The powerful Cornet Obolensky has come to dominate the scene in showjumping-breeding and competition like no other stallion. This is how the adventure started.
By Cecilia Lönnell. Photos by Global Champions Tour.
In the summer of 1999, the famous German stallion manager Heinrich Ramsbrock was invited to judge a foal show in Belgium. The best foal he spotted was in a field next door to the show, with its dam. Ramsbrock only had eyes for the non-exhibit and found it difficult to focus on the ones in the ring. The story of how Ramsbrock discovered Cornet is told by Kai Ligges, who was in charge of Cornet’s breeding career in Germany. Ramsbrock, that has produced more than 250 approved stallions himself, located the breeder and bought the colt foal, then named Windows van der Costerveld.
Two years later the Clinton son was vice champion at the Westfalen stallion körung in Munster-Hahndorf, and had top marks in his 30-day test. Just beforehand he had been sold to Valentin Nychenko from the Ukraine, and renamed.
Obolensky is an ancient Ukrainian/Russian noble family. Ligges also wanted the colt but could not afford to outbid Nychenko. Instead, they reached a leasing agreement. Ligges’ late father Fritz was an Olympic showjumping team gold medallist in 1972.
Three years later Cornet’s career could have ended in a sheep fence. It happened at his first show with Marco Kutscher.
– I shouted to Kai that you can take your s-t horse and go home, the normally very polite and well spoken Marco said about his reaction when Ligges called from the warm up asking where they were. At that moment, Marco was unvoluntary on the ground.
Ligges had a longstanding collaboration with Marco’s boss Ludger Beerbaum, and had asked Ludger to ride the young stallion. Ludger showed Cornet at a stallion show, but did not have the time to compete the young horses. Instead, his then first jockey Marco, got the ride on the grey.
– Cornet was a very kind stallion, like a dog in the stable. But if you went away it was a different matter. He came out of the lorry screaming. He had so much power. I had been warned, and before that first show, we had transported him away from the yard to new places, to be able to work on that. One critical point was when mounting. The moment you put your foot in the stirrup he would take off, Marco explained.
Kutscher had planned carefully for the day and parked the lorry in a quiet corner of the showground away from other horses. With him was a strong and able groom.
– I told him that when I put my foot in the stirrup – let go of him! If you held on he would rear, Marco said.
– The guy did everything right but still Cornet reared up and walked 15 meters on his hind legs, Marco recalls. – Then there was a sheep fence in the way, and there we got stuck and thrown in different directions. I was lying there in the grass and saw the big white stallion get up and gallop off. A little bit further away was a rope fence about 1.2 meters high. He jumped it as if it was two meters high and disappeared from view, with his tail in the air and the saddle still on his back.
At that moment Kai called from the warmup asking where we were, as there were only 15 starters left before our turn, Marco said. It was then Marco had his outburst on the phone. Cornet ran about a kilometer away, he then stopped by a paddock fence and was caught. He was unhurt and ended the day by winning a later class by a wide margin.
– It was a Springpferdeprufung judged on points for jumping technique and scope, and he won easily, and then he was second in the next class, Marco said.
In between Marco had lunged him for 15-20 minutes, got up and on that occasion, he did not dismount for 2,5-3 hours.
– I did not want to dismount in case the same thing would happen again.
Then we went home and trained for a while before going to the next show !
Cornet Obolensky was a hit with breeders from when first approved. His first crop born 2003 include Cornet d’Amour and Cornado I (second and fourth at this year’s World Cup Final), plus Conte Bellini, Cornet’s Cristallo, Cristallo I and Cocoshynsky. They were conceived before his competition career even started.
Malin Lindskog has told of having a crowd of breeders and other admirers following the stallion at shows; standing by the warmup watching, and moving along to see him jump in the arena. Marco had felt from the first time he sat on Cornet that he was a horse out of the ordinary, with an incredible jumping technique.
– But I also realized that it would be a challenge to channel his power and get it under control, Marco said.
– His maternal grandsire is Heartbreaker and they can be a bit special, and Corrado sons like Clinton are not so easy either, so the combination… Marco said of Cornet’s breeding.
Both Cornet’s groom Malin Lindskog and the Holsteiner Verband breeding manager Dr. Nissen give Marco a lot of credit for the making of the stallion.
– Marco should get a medal for the huge patience he had with Cornet, Malin said. – He developed incredibly well with Marco. Had Cornet not been given the time that Marco gave him I don’t think he would have got anywhere competition-wise. It must have required a lot of deep thought from Marco, she added.
Dr. Nissen agreed:
– Marco Kutscher is one of the most skilled riders not just in Germany but in the world. Without him I don’t think Cornet would have had the success he had, Nissen said.
