A legend’s goodbye to the sport; Taloubet Z, the turbo from Zangersheide

The stallion with the fastest engine in the world is called Taloubet Z, designed by Cees Klaver, with Christian Alhmann at the wheel. The spiritual father of this jewel provided French blood with a German mouth. This resulted in an explosive turbo engine: unique acceleration power and top speeds that far exceed the average, 18 years on the clock and still unsurpassed. The prototype of a modern sport horse. Taloubet Z tickles the imagination. He said his goodbye to the sport in Leipzig. Not coincidentally the same place where he became the 2011 World Cup champion and won a total of three World Cup classes. A common goodbye would not be fitting, as Taloubet Z is anything but a common horse. For the last time he offered the public a nail-biting spectacle and claimed the victory! It was not really a surprise that Taloubet Z gave his popularity a last extra boost in Leipzig.

This is the story of Taloubet Z. A story with € 2,000,000 in prize monies, 105 starts in five star competitions, 45 World Cup classes, 26 international victories, 9 championships and medals won in Olympics, numerous European Championships and World Cup Finals… Are there any words that would do full justice to such impressive results? Taloubet Z is a superlative himself. Z-Magazine will walk you through his life. If he has not already won your heart, he will now do it for sure.

Breeder Cees Klaver: “There is no sweeter horse than Taloubet Z”

“Of course I watched Taloubet Z saying goodbye on tv. It was superb! I had considered going to Leipzig in person, but that was more than 600 kilometres and back again. But I’ll be honest, had I known it would be so exciting, I would not want to have missed it for the world! Taloubet Z and Christian had the good fortune to be last starters. But when five combinations have already gone clear, you have to do the same yourself and go faster still. It was their last show. They had nothing more to lose. Taloubet Z is a professor, but I believe that Christian is a similar professor as a rider. He came round for the penultimate fence and opened the throttle so much that I thought ‘whoa’. I am sure that that was what made them win.” His breeding product may be retiring, the 73 year old Cees Klaver does not think of stopping yet. Perhaps that is just as well for the horse world. Besides Taloubet Z, Cees also designed the Olympic Big Star and his successor Big Star Junior. “I have such fantastic breeding material and it still gives me so much satisfaction I can and will not stop yet!”, says a smiling Cees, who still breeds about thirty foals per year.

The last product of Galoubet A

“I simply loved Galoubet A, a part-trotter crossed with Almé. He was a world-class horse under Gilles Betrand de Balanda. Almé-blood (Ibrahim) is the greatest blood you can imagine. That was true at the time and it still is. It is pure sport blood. Galoubet A was an angry horse. If he but tipped the front pole, he would be furious. He would kick in the air and buck after the fence in frustration. That was the power of Galoubet A. He would go for the fence, but he would absolutely not touch it.

Galoubet A

Look at the horses Galoubet A produced: Baloubet du Rouet, Taloubet Z, Quick Star, Skippy II, … There are so many good Galoubet As. That is abnormal. I sure wanted one of them. But that was not so simple. Galoubet A came originally from France, but by that time he had been leased for a large sum to the USA. A syndicate controlled his sperm. I got acquainted with Gaby Vandaele from Keros. He was a member of that syndicate and arranged a service for me. Fresh sperm sent by air to Paris. Gaby Vandaele brought the mare to Paris and there, close to the airport, she was inseminated with fresh, watery sperm from the 28-yr-old sire Galoubet A. It was not very good sperm and an expensive experiment, but I always liked special things.

Taloubet Z has a very powerful take-off and is incredibly agile. You just think I will go to the right and he is already there. He can jump from any position and always has his hind ready to take off. That is the trotter’s canter from Galoubet A he inherited. Taloubet Z does not have a long, slow stride, just the opposite. His fast reflexes allow him to react quick as lightning.”

Polydor daughter Krista

“Krista is by Polydor. I bought her in Friesland. She is a great, sweet-tempered mare with a very fine head. Not many Polydor offspring have such a noble head, nor does Galoubet A himself, so as far as looks were concerned it was a risky combination. Taloubet Z was the product and He has a fairly nice head, I must say. For the sport genes the fighter’s mentality of Galoubet A formed a fantastic combination with Westfalia in Germany. I like to combine sharp French blood with a German mouth. Krista herself jumped at 1.35m - 1.40m level. The dam’s line included horses that jumped at 1.50m and 1.60m level. Krista has so far already provided me with four licensed sons and offspring performing at 1.60m level. Big Star Junior is the youngest of those. He is a Big Star out of Krista. That is how I made my own mix. I am sure that Taloubet Z has his fast foreleg from Krista.

