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De Niro-Story
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The De Niro-Story

The Successor - Donnerhall's Greatest Heir: De Niro

The Successor - Donnerhall's Greatest Heir: De Niro

The shadow of a truly great personality can dwarf others. To emerge from such a shadow is a complicated matter, especially, when it is the shadow of one's own father. Therefore it was not easy for De Niro. For Donnerhall, the legend of German dressage – Team World Champion and European Champion – is the world-wide first class father of De Niro. What to do? Follow in his footsteps? Is it as simple as that? It is exactly what De Niro managed to do in sports and breeding.
In 2012 De Niro is ranked first in the ranking of the WBFS and became the best dressage stallion of the world. Only in Germany his descendants reached the overall amount of prize value of nearly 1.4 Million Euros.

To engage with this black stallion, to appreciate his breeding achievements, goes well beyond what normal stallion portraits usually do. This lies in De Niros own achievements in sport as well as in the sheer endless successes of his offspring. To mention all of them who deserved it would go beyond the scope. 2008 De Niro was crowned Stallion of the Year in his homeland Hanover. Quite possible that soon he will be considered “Stallion of the Era”.

How it started ...

How it started ...

A retrospective: Verden, Niedersachsenhalle, October 1995, full audience. The ring is entered by a black horse with four white feet. Right now he is just a number, with strong movements and a good pedigree: Donnerhall-Akzent II-Wiesenbaum xx-Ferdinand. Soon this black stallion would turn into a stallion with character: De Niro. University friends Burkhard Wahler and Tönne Böckmann, one from the Luneburg Heath, the other one from Lastrup near Oldenburg, can purchase the stallion together. They feel confident. A son of Donnerhall, with force and immense thrust in the hind legs. In 1995, Dr. Burchard Bade, then equerry in the state stud Celle, has the right of first refusal regarding the best stallions of the year. Yet he waves aside. De Niro does not end up with the “Celle lot”.

That autumn in 1995 nobody imagined, that nine years later a son of the stallion would become champion stallion at the very same place and that this black stallion named Dancier, who started his career as top foal at the auction in Medingen, would be worth 330,000 Euros to the same equerry Bade.Being the second priciest stallion of that year, De Niro is acquired by the two friends who have lived and studied together in Kiel. The pedigree assures that they were right: Akzent II for rideability and type, Wiesenbaum xx provides the necessary lacing with full blood and Ferdinand- the famous Hanoverian stallion from the seventies. Aside from Donnerhall there are great and proven names. Top performers, important for the heredity. The Donnerhall son was bred by Brigitte Pahl from Fockbeck in Holstein. Dam Alicante competed at medium tests, her very first foal had been licensed, Dimension, a full brother to De Niro. The breeder recalls De Niro: “We immediately recognized the potential”.

The authorities at the stallions performance test in Adelheidsdorf reacted equally: Dressage index above 145, jumping index 117.75 – the bottom line is the second place with 141.93 points at the overall score. Done! Then the first years of foals: Bull's eye! All over the auctions the first De Niro offspring trotted into the hearts of the audience and into prominent stables. Dynamics, with impressively unfolding motions of the hind legs. One son cost 70,000 DM in Vechta, another one 140,000 DM in Medingen, later on another one even 99,000 Euros. They were not only foals with an impressive trot. The “De Niros” started to go strong under the saddle as well. In Oldenburg De Niro is awarded “Hauptprämiensieger”, a title for which the assessment of the first year of foals is main criteria.

Performance is the Route to Success

Performance is the Route to Success

De Niro's offspring are on everyone's lips, he was and is frequented accordingly. In Hanover and Oldenburg as well as in Westphalia. The moment the first children were under the saddle it became clear: They are a chip off the old block. De Niro passes on his characteristic hind leg, his forceful movements, his dynamics to his offspring. On the spot he became nation wide an integral part of auction collections.
Many names can be told, but some will be overlooked. There are just too many following in their fathers' footsteps. Horses like Daily Pleasure (dam by Ehrenmarsch, breeder Kurt Gräfe, Barntrup) who was De Niro's first National Young Horse Champion in 2005, after being top action foal at the auction in Münster-Handorf, then the Oldenburg National Young Horse Vice-Champion Del Martino (dam by Lungau, breeder Heinrich Gerriets, Wilhelmshaven) who was top horse of the elite auction in Vechta and Da Vinci (breeder Theodor Gerdes, Herzlake) who was the first of all the top horses to follow at the autumn auction in Medingen. Da Vinci succeeded at Grand Prix level with his rider Bianca Ramke. Another top auction horse, Dick Tracy (dam by Argentinus, breeder Josef Grethen, Molbergen) was placed in the final of the National Young Horse Championships at five years of age. In 2011 this black stallion, who was discovered by the Böckmann-Heinrich family, won repeatedly Grand Prix dressage competitions repeatedly with his rider Alexandra Bimschas. A very typical career for the children of De Niro. For they are of a quality, of which dressage instructors say: 'This one learns everything” – piaffe, passage, flying changes at every stride, the whole Grand Prix program. Keyword: National Young Horse Championships. In 2006 there were 14 De Niro offspring at the start in Warendorf – record!

