‘A carbon copy of the original’: clone of top showjumper revealed

  • A clone of the late showjumping stallion Pacino turns three this year – as his owner says the similarities between them are “uncanny”.

    Pacino, by Diamant De Semilly and out of a Muguet Du Manoir mare, was bought as three-year-old and produced by Clem McMahon. Pacino competed at the World Breeding Championships for young horses in Lanaken as a six-year-old, and as an eight-year-old was making his mark on Nations Cup teams. Clem and Pacino were on the Irish team that won the Hickstead leg of the Nations Cup in July 2012, and the following month did the same in Dublin, resulting in Ireland lifting the Aga Khan trophy. Pacino finished the year as the leading eight-year-old showjumper in the world.

    Clem told H&H that at the end of 2012, there had been a lot of “serious interest” in Pacino, and he felt “on top of the world” thinking about where they would go the following year.

    “I was looking forward to all the big shows and the championships. He was very well bred and the plan had been for him to also have a breeding career. But then in January 2013 we discovered an issue with his kidneys,” said Clem.

    “Within three weeks he was dead and buried. It was a terrible blow for the whole family. We always thought if he was ever to get injured we would have him in a stud capacity, so to lose the whole lot brought very low times.”

    Clem and the original Pacino. Credit Trevor Meeks.

    Clem said he decided to take tissue samples from Pacino.

    “I had heard of horses being cloned previously,” he said. “I just really believed in Pacino; the quality he had, the level of scope and carefulness, and the rideability – those three things rarely come together in one package.

    “I made a few inquiries. I knew I wasn’t able to [clone him at the time] but I thought it might give me the option later down the line, so I decided to take skin samples and put them in storage.”

    Two attempts were made to clone Pacino, in 2015 and 2016, which were unsuccessful, but Clem tried again in 2019.

    “I sold a mare called Paparazzi who was placed in the Dublin grand prix, and selling her gave us the opportunity to try cloning again,” he said.

    “The other thing that encouraged us to try again was seeing how successful Pacino’s offspring were that were coming through. From very limited numbers he had an unbelievable strike rate for producing top level showjumpers and some very good four-star event horses.”

    Pacino II, the clone of Pacino, was born in 2020.

    The late showjumping stallion Pacino has been cloned, as Clem MacHon is pictured with the now three-year-old clone, Pacino II

    Pictured: Pacino II. Credit: Damien Eagers/The Irish Field

    “He was a cracking foal – and three years on he is a beautiful, big, scopey model that is like a carbon copy of the original,” said Clem.

    “It really is uncanny. The way he even looks at you, you have to do a double-take. They are so similar in personality. I had Pacino from when he was three which is nice, and this horse will be produced exactly the same way, so it’s interesting times ahead.”

    Clem decided to keep the birth of Pacino II quiet until he was older while they watched how he would turn out, but now the MacMahon family is looking forward to Pacino II’s future. Some of Pacino’s offspring include Bertram Allen’s Tokyo Olympic ride Pacino Amiro and Max Kunher’s five-star grand prix winner Cooley Jump The Q, and the plan is for Pacino II to be used as a breeding stallion.

    “Pacino was very successful, so that’s why this was done as a breeding project. From April we’ll be supplying semen from Pacino II,” said Clem.

    “Maybe later down the line he might compete, but this was about breeding. I want Pacino offspring back in the yard again. We were lucky to have them for three, four years, but I have to say you really miss them in the yard. They were all good types, all really nice to ride – and then you had the chance of also falling on a superstar.”

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