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Rambleholm Gonnafly


Pedigree profile of Rambleholm Gonnafly

D.O.B. 01/11/2009 - Gowell I (Hann) x Donnerhall (Old) x Furioso II

Gonnafly came to the stud after a competitive career in showing and showjumping.  A tall scopey chestnut mare with a larger than life personality.

Her sire is the imported stallion Gowell II, who was by the stallion Goya II who was by the legendary stallion Gotthard.  The G-line has become increasingly important and popular in the breeding of the modern warmblood horse.

Gotthard almost didn’t make it as a stallion – he really doesn’t look that appealing as a younger horse… although his offspring do on the whole look much typier than their dad. There is even a rumour, that when the demand for Gotthard was great, way back in the days when stallions actually jumped their mares, the local stallion keeper occasionally used his second stallion, a chestnut Trakehner in his stead. Don’t laugh –there are serious questions as to the ancestry of several of the more important sires that were crucial in making the modern Warmblood.

Even though Gotthard never really established a stallion line, it is impossible to ignore him, there are just too many influential modern stallions with Gotthard on their dam line to leave him out – and also he was a great producer of top-level competitors.

For seven years Gotthard was the leading sire of showjumpers in Germany. During his time he sired over 34 licensed stallion sons – the most highly rated of which was Goldberg who was based in Westfalia for only four seasons. In Hanover, Gardestern I was the most important, while the private stallions, Goldpilz, Goldstern and Godehard were all influential in their day. More recently his great-grandson, Grosso Z has emerged as perhaps his most interesting heir.

Gotthard was the sire of international showjumpers: Goya, Goldika, Gonzales, Galipolis, Queensway Big Q, Goldfink, Golden Gate, Graf Sieno and Graf 2. Gotthard’s son, Genever sired Genius, the World Cup Showjumping Champion of 1992. Another son, Goldpilz is the sire of John Whitaker’s Gamon.

Gotthard has also been influential as a broodmare sire, and he was responsible for 25 States Premium mares.

World Cup winner, The Natural (by Diskus) is out of a Gotthard mare, and Voltaire, the hugely influential Dutch based Hanoverian jumping sire, was similarly out of a Gotthard dam. Indeed Gotthard mares formed the basis of Léon Melchior’s Zangersheide stud, then studbook, of jumping horses.

Gotthard’s progeny were wonderful jumpers, but were rather stiff and untalented for dressage.

Gotthard was by Goldfisch II who was the sire of nine licensed stallion sons and who is the grandsire of another great, Grande. Goldfisch II descends from the nineteenth century Thoroughbred sire, Goldschaum. Goldfisch II had a reputation for producing beautiful horses and good movers, yet neither of his most famous sons had exceptional conformation – Graf was a small chestnut, like his son Grande, while Gotthard was not the most elegant of horses.

The great breeding expert, Werner Schockemöhle in his text, Die Grossen Hengste Hannovers, described Gotthard as ‘lucky’ to be accepted into the stallion ranks at Celle:

“At the time he was not really ready. He looked weak and lacking in his expression – he was not developed sufficiently in the shoulder and in the formation of his neck. No one could guess at the time how lovely and expressive the horse would be ten years later. The fully matured Gotthard impressed through his perfect shoulder and his perfect neck, and even his head could be classed as nice – even though he had a few too strong cheek bones from his Arabian ancestry, otherwise the head was clear and dry with a wide forehead and a lovely big eye. His croup could have been a little longer and a little bit more sloped in the top line. His hind legs were quite good but you have to admit that his hocks could have been better.”

Gotthard was bred on the famous farm of Richard Kords in Achthöfen, where the stallion brothers, Lugano I and II were also bred. His mother Ampa is by the grey Amateur, who not only gave Gotthard his colour, but also his athletic ability. Gotthard’s grand-dam, Amelline H 31766 was by Altlobitz, who stood 1.69 cm and influenced the size of Gotthard offspring.

On his dam’s sire, Gotthard descends from the Shagya Arab line of Amurath – also on the dam line of another influential sire of jumpers, Ramzes. Amurath was born on the Austrian state stud of Radautz, and stood at Celle from 1902 to 1918, where he sired eleven Hanoverian stallions, before he left for Neustadt-Dosse.