Handsome colt, not all that tall

“Taloubet Z was immediately a handsome colt, but not all that tall. His dam Krista, standing 1.62m, is not, either. Eventually he grew tall enough. But you could not say that he would become such a super horse. You hope to get a good foal by breeding with Galoubet A. Taloubet Z has always been extremely sweet tempered. No horse could be sweeter. He is honest and very intelligent. Oh man, he is incredibly clever. Young stallions are not always easy, but with Taloubet Z it was precisely the other way around. I could have Taloubet Z serve a mare in the same field as where the foals and the other mares were grazing. He is so uncomplicated and obedient. It is incredible how sensible that horse is.”

Cees Klaver: ““Whenever Taloubet Z won, mister Melchior would promptly call me on the following Monday afternoon at 15.00 hours to congratulate me.”

When Taloubet Z was a 2½-yr-old, Cees asked Henk Wieberdink to prepare him for the stallion selection. “It was immediately clear that Taloubet Z would remain an entire. I decided so because of the expensive stud fee. He has a remarkable pedigree. But it took a lot of trouble to get him licensed.” Because the opinion of Henk was not so positive. He said that Taloubet Z was too weak still and was walking on two tracks, being narrow in the front and wide behind. Cees agreed. He did not bring him to the selection. As a 3-yr-old Taloubet Z had become a lot stronger. Cees took him to the Zangersheide stallion selection and he was accepted. “Stallions licensed as 3-yr-olds on the basis of free jumping must jump a course as 5-yr-olds in order to receive their permanent licence. Marcel Beukens, a rider living nearby, rode Taloubet Z at the time. He received instruction from the American Alan Waldman. But Marcel developed back problems and so Alan rode Taloubet Z in Lanaken. They won the small finals on the Saturday.  As a 5-yr-old Taloubet Z beat the other 190 starters, so that was not too bad!”

“Both my rider Marcel Beukens and Alan Waldman were extremely enthusiastic about Taloubet Z. Although he was only a 5-yr-old, we knew that he would be a Grand Prix horse. He already showed a lot of ability at the time. Taloubet Z was very easy to ride, but I did read that Christian had his hands full in the beginning to mould him. Taloubet Z is always eager. You would sooner have to rein him in than spur him on. He is not a cool one, he is always eager. He does not waste any time over the fence and he has fast reflexes. Taloubet Z has a very fast foreleg, which gives you good leeway coming up to the fence.”

From Cees Klaver to Jan Tops to Zangersheide

“I could not have dreamed up a better life for Taloubet Z. You do not control everything as a breeder, even though the breeder plays a crucial role. He had to know who he is selling to. Even a horse like that does not get there on his own. When you sell a good horse to a good rider or professional, you have better chances. It gives luck a push under the butt. Of course, you can never know for certain beforehand that the horse will ever go to the Olympics. I sold half of the 7-yr-old Taloubet Z to Jan Tops. He is a professional. Several months later we sold him to mister Melchior, so that he could grow on. Jan Tops had lifted Taloubet Z to a higher level through his rider Daniel Deusser and so we could sell him to mister Melchior for Judy Ann. Judy Ann met Christian and the rest is history.”

“Christian dotted the i’s on Taloubet Z, for he is a tall, strong and sturdy horse. Judy Ann is a tiny woman and Taloubet Z is real big, you know! A German rider and a German riding style worked out well for him. At first, Taloubet Z had been ridden the American way, by Alan Waldman. They have a light seat, ride forwards and do not collect the horse. Later Taloubet Z had to adapt to the German system, collected, half a metre shorter, discipline and control. Daniel Deusser did that well and Christian Ahlmann improved that further like no other could.”

“I have been very lucky that studfarm Zangersheide was crazy about Taloubet Z and that they never sold him. Whenever Taloubet Z had won, mister Melchior always called me the following Monday afternoon at 15.00 hours to congratulate me. He always complimented me for being a good breeder. He was so happy with his Taloubet Z. That is one of the great things about Zangersheide, they are respectful to the breeders. And at the WC the breeders of the first three horses are rewarded. Mister Melchior considered the breeder as the founder of the happiness and the pleasure he got out of his stallions.”