The National Young Horse Championships De Niro has omitted in his career, better to say he has skipped it. He was qualified at the age of six but did not enter the contest. Instead, he competed with seven years of age not only in advanced level dressage competitions but at Grand Prix level as well – and won! “For when the Burgpokal did not work out, I said 'come on, we go for Grand Prix instead'”, his then trainer Dolf Keller smiles in retrospect. This concept worked out, partially because the stallion was so focused on his trainer that he sailed through the difficulties of the premier league. His performance was so convincing that he was awarded the Otto Lörke-prize in 2000, for the best national Grand Prix newcomer. Later on horses like Renoir, Unicef, Bonaparte, Satchmo and Elvis followed De Niro into the same limelight, all of them now decorated with Gold medals from world championships and olympic games. In 2009 the first De Niro offspring was given the accolade in German dressage: Dablino (dam by Wanderbursch II, breeder Weert Arnold Sweers, Krummhörn) and his rider Anabel Balkenhol won the Team Bronze Medal at the World Equestrian Games in Kentucky in 2010. Dablino's older brother D-Online is state stud stallion in the Hessian Dillenburg and successful at S-level as well.

Back to the father: When Dablino was still frolicking on East Friesian pastures, his genitor advanced to an international Grand Prix winner and in 2003 he won the German Dressage Derby in Hamburg Klein Flottbek with his rider Dolf Keller. The triumph was repeated in 2010 by another son, Desperados (dam by Wolkenstein II, breeder Herbert Schütt, Hemmoor), serial finalist of the National Young Horse Championships, and his rider Falk Rosenbauer. Like father, like son. Only, the black Desperados was additionally placed in the final of the Nürnberger Burgpokal in 2009, basically on his journey through to the top of the world. “Is he the German Totilas?” asked the German equestrian sports magazine ST. GEORG on its cover.
In 2011 Desperados got a new rider, Kristina Sprehe, whose father bought the black horse at the Verdener Hengstmarkt. They won, among other competitions, the Under 25 Grand Prix at the European dressage championships in Rotterdam, in addition they achieved third places in Donaueschingen. In the regular Grand Prix behind World Cup runner-up Ulla Salzgeber and the Dutch Olympic Champion Anky van Grunsven. The piaffe is judged with nine – the apple does not fall far from the tree, evidently.
As stallion, Desperados is sought-after, like his father. In 2010 and 2011 he provided the Hanoverian champion mares at the Herwig-von-der-Decken show: In 2011 Delany and in 2010 Doris Day. Nine mares, one daughter and eight granddaughters that was De Niro's yield at the prestigious mare show in 2010. Further six times he was dam sire in the group of 50 competing dressage mares. In other words: 30 percent of the top mares of the world's largest warmblood breeding association born in the year 2007 carry De Niro at the least in the second ancestral generation. A number speaking for itself. In the following year there were eleven granddaughters in the group of 48 mares – stately 23 percent. In 2011 De Niro brought himself into focus again at the Oldenburg elite mare show: Fire and Ice (dam by Lord Liberty, breeder Dieter Scherwitz, Holdorf) is the name of the perfectly elegant mare who was crowned best of the year; not the first champion mare in Oldenburg who has De Niro as father. Already in 2001, Edina (dam by Figaro, breeder Edith Fleithmann, Großenkneten) won, the best of ten state premium mares in that year alone who have De Niro as father. And by way of Depardieu (dam by Luciano, breeder Ewald Grotelüschen, Wardenburg), nowadays Grand Prix winner, he provided the Oldenburg vice champion stallion in 2000. In Hanover De Niro has provided vice champions, too. For example in 2001, Desert Moon (dam by Walt Disney, breeder Dr. Ulrich Kriebel, Bienenbüttel), priciest stallion of his year whose successful siblings include advanced level winners Divertimento and Disneyworld as well as further auction horses which were distributed through the Klosterhof Medingen into fostering hands. Moritzburg's De Janeiro (dam by Weltmeyer, breeder Walter Honigfort, Haselünne), a Hanoverian vice champion as well is successful at S-level, too. And finally, Danzas (dam by Weltmeyer, breeder Margarete Limburg, Nordhorn) who is vice champion in Neustadt/Dosse. The Oldenburger provides champion foals and auction horses and whose sports career now takes off with Kathleen Keller. Vigorous De Niro...

