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French Racing

3 minute read

Three Small Players take on the Big Guns.

Kamchatka : He is the four-year-old who wants to steal the show from those hurdle stars featured during the weekend of the Grand Steeplechase de Paris. Audacity is the key word for Kamchatka who lines up in the G1 Prix Alain du Breil (3900m) against the proven up-and-coming jumping stars Kyrov and Hawai du Berlais. It is also something which seems written in the stars for every player of this story.

A young trainer who has only been operational for four years

In 2018, at 24, Etienne d'Andigné produced his first runners to the races, the same year Kamchatka was foaled. He is based in Tiercé, north of Angers where the name carries the same meaning as one of the best-known forms of bet types in France.

The land belongs to his family, but he rents the stable. Etienne started an apprenticeship with Donatien Sourdeau de Beauregard and then joined one of the French master trainers of French jump racing – Guillaume Macaire before then going on to learn from another giant, in Ireland this time, Willie Mullins. After a short stint with Adrien Lacombe, he felt confident enough to put his own name on the trainers' list.

Managing 22 horses, Etienne d'Andigné has above all surrounded himself with breeder owners, as is the case with Pascal Barthélémy, breeder of Kamchatka. "When Kamchatka won the Prix Claude Cohen at Auteuil, we immediately had a purchase offer, but it was not interesting enough for his owner. He is a horse that arrived quite late in training. And I admit it, I felt sorry for the pre-trainer because he still had a difficult character. While he had already jumped, he refused to do so for six weeks at home. But since he has returned, it's been fine. He is a horse with whom you have to expect everything and in particular that he runs out to the first hurdle. Before his first race, I trained him at several racetracks near my home: Le Lion-d'Angers, Durtal, Senonnes...but I wasn't completely reassured when he made his debut. I was even really stressed."

Angelo Gasnier – The real estate agent jockey

Kamchatka debuted at Auteuil finishing fourth. He was pulled-up at his second start as a three-year-old. Delivering his 2022 seasonal reappearance he managed fourth again at Auteuil. "I saw his improvement. He was more and more focused. He is a generous horse who needs a long time for recovery between each race".

It was his comeback race that made his trainer consider the Prix Alain du Breil (G1) despite Kamchatka not having run at black type level. "The form-line has been good." Ine d'Anjou, the runner up, won the Prix Pepinvast (G3) and You're The Boss was 2nd in Listed and 4th in the prep race for the Prix Amadou (G2).

Etienne d'Andigné is approaching the big day with confidence. "I had established a program and there were no pitfalls. There is a mix of emotions before this Group 1, it's stressful but exciting. I can't wait for Sunday. The horse jumped for the last time this morning (Wednesday) with his jockey Angelo Gasnier, and everything went well. I chose to trust Angelo because he is a friend first and because all the leading jockeys were already booked. There is nothing unsaid with Angelo, we call each other regularly, it's great to experience this together".

A peculiarity of Angelo Gasnier is that he is no longer a "full-time" jockey. He is also a real estate agent and only rides once a week 1 or 2 horses in training before his appointments. He does a lot of running. He also takes care of his father's horses. "He's quite a busy guy," confirms the trainer.

The breeder's only 2018 foal

Where does this 4-year-old come from? Just a few kilometers from the Etienne d'Andigné' yard. It takes barely 20 minutes to reach Pascal Barthélémy's stud farm. The breeder inherited his love of racehorses from his maternal grandfather, a distiller, who had his racing stable in Cognac south-west France. He knows well Kamchatka's family since he bought his great-grandmother when she was in foal with Levine, Kamchatcka's grandmother. "Her dam Katesurf was in training with Adrien Lacombe, a small mare but daughter of Nickname, that's why I kept her at stud and above all because she had a temperament, and the great breeder Jean-Pierre Dubois always says to me "Good broodmares are those with character".

The main activity of Breeder Pascal Barthélémy is not the breeding but the care of racehorses who need rest. On his 28 hectares, he has only three broodmares and in the year of birth for Kamchatka, the colt was his only crop.

"I trusted Etienne very quickly after gaining his trainers' licence. I knew the stable because that's where Kamchatka's grandmother had been trained. And this young man had few horses, but they were always at the finish".

Kamchatka will be his first runner in a Group 1 race in a dream shared with Etienne d'Andigéné. "Etienne told me "my dream is to race in a Group race" and I replied "Don't worry, I'll bring you the horses you need".

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