The rags to riches story of Kendargent

Haras de Colleville’s flagbearer has belied his humble background to emerge as one of France’s leading sires, says John Boyce

There is no question that France has been bolstering its stallion ranks in recent years. But success also has its downside. Just as in the 1970s and 1980s when France lost the likes of Riverman, Blushing Groom, Irish River, Lyphard and Caro to Kentucky, 2020 has seen the transfer of Wootton Bassett to Coolmore in Ireland, leaving Siyouni and Le Havre to head the list of proven French sires. With price tags of €140k and €40k, it’s understandable that the average French breeder might now be looking to other stallions to fulfill their needs. And they could do a whole lot worse that consider Haras de Colleville’s Kendargent.

Besides becoming the first stallion in France to sire 100 winners in a season, which he did in 2020, Kendargent now has only two French sires ranked above him when it comes to producing Stakes winners in the past four years in France and, what’s more, he stands at only €10,000.

Kendargent’s rise to become the third most accomplished sire standing in France in 2020 is unusual to say the least. Although he hails from the Kalamoun sire line and is indeed inbred to the Aga Khan’s top-class miler, his own race record would surely preclude an opportunity to prove himself at stud in the modern era. 

His best efforts in a 13-race career, which yielded just two victories, included a second to Kentucky Dynamite in the Group 3 Prix Paul de Moussac and a fourth behind Stormy River in the Group 1 Prix Jean Prat, both races restricted to three-year-old milers. The best that Timeform could rate him was 112, way below the 121 of his sire Kendor, winner of the Grand Critérium and Poule d’Essai des Poulains; the 125 of his grandsire Kenmare, who won the Prix Jacques le Marois, and the 129 of great grandsire Kalamoun, winner of both the French Guineas and Prix Jacques le Marois. 

Kendargent did have some respectability on his dam’s side in that his grandam was a full sister to Prix du Jockey-Club winner Polytain, albeit himself a below-average French Derby winner who never won another race thereafter.

But Kendargent has overcome all of these obstacles. So much so that his 33 Stakes winners sired so far put him among the top ten French sires since the Pattern began. He has already outscored the number of Stakes winners sired by his own sire and great grandsire and is within two of his grandsire Kenmare. 

It remains to be seen how far up the table of leading French sires Kendargent can climb. The current leader is Linamix, his maternal grandsire, with 47 Stakes winners. In all likelihood, Kendargent will eclipse all but a couple of sires currently ranked above him. No mean feat for a 112-rated racehorse that started out with limited books.

Kendargent’s current strike rate is 5.9% Stakes winners to runners is a respectable effort given his meager early opportunities. And it can be appreciated a bit more given that Siyouni, Le Havre and Wootton Bassett – France’s best sires in recent years – are all currently locked together on 7.2% Stakes winners to runners. 

Moreover, there is a pleasing variety to Kendargent’s stock – his runners include classy sprinters, milers as well as mile-and-a-quarter and middle-distance horses. And there is no better example of a Kendargent than his 124-rated son Skalleti, who has shown remarkable consistency winning 12 of his 17 races, including three at Group 2 level. Skalleti’s second to Addeybb in the Group 1 Champion Stakes last autumn marked him down as progressive type who ought to win at the top level in the near future. The very smart miler Jimmy Two Times is another who won a Group 2 level – in his case the Prix du Muguet – and was also placed in the Group 1 Prix Maurice de Gheest. 

Kendargent’s son Skalleti has shown remarkable consistency, winning 12 of his 17 starts, including five Group races.

Kendargent’s son Skalleti has shown remarkable consistency, winning 12 of his 17 starts, including five Group races.

The best of Kendargent’s daughters so far is Restiadargent, who captured the Group 2 Critérium de Maisons-Laffitte at two and ran third behind the great Australian mare Black Caviar in the Group 1 Diamond Jubilee the following summer. 

In all, Kendargent has sired seven Group 1 horses and another that has been making headlines recently is his speedy son Goken, who won the Group 3 Prix du Bois as a two-year-old and trained on to finish a close-up third in the Group 1 King’s Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot in 2015 behind Profitable. Goken’s 15 first-crop juvenile winners in 2020 were the most by a French first-season sire and they include some very smart types, including a pair of Group 3 winners in Go Athletico – rated 113 by Timeform – and Livachope.

Even more impressive is Kendargent’s early record as a broodmare sire. From just 49 runners, his daughters have produced as many as seven Stakes winners. That’s an unheard-of strike rate for a broodmare sire of 14.3%. And they are good Stakes winners, too, headed by Group 1 Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere winner Sealiway, among five Group winners.

Clearly, the Kendargent story is set to carry on.

KENDARGENT'S GROUP WINNERS

Form TFR Name Born Sex Dam Broodmare Sire
G2wG1p 124 SKALLETI 2015 G SKALLET LRwG3p MUHAYMIN
G2wG1p 120 RESTIADARGENT 2009 F Restia UR MONTJEU
G2wG1p 120 JIMMY TWO TIMES 2013 C STEEL WOMAN W ANABAA
G2w 110 SKY FULL OF STARS 2014 F Sworn Mum WLRp SAMUM
G3w 123 MORANDO 2013 G MORANDA W INDIAN ROCKET
G3w 119 NICKAJACK CAVE 2016 G Could You be Loved UR MONTJEU
G3wG2p 116 SOLEIL MARIN 2014 G SOUSMARINE W MONTJEU
G3wG1p 115 KENDAM 2009 F Damdam Freeze P INDIAN ROCKET
G3wG1p 115 GOKEN 2012 C GOOSELEY CHOPE W INDIAN ROCKET
G3w 114 BATWAN 2015 G MATWAN LRw INDIAN ROCKET
G3wG1p 112 KENHOPE 2010 F Bedford Hope P CHATO
G3w 101 SEE THE ROSE 2018 F Xaarienne WLRp XAAR

About the author

John Boyce

John Boyce grew up on a stud farm and is a bloodstock journalist and former editor of Pacemaker and of The Thoroughbred Breeder. He has been part of the Darley/Godolphin team since 2001 as Group Marketing Head and then Group Head of Research. He is currently responsible for stallion and broodmare analysis to help the organisation’s stud, sales and marketing teams.

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