Formative as Dam Sire

Formative as Dam Sire

As dam sire De Niro has an excellent reputation. Most prominent example: His Grandson Hotline, champion stallion in Hanover in 2005 and currently one of the true greats in the Danish stud Blue Hors. Internationally the blood of the Medinger formative stallion is known and appreciated. The KWPN stallion Bretton Woods v. Johnson, in 2011 third at the world championships of young dressage horses and sold the same year for a seven digit amount to Paul Schockemöhle and Ann-Kathrin Linsenhoff, is by way of his mother De Niro's grandchild.
In 2004 De Niro hit the breeding bull's eye, a son who is proclaimed champion stallion: Dancier (dam by Lancier, breeder Ekke Thaden, Butjadingen) was bought as priciest auction foal of the September auction in Medingen by Gert Brenninkmeyer. Two years later he relocated to the state stud Celle where he quickly became a magnet for the mares. In 2008 he was the most frequented state stud stallion in Germany. Indeed, born that year was what became the priciest stallion of the Verdener licensing in 2011. The chestnut is sold for 315,000 Euros to Norwegian investors and he left Germany heading for the Danish stud Katrinelund. Six De Niro grandchildren were licensed in Verden that year, two of them among the seven stallions with premium.

An International Phenomenon

An International Phenomenon

Katrinelund is home of an influential De Niro son in Scandinavia, De Noir (dam by Matcho AA, breeder Maike Fischer, Clenze). He himself was champion stallion in Denmark, his children are champion foals. A six year old took part at the World Championships of Young Dressage Horses in 2011. As it fully suits a born and bred De Niro son, De Noir is heading for Grand Prix with rider Lotte Skjærbæk. A Hanoverian has outstripped the stallion at home in Scandinavia, a Hanoverian who was avoided by his own breeding association at first and who's career started at the Swedish licensing: Danone I, first of three licensed sons of the Weltmeyer daughter Well Done (breeder Bianca Helmcke, Jameln), Danone II is stable mate of Danone I in Medingen. The first born is successful at Grand Prix with Theresa Wahler, the second born is repeatedly highly placed in qualifications to the Nürnberger Burgpokal. From early on, the breeding reputation of Danone I is based on vice champions like the Oldenburger Dante Weltino (dam by Welt Hit II, breeder Olaf Baals, Voigtsdorf), the Hanoverian Dante de Luxe (dam by Rouletto) and the North Rhine-Westphalian state stud stallion Dankeschön (dam by Fidermark, breeder Alfred Baumann, Rees), who won the performance test.
With horses like Denina, born at the Klosterhof, top auction horse in 2010 and now at home with the Böckmann-Heinrich family and her brother Denino, the top auction horse a year later, Danone I continues to make a name for himself. And there is another full brother of the Danone double: Der Designer, licensed in Verden and with 1,1 Mio. Euros the top dressage horse of the Performance Sales International auction PSI in 2011.

De Niro's popularity is hardly on the wane. Breeders know what they get when they choose that their mare is covered by De Niro. A dressage talent for granted, and with a good likelihood that it will stand the ground in the champions league. “Power and spirit characterize the stallion, according to Burkhard Wahler. These traits you will find with his children, grandchildren and even grandchildren. That is what makes them so successful. Like D'Agostino (dam by Shogun xx, breeder Klaus Lahmann, Bad Eilsen) who won several Gold medals at European competitions with his young rider Fabienne Lütkemeier. His career continued uninterrupted. In 2010 he debuted at Grand Prix level, in 2011 he has won internationally and has been qualified to start in Aachen: Placed eighth at the Grand Prix, even fourth at the Grand Prix Special – that is more than a brilliant debut. That's just spectacular!

Keyword: The top! At the top of international dressage “one has” a De Niro. The Dutch World Champion of Kentucky 2010, Edward Gal has in Voice (KWPN, dam by Rohdiamant) a horse that achieves good placings at the dressage World Cup. The same blood combination has Deveraux (dam by Rohdiamant, breeder Auguste Berding, Dinklage). His picture perfect career started with Miranda Rongen (NED) when he was unchallenged World Champion of the Six Year Old Horses and continues with Sanneke Rothenberger, with whom he became multiple European champion in 2011. It is possible that the Oldenburger will soon be able to compete amongst the big names at Grand Prix level, similar to D'Agostino.
Rhapsodie Queen (dam by Lord Liberty G, breeder Clemens Graf von Merveldt, Vechta) was third best Oldenburg mare with three years of age, in 2008 she was fifth at the final of the Nürnberger Burgpokal with her then rider the Australian Hayley Beresford. Since 2011 Isabell Werth rides the beautiful black mare at Grand Prix level. Dablino, medallist at the National Championships in 2011, and because of injuries not at the start of the European Championships is appointed to the olympic squad and is considered as candidate for Olympia 2012 in London.

