Fleeceworks Royal Shines A Spotlight on American Breeding After A Strong Completion at the FEI World Breeding Eventing Championships












Fleeceworks Royal and Tamra Smith in the Show Jumping at Le Lion d'Angers. Photo by Libby Law.

As Fleeceworks Royal cleared the final fence in show jumping today, she made her mark as an American bred and produced horse who held her own in the most elite age-based competition in the world. Judith McSwain’s “Rory” is a Holsteiner mare (Riverman x Marisol) competing against the best of the best at the FEI World Breeding Eventing Championships in the 7-year-old CCI2* class.

Rory is the 2016 recipient of the Holekamp/Turner Young Event Horse Le Lion d’Angers Grant, which she received for being the highest placed 2014 USEA Young Event Horse (YEH) graduate who qualified for this championship as a 7-year-old. Only in its second year, the grant now has helped two American produced horses complete the CCI2* at Le Lion d’Angers. Backed by Dr. Tim and Cheryl Holekamp and Christine Turner, it was created to encourage the domestic breeding and production of high caliber young horses, and this goal was reached in its entirety this year as it sent Rory, the first American bred young horse, to the championship.

California-bred Rory held her own against the stiff competition this weekend. Piloted by Tamie Smith, Rory earend a respectable 51.3 in dressage before jumping boldly around the tricky cross-country, coming home penalty free within the time. With a bit of a footing change from the warm up to the competition ring, she added 13 penalties to her dressage score, ending the weekend in 24th place out of the 59 starters.  

"She felt super today and was jumping out of her skin in the warm up. She got in the ring and the ground was very mushy, nothing to push off of. It felt very bizarre for me, so I can imagine what she was thinking," Smith said of Rory in the show jumping. "Last night she acted as though she wanted to go again and was very keen this morning for the trot up. I was really pleased with her fitness and overall performance, I of course would have loved a different outcome, but that's eventing. Typically I could say I should have done this or that, and honestly I just think she was green on the footing. She's a better horse for the experience she has had and I am so proud of her."

"To be able to bring over a 7-year-old and compete at the World Championships is very influential to their careers. You know what kind of horse you have after galloping around the track here at Le Lion. The crowds, the course, the atmosphere, it's really a good test to know what kind of horse you really have. I know I have a great one in Rory and I'm so happy to have shared the experience with her owner and long time friend Judith McSwain and her and now my friends Lynette Bowman and Barbara."

"Rory will go back to Judith's for the winter break and let down and be able to eat grass and then we will see what is on the table for next year. She feels like an Advanced horse after this weekend and that is what you want after a big competition like this. She's a lovely mare and I'm just lucky to be her person," Smith continued. 

Rory wasn’t the only YEH graduate competing at Le Lion this weekend, she was joined by Betawave (Linaro x Wavelength). Owned by her breeder Carol Singh and rider Robyn Fisher, “Leta” ended the weekend in 32nd place. The Holsteiner mare started the weekend on a score of 62.5 after dressage, and made an impressive leap from 58th to 31st place after jumping clear on cross-country with only .4 time penalties. In the show jumping today, Leta had four rails down, but shifted on the leaderboard only slightly to end in 32nd place out of the 51 finishers.

Weisse Duene clinched a wire-to-wire win this weekend with Ingrid Klimke in the irons. Klimke and Marion Drache’s Holstiener mare (Clarimo x Espirit V) completed this CCI2* championship nearly ten points ahead of second place finishers after having two fault free jumping runs.

Rails were plentiful in this two-star class, and had a significant impact on the final leaderboard. Despite two rails by Barbara and Nicholas Walkinshaw’s Billy Walk On, he remained in second place on a final score of 47.

All other top ten pairs picked up rails to make way for the tenth-placed trio, Cooley Showtime & Jonelle Price, Vassily de Lassos & Thomas Carlile, and Vinci de la Vigne & Astier Nicholas, to end the weekend in third, fourth and fifth place respectively.

The USEA Future and Young Event Horse Series, created only a few years ago, aim to encourage domestic breeding. The goal of the program is to create a streamlined pathway from American breeding to American training and eventually representing the United States on an international stage. To have two American bred horses finish strong at a competition of this magnitude reflects the growth of these programs as well as American breeding.

Find all 7-year-old scores here

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  • Elizabeth Howell