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International Thoroughbred: Jockey-Club winners


January is often the lull before the storm on a stud – everything geared up for the foaling and tracking the maidens and barren mares before they depart to visit stallions of choice in France or Ireland.


I had never before taken part in the Route des Etalons and, with three Prix du Jockey-Club winners all heading to stud in the same year, I took the opportunity to join in this year, not least to check that Mishriff was ready for his delayed first season. 


I decided to go by car, which meant that if I left on the Friday I could call in at Chantilly for evening stables with Monsieur Fabre to see some of the horses that I manage on behalf of Prince Faisal. 


He will be aimed at this spring’s good races, as will a nice Kingman filly called Teeran. 


Hopefully, this will be of use to those readers searching for horses to put in their ten to follow lists!

 

I was armed with an Emovis motorway tag, a must-have when driving alone on French motorways, and luckily then driving was still possible – the farmers hadn’t then started their siege on Paris. 


The only challenge was the freezing weather at -1c, the ice trees and snow either side of the roads. 


I arrived in town at 7pm just in time for a nice meal at Le Drakkar and took an early night so that I could pack in the farms I needed to see, with a visit to Mishriff at Haras de Montfort and Préaux being the first port of call. 


The trail starts at 10am in typically relaxed French style, but after the plentiful Normandy Hotel buffet breakfast, I ventured out to temperatures of -8c! 


However, the hour-drive from Deauville to Monfort was better than expected with nobody on the roads and, having left at 8am, I arrived an hour early! 


Mathieu Le Forestier was first to arrive with Tim Richardson and Tony Fry, who was on crutches having been injured when slipping on ice when gallantly warming up his wife’s car early one morning. 


A marquee, in addition to the permanent offices, with coffees and croissants, was awaiting the visitors and I was looked after really well, and was given a private show to see Mishriff. His box now boasts triple thick padding for the boisterous athlete, an obvious improvement to the already well-lined stallion boxes


I also got to see the treadmill, which was bought to aid his recovery.  


Mishriff has let down into the most wonderful beast. 


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