Sumbe Unleash Classic Prospects 

Nurlan Bizakov has made his presence felt in France in recent years, purchasing Haras de Montfort et Preaux and Haras du Mezeray to combine these two established studs under his Sumbe banner. Sumbe is now a name becoming increasingly familiar throughout Europe and the team behind it was rewarded with a Group 1 winner from the first crop of horses bred in France by Bizakov when Belbek (Fr) (Showcasing {GB}) landed the Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere on Arc day.

The Andre Fabre-trained colt will take the next step forward in his career when he lines up for Thursday’s G3 Prix Djebel en route to the Classics. Belbek is far from the only exciting prospect among Bizakov’s three-year-old runners for the season, with Padishakh (Fr) (Wootton Bassett {GB}) entered for the G3 Prix La Force on Sunday for Jean-Claude Rouget and the Roger Varian-trained G2 Criterium de Maisons-Laffitte winner Charyn (Ire) (Dark Angel {Ire}) set to put his Classic credentials on the line in Britain in the G3 Greenham S.

“I think the ground will be perfect,” says Sumbe manager Tony Fry on the prospects of Belbek in the Djebel. “He’s won on soft and he has won on good, and as Monsieur Fabre said the other day, the good ones tend to go on anything.

“He’s a beautiful horse and it’s a lovely pedigree. So whatever he does, you’d hope there’s a bit more to come, but equally I would be happy to pull him out of the box next year.”

And that of course is now a major consideration for Sumbe, which has progressed from being a private breeding operation, initially based at Hesmonds Stud in England, to now standing four stallions, with room for more.

“That’s the end game now,” Fry acknowledges. “Stallions are very expensive to buy, as we well know, and most don’t come on the market because most are owned by a very small group of people who don’t sell them. So it’s probably most cost-effective to breed and race and make your own stallions.”

He adds, “And then it’s in the lap of the gods. Everybody knows the success and failure rate of stallions, but we have a nice broodmare band. So of course we will support our own. It’s exciting.”

While Belbek provided Sumbe with a major stroke of good fortune in becoming a Group 1-winning juvenile, the slings and arrows have been fired in recent years towards his dam Bee Queen (GB) (Makfi {GB}), a Juddmonte-bred grand-daughter of the great Banks Hill (GB) (Danehill) whose youngest offspring is the two-year-old Baysangur (Fr) (Gleneagles {Ire}).

“Unfortunately she’s been empty for two years,” Fry says. “She’s now at Coolmore and we hope she’ll get in foal to Wootton Bassett.”

The team also still owns the mare’s four-year-old daughter Berehynia (GB) (New Approach {Ire}), who was placed in one of her three starts and has recently been scanned in foal to Belbek’s sire Showcasing. 

Fry notes, “She was the first foal and she was lovely. It is quite disappointing, again, because she didn’t win at two or three and she should have. Bee Queen is one of my favourites anyway, and I just felt disappointed for Berehynia that she didn’t win. There’s so much effort that goes into buying them, getting them in foal, bringing up the foal, breaking, sending it to a trainer, and then just sometimes a silly little things don’t work out on the day.”

With the stallion business in mind, it’s not just females that have been bought by Bizakov in recent years. Belbek’s fellow Classic hopes Charyn and Padishakh were both bought as yearlings.

The Greenham-bound Charyn was bred by Guy O’Callaghan’s Grangemore Stud and bought for 250,000gns at Book 2 of the Tattersalls October Yearling Sale. In four juvenile starts, he won on debut at Haydock and was runner-up in a Newmarket novice before finishing third behind stable-mate Sakheer (Ire) (Zoffany {Ire}) in the G2 Mill Reef S. and then claiming his own Group 2 victory at Chantilly.

“We bought some yearlings to support Roger [Varian],” says Fry. “We were at his yard on Saturday morning and it was great to see how Charyn has developed. He’s grown a little bit. He’s a lovely horse, with a very good walk to him. Those were all the reasons we bought him, so he has not changed that much. He still looks the part and fortunately now we know that he can run fast as well as walk and look pretty.”

Padishakh, bought at Arqana from co-breeder Haras d’Etreham for €130,000, has looked the easy winner in his two starts to date for Rouget at Longchamp and Chantilly.

“The experts think he’ll be a Prix du Jockey Club horse,” Fry notes.

Despite a raft of promising young prospects spread among a training roster which also includes Clive Cox, Stephane Wattel, Mikel Delzangles and Christopher Head, Fry has been around horses too long to let the potential excitement of the year ahead get to him, even while we remain in the safe zone of the early season where bubbles have yet to be burst.

“It is a big week, or a big fortnight really, because we’ve got Charyn in the Greenham, but horses have a way of keeping you pretty well planted on the ground,” he says, before adding with a laugh, “maybe I’m just a miserable sod, but you never get too carried away because you’re always thinking ‘I wonder what the next phone call is to the boss’. But, look, those days are wonderful and they don’t come round often enough. Maybe I should celebrate more if they ever come round again.”

It’s hard to imagine that he and the Sumbe team will have too long to wait before finding another cause for celebration.

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