All dreams are allowed on Roja’s farm (1/2)

From her first steps astride her grandfather’s bouillon to the purchase of Emilie du Gd Bois, a mare not necessarily intended for breeding, to the advent of the Olympian Urvoso du Roche, miracle worker turned international star, Antoine Bollaert has expertly built his livestock farm in the heart of Pas- de Calais. This cultivator, a farmer by profession, has been racing his small herd of horses with his wife Christina for just over twenty years. Having given birth to about twenty foals and having achieved success thanks to their son Nervoso, the couple still gives themselves the right to dream big.

At a time when large farms are legion, when the production of several dozen foals every year is becoming more and more frequent throughout Europe, some professionals prefer to stay on the human scale, developing one or two lines that they know well. A strategy that often pays off by allowing cracks to appear. In the heart of the Pas de Calais, in Cavron Saint Martin, a small rural town of less than a thousand inhabitants, Ferme Saint Roch pays special attention to horses. Since 1996, Antoine Bollaert, his wife Christina and their four children have been cultivating their passion in their land. Before experiencing success thanks to a certain Urvoso, a fine servant of the French team under the saddle of northerner Nicolas Delmotte, who led him first to the Longines Europeans in Rotterdam in 2019, then to the Tokyo Olympics in 2021, winning two Serious 5* Grand Prix in La Baule and Chantilly Meanwhile, Antoine Bollard met horses for the first time on the family farm. “I am the son, grandson, great-grandson of a peasant”a sixty-year-old young man begins. “We are farmers from generation to generation. In the sixties we still had horses that allowed us to work. This went on for several years. As children, we rode our boulonnes and went to the fields with my grandfather. We have always bathed in this life.”

Hourvoso du Roche in his early years with Nicolas Delmotte. © Sportfot

Emilie du Gd Bois, mare of a lifetime

Coming from the rural world and the earth, Antoine Bollaert follows the path opened by previous generations. On a vast plot of which he is a tenant, he first breeds cows. But without delay, the passion for horses overtakes him. “We have always loved horses. We went to learn riding, about ten kilometers from home. We took our bikes and went for a ride. Then my father bought us a horse.”he continues. Since then, the boy has cherished the dream of buying his own horse as soon as he becomes a farmer. Then the father of the family, Antoine, waits ten years before taking the course. His children grow up, he goes in search of his rare pearl. “I was looking for an old horse to fulfill the adage “young rider, old horse”. A friend had a stable and some horses to show me.” recalls the northerner. “In the end, none suited me. At the end of the stable, I noticed a small filly that he had just picked up. I said, “I want this one,” and I bought it. I returned with a young four-year-old mare named Emilie du Gd Bois, not knowing her parentage. Because it wasn’t very big, I thought it would be perfect for my kids.”

Emilie du Gd Bois, Urvoso’s mother and the breeding ground of Roch. © Private collection

Daughter of Grande d’Escla and Kerida d’Hauterive, daughter of the good Anglo-Arab Samuel, Emily, a small chestnut mare, is primarily intended for recreation and sport. On her mother’s side, Selle Francais, also born in Pas-de-Calais, does not have many champions, although she does have a half-brother, Irano du Gde Bois, who is credited with ISO 131 in jumping and that his third mother, Hardy du Bois, produced a Twins scoring 138 points in show jumping before producing some good products. “His father, Grande d’Escla, was Alme’s son. It was a good origin”– says the breeder. However, the one that was supposed to become a family mare reveals a completely different facet. “It turned out that we can’t ride her, as she is very sensitive to everything. For an amateur like me, and for my children, it was too difficult.”, yields to Antoine. Recruited by friends, Emily exhibits qualities that would undoubtedly lead her to a good career on the fields of amateur competition, but an injury to the right front complicates the northerner’s plans. On the advice of Didier Delsarte, an old friend, the farmer changed his mind and decided to dedicate his little chestnut tree to breeding. This selection marks the official start of Le Roch breeding and subsequent success.

matron character

However, nothing was decided. Originally acquired to please the entire family, Emily moves into a new life and engages her loved ones in this crazy adventure called reproduction. Antoine talks about his desire to start breeding by inseminating a mare at his veterinarian. Imagine his surprise when the latter abandoned the radical “You will never have a foal, this mare is a twin!” Indeed, on April 20, 1992, Querida d’Auterive gave birth to not one, but two Grand d’Escla products: Emily and therefore her twin, Éland du Gde Bois. A rare fact in breeding, but one that the evidence shows can lead to beautiful stories. “Emily is a little piece” a breeder slips in, not letting go of the idea of ​​having a foal from his beloved mare. After several attempts, the chestnut will conceive Coquin du Manoir (SF, Nut des Garandons x In Chala A), the original stallion who, according to SIRE, covered about twenty mares between 1998 and 2000. In May 1999, Little Roch was born, the first to bear the Bollaert family affix.

