Do we need full or nearly full Thoroughbreds for Championship level Eventing?

The FEI World Equestrian Games™ Tryon 2018 Eventing Breeding Review

Do we need full or nearly full Thoroughbreds for Championship level Eventing?

The 2018 World Equestrian Games at Tryon in the USA was an outstanding success for Team GB’s Eventing team taking both the team and individual gold medals. Competitors had to endure the challenges brought about by storm Florence disrupting the original programme along with the additional challenge of performing their three phases in the extreme heat.
The combination of heat and demanding hills towards the finish of the course would have led people to predict that the full Thorougbred’s would dominate the leader board after XC. Of the 83 horses that started the competition 11 had sires who were full Thoroughbred and 13 had dam’s sires who were full Thoroughbred.

WEG 2018 demanded superior equine athletes

This year’s WEG XC course was a CCI3* The 5,700m XC course designed by Sir Mark Phillips was not a CCI4 star as built for previous World Equestrian Games but a CCI3*. Initial thoughts were that the beautifully built course was generous, but the early pathfinders revealed that the course was anything but straight forward. Nine horses were retired or eliminated on the XC and two were withdrawn by the start of the phase. To see seasoned International riders Blyth Tait (NZ) and William Levett (AUS) eliminated on the XC was an indication of how challenging the course was on the day.

Ordinarily one associates the horses which are full thoroughbred or almost full thoroughbred to achieve the XC rounds nearest the time; WEG 2018 was not absolutely the case. Fastest time of the day was achieved by the British bred mare Classic Moet who finished 16 seconds inside the time which contributed to her finishing the 2018 WEG in 19th place.

Bred by Elaine Hepworth in the UK, Classic Moet and her New Zealand team rider Jonelle Price won Badminton CCI4* earlier this year and were fourth at the W.E.G in France. Classic Moet’s dam Gamston Bubbles was an advanced eventer herself by the age of six years old and is by the Thoroughbred Stallion Bohemond. Bohemond is also the dam sire of the USA Team Olympic eventer Winsome Adante and directly the sire of the regular Belgian Championship team horse Withcote Nellie.

The most interesting piece of Classic Moet’s breeding is that her dam is actually a quarter shire horse; which means that Classic Moet herself is 1/8th Shire!. Classic Moet’s sire was the late thoroughbred stallion Classic who stood in Yorkshire and sired not only successful eventers and show horses, but some very credible racehorses.

Full thoroughbreds in the minority

The full thoroughbred horses at this years WEG included 30th placed Artic Soul ridden by Gemma Tattersall who is by the TB stallion Luso and out of Roi Danzig mare along with Marcelo Tosi’s ride for Brazil – Glenfly.

Marcelo Tosi’s Glenfly is by the late leading National Hunt Sire Presenting and out of a mare by Over the River. Presenting also happens to be the sire also of the National Hunt Hero Denman who won 14 of his 24 starts under rules and earned more than £1m in prize money. Most notable were his victories in the 2008 Cheltenham Gold Cup, plus two wins in the Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury in 2007 and 2009. Marcelo and Glenfly finished in 53rd place. Despite being blessed with this impeccable Thoroughbred pedigree; Glenfly did not even make it into the top twenty this year at WEG.

Whilst the WEG Team rankings of Gold for Great Britain, Silver for Ireland and a team Bronze for France reflect some of the world’s leading countries for breeding Thoroughbreds, their actual own team horses pedigrees were far removed from anything that you would ever see on a racecourse.
Average percentage thoroughbred in the top 10
The detailed review of the top 10 horses at WEG reveals the percentage thoroughbred breeding per horse and the overall average thoroughbred blood in the of the top 10. Gold Medallist All Star B is 52% Thoroughbred and the average percentage thoroughbred blood in the top 10 event horses at WEG this year was just 44%.

