Ready Cash – simply magical

by Lisa Harkema

Ready Cash was born May 20th at breeder Pierre Tebirent’s Haras De La Fesniere in La Chapelle-Rainsouin in the Mayenne department. Originally from Paris, Tebirent did not grow up with horses and became familiar with them while on holiday trips in Normandy. He then bought his first trotter, Corail de Lakmee, when he was 19, but sold the horse relatively soon afterwards as it was, in Tebirent’s own words, «not particularly talented.» Corail de Lakmee did not earn a single franc – and Tebirent instead bought Dalila L, a relatively good filly trained by Ali Hawas. A few years later Tebirent came into contact with young Philippe Allaire and they developed a lasting friendship. When Tebirent in the early 80s was ready to buy a broodmare, his eyes fell on Ocre et Verte. Allaire, who owned her, had already negotiated a sale with another buyer and instead offered Tebirent her sister Nera on the cheap. Tebirent used in the first years the breeder name «d’Or» and the first horse he bred was Regle d’Or by Duc de Vrie out of Nera. This was a good horse who earned just over 70000 euros in the 80s. Nera will return prominently later in the story.

Tebirent’s first contact with the maternal family who later produced Ready Cash took place a few years later, in 1984. He was with Allaire at Vincennes when the latter was promptly asked by trainer Bernard Giot to drive the filly Oceanide in an upcoming race. Even though the odds was 450:10, she won the race and Allaire was relatively happy with the filly. Tebirent was so enthusiastic that he immediately submitted a bid for the 4-year-old. The bid was immediately rejected but the mare had left a lasting impression. Jump eight years ahead and Tebirent is browsing a catalog for the annual yearling auction in Caen. The name «Oceanide» captures his interest, he calls Allaire and they agree to look at her foal together. But the inspection turned out to be rather disappointing. Doceanide du Lilas, a daughter of Workaholic and Oceanide, was very small and there weren’t even any bids. Tebirent, however, couldn’t get the young filly out of his head, so he went to the breeder Anne Marie Alix with an offer. He wanted to try the filly for eight days; if he liked her and Allaire gave up the thumbs up, he would buy her, otherwise «we would at least have the pleasure of getting to know each other.» When Allaire first saw the little filly, the reaction was immediate and crystal clear, «you’re nuts.» But when he started to drive her, the tone changed immediately. «Listen to me, buy her,» he told Tebirent – and nobody would regret it when Doceanide du Lilas grew up (though still very small) to become one of the better fillies in the D-crop as a young horse. A victory in Prix Marcel Dejean as a two-year-old was followed by second places in Prix Gelinotte, Prix Masina, Prix Roquepine and Prix Une de Mai – while she «only» finished fourth in Prix Uranie.

Doceanide du Lilas won 3 of 24 races in her career – and interestingly enough all wins came as a two-year-old. As a four-year-old, Tebirent felt that she had done her bit on the track and bred her to Tarass Boulba. The mating produced Iacopo, a horse that only earned € 7874, but according to Tebirent was talented but with bad legs. Iacopo qualified in June as a two-year-old but after his first start two months later he was injured and did not return until he was four. In the end he only raced 18 times in his life. The third offspring, the filly Kidea (after Jean-Pierre Dubois and Anders Lindqvist’s star Extreme Dream), excelled early as a special talent. After impressing in her qualifier in June as a two-year-old, she then won in 1’18″2 / 2:05.4 at Enghien in her second start two months later. Another two months later she was narrowly beaten by Kiss Melody in the Prix Marcel Dejean. There was no shame in losing to Kiss Melody, a star filly who earned almost one million euros for Allaire senior. Towards the end of the year, Kidea needed a knee operation which set her back a whole year before returning. The operation was not successful, however, and when Kidea’s first three starts back from injury ended with two disqualifications and one finish out of the money, she was returned to Tebirent and entered the broodmare ranks.

In 1999, when Kidea was a yearling, Tebirent became ill. The back problems he initially thought was due to his horses and too much manual work, instead turned out to be kidney cancer. Naturally, he reduced his holdings to just a few horses. At the same time, he also received a bid on his property from a sheikh in Abu Dhabi. Since he contemplated moving anyway, he accepted the offer. When he found a new dream resort in Mayenne, he only had a small broodmare band consisting of Kidea, Doceanide du Lilas, his first broodmare Nera and her daughter Urne d’Or (who was also a good broodmare) while almost all other broodmares were sold – including the mare Harmony Blue, a daughter of Nera, who said «well, thank you for nothing» in her own special way by nailing Tebirent really good with her back hooves prior to leaving.

