Home Special feature Cloning the clones: A passing fad that’s best forgotten?

Cloning the clones: A passing fad that’s best forgotten?

Ulla Salzgeber (GER) riding Rusty during the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games

By Christopher Hector
Photography: © Peter Llewellyn

Karl Marx told us that history repeats itself, first as a tragedy, the second time as farce, so it would seem with the practice of cloning. Just when you thought clones were, like bell bottom trousers a passing fad best forgotten, they seem to be making a comeback.

Leading the charge is Norwegian stallion owner Kristin Andresen, who has decided to clone her number one stallion, Hesselhoj Donkey Boy (ERA Dancing Hit x Milan). Donkey Boy is a 12-year-old licensed Danish Warmblood stallion who was a superstar as a young horse, taking out the Danish Young Horse Championships four years in a row (2016-2019), as well as bronze at the 2017 World Breeding Championships in Ermelo, and silver in 2019. As a mature horse, he last competed in 2020 at a show in Skårup Fyn, winning the Inter II (76.184%) and the Grand Prix (75.367%).
Since then, Donkey Boy sold to Academy Bartels, but was severely injured in a barn accident in June 2022 before being delivered to the Netherlands. Nasty litigation followed and he is now back with his owner. Ms Andresen has her own breeding farm in Dilling, Norway, but keeps her stallions in Denmark. In November 2023 the vets cleared him to start being ridden again, and there is talk of him resuming a sport career.
Cloning was all the rage 20 years ago, with a roster of stars immortalised. One of the first was a clone of showjumping stallion Quidam de Revel. The clone of Quidam stood for a while at Joris Brabander’s stud in Belgium but has now disappeared, possibly to Poland, but no-one has bothered to go and find him! Another was Hugo Simon’s gelding ET who produced ET Cryozootech.
Many of the early clones were, in fact, crafted by Eric Palmer of the French company Cryozootech. On Mr Palmer’s twitter account there is footage of a nice chestnut stallion, Et Cetera Z by the ET clone out of a Jabad mare, competing in the four-year-old stallion championship in Fontainebleau in 2015. According to Mr Palmer, the young stallion’s round ‘is the proof of the concept of Cryozootech.’ The horse’s last competition result was 19th in a 1m35 class in August 2021.
Cryozootech also proudly unveiled two yearling clones of Ulla Salzgeber’s Rusty in June 2013 – one in France, one in the US. Again, the result was less than wonderful, they both ended up back with Eric, one gelded along the way, and he rides them both in low-level dressage competition.
When I interviewed him in 2022, I asked Eric if he was still cloning. “No. I still try to promote the stallions issued from cloning geldings, and I own several horses issued from ET and Calvaro clones.”
The one area in which cloning would seem to have been an enormous success is in the area of polo ponies (come to think of it, polo ponies look a bit like clones already…). In December 2016, the world’s best polo player, Adolfo Cambiaso rode six horses in the team that took out a prestigious championship, and all six were clones of his famous mare, Cuartetera.
One of the most famous horses to be cloned by Cryozootech was the Dutch dressage supremo Jazz. Two healthy clones were born in the United States in 2012. One was christened Hollywood, the other was never properly named and goes by Jazz Clone 2. This clone was bought by Samantha Munoz of the Dutch stud, Kortland, who sold clone 2 to ‘a rider’ in 2020.
Hollywood went into training with Patrick van der Meer who took him to Grand Prix. In 2023 they competed in a CDI at Exloo, for two scores of 69%. At the 2023 Dutch Grand Prix Championships the pair placed 11th. The horse was then given to a young rider, 20-year-old Robin Heiden. The pair last competed in May 2023 at Exloo for a pair of 69s in the Grand Prix and Special and prizemoney of €450. The horse is not licensed by the KWPN and seemingly hasn’t been used as a breeding stallion... To read the complete article you need to be a subscriber