In actual fact, some of the Tokyo Olympic stars have stepped off the plane back in their home countries and continued their stellar performances. We will get there in a moment. Most countries are up and running, that is, except for Australia, which is locked down with the Covid-19 pandemic. Well, New South Wales and Victoria are locked down and the other states won’t let us cross their borders! I don’t blame them!
ENGLISH EVENTING ON THE MOVE
England is seriously affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, however, this did not stop them from running a CCI5* at Bicton from 3-5 September. Burghley CCI5* is normally the big five-star autumn event held in England. With the cancellation of Burghley, Bicton ran in its stead. The winner was Gemma Tattersall on her young 11-year-old chestnut gelding, Chilli Knight. Gemma finished on her dressage score of 27.9 penalties. This was the only combination in the CCI5* to finish on their dressage score. This was also Chilli Knight’s very first five-star competition.
Just keep in mind that the individual gold medallist at Tokyo was the German rider Julia Krajewski riding Amande De B’Neville who finished on 26 penalties. The English team won the team gold medal and here in Gemma Tattersall and Chilli Knight is another English combination flexing muscle for the future, scoring 27.9 penalties, which would have given her a silver medal at the Tokyo Olympics.
So, the point being is that England did win the team gold medal convincingly at Tokyo, and if we in Australia have any thoughts of moving from our silver team medal position to a team gold medal at the Paris Olympics in 2024, then we are really, really going to have to work hard. The English are not resting on their team gold medal laurels and are already producing combinations that can lay down individual medal-winning scores right now.
In my last column, I did comment on the fact that eventing breeding lacked any rhyme or reason in the production of the top Olympic horses. I also commented that I thought a pattern of likely breeding stallions would appear in the not-too-distant future. Very interesting is the breeding of Chilli Knight. He is by Chilli Morning, who is the only stallion ever to win the CCI5* Badminton Horse Trials; generally considered one of the greatest eventing stallions in the history of the sport, he died suddenly in his field last year at 20 years of age. Chilli Knight is from the first crop of Chilli Morning foals. The dam of Chilli Knight is Kings Gem, who competed at five-star level, also with Gemma Tattersall. So Chilli Knight was bred through and through to be a five-star winner. Interestingly this was the very first CCI5* that Gemma Tattersall has actually won herself. It is Gemma’s opinion that Chilli Knight is the best cross-country horse in the world at the moment. Gemma has ridden and campaigned Chilli Knight since he was just broken in.
Here in Australia, through frozen semen there are quite a few Chilli Morning offspring. Shane Rose, who was part of the Australian silver medal winning team from Tokyo, has a couple of three-year-old Chilli Morning youngsters. Hazel Shannon, who has won the CCI5* Australian International 3-Day Event (Adelaide) on three different occasions with WillingaPark Clifford, also has a couple of three-year-olds who Hazel says have very quiet and trainable temperaments. One of Hazel’s three-year-olds is owned by Terry and Ginette Snow from Willinga Park. I also have a rising three-year-old colt called Coolness R, which I am hoping will prove to be a top-of-the-range competition horse. It will be very interesting to follow the Chilli Morning genetics and see if they evolve into a blue-chip genetic dynasty for eventing.
CHANGE OF GUARD IN DRESSAGE
Isabell Werth recently announced the retirement of Bella Rose (the mare was due to compete one last time at CHIO Aachen, but a severe bout of colic requiring surgery meant she didn’t compete — by all reports she is recovering well). It has also been confirmed that Isabell’s other top mare, Weihegold OLD, will be retired either at the Frankfurt CDI-W in December or at the 2022 World Cup Finals in Leipzig, which take place in April.