Verdini d’Houtveld Z is a 10-year-old son by Verdi TN (Quidam de Revel) out of Laska III (Caretino) and she is dam of several GP horses. Verdini was born in Halle, at Xavier Van Melckenbeke’s place, who breaks in, schools and sells horses by profession. It was the same with Verdini, who was sold to America by Xavier at the age of six. Now it’s four years later and in a little while Verdini is going to jump the Olympic Games with Sharn Wordley.
Xavier Van Melckenbeke remains remarkably calm in the face of it: ‘I’m 53 and earlier I used to breed five to eight foals each year, which I then trained and sold on. I started breeding because I couldn’t buy horses. Now that I'm a bit older I have downscaled breeding and instead buy more youngsters. Otherwise it would just take too long and I still enjoy doing it so much. The fact that I stay so calm has everything to do with realism. Of course I’m glad that Verdini is going to the Olympics, but you always have to put that in a wider perspective. Breeding a good horse is something that happens to you. The difference between everything and nothing is so tiny. At least, that’s what I have experienced. True, I have bred good horses, maybe I had some beginner’s luck? I have schooled all my horses myself and believe me, not all of them turn into top-class horses. I sell them when they are six, seven years old and then you need to be so lucky they end up with the right riders. That’s where Verdini got really lucky, Sharn Wordley is a true horseman and has succeeded in quietly progressing with him to where they stand now. The credit goes to him.
Verdini was a very special horse, very spooky, very sensitive, very skittish. Introducing him to the saddle took a long time too. Just to say that he wasn’t the easiest of characters. Verdini was a very careful jumper and jumped very fast. He definitely had jumping qualities but he was extremely high-strung. I would never have been able to take him to the BC in Gesves, never mind the WC in Lanaken’, Xavier smiles: ‘we never progressed beyond regional events. Some horses simply need more time. My basic principle is that horses need to develop confidence, they need to believe they can do it and that takes time. I have no contact to Sharn Wordley but I’m keen to find out how he and Verdini have fared. That rider has my greatest respect and I’m grateful he accepted Verdini for who he is and has given him all the time he needed. Tokyo is the result of that, although for me the principal thing is that Verdini could come into his own with this rider. After the Games I’m definitely going to get in touch with him.’
Verdini d’Houtveld Z is the result of an unusual deal, an embryo exchange with Luc Henry. ‘I bred Radco d’Houtveld (Darco) who jumped at 1.60m level with Peter Wylde and Oriflamme d’Houtveld (Darco) who also jumped at 1.60m. Both are offspring from the mare L’Atome (Larome x Guignolet) who also gave Une Ile d’Houtveld (Darco). Luc Henry wanted an embryo from that mare (which he combined with Andiamo Z. The result was Boetia Hero, ed.). In exchange I was given an embryo out of his Laska III in a combination with Verdi, and that produced Verdini. Laska is the dam of for instance China Touch Hero (dam of Akarad Hero Z), Tinka’s Hero Z (Tinka’s Boy) and Alaska Hero Z and Akyida Hero Z, both by Aganix du Seigneur Z.
We both fared well with this deal. Out of my mare Une Ile d’Houtveld he bred a filly foal, Boetia Hero and she has produced a few horses sired by Aganix du Seigneur Z who all jump 1.50m (Andiamixa Hero Z, Andiamix Hero Z and Andiamix II Hero Z). Out of his Laska I got a colt foal, Verdini, and he’s the one who’s now off to Tokyo. I’m definitely going to follow him closely throughout the Olympic Games.’ Up till now Verdini was allowed to quietly keep building his career. He has won several three-star GPs in America but as yet he has no experience with five-stars. I’m curious!’