The Shagyas trace back to the original Arab Shagya who was imported to Hungary in 1836 where he was bred over a very diverse mare band that included representatives from Holstein and Lipizza as well as Siebenbuergen and Moldau. The stallion spearheaded a breeding program to produce an elegant riding, driving and workhorse. It soon evolved into its own breed: the Shagya, described by Gerd-D Gauger in his article, Not A Vain Illusion (The Hanoverian, August 2001) as:

“An ideal proportioned horse with good lines, not quite in accordance with the often glorified beauty ideal of the original Arab, but still all-over clearly influenced by Arabian blood which overpowered its mixed roots.”

When he was approved in 1951, Gotthard seemed short framed, insignificant and stocky and it is not surprising that he was not particularly popular, indeed he was put over all sorts of mares, including cold bloods – his daughter, Goldpuppe who was a successful S level jumper, was out of a cold blood. He was even bred to Norwegians.

Gotthard spent his first breeding season – 1953 – at Beversted, near Bremerhaven. For the next two years he was stationed at Langen before he returned to Celle where as a seven year old he was a ‘reserve’ stallion – this group of stallions waited for one of the other stallions to be injured or unable to breed, then one of them would go to take his place. For four seasons, Gotthard was on the reserve list.

In 1960 he was sent to Hänigsen, but was not well accepted by the breeders. In 1961, he went to Wilstedt before being sent back to Hänigsen in 1962.

So at the age of 13, Gotthard had nothing to show to indicate his worth. Even in 1966, when he was 17, his offspring had won only DM1,681 – while stallions like Ferdinand had earnings of DM43,500, Agram of DM37, 000 and Duellant, DM33,700.

It was not until 1970 when his daughter, Goldika (out of a Mecklenburg mare with no papers) started her sensational jumping career with Gert Wiltfang that the breeders found him attractive. That year, Goldika won a total of 17 ‘S’ classes, including three Nations Cups!

Gotthard, the great sire of competition jumpers, was finally recognized – he was to produce over fifty horses that went on to compete internationally and when in 1975, a list of top stallions was published, Gotthard was number one in terms of prize money. Eventually his competing progeny numbered 398, with earnings of almost two million deutschmarks.

Gotthard’s influence as a brood mare sire, can be seen in the career of his daughter, Goldret. The grey mare was out of an un-named mare by Friesenkönig, out of another un-named mare by Franz. A son-in-law of the mare’s breeder, Otto Fricke described the Franz mare to Jo de Roo, the author of the article: Zangeresheide Sport Mare Lines Part X: The line of Goldret (Z magazine, August 2013).

“She only stood about 153 cm. Together with a small gelding she was used on the agricultural farm of my father-in-law. Her dam was an East Prussian mare who ended up in West Germany after WWII. The explanation for the fact that the Franz daughter was a grey can be that there were several Arabian stallions active in East Prussian breeding.”

Goldret was sold to Zangersheide, and acquired the obligatory ‘Z’ tagged on her name. She was a welcome acquisition, according to stud manager, Alex Korompis, she was “a tall, long-lined, correct, very modern grey mare with a very fine upper line and a square conformation. I give her a 9/10 for conformation. And if she were still alive today, she would not double, still score high with her model. Unlike most Gotthard daughters, who radiate toughness with a male aspect, Goldret Z looked very feminine.” (the quotes are all from the Z magazine article).

Bred to Ramiro, Goldret produced Renomee Z, who was licensed in the Holstein studbook. His daughters can be found on the pedigrees of the stallions, Douglas and Silverstone.

Goldret was then bred to Almé, to produce Adoret Z, who was sold to the Belgian stud, Van de Helle, and they in turn sold her to Bernard le Courtois in 1989. Adoret was a gold mine at Bernard’s Brullemail stud.

Bred to the Thoroughbred Laudanum, she produced Chergar Mail, a licensed stallion and an international jumper with Philippe Rozier – they were members of the French team that won the Nations Cup in Rome in 1999.

