Five Minutes With Louis Le Metayer

 

 

TDN AusNZ: Where are you from and what is your earliest racing memory?

LLM: I grew up in Normandy, an hour south of Deauville in a region where horse racing and equestrian sports dominate the local culture. All the big thoroughbred studs are in the same region and I was very lucky to grow up on a broodmare farm and compete in show jumping as a teenager.

Peintre Celebre (USA) (Nureyev {USA}) was the horse who got me hooked to racing. He won the French Derby and the Arc de Triomphe in the same year. Watching his acceleration still gives me goose bumps.

Louis Le Metayer

TDN AusNZ: Can you tell us a bit about the work you do, and what you love most about your job?

LLM: As a bloodstock agent I consider myself a talent scout. Whether I am buying weanlings, yearlings, horses in training, mares or stallions, I love the challenge of trying to unearth a future star.

My philosophy is very simple, I will never sell a horse to anyone if I wouldn’t want to own it myself.

Importing European stayers has worked very well for us so far and I am going to pursue this market. We are also busy sourcing horses to race in Hong Kong given that Australian horses are very well suited to the HK racing conditions.

To understand horses, observation is the most important skill. I enjoy following the careers of horses that I liked and or bought at the sales. Some will become good horses, and some won’t, and I like to understand why in order to keep learning and fine tuning my judgement along the way. I have very strict buying criteria, however a will to win can overcome a poor physique and this is something you can’t see until race day.

I also enjoy helping a few breeders with the mating of their mares on a long-term basis. There is so much to take into account and we have to anticipate which stallions will be in demand when the resulting yearlings will be offered. Seeing thousands of yearlings each year gives me a good gut feel for what stallion may succeed in the future.

Our industry is made of fascinating people and I really enjoy the diversity of individuals I meet. From the self-made entrepreneurs, the big owners to the hardworking horsemen, the punters and the racegoers. Everyone shares a mutual passion and gets on pretty well overall. People can be quirky, but they are never boring in this game.

Louis inspecting yearlings on the Gold Coast

TDN AusNZ: Which is your favourite racehorse of all time? Why?

LLM: Winx (Street Cry {Ire}), Black Caviar (Bel Esprit) and Frankel (GB) are the obvious ones.

However, Australia is the country of 2-year olds and sprinters and I don’t think that I have seen a better one than Sepoy. He won the Blue Diamond, the Slipper the Manikato and the Coolmore.

Has any other horse won these four races?

TDN AusNZ: Which racehorse, ever, do you think was the best type?

LLM: Physically, I have soft spot for Deep Field.

He was an exceptional yearling and I find him very eye catching. He has all the conformation attributes that I look for in a yearling which are so rare to find in the one horse. He very much stamps his progeny which is a bonus. His owner Alan Bell is one of the best judges in the game and this is what I aspire to become.

Deep Field | Standing at Newgate Farm

 

TDN AusNZ: Was there a first season sire that jumped out at you at the sales this year?

LLM: There is only an average of two stallions per foal crop who make it to the top and for whatever reason, there wasn’t one that really jumped out me this year.

However, some yearlings by Headwater looked pretty racy and I heard that a few of them have impressed their trainers.

TDN AusNZ: What was your favourite weanling, yearling or mare purchase this year?

LLM: We bought a Written Tycoon filly out of Corporate at the Magic Millions yearling sales and she looks very sharp. She is with Brad Widdup who does a terrific job.

I also sold Ace High to Rich Hill Stud in June and I have a sneaky feeling that he is going to make it at stud. His credentials are outstanding, and I think he is ideal for the New Zealand breeders and the yearling market. He has all the 3 Ps in spades; Physique, Performance and Pedigree.

Louis sold Ace High to Rich Hill Stud and believes he will do well at stud

TDN AusNZ: What stallion do you consider to be ‘under the radar’ and why?

LLM: I believe that So You Think (NZ) is good value this year for a young sire who has produced five Group 1 winners. He has a couple of very smart 3-year-olds in Quick Thinker and Just Thinkin’.

However, I think that there is too much emphasis on stallions these days. Sure, they are an important link in the chain, but the dam and the environment are just as important.

