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1 May 2009


by Tom Reed
Horse International Vol 4 2009

In 1994 a bay filly is born in the Netherlands, and is named Melisimo. Four years later her first foal is born, a colt named Robin Hood. And eleven years later mother and son are reunited far from home – at the World Cup Final in Last Vegas.

The KWPN mare Melisimo was bred by D.J. Wijnands and S.H. van Heerde in the Netherlands. Her sire is the 1994 World Cup winner Libero H (Landgraf I x Ronald), a stallion that produced only 567 foals for the KWPN but had a very good strike rate for producing international showjumpers (see Horse International 2009 – 1 for my article on the WBFSH ranking of showjumping sires). Melismo's dam Hertogin was a 1.30 m. showjumper and as a broodmare received from the KWPN the predicates keur and prestatie. (Keur means that she was named a ster mare for her excellent conformation and movement and subsequently produced a good first foal; prestatie means that she produced at least three progeny that performed well in sport.) Hertogin was sired by Jasper (also known as Little One), who had an illustrious showjumping career with Hugo Simon that included winning the Hamburg Derby; her dam is Daisy (by the great sire Voltaire), a preferent prestatie mare (in the KWPN system, preferent means that she produced at last three daughters that become ster or keur mares).

Melisimo has not had a long career in sport because of her breeding activities but what she has done she has done well. With her USA rider Michelle Spadone in 2008 Melisimo was on the winning team in the 4-star Nations Cup of Buenos Aires (she had just one fence down over two rounds). In 2009 Melisimo placed 2nd in the 3-star Grand Prix at Wellington, 4th in the 3-star Grand Prix at Green Cove Springs, 6th in the CSI-A Grand Prix at Las Vegas, 8th at the 2-star Grand Prix at Tampa, and 9th in the 4-star Grand Prix at Wellington. At the World Cup Final Melisimo placed 32nd out of 44 competitors. I suspect the mare did not have enough experience to excel at this point in her development in a championship like the World Cup Final, which requires a showjumper to be in top form over several days and across a variety of types of classes.

As a filly Melisimo was sold by her breeders Wijnands and van Heerde to fellow Dutchman Bennie Wezenberg, who in 1997 bred the three-year-old to the very good stallion Animo (Alme x Amor), an international showjumper that competed in the 1992 Olympics with Norwegian rider Morten Aasen. Animo has produced many good international showjumpers for several studbooks including the KWPN.

The result of this breeding decision was Robin Hood, a bay gelding, ridden for Great Britain by the very talented rider Ben Maher. Over the last two years Robin Hood and Maher have produced excellent results that include being a member of the British team that was joint 2nd in the 4-star CSIO Nations Cup of Wellington (just one fence down), 4th in the 5-star Wellington Grand Prix, 7th in the 5-star Zurich Show 1.55 m. class, 1st in the 5-star Rotterdam Show 1.50 class, 2nd in the 5-star London – Olympia Grand Prix, and 3rd in the same show's 1.60 m. class. At the World Cup Final Robin Hood placed 7th and jumped very well.

Is this case of a mare and her son competing against one another in the World Cup Final a fluke or do their bloodlines suggest this is a somewhat predictable outcome? (When evaluating horses I always like to ask myself if their success in sport – or lack of success in sport – could have been predicted by the bloodlines or is it a freak occurrence?) Are there other notable horses in the damline of Melisimo and Robin Hood?

Recall Daisy, the preferent prestatie dam of Hertogin, the dam of Melisimo. Daisy has a full brother named Evoltaire (Voltaire x Narcos) that is an approved stallion in Italy and a full-sister name Charon that is a KWPN ster mare. Their dam is Utile (by Narcos).

Daisy also produced the ster mare Ischya (by Jasper), a full-sister of Hertogin, and the ster mare Jadalco (by Ladalco), a Z1 dressage competitor. Ischya is the dam of Lutina-H (by Wellington), a 1.20 m. showjumper. Lutina-H is the dam of Tiamo (by Lux Z), a 1.40 m. international showjumper.

Hertogin also produced Karina (by Wellington), a ster mare that has produced a number of progeny including the Swedish Warmblood Studbook approved stallion Ziezo (by Guidam). Another daughter Nikita (by Libero H), a keur mare and a full-sister to Melisimo, has produced a number of foals including Queen Nikita R&D Z (by Quite Easy), Champion Filly Foal at the Z-Festival 2003, and Volumia R&D (by Corland), an approved stallion in the Westfalen studbook in Germany. Other sisters of Melisimo include Olibero-D (also by Libero H), an international showjumping mare.

Melisimo was presented at the Belgian Warmblood Studbook-North America mare inspection in 2005 in the division of mares 7 years of age and older. With a score of 70 she was ranked 11th out of 37 mares. Melisimo's daughter Filigree (by Parco) was also presented and finished near the bottom, 27th out of 28 filly foals. Of course foal beauty pageants do not mean much when it comes to predicting success in sport.

Melisimo and Robin Hood being reunited at the World Cup Final was not a fluke: This is a good damline. We should expect to see more approved stallions and international showjumpers in future years from this damline if correct breeding choices are made. After all, in the final analysis, a good damline that has produced many athletes and correct breeding choices are the keys to success in breeding.