By Alan Porter
Although his margin of victory was only a head, Pour Moi’s Investec Epsom Derby (Eng-I) triumph was sufficient to see him promoted to favorite for the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (Fr-I). The implication—that the manner of his victory was more impressive than the bare margin indicates—is confirmed by a look at the form book. The record shows Pour Moi was held up in last position in the 13 horse field and, despite an initial pace that was not particularly quick, he was able to go from last to first in the straight and hit the front in time to allow his jockey, young Mickael Barzalona, to stand up in the stirrups in celebration a few strides from home.
This was the third win in five starts for Pour Moi, who became the first French-trained Epsom Derby winner since Empery in 1976. Unplaced on his debut at 2, he took a conditions event at Longchamp on his only other start last year. First time out this season, Pour Moi finished third to Baraan—who took the minor place Sunday in the Prix du Jockey Club (Fr-I)—in the Prix La Force (Fr-III). In Pour Moi’s only other outing prior to Epsom, the extreme waiting tactics employed in the Derby were tested in the Prix Greffulhe (Fr II), and saw him secure a comfortable 1½-length victory over the subsequent French Derby second, Bubble Chic.
Pour Moi is a grandson of Sadler's Wells, and is the sixth Epsom Derby winner from the male line of that stallion in the past 11 years. Strangely enough, in view of that statistic and for all his dominance of the European stallion ranks, it appeared for a long time as if Sadler’s Wells would never get an Epsom Derby winner. Indeed it wasn’t until Galileo—a member of his 13th crop—claimed the “Blue Riband” in 2001 that he achieved the feat. Of course, he then repeated just a year later, courtesy of High Chaparral. Galileo himself has already sired a Derby winner in New Approach, and he is also responsible for Treasure Beach, runner-up to Pour Moi this year.
However, it’s Pour Moi’s sire, Montjeu, who has been the real Derby king from the Sadler’s Wells line. A contender for the title of Sadler’s Wells’ best son, Montjeu, like Pour Moi, was also blessed with an outstanding turn of foot. A listed winner in two starts at 2, he won five of seven starts at 3, including the Prix du Jockey Club, Budweiser Irish Derby (Ire-I) and the Arc de Triomphe. Montjeu began his third season in dominant fashion, with victories in the Tattersalls Gold Cup (Ire-I), Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud (Fr-I), and King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Diamond Stakes (Eng-I). He was particularly impressive in the last named event, beating subsequent European Horse of the Year Fantastic Light without being fully extended. When, next time out, he scored an easy victory in the Prix Foy (Fr-II), his “Arc” prep, it appeared that Montjeu had a lock on a second victory in Europe’s championship deciding event. However, on the day, his normally outstanding turn of foot was lacking, and he could finish only fourth, beaten seven lengths by Sinndar . Subsequent outings in the Dubai Champion Stakes (Eng-I), where he was second, beaten a half length by Kalanisi, and Breeders’ Cup Turf (gr. IT), where he was unplaced, confirmed that Montjeu had passed his peak.
If the end of Montjeu’s racing career was anti-climactic, the beginning of his stud career was anything but. From his first crop came five group I winners, including Motivator, who took the Epsom Derby; Hurricane Run, winner of the Irish Derby, King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Diamond Stakes, Tattersalls Gold Cup (Ire-I), and Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe; Scorpion, whose triumphs included the classic Ladbrokes St. Leger (Eng-I); and Montare, who captured the Prix Royal Oak (Fr-I). In his third crop, Montjeu came up with additional Epsom Derby winner Authorized, and subsequently two other sons, Fame and Glory and Frozen Fire, have also taken the Irish Derby.
From his shuttle crops, Montjeu has also sired two winners of the David Jones AJC Australian Derby (Aus-I), Roman Emperor and Nom du Jeu, and his other group and grade I winners include St. Nicholas Abbey, who won the 2011 Investec Coronation Cup (Eng-I) over the Derby course and distance a few days prior to Pour Moi’s triumph; Corre Caminos, Jan Vermeer, Joshua Tree, Jukebox Jury, Montmartre, Recital, Sharvasti, Tavistock, and Wall Street.
Pour Moi is out of Gwynn, an unraced daughter of the French Derby (Fr. I) winner Darshaan. She is dam of two other winners (both by Sadler’s Wells), including Gagnoa, winner of the Prix des Reservoirs and Prix Penelope (both Fr- III), and also runner-up in the Prix de Diane—in which she divided Zarkava and Goldikova—and Prix Saint-Alary (both Fr-I) and third in the Darley Irish Oaks (Ire-I). Gwynn’s current 2-year-old is a Galileo filly that fetched 900,000 guineas at last year’s Tattersalls October yearling sale. Pour Moi’s granddam, Victoress, a daughter of Conquistador Cielo, won a minor race over 11 furlongs in the French provinces. Victoress has never produced a runner of note in her own right, but she is also granddam of Japanese group winner Felicia and English black type scorer Atlantic Waves (another by Sadler’s Wells).
Pour Moi’s third dam, Royal Statute, was bred by E.P. Taylor of Windfields Farm fame, and was by Northern Dancer out of the imported English mare Queen’s Statute. Purchased by Taylor as a yearling, Queen’s Statute was a sister to a stakes winner, but otherwise didn’t appear have an obviously outstanding pedigree. Queen’s Statute never made it to the track, but for Taylor, she became a remarkable broodmare, producing six stakes winners, including the Canadian Oaks winner Menedict and Canadian champion Dance Act.
Royal Statute, a sister to Dance Act, was only a minor winner, but like her dam, became a stellar producer and foundation mare. Three of Queen’s Statute’s offspring won group or graded stakes, including the Fountain of Youth Stakes (gr. III) winner and Florida Derby (gr. I) second Akureyri , and Awaasif, a two-time group I winner in Europe and dam of Snow Bride, winner of the Epsom Oaks (Eng-I) and in turn dam of Lammtarra, winner of the Epsom Derby, King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Diamond Stakes and Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe.
The cross that produced Pour Moi, that of Sadler’s Wells-line stallions over Shirley Heights-line mares, has yielded well over 100 stakes winners. (The reverse cross is quite effective too, and the day after the Epsom Derby, the French Derby fell to Reliable Man, who is by Darshaan’s son Dalakhani out of a Sadler’s Wells mare.)
Pour Moi’s pedigree has one other interesting feature in that he is inbred to Northern Dancer through a son in his male line and a daughter in his direct female line. As Northern Dancer was far more influential as a sire of sires than as a broodmare sire, it’s not a method of inbreeding to him that is seen quite as often as one might expect. However, at least 17 of the stakes winners descending from Royal Statute carry the pattern, including Pour Moi and Lammtarra. Coincidentally, the same pattern is seen in the pedigree of Dancing Rain, winner of the Epsom Oaks the day before Pour Moi’s victory.