Some of the best two race mares in the country are by Needs Further (Mystic Journey) and Zed (NZ) (Verry Elleegant {NZ}) so you have to keep an open mind in this game.

The best yearlings by the best stallions are often out of my price range.

Therefore, some of the best horses that I have bought were by unfashionable stallions such as Champs Elysees (GB), Zoffany (Ire) and Poet’s Voice (GB). This year we have 2 very smart 3-year-olds (Reformist and Witchfulthinking) who both won very impressively on debut. One is by Dissident and the other is by War Chant who stands in Western Australia.

TDN AusNZ: Which stallion, ever, do you think was the best type?

LLM: Encosta De Lago had a lot of class and presence. He was tall and muscular at the same time which is unusual. Physically, I also think that I Am Invincible is in a class of his own.

Encosta De Lago

TDN AusNZ: Who do you think is a rising star within the industry? (person not horse).

LLM: I have enjoyed meeting some of the Flying Start students recently. I don’t know them well enough to pick one out but the program has produced some outstanding people and I think it will continue to do so.

TDN AusNZ: If you were an Everest slotholder, who would you pick?

Probably Pierata (Pierro) or Santa Ana Lane (Lope de Vega {Ire}).

TDN AusNZ: What positive change would you like to see in the industry?

LLM: There is a serious worldwide shortage of staff in our industry and I think we should try to engage with kids and young people to show them and attract them to our industry in a different way.

We need staff but we also need more racegoers, punters and owners all of which contribute enormously to our sport. Syndication has done a wonderful job to increase the ownership base but so much more could be done.

Most of the people who are involved in the sport seem to have had an introduction to horses and racing through their family connection at some stage.

I find it puzzling that a kid could grow up in Scone, Aberdeen or Singleton and if his/her parents or family friends are not involved in our industry he or she may never get the opportunity to visit a stud farm, see a stallion, feed a carrot to a mare and pat a foal.

We see it every day so we take it for granted but for most outside kids this would be an amazing experience that could spark a flame and push young people to learn more about our industry and its career opportunities. The farms in the Hunter and in Victoria should organise community days where local families could discover a world that actually needs them.

The same applies for Randwick and Caulfield. Some of the best horses in the country are trained there and the whole neighbourhood is full of schools and universities, but I bet you that if you asked the local kids and students who is Redzel (Snitzel) or Jameka (Myboycharlie {Ire}) the large majority wouldn’t have a clue.

Redzel

 

The industry has had its fair share of scandals over the years and those who think our image isn’t tarnished have their heads in the sand.

We need the industry to build its own tourism agency to constantly engage with the wider community and share the beauty of our sport and show the general public how much we care for and love the animals.

Animal activists will get louder and louder and while their understanding of the sport is very limited this is our opportunity to prove them wrong.

Bus tours and school trips would allow young people to appreciate the industry from the grass roots of breeding on a stud to the achievements of a champion on the track. The backstage of our industry is beautiful, and we need to show it to the world not just to our clients.

From there, young people can follow the farm they visited, the stallion they saw and the trainer and jockey they met on social media. Eventually they will come to the races and they will understand what they are looking at.

Subzero 'Subbie', creates a positive impact within the wider Victorian community. Louis believes this is something that needs to be replicated

 

The impact that Subzero (Karla Dancer {GB}) is having in the wider Victorian community is simply outstanding and we need to find a way to replicate this example.

I also think that we need to start trackwork a lot later because let’s face it who really wants to get out of bed at 2:30am every day if they don’t have to?

TDN AusNZ: If you weren’t in this industry what would you do?

LLM: I like building stuff and fixing things. It’s a habit that I developed from growing up on a farm where there is constant maintenance needed. So, I guess I would be a builder or a carpenter.

I also like recruitment because I think I can read people pretty quickly and they charge big commission haha!

However, I have the best job in the world right now and my goal is to win at least one Group 1 per year so I have plenty on my plate.

 
 

Q & A with Louis Le Metayer: Astute Bloodstock
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An article written by Paul Vettise, TDN AusNZ.



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