BY tomorrow (Sunday), the final medals of the 15th world eventing championships will be decided and there may well be some Irish-breds amongst the team and individual winners.
This year’s field is a high-class one containing all three Tokyo individual medal-winning horses - Amande de B’Neville (SF. Oscar des Fontaines), Toledo de Kerser (SF. Diamant de Semilly) and Vassily de Lassos (AA. Jaguar Mail) – in the entries.
Add in Amande de B’Neville’s German teammate fischerChipmunk (HANN. Contendro I) and Toledo de Kerser’s equally on-form squad of Banzai de Loir (SF. Nouma d’Auzay), London 52 (HOLST. Landos), Lordships Graffalo (SHB(GB). Grafenstolz) and the sole Irish Sport Horse on the British team; Ballaghmor Class (ISH). Courage II) and this snapshot alone shows the strength in depth of European bloodlines at this year’s championships.
In the early championships and through the long format era, it was the thoroughbred and thoroughbred-sired event horses that won the most medals. The very first gold medal champion was Chalan, ridden by Argentinian cavalry officer Carlos Alberto Moratorio. This result was a nod to the sport’s origin as a test for potential cavalry horses with the early Olympics filled with officers names.
Chalan’s victory was followed by other thoroughbreds such as Might Tango (Mighty Mine), Irish Cap (Road House) and a trio of consecutive New Zealand-bred champions in Messiah (Aberlou), Bounce (Mr Lee) and Ready Teddy (Brilliant Invader).
Interestingly, there are two thoroughbreds on the New Zealand squad: Artist (Guillotine) and Just Kidding (Fusaichi Pegasus).
The Wexford-bred speed merchant Over To You was an individual silver medal winner 20 years ago and flying the Irish thoroughbred flag at Pratoni is the Brazilian team horse Glenfly, competing at his second world championships.
Thoroughbred-sired individual gold medallist horses include Cornishman V (Golden Surprise), Regal Realm (Taunton), Priceless (Ben Faerie) and Espoir de la Mare (What A Joy), right up to the most-crowned of them all: La Biosthetique Sam FBW (Stan The Man).
Everything is cyclical in the horse world and the Selle Français breed signalled their arrival at world level eventing with both Espoir de la Mare and Opgun Louvo (Shogoun II) winning gold, in addition to the Tokyo gold/silver medal pair last year of Amande de B’Neville and Toledo de Kerser.
British-bred horses, now most usually under the Sport Horse Breeding (GB) banner have also enjoyed a successful run in the medal stakes, from the eras of Cornishman V and Priceless onwards.
Padraig McCarthy’s Tryon silver medal winning Mr Chunky is one recent example and the Limerick-bred Colorado Blue, the bright hope of the Irish team, is another registered with the British studbook.
Mr Chunky’s Tryon teammates were all Irish Sport Horses: Horseware Ardagh Highlight (TIH. Puissance. Breeder: Teresa Walsh), Horseware Stellor Rebound (VDL Ricochet. Rhona Barnwall) and Rioghan Rua (Jack of Diamonds. Mags Kinsella).
Not surprisingly, Sam Watson has another Puissance at Pratoni - SAP Talisman, the sole traditional-bred found amongst the entries.
Brazil matches Ireland with three Irish-breds on their team: the aforementioned thoroughbred Glenfly (Presenting - Dorans Glen, by Over The River. Breeder: Roger Ryan), alongside Ballypatrick SRS (Pacino - Ballypatrick Romance, by Clover Hill. Breeder: Austin Broderick) and Kilcoltrim Kit Kat (Waldo van Dungen - Kilcoltrim Kitten, by Ghareeb. Breeder: Shane Doyle).
Two Irish-breds - Off The Record (VDL Arkansas - Drumgoland Bay, by Ard Ohio. Breeder: Peter G. Brady) and Lenamore Master Plan (Master Imp - Ardragh Bash, by Cavalier Royale. Breeder: Michael Byrne) - were selected for the USA team.
Jaguar Mail has the same three Tokyo Olympic offspring - Colorado Blue (IRE), Ferrelous Lat (CZE) and Vasilly de Lasos (FRA) - at Pratoni, which contributed to his leading eventing sire result in the World Breeding Federation for Sport Horses (WBFSH) rankings last year.
The world championships will once again have a major influence on those WBFSH rankings, with the 2022 final results due in early October.
First, the Pratoni medals.
COLORADO BLUE (SHB(GB) by Jaguar Mail (SF) - Rock Me Baby (AES), by Rock King (SHB(GB). Breeder: Kate Jarvey. Rider: Austin O’Connor.