Two years later, Adoret – again bred to Laudanum – produced the filly, Elvira Mail. Bred to the American Thoroughbred, Hand in Glove, she produced Jaguar Mail, who competed at the Beijing Games for the Swedish showjumping team, and is now shaping as a leading sire of Eventers.

Bred to Calvaro, Elvira Mail produced Katchina Mail who competed internationally with Patrice Delaveau – at the World Cup Final in Geneva and the WEG in Lexington.

In 1993, Elvira Mail’s full-brother, Ferger Mail was foaled. After a successful showjumping career, the stallion was sold to the Mexican, Alfonso Romo, and re-named, Chapultepec la Silla. He in turn sired a string of international jumpers.

Bred to Hand in Glove xx, Elvira Mail produced Hoggar Mail who was the 6-year-old champion of France. He enjoyed success with Penelope Leprevost before he was exported to Argentina in 2007. He died three years later.

Gotthard may not have established a stallion line, but through mares like Goldret, he had a crucial rôle in the shaping of the modern performance horse.

Gonnafly’s dam, the imported state premium mare Donna Riva is a well-known broodmare in South Africa, having produced several successful competition horses.

Donna Riva is by the stallion Donnerhall, who needs little introduction.

Donnerhall was the founding stallion at one of the first truly glamorous private studs – Grönwohldhof. It was a trend that was to strengthen and grow as the private studs that reflected the affluence and taste of their mega-rich owners mushroomed. Grönwohldhof with its mill pond and waterwheel, its beds of azaleas, and picture perfect paddocks with foals with neatly trimmed tails, threw out the challenge taken up by later establishments like Gestut Famos where the magnificence of the setting overwhelms the breeding operation.

Sadly of recent years, the trend has been reversed, and many of those famed Oldenburg studs – including Grönwoldhof – have disappeared.

But beautiful as Grönwohldhof may have been, it was also brilliantly designed, and laid out so that the founder Otto Schulte-Frohlinde who was confined to a wheel chair, could observe all of the operations of the establishment via closed circuit vision in the central control room, from which the various wings of the main stud building fanned out.

There was the round court at the centre, usually packed with the luxurious tack boxes of visiting teams, celebrity riders and the rich and hopeful. Off to one side, in the centre of the riding hall sat Herbert Rehbein, like some oriental pasha, surrounded by his followers, as he directed the activities of the dozen or so riders in the school at any one time.

And what riders he produced! Riders like Martina Hannöver, Ingo Pape, Susan Draper (now Pape), Falk Rosenbauer, who came out of the stables themselves – and visitors from all over the world.

Martina recalls the time: “I remember my first day at Grönwohldhof, I had to warm the horses up for Mr Rehbein, I rode Charmeur and Mystique, both of them big, with a lot of big trot, and a lot of schwung. When I started to trot, I had big problems to do rising trot, but then when I had to go into sitting trot I felt that I would land on the roof, every single step, I couldn’t sit on these horses. I thought he was going to throw me out on the first day! But he didn’t do this, he just sent me for a few weeks in the small hall to learn to sit.”

“After a while I got the very good job, I was the one warming up the horses for Mr Rehbein, and I got to go to competitions with him. I started at quarter to six with the first horse, warm him up, then Mr Rehbein came.”

“That is how I learnt most of what I know now, because I got the good horses to ride. I’d just warm them up, sometimes he’d say, do an extended trot, do this, do that. Later on, he would let me do a little bit of piaffe, and he was always telling me you have to get the real feeling on the better horses. If you don’t feel it you can’t teach it – not to the horse and not to the rider. He was a super teacher. He didn’t say so much, if you ‘stole’ with your eyes, you could watch him when he taught other people, but the main thing was when you got back on the horse after he had ridden it, and you felt that it was one metre shorter, it was always an amazing experience.”

At that time there were some very good riders at Grönwohldhof?

“The best in the world. The whole Swedish team were there all the time. The Americans were there, the Finns, the English. It was very busy; when you came in the entrance hall of the arena it was always full of the big tack lockers of the overseas riders.”

