Breeder William Micklem with Zara Tindall - Photo: Susan Finnerty

USA/GREAT BRITAIN (by Susan Finnerty) Perhaps no one in the sport horse world has a longer wait for recognition and results than eventing horse breeders. And considering there was a number of veterans competing at the Rolex Kentucky and Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials – the first of this year’s northern hemisphere’s four-star events – some breeders will have waited almost two decades to see their horse compete at this level – and the recurrent theme from the top horses at both events was... longevity.

Longevity, certainly is some- thing which the Irish Sport Horse is noted for and, in turn, the Irish Sport Horse is a subject close to breeder and author William Micklem’s heart. So, unsurprisingly, there were a number of good-natured chuckles at the final Rolex Kentucky press conference when William enquired of the top-four riders what they looked for in a four-star event horse. Their responses (at the end of this article) make interesting reading and the common denominator is the ability to gallop for 12 minutes and boldness.

Micklem bred the 16-year- old High Kingdom (Master Imp xx - High Dolly x Pre- fairy xx) third this year with Zara Tindall (GBR), while the horse is a full-brother to Mandiba who competed at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games in Hong Kong and 2010 Altech FEI World Equestrian Games with Karen O’Connor (USA).

Add High Kingdom’s age to that of the pair of compara- tive youngsters; the 12-year- old Fischerrocana FST (Ituango xx - Rose, by Carismo. Breeder: Mirko Glotz) and 13-year-old Qalao des Mers (Iolisco de Quinhon - Ucaria de Crestian, by Kachou. Breeder: S.C.E.A. Ecurie Livio and their total is 41 (13.6 year average).

An honourable mention must surely go to the fourth- placed 18-year-old veteran of two Olympic Games, Mr Medicott (Cruising - Slieve Luachra x Edmund Burke xx), bred by Donal Geaney. Count him in and the grand total comes to 59, or an average of 14.75 years, for this year’s Rolex Kentucky top-four horses...

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