Jean-François Bernard died during the night of the 27th of May 2015 following a debilitating illness, which had been discovered only six months earlier when it has already progressed to a stage that was no longer treatable.
Jean-François Bernard was hard to miss, thanks to his personality, his bulky frame and his infamous “outbursts”. He was known to easily fly off the handle, but those who met with him on a regular basis knew that underneath of it all, he was hiding a big heart. A heart that for the last thirty years had been beating in unison with a talented amateur lady rider, his wife Babeth. Together, they lived a life full of adventure, in the Middle East and more precisely in Abu Dhabi and Oman, before starting again at zero at La Teste in 2005.
Both shared the same work ethics and it soon paid off. Their first winner was Miesque de l’Ardus (Kesberoy x Jelfa de l’Ardus) who won on her first start at Dax. Bought by Jean-Pierre de Gasté for the Saudi owner Al Khalediah, the following year she won a Group 1 PA in England. Thanks to that victory, more horses owned by the Saudi yard arrived at the Jean-François Bernard stable. Also, upon his return to France, his friends Martial Boisseuil and Jean-Pierre Deroubaix sent him horses owned by HH Sheikh Mansoor bin Zayed Al Nahyan and by the Royal Cavalry of Oman, both stables for whom he had worked while living in the Middle East.
From then on, success was no stranger, in France but also abroad thanks to Kiss de Ghazal (Dormane x Kaoe de Ghazal) winner of Group 1PA The President of The UAE Cup in Ascot, Al Mamun Monlau (Munjiz x Salalah de Monlau) who lifted the Group 1 PA Dubai Kahayla Classic and No Problem Al Maury (Dormane x Nemosie Al Maury), winner of the Group 1 PA Malazgirt Trophy in Istanbul.
In 2008, Jean-François was the leading trainer, in terms of prize-money, of Purebred Arabians horses in France. He lost that title in 2009, but regained it in 2010 to keep in until the end of the 2014 season.
These last years, the Jean-François Bernard stable was regularly filled with between 70 to 75 horses, owned by about twenty different owners. Since his illness had been discovered, his wife Babeth had been looking after the stable, helped by Olivier Trigodet. Everyone in the Purebred Arabian horse racing world is hoping that his wife will be able to follow in his footsteps.
One thing is certain, Jean-François’ legendary outbursts are going to be missed, but we all wish his wife Elisabeth Garel-Bernard all the success in the world.