Table 1 – Top Ten Horses by percentage Thoroughbred

Rank Horse name Percentage Thoroughbred

1 Allstar B 52%
2 Mr Chunky Min. 50%
3 SAP Hale Bob 70%
4 Vassily De Lassos 44%
5 Horseware Stellor Rebound 23%
6 Qing Du Briot 26%
7 Vinci De La Vigne 51%
8 Cekatinka 35%
9 Billy The Red 51%
10 Quarrycrest Echo 45%

Average % Thoroughbred in the top five horses = 45%

What is the future of Thoroughbred breeding in International Event Horses?

Whilst WEG 2018 proved very clearly that a significant majority of thoroughbred breeding was not needed to compete at Championship level; one must not forget that this year the WEG was run over a CC3* rather than a CCI4*. This years Burghley winner Ringwood Sky Boy had 66% thoroughbred blood in his pedigree.

The modern show jumping sires – particularly the Holstein sires with a significant percentage of Selle Francais in their pedigree are lighter and more thoroughbred like than ever. These sires have dominated ISH breeding and the most successful Irish Bred event horses for many years. These Holstein modern show jumping sires will undoubtedly continue to make their mark in eventing horse breeding well into the future.

So does this mean that we don’t need Thoroughbred sires?. Absolutely not!, both in the UK and on the continent there is as strong a demand as ever for suitable full thoroughbred sires. Suitability meaning that they have the right confirmation, bone and temperament to breed Sports Horses. I predict that in the next 5 years we will see some new young Thoroughbred Stallions coming forwards having exceptional popularity in their first few years at stud.

What will remain the same is the fact that half bred or nearly half bred horses will continue to be successful at Championship level. With success at CCI3* and CCI4* events requiring exceptional dressage tests and clear rounds show jumping over more and more technical tracks cross-country, the combination of thoroughbred breeding crossed with legacy continental lines for athleticism and movement will remain the same.

Under no circumstances should the thoroughbreds be ruled out; do look out for new Thoroughbred sires coming to the market in the UK and on the continent. However, please remember that an average of 44% thoroughbred was all that was needed to get into top ten at Tryon this year.

