l-r: Laura Quint with 6yo stallion Kandour (For Romance x Uphill, breeder Gert Willem van Norel); Jennifer Sekreve and 10yo approved stallion Gotcha-Utopia (Ziësto x Uphill, breeder E. Fikse). Photo: Wilma Frentz

Following complications from heart surgery, well-known Dutch breeder Gert Willem van Norel passed away recently at the age of 76.

It all started in 1977 when Gert Willem van Norel’s home-bred stallion Pretendent (Le Faquin xx x Duc de Normandie) was approved by the KWPN. Thus, Pretendent was the foundation for Gert Willem's renowned Pretendenthoeve stables in Wapenveld. Remarkable stallions followed, including Vanitas (Pretendent x Commandant), Vincent (Pretendent x Duc de Normandie) becoming Dutch national champion showed by Annemarie Sanders-Keijzer, Cabochon (Vincent x Commandant), Facet (Vanitas x Tolbert), Oscar (Wolfgang x Nabuur) and his son Uphill (Oscar x Apollonios xx).

In 2004, Van Norel was awarded as Breeder of the Year by KWPN. On this occasion he specifically talked about Pretendent: “This stallion was the reason that I became a stallion owner for better or worse. Pretendent was way ahead of his time. If we had him nowadays, he would still fit in modern breeding, showing energy and reaction in his legs as well as suppleness in his body, completed by the Thoroughbred blood in his veins.”

Trained by Diederik van Silfhout the home-bred Expression (Vivaldi - Melody keur pref sport x Vincent x Appollonios xx) also made it to Grand Prix level. In 2015, Gert Willem van Norel received the prestigious Royal award ‘Officier in de Orde van Oranje-Nassau’ for his services to Dutch horse breeding. His wife Roelie and their sons will continue Pretendenthoeve in the best way they can. An impressive ceremony for the man who lived for his dream of breeding very well moving dressage horses with that ‘Van Norel extra sparkling’ was held at Pretendenthoeve stables. Surrounded by his favourite horses and riders his sons drove him in his horse truck to his final destination on earth. CvA