By The Numbers

French connection strengthens with Huetor’s Doomben double

Huetor’s history-making win in Saturday’s Doomben Cup puts the performance and influence of French-bred horses on Australian thoroughbred racing in the spotlight.

Huetor’s (Archipenko) racing life has taken him from the bucolic surrounds of the Chantilly yard of Carlos Laffon-Parias to the hustle and bustle of Peter and Paul Snowden’s Randwick operation.

A career that began at Saint-Cloud in November 2019, and toasted its first win at famous Longchamp almost a year later, reached a whole new level half a world away in Brisbane on Saturday when the French-bred son of Archipenko (Kingmambo) claimed a second straight Doomben Cup (Gr 1, 2000m).

In doing so, Huetor, purchased privately from France by Will Johnson Bloodstock and Team Snowden’s Colum McCullagh, became just the fourth French-bred horse to win multiple Group 1 races in Australia. joining a select list that also includes Dunaden (Nicobar), Gailo Chop (Deportivo) and Manighar (Linamix).

It continues a remarkable season for those sporting the (FR) suffix in Australia, following on from the Melbourne Cup (Gr 1, 3200m) win of Gold Trip (Outstrip) and the victory of Arapaho (Lope De Vega) in the Tancred Stakes (Gr 1, 2400m).

In total, French-bred horses have won ten stakes races in Australia this campaign, their equal most successful season, level with 2017/18 and 2014/15.

Along with the trio mentioned above, the list of Australian stakes winners this season bred in France also includes Desert Icon (Sea The Stars), Protagonist (Wootton Bassett), Timour (Gleneagles), Visinari (Dark Angel) and Zeyrek (Sea The Stars).

French-bred Group 1 winners in Australia (since 2000)

Horse G1 wins
Huetor  2023 Doomben Cup, 2022 Doomben Cup
Arapaho  2023 Tancred Stakes
Gold Trip  2022 Melbourne Cup
Gailo Chop  2018 Ranvet Stakes, 2017 Caulfield Stakes, 2015 Mackinnon Stakes
He’s Your Man  2015 Epsom Handicap
Pornichet  2015 Doomben Cup
Dunaden  2012 Caulfield Cup, 2011 Melbourne Cup
Manighar  2012 Tancred Stakes, 2012 Ranvet Stakes, 2012 Australian Cup

 Huetor’s latest success takes the number of Australian stakes races won by French-bred horses since Dunaden’s breakthrough 2011 Melbourne Cup victory to 76, representing a quite remarkable uptick from the first decade of this century where there was just one French-bred stakes winner in ten years.

However, that victory of OTI-owned Hugs Dancer (Cadeaux Genereux) for trainer Tony McEvoy in the 2004 running of the Craiglee Stakes (Gr 2, 1600m) was a significant pointer to the future.

OTI’s Terry Henderson would lead the way in importing French-bred horses to Australia, based on a belief that the racing style, and in particular, the flatter tracks of France would provide a better proving ground for stayers targeting Australian riches than the more undulating tracks of Great Britain and Ireland.

It was a strategy that took some time to bear fruit, but a decade later the OTI colours would be carried to victory in elite Australian races by French-bred multiple Group 1 winners Manighar and Gailo Chop.

Stakes wins by French-bred horses in Australia by season (since 2012/13)

Season Stakes wins G1 wins
2022/23 10 3
2021/22 7 1
2020/21 7 0
2019/20 4 0
2018/19 6 0
2017/18 10 2
2016/17 2 0
2015/16 6 1
2014/15 10 2
2013/14 6 0
2012/13 2 1
2011/12 6 4

 What proved a transformational point for Australian perspectives on French staying credentials was the victory of American-bred, but French-trained Melbourne Cup winner Americain (Dynaformer) in 2010, and French-bred-and-trained Dunaden’s success in the same race the following year.

A look at the number of imports into Australia in the years prior and after those successes tells a clear story of Australian owners and trainers’ sudden French love affair. The first decade of the century, before Americain’s win, saw an average of 6.6 thoroughbreds a year imported to Australia from France.

In the past decade, that annual average has surged to 57.8, a near ten-fold increase, including a peak of 92 in 2013/14.

What followed that peak was a surge in French-bred Australian stakes winners the following season. Pornichet (Vespone) and He’s Your Man (Cape Cross) won a trio of stakes races in 2014/15, including their respective successes in the Doomben Cup and Epsom Handicap (Gr 1, 1600m).

