Orphaned as a foal, Redcastle Brelee Finnegan was bred by Lee Smith, Brelee Farm at Lynden, Ontario, Canada. At the 2009 Royal Agricultural Winter Fair, where he was Supreme Champion Clydesdale Foal, Scotland's John Anderson, Redcastle Clydesdales of Arbroath, Angus, purchased an interest in him, following which the colt was shipped to Great Britain. In the U.K., the buyers of Clydesdale stallions less than two years of age are allowed to change the horses' names (fillies, however, must be registered within the year of their birth and their name may not be changed). Hence, Brelee Majestic Finnegan was re-registered as Redcastle Brelee Majestic on his arrival overseas.
Shown at Scotland's 2011 National Stallion Show in Stirling, the horse was crowned Champion Stallion and was subsequently awarded the Clydesdale world's most coveted prize, the Cawdor Cup. Shown at the same venue this year, Majestic was named Champion Stallion and Supreme Champion Clydesdale.
For those unfamiliar with the Cawdor Cup, it was first awarded in 1892 when the Earl of Cawdor donated two 50-guinea cups to the Clydesdale Horse Society of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. They were to be presented to the breed's top female and male champions each year.
To permanently retain ownership, an exhibitor is required to win the Cawdor Cup on four occasions with four different Clydesdales. Should this occur, the winner is expected to purchase a Cawdor Cup of equal value to replace the one taken out of circulation. A Clydesdale can only win a Cawdor Cup once. This is why Cawood Commodore, this year's winning yearling, shown by Paul Bedford, won the Cawdor Cup–for Redcastle Brelee Majestic had won it in 2011, and Arradoul Balvennie, the Reserve Champion Stallion at this year's show, had won the Cup in 2012.
None of the above is mentioned to take away from the yearling colt; only to connect the dots. In fact, Cawdor Cup winners often receive as much or more publicity overseas than do champions. This year's winner, however, is going to receive a fair bit of stardom here in North America as well.
Many other yearlings have lifted the award–this is not so unusual. What's unusual is this colt's destination. Like Redcastle Brelee Finnegan, this year's Cup winner has connections to North America–the diffference is that Commodore's ties head in the opposite direction. The colt has been purchased by David Anderson, Anderson Farms, of St. Thomas, Ontario, Canada. Until last fall, Anderson Farms was known as a breeder and exhibitor of Percheron horses. However, when David plunged into Clyde waters at the 2S Clydesdale Dispersal, where he bought five head, including the top-selling individual, 2S Omega's Elegant Encore for $32,000, that all changed. You might also note the cover of this issue ... yet another (even more recent) purchase of Anderson's!
One more introduction: Anderson's draft horse manager is Robert Detweiler, Lane's End Farm, of Oelwein, Iowa. In a nutshell, Robert grew up in a northeast Iowa Amish community, became a driver of the Budweiser Clyde hitch, operated his own Belgian breeding program, became the manager for Gray Transportation's Percheron program, then went to work for David. Robert has judged many shows across North America, bred several top Belgians, Percherons and even a few Clydes himself and has consigned some public auction top-sellers of all three breeds.
The Future Herd Sire
Cawood Commodore is by Carnaff Ambassador, Champion Stallion at the Kilrea Stallion Parade and Champion Stallion at the Royal Ulster Show in Northern Ireland in 2007. Ambassador was awarded The
Ambassador is a Dillars Cracker son. Dillars Cracker was bred in Scotland, then sold to Northern Ireland and currently is breeding in Finland.
Commodore's dam, Stamford Hall Jeanie, is one of the better known Clydesdale females in Northern Ireland. She had a brilliant show season as a 3-year-old and again as a 4-year-old, lifting nine championships and three reserve championships. These honours included Champion Female and Supreme Champion Clydesdale at the 2004 Royal Ulster Show and Reserve Champion Female at the same venue in 2005.
Her dam, and Commodore's maternal grand dam, Moy Carol, is best known in Clydesdale circles as the maternal grandmother of Millisle Explorer, the imported stallion owned by Pinnacle Clydesdales, Milan, Illinois; then by 2S Clydesdales at Schulenberg, Texas, in whose possession he died. 2S Explorer's Intrepid, the $25,000 stallion sold at the 2S Clydesdale Dispersal Sale last fall, is one of the last colts by Millisle Explorer.
