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1 October 2008
 

WHO WILL CARRY THE TORCH?

By Tom Reed
L’Annee Hippique 2008/2009


In the days leading up to the 2008 Olympics two stallions died whose blood courses through the veins of the three individual medal winners. My stallion Ekstein (Zion x Joost) -- the dam-sire of Hickstead, winner of the Individual Gold Medal and Team Silver Medal -- passed away suddenly while walking to his paddock; Guidam (Quidam de Revel x Venutard) -- the sire of Ninja la Silla, winner of the Individual Silver Medal, and Authentic, winner of the Individual Bronze Medal and Team Gold Medal -- died as a result of injuries sustained while being transported. Do any stallions that competed in Hong Kong have the potential to produce Olympians of the future? Who will carry the Olympic breeding torch for Ekstein and Guidam?

Showjumping
Almost two dozen showjumping stallions competed in Hong Kong (see Table 1), among them the Gold Medal winner Hickstead. Sired by Hamlet (a son of Nimmerdor) and out of the mare Jomara (sired by Ekstein), and bred by B. van Schijndel, the KWPN-registered stallion Hickstead has a full-brother named Hickstead II that is a 2004 stallion approved by Studbook Zangersheide plus a half-brother named Nieco (by the sire Holland) that is an international eventing horse. Hickstead is approved by the NRPS studbook in the Netherlands and has not sired many foals as his sport career has always come first. But Eric Lamaze, Hickstead’s rider, has been quoted as saying that semen from the champion stallion will be available in 2009. Breeders often mistakenly jump on a bandwagon when a stallion wins an important competition but in this case Hickstead deserves serious consideration. He has proven himself for the last few years as one of the world‘s very best showjumpers but just as important Hickstead’s dam Jomara produced an international showjumper, an international eventer, and two approved stallions. Those genetics are potentially valuable for any breeding program.

Following Hickstead in the rankings there are a number of very good showjumping stallions but breeders are advised to perform due diligence before using them as breeding stallions. Many of these stallions, like Hickstead, have not been used much in breeding so we do not know what they will produce. Some are not approved for breeding by a studbook and, in fact, may have been rejected as youngsters because of health issues. At least one stallion is on the KWPN studbook’s Watch List because of serious deficiencies in the quality of his first crop of foals; this stallion’s breeding license is likely to be taken away once the KWPN can find ten progeny to re-inspect -- a task they have been unable to perform for the better part of a decade because the stallion has sired so few foals. Another stallion that is indeed a world-class showjumper is equally famous for the poor quality of his semen. Another stallion, to my eye, has consistently poor jumping technique despite his impressive bloodlines and a phenotype that belies his genotype.

A stallion that stands out for me along with Hickstead as one that has the potential to sire Olympians of the future is Cornet Obolensky (Clinton x Heartbreaker). (Disclosure: In 2008 I put two of my mares in foal to Cornet Obolensky.) Although this young stallion did not jump well in Hong Kong he is producing very promising youngsters that appear to have inherited his fantastic jumping manners. At the 2008 Bundeschampionate (German Young Horse Showjumping Championship) the Champion and Vice-Champion in the 5-year-old competition were both sired by Cornet Obolensky. In addition over a dozen sons from his first crop of foals have been approved as stallions by various studbooks in Europe. I avoided using Cornet Obolensky until 2008 because I wanted to assess his rideability by observing him in sport: both his sire Clinton and his damsire Heartbreaker are extremely talented showjumpers but they also are difficult to ride. Cornet Obolensky convinced me of his rideability while participating this year in World Cup, Nations Cup, and Grand Prix classes. The domination of the Bundeschampionate by Cornet Obolensky’s progeny suggests to me that he is not passing on to his sons and daughters whatever rideability problems there are within his own sire and damsire.

Breeders like me who believe in the supremacy of the damline should take a very close look at two half-brothers that competed in Hong Kong: Quintus (Pavaratti van de Helle x Garitchou x) and Tresor d’Opaline (Major de la Cour x Garitchou x). Both stallions share the world-class mare Opaline des Pins as their dam; she is also the dam of the 1996 Olympic Gold Medal winner Jus de Pomme. So Opaline des Pins is the mother of three Olympic showjumping stallions! These stallions come from a very valuable motherline and could become important sires.


Dressage
Of the six stallions that competed in dressage in Hong Kong (see Table 2) three stand out as potential producers of future Olympians.

Don Schufro (Donnerhall x Pik Bube I) is a non-controversial pick as he has been at or near the top of the German Federation’s dressage breeding value index for several years. Don Schufro descends from a damline that has produced many approved stallions and international dressage horses and this stallion‘s expressive gaits and rideability are noteworthy.

