Breaking Down The Breeding: 2020 ASPCA MACLAY CHAMPIONSHIP

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Cent 15. Carenzo x Sarafina

BY BETHANNE BORT

Following the successful “Breaking Down the Breeding: 2019 Maclay” article published by The Plaid Horse in December 2019, I decided to do a repeat for 2020 to evaluate trends and further our understanding of equitation horse bloodlines.  

The ASPCA 2020 Maclay Championship occurred in November 2020 at the Kentucky Horse Park. This event was the culmination of a tumultuous year; riders, parents, trainers, and owners navigated the coronavirus pandemic and an uncertain show season to qualify for the Maclay Championship. Because of the pandemic, qualification requirements were modified to be equitable to riders in different parts of the country due to the varying degrees of show availability. The Maclay Championship ended up with a very large group of qualified riders that showed – 75 more riders than last year – but the event was managed beautifully with excellent commentary and much appreciated live streaming for remote viewers.  

A tremendous amount of hard work, talent, time, and an unimaginable amount of financial support goes into each horse and rider combination that qualifies for the Maclay Championship. Congratulations to all the Maclay riders and their teams! A full report of the riders, horses, and placings can be found on USEF.org.   

The 2020 ASPCA Maclay Championship focuses on the best junior equitation riders in the nation. The quality and education of their horse is a critical component to their success. The 2020 ASPCA Maclay Championship horses had all the quality you could wish for – big scope, big strides, adjustability, excellent training and education, and good character. There is a secret formula for a top equitation horse, and even though training is a huge factor in the equation, you must start with a quality horse with a suitable temperament to have a chance at getting to the top of the equitation game. These quality horses don’t just happen by luck… Breeders of these top horses dedicate their lives to studying bloodlines, investing in quality mares, and producing outstanding athletes that can compete at the highest levels. Let’s look at the breeds, bloodlines, and breeders of our wonderful 2020 Maclay Championship horses.

Quantico. VDL Verti x Unknown

Like last year, we’re about to get our math geek on, so hang in there with me. All sire data came from USEF, and the extended bloodline data comes from HorseTelex, Hippomundo, Rimondo, and Frozen Semen distributors. In some cases, the sire names provided in USEF were slightly incomplete (missing a suffix, for example), but I completed the research to the best of my abilities based on the information provided in USEF. This deep dive is all sire and stallion based; however, most breeders will tell you that the mare is 60% – 70% of the equation. Unfortunately, our systems in the US do not support mare line searches, so we will focus on the sire lines.

Of the 254 horses that showed in the 2020 Maclay Finals, 250 (>98%) are listed as a warmblood of some sort. There were 4 horses listed in USEF as “unknown” breed, however, 3 of those “unknown” breed horses had well known Holsteiner and Belgian Warmblood sires listed. Therefore, 253 out of 254 Maclay Finals Equitation horses were noted in USEF as a recognized warmblood breed, documented as a generic “warmblood”, and/or listed an approved warmblood sire.  

If we break down the USEF breed information, we see the most represented breeds are Dutch Warmblood/KWPN and Holsteiner. Followed by the Hanoverian, Belgian Warmblood and Oldenburg breeds. It’s worth noting that these are actually registries and not true “breeds,” but for the sake of this article and for consistency with USEF terminology, we will refer to them as “breeds.” 

