Wash up Meeting for FEI and The Phenomenal Pivotal Dies

Recent days and weeks have seen the ‘wash-up’ from the main shows and events of the year, particularly with the FEI and the Olympic committee with regards to the format and success or not of Olympic and Paralympic competitions.  Pivotal, the rags to riches worldwide successful stallion dies at Cheveley Park Stud and the breeding stock sales around the globe post phenomenal stats. In Prague, a Longines World Champion Super Tour saw fifteen rider chancing their luck.

In Antwerp, Belgium last week, the FEI held a meeting attended by all the National Equestrian Federations around the world to discuss and vote on whether the Olympic format of three horses in a team with no discard score as adopted in Tokyo should be continued in Paris in 3 years time; or whether the former system of having four horses in team events with the worst score being allowed to be discarded to be reinstated.  The meeting followed a consultation with questionnaires being sent to all federations for their opinions, and which had to be returned in mid-October in time for inclusion in this important Antwerp appointment. As we have said before, it was a disgrace that only eight of the world federations could be bothered to reply to the questionnaires. There were 100 representatives, one from each national federation. 70 of them voted to keep the new system used for the first time in Tokyo with 30 voting to return to the former format. The interesting thing about this whole thing about the rules was how many current senior and top riders wanted to change the teams from three members to four. They cited that it was entirely for horse welfare issues, although exactly what the issues were was never made that clear.

Steve Guerdat (SUI) and his new wife Fanny Skalli

Steve Guerdat, the top Swiss rider said that the rules needed to be returned to how they were before Tokyo because ‘of horse welfare’, but again never elaborated on what, but did say that the riders did not have anywhere enough input into FEI decisions; after all, it was they who know the horses and their abilities and best to judge what was too much for the horse and what was not, and in his opinion, the pressure put on the horses was too much with the new format. There were several other top riders also expressing concern including former Olympic champion Nick Skelton and Ludger Beerbaum along with McClain Ward from the USA and Rodrigo Pessoa. Some of the national federations did not support the continuing of the system including the American, German, French and Irish representatives – a bunch of countries with some considerable influence.

We believe that the decision voted on to keep the new status quo is the correct one. Even with the serious weight pitched against the new system at the Games, the dissenters failed to show exactly what horse welfare issues were, or could be prevalent with the Tokyo format. As we have said before in previous articles, no other sporting discipline in the whole Olympic movement had the opportunity to have the score discarded and so why should equestrian sport be different? Secondly, the nature of equestrian sport show that not only does the athlete have to be at the top of his/her games, but so does the horse and if one unexpectedly has an off day, then it makes the competition more worthwhile as it is not so easy to decide the winning combinations before they have arrived at the Olympic venue. So, in our opinion, well done those countries who railed against the ‘elite riders’ and voted to keep the three horse team rule.

Showjumping in Prague

Uliano Vezzani course builder and designer of the top showjumping classes this year

On the showjumping circuit itself, this weekend saw CSI 5 star round of the Longines Global Tour Super Grand Prix held in Prague. This was a competition made up of two parts in which all the entries entitled to take part in both rounds. The first part was a course of 13 jumps with 16 jumping efforts over the highest jumps of 1.65 meters and a time allowed of only 72 seconds. The courses for both rounds were set by Italian course designer Uliano Vezzani. In the second round, the top height remained at 1.65m but there was a jump less and the time allowed was also cut to just 68 seconds. In neither round was there a jump off and the total number of faults were added together to provide the final outcome and for those with a double clear, the time was taken into account.

In the first round, there were fifteen starters with Peder Fredricson as the trail blazer and he collected 4 faults with one down. Darragh Kenny from Ireland was the second in and secured the first clear round to take through to the second round. Six of the riders took through four faults to round two with five going clear in the first round. There was one elimination in the first round so fourteen went through to round two. The riders went in reverse order according to the number of faults collected in the first round in round two, and for those on clears, the slowest in round one went before the quicker ones.

Henrik Von Eckermann with King Edward wins in Prague

Of the nine combinations with 4 faults or less, this was always going to be a tight second and competitive second round, particularly with there being 2.25 million euros up for grabs with the winner taking 300,000 of them. Olivier Robert from France riding Vangog du Mas Garnier was clear in round one but had three down in the second round giving him 12 faults. The other four clears of round one took the top four places in the final count. Darragh Kenny riding VDL Cartello collected 4 faults and finished fourth while Ben Maher riding Explosion W, although was the fastest around the course, had a pole down – so another one on 4 faults. The top two both had double clear rounds so it was down to time. Spain’s Sergio Alvarez Moya riding Alamo took second with 62.48 seconds and the winner was Sweden’s Henrik Von Eckermann riding the wonderful King Edward with a clear and in 60.82 seconds.

