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Irish Group victory a result to savour

4 min read

Written by Paul Vettise

While it wasn’t a windfall financial result, recent Group success overseas was another source of immense satisfaction for Sydney agent Louis Le Metayer.

The Astute Bloodstock principal purchased Coral Beach (IRE) (Zoffany {IRE}) as a weanling at the Tattersall’s November Sale for 85,000 guineas and on-sold her to MV Magnier for 90,000 guineas as a yearling.

Last weekend, the Aidan O’Brien-trained filly was successful in the G3 Killavullan S., at Leopardstown.

“I consider myself a talent scout and it’s not always about the deal-making.” – Louis Le Metayer.

“I consider myself a talent scout and it’s not always about the deal-making,” Le Metayer said.

“Group horses make up a very small percentage of the horse population and I was thrilled we managed to identify and secure a Group horse.

“I’m from a French family that has got a farm there and I have a strong European connection, even though I’ve been here for 15 years, and I enjoy monitoring the markets in Europe.

“When the dollar goes down I like to go over there and stay engaged and we’ve had come luck with stayers as well.

“Harlem won the G1 Australian Cup and Ventura Storm ran third. We have to take a global view on the industry.” - Louis Le Metayer.

“Harlem won the G1 Australian Cup and Ventura Storm ran third. We have to take a global view on the industry.”

Harlem, pictured here winning the G3 Red Anchor S.

Le Metayer also enjoys introducing his Australian clientele to the European scene.

“I generally arrive in England for Royal Ascot and afterwards organise a tour for clients for four days to Chantilly and stud farms on Normandy, that’s where I grew up,” he said.

“Gai (Waterhouse) said to me once 'you’re French, work on a point of difference' and that struck a chord with me.” – Louis Le Metayer.

“Gai (Waterhouse) said to me once 'you’re French, work on a point of difference' and that struck a chord with me.

“We engage our Australian clients on what’s going on in Europe in the summer and it all ties in really well.”

Melbourne Cup make-up

With his international experience, TDN AusNZ asked Le Metayer for his opinion on the changing face of the G1 Melbourne Cup and the death of high-class Australian stayers.

‘It’s great having an international race, but you can’t have a village mentality,” he said.

“There are two reasons why we can’t breed stayers. The first is that we don’t have the training centres – at Chantilly and Newmarket they work in a straight line and that’s a lot kinder on horses.

“They can walk eight to 10 kilometres every morning and that builds stamina.

“The second problem is programming here. Eight per cent of the races are above 2000 metres and only a third of the Group races are above 2000 metres.” – Louis Le Metayer.

“The second problem is programming here. Eight per cent of the races are above 2000 metres and only a third of the Group races are above 2000 metres.

“In England, Ireland and France around 40 per cent of races are run above 2000m. Considering that European stayers are so dominant here, we obviously need to take a look at how their programming is structured and learn something from it.

“We don’t have enough opportunities to trial over a mile. A High Chaparral horse out of a Zabeel mare is obviously more likely to be a stayer, but they are forced to trial over 800 metres. It’s a real issue.

“We don’t have enough opportunities to trial over a mile.” – Louis Le Metayer.

“Australian trainers tend to start horses over 1200 metres, 1400 metres and 1600 metres and by the time they get over 2000 metres or beyond they’ve had four starts and could be at the end of their preparation.

“We’ve had Galileo, Montjeu and High Chaparral, but they’ve failed to reach the same success as up north. My view is that it is pointless to breed stayers if we don't have a suitable racing program for them to thrive on.

“The reasons we are so weak at producing stayers is we don’t have the training centres and the programming is poor.”

2YO mile racing

Le Metayer is also an advocate of increased distance opportunities for juveniles.

“We need more 2-year-old races over a mile toward the end of the season,” he said.

“We need to build a top program of races for middle distance and staying bred horses to target from the start of their racing careers as 2 and 3-year-olds, rather than running them over distances below a mile which are not suited to their pedigree, conformation and ability.”