Belissimo - why?




                                                                                       Belissimo by Beltain x Romadour II


The decision to breed Fabrice to Belissimo this years has been one of the most crabwised breeding decisions I ever made – and it was not even my own idea…

The reason for this has been my very personal and very critical longtime-assessment of Belissimo. I have been watching this glorious stallion ever since he appeared on the scene, immature and not even age three at that point in time. But actually, my very personal opinion making on Belissimo had already started long before:

At the very beginning of the making of this webpage I dedicated a special page to his sire, Beltain. Take it as an hommage to a grand old stallion, if you wish to. Following Fidermark, Beltain was most certainly the one stallion who has influenced and impressed me deepest at a time when my concpetion of sport horse breeding as such has been very immature to say the least.

Without Beltain there had been no Wallery K for me, no Brentano II for me – and most certainly no Belissimo for the world.

Back then a stallion could become licensed upon ten S-class wins and I was about to write a report on stallions who had been licensed due to a sport carreer when I asked the Westfalian Verband for help and information about stallions in general, specifically asking for Beltain. The answer I got was:
”Why would you want to write about that one?
There are other stallions out there who had deserved such report much more….”
But as a matter of fact:
You could barely find a single stallion who had made it into breeding via sport success up to Grand Prix…

But more than anything else this answer reflects the lack of appreciation and knowledge the Westfalians owed to the Boleroblood in general and to the meaningful damline of Dr. Max Schulz Stellenfleth specifically.
Even the official webside of the FN (german sport horse registry) named Beltain an „unkown stallion“ when referring to him as being the sire to Belissimo who had just become BundesChampion of the four year old stallions in 2003.

So it didn’t come as a surprise that the Rhineland Licensing Committee didn’t even accept Belissimo when he was introduce to the preselection age two and a half – these horses arising from the Max Schulz damline have never been “premature”.
So barely three years old Belissimo then appeared at the Westfalian Winter Auction early 2002 and I remember him as if it was yesterday:
he blew us off our seats…..
I had tears in my eyes given the beauty and grace of this magnificent horse, evenmoreso as finally his sire Beltain gathered the well deserved but long time refused appreciation in Westfalia, a stallion who had to die first before people were paying their tribute to him…

Belissimo’s later licensing and approval by the Rhineland and Westfalian Verband was only a formality anymore.

Most certainly Belissimo’s beauty is owed to his dam by Romadour II who – according to hearsay – has been a beautiful mare. And that was exactly what caused my first doubt:
if performance (move) follows colour and type, something i find often true when judging certain stallion’s (or mare’s) get, then the assumption that Belissimo would be able to „duplicate“ himself as a breeding stallion, was not necessarily easy to hold.
His sire’s most dominant damline of excellence, a damline I have learned to honour and value over years, simply doesn’t stand for „beauty“ and „type“ in the first place – if at all.
Nothing like Belissimo, so to speak.
Far from being spectacular and overwhelming at first sight.
Belissimo simply didn’t blend in.
So as much as I loved Belissimo – he was not a breeding stallion for me, no such thing like a heritage transferrer at all. The assumption for him being an “end product” seemed obvious.

Breeding to extremely spectacular stallions you can only loose. Specially when you are breeding for the feature of obvious spectacle rather than “hidden” characteristics like ridability, character etc. “Spectacular” cannot be duplicated in breeding, no matter how hard we try. If this is what you desire you are out of breeding and in for cloning.

But I kept watching Belissimo closely.
He passed his first formative period of training at an absolute professional and -like many others before- lost all his melt and natural beauty. Too much being asked too early – I was disappointed and sad upon his following public appearances.

Than the Wadersloh Foal Inspection took place and with it the first age-group of belissimo foals: nearly 40 - 50 foals were expected.
And I remember as if it was today the answer of a good friend who I had taken to the foal inspection with me – the question I had asked was:
“And what did you like best at the Belissimo foal inspection?“
The answer was brief but precise:
“The foals by Fürst Piccolo!“

Belissimo has never been a „foal maker“ to me, and I guess he still isn’t. And it does make sense as it blends in perfectly supporting my assumptions about his heritage and Beltain’s dominant damline. Distinctive common features with respect to gaites and shape simply seem to be missing amongst his various foals and a heterogeneous mare base as the one given in Westfalia simply doesn’t make it easier to judge. “Spectacular” foals like the sire himself age three were missing even though there were many who shared their sire’s mechanics. But “mechanics” is simply not enough to qualify as a “foal maker”. A powerfully moving mare needs to be part of the equasion, too.

It seemed to be getting quiet about Belissimo up until he rose like a Phoenix at the Bundeschampionat 2005 and conquered people’s hearts by storm.
His new rider managed to let him shine in his original blaze of glory and he sure became the „Winner of the Hearts“ of this specific Bundeschampionship… He lost gold and therefore only won silver…

And again it became quiet about him, he disappeared from the public scene at a time when his fellow-companions were on target for the Nünberger Burgpokal, the inofficial german championship (St. George) of 7-9 year old dressage horses.

