Gem Twist was successfully cloned by Team Murka. Gem Twist seen here with Greg Best at the 1988 Seoul Olympic games for Team USA
With the recent death of Hugo Simon’s beloved E.T., who was put down this week at Hugo and Margit Simon’s private stable, the topic of cloning once again resurfaces. As our sport bids farewell to another true talent and remarkable animal, we can’t help but think about the successful method of cloning. E.T. who developed a strong name with Austria’s very own Hugo Simon, won a long list of competitions, including two World Cups, and the number one title on the Rolex World rankings for 3 years in a row.
E.T. was a modern horse; light, rapid and nimble. Unfortunately, as this type of horse was not the standard in the Hanover region 20 years ago, he was gelded at three years old, before anyone could foresee his exceptional qualities and he is not the only one who would fall victim to the same fate.
Hugo Simon’s E.T. died this week at the age of 25 years old
We are now comfortably into the 21st century and with that comes a myriad of modern innovations and scientific breakthroughs that have even trickled into our sport. The issue of cloning is certainly one that has gained plenty of attention and a rather healthy amount of controversy as well.
Despite chapters of controversy and plenty of ethical debate, it seems that some members of our sports international community have embraced cloning happily with plenty to show for it. Cloning has allowed for the resurrection of deceased superstars and the recreation of gelded bloodlines.
2012 alone has shown to be a rather busy year for the French Institution Cryozootech, who stands at the center of sport horse cloning. The French institution was founded in 2001 by Eric Palmer together with 15 private shareholders. Enfer Technology, an Irish biotechnology company, has provided Cryozootech S.A. with financial support, which has allowed the french institution to expand with partnerships with foreign laboratories; CIZ in Italy, Tamu and Viagen in the United States.
In September 2003, Hugo Simon and Eric Palmer decided together that E.T. should have offspring. A skin biopsy was carried out on E.T. who, at the time, was still participating in international competitions. E.T.’s cloning process was started in collaboration with Texas University, who had already contributed to the production of Quidam de Revel’s clone.
E.T.Cryozootech-Stallion was born on June 2nd, 2006 and like E.T., he had a stripe and two socks on his hind legs but the fine and side ways stripe on his nose was very different from E.T.’s blaze. On the other hand, the DNA test carried out by the official laboratory Labogena showed the same identical genetic content; they were genetically identical.
E.T.Cryozootech-Stallion was registered in the Belgium studbook of Zangersheide, which was founded by Leon Melchior. In 2001, Melchior showed his support for horse cloning, and confirmed it later by registering the first two clones produced by Cryozootech: Pieraz-Cryozootech-Stallion and Paris-Texas, Quidam de Revel’s clone.
Even before his birth, many international breeders participated in the project by contributing to a syndicate of 200 shares to own and manage E.T.Cryozootech-Stallion.
It was not until June of last year, that the Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI), gave the go ahead for clones and their progeny to compete at a professional level. A decision that came about from consistent and growing pressures for the involvement of sport horse clones.
Scientists in Italy cloned a horse for the first time in 2003; a mare named Prometea. Now there are more than 100 cloned horses worldwide. The first foals from cloned showjumpers ET and Gem Twist were born early last year.
Quidam de Revel is also a member of the exclusive list that has been cloned for his breeding and talent
In the Polo world, clones have already been permitted and for some time now, changing hands for huge amounts of money. A clone of Cuartetera, a top polo mare, fetched $800,000 (£490,000) at an international auction in Buenos Aires in 2010.
However, many of the biggest names in showjumping remain reticent with only two major breeding registers, Studbook Zangersheide and the Anglo European Studbook, accepting clones onto their books.
Cryozootech have successfully cloned foals from top ranking international superstars such as Pierez, Quidam de Revel, E.T., Poetin, Chellano, Gem Twist, Calvaro V, Levisto, Ratina, Air Jordan, Grande Dame, Top Gun, Chellano Z and Calvaro.
