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August 1 2020
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Despite her wins on the track, the Marchioness of Moratalla leaves a complicated legacy.

If you are of the horsey set, you doubtless already knew of the Marchioness of Moratalla, who died in Biarritz in November of 2017. With an estate unofficially estimated to be worth $175 million, she didn’t have the same galactic fortune as racer breeders such as Dubai’s Sheikh Mohammed (whose Godolphin dominates the sport) or Chanel’s Wertheimer brothers, but her specimens are renowned, with more than 5,000 wins credited to her stable, housed at the Domaine de Coumères.

Establishing herself in the equestrian world in the early 1980s, María de la Soledad Cabeza de Vaca y Leighton, known to her friends as Sol, was of Spanish-aristocratic and wealthy-English heritage, but chose France for her base of operations. You couldn’t blame her for wanting to make a home for herself in the velvety hills of the French Basque Country, where her secluded Domaine de Coumères could be found, not too far from the home region of the trainer Maurice Labrouche, her first husband, who gave the marchioness her first horse. But she and her estate managers just didn’t love the taxes. It was so much more advantageous to stay domiciled in Switzerland, where her mother had already set up the family trusts.

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