The chestnut Delgado with rider Beatriz Ferrer-Salat is supposed to be at the start there as well. The son of De Niro (dam by Weltmeyer, breeder Wilhelm Lambard, Hamm) was the shooting star of 2010. He won almost every competition he started. Even against famous competitors who met him with disbelief when the colorful wonder of movements appeared at the international scene. The combination of De Niro with Weltmeyer dams or dam sires from the Hanoverian W-line repeatedly provided exceptional horses. Andrea Timpe's Dixieland (breeder Hans-Günter Berner, Edendorf) started his career at the Klosterhof auction is among Germany's best Grand Prix newcomers and was placed at the final of the Tesch Inkasso-Cup.
Olympic champion Martin Schaudt rides Despino (dam by Wolkentanz II, breeder Ulrike Lahmann-Gerke, Wittingen), a highly interesting newcomer, in Italy Frederica Scolari's Beldonwelt (dam by Weltmeyer) is among the best horses. In the Spanish dressage scene the black stallion Double O Seven has established himself with his Spanish rider Ainoa Prada Ortiz. Devon L (dam by Wolkenstein II, breeder Douglas Leatherdale, USA) with his rider Diane Creech is one of the most promising dressage horses across the ocean. At eight years of age he routinely won at Intermédiaire I in the small tour and caught the attention of experts with his outstanding talent for piaffe and passage. At the European Championships 2011, Duke (dam by Fabriano, breeder Marianne Zimmermann, Rosdorf) with rider Antonio Diaz Porras has started for the Spanish team. Donnerfee (dam by Rosenkavalier, breeder Dirk Hooghe-Verhoeven, Belgium) has been there for Belgium.

Several De Niro offspring push ahead every weekend in national sports competitions: De Value (dam by Ritual, breeder Ulrich Bünger, Betzendorf) with his rider Hartwig Burfeind has become Champion of the German Professional Riders in Hagen a.T.W.. Successes in southern Germany and runner-up at the Grand Prix at the CDI Kaposvar, those are the achievements of  the Württemberger FBW Devito (dam by Discostern, breeder Elisabeth Rütz, Ravensburg) with his Danish rider Lone Jörgensen. The former Medinger auction gelding Darjeeling (dam by Kennedy, breeder Adolf Gründler, Switzerland) qualifies with rider Stephan Köberle for the final of the Tesch Inkasso-Cup. In many qualifications to the Nürnberger Burgpokal Dandelion (dam by Figaro) and rider Uta Gräf have been highly placed. Dio Mio (dam by Charmeur, breeder Robert Böttcher, Jesteburg) and Canadian rider Christilot Hanson-Boylen have been placed at the same level. 2010, at the final of the World Championships in Verden, rides Saskia Lieben-Seutter the six year old Du Soleil (dam by Caprimond, breeder Sven Kahrens, Dedelsdorf). His Californian full brother Finally with rider Mette Rosencrantz is among the best horses of the west coast. The combination with Caprimond has provided by way of Caprimond's son Canaster another very promising stallion: Duke of Oldenburg (breeder Hergen Schweers, Butjadingen), who has been placed in S-level competitions at the age of seven and who was top auction horse at the Klosterhof, where he is now available as stallion. The young Daquino (dam by Bolero, breeder Gerhard Wilcek, Soderstorf) has arrived at Grand Prix level with his rider Reinhard Nielsen.

Worldwide Genetics

De Niro's heritage is spread all over the world by his sons and grandsons. His son Devon Heir (dam by Rubinstein, breeder Ulrich Heitmann, Gütersloh) is a successful stallion and sports horse in the USA. Donarweiss by De Niro (dam by Hohenstein, breeder Ulrich Heitmann, Hagenah) from Rhineland-Palatinate/Saar, starts with rider Christopher Hickey up to  Intermédiaire I and has had many successful foals. In the USA the successful story goes on for generations: De Feiner Star v. De Laurentis (by De Niro-Caprimond, breeder Rembert Freiherr von dem Bussche, Masendorf) lives at the famous Hilltop Farm – those are just a few examples from abroad. Dazante by De Niro-Weltmeyer covers in Australia.

Dalwhinnie of the stud Västra Hoby Stuteri has become Champion stallion at the stallion performance test in Sweden in 2009 - his mother stems from Rohdiamant-Admiral.
Great Britain has licensed Pilling Audio (dam by Hohenstein) in 2006. Diamonique (dam by Matcho) has been top auction horse at the Brightwells auction and the De Niro daughter Dafila has won the biggest mare show in Great Britain in 2005, beating all the others, even much older mares.

De Niro's offspring are on track to break a sound barrier of German equestrian sports: More than a million Euros they have earned so far. That is very special for a stallion who is not yet twenty years of age. Another very special aspect of this extraordinary stallion character.