By Christopher Hector
Photography: Private collections
Looking at the results of the KWPN stallion selection from the Covid-safe city of Melbourne, makes me wish that much more that I'd been there. Even though it would have been a pretty strange stallion show without spectators and the usual buzz and excitement, not to mention the chance to meet old friends and find new ones... Fingers crossed for next year!
The licensing was a double triumph for the Dutch breeders, Frank van der Valk and Jaqueline van Anholt. Not only did the stallion they bred, Painted Black, sire four licensed sons but the star of the premium ring, Next Pitch US, is a product of their most famous mare line. Next Pitch is out of It's Litchy out of Litchy, who is the dam of Painted Black.
As usual the story starts with that one special mare, and it is a story that was well told in the KWPN magazine, IDSi-2, by Karin de Haan. Jaqueline and Frank purchased Litchy's dam, Vrona (Officier - Ransi x Kristal), in 1989. “We bought Vrona as a 10-year-old. [...] Jaqueline showed Vrona through Z level (3rd/Med) dressage. She was an exceptionally fun and easy mare. She always got noticed at the shows. [...] Vrona was a long-lined, big mare with lovely presence. What's more, she used her hind legs powerfully,” explained Frank van de Valk.
The pair lost the first foal by Zuidhorn, then decided to breed her to Ferro: “At that time, people didn't have much good to say about Ferro. Later, all the bad talk stopped, but he wasn't a very popular breeding stallion at the time. We chose him for his compact conformation. Vrona was long-lined and we wanted a more compact horse. Furthermore, we wanted to ensure we got a horse that used its hind legs well, like Vrona, which is another reason why we chose Ferro.”
The result was Litchy: “Our plan was a success. Litchy was more compact than Vrona. Furthermore, she was a really nice filly – very fancy with powerful movement.”
The pair decided to breed Litchy as a three-year-old: “Jacqueline actually wanted to start showing Litchy, but the filly was slow to mature mentally, so we decided to first breed her. That gave her another year to mature. We decided to breed her to Gribaldi. It was the first time we chose this stallion. We fell for his beautiful conformation. Like I said, Litchy wasn't very big, so we thought that breeding her to Gribaldi would give us a bigger foal. At the time we chose Gribaldi, he was not yet approved, so we acted a bit prematurely when we decided on him.”
A year later, Painted Black was born. “We really liked Painted as a foal. He had plenty of neck, beautiful conformation, and lots of power and suppleness in his movement. We thought he used his hind legs extremely well. Others were later critical of him, something which we have never understood, though he certainly needed some time to channel his energies in the right direction.”
Painted Black was sold as a foal, and like so many stallion stars, failed as a three-year-old at his licensing. AES was more forgiving than the KWPN, so he was approved by them. Painted Black went to Hans Peter Minderhoud, who showed him in stallion classes, where he caught the eye of Anky van Grunsven and Sjef Janssen. They bought him in partnership with Joop van Uytert and the Kelders family. Anky took him to the World Championships for young dressage horses and came home with a silver medal. She trained him to Grand Prix and he was quickly approved by the KWPN. On numerous occasions Painted Black scored over 75% with Anky before he showed just what a good horse he was, when, with the young rider Morgan Barbançon Mestre in the saddle, he went to the London Olympic Games, and gave her a lovely ride in the Grand Prix... To read the complete article you need to be a subscriber
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