Table #1: Breeds – As Recorded in USEF

BreedNumber of Maclay Horses
Dutch Warmblood/KWPN43
Holsteiner42
Warmblood*38
Hanoverian22
Belgian Warmblood 22
Oldenburg21
Westphalian11
Zangershiede10
Irish Sport Horse9
Swedish Warmblood6
Danish Warmblood5
unknown4
Selle Francais3
Anglo European Studbook (AES)3
Mecklenburg2
RPSI2
Selle Luxembourgeois2
Canadian Warmblood1
Argentine1
Not in USEF1
Continental Warmblood1
Bayer1
Belgian Sporthorse1
Canadian Hanoverian1
Estonian Warmblood1
Wurttemberger1

The breed “Warmblood,” which is a type of horse and not a true breed or registry, was noted in 38 of the horses. Of those 38 “Warmblood” horses, 14 had well known sires listed, indicating that the USEF breed information was incomplete in USEF. Possibly they were unregistered and lumped in as an unregistered warmblood? Possibly the new owner didn’t know the difference in a Dutch Warmblood and a “Warmblood”? Maybe the person registering them in USEF didn’t have the papers in front of them? Impossible to say…  Unfortunately, the remaining 24 “Warmblood” horses had no sire, dam, or breeder information in USEF, so their parentage could not be confirmed.  

This is a weak link in the USEF horse database. There should be a greater effort to require breed information, such as registration paper verification, to ensure accuracy and traceability. Some registries, like the American Hanoverian Society, KWPN, and Belgian Warmblood North America (BWP), now provide lifetime USEF registration as part of foal registration, which ensures the microchip number, breeder, owner at registration, registration number, and the correct sire and dam are listed in USEF. This will slowly influence the accuracy of data contained in USEF, including breeder information. 

This is an excellent step towards improving the data and traceability of horses registered in USEF, and the registries that provide this service should be commended for it! Breeders and/or foal owners can also lifetime register foals with USEF for a reduced fee, which is an additional step that breeders and owners can take to ensure their foals are accurately represented in USEF. The popularity of age-related classes will also help improve the accuracy of USEF data, as USEF should verify and upload registration information when they verify ages for participating horses. 

Let’s look at our Maclay horses in a different way– by their breeding/bloodlines. 53* of the 254 horses (21%) that showed in the ASPCA Maclay Championship failed to have the sire, dam, or breeder registered in USEF. Miraculously, of this 21% with “unknown” bloodlines, all but two were listed in USEF with a known breed: Warmblood, Dutch Warmblood/KWPN, Holsteiner, Westphalian, Swedish Warmblood, Hanoverian, or Oldenburg. 10 of these 53 sire/dam “unknown” horses listed a brand on their left hind quarter in the USEF markings description. 

Mac One III. Luidam Elite x Original Way

Either the brand helped in identifying their breed for truly lost paper situations or it demonstrates a disconnect between breeders or owners and the inputting of sire and dam information into the USEF database. These 53 horses listed with “unknown” sire are excluded from the rest of the bloodline discussions, which as I stated last year, is truly a shame.  (* One of these 53 horses is listed in the USEF competition record without a USEF number and was unable to be verified.)

Fun Fact: The average age of the horses showing in the 2020 Maclay Championship was 11 years of age.

This leaves us with 201 horses that showed in the Maclay Championship with a sire listed in USEF.  From these 201 horses, we had the following sires represented by more than one offspring at the 2020 Maclay Championship:

Table #2: Sires with Multiple Offspring Showing in 2020 ASPCA Maclay Championship

Sire (Sire x Damsire)Maclay HorsesSemen from Sire Readily Available in US?
Cassini I (Capitol I x Caletto II)Cassin U, Quite Cassini, Calamaris Z, Cassinirno
Cassini II (Capitol I x Caletto II)Tin Cup, Centina, Casino, NTEC Crown Royalyes, frozen
Contendro I (Contender x Reichsgraf)Chambertino 2, Common Sense, De La Cruz, Celtic 23yes, frozen
Quidam De Revel (Jalisco B x Nankin)Wildifre, Quinito, Startin’ Mondayno
Verdi (Quidam de Revel x Landgraf I)Quantico, Voodoo S, Dare to Compareyes, frozen
Catoki (Cambridge x Silvester)Castellan W, Cake, Cantaro M (sire not exact match) yes, frozen
Berlin (Cassini I x Caretino) Munich, Utah Beach Un Princeyes, frozen
Cachas (Caretino x Corrado IConstantine, CARRACHO Hyes, frozen
Carambole (Cassini I x Concerto II)Imaginator, Tropic Staryes, frozen
Cardento (Capitol I x Lord)First VDL, VDL Denzono
Casall (Caretino x Lavall I)HH Casallo, Casperyes, frozen
Conthargos (Converter x Carthago Z)Conthacco, Contillon Blueyes, frozen
Quinta Real (Quite Easy I x Caretino)Privilege, Quinnyes, frozen
Valentino (Now or Never M x Belisar)SWS Questionnaire, Double Dutchyes, fresh and frozen
Chacco Blue (Chamberlin x Contender)Chacco Star, Chacco Brownyes, frozen

