Chilli Morning’s three clones are in the process of being started under saddle and will be used for breeding in the future.
The stellar eventing stallion himself died on Tuesday this week (25 August), but owner Chris Stone is excited about the future with his three-year-old clones — Deuce, Trey and Quattro — who are growing up at Chris’ West Sussex yard, Tattleton.
“The way it works is that the laboratory we worked with arranged for a vet to come here to us here at Tattleton and take three little biopsies of flesh from under where Chilli’s mane falls so you wouldn’t see the scars,” explains Chris.
“Those plugs of tissue were flown to a lab in Texas and they then culture that tissue until you have complete strands of DNA. Then they take a healthy egg from another horse, take out all the DNA and replace it with Chilli’s DNA. That fertilised ‘re-DNAed’ egg goes into a healthy recipient mare and 11 months later, out comes a Chilli Morning.
“To be sure of getting one, we started three because all sorts of things go wrong — and all three worked.”
The clones stayed at Bruce Davidson’s farm in Philadelphia until they were 18 months old and then travelled to Tattleton, where Gemma Tattersall is based.
The youngsters are all an identical shade of chestnut to Chilli and have the same white markings, but the size and final shape of those markings varies somewhat because the skin cells move around as the foetus develops in the womb.
“They all have the same quite prominent wither as Chilli, a slight Roman nose, the same bone structure,” says Chris. “But their personalities are different because they pick up characteristics from the mare who carried them while they are on the ground with that mare for six months.”
Two of the clones have started under saddle and the third is in the process of being backed.
“From what we’ve understood clones can be small, but I think they are all going to be a good size,” says Gemma. “The first one we backed is quite colty — he likes to tell us he’s a stallion — but with the second you wouldn’t even know he’s a stallion. I think they are all going to be slightly different, but they are all kind, intelligent horses and want to learn. It’s kind of weird but amazing.”
Article continues below…
You might also be interested in:
We take a look back on the career of this illustrious stallion, following the news of his death
The medal-winning eventing stallion and Badminton Horse Trials winner died at home at the age of 20
Gemma adds at this stage the clones will just learn to walk, trot, canter, go for a little hack and jump a small fence.
“Next year, they will come in and do some proper work — Gemma will keep one and the others will go to different riders,” says Chris.
The owner also plans to breed from the colts in the future. Their registered parents are Chilli’s sire (Phantomic) and dam (Koralle, by Kolibre).
“It’s Chilli’s sperm — identical DNA,” said Chris.
Horse & Hound magazine, out every Thursday, is packed with all the latest news and reports, as well as interviews, specials, nostalgia, vet and training advice. Find out more about getting the magazine delivered to your door every week.