By Christopher Hector and Gemma Alexander
Following publication of the WBFSH/ROLEX ranking lists for breeders of showjumping, dressage and eventing horses, as well as the final studbook results, Christopher Hector has written an in-depth analysis, while Gemma Alexander has produced a wealth of extraordinary charts that provide valuable information ‘at a glance’. Each ranking year begins on October 1, concluding on September 30.
Eventing’s showjumping pretenders
Leading the 2017 Eventing standings is Phillip Dutton’s WEG ride, Z, although apparently the horse’s full name is Albano Z, which does seem more likely. The gelding had showjumped to 1m50 with a Portuguese rider before he went to Dutton, and the breeding is pure jumping. His Holsteiner sire, Asca, competed 1m60 and has a pedigree containing all the names that made Holstein famous. (Incidentally, Asca’s dad, Askari is the sire of the 2018 WEG sensation – showjumping gold medallist, DSP Alice.)
Albano Z’s dam Belle Bouche B is a right mix, by another 1m60 showjumper, Babouce VH Gehucht Z, who is by Selle Français showjumping star, Baloubet du Rouet, out of Grace Kelly, who is registered with that ‘other’ Dutch book the Nederlands Rijpaarden en Pony Stamboek (NRPS), although both her parents were KWPN. Her sire, another 1m60 jumper, N-Aldato (Nimmerdor x Ladykiller), while her dam was by influential Ramzes son Rigoletto.
It is perhaps some measure of where the sport is going that the leading eventer is so solidly showjumping bred, however we might note that Albano Z finished 13th at Tryon, dropping down because of 6.40 time penalty over a course where the leading horses came home largely time-fault free… maybe that’s the price you pay for all that showjumping blood?
The leading studbook for eventing was the KWPN, and with that result the Dutch were on their way to a clean sweep of the three Olympic disciplines, although the sceptical observer might ask just how Dutch was the Dutch contingent? Their leading horse was Cekatinka, ridden into eighth at Tryon by Kiwi, Tim Price. The horse’s bloodlines are a pan-European affair, although he is very much the product of the vision of leading Dutch breeder (and long time Dutch team vet) Jan Greve. Cekatinka is by the Hanoverian 1m60 showjumper, King Kolibri (who Greve brought to Holland), and out of a mare by the English St. Leger winner, Julio Mariner xx, a stallion that was not a huge success in the UK as a sire, and was bought by Greve to put more ‘blood’ into his mare band. On the final line, we have a mix of Hanoverian and Oldenburg blood.… The third and fourth members of the Dutch eventing team are by Selle Français sires.
Maybe concentrating on the blood misses the point: the Dutch was the first major studbook that was prepared to take talent from wherever it found it and, a couple of decades down the track, the open door policy is now standard operating procedure for all the major studbooks. Certainly the Irish, so long the last bastion of the closed book, have no reason to complain as their number one, Stellor Rebound, is by a Dutch-branded stallion of Holstein breeding, Romke. Number two, Ardagh Highlight, is the classic Irish mix of Irish Draught and Thoroughbred, while their third and fifth ranked eventers are by Courage II, a Holstein import, separated by Quarrycrest Echo, all Irish on the topline, but out of a mare by another Irish import from Holstein, Cavalier Royale.
Selle Français take third spot, with only one ‘foreign’ stallion, L’Arc de Triomphe (Oldenberg, Westfalian, Hanoverian) in their line-up, with the French attracting more attention (and buyers) with the strong showing of the Anglo Arab studbook in eighth place. The star of the Anglo book was Vassily de Lassos, who missed a bronze medal by a whisker (and some ludicrous dressage judging). Vassily is by Jaguar Mail, who almost had two in the top 50, Vassily at 10th and the Westfalian, Jum Jum in 51st. Courage II had three in the top 50, while Balou du Rouet sired two... Of Balou much more when we look to the showjumping tables but first a run through the stats…
From number cruncher, Gemma Alexander
Taking a deeper look at the top 10 studbooks in the eventing rankings, just how many of the listed offspring are actually of the specified breeding, with the six representatives of each studbook (in the WBFSH/ROLEX rankings), only 56% of the parents of these horses were listed in the same studbook. Going back further to look at the grandparents, this falls to 37%. Interestingly, the eventers have the largest portion of ‘unknowns’ in the pedigrees of these star performers of the three disciplines. (Charts #1 and #2)
The worst offender for labelling outside blood as their own – or conversely, the studbook with the most open-book policy – was the Landesverband Bayerischer Pferdezüchter e.V., or DSP (previously known as the Bavarian studbook) which ranked ninth of the top ten studbooks for eventing. Of the top six representatives of this studbook, just two parents were also registered DSP, and NONE of the grandparents. For the eventers, the most closed studbook was the Holsteiners who came in fifth, with all parents of the top-six also being Holsteiner-branded, and 79% of the grandparents also hailing from the studbook. Both the ISH and Sport Horse Breeding of Great Britain (SHBGB) studbooks (second and seventh place respectively) shared the greatest number of ‘unknowns’ in the pedigrees of their top representatives, both with one parent and four grandparents each of unknown heritage. Bearing in mind that these are the very best eventers in the world, it seems quite unfathomable that there are so many blanks in the pedigrees. You certainly don’t see that happening over in the likes of Holstein…. Perhaps this is telling of the fact that ‘specialised’ breeding for eventing is some years behind the showjumping and dressage world?
Which brings us to another question: If only 56% of parents and 37% of grandparents of these top-ranked eventing horses are registered in the same studbook as the offspring, which studbooks do they come from? For this exercise we just look at the top three eventing studbooks: KWPN, ISH and SF...
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