Cross Country day saw a tough course as to be expected at Badminton and from a breeding point of view the Irish Sport Horse rose to the top. Oliver Townend retained his overnight lead, although on his second placed dressage ride – Ballaghmor Class, son of the Holstein stallion Courage II.

The use of Holstein jumpers onto more traditionally bred Irish mares is not a new phenomenon (remember Cavalier Royale) and the late Courage could well be considered the great Cavalier’s replacement, as he is not only the sire of Ballaghmor Class but also Tim Price’s Ringwood Sky Boy, who finishes in 6th place overnight, and previously other top horses such as Cooley Rorkes Drift.

Oliver Townend (GBR) riding Ballaghmor Class

Courage II himself combined two of the greats of Holstein breeding being a son of Capitol I out of a Cor De La Bryere mare.

In second place and just over 5 penalties behind Oli is Piggy French and the mare Vanir Kamira, another Irish Sport Horse with a Holstein sire line. Her sire Camiro De Haar Z may not be so well known but he carries a double cross back to the great foundation sire Cor De La Bryere and also to Ramiro. He was a Grand Prix show jumper with Richard Howley and now stands in France breeding both show jumping and eventing stock.

Christopher Burton is a beautiful rider in all phases and he was the only rider today to bring both his horses clear inside the time. In 3rd place was his first ride Graf Liberty, again an Irish Sport Horse by a Holstein, this time the Lancer II son Limmerick, with Cavalier Royale as the dam sire, so actually 3/4 Holstein in blood.

Christopher Burton (AUS) riding Graf Liberty

Christopher’s second ride Cooley Lands is also a Cavalier Royale grandson, this time through his sire Cavalier Land, but then has some well known Irish blood such as Clover Hill and the Thoroughbred Imperius further back in the pedigree. Splitting Christopher’s two rides is the incredible Andrew Nicholson on yet another Irish horse, the beautiful grey Swallow Springs. A slightly different pedigree this time as his sire Chillout is an Irish bred son of the great Trakehner international show jumping star Abdullah. Chillout was out of a 7/8 Thoroughbred mare and Swallow Springs dam is a daughter of the well known Thoroughbred sire Cult Hero.

In 7th place is the overnight leader Cillnabradden Evo, yet another Irish Sport Horse with a warmblood sire line. This time the sire is the KWPN registered Creevagh Ferro, who as his name suggests is a direct son of Olympic dressage  horse and super sire Ferro, who was actually bred to show jump. On the dam side we see the King of Diamonds son King Henry who is out of a half Thoroughbred mare.

New Zealander Virginia Thompson remains on her dressage score on the New Zealand bred Star Nouveau. However we seem the same formula, warmblood jumping sire onto Thoroughbred blood. This time the sire is the Dutch bred Goldstar, by the jumping sire Sultan. 0.6 of a penalty behind in 9th place is Australian Bill Levett and yet another Irish bred horse Lassban Diamond Lift. However this is the first time we see a Thoroughbred sire, this being Easy Lift , a son of Chair Lift (sire of Abbervail Dream) and then traditional Irish breeding on the dam side with Diamond Chin as the dam sire (by Flagmount Diamond).

In 10th place is the German bred Billy the Red, on whom Tina Cook felt she could have been even higher up the rankings had she not been held on course. This DSP (German Sport Horse) registered gelding is by the very popular Balou Du Rouet (who had another son competing here – Reve Du Rouet) out of a mare by the Thoroughbred Stan the Man, sire of course of Leslie Law’s Shear L’Eau and Shear H2O.

Kristina Cook (GBR) riding Billy The Red

The highest placed British bred is William Fox Pitt on Oratorio, who we discussed yesterday is a son of his Pau winner Oslo Biats. The pair had just 8.8 time penalties to finish in 14th place. An unlucky 11 penalties for dislodging a frangible pin for Mr Chunky and Padraig McCarthy dropped them out of a top ten position down to 19th.

So with a day to go, there is huge evidence that adding the right show jumping bred sire onto a predominately blood mare can give you the mixture of movement, ridability, scope, power and gallop to create a super 5 star eventer. We can do this in the UK, we just need to choose the right sires, look critically at our mares for their input and then look at our marketing and production to get some of these incredible riders onto our British horses.

All images courtesy Mitisubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials 2019/Kit Houghton