Empress Club - South African Horse Of the Year 1991/1992
(Photo : Haras Abolengo)
“The best family in Argentina is
Haras Abolengo’s ‘E’ Family”
Summerhill Stud CEOThe best family in Argentina is Haras Abolengo’s “E” family. Wherever you saw the letter “E” in our piece Don’t Cry for Me, you’ll know it is descended from this remarkable female line : Empress Club, Ecurie, Epoque, Eventuail, Emerald Beauty (all local Group One winners, several champions among them). Famous not only for the stream of Group One performers it produced in this country, but equally and more so for the great names that’ve graced its catalogue pages in Argentina. A couple of years ago, I had one of the great experiences of my thoroughbred career, when I accompanied the “three wise men” (no, not Balthazar, Gaspar and Melchior) but De Kock, Malherbe and McVeigh to Argentina. You need to have them of brass, and you’ve got to be endowed with plenty of staying power to even get to the other end of the trip with these fellows, but it was the visits to the horse farms that stand out in my mind. Besides of course, the “braais”, or asados, as they call them on the estancias (the farms or estates).
But the one farm that really caught my breath with deep traditions which have spanned five generations, was the Menditeguy family of Abolengo, which is not only revered for its “E” family and the many other great horses it’s produced, but also for the fact that as a family, they have produced more winners of the Argentinian polo championships, the Campeonato Argentino Abierto de Polo, than any other family in recorded history.
They eat, sleep and breath horses here, and thoroughbreds are not so much a way of life as a reason for living. When you step onto those sacred acres, you’re almost compelled to put your hand in your pocket, and take a racehorse home as a memento. And that’s exactly what we and Sheikh Mohammed did in acquiring a member of their great family. It’s not often a breeder can visit the pre-eminent stud of a foreign country, dip his hand into their richest genetic pipe, and come away with the crown jewel. A word of caution though; it costs, hence the call to Sheikh Mohammed for partnership assistance!
I should add though, that it’s not a single-dimensional country. If you get up to Mendoza, you’ll get a grasp of why the great wineries of the world, from France’s Moet and Chandon to Cloudy Bay in New Zealand, have staked their claims there. If you venture south to Patagonia, you’ll get a whiff of what the writers were thinking when they talked of “big sky country”, you’ll get to dip your line in the Limay and the Rio Correntoso, and you might never come back. While my roots are European, I have to admit, if there was nowhere else to go besides Summerhill or our own Wild Coast, Argentina might be the destination.