Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Bold Elegance (Elgin Marbles)

I am always really impressed by the wide variety of post racing vocations that Thoroughbreds excel in, and Bold Elegance is no exception. In February 2016, he was a multiple Champion at the South African Horse Of The Year Show. He is just a plain bay, but with his eye catching presence, you can understand why he keeps on winning all those rosettes and sashes, and why he was renamed Bold Elegance. And then to further add to the intrigue of this story, I realized that Bold Elegance is a half brother to one of the most successful, and best looking racehorses, that I have ever worked with personally, Elegant Al, who was trained by Gary Alexander. In the mid 90's I also worked with their oldest half sister, Fashionable Lady (SNL), who was trained by Tobie Spies.

Bold Elegance, current reigning Horse Of The Year 2016
Supreme Adult Show Hunter

The Elegantka Legacy

Elegantka (USA) was, by all accounts, an exceptionally good looking and well conformed mare. She was imported into South Africa by Graham Beck, in the early 90's, in foal to a US based stallion called Local Talent (USA). She was covered to Southern Hemisphere time, and when she arrived in South Africa in 1992, she foaled down a dark bay filly called Fashionable Lady (SNL). The "SNL" stands for: Sired North of the Line. Fashionable Lady was a fair racehorse, winning 3 races in the end, from the Vaal based racing yard of Tobie Spies, where I worked as Assistant Trainer, from 1994 to 1996.

Fashionable Lady was looked after, ridden daily, and immensely loved, by a very good friend of mine, Aldeen van der Walt, who was doing her practical year for her Equine Sciences Diploma, at the time. She said this about "Fash', as she fondly called her: "She was my favourite, she was such a nice stocky horse for a filly. She always tried her best when working. She had a lovely temperament and real gentle eyes. I also loved her owners, Mr and Mrs Makins"

Aldeen riding her darling "Fash" in 1995

Fashionable Lady (SNL) winning for the second time,
in October 1995, under Rhys van Wyk, at Newmarket Racecourse
sporting those famous yellow and blue silks of Mr & Mrs Makins

In 1995, Elegantka was covered by the great Al Mufti, which produced her most successful progeny on the racetrack, Elegant Al. He was an exceptional looker - well known Equine Orthopaedic Surgeon, Professor Roy Gottschalk once told me that he was the best looking horse he had ever encountered, and that his conformation was the closest to perfect that he had ever seen. I have to agree wholeheartedly there - I rode him many mornings on the training tracks. He had such a gentle nature and a true "daisy cutter" action, which is so desirable in a show horse. He is one of my all time favourite racehorses. Elegant Al won a sensational race in the Gr2 Premiers Handicap in 1999, beating TWO Durban July winners, El Picha and Classic Flag, in the process. He also ran a short head 2nd to stable companion Drum Star, in the Gr1 Horse Chestnut 1600m. He was a very sound horse, and raced for 8 seasons, running 52 times for 6 wins, 19 places and R764 205 in stakes. He was trained by Gary Alexander, and was owned by the Alexander Ascot Syndicate. In August 2004, Elegant Al was retired from racing, sound and clean legged, and was bought by Clodagh Shaw as a show horse.

The photo finish of Elegant Al's victory in the
Gr2 Premier's Handicap in October 1999
Elegant Al on the far side, narrowly being beaten into 2nd
by stable companion Drum Star in the Gr1 Horse Chestnut 1600
in April 2000
Elegantka was sired by Conquistador Cielo, who won the 1982 Belmont Stakes, and he was named Champion 3yo Colt and US Horse Of The Year that same year.

Conquistador Cielo winning the 1982 Belmont Stakes

Conquistador Cielo at stud. He was the sire of
over 60 individual Stake Winners
In October 1999 Graham Beck decided to sell his beloved Maine Chance stud farm, and Elegantka found herself on the resulting dispersal sale. She was bought, in foal to West Man for just R70 000 by David Makins, who had owned her very first foal, Fashionable Lady (SNL). She went to live at Peter and Jenny Blyth's Clifton Stud for the rest of her days, producing many more lovely foals for Mr and Mrs Makins.
Elgin Marbles, now called Bold Elegance
In 2004, Elegantka was covered for the second time by the new first season resident stallion at Clifton Stud, Anytime (IRE), who was also owned by Mr and Mrs Makins. Anytime was another exceptional looker, who no doubt got his good looks from his own sire, Fairy King (IRE). Stud owner, Peter Blyth told me that she was a very easy mare to manage, in all aspects, and had a superb temperament, something which she has clearly passed on to all her progeny.
The sire of Elgin Marbles/ Bold Elegance
Breeder David Makins with his beloved Bloodline Million
winner, Mysterious Hal, with Dougie Whyte
in those famous yellow and blue colours!
This mating produced Elgin Marbles, now named Bold Elegance, the hero of our story. He raced in the famous yellow and blue Makins's colours, and was initially trained by Diane Stenger at Randjesfontein. He battled a little up on the Highveld tracks, and was subsequently sold to Charles Roberts and Diane Botes down in Port Elizabeth. He came out a winner in his 5th start for the Charles Roberts yard, but they soon realised that perhaps Elgin Marbles's talents lay elsewhere. Diane Botes is well known for placing ex-racehorses in new post racing homes, through her own First For Horses concept. Elgin Marbles was initially sold to a lady in KZN, Sue Barrett, where he was brought on to win the KZN Champion Novice Show Horse.
In 2012, a showing fanatic, Zadia Schutte bought Bold Elegance, and he has won a large number of Showing Championships with her, under his regular rider, JJ Kemp. He was overall South African Champion Show Horse in 2014, Supreme General Breed Riding Horse at HOY 2013, Supreme Adult Show Hunter TWICE at HOY, and 3rd in Overall Riding Top 5 at HOY 2016. with Bold Elegance only being 12 years old now, he still has many, many years of top class Showing ahead of him.
I asked Zadia, "Why Thoroughbreds?", and she replied: " I am a huge showing fanatic, and they make the most beautiful show horses! I love their big hearts, and willingness and ability to adapt to nearly any situation! I love how they look when all fat and shiny, and 'turned out' (for Showing)! They are great companions and pleasure riding horses as well."
JJ Kemp, who is Bold Elegance's regular "show jockey", was blown away by Bold Elegance's performance at the 2016 HOY Show:": Bold Elegance always makes you hold your breath. Winning his SASSA Hunter class for the 3rd year running and second time Champion SASSA Hunter!!! Super proud of him and such a gallop champ!! Since the first year I showed him being General Breed Ridden champ with Katie Jerram, all the way to being SA Adult Supreme Ridden Showing Champion and every win in between this horse gave me so many special moments!!"
Zadia also mentioned that top UK Showing Judge, Shelly Perham, had told her after the 2016 Horse Of The Year Show, that she was very impressed by Bold Elegance, and that he would make a "TOP Ladies Show Hunter in the UK", which is the home of the Showing discipline.
That's some testament, from some very knowledgeable people, for a Thoroughbred ex-racehorse!
I cannot share enough pictures of this gracefully elegant 12yo gelding. Here are a few from the 2016 Horse Of The Year Show, held at Kyalami Equestrian Park in February.
Big smiles as they get yet another rosette!

Outstanding conformation
Truly living up to his new name!

The look of concentration on both of their faces!
JJ Kemp in the saddle.

Winning the In Hand classes too!

Only a Thoroughbred could give you such a good gallop
in the Showing Ring, and it is one of Bold Elegance's
most famous traits!

The Grand Prize!


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