As noted in the right-hand column of Table 2, many of these sires are available to the US market via frozen semen. Some of these frozen semen costs are significant, up to $4,000 for one dose of Casall frozen semen, for instance. Chacco Blue is only available for ICSI doses, which is an expensive and often unsuccessful foray for breeders to attempt. Of the sires with multiple offspring represented in the 2020 Maclay Championship, only Valentino is standing in North America and available to breeders with fresh semen (Dreamscape Farm).  

The next step was to research the available sire information of all the 2020 Maclay horses in USEF and analyze common denominators.  Here are the most represented stallions in the 2020 Maclay Championship horse pedigrees based on sire line searches:

Table #3: Top Stallions Represented in a 4-5 Generation Pedigree Search

Stallion (Sire x Damsire)Number of 2020 Maclay horses with this stallion in their 4-5 generation pedigree
Cor de la Bryere (Rantzau XX x Lurioso)67
Capitol I (Capitano x Maximus)57
Capitano (Corporal x Ramses X)39
Contender (Calypso II x Ramiro Z) 37
Caletto II (Cor de la Bryere x Consul) 36
Quidam de Revel (Jalisco B x Nankin)31
Landgraf I (Ladykiller XX x Aldato) 30
Alme (Ibrahim x Ultimate XX)30
Calypso II (Cor de la Bryere x Heissporn) 30
Jalisco B (Alme Z x Furioso XX)30
Ladykiller XX (Sailing Light XX x Loaningdale XX)24
Ramiro Z (Raimond x Cottage Son XX)24
Lord (Ladykiller XX x Calando I) 24

There are no real surprises on this list of the most influential Maclay sires – they are very similar to the results from the 2019 research with just a bit of reshuffling. Without a doubt, the most heavily influential sire within the first 5 generations of the 2020 Maclay Finals horses is the Selle Francais stallion Cor de la Bryere (1968-2000), who himself is by the successful racing Thoroughbred Rantzau XX and out of an exceptional show jumping Selle Francais mare by Lurioso (by Furioso XX).  Cor de la Bryere was purchased as a refinement stallion for the Holstein stud, bringing important Thoroughbred blood to the breed.  He is listed within the first 5 generations of 33% of the 201 Maclay horses with a sire listed in USEF.  That does not include extended pedigree searches, nor does it include any of the horses with no sire listed in USEF, nor does it include a dam pedigree search of any of the horses!  It is safe to say that his influence is likely even much greater than what we see here.  

Capitol I, surprisingly completely unrelated to Cor de la Bryere, had the next largest number (57) of multi-generational offspring in the Maclay Championship, followed closely by his own sire, Capitano.  Capitol I did not start his stallion career as the legend he became. Many of his first foal crop were big and heavy (though still possessing great jumper attributes), and the knowledgeable breeders realized he needed a different, lighter in type, mare base. After moving to a different stallion station in 1984 with a more refined mare base, Capitol I went on to produce the excellent jumpers with elastic movement and type that turned him in to a stallion legend. Just a few of his extremely successful sons are Carthago, Cassini I, Cassini II, Cento and Indoctro. Capitol I offspring are known for being scopey and easy to ride, possessing an amateur friendly temperament. This temperament likely stemmed from his own sire Capitano and grandsire Corporal, who were both regarded for their excellent character. 