Julia Harrison Lee became the first in Britain to successfully clone her international show jumping gelding Romulus 16, who was short listed for the British Olympic team in 2000.
Tom Reed, breeding director of the Warmblood Studbook of Ireland, told the British Telegraph that “We will never accept clones and their descendants, irrespective of what the FEI and other stud books do. We should be breeding horses and not manufacturing them in laboratories.”
Director Reed asked the Telegraph, “do we really want to see a World Championship where the entrants are half a dozen clones of an Olympic gold-medallist and a couple of clones of a previous world champion?”
This year both Levisto Z and his clone Levisto Alpha Z will be used for breeding at Zangersheide. Levisto Alpha Z is now four years old and was approved for the Studbook Zangersheide in September. Levisto Alpha Z is not the only clone that will be breeding at Zangersheide this year, the four year old Chellano Alpha Z, a clone of Chellano Z, will also be available.
In addition, Zandor Z was also cloned in 2011 with great success. The now 23 year old stallion was part of a very successful partnership with Belgium’s Olympian and World Champion Jos Lansink. The young Zandor Z clone, was born on the 26 of November 2011 was also made possible with the help of Eric Palmer’s Cryozootech. Zandor Z resides at Zangersheide Stud in Lanaken, Belgium.
Daniel Deusser’s Air Jordan has also been successfully cloned
Team Murka was delighted to announce in 2012 the successful cloning of Olympic medal-winning show jumper Gem Twist and the addition of the colt, Murka’s Gem, to collection of talent. Team Murk worked with Cryozootech as well as the Chapot family to ensure the birth of Murka’s Gem.
Gem Twist was one of the most successful show jumping horses of all time. Owned and bred by Frank Chapot, the Thoroughbred gelding competed for the United States of America with Greg Best, Leslie Howard as well as Frank and Mary Chapot’s daughter, Laura Chapot. He was born in 1979 and died in 2006. During his career, the grey gelding won team and individual silver under Greg Best at the 1988 Seoul Olympics, was named American Grand Prix Association Horse of the Year three times over and was named “World’s Best Horse” at the 1990 Stockholm World Equestrian Games.
After Gem Twist’s death in 2006, Cryozootech began work on producing his first clone on behalf of the Chapot family. Success was achieved in 2008 when “Gemini” was foaled. The colt foal followed his genetic donor’s growth pattern, starting off chestnut in color before turning grey. Since then a second successful clone of Gem Twist, Murka’s Gem has been born, in 2011, and, like his predecessor, he displays the same developmental traits and patterns.
“Other champion horses are also available in Cryozootech’s bank, ready for cloning. So it is not necessary to be the owner of the champion horse to possess his clone. One just has to consult the catalogue of Cryozootech cell bank” said owner and founder, Eric Palmer.
Now a yearling, Murka’s Gem was being stabled in the United States, but now in the new year Team Murka intends to fly the potential superstar to Great Britain to stand at stud.
Last year the clone of the legendary Quidam de Revel started breeding in Belgium under the name Quidam de Revel II Z (CL). The stallion is owned by Flemming Velin from Denmark, but will be standing at stud at Stal de Muze. This is the stud of Joris De Brabander in Sint-Niklaas who also has a son and a grandson by Quidam de Revel; Nabab de Reve and Vigo dÁrsouilles.
Quidam de Revel II Z (CL) was born in 2005 and is the first horse of our sport that was successfully cloned. The original Quidam de Revel was very successful both as a international showjumper and as a breeding stallion. Quidam de Revel is now 30 years old and stands as one of the most influential breeding stallions of modern showjumping.
So does Tom Reed have a point? Should the international riding community be allowed to recreate the splitting genetic image of a past and proven superstar with the increased chances of success? How would everyone feel if the 2024 Olympic Games held a Gem Twist clone and a Quidam de Revel clone on the start list?