Young Superstars and Jung Superstars: Our Picks of the 2024 Marbach DSP Auktion Line-Up

Generally speaking, when we’re about a month into the off-season and the weather is truly grim, life’s excitement levels are at an all-time low, and I’ve rewatched the entirety of both Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s magnum opus Fleabag and Natasha Lyonne’s seminal Russian Doll in their entirety for about the eighth time, you can usually find me feeding my hunger for thrills and eventing in one way: sitting in my jim-jams on my sofa, drinking cheap Sauvignon Blanc and window-shopping for the young horses I’d most like to get a sugar daddy to buy for me from any of the major sport horse auctions about to unfurl in Ireland.

And so what a special treat it is to find myself spending the weekend between Kentucky and Badminton, at the cusp of the first fever-pitch of excitement of the season, also sitting in my jim-jams on my sofa, quaffing the savvy b and casting my beady little eyes over some of the stars of tomorrow, who would look really, really, really good on my yard if anyone fancied chucking some loose change my way to make that happen.

This time, though, they’re not sequestered on the Emerald Isle, waiting for me to strike gold and come get them – they’re in Germany, that epicentre of equine excellence, and being sold through Marbach’s DSP (that’s Deutsche Sport Pferd, or German Sporthorse, for us uncultured swine) auction.

You know who’s a very good example of a DSP? Tamie Smith’s 2023 Kentucky CCI5* winner Mai Baum, that’s who, and the folks at Marbach knew exactly how to convince me to open their catalogue up by putting him right there in pride of place on the cover. Yes, I harbour delusions of grandeur! Yes, I do believe that if I were in a position to buy one of these horses, I, too, could maybe win Kentucky! No, I don’t spend much time thinking about the fact that my greatest eventing moment thus far is that I once led the dressage at a Novice (US version, too, not even the UK variety) and then got eliminated at the first fence in showjumping because I could not get my horse near it! That, I think, could be cured by shopping. Everything can be cured by shopping. I love the post-capitalist hellscape my brain has become; it’s a happy, hopeful place to be.

Anyway! Perhaps you, too, can see yourself producing the next Mai Baum, or the next La Biosthetique Sam FBW, or the next Billy the Red, or FE Lifestyle – I can go on listing high-flying DSP representatives for hours, you know – and perhaps you actually do have a budget and a more robustly backed-up faith in your own ability to do so. In which case, let me insert myself into your main character moment by helping you to pick out the horse that’ll change your life, and find yourself safe in the knowledge that when you do buy the horse, and when you do win that five-star in a few years, I will be here, writing smug articles that make it all about me and how I knew the horse was a world-beater from the first moment I saw its photo. It’s a win for everyone, right?

There are 18 horses in this year’s Marbach auction, which will take place on Saturday, May 11 (that’s Badminton cross-country day, which is a very good omen that will definitely push you over the edge and make you buy the horse you’re eyeing). Here are the five I’d most like to put my hand up for.

Lot 1 – Champ

Three-year-old stallion (Canoso x Sue, by Stan the Man). 61.62% blood.

Straight off the bat, they’re getting me where it hurts. A Stan the Man maternal grandson! Oh, lordy, I do like a Stan the Man. You know who else is a Stan the Man? La Biosthetique Sam FBW, that’s who, and he’s been quite good at this eventing malarkey. Champ is the only unridden lot in this auction, but he looks very promising loose-jumping. He’s by Canoso, a very capable jumper, whose sire, Catoki, jumped at the top level and in World Cup classes before stepping down to help educate a young rider. That’s something I like to see: it says there’s a good brain, and a willingness to take a joke, and I’d love to imagine that perhaps that’s one of those winning qualities that’s been passed down to this guy.

Lot 11 – Amadea

Five-year-old mare (Amadei-Geli x Diana, by Diamond Hit). 69.97% blood.

