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Olympic breeding defies conventional wisdom

Santano II (Brentano - Bon Dea II x Weltmeyer) dressage-bred member of Australia’s eventing team with Christopher Burton. Photo: FEI

BRAZIL (by Christopher Hector) Conventional wisdom is that you can breed a dressage horse out of jumper lines but you can't breed a jumper using dressage blood. Sönke Rotherberger's Cosmo (Van Gogh - Lady x Landjonker/Frühling) proved the first proposition decisively enough in the dressage arena, but there was an interesting development in the eventing field where a couple of dressage bred horses shone. Santano II (Brentano - Bon Dea II x Weltmeyer) and Bart L (United - Parisma x Gribaldi)

Australia's Christopher Burton absolutely wowed with his nine-year-old 'dressage' horse, Santano II. Okay he gets a dose of Thoroughbred from Sandro Hit's great grandsire, Sacramento Song xx (Sicambre xx), and more on his dam's side, Brentano was by Black Sky xx, out of a Bleep xx mare. Still, just 36.72% blood.

The other dressage candidate turned eventer was Mathieu Lemoine's Bart L/ex Bart du Feuillard in the gold medal winning French team. The black gelding is essence of Dutch dressage – by United (who is by one of Anky van Grunsven's Grand Prix rides, Krack C, out of a mare by another, TCN Partout) out of a mare by Ed-ward Gal's Grand Prix ride, Gribaldi, out of a mare by another Trakehner, Michelangelo, that's 36.72% blood.

Looking at the actual entries, the horses that made it to Rio, as distinct from the earlier list of possibles, once again the stallion with the most entries (three) is the Holsteiner, Courage II, by Capitol out of a Cor de la Bryère x Liguster mare. He is out of Vamara, the full-sister to Cavalier Royale, another Holsteiner that was for many years ranked in the top three of eventing sires on the WBHSH list. Courage II stood at Kedrah House Stud in Ireland, for several seasons until his death in 2006. No other stallion has more than one representative.

With half the German silver medal winning team riding Selle Français – Sandra Auffarth/ Opgun Louvo (Shogoun II - Vanlle du Tertre x J'T'Adore) - and Julia Krejewski/Samourai du Thot (Milor Landais - Melitos du Thos x Flipper d'Elle – that's Double Espoir on both sides of the pedigree as paternal and maternal greatgrandsire) and, of course, two of the four in the French gold medal team – Piaf de b'Neville (Cap de b’Neville, a grandson of Rantzau xx out of a mare by the Jalisco son, Rêve d'Elle... That's three crosses of the great Ibrahim), and Qing du Briot (Eolien II out of Henriette, a daughter of the Anglo Arab Etalon Or), honors would have seemed have gone to the French studbook. Although it is interesting to note that half their team were 'foreigners' (something that used not be allowed): the Hanoverian stallion, Entebbe de Hus/ex Eminem II (Embassy I - Cita x Carbid), although there is a French touch on the bottom line thanks to Matcho, the French Anglo Arab that was imported to Hanover; and the aforementioned Dutchman, Bart L.

The Selle Français were only the second most represented studbook at Rio in eventing (seven representatives), with numerical superiority going to the Irish with 11, and they ended with three of the top ten: Mighty Nice (bronze individual with Phillip Dutton, by the Dutch bred, Ard Ohio, out of an Irish mare of unknown breeding); Paulank Brockagh (just a smidge away in fourth, by the Galoubet son, Touchdown out of a Triggerero xx mare); and Cooley Rorkes Drift (Courage II out of a Rachelle Comet xx mare), ninth. Irish, hmmm – one by a Dutchman, the second by a half-French stallion and the third by a Holsteiner... There were six from Holstein, four Hanoverians, and four from the German Sport Horse book - there were even four recognized as Thoroughbreds that made it to the starting line...

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