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  • Writer's pictureFran Cleland

Americain's great legacy is to be found in performance arenas

ABOVE: Imogen Bergin and Prince Alfred, who was sired by Americain.

THE ability of a stallion to pass along jumping talent has long been appreciated by those who want brave bold horses.

And although the jumping horse du jour is the Warmblood, Andreas Haberbeck’s article “The Thoroughbred Roots of Modern Show Jumpers” says:

“The last 20 years have seen the emergence of specialist show jumping sire lines, which have more-or-less supplanted the old half-bred formula at the top level of international show jumping. Yet almost all of these sire lines can be traced back to the Thoroughbred, although in some cases one has to dig a little deeper than in others.”

Australians have always valued the Thoroughbred and our early gold medal-winning team horses all carried blood.

Over the years Black Pampas was much sought after as a show jumping sire, then Family Ties and Brilliant Invader produced international winners of three-day eventers and showjumpers.

Sir Alec Creswick’s stallion Centreway bred nine horses that competed on Olympic Games teams for the Roycroft Family and Mervyn Bennett.

Those stallions can be found today in a lot of performance horse pedigrees. Word of mouth travels quickly in the competition world so it’s no surprise that stock by the recently deceased Melbourne Cup winner Americain have been found by local riders. The beautiful horse’s loss last year in a paddock accident may prove to be significant as several riders have his offspring in their stables and are finding them to be really talented.

Eventing rider Isobel Houghton is lucky enough to have three mares by him.

“They are all very sweet on the ground, strong through the back and back end, all extremely agile on their feet, great back ends over a jump and can be sensitive in the brain but never nasty,” she says.

Hayley Womersley has a five-year-old that finished racing in February last year and is just starting his eventing career. “Lovely on the ground and very willing under saddle, he always tries very hard,” said Hayley.

Imogen Bergin is a 16-year-old rider and her Prince Alfred at seven is possibly the most advanced of the Americains in competition.

The 16.3hh eventer is elegant, like most of his sire’s stock, and competed up to one star with his previous owner. He is described by his young rider as a strong athletic type, very brave and with a great back end. “Very smart and willing,” she says. Imogen is confident that he will competes easily at higher levels.

Several other riders have also found Americains to try, and although they are good looking there seems to be not much chance of them winding up in the show ring, as their jumping talent has the eagle-eyed eventers on the prowl.

The horse still has offspring on the track, so no doubt they will continue to appear as jumpers. It’s a shame he’s been lost. The Melbourne Cup might come to be seen as not his greatest achievement, if his stock in the performance ring continue as they have started.

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