Wednesday, Jul. 24, 2024

Zarr Offspring Star At IHF Finals

In a true national championship, the winners of the West Coast and East Coast regional competitions dueled it out for the 3-year-old grand championship in the International Hunter Futurity Finals, held Sept. 20-21 in Lexington, Ky.

In the end, Cismont Manor Farm's Imperial Crown, with Jason Berry in the irons, prevailed over Absolut' Gold. And Imperial Crown was just one of many Zarr offspring to earn the blue.
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In a true national championship, the winners of the West Coast and East Coast regional competitions dueled it out for the 3-year-old grand championship in the International Hunter Futurity Finals, held Sept. 20-21 in Lexington, Ky.

In the end, Cismont Manor Farm’s Imperial Crown, with Jason Berry in the irons, prevailed over Absolut’ Gold. And Imperial Crown was just one of many Zarr offspring to earn the blue.

More than 70 of the best young hunters in the nation vied for a portion of the $150,000 in overall prize money. A Zarr offspring came out on top in the 4-year-old sweepstakes, the 3-year-old performance, the 2-year-old under saddle championship, and the best young horse award. Together, they earned Zarr, a Trakehner (Hennessy–Zierdre), the $3,000 high-point stallion bonus and the Sandy Minchin trophy.

Imperial Crown, a chestnut Trakehner-Thoroughbred cross (Zarr–Cheval D’Or) bred by Jill and Sam Manno, has won in all four of his outings this year.

Before making the trip to Kentucky, he won the 3-year-old championship at the IHF East Coast Regional Championship at Warrenton, Va. earlier in the month. He and the West Coast regional champion, Absolut’ Gold (All The Gold–Rose Gold), with Diane Yeager up, dueled it out through all three phases.

A brief break to the trot in the first round kept them out of the ribbons in the conformation over fences class, but the pair came back to put in two solid performances, winning the working over fences and the under saddle to clinch the overall grand champion title.

Absolut’ Gold, owned by Twinkle Gorman, won the conformation over fences class, then was fourth in the working over fences, and third in the under saddle, for the reserve championship.

Kenny Wheeler, who bought Imperial Crown from the Mannos ringside at Devon (Pa.) as a yearling in 2004, is justifiably proud of his acquisition.

“He’s just a pretty colt,” said Wheeler. “I liked the look of him at Devon and bought him based on that. We started him last fall under saddle, and he showed us he could jump. Hopefully he’ll go on to do the pre-greens next year, and come back to the futurity finals as a 4-year-old.”

“I got the ride after Olin [Armstrong] got hurt last summer,” Berry said. “I’m just so grateful to Mr. Wheeler for letting me have the ride on him. It’s been a wonderful opportunity.”

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Manno bought Imperial Crown’s dam, Cheval D’Or, after the mare finished a lengthy career in the show ring, where she showed over 4′.

“I think she was 14 or so when she retired. She was a great show mare,” commented Manno. At the age of 19, the palomino mare foaled Imperial Crown and has produced one full sibling, a 2-year-old buckskin. Manno has since sold both horses to different clients.

“He was an athlete from day one,” said Manno of Imperial Crown.

“We’re hoping to do embryo transfer and get another foal or two from the match with Zarr,” Manno continued. “It would be nice to have another Imperial Crown or two!”

Wheeler also made a trip through the challenge ring with his unstoppable Spanish Spear to pick up the 2-year old colts and geldings win on their way to the coveted best young horse title.

“He hasn’t been beaten this year,” Wheeler pointed out. “He’s just the best-looking colt.”

Another offspring of Zarr, out of the mare Karacter Kount, Spanish Spear’s r�sum� sports best young horse titles from Upperville (Va.) in June and the Sallie B. Wheeler National Hunter Breeding Championship earlier in the month at Warrenton, Va., as well as back-to-back best young horse wins at Devon (Pa.) in 2005 and ’06.

The grand champion in the 4-year-old division was a familiar face in IHF competition. Just Dessert, a Trakehner-Thoroughbred gelding (Zarr–Absolette, Absolut’) took a back seat to his half-sister, Jasmine, in the 3-year-old competition last year.

Jasmine, also by Zarr, won the 2005 3-year-old performance grand championship, while Just Dessert earned ribbons in the individual classes. But this year, the chestnut gelding came out ahead of his sister in the 4-year-old sweepstakes. Jenny Fischer, of Montgomery, N.Y., had the ride on both horses.

“He’s just so consistent now,” Fischer said of Richard and Sarah Prant’s gelding. “He’s such a steady Eddy.”

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Just Dessert won the East Coast regional championship at Warrenton, Va., earlier in the month. “He’s been champion almost every time he’s gone out,” said Fischer.

A slight rub during the conformation round put Just Dessert in third place, but a nearly perfect trip in the working class and a solid under saddle class, with owner Sarah in the irons, was enough to clinch the grand championship.

“He’s fun to ride,” said Sarah. “I’ve had the ride on him since he was 2. He’s definitely a 3’6″ horse in the future.”

A product of the Prant’s breeding program, Fischer noted that Just Dessert has three full siblings waiting in the wings. “It’s going to be exciting to see them develop, especially if they’re anything like him.”

Manno had reason to be thrilled as she watched not only Imperial Crown, a product of her own breeding program, win his championship, but also Just Dessert, Spanish Spear, and all of the other Zarr progeny. Just before the IHF finals, she and husband Sam closed a deal with Joni Werthan that brought Zarr home with them to Pennsylvania.

“It was time to pass the torch,” Werthan said. “Jill and Sam are amazing horse people. They are true professionals. I know Zarr will do very well with them.”

The sale terms were agreed to before the Warrenton show, but the deal wasn’t finalized for several more weeks. The stallion actually shipped to Pennsylvania during the finals.

“I was so nervous,” Manno said with a laugh. “I just wanted him to get there okay, and here I was in Lexington, hearing that one baby of his after another was winning. I’m still in shock.”

Joanna Blough

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