The seasonal tally of ten stakes wins from French-bred horses was repeated again three seasons later, with a significant contribution from Gailo Chop, whose five stakes victories in 2017/18 included wins in the Caulfield Stakes (Gr 1, 2000m) and Ranvet Stakes (Gr 1, 2000m).

An analysis of these French stakes winners reveals a clear profile of horses proficient at distances of 2000 metres and further. Indeed, of the ten stakes wins by French-bred horses in Australia this season, nine of them have been in that distance range.

The burgeoning French influence is reflective of how thoroughbred racing has become much more global over the past decade.

This reflects in the stallion ranks as well. Siyouni (Pivotal) may have never travelled to Australia but had his first Australian Group 1 winner through his prodigiously talented daughter Amelia’s Jewel, who was conceived in France but foaled here.

Cambridge Stud’s French-bred shuttler Almanzor (Wootton Bassett) also secured his first Australian Group 1 winner this season thanks to the victory of his first-crop son Manzoice in the Victoria Derby (Gr 1, 2500m). Almanzor is one of four French-bred stallions active in New Zealand, joined by Cambridge barn-mate Hello Youmzain (Kodiac), Rich Hill’s Vadamos (Monsun) and Brighthill’s Dalghar (Anabaa).   

In Australia, Siyouni’s French-bred son St Mark’s Basilica debuted with a book of 159 mares at Coolmore Australia last season. The other French-bred sire on an Australian roster is Spiritjim (Galileo) at White Gum Park in WA.

French-bred stallions have a long history of success in Australia and a look back across stakes results since 2000 reveals 13 individual stallions with the (FR) suffix who have produced Australian black-type winners.

Among that list is Dolphin Street (Bluebird), who stood in Victoria and produced 13 Australian stakes winners in total including Group 1 winners Spinning Hill, Miss Potential and Road To Success, as well as Arrowfield Stud’s shuttling pioneer Kenmare (Kalamoun), who sired four elite Australian winners and has proven highly influential as a broodmare sire.

French-bred sires by Australian stakes winners since 2000

Sire Stakes winners Stakes wins
Metal Storm 22 47
Dolphin Street*  7 23
Siyouni  4 10
Equiano  3 4
Lawman  2 5
Kenmare* 2 5
Val Royal 2 4
Hernando * 2 3
Johann Quatz* 2 3
Helissio 1 5
Linamix*  1 4
Almanzor  1 1
My Risk  1 1

* part-career record (pre-2000 not included)

The fascination with French bloodlines goes back much further and is highlighted by Seventh Hussar (Queen’s Hussar), who stood at the Flynn family’s Oakleigh Stud in the Widden Valley and then Jacaranda Stud in the 1970s and 1980s.

Seventh Hussar sired four elite Australian winners, among them the champion filly Denise’s Joy, who would become one of the most influential Australian broodmares of the 20th century.  He is also the broodmare sire of another seven Group 1 winners, among them successful stallion Rubiton (Century).

Seventh Hussar’s legacy remains strong and was again to the fore on Saturday with the win of Royal Merchant in The Goodwood (Gr 1, 1200m).

Royal Merchant is out of Seventhchic (Seventh Reason), whose name is ultimately owed to Seventh Hussar, who features on the sixth line of The Goodwood winning-filly’s pedigree.

Royal Merchant’s broodmare sire Seventh Reason (Sadler’s Wells) is a great-grandson of Denise’s Joy who cost $2 million at the 2007 Magic Millions Gold Coast Sale. He had a modest racetrack career featuring just two wins, but as a rare Australian-bred son of Sadler’s Wells (Northern Dancer) from such a prodigious female family, he was afforded a home at stud, initially at Secret Hill Farms in Queensland.

Seventhchic, one of four winners by the stallion, was from his first crop, bred by Michael and Helen Keegan, who were shareholders in Seventh Reason. As a broodmare sire, Seventh Reason has had just two winners, with one, the Edinburgh Park-bred Royal Merchant, now a Group 1 winner.

It’s also worth noting that French-bred broodmares have had plenty of success in Australia and are also becoming increasingly popular, with 23 imported into Australia over the past two years.

There are four French-bred mares set to sell in the Magic Millions National Broodmare Sale, which starts tomorrow, including Suspicieuse (Elusive City), the dam of Group 2 winner and Kitchwin Hills sire Dubious (Not A Single Doubt).

There are a further nine broodmares/race fillies by French-bred sires, another two themselves out of French-bred mares and 16 in foal to one French-bred sire, St Mark’s Basilica.