Cornet Obolensky - 4th in the Rolex WBFSH sire rankings

Analysis by Christopher Hector – trying to make sense of the numbers: As far as dressage stallions are concerned, what can be said about this year’s number one, De Niro (Donnerhall x Akzent II) that hasn’t already been said over and over again – certainly in 2015 when he headed the WBFSH standings, and again in 2016 when he repeated the feat? Well, one thing: He died in October 2017, leaving a legacy that will perhaps rival that of his sire, Donnerhall (Donnerwetter x Markus).

Burkhard Wahler is an individualist, he follows his own instincts rather than the prevailing fashion, and so it was when he selected the Hanoverian, De Niro, to diversify his – until then – Trakehner stud. “I love to buy the Donnerhall blood but I don’t like the very popular Donnerhall x Pik Bube cross – very heavy big horses, and I didn’t like that so much because I am from the other side, from the Trakehner side and I like more an elegant horse. I really liked De Niro, because he was out of a mare with Wiesenbaum x Akzent breeding. Akzent is through Absatz, Trakehner, Wiesenbaum is from Thoroughbred – so in my opinion, this was a very interesting bloodline.”

The dressage sires

It proved a more than interesting bloodline; one that dominated dressage competition at the highest level, this year, as six of the top 50 dressage competitors were by De Niro, with his most successful points winner, Spencer Wilton’s Super Nova.

De Niro made his own success because even when he was not so fashionable in the first few years, the riders loved him. As Ludwig Christmann of the Hanoverian Verband remarked to me recently: “I think you should probably talk to the riders and trainers, I think it is the minds that they like. When I talk to Mr Sprehe about Desperados (De Niro x Wolkenstein II) and he says the horse is always fit, even if it is 35 degrees like in Rio, he always does his job. They have the talent for collection and the higher movements, but it is the mind that makes them so special.”

That’s another quality of De Niro, like his sire, he seems to have the ability to produce stallion sons that enrich his line. Donnerhall has two more horses in the top ten: Don Frederico (Consul), up from 16th to sixth – another whose progeny made their way on the basis of their ride- ability since they were less than stunning foals; and Don Schufro (Pik Bube I), slipping from ninth to tenth, after peaking at number six in 2013...

(The complete auction results and analysis for 2018 are available online - click on Auctions from the main menu)

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