Annexe 1 – Detailed Breeding review of the top 10 WEG Event Horses

(1) Gold Medallist – Allstar B
The 17hh show jump bred Allstar B ridden to gold medal position by his part owner Ros Canter is KWPN show jump bred. At just under 52% Thoroughbred and one of the largest horses in the competition his size and percentage Thoroughbred disproved the model that nearly or full Thoroughbreds are needed at the highest levels of the sport.
Allstar B has already proven his worth at CCI4* level. He and Ros Canter were third at Badminton in 2018 and fifth in 2017. Allstar B is by the Selle Francais jump stallion Ephebe For Ever who is currently ranked number 84 in the WBFSH rankings for eventers and his grand sire is the legendary jump stallion Galoubet A.
Ephebe For Ever has a mostly thoroughbred dam line. He was a permanent member of the French Show Jumping team for three years. He has won or been placed in multiple CSI Grand Prix across Europe. Ephebe Forever competed in multiple Nations Cups and was pre-selected for the 2004 Athens Olympics.
Allstar B’s dam’s sire is Ekstein who was a KWPN show jump stallion who died in 2008. As a seven year old Ekstein won the KWPN Show Jumping Championship. Ekstein sired many international
showjumpers including the Olympic show jumper Joel. He is also the damsire of the Olympic Gold Medalist Hickstead, the number one ranked international showjumper in both 2009 and 2010.
(2) Silver Medallist – Mr Chunky
British Bred Mr Chunky is by the British stallion Jumbo who also sired two Badminton CCI4* Winners in the mare Headley Britannia and the legendary grey Avebury who won Badminton no less than three times. Mr Chunky was eighth himself at Badminton earlier this year with Padraig McCarthy.
His sire Jumbo is considered by many to be the leading British Sire of Eventers and has over 70 progeny competing today under British Eventing rules and is 12th in the WBSFH rankings 2017.
Mr Chunky’s dam’s sire is Seargant Drummer who is a full Thoroughbred which will have helped give him the resilience in the heat at Tryon. Unfortunately, a full dam line isn’t recorded for Mr Chunky, only her dam’s sire.
(3) Bronze Medallist – SAP Hale Bob
Oldenburg branded, SAP Hale Bob, is 71.88% Thoroughbred and by the Thoroughbred stallion, Helikon. Helikon is number 34 in the WBFSH rankings as of 2017. His dam is Goldige by Noble Champion. Noble Champion is also by a Thoroughbred called Noble Roi but out of an Oldenburg jumping dam line by the famous jump stallion Figaro. Heraldik is also the dam’s sire of Michael Jung’s CC4* Eventer La Biosthetique Sam.
The Oldenburg Figaro was also the sire of Grand Prix showjumpers Figaro’s Boy and Virtual Village Flower III, as well as the dam sire of the famous Grand Prix dressage horses Aleppo and Ranier.
Interestingly SAP Hale Bob’s sire Helikon is also the sire of William FoxPitts International eventer Seacookie who won Pau CCI4* in 2013 and was second and ninth at Lexington CCI4* in 2013 and 2014 respectively.
In 2015, Ingrid and SAP Hale Bob placed in the top five at every FEI event they competed including fifth at the Blair European Championship CCI3* and second at the Badminton CCI4*.
(4) 4th Place – Vassily De Lassos
The Anglo Arab Vassily De Lassos is by the Selle Francais Show Jump stallion Jaguar Mail. Jaguar Mail is currently second in the WBFSH sire rankings for event horses and has just over 80% Thoroughbred in his pedigree. Vassily De Lassos’s dam is called Illusion Perdue and she is 8.6% Thoroughbred – her Anglo Arab breeding undoubtedly gives resilience and staying power in the heat to her progeny and as such the 8.6% figure needs to be reviewed as a positive fact. Illusion Perdue’s dam is Jalienny. Vassily De Lassos’s total percentage Thoroughbred is recorded as 44%.
(5) 5th Place – Horseware Stellor Rebound
The Irish Sport Horse Horseware Stellor Rebound is by VDL Richochet the Dutch Bred KWPN jump stallion who has 46% Thoroughbred in his breeding. His sire line includes the legendary show jumping sire Nimmerdor and his dam line has several key thoroughbreds including Ladykiller and Cottage Son. Whilst his studbook is Irish Sport Horse VDL, Ricochet’s genetics are dominated by Dutch show jump breeding.
(6) 6th Place – Qing Du Briot
The Selle Francais Qing Du Briot is by the Selle Francais Jump stallion Eolien II. Eolien II is 53% Thoroughbred and has the famous sport horse thoroughbred stallion Furioso on his dam line. Qing Du Briot’s dam is Henriette and whilst she is by Etalon Or, her dam line is incomplete. That being the case the total record Thoroughbred in Qing Du Briot’s pedigree is 26%.
(7) 7th Place – Vinci De La Vigne
Foaled in France, Vinci De La Vigne is 51% Thoroughbred and out of a mare called Korrigane De Vigne. His sire Esterel Des Bois is a Selle Francais jump stallion who competed up to CSO level in international show jumping classes. Esterel Des Bois’s dam’s sire is the Selle Francais jump stallion Duc Du Hutrel.
(8) 8th Place – Cekatinka
The KWPN registered Cekatinka is by King Kolibri who is a Hanoverian jump stallion who has Landgraf on his dam line and is considered one of the most important jump stallions in Eastern Europe. In the beginning of his career, Jos Lansink successfully piloted the stallion around many Grand Prix tracks. In 2011 his results included sixth place in the CSI5* Prix Europa in Aachen, seventh in the CSI5* Dublin Grand Prix, third in the CSI5* 1.50 in St Gallen, and 10th in the 1.45 CSI5* in Rome.
In 2011, King Kolibri was sold to the American rider, Lauren Tisbo. The pair’s first big result together was a fifth place finish in the $500,000 CSI5* Grand Prix in Wellington, FL and a fourth place finish in the CSI5* Queens Cup at Spruce Meadows. During 2013, they had top results in Wellington, FL including a sixth place finish in the CSI3* Grand Prix. Cekatinka’s dam’s sire is the full Thoroughbred Julio Mariner who has sired a number of successful eventers. Cekatinka has just 35% thoroughbred blood.
(9) 9th Place – Billy The Red
Billy The Red has the most impeccable pedigree for eventing. Billy The Red was bred in Germany. His dam Simply Red is by the full Thoroughbred stallion Stan the Man.
Stan the Man is also the sire of Michael Jung’s legendary CCI4* partner La Biosthetique Sam.
Billy The Red’s sire is Balou Du Rouet who is currently number 9 in the WBFSH rankings of sires for Eventers and is also ranked number eight in the WBFSH rankings for show jumpers. Billy The Red has a total of 51% Thoroughbred in his pedigree.
(10)10th Place – Quarrycrest Echo
Quarrycrest Echo was born in Ireland and was bred by John Dooley. Quarrycrest Echo is by the Irish jump stallion Clover Echo who is 62% TB and by the Irish jumping sire Clover Hill. Clover Echo is currently ranked number 78 in the WBFSH Sire’s of Eventers. Clover Echco is also the sire of Gubby Leach’s Badminton
CCI4* partner Xavier and is also the sire of HHS Cooley, DHI Hot Chip and Irish European championship show jumper Echo Beach. In 2016 Clover Echo was number 24 in British Eventing’s top 50 sires by BE Points. Quarrycrest Echo’s dam’s sire is the legendary Cavalier Royale who is the sire of several of Mary King’s Eventers including Imperial Cavalier and Call Again Cavalier.
Cavalier Royale is the leading sire of horses with 1,000 British Eventing points or more and is Dutch jump bred by origin but he stood at Stud in Ireland. Quarrycrest Echo’s total percentage Thoroughbred in his pedigree is recorded as 45%.

