Now jumping under Audrey Coulter, Capital Colnardo is an international success
Now jumping under Audrey Coulter, Capital Colnardo is an international success

[dropcap]A[/dropcap]nyone who follows South African showjumping knows the name Capital Colnardo. The striking stallion was excelling here at 1.50m level, right before he was exported back to Europe. Now succeeding at top international level, Nicole shares the story of this exceptional stallion.

Early beginnings

Capital Colnardo was purchased by Henning Pretorious, the owner of Capital Stud, as a two-year-old at a Holsteiner auction in Germany. He was then imported to South Africa and began his career as a four-year-old with myself. Colnardo was exceptional from the beginning. He felt like a well-oiled machine and I always had to hold myself back from pushing him to quickly as he just found everything easy.

Showjumping career in South Africa

Henning Pretorious (owner and founder of Capital Stud), pictured with Nicole Horwood and Capital Colnardo
Henning Pretorious (owner and founder of Capital Stud), pictured with Nicole Horwood and Capital Colnardo

Colnardo always had an amazing work ethic but he would get very bored with flatwork because he just found it all too easy. After 20 minutes into our schooling sessions, I had run out of flatwork ideas because whatever I asked of him he delivered immediately, without having to do any form of repetition. He really enjoyed outrides and track work, and he was always a gentleman to work with. It’s hard to believe he’s a stallion – he has perfect stable manners and even enjoys cuddles.

Colnardo immediately rose to success when he made his debut on the local South African showjumping scene. He had just started jumping the South African 1.50m classes, winning a few big classes, including the South African Outdoor Grand Prix. However, when we realised just how good he was, our intention was to send him back to Europe to be showcased at the top level, and eventually sold on.

Going full circle

Colnardo went into quarantine without us actually having any particular strategy or concrete plans in place, but we knew it was a case of ‘now or never’. Quarantine is a three-month process, which gave us enough time to explore different options regarding Colnardo’s future career.

Just before he went into quarantine, Robert Whitaker, who had heard about him, flew to South Africa and had a sit on him. Upon his return, he had mentioned to Axel Verlooy, a dealer in Belgium, that there was a very good horse on his way to Europe from South Africa. Approximately two months into the quarantine, Henning received a call from an American number. Not recognising the number, he never actually took the call. The next day he got another call from the same number, and this time they left a message. Henning realised that the call was with regards to Colnardo, and he returned the call immediately. The gentleman introduced himself as a client of Axel Verlooy, and mentioned that he had heard from Axel that Henning owned a very good horse who was in quarantine on his way to Europe. He wanted to know if Henning would be interested and consider selling him immediately. Still not having set plans in place after long negotiations, it was decided that Axel and his client’s daughter would fly to Mauritius, where Colnardo was in quarantine, and meet Henning and me there to try Colnardo.

Capital Colnardo is currently jumping in the 1.60m classes
Capital Colnardo is currently jumping in the 1.60m classes

There are no jumping facilities at the quarantine station but one of the local riding clubs very kindly let us use their facilities and build a reasonably sized track so they could put Colnardo’s abilities to the test. Axel and the eldest daughter, Saer, arrived late in the afternoon and tried Colnardo just before dark and left early the next morning. He had not been jumped at all for several weeks so I was a little concerned, but true to form, he jumped like a machine. They did not give too much away initially, but it wasn’t long before Henning got the call to please meet them in Rome at the Global Champions tour to discuss Colnardo’s future.

After lengthy discussions, they came to an amicable agreement and Colnardo was sold. It all happened so fast it seemed a little surreal – but I strongly believe that it was always his destiny. He has the most amazing home and is given five-star treatment on a daily basis. We could not have asked for a better home or a better platform to showcase his talent.

Colnardo today

Colnardo now lives between California and Belgium. He is ridden by Audrey Coulter, who trains with Harrie Smolders. Harrie is one of the top-ranked riders in the world so they are in very good hands. He is currently jumping at the very top level of showjumping in the 1.60m classes. He has jumped in a Nations Cup winning team and has also been competing successfully at the Global Champions Tour.

Going forward, the plan is for Colnardo to stay between Europe and America for Audrey to compete. Looking to the future, the goal is for Audrey and Colnardo to be chosen for the Nations Cup team events, Olympics, or to simply just keep competing successfully at five-star level.

Text: Nicole Horwood