And while Grönwohldhof was a magnet for riders, Donnerhall as one of the first super star stallion competitors, was a magnet for mare owners…

It must be admitted that Donnerhall hardly comes from a ‘good family’. Admittedly his sire, Donnerwetter disappeared into the wilds of the United States in the mid seventies, but while there are a couple of Donnerwetters ‘gracing’ the German dressage arenas, they are pretty ugly, untalented creatures. Even Donnerhall’s famous rider, Karin Rehbein noted in an interview I conducted in 2000, that despite the large number of foals Donnerhall has sired, she had yet to find one that matches up to the stallion.

“There are a lot of Donnerhalls who have a little similarity to him but it is difficult to get another just like him,” said Karin, “Look at Donnerhall’s full-brothers, you couldn’t compare any of them to him. In appearance, in everything about him, the full brothers don’t come anywhere near Donnerhall. There were even two brothers who competed Grand Prix, but they were nothing compared to Donnerhall. They don’t even look the same, don’t move one little bit the same.”

Mrs Rehbein started riding the liver chestnut stallion when he was four years old. When she first got on the youngster she thought ‘this horse could be something’.

“He was always a good horse to train. Good in the head, he was always straightforward and learnt everything really quickly. He is still fantastic, he could still go out and win right now.”

To see Donnerhall compete was to marvel at the imposing power of the big stallion, but surprisingly, even though Mrs Rehbein is not very tall, and certainly not very big, the ride he gave her was ‘very good’.

“He was very soft. Sometimes you had to hold him a little bit through, but you have to do that with every horse.”

Donnerhall’s talent was apparent right from the start, and he scored 131.92 to be second in his performance test at Adelheidsdorf in 1984. Donnerhall’s competition career is the stuff of legend. He won many Grand Prix, Grand Prix Specials and Freestyles for Mrs Rehbein.

In 1994, Donnerhall was individual bronze medallist (and team gold medallist) at the 1994 World Championships at The Hague. Donnerhall won the European World Cup Freestyle League final standings twice, in 1997 and 1998. He retired from competition in 1998.

What Donnerhall seems to give to his offspring, is a trainability and a strength to handle the more collected work, even if their natural paces are not so spectacular. It would seem that the mix of Donnerhall and a large drop of ‘blood’ (Thoroughbred that is) in the dam is more likely to produce competition horses. Donnerhall’s son Davignon is out of a Pik Bube mare and those direct Donnerhall progeny that are going well at FEI level – like the mare, Dona Castania – are out of Pik Bube mares. Another son consistently producing exciting looking youngsters is Don Primero, again out of a Pik Bube mother.

1997 saw the first of the Donnerhall grandsons to star at the Bundeschampionate, with the gelding Duvalier (by Davignon out of a Bolero mare) winning the 5 year old dressage title – while the following year, this class was won by the black Donnerhall son, Del Piero (out of a Matcho AA mare).

The Donnerhall son, De Niro (out of a Akzent II mare) started competing at Grand Prix level at the tender age of seven. De Niro’s foals look great – better than their dad.

Another Donnerhall son to impress was Dream of Glory who sired the 1998 three year old stallion winner, Dreamy’s Dream, and had a number of representatives in the finals at the 2000 Bundeschampionate, and they all looked sweet rideable horses. Once again, Dream of Glory is out of a Pik Bube/Romadour II mare). Dream of Glory died after just a few crops of foals.

Perhaps the most exciting son of all is Damon Hill (out of a Rubinstein mare). The stallion has had a charmed life. Twice a world champion young horse with Ingrid Klimke and Helen Langehanenberg, and now one of the top three dressage competitors in the world – he too looks like being a valuable sire.

The 2011 Hanoverian Stallion book (the last in which he appears) records that Donnerhall has had 998 competitors, 840 dressage competitors (226 at advanced level) – and even 97 in the jumping ring – for total prizemoney of €2,137,490. Far and away the most successful of these progeny has been the mare, Donatha S, who won €174,242 followed by Don Schufro with winnings of €109,257. At that point, there were 40 horses with dressage winnings of more than €10,000.

Donnerhall had FN dressage ranking of 150, jumping, 77. His Hanoverian ranking is 158 for dressage and 75 for jumping. He was the sire of 50(!) licensed sons at that stage.

