Stepping stone - the World Breeding Jumping Championships
Ireland will be well represented at the World Breeding Jumping Championships in Belgium
For the past 15 years the FEI World Breeding Jumping Championships for Young Horses have been a valuable stepping stone to bigger things.
Codex One, Mylord Carthago and Elvis Ter Putte are just three high-profile continental stallions to have passed through the gates of Zangersheide in Lanaken before progressing on the world stage.
While none of these three horses won their respective competitions at the venue, it has been proven time and time again that a number of those which are placed in the top 10 each year are more likely to forge a successful career in showjumping.
In fact a survey undertaken in 2014 by Rik Van Miert, vice-president of the World Breeding Federation for Sport Horses, showed that several which feature in the main group each year later disappear without a trace. He maintains that much depends on where they end up if sold on, their athletic ability as they mature, and the quality of their rider.
Looking back at the career of Codex One - he placed fourth in the seven-year-old final in 2009 under Karl Brocks. Three years later the grey was flying the flag for Germany with Christian Ahlmann at the Olympic Games in London.
Elvis Ter Putte, meanwhile placed sixth in Lanaken as a six-year-old in 2010 and last year placed 10th in the FEI Zangersheide Sires of the World. The son of Diamant de Semilly is now one of the most sought-after sires, having already produced the 2015 Belgian Warmblood Champion Manchester Van't Paradijs, and is again the most represented BWP-approved stallion in 2016.
Open to five, six and seven-year-olds, and often attracting up to 900 horses, these championships have become an important date in the calendar for stud-owners and horse-producers from all around the globe. It is where the best breeding lines of the present, and the future, are also identified.
While the Royal Warmblood Studbook of the Netherlands (KWPN) has clearly dominated the results for the past decade, the Selle Francais and Oldenburg studbooks have also featured strongly in the overall rankings.