Nothing beats attempting Championship events first hand, to see the course, to watch close up how the track is handling and to savour the atmosphere. So with the World Equestrian Games just a short plane ride away, I headed off to Normandy to watch the eventing and as usual I spent a lot of that trip being fascinated by the bloodlines of the horses competing.
What became evident was that at Championship level you still need blood – the undulations of the Haras du Pin, the technicality of the course and the soft ground, meant that horses needed the natural ability to gallop, stamina and quick reactions – all attributes to be found in the Thoroughbred.
The addition of some proven jumping blood into the mix seemed to provide the winning formula, and there were certain horses that really caught our eye with the way they handled the course.
The gold medallist Opgun Louvo ridden by Sandra Auffarth demonstrates how effective it is to combine international show jumping bloodlines with a strong thoroughbred influence. His sire Shogoun II (who jumped internationally) is by the influential Thoroughbred stallion Night and Day, who is the grandsire of the Olympic Gold medallist Jus De Pomme. In fact Shogoun II is very closely related to Jus de Pomme, as they share the same dam, Opaline Des Pins, a daughter of the influential Anglo Arab stallion Garitchou. Garitchou sired the licensed stallion Quo Vadis and 4 other licensed full brothers, and is also seen in the pedigree of Andiamo Z.
Opgun Louvo’s damsire is another Olympic show jumper, J’T’Adore who sire Brilloso, produced Dallas, a stallion well known to British breeders. From individual bronze in London to gold to in Caen, Opgun Louvo really is a brilliant combination of blood and jumping ability.
The silver medallist was the amazing horseman Michael Jung, this time riding his relatively inexperienced Fischerrocana FST. This 9 year old mare is a daughter of the German-bred Thoroughbred Ituango who stands at the State Stud in Marbach for a fee of just 300 euros. The 6yo world champion of young event horses at Le Lion D’Angers back in 2011, and over the undulations of the Haras Du Pin, the mare looked to be travelling very easily over the ground with good quick reactions.
The little mare can clearly jump, even winning the Indoor Jumping Derby at the Stuttgart German Masters last year and finishing 2nd at Luhmuhlen CCI**** in June. Her dam line shows where this jumping ability comes from with stellar names including Calypso, Akzent II (always a positive to see on the dam side), Gepard and Sandro. The last two being part of the lynch pin of the Schockemohle breeding program.
In bronze medal position and the best of the British, was the breeding stallion Chilli Morning, ridden by world number 1 William Fox-Pitt. Again this horse showed the benefit of crossing Thoroughbred blood onto jumping prowess. Chilli Morning’s damsire is Kolibri, a Mecklenburg champion foal before becoming reserve champion of his grading. Kolibri produced strong horses with good jumping ability and was suited by Thoroughbred mares.
Chilli Morning is already making an impact on British breeding with 4 Elite offspring presented at the BEF Futurity including the highest scoring youngster presented across the whole 2013 series, Pentire Chilli Edge who is out of a mare by the Thoroughbred stallion Michael’s Revenge. It will be very interesting to see how his oldest crops progress as they have already been making their mark in young horse classes across Europe.
Other horses that really caught the eye across country included the forth placed mare, and the highest of the British bred horses, Jonelle Price’s Classic Moet. This mare looked so classy all weekend, and again didn’t struggle with the stamina sapping course. A combination of two SHB(GB) (ex HIS) graded stallions, Classic and Bohemond, her dam was also an advanced eventer and she has a full sister competing at 2 star level. Classic has been well known as a sire of show horses, passing on good bone and a nice type. Classic Moet’s damsire Bohemond is not only the sire of Olympic eventer Withcote Nellie, but also the damsire of 3 time Kentucky CCI**** winner Winsome Adante. This really is ‘classic’ british eventing breeding.
Cadeau De Roi ridden by Frenchman Cedric Lyard was a big rangy eye-catching grey. The horse was unlucky to have faults at the water and certainly handled the course well. He is actually a Thoroughbred combining the likes of Kalamoun and Cadoudal in his back pedigree.
Another French horse Makara de Montiege is a grandson on the great Trakehner Grand Prix show jumper Abdullah, and also has blood form Jalisco onto a Thoroughbred and Anglo Arab motherline. A very scopey, tall, athletic looking horse, he did impress on his way round.
Another horse oozing class was Willy Do, ridden for New Zealand by Lucy Jackson. A fall at the 2nd water ruled them out, but this British bred horse is by the advanced eventer Matinee out of an Intermediate eventer by Hopton Lane, who himself sired Badminton horses.
So Is Et is a Westfalen horse by Sunlight with the great Ramiro Z on the dam’s side. His fast clear contributed to the German’s team Gold medal. Sunlight has been a very interesting horse for German breeders but carries traditional British blood being a grandson of Tudor Melody.
The final two horses I will mention do not fit the profile in terms of their bloodlines but still deserve a mention. Vira, ridden for Holland by Elaine Pen combines the bloodlines of leading dressage sire Jazz with that of Billy Twomey’s show jumping stallion Whinney Jackson. Vira had a very round canter action and was extremely neat with her front legs over the fences. Her scope and class and modern type appeared to compensate enough for the lesser amount of blood in her pedigree and her individual 13th place was well deserved.
Finally another German horse, Ingrid Klimke’s FRH Escada JS is a daughter of the show jumper Embassy I (Escudo x Silvio) out of a Lenherr mare. The Thoroughbred stallion Cardinal appears further back in her pedigree (who is known to British breeders as the sire of Paul Friday’s very good dressage stallion Cardinar). This classy mare has a lot of traditional Hanoverian jumping blood but she was tired towards the end of the course.
As a generalisation, horses that finished tired or ran out of steam and made mistakes later on in the course, had less ‘blood’ in their pedigrees and physically were a heavier stamp of horse with a rounder, more show-jumpery action. At non Championship courses this is far less of an issue, but at the pinnacle, blood tells. If breeders are aiming for competitive 4 star horses, then judicious use of Thoroughbred and Anglo Arab blood with some addition of proven jumping ability from other sources, seems to be a winning formula.
All photos used with permission from Will Baxter