Strange to think that two years ago Haras de Beaumont wasn’t even in existence, when it now houses unbeaten Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe hero and Cartier horse of the year Ace Impact and fellow multiple Group 1 winner Sealiway. In no time at all, the Normandy stud has gone from nothing to one of the biggest players in the stallion business.
Much about Haras de Beaumont is not new at all, though. For starters, it is based on 100 hectares of the former Haras du Quesnay, where the Head family stood important stallions such as Green Dancer, Riverman and Anabaa, and bred their outstanding dual Arc winner Treve.
The names behind this swiftly rising force in the industry should be familiar, too. It is owned by Kamel Chehboub, a property mogul from Marseilles who is a longstanding owner and breeder in France, and daughter Pauline, an enthusiastic ambassador for the outfit.
Meanwhile the stud is managed by Mathieu Alex, an Irish National Stud breeding course graduate who became fluent in English during his time selling nominations for Coolmore, and rose to prominence as part of the team that built Le Havre into a successful sire at Haras de la Cauviniere.
The foundations of Haras de Beaumont were laid more than 15 years ago, when Alex and Chehboub snr first met.
“I’ve loved racing since I was a small child, and it was the same for my father, who went to the track with his father when he was young,” says Pauline. “Then he started going racing with friends, and as his business took off he took a leg in some horses with them.
“It started with small shares in horses bought from claimers but then he eventually had a mare called Lavayssiere, who ran a lot of times and won some small races, but became a wonderful broodmare. She produced for him his first really good horse, Spirit One, who was the champion in France at two and won the Arlington Million at four.
“Around the time Spirit One was winning his big races, Mathieu was at Coolmore and got in touch with my father to try to sell him a nomination to Galileo for Lavayssiere. That is really the beginning of the story.”
Between then and now, the Chehboub family gradually increased their involvement in the sport and in the past five or so years professionalised their endeavours and ran them under the Gousserie Racing banner.
They really hit the big time in the past few years with Rougir, a €55,000 Arqana August yearling, winning the Prix de l’Opera and being sold to Peter Brant and Michael Tabor for €3 million, and Sealiway, a €62,000 Deauville yearling buy, taking the Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere at two and running second in the Prix du Jockey Club and taking some notable scalps in the Champion Stakes at three, before his retirement to Haras de Beaumont.
The Chehboub family are good horse people and know the game
Alex meanwhile helped manage the career of Le Havre at Cauviniere, which was later rebranded as Montfort et Preaux and finally became absorbed by Nurlan Bizakov’s Sumbe operation. When the chance arose last year for him to help his old friends the Chehboub family set up their new stud further north Normandy, he relished the challenge.
“I had spent some great years at Montfort et Preaux, and was very proud of what the team had achieved with Le Havre, so when the opportunity came up it was a tough decision,” says Alex. “But the Chehboub family are good horse people and know the game, so I was delighted to join them and start a new chapter at Haras de Beaumont.”
The stud was bought and renovated only just over a year ago, with the Chehboubs’ mares and young stock relocating there from their Haras de la Gousserie in the Loire region and Sealiway retiring there.
The son of Galiway stood there in 2023 alongside Intello, who made the short move from the old Quesnay stallion boxes across the road, and Stunning Spirit, a son of Invincible Spirit who carried the green and yellow Gousserie silks to victory in the Group 3 Prix Quincey.
“The Head family had been trying to sell the whole property for a while, and then it was split up, and we were just lucky that it coincided with looking for our own place in Normandy,” says Pauline. “It was the right moment, and of course it’s good to know you’re buying good land from good breeders who have produced so many great horses there.
“The location is also perfect. We’re only ten minutes away from Arqana in Deauville, and so very easy to visit. I think that helped when we showed Sealiway during last year’s Arqana December Sale, and even more so when he showed himself so brilliantly. We’ll be doing the same during this year’s sale, with a stallion show every morning.”
