We find out more about Je T’Aime Flamenco, the world-class showjumping stallion whose stud fee is unlikely to make your eyes water...
“WHEN I went to try him, I left thinking, ‘I have to buy that horse.’ Je T’Aime Flamenco was an outstanding jumper and already a beautiful-looking horse, with real breeding stallion potential.”
Ask Billy Twomey about his first memories of this special horse and this is the Irish Olympian’s response, drawn from trying the then six-year-old at Pennie Cornish’s yard.
Fast forward 15 years and the Belgian warmblood is one of the most popular stallions standing at Stallion AI Services – he has covered more than 100 mares in the past year – after a hugely successful showjumping career.
Pennie first saw Je T’Aime Flamenco – or “Doug” – when he was a three-year-old.
“I was in Belgium looking for some horses and saw him. He was too expensive for me, so I didn’t buy him,” she reveals.
But the horse Pennie bought didn’t work out and she ended up swapping him for Doug.
“He was the one I wanted anyway, though I got him in a bit of a roundabout way,” she says. “I always loved him. I liked the fact he wasn’t overly flash, but he was light and quick off the floor. He always made a good shape with his front feet really up.”
Pennie says that Doug was easy to break in, but that he went through “a really naughty phase” as a four-year-old.
“He came through it and was just so consistent,” she says, adding that Doug was somewhat overshadowed by Talan, who is the same age and was also produced by Pennie, and who went on to be a championship horse for Britain’s Robert Smith and Saudi Arabia’s Prince Faisal Al Shalan.
“Talan was very, very flash. Peoplewouldn’t take much notice of Doug because he wasn’t flash, but I always preferred Doug because he was naturally more athletic. He came off the floor like a coiled spring.”
Pennie sold Doug to Sue Davies and her husband Eddie, who died in 2018, for Billy to ride.
“It’s always tempting to keep them, but it’s never the right decision,” says Pennie. “If you do so, something happens to them and they are never quite as good. I can’t afford to keep them, but I have a lot of nice young horses and there is always something else coming through.
“It’s nice to see the horses go to people like the Davies and Billy, who you know are going to get the best out of them and will jump them at world-class shows.”
Successful from the start
JE T’AIME FLAMENCO was successful from the start with Billy, finishing third in the six- and seven-year-old classes at Horse of the Year Show (HOYS) and winning the seven-year-old national championships.
“He was a clear-round machine and very careful,” says Billy. “He was mature in his head and never spooky – nothing really fazed him.”
By the time he was eight, Je T’Aime Flamenco had won the grand prix at HOYS.
“He was a little tricky to train at home as he got worked up, but he had fantastic technique so there was nothing really to train,” says Billy. “When I knew at home wasn’t really his place to work, I used just to keep him in condition at home and jump him loose or on the lunge, then take him straight to shows. He did his job in the ring and didn’t need me to remind him.”
Over the four years he was in his prime, Doug won seven international grands prix, three of them at five-star level. Billy’s favourite memory is winning in Amsterdam in 2009, a victory the pair repeated the following year.
“The jump-off was super fast and the Italian rider Gianni Govoni had gone so fast no one thought anyone could beat him,” he remembers. “We managed to shave a proportion of a second off and win.”
Owner Sue Davies enjoyed watching Doug compete, too.
“He was a pleasure to have as a working showjumper – he’s just been so good,” she says. “I still love to see him at the stallion parades – he shows off and he looks so good for his age.”
Living the high life at Stallion AI
JE T’AIME FLAMENCO retired from competing in 2013 and now lives at Stallion AI’s Shropshire base all year round. He goes out most mornings in a paddock by the car park, where he enjoys seeing all the visitors.
“We’re just about to get him fit ready for the stud season starting at the end of March,” explains Stallion AI’s Sarah Wilkes when we talk in January. “He’ll be fully clipped out and work on the water treadmill. He’s 21 and it’s key there’s no muscle tightness before semen collections, so he’ll go on the horse walker and under heat lamps, plus he has regular physio.”
Doug’s excellent temperament means he has been the demo horse for the centre’s webinars over the past year.
“Temperament is key,” says Sarah. “We deal with some clients who want to breed an Olympic horse, but 80% are hobby breeders or breed commercially for people to bring on for bigger riders to buy. Doug passes on his trainability and temperament.
“Because of his type, ability and excellent performance record, he seems to be the choice for everybody who wants a serious jumping horse. He’s also very versatile and a good match for most mares.”
Doug is available by fresh, chilled or frozen semen at a stud fee of £900+VAT. His semen quality is excellent, such that the centre can offer sexed semen from him.
“A lot of people say that’s a low fee for a stallion of that calibre – when you compare what he and others have produced he’s easily a £1,500 stallion – but his owners wanted to make him accessible to everybody,” says Sarah.
Among the Je T’Aime Flamenco offspring Pennie has bred is Roma IV, who has jumped Nations Cups and was eighth in the five-star grand prix at Gijon in 2018 with Alison Barton.
“Most of the progeny I’ve known are bigger than Doug – Roma is quite a big mare – and he certainly throws jumpers,” says Pennie.
Billy Twomey’s ride Kimba Flamenco, winner of three grands prix, is another flagbearer for the stallion. He is out of a Heartbreaker mare.
“I see similarities to Doug in Kimba Flamenco. They’re horses you need to meet halfway, not horses you could bully or force to do anything. In one way, they are super straightforward; it seems they just want to be treated the correct way and then they’ll do anything for you,” says Billy. “But I have a very good eight-year-old who’s quite different, so they’re not all like that.”
This pair are backed up by the likes of WKD Aimez Moi, who jumped at the 2019 Nations Cup Final with Egypt’s Sameh El Dahan, and Fellow Castlefield, who was fourth in the Dublin grand prix and in the top 12 at two young rider Europeans with Ireland’s Susan Fitzpatrick, and who is now with Greece’s Athina Onassis.
With over 55% thoroughbred blood, Doug also appeals to the eventing market, says Sarah. In this sphere, his progeny include the four-star mare J’Adore Salsa, ridden by Tyler Cassells, and three-star horses such as Hilton Cooley with Wills Oakden.
Billy’s instincts were right when he first saw the young Je T’Aime Flamenco – he was indeed an outstanding jumper and he continues to prove his worth as a stallion, with the best yet to come from many of his progeny.
Je T’Aime Flamenco’s breeding
JE T’AIME FLAMENCO was bred in Belgium by Michel Spaas. His sire, Flamenco De Semilly jumped successfully, and counts among his progeny Wonderboy III, who jumped at London 2012 and the 2010 World Equestrian Games with Syria’s Ahmed Saber Hamcho.
Flamenco De Semilly is by the young rider team gold-medal winner Le Tot De Semilly, whose progeny include Cevo Itot Du Chateau, who jumped at two Olympics with Edwina Tops-Alexander, and the world team gold medallist and prolific sire Diamant De Semilly.
Je T’Aime Flamenco’s dam Quansie Van De Halhoeve competed and won at 1.50m level in Belgium, and she is by Landetto, a son of the super-sire Landgraf.
This exclusive feature is also available in H&H magazine, on sale Thursday 18 March, 2021
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