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Benoît Jeffroy, the builder – Jour de Galop

Races / 17.05.2022

By Adeline Gombaud

Arrived Sunday at Longchamp without any pressure, Benoît Jeffroy left satisfied: Texas, which he raised and which belongs to him, in association with his brother Thomas, took a remarkable second place in the Emirates Poule d’Essai des Poulains (Gr1), while Zelda, also from his breeding and of which he shares ownership with Tony Parker, was one of the marks of the classic for the fillies…

Monday, Benoît Jeffroy is still on cloud nine. And, when we ask him to tell his Sunday of “Hens”, the man of Castillon, also director of the stud farm of Bouquetot, tells us a not trivial anecdote. “I must have been 16 or 17 and, as often, I spent my Sunday with my grandfather, watching the races, typing on the minitel… He had this broodmare, Texalouna (Kaldoun), and I was thinking about crossings. I wanted to send him abroad, but my grandfather thought it was a long way! So I offered him a foal-share, with Alzao and Kendor. I spoke about it to my brother, who followed me… All that remained was to find the money. I really needed 30 or 40,000 €, which I obviously didn’t have! I left on my moped to meet the family bank adviser at Crédit Mutuel. I had prepared my business plan… He listens to me, seems interested and asks me if my parents are surety. “Ah no sir, I have no guarantor!” He scratched his head and replied: “So, we’re going to unlock your PEL…” In fact, that’s how it all started. With the nerve of the kid that I was, brought up in a family of cattle traders, therefore with a certain taste for commerce, and with the confidence of a banker! It’s important to tell this story, because I believe in never being afraid to take risks. When you want to get into breeding, it’s not like in a start-up: a computer is not enough. You have to get money to invest in horses, in land, and know how to be convincing! »

From Frankyfourfingers to Texas

This Texalouna was a daughter of Texas Beauty (Vayrann), bought by the grandfather, the father of Benoît and Thomas in the mid-80s. The family breeding had started a few years earlier in Finistère, the stronghold of the Jeffroys. Texan Beauty had previously given the Jeffroy family Texalina (Kaldoun), who raced the Diane under the colors of Bernard Jeffroy, and before her Hexane (Kendor), good competitor but above all mother of the first Jeffroy champion, Never on Sunday (Sunday Break). “My grandfather had a few broodmares and he was already focused on the flat. He had shares of Kaldoun, of Kendo…” Foal-shares initiated by Benoît are born Texaloula (Kendor) then, the following year, Texaline (Alzao). “Texaloula was not good but we kept her at the farm. She immediately produced Cape Sizun (Gold Away), who had a fine career with Damien de Watrigant, then frankyfourfingers (Sunday Break), who won a Group at Meydan after starting his career with Christian Delcher-Sanchez. Just with You (Sunday Break), her next product, crashed and didn’t race, but she gave us taos (Toronado), Listed winner, and above all Penja (Camelot), who won the Prix de Psyché (Gr3) last year. »

For Texas, not everything had started auspiciously.

Penja had not yet left when, under the name of Haras de Castillon, the stud that Benoît created with his wife in Normandy, in 2015 only, a son of Wootton Bassett and Texalova (a daughter of Texaloula) is registered with Arqana. The sale takes place in September: it was the first Covid year. “Texas was already tall and very mature in September and he had an imposing physique, but no one had kept him on his selections, not even a vet visit… His catalog page was not yet what it is become today. My brother and I have always liked it a lot and we weren’t going to let it go for nothing, being by Wootton Bassett… The idea was to be able to exploit it well because we have the whole family. So we bought it. Henri-François Devin, with whom I have been friends for a long time, had trained the mother, who was not good… We sent him Texas, telling him that he might be better. I was convinced that it was a colt that would suit him. » The colt won on his second outing in Lyon. “That day, his jockey, who was already Clément Lecoeuvre, really grabbed him. We decided to return to Lyon for its third outing. And when Clement gave him a slap or two, the colt threw himself against the rail. Maybe he remembered the hard race he had previously. We had to start all over again. We raced him at Chantilly with the intention of giving him a good lesson, so that he regains his confidence. Then he left for a month and a half in the meadow. He made a good comeback at Longchamp before winning the Critérium du Languedoc (L). When he made his comeback in the Fontainebleau, he had had a growth spurt during his preparation and Henri-François had to slow him down. The colt was not ready… Sunday, before the race, everyone told me that the colt was magnificent! » A magnificent colt, in progress, but which had inherited the number 15 in the boxes. Impossible ? “Henri-François questioned himself a lot before the race. We told him that with his base speed he could erase that number. At the orders, we recommended to Clément not to upset him. Mangoustine had just won after having experienced a course in third layer! Clément rode him to perfection, respecting the horse’s abilities. We believed in it until the end! » A second place at 100/1 with the taste of victory, while the Jeffroys had come as a family – “Our parents looked after the children, and we came with my brother and our companions! » – to take advantage of this classic Sunday, without ambition of victory…

Zelda and the Finisterians

The day had actually started an hour earlier with the attempt to Zelda (Zelzal) in the Poule d’Essai des Pouliches. There too, we weren’t hoping for victory in the Jeffroy clan: Zelda’s comeback had been unremarkable, but Benoît and his partner, Tony Parker, had insisted on running the Poule anyway. “With Zelda, at 2 years old, we listened to Jean-Claude Rouget who had dissuaded us from racing the Marcel Boussac, or even the Breeders’ Cup, in order to keep it for the classics. And after his average comeback, Jean-Claude was obviously disappointed and not really very hot to run the Poule. We had listened to it until then but there, we insisted on following the initial plan! With Tony and Clément Troprès, his manager, we were on the same wavelength, right down to the choice of jockey. Zelda is a delicate filly. Coralie Pacaut had won with her, she rides her every morning: we thought that the feeling between the two could be an advantage. The team did a great job in the morning, and Zelda showed on Sunday that she had regained the level she was at when she was 2 years old. We were delighted, especially since Tony won with his other runner! »

Sharing above all

The story with Tony Parker began, again, thanks to the audacity of Benoît Jeffroy. “I had seen that Clément Troprès was like me from Finistère. So I contacted him, I invited him to lunch at Bouquetot… We got on well and Clément told me that if we had a horse ready to race, Tony might be interested. I had Zelda in training with Jean-Claude Rouget; she showed beautiful things… I had not been able to present her at the sales because a few weeks earlier, she had suffered from double abscesses on her hind legs. It was really very painful. Without that, she would probably have been sold as a yearling. Like what, fate…” The deal is signed with Tony Parker and since then the two men have become very close. “It’s great to work with Tony Parker and his team. He is very humble and eager to learn. Me, I love to share. His involvement in the races, the purchase of Quétiéville… This reminds me a bit of my story with Sheikh Joaan, when we started from scratch with Bouquetot! » Some men are born to build, to undertake. Benoît Jeffroy is one of them.

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