It was crazy to start off with a champion like him
Sealiway was by far the busiest Flat sire in France this year, covering 166 mares – 26 more than the next best tally, belonging to Persian King.
“It was crazy to start off with a champion like him,” says Pauline. “He really seemed to capture people’s imaginations. We were overwhelmed by the support for the horse and for us at our new stud.”
Alex agrees, adding: “I think people respected the fact he was a very talented performer at two and went to England to win the Champion Stakes, and they see Galiway doing very well. On top of that he’s a very nice looking horse with a great attitude, and people were keen to get behind an exciting new project like Haras de Beaumont.
“I think when people come back and see him again this December they’ll be blown away by how much he’s changed. He’s let down into a very powerful stallion now.”
Sealiway was an outstanding horse but for a few years he is going to have to relinquish his title as Haras de Beaumont’s headline act, as he has just been joined by the exceptional Ace Impact.
The son of Cracksman, who showed a rare turn of foot when slamming Big Rock by three and a half lengths in the Prix du Jockey Club and when swooping to beat Westover by nearly two lengths in the Arc, arrived on the farm from trainer Jean-Claude Rouget’s base in Deauville in mid-November to a grand reception attended by everyone who had played a significant role in his career, and around 20 members of the press.
“We’re just getting to know him since he arrived on the farm, but he seems like a very laid-back horse,” says Alex. “You worry that such a dominant colt might be tricky, but that’s not the case. We left him at Rouget’s for a few weeks in order for him to keep his routine, as we felt it would be beneficial.
“We’ve only had him a few days and it feels like he’s been here for months, but we’re very strict with our routines here. It helps the horse know what’s expected and calms them, I think.”
Ace Impact is owned in half shares by Gousserie Racing and his original owner Serge Stempniak, with the Chehboub family having bought into him after his phenomenal win in the Prix du Jockey Club in June.
Racing fans’ loss is breeders’ gain
“His performance in the Jockey Club was extraordinary,” says Pauline. “A lot of horses win Group 1 races impressively, but his turn of foot that day was incredible; something out of this world.
“My father contacted Mr Stempniak after that race. They have a lot in common, and think the same way about a lot of things in racing and breeding. Both were really keen to keep the horse in France when he retired. That was an important part of the deal for us to buy into him.”
Ace Impact alternated between Stempniak’s and Gousserie’s silks for his last two races: the Prix Guillaume d’Ornano, which he won cosily, and the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, in which he made jaws drop.
“Simply superb,” says Pauline, thinking back to the first Sunday in October.
“The thing I enjoyed most was people coming up to us to thank us, saying we came to see a champion, and we saw one,” adds Alex. “The way he won put him up there with the likes of Peintre Celebre and Zarkava. The fact he retires unbeaten makes it even more special.”
Ace Impact was being considered for the Japan Cup but connections decided to retire him instead. Racing fans’ loss is breeders’ gain.
“It wasn’t an easy decision,” says Pauline. “We love competition, and we did think long and hard about racing him for one more season, but he was on the go from January and won six times, and confirmed himself a true champion. I know some people will be disappointed, but the risk of such a special horse racing on and getting injured wasn’t worth taking.
“We also had breeders in France and all around the world, including Japan, already asking to book nominations, so it made sense to bring him to stud.”
The Haras de Beaumont team predict that they will support Ace Impact with 15 of their own mares in his first season next year, and will be shopping at the major breeding-stock sales this winter to find some new blood. The number might have been more, but they are not abandoning Sealiway while he is still at a crucial early stage in his stallion career.
Racing fans might be sad not to witness Ace Impact on the track again, but they will certainly see and hear more of him. Haras de Beaumont and Gousserie Racing have a strong social media presence and are generous in sharing their horses with the public.
Pauline, who has become the face of the operation and is instrumental in pushing it to the forefront, says: “It’s very important for us to share these beautiful animals with people. We love the horses, and we love the sport, and we want more people to feel like that.
