It is always interesting to look back at the pedigrees behind the best performers at the Olympic Games. In dressage this was the 18 who came forward for the final day’s Kur. Although there were no British bred horses in this final medal decider, there were bloodline combinations and key sire influences to note that may help shape the plans of some British breeders.
First to go was All In for Canada (Tango x Damiro) representing the Jazz sire line but with jumping blood on the dam side (the dam Leontine is by the Ramiro Z son Damiro). Of course Tango himself is out of a Contango mare bringing in the jumping/eventing blood of Contender.
The other main Dutch sire line besides Jazz demonstrating continued dominance at this level was the line of Ferro. Through Ferro’s son Rousseau we next saw the beautiful Blue Hors Zack who is already a significant sire in his own right. Zack’s dam is a Jazz daughter. February 2021 saw his first international outing with current rider Nanna Skodborg Merrald but Zack had a lot of experience with his previous rider including World Cup Finals and European Championships. Zack has already produced super stallion sons such as Sezuan, Zoom and Glock’s Zonic.
Steffen Peter’s ride Suppenkasper may represent the KWPN studbook but his sire Speilberg is an Oldenburg grandson of the recently deceased Sandro Hit and the Flemmingh (Holstein) son Krack C as damsire. With an upbeat dance theme to his music, theirs was a freestyle that would have had the crowds joining in. Excellent half passes and passage for just short of 81% and a team silver medal already in the bag. I have noticed a number of breeders asking about Speilburg as a sire since the Olympics and we are lucky in the UK to have his Grand Prix stallion son available to mare owners in Durable.
I admit that Lusitano bloodlines are not my strong point but the test of Portugal’s Rodrigo Torres and Fogoso was again extremely enjoyable to watch. One handed tempi changes, two time changes on a circle and Pink Floyd as a sound track!
Back to bloodlines I do know and Spain’s Beatriz Ferrer-Salat and Elegance, the second for the Ferro line, this time through son Negro. Again jumper blood on the dam side though the Animo son Monaco. Very active in the hind leg with a lot of height in the passage, but the neck always looks a little short and I think that is partially the way he is built.
The first British rider was Carl Hester on the inexperienced En Vogue. A direct Jazz son we again see breeders choosing to use jumping blood, in this case coming through Contango as damsire. This combination of lines seems to really work if you have the masterful touch of Hester. A very elegant and athletic horse with super extensions and really straight tempi changes.
After a short break the second round of riders started with the Netherlands’ Hans Peter Minderhoud and the striking black KWPN stallion Dream Boy. This was the first pedigree to combine the two most prolific Dutch lines of Jazz and Ferro. Sire Vivaldi (Krack C x Jazz) brings the Jazz element and dam Resia is a direct daughter of Ferro with the Trakehner Balzflug in the next generation. A very picture of modern long legged dressage breeding, Dream Boy is full of energy and presence with super half passes but the tempi changes and even the passage leave the impression that the hind legs could come forward under the body more.
Another stallion that has a lot of breeder’s interested in using him after eye catching performances in Tokyo is Sabine Schut-Kery’s ride Sanceo (San Remo x Ramiro’s Son II). San Remo is a son of Sandro Hit who showed at this games he can produce world class Grand Prix horses in numbers. An elegant, light test with super piaffe and a beautiful open front means there are a lot of breeders especially in the US looking to bred to Sanceo now. What is interesting to me is the jumping blood giving the power to the pedigree and although Sanceo’s dam was bred to dressage stallions the rest of the mare line has produced more jumpers. The tempi changes could still show more reach and impulsion from behind but it was a lovely test to watch.
For Denmark the really elegant mare Heiline’s Danciera (Furstenball x De Niro) is a three times young horse world championship finalist and is still only 10 years old. Light footed with tons of elasticity she struggles with the piaffe that gets very close in front. I think with a bit more strength she will be around at the top level for some time. It is also the first time in this final that we see a direct Florestan line representative or De Niro appearing in the pedigree. Sire Furstenball (Furst Heinrich x Donnerhall) has his oldest crop now aged 11 and a number starting to come through to small tour and Grand Prix. He has also produced a lot of licensed sons.
The De Niro legacy was exhibited in the next ride – Therese Nilshagen and the popular breeding stallion Dante Weltino (Danone I x Welt Hit II) being a grandson of the great sire. Although he has only been available frozen in recent years due to his competition commitments, he looks to have the credentials to become an influential Grand Prix sire himself. I particularly like the double cross of Weltmeyer in the third generation. I love the forwardness in the canter and the ground covering extensions. Even though he lacks that fire that the Dutch horses tend to have he just looks like the most fabulous horse to ride.
