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Four decades of FEI World Cup Final™ breeding

Alamo (2008/KWPN/g Ukato - Mariona x Equador) ridden to 2019 FEI World Cup Final™ victory by Steve Guerdat (SUI)

By Christopher Hector and Gemma Alexander
Photography: FEI; Graphics: Gemma Alexander

The first FEI World Cup Showjumping Final™ was in Göteborg in 1979. It was the inspiration of Swiss journalist. Max Ammann, with the blessing of the then president of the FEI, HRH The Duke of Edinburgh, who saw it as a way of keeping professional riders, who were not allowed to go to the Olympic Games, under the FEI umbrella.

Ammann wrote written countless books that are a wonderful source of information about equestrian sport but, alas, he does not seem to be much interested in the breeding of the horses, at least at the beginning of the World Cups, so we learned little of the breeding from his World Cup media guides, or the book, The Volvo World Cup – The first ten years. Ammann wasn’t alone, the FEI was supremely casual when it came to getting the breeding right too.
Later, Ammann, and Joep Bartels, who wrote the book, The World Cup Dressage – The first ten years, did become serious about detailing the breeding and the breeders of the horses, and helped introduce breeding details to start sheets as a matter of course.

The first final: 1979

If we go to another results source for that first final, then you find the breeding of five of the 27 finalists, plus the wrong breeding for a sixth. The sire of Gerd Wiltfang’s Roman is listed as Romadour II, when the horse was by Romadour I. This is not trivial, since there is reason to believe that Romadour II was in fact by Dulft III, carrying the great dressage blood of Duellant, while Romadour I looked much more like Romulus I, a son of Radetsky, who is listed as the sire of both. It has been established that the dam was covered by both stallions!
Days of sleuthing later, I am able, hopefully, to identify the breeding of 18 of the 27, and thanks to all who helped in the search.
Looking back from 2019, the standout is the number of Thoroughbreds, almost one third, eight out of 27, we can, with varying degrees of certainty call Thoroughbred (which makes ‘Thoroughbred’ the studbook with the largest representation), and there is more Thoroughbred up close. The two Selle Français in the first final, had lots of blood, Val de Loire’s damsire was a son of Orange Peel xx, while Faon Rouge’s dam was half Thoroughbred. Ryan’s Son was by Oxymandids xx, and if we find the breeding of the other Irish jumpers, then I bet we’ll find more Thoroughbred. I was a trifle amazed when I contacted Zangersheide to find the breeding of Romeo Z, to be told that 1979 was before the establishment of the studbook, so they couldn’t help. The late Léon Melchior might just be rolling in his grave since he took breeding and bloodlines, very very seriously.
At the time, many people just didn’t care how the horse was bred as long as it left the rails intact. American jumping star, Bernie Traurig, replied to my query about the breeding of The Cardinal, somewhat forlornly: “Hi Chris, I’m sorry I wish I knew that information and I don’t know anyone who knows that information, we all just assumed he is a Thoroughbred horse, breeding unknown. If you could dig it up I’d be very grateful.” Now, it is a bit late to find out.
It was also the era of the gelding, there is but one mare and no stallions on that first list.

The second decade: 1989

Ten years later, the final is in Tampa, and already there are serious moves to recognize breeders and bloodlines. As president of the FEI, HRH Princess Anne called a meeting of sport horse breeding experts, the year before the final, in September 1988, an initiative that resulted in the formation of the World Breeding Federation for Sport Horses in 1994, and the pressure was now on the show organizers to include breeding information on start lists...To read the complete article you need to be a subscriber



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