Merveil du Roche, Emily’s second foal. © Sportfot

Fragile under the saddle, Emily endows her offspring with a strong character, a quality that is undoubtedly necessary for true matrons. “She really is my mare. She knows me well, and even though he is very difficult with others, she is very respectful with me.” Antoine confesses. “I get on very well with her and she is a very good mother. When she gave birth to her foals, I could take them, handle them, etc. She is a true companion in life, as a dog can be. Despite everything, she has a fiery character! In the pasture, with other horses, if she decides that no one is going back to the stable, no one will go. All the horses were behind her, and no one flinched. She was a real leader.” Now at 30 years old, and with physical signs inevitably brought about by the passage of time, the little chestnut nevertheless remains a true dominant. “Even today, if she ever chuckles, everyone else follows her. When something was wrong, she always knew how to tell me. It’s incredible.” driven by the enthusiast who relishes the opportunity to cross paths with such a mare endowed with iron health to boot.

Surround yourself with the right people

After Little, in June 2000, Emily gave birth to a girl with the apt name of Merveil du Roche. This daughter of Aristocrat Jacques (SF, Jalisco B x Emir IV, AA) marks the real beginning history of success Bollartov. Like his younger brother, Selle Français is entrusted to Didier Delsar. Quickly the pilot discovers interesting potential in the protégé of the Roh breed. “He said to me: “You have a damn cool horse, you should give it to Bruno.” I asked him: “Bruno who?”, to which he replied: “Bruxo.” I told myself that he was crazy, that I would not lead my mare to the winner of the World Cup final! In the end, I showed him, and he decided to hire her for a month. It turned into two, then three, then eight months.”Antoine says. First ridden by Anthony Barbier at four and five years old, the bay mare took the reins from Alexander Sewer to handle classic cycles designed for six-year-olds. In Verkiniel, the birthplace of the late Bernard Lesage, Mervey established herself to the delight of her owners and breeders. “We went there with our hats as amateurs and Merweil finished first in the six year A class and second in the region.”smiles northerner. “Then Bruno took care of the sale of Mervey, who turned out to be a good mare.” Three years after the birth of the very good Merveil, Emily gave birth to Prince du Roche, son of Boléro de Brecy (SF, Le Tôt de Semilly x Starter). Launched for competition by Daniel Delsarte, the gelding continues with Nicolas Duhamel, with whom he races up to young CSI horses at the age of seven, earning a 140 index in 2010, before flying to the United States. A new success that encourages others to northern breeding.

The Mighty Prince du Roche with Stephanie Dumartin. © Sportfot

Tracing the path that led him to the production of excellent horses, Antoine never ceases to emphasize the importance of the people who accompanied, guided and advised him to start breeding. “Urvoso’s success started to attract a lot of people. People came to my house and asked how I managed to get such a horse. I told them that this was not my science, and that it mainly came from the fact that I surrounded myself with the right people who helped me choose the best possible crosses., breeder abounds. And specify: “I ride a horse, but I am not a rider. I more cowboy who brings his cows on his horse, but that’s all. I went through a few obstacle courses, but that’s about it. My job is a breeder, that’s what I like.

From Didier Delsart, who often took Emily into his structure at the end of her pregnancy to give birth in the best conditions, through Bruno Bruxo, who still has a few “du Roches” in the stables, or even Bernard Le Courteus to the head of the Haras de Brullemail hence the cracks of Katchina, Ornella and other Jaguar Mail, Antoine leaves no one behind in this almost collective success. “I can only thank the people who have worked for me as a breeder. I won’t say that I didn’t do anything, but I tried to listen to those who know”adds the northerner. “I didn’t leave blindly: the fact that I met Bruno allowed me to ask him what transitions would be reasonable. I also regularly call Monsieur Le Courtois to discuss breeding and stallions. We are proud of the crossbreeding that led to Urvoso, but I repeat: you must surround yourself with the right people, listen to them and do your best in your role as a breeder and in caring for horses. ”

If Mervey and Prince have already proven all the qualities of Emily’s protégé, then it will be Urvoso who will bring the Rox breed into the spotlight. Thanks to his devotion and perseverance, Antoine managed to reach the top. However, without the care of his breeder, Urvoso du Roche, the breeding star, might have reached heaven much sooner than expected… “I didn’t think I could get away with this kid…”the breeder sighed. “Perhaps in a large stable, with fifty births a year, this foal would no longer exist. I spent hours with him taking care of him every day.” For three weeks, the cute chestnut vacillated between life and death.

Hourvoso du Roche for a few hours of life together with his mother Emilie du Gd Bois. © Private collection

The second part of this article is available here.

Front page photo: Antoine Bollard and his dear Emilie du Gde Bois. © Private collection

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