Up until the following winter of 2006 when his first sons appeared at the various licensings in Germany, not only in Westfalia but most convincingly also in Hannover – and they made people talk and the scene looked at them closely:
Belissimo was back in and specially the Hannoverian Verband made it clear that this will be the stallion they had looked for all those years:

The one to reactivate the renaissance of the precious old B-blood (Bolero) – something they had hoped for taking care of Brentano II all those years, but he never really proved to be a stallion-maker… So here was Belissimo, son of Beltain, and being from Westfalian background myself I found it more than amazing to see the Hannoverian Verband supporting a stallion so dearly that was descending from a rhineland damline one had never heard of…

However, his kids spoke for themselves – even though these still weren’t the shiny black beauties one migth think of when the next super star stallion is being declared… Belissimo’s sons were a lot like what they had suggested to become as foals and when arising from elder traditional damlines they most certainly couldn’t deny their origin, either. Colourful chestnuts of loose mechanics and lavish uphill canter and often they turned out smaller in size, too.
I’ld say this is exactly where the value lies….
So no surprise, the one’s who were supposed to be talked about a lot later on totally blend in to that format:
Belafonte, the future winner of the 300-day-test (dam by Wendekreis Gotthard), colourful Benidetto (dam by Cordoba Westwall), the mostly bespoken Bergerac, winner of the Verden Ridinghorse Championship in January the following year (dam by De Niro Larinero, and half sibling to St. Moritz by Sandro Hit) and last but not least, Beltoni (dam by Rubinstein Don Primero), stationed at the Warendorf State Stud (Westfalia).

Belissimo was back!
But – where was he himself???

So again, it were his kids who attracted my attention at the Westfalian Elite Mare Inspection that following summer of 2007. A full dozen of Belissimo daughters, all of them arising from his first crop. And again, these mares proved to be their father’s daughters quiet like his sons did the winter before:
mainly colourful chestnuts, a very good walk, catchy mechanics and loose trott, maybe slightly more of a recurrent theme to be found in his daughters than there was in his sons.

The following day was the day of the nomination of the 3-year old riding horses to represent Westfalia at the Bundeschampionship. This was the first chance to get to see Belissimo kids under saddle and to see if they were able to live up to my expectations – well, they sure did.
A certain feature I can only dedicate to their GrandSire Beltain was hard to overlook:
Thus, when we were sitting there watching these 3-year old daughters of Belissimo, it was the most spontaneous remark of my friend Svenja “Wouldn’t that be the perfect stallion to breed Fabrice to?“ that caused the certain “click” in my head – hearing Svenja speak it out and knowing she was right was one and the same thing – purest intuition at it’s best – that’s how it should be!

Yet, I am well aware that Belissimo does not provide for the necessary swing and push – he needs to be bred to mares of good hindleg activity with respect to quick footing and strong impulsion in order to obtain foals with more than just mechanics and looseness.
these are exactly the features to assign to Fabrice’s heritage:
hindleg activity and strong impulsion…
and everything else regarding a potential cross of Fabrice and Belissimo all of a sudden fell in place like millions of pieces of a colourful puzzle that belonged together…

Mechanics is the most obvious Fabrice is lacking and an improved uphill tendecy in canter would sure do her good – everything else is part of a harmonious duett Belissimo and Fabrice could accomplish, most of all my old friend Tony’s dictum:

you need to inbreed to Ramzes!
You can never have 'enough' of Ramzes in your pedigree!"
... and he migth actually be right on this one, not only with respect to type and beauty – the double up on Romadour II when breeding Fabrice to Belissimo really appeals to me, specially when asking myself where she migth have gotten her arabian look from (including all those Pros and Cons this might involve, too).

And last but not least, i have personally come a long way within my breeding philosophie over the last years, a very dynamic and continuesly changing process. The major change of attitude has taken place when considering any stallion for my mares:
It used to be that i asked myself if i could sell a COLT resulting from a certain cross. Today it is the question if i would want to keep a FILLY from this stallion that drives me. A change of attitude that speaks for itself.    

... and a filly by Belissimo out of my Fabrice - well, that would be the most wonderful gift for my very personal future breeding program...

So writing these lines leaves me in pleasant anticipation and hope for a well done cross of Fabrice and Belissimo who just recently left another remarkable stamp with his third age group of licensed sons and furthermore record prices amongst his kids under saddle specially at the Hannoverian Elite Auction this autumn where three of his kids were amongst the record sellers well above the magic € 100.000 mark. Belissimo sure has developed to become one of the most desired studs all over the place within only a few years. If he eventually will become a true stamp stallion remains to be seen. However, when i hear the benevolence and conviction he is being talked about all over the place and how his kids are being praised i'ld consider it fair to say that in a few years from now on no stallion station will be able to do without a son of Belissimo.
The heritage of the Bolero bloodline has surely found its Lord Privy Seal.