“Taloubet Z has always meant a lot to me. He did not only give me a good reputation, but he also gave me a lot of pleasure. That is what every breeder dreams of. For a breeder the Olympics are the ultimate reward. In London Taloubet Z was reserve horse, but the German national coach chose Codex One. In 2016 in Rio he was allowed to go into the ring and he won bronze for Germany. He was accompanied at those Olympics by a product of his that I had also bred. Taloubetdarco K Z (Taloubet Z x Darco) was then an 11-yr-old and was ridden by the Japanese Toshiki Masui. For that horse you also did not need whip nor spurs. They jumped the whole Olympics, although they had a few fences down, but she carried her Japanese rider to the finish. At the Rio Olympics, together with Big Star, I had three horses I bred in the race, unbelievable!

Owner Judy Ann Melchior: “It was hard to keep his great talents in check”

Judy Ann first saw Taloubet Z at a show in Saint-Tropez in the beginning of the season for 7-yr-olds. He was ridden at the time by Daniel Deusser. “Taloubet Z struck me as an extremely handsome, tall stallion with a lot of power and blood. He was rather green still at the time, but he had a very remarkable appearance. We did not buy him straight away, but only a few months after the WC. To be honest, it was my father who went after Taloubet Z,”, laughs Judy Ann. “He was crazy about the horse. When I tried out Taloubet Z, I felt an abnormal horse beneath me with a super fast foreleg. You do not notice it that much with Christian, but when I was riding Taloubet, you saw how tall he really was. It was dubious right from the start whether Taloubet Z would be the right type of horse for me, because he is so powerful. But his jumping qualities convinced us to take the risk anyway.”

“In the beginning it was hard for me to check his power, especially in young horse classes where the fences were not that high yet. As he turned from an 8- to a 9-yr-old we finally clicked and jumped 1.50m classes and GPs. The results varied. I had many good rounds and then some in which he was hard to control. Taloubet Z has always given me the feeling that he was the best horse ever that I rode, but I also felt that I could never get the last out of him. He was still a very strong horse for a small girl. I found it hard to compensate for his power and explosive nature.”

“A horse like Levisto Z fitted me better as a rider, but what Taloubet Z has and can do, I had never felt that before. Taloubet Z is a genius, but a genius is never easy. Especially in his younger years I found it difficult to keep his great talents in check. And that is what it is all about. When at the highest level, with the right combination, everything slots together, those horses can do so much more. He is a genius as I have never met before.”

Change of rider

“The decision to hand Taloubet Z over to Christian was hard and at the same time it was not. I had already told Christian several times that he should try out Taloubet Z, because I believed that I could never make full use of his talents. The combination Christian and Taloubet Z worked out so well that this made the decision easier. Christian can ride the most different kind of horses. He has a lot of feeling and is riding very correctly. He can always place the horse at the right and the same distance, which makes that he gives his horses a lot of confidence. Taloubet Z needed a rider that he could respect, but also one that gave him a lot of confidence. The fact that Christian is a taller and stronger created the right balance.”

For Judy Ann Taloubet Z is the sweetest and quietest horse as long as you do dressage training. “As soon as you start jumping, it is as if you have turned on the turbo. (Laughs) You have to be delicate with the throttle. Taloubet Z is not oversensitive in character, but you have to have it exactly right, and not ride too much forwards or backwards. This acceleration power is what makes Taloubet Z so special.”

As a 12-yr-old Taloubet Z suffered from an injury for a while. He had a fracture in his elbow, which is a rare problem in sport horses. “Christian and I believed strongly in his comeback. We went to a lot of trouble to find a vet that was specialised in this field, because our normal sport vets had little experience with this injury. I can not explain why we so fervently believed in his comeback. Taloubet Z is a member of our family. We have gone through a lot together and it was too early to give up on him. Taloubet Z has always been in top form and good health. The fracture can not have been caused by jumping, because it was located so high. Maybe he had injured himself performing breeding service. That is why we stopped breeding with him because I was afraid that he might hurt himself again. That was the moment when we decided to wait until after his sport career”, Judy Ann explains.

Memorable goodbye

Taloubet Z was in top form right up to his last competition. In Leipzig Christian is the public’s favourite. Both he and Taloubet Z have won there several times. It was the perfect location to conclude the sport career of Taloubet Z. Judy Ann did not dare hope for a victory. “I had no expectations. I just hoped for a fine goodbye. It would have been a pity if they had to stop after a disappointment, because they have had such incredibly good results in their long career. All I hoped for was a clear round in the World Cup. I wanted Christian to look back with satisfaction to his career with Taloubet Z and that Taloubet Z could one more time impress in the jump-off. That day it was above all me, who was nervous! One mistake is easily made and that does not mean that you have jumped a bad round. It would be a relief for me already if the scoreboard would display a clear round. During the jump-ff I was with Christian in the warming up paddock and so I could not see all the other riders go. Then Christian and Taloubet Z started their jump-off and everything went as it should. I did not dare to believe so until it was over. The goodbye of Taloubet Z is the kind of moment in the sport, for which you have been doing it all and which happens only once in your life.”

