One of the foremost sport horse experts in the world came to judge the Cup classes and the Canadian Sport Horse show at the 2010 Royal Agricultural Winter Fair.
Paul Hendrix of the Netherlands, the visiting judge, and his brother Emil are world renowned for their riding, training and breeding accomplishments. Hendrix is on the governing board of the KWPN. As well as breeding his own sport horses, he has selected horses for top international riders including Laura Kraut, Jessica Kurten, Markus Fuchs and Ian Millar.
Overall, Hendrix was pleased with the quality of horses presented. While the Cup classes have traditionally been viewed as hunter-type competitions, Hendrix said he judged the classes exactly as he would in Europe where the hunter discipline is non-existent. He and co-judge Carlton Brooks (renowned U.S. hunter rider/coach/trainer) chose the same winner for both Cup classes: Cheryl Coulter Preziuso’s gelding Centre Stage, by Canadian Sport Horse Silver Premium stallion, the hunter superstar Popeye K, out of the thoroughbred mare Sarah Nicole.
“In conformation and movement, he was number one for both of us,” said Hendrix.
In the CSH line classes, Hendrix was most impressed by the young horses.
“In some of the classes, I expected a little more quality,” he said. “But a lot of the horses in the yearling, two and three-year-old classes could compete in Europe.”
He had high praise for Grand Champion Aritzia, Four Leaf Farms’ yearling filly by the European Hanoverian stallion Abke out of Licorne, an imported Hanoverian mare: “She is beautiful with great lightness, has unbelievable movement and is very correct.”
“The champion (Aritzia) and reserve champion (the filly Cabaletta W by the imported Holsteiner stallion Cabardino out of Viva’s Paradise W) could compete at any place in Europe,” claimed Hendrix. “There was really good quality of mares, especially the yearlings. I liked the quality of the fillies.”
He did have some words of advice to offer Canadian breeders: “I’d like to see a little bit more power from behind in movement. That’s a bit of a weakness. I also prefer lightness. Modern sport horses need lightness.”
Those who feared Hendrix might not be partial to North American Thoroughbreds, given his background in breeding and selecting warmbloods, would be pleasantly surprised. (He also judged the Thoroughbred line classes).
“I was really pleased with the two Thoroughbreds (junior colt/gelding Grand Champion Simply Decadent and reserve champion A Little Decorum, both owned by Treena McClelland) I saw today,” said Hendrix. “I would be happy to have them in Europe.”
CSHA president Paul Morgan wasn’t surprised by Hendrix’s enthusiasm for the Thoroughbreds: “I don’t think people realize how important Thoroughbred blood is to European breeders. They are looking for blood all the time.”
In Canada, we must do the opposite here, said Morgan by continuing to incorporate top European bloodlines into our breeding programs.
“In Canada, we have the quality here, but you can’t deny the European influence and what we need is a mix of North American and European bloodlines,” said Morgan.