Highway TN N.O.P is the result of generations of planning. Breeder Peter Verdellen started the Highway TN N.O.P chapter almost 40 years ago, and in those 40 years he has bred four generations. With each generation he has added something new to the line that would make the next generation better – little did he know that he was creating the foundation for the success of Highway TN N.O.P.


The story begins with the mare Evita (Ramiro – Viola x Abgar xx, breeder: J.A. Janssen). Peter Verdellen remembers, “Evita was born in 1986 and was standing quite close to where I lived. An old neighbour of mine told me I should go and see her. He said: ‘I know a very beautiful mare by Ramiro, she is a year-and-a-half now.’ I went to see her and I took someone with me who had a bit more knowledge about horses than I did – he liked her too, and so I bought her.

“We started her under saddle when she was three years old. She then became a sport horse and Huub Jannsen was her rider. When she was six years old she competed in 1.30m show jumping and advanced level eventing. Evita was used in breeding and sport at the same time – Huub still competed with her when she was in foal and when she had a foal on foot. She had her first foal when she was five years old.

“Huub really knew what he was doing; he always let the horses be what they were. If the horse gave him the impression that it was too much, he stopped. Her second foal, Klint (by Ferro), became a licensed stallion and Grand Prix dressage horse under the name Ferrolan. Evita was a tall and long-limbed mare with a lot of movement. Over time I tried to use stallions that did not have such a big canter to improve the comfort of the rider.

“The reason I used Hemmingway for Evita was slightly down to luck, as I used him with another mare and that foal turned out to be an outstanding horse. Hemmingway improved the type and made his progeny pretty. He also added movement without giving a huge canter. I thought he might go well with Evita. The result of this pairing was Ovita V. She became the champion foal of Limburg and I then went to the Benelux Championships in Zangersheide with her, where she became champion out of 150 fillies. She was really beautiful. She jumped up to 1.10m, but she was not easy to ride and so she became a broodmare with us.

“The next stallion in Highway TN N.O.P ‘s line is Darco. I used Darco because Ovita V was beautiful but she was quite small, and so I wanted to use a stallion who could give Ovita V more scope. I picked up his semen from Belgium, inseminated her and she was in foal immediately. The foal turned out to be the granddam of Highway TN N.O.P.”

Verdellen added, “Uvita V had less blood than her dam Ovita V, which was to be expected. She was also a little heavier in type, and not as tall either, around 1.65cm. When she was two years old I transferred an embryo from her. She had a very interesting pedigree, so I thought it might be interesting to use Chellano Z for her. During this time I did a number of embryo transfers with several mares, and together with Ton Vullers, we looked at which stallion would be the right cross for Uvita V. Chellano Z was an upcoming stallion and was ridden by Jos Lansink. I was very impressed with the stallion and the way he jumped.

“Looking back, it was a golden combination. The daughters of Chellano Z produce a lot of sport horses. I have always been attracted to German bloodlines like Contender, and Chellano Z is by Contender. This embryo became Zelana V, the dam of Highway TN N.O.P.”

Highway TN N.O.P

Verdellen continues to explain why he used Eldorado van de Zeshoek TN for Zelana V: “Team Nijhof had two five-year-old stallions that were approved at the time. One of them was Eldorado van de Zeshoek TN. I had known this stallion since he was two years old. Pieter Merckx had ridden some of my horses in the past and he had Eldorado van de Zeshoek TN in his stable as a two-year-old. Even as a two-year-old he showed that he had a lot of temperament. He was a big horse and I saw him free jumping once and he looked great.

“I thought Zelana V could use a little more size and that made Eldorado van de Zeshoek TN a good stallion for her. The first foal from this combination was a filly, Elana V Z, who I sold to France as a foal and who competed at 1.35m. I was very happy with her and therefore decided to use Eldorado van de Zeshoek TN again. The result of this was Highway TN N.O.P. He was a good foal with a lot of presence. His dam, Zelana V, with Highway TN N.O.P. at foot, were sold at an online auction in 2012.

“Looking back, I should never have sold her. When Highway TN N.O.P ‘s new owner came to collect him, he was a little taken aback by his size. However, what he didn’t realise was that the stable he was standing in was lower down. When I took him out, they looked relieved.”

“I saw Highway TN N.O.P again as a three-year-old at a stallion inspection. I thought he was already quite big – if I remember correctly, he was already 1.67cm tall. He got selected for the stallion performance test. We went there on the last day of the performance test, and I remember one of his rounds where he touched a pole and then his reaction was unbelievable! You could tell he had an incredible quality. He was extremely careful.”

“It is special to have such success with Highway TN N.O.P. People respond to that success and you get in touch with a lot of people. It was also very exciting for us when he was selected for Horse of the Year.

“The moment Highway TN N.O.P won the Rolex Grand Prix at The Dutch Masters, we were sitting with our daughter in Nieuwegein celebrating her birthday. We followed his performance via ClipMyHorse.tv and were on the edge of our seats when he started as last to go in the jump-off. We knew it would be difficult but the relief was great when he managed be clear and faster. I am usually quite down-to-earth during these types of moments but there were tears in my eyes. We will not forget this moment and are very proud breeders. We are also well aware that we achieved this result because our breeding product ended up in the right place.”

After 40 years of breeding with one line, a lot of information comes together. Verdellen says, “What I can say is that horses from this line really want to work. They want to work with the rider, and it is something I really like about this line. I used to be a rider myself and I thought it was normal to have the mares in the sport to see their qualities. I started breeding with this line and we still have this line in our breeding programme today. At the moment I have two mares from this family – one for show jumping and one for dressage. This line has brought me many special moments.”