Straight away, I’m charmed by this plain brown wrapper who’s obviously got a tonne of talent tucked away in an unassuming exterior. She’s a tidy, careful jumper, with an expression that looks workmanlike and considered, not like a young horse who jumps high and tight because they’re worried and overcompensating. I get the impression that she’d have a great brain and would be seriously good fun to produce.

I’m also very interested in her breeding: her dam, Diana, who’s already had offspring out eventing successfully, is by dressage stallion Diamond Hit, whose own pedigree is flashy toes on top (he’s a son of Donnerhall) and jumpers on the bottom (he’s a great-grandson of Ramiro Z via Ramino, who jumped at 1.50m). Dressage breeding creeping into eventing isn’t a wholly new concept, and it’s not always something that works out, but when it does, it’s special – look, for example, to Mollie Summerland’s Luhmühlen CCI5* winner Charly van ter Heiden, who’s a son of Contendros Bube. That actually makes him sort of, kind of related to this mare, who’s got Pik Bube I, Charly’s grandsire, through her own sire’s granddam. That might be too tenuous a link to base a horse purchase off of, which is fine, but consider this, too: that example of a top-level dressage-bred eventer made the time twice at five-star, despite boasting only about 23%, while this mare is nearly 70% blood, thanks to – wait for it – her Akhal-Teke sire, Amadei-Geli. Yes, really, the golden horses from the horse breeds encyclopaedias your aunts and uncles bought you every Christmas and birthday. Can I name a single Akhal-Teke in any Olympic discipline? No, I absolutely cannot. Do I think it would be a really cool story, and one that our breeding expert here at EN, Amanda Chance, would jump on like a fly on the proverbial, if you were to take a half-bred Akhal-Teke to the top of the sport? Totally. Akhal-Tekes are a desert breed, well used for endurance, and as someone who’s obsessed with the toughness, talent, brains, and stamina of Anglo-Arabs, I think this combination could be a real sleeper hit. Be the one to set the trend.

Also, for what it’s worth, Amadei-Geli is owned and produced by Germany’s Julia Schmid, and if you don’t know that name, remember it: a lot of the very best riders in the world give her a call when they’re looking for a seriously special young horse. She knows her stuff, and if she rates this stallion, then I rate it too, by default. She only found and produced a young fischerRocana, after all.

Lot 12 – Conde

Five-year-old gelding (Casino Berlin x Stalypso’s Lady, by Stalypso). 37.45% blood. 

Look, if you’re going to shell out on a horse from Germany, you want it to look German, right? And let’s be real, this boy looks so German that I heard a faint ‘genau’ as I turned the page onto him. He’s practically shoving a schnitzel and a bucket of mustard at me through the screen. I’ve been told not to mention the war around him. (I kid, I kid, I’m sorry – I have a German passport, please don’t cancel me for my crap jokes.) Anyway, he’s very much of a type, and that type is full-bodied (like a nice glass of Bordeaux?) yet somehow still elegantly proportioned, with a continental, compact head and a set of knees that love to visit the sky. He’s a fine-looking stamp of a thing, and looks to have no shortage of scope to play with. I like his breeding, too: his sire is by Eurocommerce Berlin, also known as Caspar, who has sired excellent eventers including Clarke Johnstone’s Menlo Park, and Berlin is himself a son of the excellent Cassini I, whose knees seem to be stamped through generations. The bottom half of his sire line is no less interesting; he’s got a great-grandsire in Landor S, who has contributed, either as a parent or grandparent, to a number of serious eventers, including DSP Quintana, who competed at Badminton last year. I used to ride a Landor S who was a bit of a teenage dirtbag, actually, but he could really jump, and I did quite enjoy his antics, because he was smart and surefooted and never, ever boring.

I think, probably, you’ll need to buy a cob- or pony-sized bridle for this cute little head, but frankly, if you’re buying a smart young horse from Germany, you can cough up for a trip to the tack shop – and it’ll be worth it, anyway, because whether you keep him for the long haul or produce him as a serious young riders’ prospect, there’ll be plenty of reason to pat yourself on the back for taking this one home.