“Racing fans and bettors help fund the sport, they are the foundation of it all, so it’s our duty to share the horses with them. Like any hero in any sport, it’s only right that there is public access through photos and videos.
“I enjoy that side of things, whereas my father is not always very comfortable speaking in public, so we complement each other well.”
Haras de Beaumont has the right horses, and certainly the right attitude, to succeed in the future. It makes you wonder, if it has come this far in the space of just over a year, where will it be in a few more seasons?
“We want a whole football team of stallions,” says Pauline, laughing. “No, we are very clear where we are going. We only want to stand high-level horses; horses we believe in, and would send mares to ourselves.”
‘We put our heart and souls into it’
The retirement of Ace Impact and Sealiway to Haras de Beaumont in the space of two seasons is part of a wider influx of high-class new stallions in Normandy in recent years, thanks in large part to leading owners deciding to make their headquarters in the centre of French thoroughbred breeding.
Nurlan Bizakov’s Sumbe, whose stallions are based at Montfort et Preaux, launches three Group 1-winning colts onto the market next year.
Mishriff, a three-time Group 1 winner by Makfi, was ready to go for the 2023 breeding season but ruled himself out after kicking the wall of his box and fracturing his pedal bone. He is back to full fitness and raring to go.
Newly retired are Belbek, Sumbe’s homebred son of Showcasing from the influential Hasili family who won the Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere at two and the Prix Perth on his last start at three, and Angel Bleu, a son of Dark Angel out of a Galileo sister to Highland Reel who also won the Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere as well as the Criterium International as a juvenile.
“You have to keep trying to find that stallion that suddenly clicks,” says Sumbe general manager Tony Fry. “Mishriff is being treated as a new sire because of his accident and since he’s fully recovered, everybody who’s seen him has said ‘wow, he’s a fantastic looking horse’.
“Belbek is a lovely, kind horse who was our first homebred Group 1 winner and so he’ll always have a special place in my heart and Nurlan’s heart. I know that might sound sentimental but that’s the reason we do it.
‘There aren’t many horses who win the two Group 1s at two that he did’
“We went to see Angel Bleu as a two-year-old and three-year-old, and we finally managed to buy him as a four-year-old. He’s really grown and strengthened since the first time we saw him. There aren’t many horses who win the two Group 1s at two that he did. He was classy and very tough, racing 18 times, and we’re chuffed to have him.”
Fry says all three horses will receive the same strong home support that its first recruit, Commonwealth Cup hero Golden Horde, has benefited from.
“It’s the same story, we’ll be sending our own mares to them,” he adds. “I can’t ask outside breeders to bring us their mares if we don’t ourselves. You can’t just talk the talk, you’ve got to walk the walk.
“We sent Golden Horde lots of nice mares, and we’re giving the resultant progeny to Andre Fabre, Jean-Claude Rouget, Christopher Head and Jereome Reynier. If he fails, it certainly won’t have been for the lack of trying. We put our heart and souls into it for everybody’s sake.”
Golden Horde’s first crop of yearlings became a bit of a talking point at this year’s sales, with many buyers seeming to have a sneaking regard for them.
“We’ve got 18 yearlings by the sire going into training,” says Fry. “The interesting thing is that Monsieur Rouget came to look at all of our yearlings by a variety of sires, to pick five that he would train, and he ended up taking four Golden Hordes out of the batch.”
Regarding the surge of new blood in the Normandy stallion ranks, Fry adds: “It makes the job challenging, as all the studs are fighting over the same mares, but I can see the number of mares coming here growing again as British breeders get more and more fed up with prize-money and other things and looking to breed French-breds instead.”
Strength in depth
Al Shaqab Racing’s stallion hub at Haras de Bouquetot is putting up strong competition in the exciting young stallion stakes.
