Wings Of Eagles answered prayers for dam's daring next cover
Derby winner's breeders had meanwhile gone for broke on Kingman
There is an ease between two people who have known one another more than half a lifetime – and only more so, when they have shared their professional as well as their private lives.
Aliette and Gilles Forien speak in elided sentences, one seamlessly completing the thoughts of the other. It is doubtful, mind you, that either was able to say much when Wings Of Eagles glided down the outside of the Derby field earlier this summer and inscribed the name Haras de Montaigu in the history books, responsible for the first winner of the premier Classic bred in France since Sea-Bird.
A mirror of the late progress made by his sire Pour Moi in the same race six years earlier, Wings Of Eagles was granting the ultimate prize to a Montaigu family shot through with quality.
Out of the Kendor mare Ysoldina, Wings Of Eagles was unable to build on his Classic success when injury intervened at the Curragh three weeks later.
"We sat and watched the replay of Epsom again yesterday and it is something we will never forget," says Aliette. "Of course, it is a shame he was injured but even in the Irish Derby he showed that acceleration."
Gilles picks up: "He really came there to win his race until 100 metres from the line. Was that the moment he felt something ? He didn't quite go through with his effort but generally in his races, he always fought to the end."
Wings Of Eagles did not make his debut until last July at Galway – by which time Ysoldina had already delivered a filly foal by Kingman, a match that may prove inspired in light of big brother's subsequent heroics.
Kingman will always hold a special place in French hearts, his valedictory performance in the Prix Jacques le Marois a form of compensation for his owner Khalid Abdullah never having ventured across La Manche with Frankel.
"Kingman was an absolutely top class racehorse, a real crack," says Aliette.
"He really left an impression on us. He had such devastating acceleration, that’s the first thing..." says Gilles.
"And then there is his build," adds Aliette. "He is quite racy and was built for speed. The dam, Ysoldina, is a strapping big mare. It doesn't work every time but we have always tried to mate her with stallions that might give her that bit of chic, a bit of refinement."
John Gosden will be gratified that three days of prodding the sodden Deauville turf with his walking stick that year earned at least one client for Juddmonte.
"For us it was a pretty expensive cover," admits Gilles. "But worth it for such a fantastic horse..."
"It has been such a fantastic family for us, they have all given us so much pleasure," says Aliette. "So we said we should break the piggy bank to get her the best we could."
Time after time, breakthrough triumphs turn out to follow a subsequent cover that might not have set the sales ring alight.
No such problem exists in this instance, plainly – but will but will buyers like what they see when Lot 101 enters the ring on Sunday evening?
"The filly has never given us the slightest problem and she has does everything so easily," says Aliette. "She is very calm yet retains a bit of that spirit the whole family has. We lunged her once or twice and it was obvious she had bundles of energy, though with a very easy manner about her."
Of her dam, Gilles – whose other roles down the years have included the foundation of FIPS Agency, and racing manager for the Marquesa de Moratella – says: "Our policy is generally to keep the fillies and race them before their broodmare careers. Ysoldina was with Alain de Royer-Dupre and unfortunately came up against Divine Proportions twice, once in the Prix de la Grotte and again in the Poule d'Essai, finishing second and third. We kept a daughter and a sister."
Asked why it was decided to sell this filly, Aliette is almost musing out aloud as much as giving an answer: "We said we'd sell – and then her brother won the Derby! She has been well covered, so on we go. But her mother is in foal to Siyouni. And I can promise you that if she delivers a filly, she won't be for sale."