Popeye clearing the water with Tom Tarver in Valkensaard

By Sally Reid
Photography: Jane Thompson; FEI/Libby Law;

Not every winner of a New Zealand Young Horse jumping title goes on to international greatness – and certainly not to the Nations Cup and Olympic Games. In fact, it’s rare these days for any NZ-bred showjumpers to represent their country in the Northern Hemisphere.

However, the much-loved and very individual NZWA gelding Popeye (Cardento - Cufflink x Lio Caylon), winner of the NZ Young Horse Show seven-year-old championship in 2016, is travelling reserve for the New Zealand jumping team in Tokyo with Tom Tarver, who owns him in partnership with Lucia Voss. He is one of only three NZ-bred horses at the Games this year; more about the other two below.
Popeye, who has one distinctive blue eye, was bred by Greg and Kim Best and is now 11 years old. His dam, Cufflink (LioCaylon - Off the Cuff x Haajii xx), is another YHS title-winner: She was the five-year-old champion in 2007 and the six-year-old champion one year later. She also won 2008’s six-year-old Horse of Year (HOY) title, and has many other important wins to her name. Perhaps most significantly, Cufflink was also the VDL/Equibreed Leading Mare two years running, ridden by Kim Best. The Bests used the prize-money to breed two embryo-transfer foals from her: Popeye and a filly Corlinka (Corland), both born in 2010. Corlinka had a number of age-group wins, won Junior Rider of the Year at HOY in 2018, and had a terrific win at Takapoto in 2019. She is certainly a very interesting prospect for future breeding.
Another of Cufflink’s offspring, and also a great breeding prospect is Off the Cuff (Columbia xx), who shares her name with Cufflink’s own dam. This mare won the four-year-old title at the Young Horse Show in 2019, and repeated the feat in 2020 as a five-year-old. Proof that there is definitely jumping talent in Popeye’s mareline... To read the complete article you need to be a subscriber

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