Judy Ann Melchior: “Taloubet Z has always given me the feeling that he was the best horse ever that I rode, but I also felt that I could never get the last out of him.”

Rider Christian Ahlmann: “Completely surprised by the feeling of Taloubet Z”

Christian did not agree with the opinion of Judy Ann at first. She believed Taloubet Z to have been the best horse she has ever ridden. The hard thing was, he said, to control him. “I saw Taloubet Z several times and Judy Ann had to work hard on him. You could certainly not deny his quality. You could see that he has an incredible amount of power and ability, but I did not believe Judy Ann when she said that Taloubet Z was the best horse she had ever ridden. Judy Ann rides many very good horses, so that was a bold statement!”

“There is often a big difference between seeing a horse jump and feeling him jump. That can go in both directions: it may look spectacular but you do not get a spectacular feeling when you are riding the horse, or it may look well, not spectacular, but it feels abnormally good. To be clear: you can not always see it. Taloubet Z can tackle the heaviest classes in the world, but it did not look special to me how he handled smaller fences. However, when I rode him for the first time and jumped him, I felt precisely what Judy Ann had meant. The feeling that Taloubet Z gave me was truly spectacular. He completely surprised me! That first impression made that I was sure that Taloubet Z would have a fine future. Under the right rider for him, he could even become a winner.”

Christian Ahlmann: “With the best horses in the world you see that they need a good stride and speed in order to jump. Taloubet Z could virtually jump from a stand-still.”

On the way to success

“It is a long road to get it all worked out and put the dots on the i’s. I tried to form a team with Taloubet Z. We got to know each other and learned to trust each other. The problem with Taloubet Z, at least the most difficult thing was, to keep his power in control. He was jumping too much forwards. In order to let him jump more upwards and not too far forwards, I had to keep him focussed and concentrated and have more control. Controlling the jump is largely dressage training, but also making him respect me. The “problem” that Taloubet Z had, was precisely what made him so special. His talent, power and ability made that he could jump in any situation. After a fast turn without speed Taloubet Z could still throw a tremendous jump. With the best horses in the world you see that they need a good stride and speed in order to jump. Taloubet Z could virtually jump from a stand-still.”

“I managed relatively quickly to form a team with Taloubet Z. After several weeks we were already fairly successful. We immediately won the first small national GP we jumped. Two or three months later we won our first international GP in Germany. By that time we had already overcome several ups and downs. Every time it did not go so well, it was for the same reason: trying to keep him in control. It took several more month before I was fully in control of him. After that Taloubet Z would do anything for me. Whatever the fence, it was no problem for Taloubet Z, he just jumped.”

Sport horse pur sang

Although a stallion Taloubet Z is incredibly good natured and quiet. He is a great horse. When you are working with him, you feel his blood and power. In the ring you can feel him swelling up. Taloubet Z is a real sport horse, he saves his energy for the right moment. Then he is awake and ready to go.”

Taloubet Z has a flattish canter, but a very powerful take-off. This is a combination you do not see often. “He has a very flexible stride, which makes it easy for the rider to ride any distance that you want. On Taloubet Z you can easily ride one stride less or change the distance at the last moment. This is what makes him so special. In latter years Taloubet Z was therefore the parade horse of Zangersheide. He won the most prize monies, World Cup competitions, a World Cup Finals and he was hard to beat in GPs.”

 

Christian Ahlmann: “I did not believe Judy Ann when she said that Taloubet Z was the best horse she had ever ridden. Judy Ann rides many very good horses, so that was a bold statement!”

Without Christian Ahlmann Taloubet Z would perhaps not have scored so many victories, but it also worked the other way around. “Taloubet Z has been so important for my own sport career. He was my first special horse after Cöster, who had been my championships horse for many years. He took over and carried me to the highest level. We could win wherever we wanted. It did not work out every week, but we were competitive everywhere. I never needed to be afraid that we would not do well on the Sunday.”