– We developed a good chemistry – when he knew what I wanted, he did it, even if it was not always correct, Marco commented. He knew that he was a strong horse and if he did not want to do something he showed that he was the strongest. I had to find a balance between respect and feeling. If you pushed him he became uncontrollable. That happened at the Olympics in Hongkong, and on some occasion in Aachen.
The German team was among the favourites ahead of the 2008 Olympics in Hongkong, but disappointed. Cornet was nine years old and was the bronze medallist in the German Championships that year.
– The Olympics did not come too early for him, but it was a tactical mistake that the German horses arrived in Hongkong already 6-7 weeks ahead. The German Federation said that the horses needed time to acclimatize, but it turned out to be the wrong decision, especially for my horse, Marco said.
In 2009, they were second in the World Cup jumping competition in Bordeaux, third in the Grand Prix competition in Rio de Janeiro and was placed in the Global Champions Tour Final in Doha.Two years later they were on the German team that won gold at the European Championships in Madrid.
– Cornet did not win many Grand Prix’s because he was not the fastest in jumpoffs, but we had a lot of Grand Prix placings, Marco remembers.
In 2010, Cornet fractured a pedal bone in his hoof in an accident at the Zurich indoor show. That could have meant the end of his showjumping career. But he recovered to win the European gold medal and the World Cup in Zurich.
Cornet was retired from competition in the autumn of 2012, to stand at stud with his owner in the Ukraine, 150 kilometers from the capital Kiev.
– It was rather a pity because he was still in good shape, but the owner wanted him with him, Marco said. He has gone to visit him once in the Ukraine. In breeding, Cornet is, of course, a sensation.
– When Cornet was first ridden and competed he was a bit difficult and a lot of people did not like him. But today even top riders who spoke badly about him are now are successful with his progeny, so that is nice ! Marco said. – You notice that he can produce different types. Cornado I is similar to Cornet himself. Max Kuhner’s mare Cornella, on the other hand, is a small, “easy-to-ride” horse. But they can all jump ! You don’t see many horses with the scope that Cornet himself had, Marco continued.
One prolific son of Cornet is Comme Il Faut, out of Ratina Z and conceived at Ludger Beerbaum’s. He was a medallist at the 2010 Young Horse World Championships and is now in the German A-kader with Markus Ehning.
– I think that Markus is just the right rider for him. He is only about 1.60 meters high but has a big heart and is very careful, Marco said.
MARCO & MALIN ABOUT Cornet Obolensky
Cornet Obolensky is since 2012 at stud in the Ukraine. The comments below refer to when he was at Ludger Beerbaum’s yard in Riesenbeck and trained by Marco Kutsher, from young horse classes until his retirement.
Who would Cornet be if he was a person?
Rider Marco Kutscher: – Very kind ! The grooms adored him. A bit lazy, and with a very strong character.
Groom Malin Lindskog: – I have not thought of him as a person, but he was perfect. As kind as anything, especially for a stallion. When you came back from a show you just let him out in his grass paddock, with Ratina Z next to him. The only time he could be a bit wild was at the vet inspections at shows. Everything else including shoeing and clipping was super easy.
What did he like the most ?
Marco: – Sleeping ! I have never had a horse who could sleep like he did. On his side, with all four legs straight out. And he likes food, and again is a bit lazy. If he had visited the show here in Treffen he would have spent all day in the beer tent. (Marco spoke while at the Glock Performance Center’s five star show in Treffen, Austria).
Malin: – Being in the paddock, and sleeping. He loved sleeping. He used to sleep after lunch at shows, and could sleep all day, unbelievable ! It could be tricky if there was a class at 1400. I don’t know how many times I plaited him while he was lying down asleep. You did not want to wake him up. He was so cute!
What was his dislikes?
Malin: – Noise, loud noise coming from behind made him deadly afraid and could make him explode.
Most enjoyable win?
Marco: – When we won the World Cup in Zurich in 2012, and the European Team Gold in 2011.
Malin: In Italy when he was seven and won his first two star Grand Prix. Then we were happy !
Cornet Obolensky (ex Windows van der Costersveld)
Stallion born April 20 1999 in Belgium by Clinton out of Rabanna van der Costersveld by Heartbreaker-Randel Z. Breeder Thierry Degraeve. Costersveld is a wellknown stud and the dam Rabanna is a full sister of (Castleforbes) Vivaldi, successful internationally with Jessica Kurten and Roger Yves Bost.
Own prize money: 799 000 euro
Approved sons: 70 plus (counting progeny born until 2012)
Breeding index: 165, with 96 percent certainty.
Graded ”Ambassadeur” stallion in Belgium since 2012
Latest breeding achievement: Sired three out of the top four in this year’s World Cup Final, all from the Westfalen studbook; Corbinian (Steve Guerdat) born 2006, dam sire Pilot, Cornet d’Amour (Danuel Deusser) born 2003, dam sire Damiani and Cornado I (Markus Ehning) dam sire Acobat I