Therese was immediately followed by another Swedish rider but mounted on a very different moving horse – Juliette Ramel and Buriel KH. The trot is more high stepping than the previous Dante Weltino, with less ground cover with makes the piaffe and passage very active but there is not enough ground cover in the half passes. Buriel is another representative of the Ferro line being by his son Osmium who brings in the jumping blood again through damsire Calypso I. On Buriel’s dam side is Krack C and the Selle Francais Nuriel.
Next another Dutch bred horse – Everdale. Again the high knee action but this breeding stallion has more presence and expression than the last horse and rider Charlotte Fry does well to contain all that energy, although the neck does tend to get a bit short and there were the odd minor explosion. Everdale is by Lord Leatherdale out of a Negro daughter, so the influence of Ferro again. Lord Leatherdale represents the Landgraf sire line and is also the sire of 7 year old World Champion Glamourdale and the young Premium stallion Lord Europe.
The final group started with Catherine Dufour and her Bordeaux son Bohemian. Catherine seems to get on with horses with a good amount of Trakehner blood as her previous top horse Cassidy was by the great Caprimond and Bordeaux carries Gribaldi and Partout blood. On Bohemian’s dam side we see the Sandro Hit son Samarant. I did like this test, the piaffe passage transitions were seemless, the walk was good, and the music went particuarly beautifully with the difficult canter work. At 11 years old, Bohemian comes from the first crop of Bordeaux who also competed to Grand Prix level, a crop that also includes the very talented Rose of Bavaria (Laura Tomlinson). A long time favo urite of mine, Bordeaux could really be one to use if breeding for Grand Prix performance.
The Trakehner theme continued with the simply beautiful test of Jessica Von Bredow-Werndl and her great mare TSF Dalera BB. A rangy elegant mare, the relationship between these two is evident. Harmonious, expressive, rhythmical and in a perfect frame, I could watch them all day. Dalera is a daughter of Easy Game, who is also very well known as the sire of Millenium – a Trakehner as celebrated in other German studbooks as he is within the Trakehner one. On the dam side we see Handryk who is by Van Deyk, a very long lived Grand Prix stallion whose son Kaiserdom stands in Sussex. The black beauty Hohenstein is in the third generation.
Then we moved back to the high stepping Dutch lines and Total US really does spring off the floor combined with a very high knee and hock action. Edward Gal really nursed this young stallion through the test and although there were a lot of highlights, the spectacular movement was combined with a hollow back in the extended trot and a piaffe that was really close behind. With more strength he could be even more huge moving than his sire Totilas (by the Trakehner Gribaldi). On the dam side we see that reliable producer Sir Donnerhall flying the flag for the Sandro Hit line again. We do have a Grand Prix stallion son of Totilas standing in the UK in Timolin who has also evented to intermediate level and has some promising stock starting under saddle.
From a young horse at the start of his career to a champion at the end of hers. Isabel Werth secured yet another Olympic medal on the 17 year old Bella Rose. It was another super test from this great mare but couldnt quite peg back the fabulous Dalera.The only representative of the Belissimo M blood in the final combined with a damline that brings the Anglo Arab blood of Cacir. Interestingly most of Bella Rose’s siblings went jumping with her half sister even producing an international 1.60m horse.
Charlotte Dujardin rode another excellent test on the inexperienced Gio. He wasnt my favourite horse of the Games but had some real highlights. He flew the flag for the Jazz lines carrying two crosses to the current World number 2 sire. His sire Apache was a Grand Prix competitor himself and is a great grandson of Jazz, the damsire is Tango again (Jazz x Contango).
The final horse forward was the German team medallist Showtime and Dorothee Schneider. Showtime is the most successful direct son of Sandro Hit out of a mare by the Hanoverian stalwart Rotspon and then the great Donnerhall in the third generation. Although he didnt earn an individual medal here, his gold medal winning team performance helped make this a very successful games for his late sire.
Looking back across the pedigrees of these top 18 Olympic horses, there are a few key notes for me. One is the importance of not being afraid to include some jumping genetics in the back pedigree. This can be seen in numerous examples above. Second is to note the dominance of 3 main sire lines, that of Jazz, Ferro and Sandro Hit. The third is the successful influence of Trakehner blood in some of the very best horses that competed in the freestyle in Tokyo.