World of Showjumping
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Clone of Nick Skelton’s Arko III born

Tuesday, 28 September 2021

Photo © Gemini Genetics The clone of Arko III. Photo © Gemini Genetics.

Nick Skelton’s former top horse Arko III (Argentinus x Beach Boy) has been cloned. The clone was born in August this year and is the result of combined efforts of Gemini Genetics – a UK based genetic preservation company – and their partner ViaGen Pets and Equine. 

Arko III passed away earlier this year, at the age of 27. With Skelton in the saddle, the stallion had a fantastic career – jumping at the Olympic Games in Athens in 2004, at the European Championships in Donaueschingen in 2003 as well as in San Patrignano in 2005 and at the World Cup Final in Las Vegas in 2005. The pair won the CN International Grand Prix at Spruce Meadows in 2008, one of the most prestigious competitions on the circuit, as well as big Grand Prix and World Cup classes at venues such as Estoril, Leipzig, Lucerne and Rome. The stallion won £1.2m before his retirement from the sport in 2008. Arko III also had huge success as a breeding stallion, and has sired many international showjumpers – John Whitaker’s Argento, Laura Renwick’s Arkuga and Anthony Condon’s SFS Aristo are among them.

In a press release from Gemini Genetics, Arko’s owners, Pat, John and Lisa Hales of Shaw Farm Stud, commented: “It was an extremely sad day for our family when we lost Arko, he was truly a horse of a life time. The birth of his clone was very emotional. We believe it is not only exciting for our sport worldwide but especially for the future of Great British breeding for years to come. We look forward to breeding many more champions from this wonderful bloodline.”

Photo © Dirk Caremans / Hippo Foto Nick Skelton and Arko III at the Olympic Games in Athens in 2004. Photo © Dirk Caremans / Hippo Foto.

The clone was generated from a small skin sample from Arko III that was genetically preserved by Gemini Genetics. Lucy Morgan, manager of Gemini Genetics, undertook the preservation and stated in the press release: “We are thrilled at the successful birth of Arko’s clone. A much-loved stallion in terms of his outstanding performances and his unique and full of life character, it is brilliant to have enabled his cloning so that his outstanding legacy can continue. Gemini Genetics are thrilled and highly privileged to have facilitated this amazing revival of Arko III via his genetic twin.”

Once preserved by Gemini Genetics, the tissue sample was shipped to ViaGen Pets & Equine – their partner cloning company – that completed the cloning process. Blake Russell, president of ViaGen Pets & Equine, commented in the press release: “The ability to play a part in reproducing a phenomenal genotype like Arko III is what makes our effort worthwhile. We are very excited to see him grow and develop and make his footprint on the industry.”

Since 2002, Arko III has been available at stud via Stallion AI Services. Tullis Matson, founder and director of Stallion AI Services and Gemini Genetics, also commented in the press release: “It has been a privilege working with Arko III and the Hales family for almost 10 years of his life. We are thrilled at the news of the successful birth of his clone and are privileged to have been involved in this project via our sister company, Gemini Genetics. We look forward to the coming years of his clone, to the performance industry and the breeding sector.”


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