One last word on the colt's breeding–Ayton Perfection, 1986 Cawdor Cup winner (featured stallion, Winter 1998-'99 DHJ), appears three times in his four-generation pedigree, while Langalbuinoch Rowena, a broodmare whose genetic influence spans three continents (featured broodmare, Spring 2012 DHJ), appears twice. Without question, he is bred royally.
So how did this colt, bred in Northern Ireland, purchased by a Canadian, end up in northeast Iowa? For that, we'll have to query his new owner. "After we purchased the Clydes at the 2S Dispersal," recalls David Anderson, "we thought that we might need to put out a feeler for a stallion or a stallion prospect. Robert called his old friend Paul Bedford in Yorkshire, England, and asked him if he knew of any such prospects."
Robert Detweiler interjects, "Paul had mentioned that he had heard of a stud in Northern Ireland. He was going to an Irish show in December; and promised that he’d take a look at the colt while there. Paul reported back that the colt was ‘a good stallion prospect’, and that he had purchased and taken him home to Yorkshire for the time being."
"Paul sent us some pictures of Commodore," continues David, "and Robert and I really liked what we saw. Robert really believes in Paul and has a ton of respect for him. Robert kept telling me that, 'Paul is the man and he's as good a horseman as there is anywhere on the planet. I trust him.' Based on the pictures and Paul's word, I told Paul that we'd take the colt."
This was clearly no small decision. What other considerations came into play?
"Whenever I'm looking for a stallion prospect–and it doesn't matter what breed–I want a stud that comes from a good mare," states David. "By all accounts, I'm told that Commodore's mother is an outstanding mare! His pedigree offers up a nice outcross from some of the current North American bloodlines. We're hoping it will work with the mares that we have been buying. He is a big and modern horse, but still carries the quality of bottoms and legs that we see so much of in Scotland. I have so much to learn in this draft horse business, but I feel I've been very fortunate to learn from Robert. He has taught me so much about feet, hocks and legs. He will not compromise motion or unsoundness for these traits, he just won't, period."
"Showing Clydesdales in the United Kingdom is steeped in tradition," explains Robert. "Any North American draft horse enthusiast would be well-served to make a trip to the United Kingdom to witness the attention to detail that is exhibited by our colleagues across the pond. First and foremost, the attention to grooming is world-class. When a horse is in the show ring, at any point that the animal is standing still, there is one person who is solely dedicated to the grooming of the horse. The groom carries a grooming basket or bag, into the show ring, which contains combs, baby powder, sawdust, soft soap and other miscellaneous supplies. As a general rule of thumb, if the animal is standing still; the groom should be in motion, paying particular attention to the feather. The show ring at the National Stallion Show seldom saw a whip person, a tradition that is carried on by most Canadians. In the U.K., notable emphasis is placed on decoration of the show animal. Aged stallions are fitted with stud belts, side reins and as many mane flowers as the length of neck can handle. It is not unusual for the U.K. horses to possess undocked tails. The top part of undocked tails are braided, the hair on the underside is clipped short and both are finished off with a compliment of ribbons, sprigs and/or flowers. The skirt of the tail is either left loose or braided back up against the dock. Included in the duration of the competition, animals are shown individually to the judges, much as they are in North America. After each animal has been inspected by the judges, all animals are paraded, head-to-tail, in a circular track along the rail of the show ring. Like national-level dog shows, animals are then pulled from the rail, into the center of the ring for their placings. One of the more notable details was the participation in all of the stallion classes, especially those of the aged stallion. The depth and breadth of stallion competition in the United Kingdom is outstanding."
David's take was, "The most noticeable difference for me was the stalling area. Most of their shows are day shows whereas at ours, we tend to stay for three or four days and put more emphasis on our decorations and, of course, lots of social time. Another noticeable difference is the fact that they have two judges and an umpire. This certainly helps eliminate any politics. Otherwise, the horses on both sides of the pond are equally presented and shown by equally capable exhibitors."
I appreciate what the Cawdor Cup must mean to a Clyde breeder in the U.K. What does it mean to North American breed enthusiasts like yourselves?
"With Scotland being the homeland of the Clydesdale horse," replied Robert, "most North Americans have the utmost respect for the breeding programs of England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. We fully recognize the prestige associated with winning the Cawdor Cup and we feel very privileged to have been able to have the opportunity to purchase this young colt."
One last question: Besides the obvious, what are your plans for Cawood Commodore?
"Commodore is expected to arrive in the United States on Mother's Day," announced Robert. "We hope to include him in our 2013 show string. Anderson Farms is looking forward to developing Commodore’s career as a herd sire."