khan Studs man tells us about the stallion gaining worldwide fame
Siyouni has caused quite the stir in Australia - and confirmed what we already knew in Europe, that he is an outstanding young sire - by supplying the recent Group 2 Todman Stakes winner Aylmerton.
The only two-year-old by his sire down under, he is among the leading hopefuls for the prestigious Golden Slipper at Rosehill on Saturday, leading Coolmore to purchase a stake in the colt this earlier this week.
Aylmerton was bred by Woodpark Stud, a boutique nursery in New South Wales managed by Frenchman Jean Dubois, who also trains the colt. The farm bought his dam Aloona, a winning daughter of Smart Strike from the prolific family of Arcangues and Aquarelliste, carrying their new star after she had been covered by Siyouni to southern hemisphere time.
Local breeders are now casting longing looks at Siyouni, especially as he has the sort of power-packed physique so in demand in Australia and is a son of Pivotal out of a mare by the hallowed Danehill.
We spoke to Georges Rimaud who, as manager of the Aga Khan Studs in France has overseen Siyouni's stallion career since he was retired to Haras de Bonneval in Normandy in 2011, about the sire's southern-hemisphere exploits but also about a big year ahead in the north both on the track and in the breeding shed.
The Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere winner's European three-year-old squadron includes Fillies' Mile heroine Laurens, the exciting unbeaten Prix Thomas Bryon winner Sacred Life and Sully. The latter, a dual Classic entry, won her second mile Listed contest on Thursday and her sire is set to cover a glittering book at a career-high fee of €75,000.
Can you tell us how many mares Siyouni has covered to southern hemisphere time in previous years? Have there been any Aga Khan Studs mares among them?
Siyouni covered a couple of mares each year to southern hemisphere time from 2014 to 2016. Following the three Group 1 victories of Ervedya, including in the Coronation Stakes at Royal Ascot, and the outstanding performances of two-year-olds Laurens and Sacred Life last year, the number of mares Siyouni covered in the second half of 2017 rose to 12. They included a couple of Aga Khan mares - Minamya, who is from the family of Manighar, a triple Group 1 winner in Australia, and Garaliya, who is from the family of Vadawina and Vazira.
Since Aylmerton have you had a surge in interest for applications to use Siyouni to southern hemisphere time? Is it out of the question that he would shuttle to Australia?
Aylmerton's successes have certainly raised awareness of Siyouni in Australia, where he was flying under the radar up until now. This has prompted a lot of interest from the Australian industry, but it is still early days and with Siyouni being very busy during the northern hemisphere season the option of shuttling him would have to be thought over very carefully.
It may be less risky to have mares covered in France to southern hemisphere time and ship them over, which is something we’ve started doing ourselves.
What attributes do you think Siyouni has that make him so popular in Australia?
We always thought Siyouni’s qualities would suit the Australian type of racing very well. He is a stallion who passes on precocity and speed to his progeny, as illustrated by Aylmerton, but also Laurens, Sacred Life and Ervedya before him in Europe.
Even physically, he produces powerful horses just like himself, who are muscular and have good bone, which the Australian market is usually looking for.
The Aga Khan Studs has partnered with Arrowfield Stud in sending mares to its stallions, and in shuttling Redoute's Choice to Bonneval. Are there any further plans to get involved in southern hemisphere breeding? Do you think we will see another successful Australian stallion shuttle to Bonneval?
Anything can happen. We’re very open to opportunities and will consider any reasonable proposition. Because of the recent success of the French-based stallions, we have seen a large number of breeders from Ireland and the UK sending their mares to France to breed and this may attract even more stallions, including shuttlers.
With Redoute's Choice's oldest crop bred at Bonneval now aged four, what is your evaluation of how well he has done in Europe?
Redoute’s Choice has had decent results here in Europe, although they haven't quite yet reached the level of success he is enjoying in Australia. Notable performers have included Gold Luck, a Group 3 winner and Group 1-placed half-sister to Goldikova, or recent stakes winner Spotify, who seems to be progressing and could be one to follow this year. He also had an impressive first-time-out winner at Chantilly this week with Rashke. We ourselves have some quality three-year-olds by Redoute's Choice in training and it will be an interesting season for his progeny.
It has been noticeable from mating plans published in the Racing Post this year that many of the top breeders are sending Siyouni some very good mares. Can you tell us any owned by the Aga Khan Studs who will visit him?
We will send 16 Aga Khan mares to Siyouni this year. They include Group 1 winner Dolniya and her dam Daltama; young Group 1-placed mares Candarliya and Rehana; Zarshana, a Group 2-placed sister to Zarkava who has an outstanding yearling filly by Siyouni herself and so on. He is a very interesting stallion for us to use as he is now highly proven and brings speed and precocity to some of our families, which can tend to produce late bloomers.
Charm Spirit, who is standing at Bonneval this year, has his first two-year-olds this year. What is your opinion of the ones you have seen, and are there any owned by the Aga Khan that we should look out for?
We have two two-year-olds by Charm Spirit - a half-brother to Group 2 winner Kesampour and a son of dual Group winner Shemima. They are nice horses and at this early stage are very pleasing. Charm Spirit has two-year-olds in training with Freddy Head, Karl Burke, Mikel Delzangles, Andre Fabre, Richard Hannon, Jean-Claude Rouget, Roger Varian and so on. His book is filling up well, which may be due to the good words we’re hearing from stables around Europe. Time will tell, but it sounds very promising.
How are Dariyan and Zarak, the other stallions at Bonneval, doing?
Dariyan has his first foals on the ground this year and the ones I've seen have impressed me very much with their strength, development and bone. He covered a first book of quality mares which featured 87 per cent black-type performers and daughters of, dams of, or sisters to black-type performers, which I believe is important to give a stallion a good start to his career.
He covered a large enough book to give him plenty of opportunities to have success on the racecourse. Based on the first impressions his foals have given me, we are very confident.
Zarak’s new career is a success so far. He was very well syndicated among solid breeders who are supporting him. He is fully booked with 140 mares to cover, and they include Group 1 winner Shareta and the dams of Rosanara and Vazirabad among the Aga Khan mares we will send him.
He has adapted to his new career very well, he has a great temperament and has just had his tenth mare scanned in foal. The future is in front of him and we couldn’t be happier with the situation.