Tebirent always had a love for American bloodlines and stallions, and Viking’s Way, a paternal grandson of Bonefish, proved close to his heart. When it was time to select a stallion for Kidea’s third foal in 2004, the choice fell on the Viking’s Way-son Indy de Vive. Tebirent liked the stallion after seeing him race both at Enghien and in Le Croise-Laroche. That year, Indy de Vive also stood at Haras de Vaiges just a few kilometers from Tebirent’s new farm. When invited to look at the stallion, the choice was easy since he found Indy de Vive simply «beautiful in every way.»

The foal by Indy de Vive out of Kidea looked really nice and Tebirent chose to keep the colt (instead of selling him). When separating foals from their dams, Tebirent usually put the colts with two ponies, but this colt, named Ready Cash, had too much energy. Instead the colt was put with his old mare Nera, who was given the task of raising him, before he was sent to Allaire for training. Early in the new year as a two-year-old Allaire called Tebirent and the message was impossible to misunderstand. «This is not an ordinary horse, this is the horse of your life. You should send the broodmare back to the same stallion.» Tebirent got the message and in 2007 both Kidea and Doceanide du Lilas were bred to Indy de Vive. The following year Ready Cash’s full sister Upper Class (top mare, earned € 338 950) and Utello (unstarted) were born. Sadly, it was Indy de Vive’s last season at stud; he died in April 2008 as a 12-year-old. Oddly enough, both the sire and damsire of Ready Cash died at age of 12-year-olds.

Ready Cash followed the family tradition of qualifying early, trotting his qualifier in 1’21″1 / 2:10.2 on June 15, 2007. His debut in Reims ended with a simple victory and the next race at Enghien was won in the same fashion. He was then well on his way to a third consecutive victory in the next race, his debut at Vincennes, but was disqualified when he broke because of a shadow on the track. This proved just an exception and then went on a 9 race win streak, including in Criterium des Jeunes where the owner group was offered 1 million euros for his star shortly after the race. After a brutal opening (1’10″4 / 1200m and 1’11″6 / 1700m; 1:55.1 mile rate the first 1 1 /16th mile) he surprisingly lost the Prix de l’Etoile. Still, this was his only loss in a three-year season that produced 10 wins in 11 starts.

Ready Cash clearly inherited the natural talent and early development from his dam, while his pedigree is a nice mix of American and French bloodlines. He is linebred on Roquepine’s great son Florestan and in my eyes has inherited several characteristics from him plus from Workaholic, his damdamsire. Both of these sires represent raw speed and pure trotting abilities. His damsire, Extreme Dream, clearly also plays a part in balancing things out. Extreme Dream was a monster until injuries got the better of him. He was, however, not overly speedy but much stronger and with a fighting spirit. Though the pedigree isn’t special on paper, all the different parts came together perfectly in this horse.

In his first start as a four-year-old, in the Prix de Selection, he then lost to Rolling d’Heripre, his arch nemesis at four. Though the latter comes from Eugenie Quintin’s hugely successful Haras de la Futelaie in Normandy (who uses «d’Heripre» as her breeding name), it was in reality a family duel: Rolling d’Heripre is a son of Harmony Blue, the mare bred by Tebirent and who gave him a rather unfriendly parting gift mentioned above. And the maternal grandmother of Rolling d’Heripre, and dam of Harmony Blue, is none other than of Nera, the mare who raised Ready Cash!

After a sixth-place finish in the Prix de l’Atlantique, he took a few months off to focus on stallion duties in the summer of 2009. Back on the track he notched up five victories in the late summer and the beginning of the winter meeting. But despite the victories, Ready Cash had changed. On the track he still had all the abilities in the world but he was more stressed. Franck Nivard, who had now replaced Bernard Piton as a driver, struggled to calm him down on many occasions. In Criterium Continental he met a most of the European four-year-old elite, but it ended with disappointment as Ready Cash’ wheel got hooked with the wheel of the Italian Le Touquet and he was disqualified. (But it is dubious if he could have done anything with an exceptional Rolling d’Heripre, who beat the rest of the European elite by 15-20 lengths in a ridiculous demonstration of supremacy.)

Despite the loss, he was still one of the favorites for the 2010 Prix d’Amerique. However, an equipment change backfired as he again broke stride and was disqualified. The eight first starts of the 2010 season ended with only one win and four disqualifications. The downward spiral culminated in Criterium des 5 ans, a race that Ready Cash simply could not nor should he lose. But not surprisingly, the Indy de Vive-son, for no apparent reason at all, threw himself into a gallop at the bottom of the hill at Vincennes and kept galloping all the way to the finish line. Allaire decided that enough was enough and communicated this to the other owners (Tebirent and Pascal Berthou). Tebirent replied with his standard answer to his old friend, «just do what you think is best.» But what was the best thing to do? Tebirent’s unlimited and blind trust in Allaire would pay off handsomely.

