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Cavalier Royale: Outstanding German legacy for Ireland

The National, Spruce Meadows, June 2001, Rich Fellers (USA) riding Amos during the Akita Drilling Cup

By Adriana van Tilburg
Photography: Peter Llewellyn

Over the past few years, in analyzing the jumping bloodlines of the Irish horses that are qualifying for the FEI-WBFSH World Breeding Championship for Young Horses in Lanaken, one name is returning over and over again: the Holsteiner bred stallion Cavalier Royale (Cor de la Bryère - Ligustra x Liguster, Stamm 474A). Bred by Manfred and Anke Johannsen, Cavalier Royale was the first Holsteiner to be imported to Ireland, so what is the story behind this ever popular stallion?

Tornesch is a very small town in Schleswig-Holstein, Germany, but the soil has provided a highly fertile breeding ground for some of the top sport horses. The mares Zamora and her full sister Etoile both flourished in different hands, with the latter being responsible for the branch of Verdi TN (Quidam de Revel), 1m70 with Maikel van der Vleuten, and VDL Bubalu (Baloubet du Rouet), 1m60 with Jur Vrieling.
From Zamora (Aldato) we are familiar with, for example, Cavalier Royale (Cor de la Bryère), his full brother Cicero (standing at stud at Fox Fire Farm in the USA), Cicera’s Icewater (Corofino I), Kyra III (Carthago), 1m60 with Ludo Philippaerts, VDL Groep Spiga (Carthago), 1m60 with Leopold van Asten, and Coolidge (Clinton I), 1m60 with Jörg Naeve. All these horses were bred by Anke andManfred Johannsen, the parents of the very successful eventing rider Inken von Platen-Hallermund (née Johannsen).
European traveller with Schleswig-Holstein roots

Zamora’s damline has been with the Johannsen’s for many generations, dating back to 1900, and originally coming from Anke’s side; the Plüschau family. And if you take a closer look at the motherline of Cavalier Royale, you will see that the damsire, grand-damsire and great-grand-damsire were also bred by the Johannsen-Plüschau family.
The State Premium mare Ligustra had 11 offspring, with eight of being being by the Selle Français-bred stallion Cor de la Bryère (Rantzau xx - Quenotte x Lurioso, bred by Therese Essayan). Cavalier Royale was the first born offspring of Ligustra, while her second foal became the approved stallion Caprivi (Capitano).
Thymara, a full sister of Cavalier Royale, was the champion mare of the Holsteiner Studbook, the performance test champion champion for her generation, and grandmother to VDL Groep Spiga.
Cicero, the full brother to Cavalier Royale and Thymara, became 1984 reserve chamion at the Holsteiner stallion approvals and went to the USA in 1988 to Karen Reid of Fox Fire Farm. He is perhaps best known as the damsire of Cristallo (Caretino) who jumped with great success at 1m60 under the saddle of Richard Spooner.
Vamara is another full sister, and also plays a role in Irish breeding as she is the mother of Courage II (Capitol I) – ranked fifth for eventing sires in the WBFSH ranking, dropping from third place in 2018. Courage II was also the stallion with the most representatives at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. He arrived in Ireland as a 12-year-old stallion in 2002 and passed away in 2006. Some articles have written that Courage II could be considered as the great Cavalier Royale replacement, even though he only stood for four years at stud in Ireland. I wonder if these journalists realize how close these two stallions are related. Andrea Etter says about Courage II: “Courage II was privately owned in Switzerland where he covered a limited amount of mares. Then he was sold or leased to Ireland, probably due to the Cavalier connection.” Courage competed under the saddle of Walter Gabathuler and Leslie McNaught, both Swiss riders who agree that he was ‘very nice to ride, with very good willingness to perform, and had a lot of scope.’ .. To read the complete article you need to be a subscriber