FALLULAH (WESTF) by Fidertanz (RHEIN) - Devona (WESTF), by Di Versace (HANN). Breeder: Michael Morris. Rider: Padraig McCarthy.
MONBEG BY DESIGN (ISH) by Pacino (BWP) - Eskerhills Lexis (ISH), by Puissance (ISH)[TIH]. Breeder: Fiona Molloy. Rider: Susie Berry.
REGAL BOUNTY (ISH) by Orestus VDL (KWPN) - Edge of Reason (ISH)[TIH] by Senang Hati (TB). Breeder: Miriam de Feu. Rider: Felicity Ward.
SAP TALISMAN (ISH)[TIH] by Puissance (ISH)[TIH] - Ali Row (TB), by Ali Royal. Breeder: Rosemary Ponsonby. Rider: Sam Watson.
Did you know?
- KILKENNY (Water Serpent. Breeder: William Dempsey) won two world championship medals for two different riders. At the very first championships, hosted at Burghley in 1966, Kilkenny with Tommy Brennan, alongside Irish teammates, Virginia Freeman-Jackson and Sam Weller (this combination also won individual bronze), Eddie Boylan on Durlas Eile and Penelope Morton on Loughlin won team gold. Four years later, Kilkenny won an individual bronze medal on his home turf for Jimmy Wofford (USA) at Punchestown.
- Cambridge Blue and Oxford Blue, the colour traditionally associated with both universities, are also world champion medallist horses. Cambridge Blue, described by rider John Watson as a horse of a lifetime with “the eye of an eagle, the heart of a line, the guts of a prize fighter and the spirit of a saint” won Ireland’s second individual medal (silver) in the notoriously humid conditions at the 1978 championship in Lexington. Eight years later, at Gawler in Australia, Oxford Blue was Ian Stark’s team gold medal horse.
- Regal Realm and The Gray Goose, Lucinda Green and Kim Walnes’ individual gold and bronze medal winners at Luhmühlen in 1982, had alternative career paths compared to a typical event horse. Regal Realm was a tough Australian stock horse, whose stamina could well be attributed to his sire Taunton, placed in the two-mile Melbourne Cup. The Gray Goose, by another thoroughbred in Hill Tarquin, was spotted by Walnes in the Burke family’s riding school and hunt livery yard at Ballycar.
- Broadcast News, the New Zealand-bred that won an individual silver and team gold medal with Mark Todd at the 1998 world championships was part-Appaloosa.
- The county Monaghan has produced both Bettina Hoy’s great Ringwood Cockatoo and Off The Record, selected for this year’s US team with Will Coleman. It’s also where Clem McMahon’s Pacino - sire of two world championship entries this week - stood. However, according to his FEI record, Paula Törnqvist’s Monaghan was bred in New Zealand and was by the Irish Draught export Kingsway Diamond, brought there by the late Thady Ryan. Monaghan won individual bronze for his Swedish rider at the 1998 world championships (also held at Pratoni) and competed at the Atlanta and Sydney Olympics too.
- The breeding of Toytown, Zara Tindall’s gold medal winner at Aachen, remains a puzzle. Often referred to as either Irish or German-bred, he is listed on one database as by the Irish Draught stallion Tipperary Grey. The best source of information is his former owner Meryl Connaughton, who sold him on to Zara and Mark Phillips. Sport horse agent Meryl, who now lives in Co Roscommon and sources mainly event horses, owned Toytown when she previously lived in Hampshire.
“Amazingly we never did get to the bottom of his breeding. When I bought him his passport was ‘in the post’ and it never materialised,” she told The Irish Field this week. “He was allegedly by Voltaire out of a Celtic Cone mare. However, this seems to be a fable. The dealers he came from in the UK had hundreds of horses and he was just one picked out of a field. They had horses from the continent and Ireland at the yard. So it really is a mystery.”
The big chesnut had the distinctive ‘Birdcatcher spots’ markings - white flecks on his coat - which points to some thoroughbred breeding. The original Birdcatcher was an Irish thoroughbred, foaled in 1733 and intriguingly, he features in the back pedigree of Celtic Cone, sire of the 1998 Grand National winner Earth Summit, plus other good National Hunt horses such as Go Ballistic and Celtic Shot.
- Zara Tindall’s next WEG medallist horse was most definitely an Irish-bred: High Kingdom, bred by William Micklem. They were on the British silver medal-winning team in Normandy, where they also finished individual 10th.
- Cavalier Royale progeny have won three medals at the world championships: Ben Along Time (individual silver and team bronze in 2006) and Imperial Cavalier (team gold in 2010).