The combined influence of Cor de la Bryere and Capitol I is astonishing, and their legacy is seen throughout the list of top Maclay sires.  The next unrelated top sire across the pedigree search is the beautiful bay Selle Francais stallion Quidam de Revel.  Known for having a strong mouth on course but exhibiting extraordinary talent, Quidam de Revel has produced thousands of outstanding show jumpers and many notable sires such as Verdi, Nabab De Reve, and Quite Easy. Quidam de Revel is the direct grand sire of 11 of the Maclay horses!

A more specific look at the Top 10 2020 ASPCA Maclay Championship horses show heavy representation by Capitol I and his son Cassini I.  The top placing horse, Cent 15 (ridden by Dominic Gibbs), is sired by the Hanoverian stallion Carenzo (Calido I x Freedom Z) who carries multiple crosses to the Holsteiner Cor de la Bryere on the sire side and Alme and Ramiro Z on the dam side.  Alme and Ramiro Z are also listed as top sires in Table 3.

Table 4: Top 10 2020 ASPCA Maclay Championship Horse Sires and Grand Sires

PlacingHorseSire and Grand SireSemen from Sire Readily Available in US?
1Cent 15Carenzo by Calido INo
2Mac One IIILuidam Elite by GuidamYes, Frozen (Superior Equine Sires)
3QuanticoVerdi by Quidam de RevelYes, Frozen (Keswick Equine Clinic)
4Ittevilleunknownunknown
5Any Given SundayIndoctro by Capitol IYes, Frozen (Majestic Gaits/VDL)
6Hot PantsRagazzo 31 by RaphaelNo
7CharismaStakkato by SpartanYes, Frozen (Canadian Hanoverian Society, ships to US also)
8Quite CassiniCassini I by Capitol INo (Full brother Cassini II available frozen by Fox Fire Farm and Global Equine Sires)
9FantaFavorite ASK by Diamont de SemillyNo (Full brother Elvis Ter Putte available frozen at Global Equine Sires)
10EmpireCampbell VDL by Cassini INo

Of the 254 2020 ASPCA Maclay horses, only 89 have the breeder listed in USEF. This equates to 35%, which is a slight improvement from 2019 Maclay horse breeder listings in USEF (33%). Of those 89 horses with the breeders listed, 9 are American bred, 3 are Canadian bred, and 23 were bred in Great Britain/Ireland/Netherland/Belgium/Germany. These numbers demonstrate improved representation versus 2019 for the US-bred horses; in 2019 there were only 3 confirmed North American bred horses that participated in the Maclay Championship!  

As noted in Table 4, many sires of the top 2020 ASPCA Maclay horses are available for US and Canadian breeders via frozen semen. The availability of frozen semen from Europe is increasing, and many breeders are using frozen semen when the stallion is a good fit for their breeding program. Saret Tola, owner of Jump Start Farm and breeder of US bred “I’ll Say JSF,” is one such breeder. “It was my life dream to use the stallion Acorado in my breeding program. I used to go to the keuring in Holstein, Germany every fall and there I decided to use frozen semen from his son Acodetto on one of my best mares.” 

Saret bred her homebred mare Bella’ laika JSF (by Balta Czar) to Acodetto with the hopes of combining the good temperament, lovely type, and jump typical of the “A line” with her high quality and well-tempered mare. “Even if you can deal with a hard horse, nobody wants to! I breed for an outstanding temperament, jump, and type… and whatever the horse wants to do when they grow up is what they will do.  I don’t breed to put them in a jumper or hunter box from the beginning.” I’ll Say JSF is true to his breeding and was born with a quiet and and kind temperament that, coupled with his aptitude for jumping, made him suitable for both the hunter and equitation jobs.  