Indeed there are those, like the trainer Jo Hinnemann, who believe that it is the second and third generations of Donnerhalls that will produce the goods:

“Donnerhall produced a lot of good stallions. You see a lot of very good performing riding horses by Donnerhall. He makes them pretty – sometimes I think that in his time, like Rubinstein, it was a very very good generation, but when you see horses like Roman Nature or Fidermark, or Laurentianer, it is a step further on in the breeding. They are always a little more pretty and more elastic. The breeding becomes again a little bit better – but if you didn’t have a Rubinstein or a Donnerhall, there is no going further in the breeding. These stallions were good in their time – perfect – but I think the three stallions I have named are a step further on in the breeding already.”

Donnerhall was ranked number fifth on the WBFSH rankings for 2013 based on FEI recorded performances, with most of his points earned by three of the world’s top ten – Damon Hill, Donnperignon and Digby – with one son, De Niro, ranked number one, and another, Don Schufro, in sixth place.

Donnerhall was well represented at the 2008 Olympic Games. His son, Digby, competed for Denmark, while his daughter, Donna Carrera was Australian dressage reserve. His grandson, Dundee (by Duntroon) represented Australia, while another grandson Dow Jones (by Don Primero) was selected for Japan.

The ‘D’ line horses were out in strength at the London Olympic Games. By Donnerhall himself, we find three, Donnperignon, Damon Hill and Digby. De Niro provided Dablino, Donnerfee and Desperados, then we have D’Niro (by D-Day), Diva Royal (by Don Frederico), Don Auriello (by Don Davidoff), Dorina (by Don Schufro).

Looking at the start list for the dressage at the WEG in Normandy, the first thing we  observe – yet again – is the outright dominance of the Donnerhall line. He, himself, was represented by four competitors, a total only matched by his son, De Niro. Donnerhall was further represented by two sons, Donnerschlag and Don Cardinale. Another son, Don Gregory was represented by two of his sons, Don Davidhoff and Don Ruto. De Niro’s son, Danone I was also the sire of one competitor. That’s thirteen D-liners out of 103, almost 13%.

In the Freestyle, the percentage of D’s rose to 46.66 (7 out of 15). Three by the grand old man himself, the rest by four of his sons. There is little doubt that ‘D’ is the dominant line in dressage breeding and given the ability of the line to produce a succession of exciting breeding stallions, the influence will continue to grow…

I asked Jan Tönjes who before he became a journalist had an honest job working with the Oldenburg Verband. Why Donnerhall became such a dominating force? How? His dad really only made one horse, his full brothers were duds…

“It has in my opinion, two reasons. First of all, and it is in the breeding, he is a very solid type of horse, with this third dam still belonging to the old Oldenburg Coach type. When he was certified, even then, people thought he was not the modern type. He had a bit a head, but always loads of expression in his eye, his croup was not the ideal but these coach horses were two things: they were eager to work every day, they had a super attitude, which always helps, rideability is always something you would associate with ‘D’ rather than ‘W’. Plus, they had to stay sound conformation-wise. I can’t say that Donnerhalls are the soundest horses in the world but look at some of the other lines – you buy them and then you keep them doing the job but not too much, with the Donnerhalls you can ride them, they are tough guys, and again, maybe you don’t need to train them as much as the others, so they don’t have the mileage with helps their soundness again. These are the two things that I think make the Donnerhall line the complete package.”

What makes Donna Riva’s pedigree interesting is that her dam sir was Furioso II, another influential stallion in warmblood breeding.

Furioso II was out of the great mare, Dame de Renville, who produced a series of wonderful horses when mated with Furioso. The first of these was Mexico, who standing at the French National Stud of Le Pin, sired 20 approved sons, 20 dams of stallions, and famous international showjumping horses, including Laeken, Jexico de Parc and Heur de Bratand. His son, Le Mexico, has been a hugely influential sire of jumping horses in Holland.

Furioso II’s sire, the Thoroughbred, Furioso was born in England in 1939 and went on to be one of the most influential sires in modern performance horse breeding, even though he never won a single race in his 21 starts!

Furioso was described as ‘well balanced but with slightly knock kneed forelegs and tight hocks’. He was also rich in Thoroughbred jumping blood – being by Precipitation out of a mare by Son-In-Law by Dark Ronald.

