SOURCE of pride, prime marketing material, an information depot – rankings are of great interest to studbook authorities, stallion owners, breeders and riders.
Rounding up the 2021 World Breeding Federation for Sport Horses (WBFSH) and Hippomundo rankings into a handy reference guide for the annual The Irish Field Stallion Guide supplement, a number of points stand out.
Keen breeders are by now well-familiar with their format: the WBFSH rankings are based on FEI points won by horses registered with member studbooks and its calendar years runs from October 1st, while the prizemoney-based Hippomundo rankings clock starts on January 1st.
2021 will be remembered as an unprecedented one when an Olympic Games and European championships were held in the same year and that knock-on effect was reflected in the rankings. More so in the WBFSH set, as there is no prizemoney awarded at the Olympics and in fact, the WBFSH top-three horses - H&M Indiana (show jumping), London 52 (eventing) and TSF Dalera BB (dressage) were all on gold medal teams.
The phenomenal TSF Dalera (TRAK) was the only horse to take the number one place double in both the Hippomundo and WBFSH rankings. Monaco (HOLST) and On Cue (AES) ended the year as Hippomundo’s top show jumping and eventing prize winners.
Studbooks… how did the Irish Sport Horse studbook fare last year? The rise in Irish show jumping breeding, with the young pair of MHS Kilkenny and Pacino Amiro amongst the ‘Tokyo talking horses’, was rewarded by 10th place in both the Hippomundo and WBFSH rankings. This was a major improvement from an all-time low result (17th) in the WBFSH rankings just two years ago.
Eventing had proved the saviour of the ISH studbook in the WBFSH rankings, since their inception in 1994. In recent years, the pack of European studbooks has started to close the gap and in 2021, the ISH studbook finished a solid third, thanks to the calibre of European individual silver medallist Brookfield Inocent and Tokyo Olympic horses; Grovine de Reve and Ballaghmor Class.
However, the ISH studbook did retain its number one place in the Hippomundo rankings, so a win, third and two 10th places is how the 2021 studbook title races finished for Ireland.
The top-ranked WBFSH studbooks were the KWPN (dressage), Selle Français (eventing) and BWP (show jumping). Over to Hippomundo, where the Selle Français studbook scooped another title, this time in show jumping, and the KWPN matched its WBFSH result in dressage.
Small but mighty
An interesting point from Hippomundo’s top-10 show jumping studbooks is that the ISH ranked in fourth place last year, when based on the average prizemoney won per horse. 765 Irish-breds (the smallest number within the top-10 show jumping studbooks) won an average of €3,639 each.
Bertram Allen's Pacino Amiro is the highest ranked show jumping Irish Sport Horse in the WBFSH rankings and earned €207,545 in 2021 \ Tomas Holcbecher
Heike Holstein (dressage), John Mulvey (eventing) and Simon Scott (show jumping) were the top Irish breeders when the WBFSH results were released in October. Holstein, Sambuca’s owner-breeder, retained this Irish title in the Hippomundo rankings while Peter Brady (eventing) and Judy Murphy (show jumping) topped the two other sports, thanks to Off The Record and Javas Miss Jordan, Murphy’s main flagbearer.
Another noteworthy result from the WBFSH breeder rankings was Kate Jarvey’s record of breeding two Irish-born half-brothers at the Tokyo Olympics: Colorado Blue (41st) and Balham Mist (78th), both registered with Sport Horse Breeding (GB).
Studbooks and individual breeders completed. Next to the top Irish-bred individual horses in the WBFSH rankings: Brookfield Inocent, Pacino Amiro and Sambuca. Sambuca retained her leading Irish-bred result in the Hippomundo rankings and was joined by Off The Record and Javas Miss Jordan.
Finally, leading sires. No change at all for Chacco-Blue as he retained his show jumping sires crown in both rankings last year. It was a posthumous honour for the late Sandro Hit in the WBFSH dressage sire rankings and Jaguar Mail notched up his first eventing sire title.
Over to Hippomundo where Cabri d’Elle (SF) and Easy Game (TRAK) recorded their first eventing and dressage sire titles, thanks to their chief earners: TSF Dalera BB and On Cue, winner of the new five-star Maryland three-day-event.
O.B.O.S Quality (fourth) and Shannondale Sarco (ninth) held the ground for Irish-based stallions in the WBFSH eventing sires top-10, with two more – Ars Vivendi and Womanizer – were just outside the top-10 in equal 11th place.
26 of the latest WBFSH ranked top-100 eventing sires stand or stood in Ireland: O.B.O.S Quality (OLD) fourth, Shannondale Sarco (BWP) ninth, Ars Vivendi (HOLST) and Womanizer (KWPN) equal 11th, Harlequin du Carel (SF) 17th, Jack of Diamonds (SWB) 21st, Inocent (KWPN) 23rd, Hermes de Reve (BWP) 27th, Tinaranas Inspector (WESTF) 33rd, Master Imp (TB) 37th, Camiro de Haar Z (ZANG) 38th, Ricardo Z (ZANG) 39th, Courage II (HOLST) 45th, Valent (KWPN) 46th, Lancelot (KWPN) 56th, VDL Arkansas (KWPN) 58th, Radolin (KWPN) 64th, Russell II (HOLST) 68th, Fortunus (HANN) 75th, Royal Concorde (ISH) 76th, Contador (HOLST) 86th, Loughehoe Guy (TB) 89th, Lux Z (HANN) 90th, Olympic Lux (KWPN) 96th.
The late trio of VDL Arkansas (fifth), Courage II (eighth) and Ramiro B (ninth) are the Irish links in Hippomundo’s top-10 eventing sire rankings.
There are no thoroughbred sires in either top-10 eventing sires leaderboards, a concern to traditional and five-star event horse breeders.
Luidam (30th) was the highest-placed Irish-based sire in the WBFSH show jumping sire rankings, one place above his equivalent result (31st) in the Hippomundo set.
The sight of Cornet Obolensky (ninth) and his son Comme Il Faut (13th) in Hippomundo’s top-20 show jumping sires is a sobering reminder of their recent evacuation from Ukraine to safety in Germany.
What is it about?
Context. What rankings are all about too. Foal crop and competition age offspring numbers, opportunities and right owners. What is the best stallion, for example? The one that breeds a one-off superstar, large number of very consistent horses or the best commercial prospects?
Do rankings reflect consistency in numbers or a handful of brilliant individuals?
The 2021 rankings proved to be the swansong set for Diamant de Semilly, the only stallion to appear in the top-10 show jumping and eventing sires and Sandro Hit, the stallion with five Tokyo Olympics progeny.
And the rankings were also a reminder of the loss last year of John Hughes, the man who brought Cavalier Royale to Ireland and whose influence, including the Cavalier-sired HHS Calais, bred by his late sister Ita, is still there.
Hippomundo’s top 10 of 2021