Part of the attraction of Badminton is assessing the breeding of the horses and especially those who get placed — albeit there are so many influential variables; weather, going, running order, loose dogs, lost shoes and luck on the day, that have nothing to do with bloodlines and much to do with where a horse finishes.
At least those who breed dressage or jumping horses generally know what they are breeding for, which is why jumping and dressage bloodlines have become so established.
So pity the poor event horse breeder, especially since the short-format introduced 10 years ago resulted in a large shift of the goalposts.
The trouble is the goalposts continue to be moved. At higher levels the dressage was made more difficult and then the showjumping, while the cross-country parameters can vary from course to course, but in general still required a galloping horse who could make the time.
All about jumping
At Badminton this year the goalposts moved again. The new course-designer introduced a new style of cross-country; big fences —some bold, some technical and many that were both — combined with strong winds, rain and sticky ground, to produce a course that meant up in the air jumping ability was vital — most riders were not worrying about their watches.
It did produce an interesting result. While many were lauding the need for thoroughbred blood and the stamina and staying power it brings, there was more than just thoroughbred blood that came to the fore. For the first time I can recall, proven showjumping bloodlines played an important part in the breeding of the 32 who completed, especially in a year when speed became immaterial.
A Who’s Who of showjumping
THE winner Paulank Brockagh is by 1992 Barcelona Olympic jumper Touchdown. Third-placed Wild Lone’s sire comes from Animo (pictured, above) who also competed in Barcelona, Minos De Petra (fifth) is by a jumping son of the leading French sire Grand Veneur and Billy Beware (sixth) — who is just a quarter thoroughbred — is by the world number 2 jumping sire Kannan, sire of London 2012 individual jumping gold medallist Nino Des Buissonnets.
Alexander (eighth) is by New Balance, a son of the leading Dutch jumping sire Indoctro; Ringwood Skyboy, who produced the fastest time of the day, is by the international jumping Holstein Courage II, a son of the great Capitol I, while 10th-placed Ducati Van Den Overdam — who came in from 19th on the wait list — is by the Belgian Nations Cup jumper Orlando, a son of Heartbreaker.
And that’s just the top 10.
Other jumping sires represented were Landos (Leonidas, 14th), Aldatus Z (Shanaclough Crecora, 20th), Limmerick (who had 3 offspring including Shannondale Titan, 27th), Ahorn (Glengarnock, 28th) and Toulon, another Heartbreaker son, the sire of King Eider (29th), who is out-and-out jumping bred and has no direct thoroughbred blood whatsoever.
Even those who were by thoroughbreds were often out of mares by jumping stallions. Rumour Has It (13th and by Esteban) is out of a mare by Candillo (also the sire of Flying Finish), while even the registered Anglo Arab Johnny Cash (19th) is out of a mare by the former Swedish team jumper Robin Z.
So for those event horse breeders still deciding which stallions to use this year, perhaps a grand prix jumper ought to be considered. There is, however, no telling what the sport will bring up by 2024. Who knows, by then someone might think it a novel idea to introduce a steeplechase.
This article was first published in the 22 May issue of Horse & Hound magazine