At Stud at the Haras de Cluny
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After one season at his breeders' Haras de Saint-Gatien, Ragmar was purchased by the National Studs of France. Unfortunately despite his excellent performances on the flat, French breeders did not take to Ragmar's pedigree as it is somewhat unfashionable and his dam line has some good jumps horses in it but not so many good flat horses, so the intention of the National Studs was to stand him as a jumps stallion.
He stood the 1998 and 1999 seasons at Cluny, one of 23 National Studs in France whose purpose is to provide good Thoroughbred and other bloodlines to local breeders at an affordable price. During those two years, Ragmar covered mostly 'near-Thoroughbred' or AQPS (Autre Que Pur Sang) mares, a breed which is becoming better known in England through the exploits of such top NH horses as The Fellow, Valfinet and Hors La Loi, but which has always been in the forefront of French steeplechase and hurdle horses. As Ragmar was such a well-performed horse on the Flat many NH breeders have sent him their very best mares, from the top hurdle and steeplechase families in France.
I recently had the opportunity to visit the National Stud at Cluny and also a number of local stud farms who specialise in breeding AQPS jumps horses, and so saw both Ragmar himself and some of the first of his foals conceived at Cluny, as well as other top AQPS sires at the stud.
Ragmar himself is a magnificent stallion, with a beautiful conformation and an even temperament. He certainly impressed many of the breeders I was with, who chose him as one of the two best stallions they had seen. On conformation and performance alone I believe Ragmar could have made an excellent flat-race stallion, but unfortunately in today's highly commercial market pedigree sadly seems to sell a stallion more than any other factor.
I also visited the Haras de Montigny, where M. Cypres gave us some great hospitality and showed us several of the top AQPS broodmares in France, and a number of foals by top sires including Ragmar. M. Cypres certainly thinks that Ragmar will make the grade as a jumps sire, judging by the quality of the mares he has sent to him!
At the Haras de Montigny, we saw four of his 1999 crop fillies (I hope to have video of these foals and Ragmar himself on-line shortly), who were:
I also saw several mares in foal to Ragmar:
All of them shared their sire's good conformation and his lovely temperament, and we will wait to see whether they have also inherited his excellent racing ability. All the mares I saw were from the very best jumping families, so while he may not have a chance to sire anything as good as himself on the flat it is certainly to be hoped that his jump bred offspring distinguish themselves in that sphere.
Finally it is interesting to note that one of the conditions of the stud buying Ragmar was that he was to move round several of the National Studs, and I found out that in the next season or two he is likely to be moved to one of the western studs, possibly Le Lion d'Angers. It will be interesting to see what kind of mares he gets there as the North-West of France is less of a specialised AQPS breeding area.