While there’s always plenty of focus on the first-crop sires’ table at this time of year, arguably every bit as important is the progress of the second-crop stallions, whose first offspring are now, hopefully, engaged in Classic campaigns.
Despite a purple patch of late for the progeny of Sea The Stars, his French counterpart Le Havre had the edge on him in the table even before Avenir Certain became the first Classic winner for the Haras de la Cauvinière resident in Sunday’s Poule d’Essai des Pouliches.
This momentous success at Longchamp, finally declared valid after an agonisingly lengthy stewards’ enquiry, will have delighted the team at La Cauvinière apart from just being a notable feather in the cap of their young sire, as Elisabeth Vidal, who runs the farm with her husband Sylvain, is the breeder of Avenir Certain.
Out of the Mark Of Esteem mare Puggy – the second stakes winner last weekend for Mark Of Esteem as a broodmare sire following Honor Bound’s Lingfield Oaks Trial success – Avenir Certain hails from the family of dual Coronation Cup winner Warrsan, whose half-sister Lunda is this filly’s great grandam.
Fittingly, Avenir Certain was prepared for sale as a yearling by Anna Drion of the Coulonces Consignment, who, in partnership with her parents Jan and Maja Sundstrom, bred Le Havre. He too was sold as a yearling – for €100,000 – while his daughter, presented at Arqana five years later, fetched €45,000, both horses being knocked down to their subsequent trainer, Jean-Claude Rouget.
Le Havre, winner of the Prix du Jockey-Club for Gérard Augustin-Normand, who co-owns Avenir Certain with Antonio Caro, is now out in front in the second-season sires’ table by quite a wide margin. Though he and Sea The Stars are neck and neck on 15 winners apiece, Le Havre’s prize-money tally stands at £570,024, almost £250,000 clear of his rival. But with Sea The Stars’ troops including the Classic-aimed duo of My Titania and Taghrooda, to name but two, and with last season’s leading freshman Mastercraftsman breathing down the necks of the leaders with 13 winners to his credit, the title race is far from over.