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From youngster to international Grand Prix horse: Darry Lou

Wednesday, 25 March 2020

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping. Beezie Madden and Darry Lou after their victory in the CN International Grand Prix presented by Rolex at Spruce Meadows in 2019. Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping.


Text © World of Showjumping



With USA’s Beezie Madden in the saddle, Darry Lou has wowed the international show jumping circuit. A crowd favourite, the now 12-year-old chestnut stallion won the CN International Grand Prix presented by Rolex in 2019 – his biggest victory to date. 

”It all started with Darry Lou’s grandmother, that was one of the best horses that I have had in my career. She was an unbelievable quality horse,” Darry Lou’s breeder Roelof Bril tells about Bollvorm’s Burggravin as the mare was known in the sport. As a breeding mare she went under the name Freelady.  “She won the World Cup in Amsterdam as well as several Grand Prix classes, and jumped Nations Cups for Netherlands.”

After Bollvorm’s Burggravin’s sport career, Bril kept her as a breeding mare. “One of her offspring was Venus; the mother of Darry Lou,” Bril continues. 

With Bril as the breeder, Venus gave birth to three foals: Darry Lou, his full sister Beat Me and Cold Case by Canturo. “Cold Case won the 6-year-old championships in England, while Beat Me is the mother of Ben Maher’s F One USA and is herself competing in national 1.50m Grand Prix classes,” Bril tells.  

At the time Bril was breeding with Venus, he also competed Tangelo van de Zuuthoeve so the stallion was a natural choice. The result was Darry Lou. “Tangelo was one of my own stallions back then, so that is why I used him. Darry Lou always had a super character with a really nice mind, and even as a stallion he was never difficult. A lot of those qualities come from Tangelo, he passes it on to his offspring,” Bril says.  

Photo © from private collection Darry Lou's mother Venus. Photo © from private collection.

”Already as a young horse, Darry Lou was a very good jumper. I started riding him myself, but at that time I had an English boy – Danny Dunne – who always had horses from me to ride. So when Darry Lou was 4,5-years-old I sent him to England where Danny competed him for half a year. Darry Lou really jumped spectacular with Danny,” Bril says about the beginning of Darry Lou’s career. 

At the age of five, Darry Lou went to the Mexican rider Alberto Aldana. “Aldana had already purchased several horses from me and when he saw Darry Lou he bought him straight away. Mexico is a really good place to produce horses, they have beautiful show grounds and they don’t override the horses. Aldana did a really good job with Darry Lou and he jumped some 1.50m classes with him before he was sold to Beezie Madden as a nine-year-old,” Bril tells. 

“Darry Lou is a very, very special horse,” Alberto ‘Tito’ Aldana tells. “I bought him as a four year old after I saw him free jump. First of all he is very handsome, I just love the colour and then I saw the elasticity he jumped with. He was so flexible in the back and neck and jumped it so easy. He also had incredible movements, a super canter and was very fast coming up from the ground at the jumps and always opened up behind,” Aldana says about what first caught his eye when looking at Darry Lou as a young horse. “Actually Roelof didn’t want to sell Darry Lou, so I had to buy two other horses as well to get Darry Lou with the package,” Aldana laughs.

Darry Lou jumping his first show as a 4-year-old

After first being ridden by Bril and Dunne, Darry Lou went to Mexico in the beginning of his fifth year. “I developed him until he was 9-years-old and he jumped his first 1.50m class at the end of his 8th year. Before I sold him to Beezie we jumped double clear in a CSI4* 1.55m Grand Prix,” Aldana says. 

At this show, Nick Dello Joio spotted Darry Lou and started to ask Aldana if he was for sale. “I told him that Darry Lou was not for sale, but if I anyway should sell him I would only sell him to one of the best riders in the world. And I would not just sell him to a top rider, it also had to be a top horseman.”

Dello Joio contacted Aldana with some customers, but Aldana refused to show Darry Lou as they did not meet his requirements. “Shortly after, one of the best riders in the world saw a video of Darry Lou and wanted me to send him to Germany so he could try him. The rider would pay all the costs for the flight to Europe and then also back if he wouldn’t end up buying him, but I was not interested in taking that risk.”

