Horseware Hale Bob (Helikon xx – Goldige x Noble Champion), bred by Dr. Rolf Lück, ridden by Ingrid Klimke (GER)

SWITZERLAND (by Claartje van Andel, Jo de Roo and Adriana van Tilburg) The World Breeding Federation for Sport Horses will host the annual award ceremony for the World Breeding Ranking winners in cooperation with the sponsor Rolex on the evening of December 12 in Geneva. The breeders of the individual FEI ranking winners in dressage, showjumping and eventing will receive their WBFSH diplomas and will also be presented with an exquisite Rolex watch.

In the 2014/2015 rankings (which run from October 1 to September 30 every year) two of the three disciplines, showjumping and dressage, certainly proved more predictable than eventing.

Dressage

Winning a third WBFSH dressage horse rankings title is a remarkable achievement for Joop and Maartje Hanse, breeders of the KWPN Valegro (Negro - Maifleur x Gershwin), his rider Charlotte Dujardin, and those who believed in the horse’s potential in his early years.

In 2001, the Dutch couple, from Burgh Haamstede, sent their mare, Maifleur, to Ferro son, Negro, and have since used these same bloodlines for several generations. In fact, Negro’s owner, Gertjan van Olst, has had a close relationship with the Hanses, subsequently purchased Valegro and prepared him for the KWPN stallion show. “In those days the studbook was of the opinion that Negro was old fashioned, so none of my eight Negro sons, including Valegro, were accepted”, Van Olst remembers well. However, British dressage star Carl Hester saw Valegro at the KWPN stallion inspection, decided to buy him, had him gelded, and took him home.

Horseware Hale Bob (Helikon xx – Goldige x Noble Champion), bred by Dr. Rolf Lück, ridden by Ingrid Klimke (GER)
Horseware Hale Bob (Helikon xx – Goldige x Noble Champion),
bred by Dr. Rolf Lück, ridden by Ingrid Klimke (GER)

One year later, Valegro was returned to Van Olst with an instruction from Hester to sell him. But destiny intervened when Gertjan’s wife Anne rode the gelding herself, in advance of him being sold, and recognized his remarkable talent. Anne suggested to Hester that he reconsider keeping Valegro. Hester agreed, gave the gelding to his rider, Charlotte Dujardin, and one of the world’s greatest ever dressage partnerships was born.

From the very beginning Valegro was a star, winning national championships as a four-, five- and six-year-old on his way to a triumphant London 2012 Olympic Games. Following the Games it was rumoured that Valegro would be sold, but the two owners, Carl Hester and Roly Luard, subsequently assured the world that Valegro would finish his competition career with Charlotte Dujardin, and also that he had a home for life.

More honours followed: 2014 Reem Acra World Cup dressage final and World Equestrian Games, and a second World Cup win in 2015, following Valegro’s first ever trans-Atlantic flight to Las Vegas. “This flight was a good test for the flight to Rio in 2016”, Charlotte Dujardin revealed, smiling...

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