Rolensky MVNZ. PHOTO:

Very rarely does a horse appear for sale on the international sport horse market that nobody has ever seen before.  So, when Rolensky MVNZ (Cornet Obelensky/Cassini I/Landjunge) arrived in the Netherlands from New Zealand, the founder and president of the Longines Global Champions Tour, Jan Tops, described the stallion as, “a hidden gem, a treasure chest, a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow”.

The stunning grey stallion from the bottom of the world showed a number of outstanding qualities. One month into his European sojourn and jumping at 1.35-1.40m,  he hadn’t touched a rail since he arrived.  He was clearly a 5* Grand Prix showjumping prospect in the making. 

So, it was no surprise when he was snapped up by a rider based at Stal Tops for 1.9 million euros ($NZ3.3 million), claiming the top-equal spot in one of the most valuable auctions of the year, according to the World Breeding Federation for Sport Horses. 

Breeders Wendy and Richard Keddell of Mount View Sport Horses in Tauranga were delighted, as not only was this an incredible achievement for them, but it also showed recognition of New Zealand having the ability to produce top quality international horses.

“I always believed in ‘Roly’ wholeheartedly,” says Wendy.  “He has such an incredible brain and travels so lightly across the ground.”

“The qualities he’s been gifted with and his good character, make his future in the sport very bright.”

“Roly” as a foal.

“Roly has been a very manageable stallion from a young age. 

“Our staff have never had any problems handling him, they just had to tell him off when he called out to the mares,” she laughs.

He was trained at Mount View until the beginning of his sixth year and for the following two seasons Roly trained with Daniel Blundell. 

“Dan did a great job with Roly and formed a good partnership with him.”  Wendy says this last season in New Zealand had not been the easiest because there had been so much rain which cancelled many of the shows planned for him. However, he had performed well in his final outings, two at 1.30m and one at 1.35m at Takapoto, before he went overseas.

The Keddells  have had some very successful horses over the years and currently have two of the highest ranked New Zealand bred horses on the international circuit – McCaw MVNZ  with Katie Laurie in Canada and now owned by Carissa and Mike McCall, and Eldorrado MVNZ now owned by Lieven Devos in Belgium. 

“It’s a long-term project, and I love the learning!  We’ve met some of the old breeders in Europe and it was inspiring.  Amazing people, and generations of families of horses.  There’s a lot to be said for that, and I think what they’ve created has been a very strong foundation to see the sport develop the way it has,” says Wendy.

Wendy says she was lucky to have been mentored by Belgian breeder Luk van Puymbroeck of LVP stables and one of the owners of Flanders Foal Auctions.

“We took a lot of our principle aims, goals and learning from the Germans, the Dutch and the Belgians, especially from Luk.  When I first met him, I spent a whole afternoon with him talking about breeding.”

“After that, I’d go to visit him every couple of years and he always had something planned.  His wife would pack sandwiches and we’d drive the seven hour journey to Holstein. On the way, we would just talk flat out about horses and everything to do with breeding.  I had pages of notes, and when he wasn’t on the phone, I was asking him questions and making more notes.  He’s just like a walking encyclopedia,” she says.

Wendy says it is such a big industry in Europe, with the systems in place for horse training and development. “it’s a whole different deal”.   But she remains a strong advocate for breeding warmbloods in New Zealand, and she is part of the NZ Sport Horse Breeders group that brought European experts, like Irish sport horse breeder Michael Doherty and Emma Thorén Hellsten of the Swedish Warmblood Association, to New Zealand.

“We have an advantage in New Zealand being able to raise horses on large pastures all year round and young horses have a great place to grow up. That is something that is challenging to do in Europe.”

“New Zealand breeders are doing a great job here and the quality of the NZ bred warmblood is improving with every generation.  I’m sure in the future more NZ sport horses will feature prominently on the world stage,” says Wendy.  See link to video: