Laurens success spurs Anna Sundstrom to branch out into new markets

Please read this great article published by Racing Post.

Martin Stevens finds out how Coulonces Sales is broadening its horizons
6:17PM, JUL 7 2018

Anna Sundstrom, the Swedish native who runs the leading Normandy-based Coulonces Sales consignment business, is rightfully revelling in having prepped and sold the admirable Laurens at the Goffs UK Premier Yearling Sale in Doncaster in 2016 as a rare French-based vendor at the auction.

In fact, the unbridled joy at being associated with the Karl Burke-trained three-time Group 1 heroine – who has won legions of fans by doggedly repelling her foes in her races – has encouraged her to step up her bold cross-Channel sorties.

Consequently, this year Coulonces will be presenting yearling drafts at the Goffs UK Silver and Goffs Orby sales for the first time, while also returning to the Goffs UK Premier and Tattersalls October sales and, of course, supporting home fixtures at Arqana.

Looking back at her time overseeing Laurens’ education as a yearling on behalf of breeder Melchior-Francois Mathet, Sundstrom says the signs of the filly’s famous strong will were there even then.

“We had to mind her, we knew that this was a lady who knew what she wanted,” she recalls. “You had to work with her, not against her.

“She had a wonderful temperament but there was no doubting she was a matriarch. She was the boss when she was in the paddock with her friends. A lot of the good horses are like that. They are unique.

“I’m not saying I always knew she would be this good, but looking back there were clues. When you loaded her on the horsebox, she took me into it, I didn’t take her. That was her all over.

“Looking back now, there was a bond between Laurens and Charlotte [Hutchinson, Sundstrom’s right-hand woman at Coulonces] throughout the preparation. But it wasn’t Charlotte making the decisions, it was Laurens.”So self-assured was the young filly she was even in charge of her own showings on the Doncaster sales ground.

Sundstrom says: “Charlotte told me ‘Anna, I actually don’t have to walk beside her to show her, she can do it on her own’. She knew when to turn, how to stand; she didn’t need any encouraging.”

Explaining how the Prix de Diane winner came to be sold at the Goffs UK Premier sale, better known as a source of speedier, more sharply bred stock, she continues: “In the spring when we picked her up as a young yearling we thought we’d go for Doncaster as she was a speedy looking two-year-old type.

“She was always a great mover but in those early days she was smaller and more butty – a typical Doncaster model. Then she started preparation and she just bloomed, she grew and lengthened in the most positive way.

“I remember when we arrived in Doncaster that [Goffs UK director] Tim Kent was there. He had spent years persuading me to come over and had helped us with the process of getting the horses over for the first time, so he was nervous too as he had managed to convince me and promised us we could do it. I think he was feeling the pressure.

“As we arrived and opened the ramp and Laurens came off it, his jaw dropped and he just said ‘oh, thank god’ because she was so beautiful.”

Word soon spread around the sales ground about the statuesque filly residing in Barn F.

“You can see in pictures of her at the sales, she was just so impressive and beautiful,” Sundstrom says. “People were coming to our boxes and saying ‘we want to see the queen’. I’ve never had so many people look at one horse, again and again and again. It was all about her.”

It was eventually John Dance and his advisers Salcey Forest Stud who bought Laurens with a bid of £220,000. Remarkably, she is not the only good horse sold by Coulonces from only two yearling drafts at Doncaster, and not the only one by Siyouni either.

Last year the homebred filly Moravia was sold to Gaelic Bloodstock for £80,000 and she strolled to a four-and-a-half-length victory in a Leopardstown maiden for Ger Lyons this month.

Coulonces’s third Goffs UK Premier yearling draft will be its largest yet, comprising six colts – two by Outstrip, one each by Bated Breath, Lethal Force, Requinto and Starspangledbanner – and one filly by Kodiac.

Two lots are heading to the Silver Sale, colts by Born To Sea and Sepoy, while three will be taken to the Goffs Orby auction – a Dark Angel brother to Heeraat, a Starspangledbanner half-brother to Group 3 scorer Tinnitus and a filly by the Sundstrom family’s homebred Classic winner and leading sire Le Havre.

“We feel quite comfortable selling in Britain and Ireland now,” says Sundstrom. “I know a little bit more what sort of horse to bring because not every one is going to be a Laurens, we know that.

“I’ve been following the Goffs UK Silver Sale and I think it’s a sale that’s kicking off. Because the main sale has become so expensive, what happens is the people who want to spend 20 to 50 thousand on a horse are being blown out of the water all the time. But we desperately need this section of the market. Not all horses can cost £200,000.

“So I said to my parents, why don’t we see if we have two excellent yearlings, but by sires who maybe aren’t as commercial, for it. We found a pair of colts by Born To Sea and Sepoy with great pedigrees who are fantastic individuals. They’re French bred, so have French premiums.”

The Orby yearlings will not be the first horses sold by Coulonces at Goffs, as the winning Montjeu mare Ginx Johnson was sold in foal to Zoffany for €58,000 at the February Sale of 2016 as part of a reconnaissance mission.

“I have to test the water a little first and now I know how long it takes to travel to Goffs with the horse, how much it takes out of the horse, how many days early we need to arrive,” Sundstrom says.

“We have three yearlings going to the Orby, all homebreds or pinhooks of our own including a Le Havre filly, because we are Le Havre – we have to!”

Le Havre was bred by Sundstrom’s parents Jan and Maja and sold by Coulonces at the Arqana August Yearling Sale for €100,000, while the operation also sold Le Havre’s dual Classic-winning daughter Avenir Certain as a yearling in the same ring for €45,000.

Looking forward to selling more stars like those in the coming months – starting in Deauville next month, where the youngsters on offer include a brother to Le Havre’s other dual Classic-winning daughter, La Cressonniere – Sundstrom is feeling positive but pragmatic.

“We have to be selective as breeders, we have to prepare the horses and pay attention to every detail we can to make them into healthy and good yearlings. That’s the only way we’re going to sell them with the market the way it is,” she says.

“They can’t have problems as you can’t sell problems. And I think that’s only right.

“At the end of the day I’m sure it’s going to be another good year but we have to adjust our expectations of what the market is. It’s no good wishing for £200,000 for a horse that’s worth £50,000.”

Coulonces’s cross-continental yearling drafts have benefits beyond just appealing to foreign markets, she adds.

“When I go to sales there are so many trainers in Britain and Ireland I don’t know,” she says. “But I want them to train my horses. I want to shake hands with them and see if we can do something, and coming to Doncaster has opened up so many relationships.”

Among Sundstrom’s new friends is Dance, while her bond with Burke has been further strengthened, having also sold him his Molecomb Stakes winner Havana Grey on behalf of pinhookers Crimbourne Stud at Arqana.

Steadfast, single-minded females showcasing their talent across Europe: Laurens and Anna Sundstrom have surely learned a little from each other through their association.

This article was originally published by Racing Post.