French classic trials: Brametot, Senga and Soleil Marin

Chantilly’s Easter Sunday card featured a trio of Group 3 contests for three-year-olds which could have a bearing on the French classics later in the season. The Prix de Fontainebleau for colts and Prix de la Grotte for fillies, both over a mile, are the main trials for the two French Guineas, the Poule d’Essai des Poulains/Pouliches, run at Deauville in May, while the Prix Noailles, over an extended mile and a quarter, is run over the same course and distance as the Prix du Jockey Club in June. All three races threw up winners with interesting pedigrees for different reasons and a few common threads.

The Prix de Fontainebleau was won by Brametot, a relatively inexpensive foal purchase (€26,000) at Deauville although out of a winning half-sister to Monsun. Already a listed winner at two, Brametot was continuing a remarkable record in the Fontainebleau for his sire-line as it’s a race that had also been won by his sire, grandsire and great grandsire. Brametot comes from the first crop of the Aga Khan-bred 2010 Fontainebleau winner Rajsaman who caused an upset on that occasion as he was only meant to be a pacemaker for his owner’s other runner Siyouni. Rajsaman finished well held in the Poulains next time which was won by the Fontainebleau third Lope de Vega (who went on to win the Prix du Jockey Club as well), another from that year’s Fontainebleau to become a very successful sire. Incidentally, Lope de Vega’s Frankel half-sister Lady Frankel finished third in Sunday’s Prix de la Grotte.

Rajsaman came from a Jean-Luc Lagardere family and was by the sire synonymous with that breeder’s success, Linamix, who not only won the 1990 Fontainebleau but followed up in the Poule d’Essai des Poulains. In turn, Linamix was by the 1984 Fontainebleau winner Mendez who finished a close third in the Poulains and gained a Group 1 win back on softer ground later that year in the Prix du Moulin.

Mendez carried the colours of Stavros Niarchos, and the same silks, officially those of ‘Flaxman Stables Ireland Ltd’ nowadays, were carried to success in Sunday’s Prix de la Grotte by the American-bred filly Senga. By Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Blame out of an A P Indy mare, Senga has more of a turf background than that would imply as her grandam Denebola won the 2003 Prix Marcel Boussac. Denebola herself finished third in the Grotte and was out of the 1993 French champion two-year-old filly Coup de Folie (third in the 1000 Guineas) whom we’ve mentioned recently here.

Coincidentally, Senga completed a family double on the Chantilly card, as Denebola’s son Ratiocination* (by Excelebration) made a winning debut in the Prix du Mont Cenis for unraced colts and geldings earlier in the afternoon.

Another coincidence was that the full title of Senga’s race was the Prix de la Grotte – Etalon Kendargent, as the Haras de Colleville stallion received further publicity when his son Soleil Marin won the very next race, the Prix Noailles. Akihiro, a Japanese-bred son of Deep Impact descending from the Wertheimers’ 1981 Arc winner Gold River and trained by Andre Fabre was the hot favourite but stable-companion Soleil Marin (bred by Elisabeth Fabre’s Ecurie Peregrine) got the better of him by a head.

Kendargent failed to win in pattern company himself (he was beaten a head in the Prix Paul de Moussac at Chantilly), but his sire Kendor, like Linamix, was another to complete the Fontainebleau-Poulains double. Kendargent’s dam was also bred by Jean-Luc Lagardere, by Linamix (who else), and out of a sister to the Prix du Jockey Club winner Polytain, a grandson of the Aga Khan’s 1973 Poulains winner Kalamoun, like Kendor.

Kendargent’s success a sire is best illustrated by his stud fee which started out at just €1,000 in 2010 and has risen to €22,000 for the current season. He has yet to sire a Group 1 winner, but it could be only a matter of time as his four-year-old colt Jimmy Two Times (another trained by Fabre) was an impressive winner of the Prix Edmond Blanc at Saint-Cloud earlier in April. Kendargent went close to top-level success in the 2012 Diamond Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot when his daughter Restiadargent nearly ended Black Caviar’s unbeaten record, finishing third just a neck behind head runner-up Moonlight Cloud. Another by Kendargent to go close in a Royal Ascot sprint was Goken who finished third in last year’s King’s Stand Stakes, while 2013 Prix de la Grotte winner Kenhope went on to be runner-up in the Coronation Stakes at the Royal meeting.

Goken, incidentally, is one of several good winners by Kendargent out of mares by the Mill Reef Stakes winner/July Cup third Indian Rocket. Bred on the same cross are the Prix Eclipse winner/Prix de la Foret third Kendam and her listed-winning brother Kenfreeze, and Morando, a €230,000 yearling who won three of his five races last season for Roger Varian.

Kendargent has also had good results out of mares from a very different source, namely Montjeu. Soleil Marin is himself out of a Montjeu mare, as is Restiadargent, along with last year’s Prix de la Grotte runner-up Kenriya and the French listed-placed sprinter Largent du Bonheur – Soleil Marin clearly stays better than others bred on the Kendargent/Montjeu cross. Kendargent is now attracting attention from some bigger names in the bloodstock world, and it was significant that one of Juddmonte’s rare yearling purchases last year was a full sister to Restiadargent, named Tiadargent who was bought for 525,000 guineas at Tattersalls in October.

Tiadargent
This yearling daughter of Kendargent was a 525,000 guinea purchase by Juddmonte at Tattersalls in October 2016 http://www.tattersalls.com

*ratiocination