Briar (Magini x Krocket), the Swedish Warmblood stallion, has bloodlines that will not be familiar to many breeders but this amazingly durable stallion has genetics that could serve as a valuable outcross for breeders who need to diversify their gene pool. However with only 25 percent thoroughbred blood Briar likely needs mares that are light and elegant.

For me the most interesting dressage stallion in Hong Kong was Lancet (Wenzel I x Shogun xx). Approved by the KWPN and Hanoverian studbooks, Lancet is a modern stallion with great elasticity and expression. Under his previous rider I liked the stallion but I always felt that riding him would be like sitting on a powder keg; under Emma Hindle, who purchased Lancet in 2004, this stallion seems more relaxed and happy in himself. He could be a valuable sire for old-fashioned mares that need more “blood” in their athletic expression.


Eventing
Only one stallion competed in eventing in Hong Kong (see Table 3), the thoroughbred Kinzhal xx (Pink Wincher xx x Shar xx). The dearth of stallions competing in international eventing is probably due to the inherent risks in eventing plus the enhanced sense of self-preservation that many stallions seem to possess.


Will any of the stallions that competed in Hong Kong sire future Olympians? Time will tell. But we do know for sure our chances of success will be enhanced if we use in our breeding programs very athletic stallions with superior motherlines and very athletic mares with superior motherlines. This is a simple formula but a necessary one if we hope to leave our own fingerprints on the Olympic torch.



TABLE 1
2008 OLYMPIC SHOWJUMPING STALLIONS
(by individual final rank)

1st HICKSTEAD (KWPN, 1996, Hamlet x Ekstein)
8th OPIUM (WEST, 1996, Polydor x Bormio xx)
9th O'BRIEN (KWPN, 1996, Peter Pan x Goudsmid)
10th CUMANO (HOLS, 1993, Casssini I x Landgraf I)
10th QUINTUS (BWP, 1993, Pavaratti van de Helle x Garitchou x)
10th CASINO (HOLS, 1998, Cash x Lord)
29th RUSSELL (HOLS, 1995, Corofino I x Lincoln)
29th ZORRO (HANN, 1999, Rabino x Westmister)
33rd JAGUAR MAIL (SF, 1997, Hand in Glove xx x Laudanum xx)
40th DON PORFIRIO (KWPN, 1997, Indoctro x Ekstein)
42ND ORESTUS (KWPN, 1996, Indoctro x Ramiro)
44TH CORNET OBOLENSKY (BWP, 1999, Clinton x Heartbreaker)
47th URBAN (BWP, 1997, Darco x Reg Magna xx)
54th KALASKA DE SEMILLY (SF, 1998, Diamant de Semilly x Night and Day xx)
54th YAMATO (HSHBA, 1997, Corino x Hargita)
58th WIDO (BWP, 1999, Nabab de Reve x Heartbreaker)
63rd TRESOR D'OPALINE (BWP, 1996. Major de la Cour x Garitchou x)
63rd CHAMBACUNERO (KWPN, 1997, Quidam de Revel x Grannus)
67TH JUMPY DES FONTAINES (SF, 1997, Jus de Pomme x Ramiro)
72nd UN BLANC DE BLANCS (BWP, 1997, Sheyenne de Baugy x Quat'Sous)
72nd IONESCO DE BREKKA (SF, 1996 Dollar du Murier x Quat'Sous)
72nd CODAR (BWP, 1997, Clinton x Darco)
77th PEPPERMILL (KWPN, 1997, Burggraaf x Voltaire)

Source: FEI, IOC, WBFSH, The Show Jumping Archive



TABLE 2
2008 OLYMPIC DRESSAGE STALLIONS
(by individual final rank)

4th RAVEL (KWPN, 1998, Contango x Democraat)
6th BALAGUR (ORLOV, 1990, Raskat x Kolchan)
7th LANCET (HANN, 1993, Wenzel I x Shogun xx)
9th VINCENT (HANN, 1992 Weltmeyer x Absatz)
10th BRIAR (SWB, 1991, Magini x Krocket)
11th DON SCHUFRO (OLDB, 1993, Donnerhall x Pik Bube I)

Source: FEI, IOC, WBFSH



TABLE 3
2008 OLYMPIC EVENTING STALLIONS
(by individual final rank)

41st KINZHAL XX (TB, 1998, Pink Wincher xx x Shar xx)

Source: FEI, IOC, WBFSH