By Christopher Hector
Photography: Peter Llewellyn
For a long time, the trade in dressage blood flowed from Germany to Holland, now it seems the tide has turned and German breeders are increasingly using Dutch blood. This trend can clearly be seen in Frankfurt, one of the world's great indoor shows, and in the Nürnberger Burg-Pokal, a prestigeous class for horses aged seven to nine.
The moving force behind the competition was the late Reiner Klimke. He wanted a competition to bridge the gap between Prix St Georges and Grand Prix, and the horses compete in a modified Prix St Georges test, after qualifying in a series of tests held all over Germany.
Interestingly, the German horses that were used to establish the Dutch dressage horses came not from the heartland of dressage breeding, Hanover, but from the jumping bloodlines of Holstein. Thus, still the most influential Dutch dressage stallion, Jazz is by Cocktail, out of a mare by Ulster. Okay, Cocktail was a Grand Prix dressage competitor but there was little in his pedigree that would indicate that. Cocktail's sire, Purioso, like his sire, Furioso, was a genuine all-rounder, he bred as many jumpers as he did dressage horses, but that's about it. Cocktail is out of a mare by the Thoroughbred, Le Val Blanc, and Jazz is out of a mare by a son of the great jumping sire, Nimmerdor, out of a mare by one of those towering hunks from Holstein, Amor.
That other pillar of Dutch dressage breeding, Ferro, is by Ulft by the French sire of jumpers, Le Mexico, out of a mare by another Holsteiner tank, Farn. Indeed, Ferro commenced his career as a showjumper before he found his niche as a Grand Prix dressage horse. Similarly, Krack C’s career as an international dressage competitor, would seem to have little to do with his breeding. His sire, Flemmingh is straight jumping Holsteiner, while his dam is by a son of the influential Thoroughbred sire of jumpers, Lucky Boy xx. More recently the German Trakehner, Gribaldi, has been an influential sire in Holland, being more conventionally bred for dressage, although there is precious little by way of any sort of performance on his pedigree.
I find it interesting that the first three, bred to jump, became fine Grand Prix horses, yet none of their sons, bred for dressage, including some superstars of the licensing, went on to be a top Grand Prix horse, with the notable exception of the Jazz son, Johnson (out of a Flemmingh mare). Of this more later...
Now it would seem that while the wilder predictions of a Dutch invasion have not come true, certainly blood from the Low Countries is reaching even the elite levels of the Burg-Pokal finalists.
Thus we had Hubertus Schmidt riding Bonamour by the Hanoverian stallion Bonifatius (Belissimo x Lauries Crusador). The dam was by Rousseau (Ferro x Römer), albeit out of a mare by the stalwart of Hanoverian breeding, Werther.
Then we have Bluetooth, a curious mix of Dutch and German Warmblood aristocracy, and born on Paul Schockemöhle's Gestüt Lewitz. Bluetooth is by the Dutch stallion, Bordeaux, who is by United who is by Krack C out of Nessica, a daughter of another Dutch Grand Prix stallion, the Trakehner, TCN Partout. Bordeaux is out of Venna, by Gribaldi – Venna is out of Leandra M by Donnerhall, out of Roussina, by the German Rousseau (Romadour II x Lugano II) out of the very famous mare, Adone (Angelo xx x Donar) who was the dam of Uphoff's superstar, Rembrandt, out of Dodona, dam of two Olympians, Adone and Ahlerich, and the grand-dam of Rubinstein. Whew! But there is even more royalty lurking in the papers....
Bluetooth's dam is Ravissant (Riccione) who is by the Rubinstein son, Regazzoni, out of a mare by the Trakehner, Arogno, out of a mare by the founder of today's influential ‘B’ line, Bolero. It gets better on the final line, Ravissant is out of Loreana (Don Schufro) out of the Queen of Paul Schockemohle's mare band, Loretta (Ramino x Welt As), who is the dam of Sandro Hit and Diamond Hit.
That pedigree is the bloodline geek’s ultimate fantasy, and really only goes to show that you can’t ride the paper. Bluetooth himself is a most unimpressive creature, very long and flat, strung out behind in the trot, and seemingly too weak behind to take the weight and collect in the canter - along with a wickedly lateral walk. In the first round of the Burg-Pokal, despite having Ingrid Klimke in the saddle, it was a very poor test, but again perhaps because of having Klimke in the saddle, the gelding twice scored 74, while Dietrich Plewa viewed it more soberly for a 69...
Susan Pape rode another Dutchy, Harmony's Eclectisch, by a son of the Dutch-bred Rousseau, Zenon, who is out of a mare by the 1m50 metre showjumper, Whinny Jackson, who has all the big three in his breeding: Farn, Amor and Nimmador. Harmony's Eclectisch is out of a mare by the Jazz son Olivi, who is out of a mare by the Dutch-bred, international dressage competitor, Aktion. Sadly, the harmony was only in the prefix, and the horse's test was marked by a flurry of tail swishing. In truth, all three of the Dutch-bred horses showed this fault in varying degrees of intensity. In the past I had always assumed that this was a product of the Dutch riding style, but when you have this same result with three elite German riders, Schmidt, Klimke and Pape, then you start to wonder – is it a heritable trait?..CLICK HERE TO SUBSCRIBE TO BREEDING NEWSSUBSCRIBERS CAN READ THE COMPLETE ARTICLE BY LOGGING IN AND RETURNING TO THIS PAGE