- Another legacy of the late Archie Smith-Maxwell’s judicious shopping trip to Mayo, where he bought the Irish Draught stallion Skippy, is seen in Tryon individual silver medallist Mr Chunky (Jumbo) and the German gold medal team horse in Normandy: Hop And Skip (Skippy Too). Both medal winners are Skippy grandsons.
By the numbers
2006 - the year of the most recent individual medal Irish-bred winner: Ben Along Time.
75% - of Brazil’s team at Pratoni are Irish-breds.
26 - highest number of Irish-breds at the world championships (Normandy in 2014) since 2002.
18 - Irish-breds on medal-winning teams during this millennium.
11 - Irish-breds among the Pratoni entries this week.
9 - world championship individual medals won by Irish-breds since 1966.
6 - thoroughbred individual gold medal winners: Chalan (1966), Irish Cap (1974), Might Tango (1978), Messiah (1990), Bounce (1994) and Ready Teddy (1998).
5 - Irish-breds in the team medals at Tryon. Gold for Team GB horses Arctic Soul and Quarrycrest Echo and silver for Ireland’s Horseware Ardagh Highlight, Horseware Stellor Rebound and Rioghan Rua.
4 - thoroughbred-sired individual gold medal winners since 1966: Cornishman V (1970), Regal Realm (1982), Priceless (1986) and La Biosthetique Sam FBW (2010).
3 - thoroughbred individual medalist horses since 2002: Over To You (silver at Jerez de la Frontera), Poggio II (bronze at Aachen) and Cool Mountain (silver at Lexington).
2 – Pacino-sired horses at Pratoni: Ireland’s Monbeg By Design and Brazil’s Ballypatrick SRS.
1 - Irish Sport Horse selected for the British squad at these championships: Ballaghmor Class.
Jerez de la Frontera 2002
Gold - Espoir de la Mare (SF). Jean Teulere (FRA).
Silver - Over To You (TB). Jeanette Brakewell (GBR).
Bronze - Ypäjä Karuso (SWB). Piia Pantsu Jönsson (FIN).
Silver - Over To You. (TB). Over The River - Another Miller, by Gala Performance. Breeder: Mary Lett. Rider: Jeanette Brakewell (GBR).
10th - Giltedge. (ISH). Glenbar - Kitty, by Awkward Brief. Breeder: Not recorded. Rider: David O’Connor (USA).
No. Irish-breds: 19.
Gold - Toytown (Unknown).
Silver - Ben Along Time (ISH).
Bronze - Poggio (TB).
Top 10 Irish-breds
Silver - Ben Along Time. (ISH). Cavalier Royale - Campaigner’s Dream, by Campaigner. Breeder: Ann Marie Jamieson. Rider: Clayton Fredericks (AUST).
Sixth - Ringwood Cockatoo. (ISH). Peacock - Bailey’s Folly, by Skylark. Breeder: Hilary Greer. Rider: Bettina Hoy (GER).
Ninth - Tankers Town. (ISH) [TIH]. Diamond Clover - Money Gone West, by Bulldozer. Breeder: Mary Blundell. Rider: Sharon Hunt (GBR).
No. Irish-breds: 18.
Gold - La Biosthetique Sam FBW (BAD-WÜ)
Silver - Cool Mountain (TB)
Bronze - Nereo (CDE)
Top 10 Irish-breds
Sixth - Imperial Cavalier. (ISH). Cavalier Royale - Gene Pool, by Imperius. Breeder: John Brennan. Rider: Mary King (GBR).
No. Irish-breds: 12.
Gold - Opgun Louvo (SF)
Silver - Fischerrocana (DSP)
Bronze - Chilli Morning (BERL-BRAND)
Top 10 Irish-breds
10th - High Kingdom (ISH) [TIH]. Master Imp - High Dolly, by Chair Lift. Breeder: William Micklem. Rider: Zara Tindall (GBR).
No. Irish-breds: 26.
Gold - Allstar B (KWPN)
Silver - Mr Chunky (SHB(GB)
Bronze - SAP Hale Bob OLD (OLDBG)
Top 10 Irish-breds
Fifth - Horseware Stellor Rebound (ISH). VDL Ricochet - Teachan, by Parliament. Breeder: Rhona Barnwall. Rider: Sarah Ennis (IRL).
10th - Quarrycrest Echo (ISH). Clover Echo - Royal China, by Cavalier Royale. Breeder: John Dooley. Rider: Piggy March (GBR).
No. Irish-breds: 16.