Pivotal. A sire with a massive legacy

On Friday last week, it was announced that the once ordinarily bred stallion Pivotal, who was bred and owned all his life  by The Cheveley Park Stud in Newmarket died having had a spectacular career both on the racecourse and as a stallion at the grand age of 28. Bred by David and Patricia Thompson, owners of the Cheveley Park Stud, it was decided to retain the son of Polar Falcon rather than sell him as a yearling on 1994 – an astute decision, as he repaid the Thompson’s faith in him many times over; winning The King Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot as well as The July Cup at Newmarket and The Nunthorpe Stakes at York, giving his owners their first Group 1 winner, the start of many. After his racing career with Sir Mark Prescott, Pivotal returned to stand stud duties at his home bred stud at a fee for his first year of just £6000.

Pivotal – champion sprinter and sire

As a stallion, his legacy is truly remarkable, Firstly, he was one of the real ‘heavy weight’ stallions in the world, and not owned by either Middle East connections or Coolmore. A privately owned stallion on a privately owned and run stud. His first heavy weight winner was Kyllachy, another top sprinter, not bred by Cheveley Park, but ended up standing at stud there alongside his sire. This was just the start of a spectacular stud career for Pivotal. He sired no less that 32 Group 1 winners and 241 stakes performers including the like of Siyouni, Halfway To Heaven and more recently Glen Shiel. Others to keep the legacy going include Somnus, Izzy Top and Lightening Spear. He will also be remembered as a brood mare sire as well with his daughters supplying 23 Group 1 winners including Cracksman, Mayson, Defoe and Magical among many others. Pivotal has sired so many winners and daughters of top flight horses, far too many to list here but the fact he was leading sire in the UK no less than six occasions as well as leading brood mare sire in 2017 and 2019. His phenomenal success showed in the stud fee he commanded as he rose to a fee of £85,000 and indeed, Sheikh Mohammed, wanting to come to the party on a full time basis brought 25% of the horse in 2015 at an undisclosed price, but one can be sure it was not for nothing! The last word on this should go to Chris Richardson, the long-time standing stud and racing manager at Cheveley Park Stud for the whole of Pivotal’s  long life. “The story associated with the mighty Pivotal is truly extraordinary, considering he was the result of the very first covering by his sire Polar Falcon. Thankfully, as a yearling, it was decided to retain him to race, rather than offer him for sale, as we did with the other yearling colts by Polar Falcon that year. While in the hands of trainer Sir Mark Prescott, Pivotal truly put Cheveley Park Stud on the map, giving owners David and Patricia Thompson their first Group 1 winner in the stud’s famous red, white and blue colours.”

Chris Richardson – manager of Cheveley Park Stud

He continued: “Having covered a relatively small book of mares in his first year, his resulting progeny excelled and inspired at all levels, which they have continued to do throughout his career, both domestically and internationally. On the world stage, Pivotal has excelled as a sire, a sire of sires and as a broodmare sire, to the highest level and all of us at Cheveley Park Stud have been so blessed to have been part of his life for 28 years.”

The Bloodstock Breeding Sales

These are now in full force, both in the USA and Europe. A full report will appear following the Tattersalls Newmarket sales which are widely regarded as the real bench mark for the state of the bloodstock industry. However, the omens look good for the sales as both in the USA at Keenland, the stats were well up on last year which was to be expected following the various worldwide shut downs due to the pandemic, but even some of the 2019 figures paled into insignificance with some results posted. In Ireland, at Goffs, the same story was told, but with even more vigour. The first day of the foals, usually a weak day, saw the record price for day one smashed with a colt by Mehmas going for 140,000 Euros. The trend continued right throughout the whole sale with a 52% increase in turnover for the day on the corresponding day last year. The top lot went to Newtown Stud of Ireland for a Frankel filly making 525,000 Euros purchased by Juddmonte Farms. The filly is the half-sister to the German Derby winner and so far successful young sire – Sea The Moon.

The top lot for the mare sale at Goffs was Plying, sent through the ring for 40,000 in 2017 and sold to the Littleton Stud in the UK, made a spectacular reappearance selling for 825,000 Euros. The fact that she produced this year’s classic winner Alcohol Free, for the same ownership, did the sale of the mare no harm! The total aggregate for the whole Goffs sale was up 81% on 2020 results, now standing at nearly 42 million euros. The average and median were also up – what a surprise – at 7.4% and 11% respectively.

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