Three days later Dello Joio called Aldana again. “He asked me if I thought Beezie would be the right rider. I told him that Beezie would be the best rider for my horse, and Darry Lou would be the best horse for Beezie. One hour later John Madden called me and organised the try out. John told me that Beezie knows in the first five minutes if it is a horse for her or not, so even if she gets off after five minutes, I would still have to drive them back to the airport. I told him not to worry and that Beezie would stay on.”

Darry Lou competing in Mexico with Alberto ‘Tito’ Aldana. Photos © from private collection.

The first day Madden tried Darry Lou, she didn’t jump bigger than 1.40m but the day after the fences were higher. “The deal was made when Beezie was still sitting on Darry Lou,” Aldana smiles. 

When it was time for Darry Lou to fly to his new home, Aldana had his own plan and sent with his own groom – that had been taking care of Darry Lou for years – for the travels and quarantine to be safe. “He arrived at Beezie’s the last week of April 2017,” Aldana says. “Darry Lou is a dream and I really didn’t want to sell him, but I was 64 and rode the big classes with him even though I actually retired at 60. I knew Beezie would love him and that they would be the perfect match,” Aldana closes off. 

“We first got introduced to Darry Lou by Nick Dello Joio, who had seen Darry when he was in Mexico. It was the winter of 2017 when he showed us a video of Darry Lou and about one week later, we went to try him,” Madden says about how it all started for the two of them.

“We loved him from the start. He just did everything right. Alberto Aldana was the owner and rider at that time, and he had obviously done a beautiful job of bringing Darry Lou along. He was 9-years-old at the time we bought him and he had been successful up to the 1.50m level,” Madden continues.

Madden has nothing but praise for her lovely stallion: “I would say he is an easy going stallion and he wants to please. I always say that if something goes wrong, it’s my fault because he does whatever I ask him to do.”

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping Beezie Madden and Darry Lou. “We loved him from the start," Madden says. Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping.

After three foals at Bril’s, Darry Lou’s mother Venus was sold to Bertil Bosklopper and the adventure continues to this day. “I told Bertil that if he wanted to start breeding, he needed to invest in a better mare. Since I had the full sister of Darry Lou to breed with, I sold Venus. At that time, she was 7-years-old, had bred three foals and was unbroken. They started to ride her and have had great success with her as a breeding mare,” Bril explains.

Bosklopper, who lives in the Netherlands, still owns Venus. “Venus got Darry Lou as a 6-year-old, and I bought her in January the year after. I had been looking for a good mare for quite a while and when I got the opportunity to buy her I did,” Bosklopper says. 

Bosklopper didn’t breed with Venus straight away. Instead Venus started her competition career, first with Bosklopper’s wife Kirsti Hautala and later on with Deborah Jackson – who jumped Venus up to 1.45m level. “We took Venus to Drachten in 2013, where she competed in the Medium Tour and did great. As she only had been competing in our region before, people got crazy and we had several people asking to buy her. She wasn’t easy to ride though, as she was very hot, and in the end we kept her. In 2014, she came back to our stable,” Bosklopper tells. 

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping "He wants to please," Beezie Madden tells about Darry Lou. Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping.

Bosklopper has stuck to the winning concept – using Tangelo van de Zuuthoeve on Venus, and the first embryo was born in 2014. “Tangelo van de Zuuthoeve has proven to work well with Venus, so we have only used him. The first offspring is now 5 and she is still with us. The second foal unfortunately died in colic just half-a-year old, but we have a 3-year-old mare at home that looks very similar to Darry Lou,” Bosklopper says. 

The demand on foals out of Venus has been huge, and it all started when Darry Lou was seven – and a phenomenon in Mexico. “That’s why we started with embryos. I don’t want to do more than four a year though,” Bosklopper tells.

So far Cian O’Connor has bought two foals out of Venus, while another was sold at the Flanders Foal Auction in Dubai. “Then we sold one foal at the auction at Zangersheide where it became the most expensive foal. We sell the stallions and try to keep the mares to be able to continue with the breeding,” Bosklopper tells. 

The story continues: This year three foals out off Venus by Tangelo van de Zuuthoeve will be born.  They are all expected in April.


No reproduction without permission, copyright © World of Showjumping


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