Faced with this puzzle, Most trainers would experiment with a multitude of things in the blind – and often vain – hope that things would return to the good old days. However, Allaire’s solution reveals him to be a truly special and selfless person with a rather unique personal mentality. Allaire wanted a new set of eyes to figure out his star trotter. The moody and fickle Ready Cash was then moved to the good young coach Thierry Duvaldestin in Normandy. «I wanted a second opinion and at the same time I thought it would help to move the horse away from Grosbois where he had been for four years. Grosbois is a great place to train horses but it’s limited with big fencing so my training choice was one with facilities in Normandy where there are also large outdoor areas for the horses.»

Duvaldestin started with a full veterinary checkup, which revealed a small back problem. At Duvaldestin’s farm Ready Cash was now allowed to be outside 24 hours every day (he was only taken in on very cold nights). The training was also switched as Duvaldestin trained him a bit on the beaches of Normandy. Duvaldestin also switched driver back to Franck Nivard (Allaire had most recently used Jos Verbeeck), though Duvaldestin himself drove in some minor races. The racing tactics were also changed; when trained by Allaire he usually attacked early and wanted to sit in the lead but Duvaldestin wanted him to attacked from behind much later in the races. The rest is, as they say, history. Under Duvaldestin’s knowledgeable tutelage, Ready Cash took 18 victories including wins in the Prix d’Amerique (x2), Prix de France (x2), Prix de Bourgogne (x3), Prix du Bourbonnais (x2), Prix de Paris, Grand Prix de Wallonie and the UET Trotting Masters in 2013. The latter is by many considered the most impressive in his career. The race pitted superstars like (alphabetically) Brad de Veluwe, Commander Crowe, Main Wise As, Ready Cash, Roxane Griff, Sanity, Save the Quick, Sebastian K, The Best Madrik and Timoko against each other. Ready Cash quickly found himself having to go the distance (2700m / 1 11/16th mile) first over outside of Commander Crowe. This did not bother him in the slightest, however. Down the final stretch at Vincennes, Nivard simply turned on the turbo and Ready Cash span away with ridiculous ease, in effect making a mockery of the European elite.Surprisingly, though, this was his last career win. Only four months later he broke in the last turn of the Prix d’Amerique while Maharajah was gearing up for his successful attack on Up and Quick in the pouring rain. After weak performances in the Prix du Bourbonnais and Prix de Bourgogne in the 2014/15 winter meeting something seemed off and they chose to put an end to his stellar career.

But not so long after Allaire is out with Ready Cash, just jogging him lightly at his Bouttemont farm to keep him in shape … and the star seems back to his old self. Allaire immediately called his Danish wife Gitte and asks her to enter him in the Prix de France. What a comeback it would be! But Gitte cannot enter him as the deadline expired the previous day. She suggests calling and trying some sweet talk the right people to have him entered anyway. Surely they would bend the rules for Ready Cash? But no, Allaire instead takes it as a sign that there should be no comeback for the superstar and Ready Cash remained in the ranks of retirees.

As a stallion he has completely dominated French trotting. Since 2016 he’s been the undisputed champion stallion in France. Three different sons (Bold Eagle, Readly Express and Face Time Bourbon) has won the Prix d’Amerique. Every French group 1 sulky race has been won by at least one son or daughter of Ready Cash. No matter where in Europe you are, if there is a big race with good money, his get consistently challenges for honors. His sons and daughters often inherit his early talent and both speed and strength – but the drawback is that many also inherit their sire’s mental characteristics. For this reason some advice only breeding a more stable and balanced mare to Ready Cash. Even though they are not mean, some can be quite the handful.

Ready Cash retired 40-8-3 in 66 starts. His fastest time was 1’10″3 / 1:53.1, though that was set over 2100 meter (1 5/16th mile). Personally I firmly believe he could have trotted much faster. Much faster! Many believes he could have matched Sebastian K over the shortest distance, although that is just speculation. His career earnings were €4 282 300, roughly 5.4m USD. At 15 he is now the most popular – and most likely the most expensive (his stud fee is listed as private) – stallion in the world.

As we look back at his career it is, in my eyes, essential to underscore the importance of Philippe Allaire. Not only for initially developing him, but also for being the trainer who selflessly put away his pride, and humbly and admirably assigned Ready Cash to Duvaldestin – a move which allowed Ready Cash to take his place among the true greats of French trotting like Roquepine, Ourasi, Bellino II and Ideal du Gazeau. Both his racing and stallion career underscores Allaire’s message to Tebirent: this is not an ordinary horse.

Ready Cash is just magical.