By Kim Lundin
Photography: FEI/Libby Law
The European Championships in eventing which took place at Haras le Pin, some 250 km south of Paris, France, was a showcase for good management of talented horses. Remarkably, Gestüt Birkhof had three offspring by their sires complete the taxing cross country course.
It was a stellar event for the sire Birkhof’s Grafenstolz, nowadays under the ownership of The Stallion Company, who sired winner Lordships Graffalo as well as the fifth-placed Absolut Gold HDC.
With 56 horses entering the inaugural horse inspection and only 37 going through to the final jumping phase on a beautiful Sunday in front of the Haras Le Pin chateau – it was easy to draw the conclusion that the cross-country course designed by Pierre Le Goupil, French course designer in charge of Paris 2024, was too tough. It’s true that heavy rain forced a shortening of the course, the hilly terrain is always demanding, and the fences were both technical and challenging. Still, although many were eliminated, it was a fresh and fit group of horses that trotted up for the second horse inspection on Sunday morning; a gratifyingly fresher look than at the World Championshiops in Pratoni 2022. It was also obvious from the much-improved jumping results that there were fewer stiff legs and aching muscles this time around.
Following her impeccable dressage test, Rosalind Canter held the competition in her reins and steered Lordships Graffalo through the challenging course with zero time-faults. She was, in fact, the only rider to conquer that phase of the competition, taking the individual title as well as team gold.
A handsome gelding, Lordships Graffalo (2012/SHBGB/g Birkhof’s Grafenstolz TSF - Cornish Queen x Rock King) was bred by Lordships Stud at Writtle College, and has a lot in common with his sire. Grafenstolz started out his career winning the Bundeschampionat as a six-year-old, the WBYCH in Le Lion d’Angers with Michael Jung, and went on to take five victories in CIC2*/CCI2* events before being retired from sport for breeding duties as a 10-year-old. Lordships Graffalo also started out his career with a good placing in Le Lion d’Angers as a seven-year-old, then ridden by Tom McEwen as Rosalind Canter was expecting her first child.
Grafenstolz also sired the fifth-placed Absolut Gold HDC, and has an interesting pedigree from the Trakehner lines with Polarion TSF (Grand Prix dressage) and damsire Camelot. In Germany he has close to 450 competing offspring at the national level split between the disciplines, with a slight weighting towards dressage, ahead of jumping, and finally eventing. His five most successful offspring in Germany are Vincent TSF, Grafit 11, Graf Gargie, Samtgraf, and Grand Prix Iwest (also competing at international level).
Since 2015 there have been 88 internationally competing offspring of which Lordships Graffalo is by far the most successful. Many of the competing offspring have a Thoroughbred damsire, perhaps demonstrating a winning combination... To read the complete article you need to be a subscriber
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