Lot 14 – Gladdys

Five-year-old mare (Icare d’Olympe AA x Gräfin Guayana, by Donauzauber). 50% blood. 

Hello! Only me again, here to tell you about how much I like Anglo-Arabs for eventing! I mean, seriously though, can you blame me? Some of the sport’s coolest, most versatile, toughest horses with the most memorable characters have made use of this savvy mix of Thoroughbred and Arabian lines, and when that recipe is folded in with a sprinkling of continental quality, it yields a delicious result. Vassily de Lassos! Tamarillo! Opgun Louvo! fischerTakinou! These are just a tiny smattering of the top-level event horses who are either themselves registered as Anglo-Arabs, or who have significant Anglo-Arab breeding. The French, who I think are the world’s leaders at finding the balance between blood and quality (sorry, Germany, you are also very, very good) are very much on the AA hype train already, and young horse master Tom Carlile loves an Anglo-Arab dam line. You don’t have to listen to me, but definitely listen to that lot, because they are well good.

Gladdys here (what a name, by the way) is by the Anglo-Arab sire Icare d’Olympe, a French Anglo-Arab who competed to Advanced himself. On the bottom, she’s Trakehner – another breed I love for similar reasons – and goes back to the great Gribaldi, so there’s some dressage influence coming through there, too. On video, she’s an interesting prospect: her trot isn’t anything to write home about at this early stage, but if you buy for a trot, you’re a silly sausage anyway. Her canter is active and balanced, her footwork to a fence is catty and clever, and, if I’m perfectly honest, every bit of her says “I’m Anglo-Arab up top and Trak down below which means you’d better sit tight and listen to a few options, buddy, before I start winning things for you.” More power to her, frankly.

Lot 9 – Vino

Four-year-old gelding (Vingino x Nastasia II, by HPH Candillo). 47.27% blood. 

Forgive me for skipping around a bit, here – I’m like a child in a sweet shop with auction catalogues, and I follow no man’s rules but my own. And one of those rules? Only ever fall in love with a grey if you’re sending it in someone else’s direction and thus won’t ever have to wash poo stains off it at four in the morning before a dressage test. And so, I present to you: Vino. What a charmingly-named chap, and what a sweet, game soul he appears to be. He’s got a lovely, active hindleg, a sunny countenance, an appealing buoyancy and balance to his paces, and a cute-as-a-button pop over a fence, and I think he’s going to make somebody very, very happy. (That somebody will not be the person holding the stain-removing spray in a few years when he really starts to fade, mind you.)

Vino’s sire line is a who’s-who of jumping tours de force, with Voltaire and Cassini I contributing to all those qualities I like in him, and on the bottom, he’s… also got Cassini I, which is quite Sweet Home Alabama of him. No Hapsburg chin to be found here, though, so we’ll consider this example of kissing cousins an acceptable one.

Plus, if you’re into damlines, Michael Jung, and great names, don’t miss…

  • Lot 2, Arocan, who’s out of a full sister to fischerRocana and by the same Akhal-Teke stallion as lot 11, mentioned above
  • Lot 18, Senorita, who’s out of a full sister to Nereo and Armada and by Ramiro B, which might make her Oliver Townend’s new favourite young horse
  • Lots 16, 17, and 18 again, who were bred by Michael Jung
  • Lot 15, who’s called… Kumquat

You can check out the Marbach DSP Eventing Auction catalogue in full here, and find videos of each lot in this playlist. The 2024 auction will take place on Saturday, May 11, and will be run in a hybrid format, so you can either bid and follow along from afar, or head to Marbach to get involved and try your dream young horse before you buy. Horses will be available to view and try from tomorrow, May 6, through Friday, May 10, and during the day on Saturday, they can be viewed on the cross-country course before the auction begins at 7.00pm local time/6.00pm GMT/1.00 pm EST. For more information, or to register as a bidder, head to the website here – and happy bidding!

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