There are also several North American based stallions that sired 2020 ASPCA Maclay Championship horses, including Cabardino, All the Gold, Roc USA, Viva Voltaire, Jadalco, Valentino, and Beaulieu’s Conquest. Rachel Kane, DVM, the breeder and owner of US bred Maclay horse “Riot 18” (ridden by Juliana Gullo), used Roc USA for her mare Aloutt, who had previously been a 1.30 jumper and conformation hunter.   She knew Roc USA crossed well with a variety of mares and reliably passed good conformation and athletic ability suitable for hunters, equitation, and jumpers. Riot 18 was born and developed as a young horse at her farm and then went to Wellington as a 4 year old, where he successfully started his pre-green young horse career and continued from there.  “As hard as it is to breed good horses, you also need to partner with a person or team that can work with the horse as an individual to bring out the best in them as they develop under saddle.”

The 2020 Maclay horse Viva’s Glory, a mare by Viva Voltaire, was bred by W. Charlot Farms in Canada.  One of only 12 mares that participated in the 2020 ASPCA Maclay Championship, Viva’s Glory is a perfect example of a working mother. After having a foal in 2015 Viva’s Glory went back to work under saddle and in 2020, she and her owner/rider Macy White progressed to the ASPCA Maclay Championship.  Macy rides out of her mother’s farm, Whitehedge Farm, in Aubrey, Texas, USA, where she has the unique opportunity to ride at the top junior levels while also supporting breeding, foaling, and young horse training efforts at the farm. “I love working with the stallions and foaling out babies,” states Macy. “I get to start a lot of youngsters, and even started Glory’s foal, Catarina WH.” Macy also helps with the yearly Oldenburg Inspections at her family farm by handling mares and foals and helping with logistics. Her mare Glory is expecting another foal this spring, this time by Embryo Transfer!

The US has many unique opportunities for juniors with an interest in breeding. For example, the Mid Atlantic Hanoverian Breeders Club provides FREE youth membership to young breeders, riders of Hanoverians, and Hanoverian enthusiasts 18 years or younger and living in MD, PA, VA, NC, NJ, or DE.  This membership provides many educational events and an outstanding awards program. Some registries, such as KWPN and American Hanoverian Society, also have Young Breeder Groups with the aim of competing in the World Young Breeder Championships!

There were 53 breeders who are documented in USEF that I was unable to locate in Facebook, USEF, or internet searches with the information provided. Many of those 53 breeders had incomplete or unclear names in USEF which made searching difficult. I am encouraged to see breeders recorded in USEF, but certainly there is an opportunity for improvement here.

This is another example where use of a centralized database would be ideal. As mentioned last year, imagine if you pulled up your horse in USEF and the sire and dam were correctly recorded and a hyperlink would quickly link you to a centralized horse database where pedigree and breeder information is accurately recorded, including breeder contact and farm information. This, coupled with microchipping, is the future of horse traceability. For this to work, USEF and other organizations would have to require registration papers or similar documentation for confirmation of bloodlines and they would need to partner with an appropriate centralized horse database. Owners and breeders would need to use the system and link that information to the microchip number.  

I challenge our young riders, trainers, breeders, and owners to evaluate your horse’s data in USEF and update their information with the correct information – including breeder. This demonstrates pride in your horse’s breeding, registration, and bloodlines. This also encourages breeders to continue breeding, enables the horse community to be more informed and produce purpose-bred horses, and will better link trainers and owners to breeders to ensure top US-bred youngstock are developed and promoted in sport.  Increasing visibility and appreciation of our breeders is a win-win; without them, we have no horse.


Author BethAnne Bort, owner of Fox Hill Sporthorses, LLC, is a hunter, dressage, and jumper breeder based out of North Carolina, USA.  Her daughter, Rachel Bort, is a junior rider that shows in hunters and equitation on the A circuit. BethAnne partners with Arion Sporthorses, owned by Samantha Kidd, for her breeding and foaling services.

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