TDN Weekend

February 2017

TDN Weekend December 2016 Issue 9

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Page 39 of 75

than Shamardal, a faster time than Lope De Vega. He broke the track record in the Prix Djebel, over seven. So you can't say it's a mistake. Ten years ago there were no stallions here. Now people are sending their mares from abroad to France. Every- one talks about all these commercial stal- lions but it's difficult to win the races that everyone most wants to win – a Derby, a Diane, an Arc – with one of those. Galil- eo is 19. Dubawi is private. This game can change very quickly." To a degree, of course, these things are cyclical. Lest we forget, Pharos was standing in Normandy when he sired Nearco, grandsire of North- ern Dancer. By the same token, the annals show that a renewal based in local soil, climate and lore has every right to prove sustainable. In another life, de Chambure would have liked to make wine – and he feels that raising thoroughbreds relies on a corresponding sense of Nature's rhythms. "We are a bit like vignerons, in what we do," he says. "I feel that if you respect the land, if you give it time to recover, man- age it a naturally as possible, you will be rewarded over time. Every crop can be different because of decisions you have made; but also because of things you can't do anything about. You can only control so much. "Taking over Etreham was a great hon- our – and a great responsibility, a great challenge. When people who have gone before you have done so well, you have to match them or even do better if you can. And of course it can be hard to get peo- ple to change their habits. Sometimes that can even make it a bit more diffi- cult than starting from scratch. I still had things to learn. But I had also de- veloped ideas of my own, and was keen to put them in place. We needed to reinvest, needed to be a bit more forward-looking. So the timing was probably right. "People are always keen to bring the leader down. That's fair, that's healthy. But the staff were used to winning the top prizes, breeding Group horses every year. And it wasn't happening any more. It was hard to make everyone realise that we could be there again, that there was a real will in the family to try hard and get back. We have 25 staff living on the farm, with their families. So it's great to see the smiles back on everyone's face. What has happened means a lot to all of us." "Ten years ago there were no stallions here. Now people are sending their mares from abroad to France." –Mathieu Alex 40

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