Paul Basquin | Emma Berry

By Emmanuel Roussel

Paul Basquin has many strings to his bow at Haras de Saubouas in southwest France, the farm where he has been based for almost 20 years. Emmanuel Roussel caught up with the breeze-up consignor, breaker, pre-trainer and National Hunt pinhooker, who has been involved in the formative years of a number of talented individuals, including Dabirsim (Fr) (Hat Trick {Jpn}), Vue Fantastique (Fr) (Motivator {GB}) and Straight Right (Fr) (Siyouni {Fr}).

TDN: What made you choose to set up your organisation so far away from Paris and Normandy, near the Pyrenees, back in 2001?

PB: I was a qualified agricultural engineer with a passion for horseracing, but I had to find a good way to start my own business in that world, since I had absolutely no family link in racing, apart from our visits to Pau racecourse when I was a child. I was born in the Southwest and it seemed like a good spot at the time. The land was cheap and yet very rich, the Southwest was taking off as a training region with Pau horses winning everywhere. La Teste and Royan have thrived too since then. Also, the winter is milder. It allows you to get your horses ready earlier.

Besides, we are in the middle of the Arabian breeding region and even though it wasn’t our first intention, we have grown a lot in the Arabian world, with our horses winning everywhere on a weekly basis. We started simply pre-training horses and consigning them for the sales, but that business alone doesn’t keep you busy all year round. I had all these lush pastures that were not used to develop broodmares and their offspring. A real waste. The land of the Saubouas is very rich, it helps to grow bone and it’s a very good thing to breed jumpers. So we completed our business with that, and I keep the weanlings and yearlings I buy to sell as jumping prospects for at least a full year at home, so that they can take advantage of our land. This is how Let’s Dance (Fr), Abbyssial (Ire), Kalkir (Fr) and Petite Parisienne (Fr)–all graded winners in Britain and Ireland–were treated here. Gradually, we have grown into a multi-purpose facility to satisfy a wide range of services.

TDN: What’s in store at Saubouas for the next breeze-up sales in France?

PB: I have about 10 colts and fillies for the Osarus breeze-up [Apr. 25], and then nine for the Arqana Sale [May 11-12]. In the Osarus lot, we have a very nice, precocious colt by Dabirsim (Fr) who has a lovely action on the gallops, and also a Zoffany (Ire) filly who is pleasing me in her work. As for the Deauville selection, I must say that it’s probably the best group I have ever had because I have increased the quality of the yearlings I bought last year and it shows when you start to work them. The Saubouas has been in operation for almost 20 years now and we are more settled, which allows us to invest a bit more. I have a very nice Scat Daddy colt, a full-brother to dual winner Glendevon, who is in training with Richard Hughes. I also have a very nice Kodiac (GB) colt with a lovely pedigree, another colt by Dabirsim who was one of the top lots at the Osarus yearling sale, a striking Siyouni (Fr) filly out of a Kendor mare who should run early, and also a Dutch Art (GB) filly from the same family as Goldikova (Ire).

I prefer to focus on proven sires and obviously I am very fond of Dabirsim as I pre-trained him.

TDN: How was he back then?

PB: Mr. Springer sends me most of his juveniles to be broken and Dabirsim was an outstanding individual because although he was a tall, mature type, he wasn’t heavy. On the contrary, he was quite a racy type already in January. When he received him in training, Christophe Ferland didn’t take long to single him out. Dabirsim was also a very strong walker, pushing through well from behind, which is something he passed on to his offspring. As I said, I like to focus on proven sires when I look to invest and I particularly like Siyouni.

TDN: Do you do all the pinhooking yourself and what do you look for in yearlings when buying?

PB: I buy all the yearlings on my own and I look for pretty much what everybody in this business is looking for: a good action, a sound pedigree, mostly proven sires, as I said, and some scope in the conformation of the yearlings, so that there’s some room for improvement. This how I picked Le Brivido (Fr), Straight Right (Fr) and Vue Fantastique (Fr), who did so well last year.

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