The authoritative De L’etalon Sport Français of 1992, remarked: ‘he had good bone, and walked liked a lord, with a magnificent pace, very energetic and showing a great deal of amplitude, his tail swinging at each step. His trot and gallop were good but not exceptional. Though full of life he was docile and had a good temperament.’

Furioso xx, was the leading sire of jumping horses in France from 1954-1961. His son, Lutteur B, who went on to win the 1964 Olympic individual gold for showjumping, amazed the German breeders when he appeared at the Hamburg Derby. Maas Hell, in Die Grossen Hengste Holsteins records the reaction: ‘The Germans were again amazed at how nonchalantly Lutteur B performed on the jumping course, how he played with the distances, and how, with a long neck, he left the course as though nothing had happened.’

Furioso II was attractive to the Oldenburg breeders as they wanted a half-blood stallion to help make the transformation of their mares to more modern lines, without too much direct Thoroughbred blood.

Since the experience breeders gained with the French stallion, Condor was encouraging, Oldenburg stallion owners once again turned to French stallions towards the end of the 60’s – enter Furioso II. He was to stand at Georg Vorwerk’s stud in Cappeln from 1968 to 1985. He was leased to Zangersheide in 1986, and died in Belgium, that year.

Furioso II was approved for the Oldenburg studbook in 1967, and then went on to easily win his 100-day test. Later he was approved for Hanover, Rhineland, Hessen and Westfalia. For many years, Furioso II was ranked in the top three sires of leading money winners in Germany. Furioso II had winners in all disciplines. His showjumping stars included: FBI (with Thomas Frühmann), Heissman (ridden by Eric Van Der Vleuten, then Michael Matz) and For Pleasure.

For Pleasure was originally ridden by Lars Nieberg, and under his guidance won team gold at Atlanta, before the ride was transferred to Marcus Ehning. For Pleasure is already the sire of eight licensed Hanoverian stallions, and was a member of the gold medal winning German team at the Sydney Olympic Games.

Perhaps Furioso II’s most influential son is Voltaire – out of a mare by another classic sire of jumping horses, Gotthard.

In dressage, Furioso II’s son, Purioso is the sire of numerous stars including Anky van Grunsven’s Grand Prix horse Cocktail (who is the sire of Jazz); Le Mexico is the sire of Ulft, who in turn is the sire of Ferro. The Oldenburg stallion Welt As is out of a Furioso II daughter, and is the sire of Anky’s gold medallist Bonfire and Christine Stückelberger’s Grand Prix horse, STC Diamond.

Furioso 11 died in 1986 having sired progeny with earnings of nearly DM9,000,000. He sired 54 licensed stallions, including the Oldenburg licensing champions: Furidant (1971), Furore (1978) and Fatianus (1979). Mareile Oellrich-Overesch in her excellent profile of Florestan in the 2008/9 edition of Selected Sires of Germany makes the point: “It was a tradition in Oldenburg to prevent a stallion’s offspring from competing with their sire, so they were often sold to other breeding regions. That is why most of Furioso II’s sons were at stud in other regions of Germany or abroad. It also explains why the Furioso II bloodline didn’t originally survive in Oldenburg. Now, however it has made a comeback with Florestan’s sons Fürst Heinrich and Flavio (Sprehe Stud), Florencio (Ludwig Kathmann Stud), Faustinus (Vorwerk Stud) and Florianus (Grönwohldhof/Pape Stud). His grandsons Farewell I and Fidertanz (Böckmann/Wahler Stud), Farewell III (Klatte Stud) and Fürstentraum (Sprehe Stud) are also stationed in Oldenburg.

As late as 2007, Furioso II continued to shape the sport of showjumping. In the 2007/2008 Monneron ranking of the world’s top 75 stallions, Furioso II’s son Voltaire is ranked 11th in the world with 19 CSI winners, while For Pleasure, despite largely concentrating on a competition rather than a breeding career until recently, ranked 13th with 11 representatives.

Pedigree of Rambleholm Gonnafly:


Standing beside the mare in stocks while the vet is scanning, willing and hoping to see that highly-respected black dot on the screen is when it all starts.

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