The first weekend in January is now the traditional outing to the British Bred Sport Horse stallion show at Hartpury College. It is the first view of the year of some of the best UK based stallions across all three Olympic disciplines, from the established old boys with proven form, to the new young talents. For many mare owners it is a chance to get a short list together of stallions to consider for the upcoming year, for the stallion owners it is a chance to meet their customers face to face, and for all breeders it is a chance to meet friends old and new.
2015 was unique in that the day started with a meeting of the newly established British Breeders Network, an organisation formed by breeders wanting to come together to share experiences and create a better market for their stock. This finished in good time to allow the attendees to watch the dressage stallions who were first up. I was pleased to find at least one stallion to add to the short list for a particular mare I am planning on covering this season.
But the focus of this article is the eventing stallions, who were presented after the interval and numbered 19 in total. Depending on your mare and breeding goals, there really was a stallion for everyone. Ramiro B, presented by Harthill Stud has been a favourite of mine for a long time. My view is that at the higher levels, a strong dose of jumping blood onto a good thoroughbred bottom line to give you the gallop and stamina, can be a very good combination. Ramiro B is a prime example of that. He is bred to show jump, jumped internationally himself, and has produced offspring that are winning on the international circuit. However when bred to the right mare, he is producing 2 and 3 star CCI and CIC winners and Kentucky 3rd placed Ballynoe Castle RM. This resulted in him finishing 10th in the 2014 WBFSH rankings moving up from 33rd place the year before.
He was shown in hand at Hartpury in deference to his 20 years, and looked sprightly as ever, but what really caught the eye was his son Cooley SRS who was shown with him, displaying excellent technique and scope and a superb easy temperament. When interviewed afterwards, Oli Townend confirmed how easy the Ramiro B offspring are to produce, and how he feels crossing proven jumping genetics onto a blood mare is a winning combination for the modern eventing sport.
Echoing Oli’s views on the need for great trainability when breeding eventers was Lucinda Fredericks, who brought the beautifully bred Britannia’s Mail to Hartpury. A son of her remarkable mare Headley Britannia, and sired by the half Thoroughbred Olympic showjumper Jaguar Mail, Britannia Mail (also known as Marley), was totally relaxed and straight forward to ride. This allowed Lucinda to show how easy he was over the fences, turning on tight lines back to the fences, jumping on the angle, lengthening and shortening. He might be bred to jump round a 4 star track but Marley must be an option for the breeder looking for produce a nice sane horse for themselves who will be trainable and straight forward.
Another stallion with 4 star connections was Future Gravitas, a half brother to Olympic Silver medallist Winsome Adante. Future Gravitas is a lovely type, a stamp so often produced by his Trakehner sire Grafenstolz. At only a rising 5 year old he was unfazed by the atmosphere and demonstrated his easy temperament by jumping a Future Sport Horses banner held up by in the centre of the ring – a nice touch to end his display.
For mare owners looking to add a lot more bone and substance to their mare, there was the Irish Draught stallion Carraig Donovan, a big but well proportioned grey horse who was very relaxed and quiet when receiving visitors to his stable. For mare owners wanting to go the other way and add blood to their mares, there was the National Hunt bred Thoroughbred stallion Sula Blue, who was shown with one of his offspring in the arena. Due to only having only just recovered from a bruised sole Sula Blue was only shown on the flat, but he demonstrated great trainability, a good step under of the hind leg, and is a very elegant stamp of a horse. It will be very interesting to watch this lovely stallion in sport in 2015 as he won two Open Intermediates in 2014 and then finished 2nd in the CIC** at Gatcombe.
Another option for mare owners looking for the addition of blood to breed their future eventer was the Anglo Arab Persiflage. Bred by the Guinness family (the breeders of Tamarillo) he was competed in the past at 2 and 3 star level. He was a little keen to his fences, showing quick reactions and carefulness.
If you are looking to add some warmblood lines to breed your future eventer, then Exclusive, ridden by Emily Llewellyn was one that caught the eye. A nice moving athletic horse he has a lot of Dutch jumping blood (Numero Uno and Voltaire) but nearly 50% Thoroughbred blood further back. He had a very solid first BE season in 2014 and is certainly one to watch.
If it is colour that catches your eye, then both Free Spirit and Amazing Jigsaw were two coloured stallions that appealed. Free Spirit is now standing at Horestone Stud where he is looking to build on an already solid stud career, including breeding the 2013 HOYS coloured champion. A son of the legendary Jumbo he showed a good length of stride, a well proportioned frame and a nice attitude. It was the first time I had come across Amazing Jigsaw who combines Dutch coloured bloodlines on the top of his pedigree with good old fashioned British National Hunter blood on the dams side. He is nice scopey type, who was happy to jump his fences on an angle and off tight turns and his son that paraded with him looked a nice elegant type.
Finally anyone looking at breeding an eventing pony should consider Jonkers Metyo , a Dutch bred stallion but with well known British bloodlines such as Small-Land, Oakley and Lechlade. He struck me as having a most beautiful head and lovely attitude in the stable and was neat and scopey over his fences in the arena. If only I was small enough to ride a 14.2!
Breeding is difficult. Breeding an eventer is really difficult. As a breeder you need to know your mare, know what your breeding goals are and then choose a stallion that will compliment that mare and help you towards your goals. The range of stallions available in the UK is vast and there is no doubt that the eventing stallions on display at Hartpury offered enough variety to suit many aspiring British breeders.