I’ve been crunched for time when it comes to these spreadsheets (hence the lack of me finishing the Maryland one… sorry…) but I did have to prioritize what is possibly my most favorite international event of the year – Mondial du Lion at Le Lion d’Angers in France. It’s the World Championships for young event horses, with a 2* class for 6 year olds and a 3* class for 7 year olds. This is where stars are born, where we get a glimpse of the next big superstars. This event has historically been the springboard for so many top level horses on their way to the top, I find it ridiculously fun to watch them all and try to figure out who’s going to be the next Sam, Rocana, Vassily, or Quimbo. Sometimes it’s the winner, but just as often it’s the mid or lower placed horse who just got a little overwhelmed in dressage, a little tired on showjumping day, or just wasn’t quite ready to chase the time yet on XC. Odds are though, future superstars are definitely present here regardless of finish. Don’t forget that 42% of this year’s Olympic event horses competed at MdL earlier in their career… a pretty impressive statistic for one event. With so many spectators and atmosphere, it’s often the first time these youngsters are experiencing what it’s like to compete on the world stage.
So um, yeah… I kind of love MdL. It’s exciting to get a glimpse of the future.
This year’s horses I admit surprised me a bit. The field of 7yo’s have the lowest blood percentage I think I’ve ever calculated in a higher level event – 46.6%. In 2020 the 7yo average for MdL was 52%, in 2019 it was 50%, and in 2018 it was 51%. For reference, for 4*’s in Europe somewhere between 51-53% is the norm, and usually a bit higher for 5*. In the US we tend to trend more like 55-58% given how many full TB’s we have here. 46% is quite low… yes it’s “just” a 3*, but given that these are the horses that are being aimed for future 4* and 5*, the lower than usual blood percentage is interesting. Sixteen horses in the field had a blood percentage under 40% – that’s quite a lot. I do have to wonder with the emergence and popularity of the ERM series in Europe (assuming it comes back post covid-restrictions, anyway) if we won’t start seeing more lower blood horses purchased and developed specifically for that 4*S format. Time will tell I guess. The 6yo field was a little bit on the low side too at 49%, but that’s not quite as far off normal like the 7yo’s are. Last year the 6yo’s were 50% and 2019 was 51%.
The blood percentage abnormality got me digging around a little bit and playing with different parameters… would it change much if we looked at the top dressage scores, or the double clear XC rounds, or the clear SJ rounds? A little, yes. Does it actually tell us anything? I dunno. That’s up for interpretation I suppose. Here’s how it shook out:
- range lowest to highest 18% to 79%
- field average blood percentage 46.6%
- top 10 finishers blood percentage 49%
- blood percentage of horses that finished on their dressage score 50%
- blood percentage of horses with double clear XC 49%
- blood percentage of horses with clear SJ 44%
- blood percentage of horses with XC jump penalties 50%
- blood percentage with no XC time penalties 50%
- blood percentage of top 10 dressage scores 49%
And the same breakdown of the 6yo class:
- range lowest to highest 30% to 76%
- field average blood percentage 49%
- top 10 finishers blood percentage 50%
- blood percentage of horses that finished on their dressage score 47%
- blood percentage of horses with double clear XC 47%
- blood percentage of horses with clear SJ 48%
- blood percentage of horses with XC jump penalties 49%
- blood percentage with no XC time penalties 49%
- blood percentage of top 10 dressage scores 50%
In both cases the blood percentage of the top 10 finishers was a bit higher than the field average, but on the other hand the blood percentage of horses with XC jump penalties was the same or higher. Interesting.
Anyway, we could dissect the blood percentage question a thousand different ways (and argue about how much it really matters or not) but let’s move along.
Looking at stallion representation, there’s no doubt that OBOS Quality 004 absolutely owned the 7yo class. He was the sire of SIX horses in that field, and the grandsire of one other. Funnily enough, for as much representation as he had with the 7yo’s, he only showed up in one 6yo, as the damsire. For what it’s worth, all of the OBOS Quality 004 representatives finished the event, ranging from 5th place all the way to 46th place. Every single one of them also had a full TB within 3 generations on the damside, although still overall they had a generally low blood percentage (41% average)… OBOS Quality 004 himself, by the Selle Francais stallion Quick Star and out of some very old school Hanoverian lines, only has 28% blood.
A few other stallions showed up multiple times in the 7yo field – Black Jack was the sire of 2 horses, Kannan was the sire of two horses, Canturo was the sire of 2 and grandsire of 1, and we saw Casall 3 times – twice via his son Connor. On the dam’s side of the pedigree we saw Cavalier Royale 3 times, Master Imp xx 3 times, and Hand in Glove xx twice.
In the 6yo class there was a bit less commonality but still some repeats – we saw 2 offspring of the Gem Twist clone Gemini xx, 2 by the stallion Up to Date, and Diarado was the sire of one and grandsire of another via his son Dinken. We also see Cassini twice as the sire’s sire and once as the damsire. This field also shared some bloodlines with the 7yo’s, logging more Connor representation via his son Connect (can I just take a moment to selfishly enjoy all the Connor that’s starting to show up, because I’ve been fairly obsessed with him and his son Connect for a while now and it’s nice to get some validation), 3 more instances of Casall, another with Hand in Glove xx, and another with Imperius xx (the sire of Master Imp xx). Former MdL competitor and upper level superstar stallion Upsilon also had one offspring in the 6yo and one in the 7yo.
We do see a few dressage stallions popping up here and there – Ferro, UB40, Don Index, and Eliott MC. It’s definitely not common, with the overwhelming majority being from mainly showjumping bloodlines.
While the field did not have any full thoroughbred participants, there were a handful with one full blood parent. In the 7yo’s there were 4 with a full TB parent – one dam, three sire – and one with a full french AA sire. In the 6yo’s there were 5 horses with a full TB parent, all the sire. A couple of these showed up multiple times across both fields: the aforementioned clone Gemini xx, as well as the TB stallion Duke of Hearts xx.
As usual, I want to take a minute to dig into the dams of these horses, since we all know the dams are honestly the more important aspect. In the 7yo field we have 3 dams who competed to 3*/4* level eventing and 5 that showjumped to 1.30m level or higher. In the 6yo field we have 1 dam that competed 3*, 1 that showed 4th level dressage, and 8 (EIGHT!) dams that showjumped 1.30m or higher themselves. In addition to these nice sportmares you also have some great career broodmares that didn’t have a show career themselves but have been fantastic producers – 22 dams in the 6yo field have also produced other international level eventers or showjumpers (or in one case, a GP level dressage horse), and 24 dams in the 7yo field have produced other international level eventers or showjumpers – up to 4*L eventers and 1.65m showjumpers. That’s just a bit under half of the field. Blessed are the broodmares, indeed.
If you got to watch any of the MdL coverage, did any of the horses stand out to you? Who do you think are the next big stars?