It has just retired Lusail, a son of commercial sensation Mehmas who was a dual Group 2 winner at two and beaten a head into second by Coroebus in the St James’s Palace Stakes at three, while Thunder Moon, a National Stakes winner by Zoffany was new this year.
Armor, a sharp son of No Nay Never, had first foals in 2023 and Group 1 winners Romanised and Wooded were represented by their first yearlings this year. There are nine stallions on the roster in total.
“Lusail is well priced at €6,000 as he is what the market is looking for: a fast, early two-year-old who trained on well,” says Al Shaqab Racing’s Sebastien Desmontils. “He is very similar to Mehmas in terms of pedigree and racing performance, except this guy stayed in training, and did well at three as well. He’s not overly big but he’s a very strong type.
“Armor was only two when he came here and was still developing, so it took a bit of imagination for breeders in his first year. But now he’s let down into a lovely specimen. He’s really attractive, and covered a lot more mares in his second season than the first crop, when he was steady.
‘He’s been a bit of a talking horse because every breeder who used him in that first year came back because they loved the foals’
“He’s been a bit of a talking horse because every breeder who used him in that first year came back because they loved the foals, and then all their neighbours and friends saw what they had and they came as well, so word spread that he was getting nice types – very strong, deep-bodied horses. He will have to do it the hard way, though, because of that small first crop.”
Romanised, a rare stallion son of Holy Roman Emperor, is best remembered for his victories in the Irish 2,000 Guineas and Prix Jacques Le Marois, while Wooded, a Wootton Bassett full-brother to this year’s Phoenix Stakes winner Bucanero Fuerte, won the Prix de l’Abbaye.
“Romanised isn’t by the sexiest sire but this is what France has done for the last decade,” points out Desmontils. “Wootton Bassett is by Iffraaj, Le Havre is by Noverre, Siyouni is by Pivotal, who wasn’t regarded as a sire of sires before him, so we wouldn’t be too worried about that.
“What people recognise in Romanised is he was a tough, sound horse and also very precocious, winning first time and not being beaten far in the Coventry. He’s been covering good books and producing nice looking stock that has been well received at sales. He has every chance.
“Wooded is a big horse, and gets them big, and the market has been a little cautious with his yearlings. They’re perhaps not everybody’s cup of tea. But if they are as good as he was at two, and they can use themselves as well I think they will, the sales figures might just change a lot next year.
‘We have a lot of youngsters with different profiles, but this is a numbers game to a degree and we will eventually get a very good stallion out of all the ones we’re bringing in’
“Blue Point was in a similar boat. He was also a big horse and a sprinter, and buyers stood off his first offspring at the sales a little, but now it’s hard to buy one by him. I suspect it could be the same with Wooded.”
Reflecting on the Al Shaqab stallion project at Bouquetot, Desmontils adds: “We have a lot of youngsters with different profiles, but this is a numbers game to a degree and we will eventually get a very good stallion out of all the ones we’re bringing in.
“The team has been reinvigorated by Al Shaqab being strong in the market this year, supporting not just our own stallions, but tbreeders all around the world by investing a lot in yearlings. It feels like a positive time.”
The same could be said for Normandy as a whole, even after the sale of Wootton Bassett to Coolmore and the early death of Le Havre.
Siyouni still reigns at Haras de Bonneval, alongside the young pretender Zarak, and they are joined by Prix du Jockey Club and Eclipse hero Vadeni and the brilliantly well bred Group 2 winner Erevann, by Dubawi out of Ervedya, next year.
Haras d’Etreham’s Group 1-winning pair Hello Youmzain and Persian King have been well supported and have first two-year-old runners next year, and the stud launches another top-flight winner’s second career in 2024, with the retirement of Frankel’s Grand Prix de Paris-winning son Onesto.
Haras de Colleville continues to punch above its weight, housing stalwart Kendargent and the widely respected Galiway, as well as the proven Goken and promising Soft Light.