Tangi Saliou: ‘I Didn’t Have A Euro To My Name At 18 – You Need To Work Hard’

What is the most important thing needed to get a stallion farm off the ground? A lot of people would rightly guess money but, according to Tangi Saliou, hard work trumps all, and his thriving Haras de la Haie Neuve is living proof to that theory. 

He may not have had a penny to his name when he embarked on a career in bloodstock a little over 20 years ago, but Saliou now stands nine stallions at Haras de la Haie Neuve, and is convinced that there is little that can’t be achieved without good old-fashioned graft. 

Group 1-winning juvenile Ebro River (Ire) is the newest stallion to the Haras de la Haie Neuve roster, and represents an exciting new partnership with Al Shaqab, which goes some way in illustrating the trajectory of the stud. 

“If you sit in front of the television all day, you will do nothing with your life. You need to get out there and try to make something of yourself in order to have something good. That is what we have tried to do,” – Tangi Saliou.

Saliou said, “I think Ebro River will cover a lot of mares. I am very happy to have him here because he was a very fast racehorse and we need some horses like that standing in France-some of our mares are not very fast. It’s a new partnership for us with Al Shaqab and I am very happy to work with them. Let’s hope Ebro River can be the next Mehmas (Ire) in France! I am a positive thinker.”

He added, “My first job in racing was as a rider before working for 10 years at the French National Stud. When the French National Stud finished up, I went to work for Haras de Montaigu where I worked as the technical director for six years. We had a lot of success with Martaline (Fr), No Risk At All (Fr) and we also bred Wings Of Eagles (Fr) as well. 

“About five years ago, I decided to buy a new 50-acre farm two hours west of Normandie. I began with four stallions and now we have nine. As well as that, our farm was responsible for eight per cent of the entire thoroughbred mares covered in France last year. I have 60 mares here myself and, after buying a new farm last year, we have upgraded and have 45 yearlings and 10 full-time workers. It’s busy!”

Seahenge is another Haras De La Haie Neuve resident that fans of British and Irish racing will be familiar with. The son of Scat Daddy carried Michael Tabor’s silks en route to victory in the G2 Champagne S. at Doncaster for Aidan O’Brien in 2017 and joined fellow ex-Ballydoyle inmate Taj Mahal (Ire) on the roster. 

Saliou said, “We have worked with Coolmore to get Seahenge and Taj Mahal. We also worked with the Wertheimer family to stand Anodin (Ire) here. So, along with Al Shaqab, who we are also very happy to be working with, we have been busy trying to get many partnerships together to stand these stallions. 

“Seahenge was the champion first-season sire in France and a lot of the trainers are looking forward to his three-year-olds this season. Seahenge is a big horse and we think his progeny will do even better at three.”

Ebro River winning the G1 Pheonix S. at the Curragh in 2021

So how has Saliou built up the quality at Haras de la Haie Neuve year after year? For starters, the stud places as much emphasis on jumping stock as it does on the Flat, the broodmare band does a lot of the heavy lifting and, perhaps more importantly of all, Salious’s wife has a penchant for investing in stock over diamonds.

“We strive to be better, always. When I was 18, I had no money, not even a euro to my name. All I had was my driver’s licence and my hurt. My courage was my best friend and I always worked hard. That was the only solution. 

“As well as this, my wife Dorothy is very good. There are some women who like to buy clothes and diamonds but my wife prefers to buy mares. She is very good at that. I always had two or three mares myself. When I was working at the French National Stud, I had two Group 1-producing mares, but I was not even aware of this at the time. It was a very good surprise.”

He added, “One of the mares, Nutz (Fr), bred the Grade 1-winning hurdler in Britain, Elixir De Nutz (Fr) (Al Namix {Fr}). We have been very lucky with horses but, to have the luck, you need to roll the dice. If you sit in front of the television all day, you will do nothing with your life. You need to get out there and try to make something of yourself in order to have something good. That is what we have tried to do. 

“We have some good mares at the moment, 12 of which are ours, and they are split between jumps and Flat mares. We have the dam of Sceau Royal (Fr) and she is in foal to his sire Doctor Dino (Fr). We also have a full-sister to Doctor Dino in foal to Kapgarde (Fr) and bought in partnerships some very good Flat mares as well.”

Saliou’s love affair with Doctor Dino does not end there. A number of Christmases ago, when going through the profile of the top-class jumps sire who stood for €20,000 last year, the stallion man stumbled across a sibling who he simply had to add to the roster at Haras De La Haie Neuve.

He explained, “We bought Bande (Ire) in Japan and it was very good business. We had nothing to do over the Christmas holidays and looked up to see if Doctor Dino had a brother anywhere around the world. We saw that Bande was in Japan, called someone there, and got the deal done.”

For how much?

“I don’t remember,” he laughed, before adding, “but it was very good business! We got him syndicated and he has covered over 100 mares every year which is very good in France. He covered 165 in 2021 which was the most any jumps stallion covered that year. We have a lot of good-looking foals and yearlings by him and we are very happy with him. He’s a very strong stallion and he looks like his father, Authorized (Ire), so hopefully he can be the next Doctor Dino. 

“He only covered 10 mares in Japan before we bought him. Of those 10 mares, he had only eight foals, and only three or four runners. From that tiny crop, he had two winners and one second, which is very good.”

To be able to get over 100 mares into an unproven stallion year after year, regardless of who he is related to, is a fair achievement. So what is the secret?

“We always cover a lot of mares. When you are young and full of energy, you must work hard. I am 46 now but I like to work hard. I always do my best for my clients and, if you think that way, you will do well. I have had the same clients for over 10 years and lots of the same clients who call me up for advice. I work with a lot of trainers, too, and try to be as correct and honest with everyone. If you can be correct and honest, you can work in this industry for a long time, because you need to build long-term relationships.”


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