Jean-Luc Lagardère and 222 Horses

Jean-Luc Lagardère, a well-known French captain of industry, was also a passionate breeder and owner of horses. He had frequent contacts in this area with the Aga Khan, including their work together on the modernisation of the Chantilly racecourse.

Lagardère, was the first President of France Galop, from its creation in 1995 until his death in 2003. Though the Lagardère operation was a family affair, the founder’s son, Arnaud decided to part with the horses, and in 2005 the Aga Khan bought a total of 222 horses, including one stallion (Linamix), 62 mares, 74 horses in training, 42 yearlings and 43 foals. After his earlier purchases, this new addition to the operation of the Aga Khan again solidified and expanded his bloodlines.

For Pat Downes, manager of the Aga Khan’s Irish studs: "The Lagardère purchase, aside from introducing new blood into the operation, has been a real success. This acquisition has been consistent with what His Highness has done traditionally where he has introduced the Dupré and Boussac horses. The crop of three-year-old horses in 2010 is the first where we used the Aga Khan breeding methods with the Lagardère bloodlines, so it will be interesting to see how this crop performs at the races."

Amongst these homebred three-year olds were juvenile Group I winners Rosanara and Siyouni.

Charles-Henri de Moussac (breeder, owner of Haras du Mézeray) states: "When I learned that Arnaud Lagardère did not want to continue, I said that the best investment one could make in breeding today would be to buy the Lagardère operation. He created a very good quality broodmare band. I really believe that it was an excellent decision on the part of the Aga Khan to buy this operation and to marry these bloodlines with his own, just as he did so successfully with the Dupré and Boussac stocks. It is just a little early to fully judge the impact of this purchase but I am sure that in the long term, this is an excellent investment."

Princess Zahra Aga Khan volunteers another point of view: "The purchase of the Lagardère stables was an opportunity to acquire a breeding operation in its entirety that was of very high quality. It was the product of the vision of a wonderful man. To acquire very good quality land, buildings, bloodlines, families that we didn’t have, because they are mostly American blood. It was very interesting to fold these families into ours. It brings in entirely fresh bloodlines. My father often says that is all about trying new things with each family to see what works best. If we can produce a stallion out of the Lagardère stock, he is unrelated to the Aga Khan mares. You hope to get a cross-pollination of strengths. He bred to his stallion – we try to build the families. He had mares that were daughters of Linamix. One of the stallions they really worked with on paper was Sinndar. We have covered the Linamix mares with Sinndar and it has been a huge success. 2010 is the third year that we have winners from this cross. France needed a leading stallion and Lagardère made one."

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