Casall ASK won his last competition in Hamburg. Taloubet Z in Leipzig. It seems as if you can simply plan the ideal goodbye. In truth it is a little harder than that. “I was really nervous that day! Taloubet Z deserved a fine goodbye! I secretly hoped for a victory. But you can not expect that it will really happen. I knew that it was going to be difficult, but I wanted to try. In the jump-off all the tension had dropped away. We already had a good day behind us. It was my dream that Taloubet Z could jump his last class like a young horse, at the highest level, with a clear round. The jump-off provided the cherry on the pie. We had luck on our side. I enjoyed the ride, tried hard and it worked! It was an incredibly special day for all of us”, a content Christian reflects.

 

Taloubet Z offspring: fast and intelligent

Taloubetdarco K Z (dam’s sire Darco) Aloubet KV (dam’s sire Calvados), Talou Contender K Z (dam’s sire Contender), Taloudor K Z (dam’s sire Indorado), Skipio K (dam’s sire Almé), … They are but some of the Taloubet Z offspring performing at the highest level in the sport and that were bred by Cees Klaver. “I bred scores of foals from Taloubet Z. They can all jump and they are all intelligent horses. Taloubet Z offspring have a lot of blood and are eager workers. They are careful, but they will never refuse. Taloubet Z is totally honest sire for offspring. Nor are they difficult to be brought under saddle. Nowadays you can never have enough blood, at least as long as they keep a cool head. Sitting still and tempering a little makes easy riding.”

Taloubetdarco K Z - Toshiki Masui

Taloubet Z and Baloubet du Rouet both have Galoubet A as sire. Both horses were phenomena in the showjumping sport, but have also been fantastic in breeding. “A Baloubet will jump with a slightly longer foreleg, with the head a little more upright. A Taloubet Z has a faster foreleg, but jumps up to the first pole, as we call it. They are more eager. In addition, they always jump with a good hindleg. Taloubet Z always jumped very economically. Where a Big Star jumps high over the fence, Taloubet Z goes easier on his body. He jumps more economically and does not waste any time in the air. I am certain that Taloubet Z will be versatile in breeding and match well with many different mares. Preferably a cool-headed mare, however, the dam of Taloubetdarco K Z was a thoroughbred and he turned out quite well”, concludes Cees Klaver.

Wilfried Rooms breeds three foals on average every year. It is his hobby. Daughter Emma and son Simon train the youngsters and as 5- to 7-yr-olds they will be sold for the sport. 6 Years ago Wilfried picked out Taloubet Z for his mare and Tigra ter Wilgen Z (dam’s sire Air Jordan Z) is the result. “I believe that it is important that the sires have the ability to jump at 1.60m level. Taloubet Z has plenty of ability and later even jumped the Olympics. How many sires can say that?! And how many sires can call themselves winner of a Grand Prix? Besides ability, they must also be fast and intelligent, otherwise you will never  win. All those qualities can be found in Tigra. This year we will have the dam of Tigra served again by Taloubet Z because it is working out so well. As a filly Tigra had a fine long body. She was always good at free jumping. Not that she would clear the fence by a meter, but she jumped with sensible deliberation. There you recognize the intelligence of Taloubet Z. Tigra did not start as a 4-yr-old, because she had her first two foals. Later that year we took her to her first competitions. It was unbelievable how easy that went. It seemed as if we did not have to teach Tigra anything. She has a lot of blood, but never wavers and she knows her fences. I can not describe it any other way than that a showjumping ring is her natural biotope.” As a 5-yr-old Tigra started in the qualifier for the WC during the Z-Festival. Tigra was selected and eventually finished fifth in the finals of the world championships for 5-yr-olds. “Emma will always pick out Tigra as her first ride, it says a lot”, laughs Wilfried.

Tigra ter Wilgen Z - Emma Rooms

Wilfried Rooms: “She was always good at free jumping. Not that she would clear the fence by a meter, but she jumped with sensible deliberation. There you recognize the intelligence of Taloubet Z.”

At Studfarm Zangersheide they also have a few offspring of Taloubet Z. Most of them are still young and did not start in the sport yet.  The licensed stallion Take a Chance Z (dam’s sire Aldatus Z) will be a 9-yr-old this year. Under Christian Alhmann he already jumped a few GPs. He also won the bronze in the World Championships for 6-yr-olds. “Take a Chance Z is a very good horse. He is powerful, careful and shows a lot of quality. He is not as far yet as Taloubet Z, of course, but we have high expectations”, reveals Christian. “We believe in the offspring of Taloubet Z, because he passes on his power. There are plenty of talented showjumping horses with power, but most of them miss a powerful body and the light, forward jump of Taloubet Z.” Judy Ann adds: “There are few sport horses in the world that have had a career like that. This, in combination with his honest character and great attitude, probably makes him very interesting for breeders to use.”

 

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