Annexe 2 – The World Equestrian Games Tryon 2018 individual top 20 by studbook

Place Rider Horse Team Studbook
1 Rosalind Canter Allstar B GB KWPN
2 Padriag Maccarthy Mr Chunky IRE GBR
3 Ingrid Klimke SAP Hale Bob GER GER (Oldenburg)
4 Andrew Hoy Vassily de Lassos AUS Anglo Arab
5 Sarah Ennis Horseware Stellor Rebound IRE ISH
6 Thibaut Vallette Qing Du Briot France Selle Francais
7 Astier Nicolas Vinci De La Vigne France Selle Francais
8 Tim Price Cetatinka New Zealand KWPN
9 Kristina Cook Billy The Red GB DSP
10 Piggy French Quarrycrest Echo GB ISH
11 Maxime Livio Opium De Levierres France Selle Francais
12 Tom McEwen Toledo De Kerser GB
13 Phillip Dutton Z USA ZANG
14 Sam Watson Horseware Ardagh Highlight Ireland ISH
15 Toshiyuki Tanaka Talma D’Allous Japan Selle Francais
16 Merel Blom Rumour Has It O.N.P. Netherlands Holstein
17 Karin Donckers Fletcha Vant Verahof Germany BWP
18 Sidney Dufresne Tresor Mail France Selle Francais
19 Jonelle Price Classic Moet New Zealand SHB (GBR)
20 Yoshiaki OIWA Calle 44 Japan Holstein

About the Author
Georgie Belton comes from a family of eventing, racing and showing breeders in the Midlands. Her grandfather has bred horses to CCI4* and she has personally bred horses up to CCI3*. Her own stud Gemini Stud has won the British Eventing Breeding In Hand Championship with a son of Primitive Rising under the judging of Henrietta Knight along with the British Equestrian Federation Futurity National Championship. Georgie has had multiple Badminton CCI4* and Burghley CCI4* mare owners as customers. Gemini Stud stands a stallion grandson of the Holstein Jump stallion Chicos Boy who won a BE Event as a five year old on his dressage score and was a Horse of the Year Show Cuddy In Hand Finalist as a three year old.

www.thegeministud.com