‘If he jumps one clear round it’s mission accomplished’
Dirk De Vidts is a breeder as well as a rider. His breeding begins in 1984. Fourteen years ago Dirk bred Casanova F Z, a Clinton son out of Dream of Fernantes (Darco x Libero H). Fernantes is the name of his stables and refers to his parental home. The mares are still called ‘van Fernantes’, for the stallions this is shortened to ‘F’.
‘It was in 1996 when I purchased the filly foal Miss Libero because I was such a fan of Libero H, who became World Cup Champion with Jos Lansink in 1994. I wanted those genes. Libero was a phenomenal sport horse and fighter. When Miss Libero was seven she gave a foal by Darco and that was Dream of Fernantes, dam to Casanova F Z. His sire is Clinton, who I chose because I was absolutely smitten with that stallion in those days. Every year I breed around five foals. Some get sold, others stay on, like Casanova. I presented him at the Zangersheide Stallion Inspection but he was rejected. When he was four I introduced Casanova to the saddle. I remember that he was very good and sweet. And very easy to handle too. We jumped our first competitions and he instantly appealed to people. Not much later he was sold to Italy. For breeders, selling is a necessity and Casanova was very popular. For that kind of money I couldn’t hold on to him.
Casanova F Z & Philipp Züger
Later I saw him with Philipp Züger from Switzerland. He jumped five-stars with Casanova, for example in Basel and Zürich. Züger sold Casanova on to the Russian Egor Shchibrik. Early this year he handed Casanova’s reins to his stable rider Oleksandr Prodan, who is allowed to compete him in the Olympic Games. From the time he was four when I sold him, till he was seven, I lost track of Casanova. Since then I keep close tabs on his results, because my son is now also involved and he keeps me informed via Social Media. Last year, just before Corona, we saw Casanova with Egor Shchibrik at a CSI in Bonheiden. There we got acquainted with his groom and she keeps us up to date. Egor and Casanova hit it off well. You should never fight against a Clinton, you need to respect them and those two had a click. I suppose therefore, that stable rider Prodan treats him in the same way.’
Casanova F Z & Philipp Züger
How does Dirk experience the Olympic Games? ‘Casanova always gives his very best and will do anything to get to the other side. Prodan takes part on an individual basis. So I’m hoping he jumps one clear round, that means the mission is accomplished. Then he probably makes it into the top 30 who are qualified to jump in the final, and I reckon that should be possible. This is insanely fantastic for a breeder, to have a horse taking part in the Olympics! I once sat down to do the maths and ended up with a list of fourteen horses from my breeding that jump at 1.40m level. That’s something you can achieve with how you breed. When talking about 1.50m or even 1.60m, then it’s mainly up to the horse. They must be willing to do it and that is in their heads, it's unpredictable and cannot be bred into them. That is more down to chance and the luck of pairing them to the right rider and getting opportunities. Another of my breeding products is Chaiton F Z (Clinton x Heartbreaker), the horse Frederik Dekens rode to a 7th place at the WC in Zangersheide. I’m happy with my breeding, although it also means getting a share of bad luck and setbacks. Miss Libero, who is Casanova’s granddam, was in foal by Cicero Z. She was just three weeks away from foaling and one morning she lay dead in the field. Shortly before I had sold Casanova’s dam Dream of Fernantes. An Italian offered me a lot of money. I know she’s happy there and produces a foal every year. But suddenly I had lost my mare line. That’s something that can happen too.
Casanova F Z & Oleksandr Prodan
Presently, Dream of Fernantes is carrying a foal by Emerald. If it’s a filly foal I’d love to buy it to reinstate my mare line. I want to regain some of it. Otherwise, I’ve heard that Oleksandr Prodan and Casanova reside just across the border in the Netherlands. I’m planning to visit them after the Olympics. Because I have one big dream: that Casanova returns to my stud after his sport career to spend his retirement here. He is still a stallion, has never done any stud services and I will give him that opportunity when he is here’, Dirk De Vidts smiles.
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