As a breeder, I try and make good use of my subscription to internet channels such as Clip My Horse to watch equestrian events from around the globe, and am always making a mental note of the bloodlines of horses that catch my eye. On this occasion I have been watching the World Young Horse Championships, which for the dressage horses is held at Ermelo in Holland.
A lot of young stallions are competing there themselves, which may be of interest for future breeding decisions. But also when you watch enough of these events either live or on TV, you start to observe a pattern in the bloodlines of horses that appeal to you as an individual.
This may not be “British breeding” directly but all British breeders need to keep learning and informing themselves of what is successful on the world stage. These are some of the seven year competitors that caught my eye this year.
In the preliminary round, a gelding called Greek Air caught my eye. He was light footed, elastic and in good balance. Sadly in the Final he showed a lot of tension and did not score so well, but I still looked at his pedigree with interest. Greek Air is a son of the internationally successful Grand Prix competitor and leading sire Gribaldi. I often find myself drawn to stock carrying his blood which may be partially due to my fondness for Trakehners. His dam is by Florestan, another sire who has founded a phenomenally successful line of both breeding stallions and sport horses. In the next generation is the jumping stallion Landadel and in fact the motherline is predominately a very successful one for the production of top jumping horses.
Greek Air’s dam Flybaboo Air has already produced the 2016 Young Horse Bronze Medal winner Sir Olli, and she has a half sister by Contender called Panam Air. Panam Air has produced two very interesting stallion sons – Quiwi Dream, by Quidam de Revel, and the 2016 Oldenburg licensing champion Zinedream by Zinedine.
The use of a jumping motherline to produce dressage horses can be seen for example with the sire Stedinger, whose reputation as a leading sire is increasing all the time through both his own offspring and those of his daughters. Stedinger is out of the Landadel daughter Bold Fantasy, who when bred back to jumping sires, is the grandmother of the top young Oldenburg stallion Casino Grande. Casino Grande’s first two crops of foals have been praised for their big elastic movement.
So for breeders considering which jumping blood they could successfully introduce to their dressage breeding programmes, both Quiwi Dream and Zinedream could be interesting options.
Back to the action in Ermelo and I also noticed the offspring of the Gribaldi son Totilas catching my eye. I am lucky enough to have known Totilas during my time working in Germany, and I have to say I was never a fan until I met him in the flesh. That horse has an aura that is hard to describe, a presence that always makes you do a double take. It is accepted now that he is not a foal maker – if you want flashy, pretty, knees up foals, then he is not the sire for you. But his offspring do seem to coming into their own under saddle, and he had a number in contention at Ermelo.
Gotilas du Feuillard is out of a Ferro x Sandro Hit mare, and as I have a broodmare from the direct motherline of Ferro, I was interested to see how this mare had crossed with Totilas. The canter of Gotilas was a highlight and he showed some good potential for the collected Grand Prix work in that pace. His ride in the Final was not so high scoring as in the qualifying round, but with the canter being such an important pace, I mentally noted this cross with interest. I believe British breeder Rosemary Penn is now the owner of the dam of this impressive young horse!
Another Totilas son showing a lot of activity and a masses of potential for Grand Prix work was the eventual Silver Medallist Governor-STR. Ridden by Adelinde Cornelissen, he is out of the half sister to her international star Parzival and has the physical talent to back up his exciting genetics. Also from this direct family is an interesting 4 year old stallion called Jerveaux (by Ferdeaux). Governor scored 9.5 for submission and 9.5 for perspective (overall impression).
I am not a fan of the trend towards the ‘modern’ look of long legs, long pasterns, and lighter frames but prefer a slightly more compact frame, power and strength, so a stallion I liked in the 7 year old final was Nymphenburg’s First Ampere. Combining my favoured Ferro sireline (he is by the Ferro grandson Ampere) out of a traditional powerful Hanoverian mareline. Although the outline was not always perfect, overall he showed super power and articulation in the hind leg, a big supple walk with big overtrack. I think on a mare who needs a stallion with strength and power, he is one to consider, and the judges placed him 6th overall in the Final.
There may have not been any British bred horses competing but we can claim a British victory when the super talented young rider Charlotte Fry rode the Van Olst Stallion’s magnificent Glamourdale to victory. This stallion absolutely fills the eye, he has a beautiful expressive front end, but the hind leg also supports this. The walk was the weakest of his three paces but the canter was exceptional with really big expressive changes. He scored 9.8 for his trot, 10 for canter, down to 7.6 for the walk. Overall his final score of 87.05% was enough for the World title and full credit to Charlotte for some beautiful riding.
Glamourdale is a son of Rheinland stallion Lord Leatherdale, a sire line that traces directly back to jumping supremo Landgraf. The dam is by the great Ferro son Negro, of course the sire of Valegro, and then there is more jumping blood from the great dam sire Ahorn. The motherline is again very interesting. Glamourdale’s great granddam is a mare called Clementine, who is the dam of Michael Whitaker’s superb jumping stallion Handel, owned by Anne Bedford and still available frozen semen here in the UK. More immediately Glamourdale’s dam Thuja is the full sister to Numberto, competed by Spencer Wilton to international Grand Prix.
So what did I take out of the 7 year old World Final – 1) keep looking for the interesting jumping blood to add back to my dressage programme and 2) we are producing some of the best dressage riders in the world, we just need to get them mounted on British bred stock!