As three-year-olds they were stars on the line, superior examples of conformation in the hallowed Coliseum at the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair. They brought prestige – if only for a brief, shining moment – to their breeders and owners as winners of the Governor General’s or Lieutenant Governor’s Cups. Where are these past winners now? Many did not have noteworthy careers, or didn’t compete in the show ring at all and have slipped into obscurity. A few have passed away. Fortunately, there are some notable success stories. Meet six past Cup winners who went on to make their mark as performance horses, breeding animals, or both.


Governor General’s Cup 2000

This bay Canadian Sport Horse colt’s Governor General’s Cup win in 2000 (and second place in the Lieutenant Governor’s Cup) was a hint that he was destined for greatness. Bred by Peter Karneef and developed as a young horse by Paul Morgan and Darlene Tierney of Ashland Farm in Ashton, ON, Popeye K is by the influential jumper/dressage sire Voltaire out of Eloretta, an imported Dutch warmblood mare by Ronald. (He is pictured above.)

In 2002, Popeye K began his show career in Ocala, FL, in the pre-green hunters. The stallion’s 17.1 height and extravagant chrome turned heads, as did his canter and textbook jump. He was sold to Rachel Spencer of Spencer Ranch in Keswick, VA, who sent him to top hunter rider Tommy Serio. Thus began Popeye K’s stellar career as a 4′ hunter. He garnered numerous championships and was 2005 Show Hunter Hall of Fame Show Hunter of the Year, and 2005 and 2006 Show Hunter Hall of Fame Regular Conformation Hunter of the Year.

Although he’s retired from the show ring now, his breeding career continues. He has proven to be a prolific sire, siring hundreds of offspring. He won Get of Sire at the Royal in 2003 and 2004, was 2009 USEF Hunter Breeding Sire of the Year, and has consistently ranked as a top USEF Hunter Breeding and Hunter sire. Many of his offspring have gone on to success on the line and in the hunter and jumper rings.

Asher. Photo by Mike Schramm/Shoot Photographics

Asher. Photo by Mike Schramm/Shoot Photographics


Governor General’s and Lieutentant Governor’s Cup 2001

When Nancy Fagan of Port Perry, ON, fell in love with the conformation and bloodlines of a Trakehner foal by top hunter Heinzelmann (Storyteller) out of elite mare Alouette E during a visit to Galten Farms, she made breeder Gerhard Schickedanz a promise that she wouldn’t geld the colt after she bought him.

Asher became a double Cup winner. He went on to show as a conformation hunter with riders Tommy Serio, Wayne McLellan and Dee Walker. In 2007, he was Grand Champion Stallion at the Royal and was the Canadian Sport Horse Association Year-End Grand Champion Stallion for five years running. “I always felt his role was breeding, not showing, but he did do both,” says Fagan.

Asher, now 18, is retired on her farm. He sired more than 150 foals, many successful on the line and as hunters and jumpers. Those include Ashby, a 2002 gelding that shows in the adult amateur hunters with owner Diane Ratigan. Ashtasy, a 2004 mare bred by Fagan (now owned by Amy West of Cavan, ON), won many championships on the line, was a winner at the Devon Horse Show as a three-year-old, and was runner up in both Cup classes in 2007. Haute Couture, bred by Jim Florence and owned by Doreen Clausen (who also owned the first double-Cup winner in 1994, Signature), followed in her sire’s footsteps and also became a double Cup winner in 2008.

“Asher’s been a great stallion. I didn’t know anything about breeding when I got him and I had to learn on my own,” says Fagan. “I love him dearly. He’s thrown some beautiful babies.”

Tagaelen. Photo by Shannon Brinkman Photography

Tagaelen. Photo by Shannon Brinkman Photography


Governor General’s Cup 2003

By the time he came to the Royal as a three-year-old, this handsome chestnut Trakehner stallion had already been approved as a breeding stallion by two registries. He wasted no time embarking on his performance career after his Cup win. At four, Tagaelen (Domritter x Tiered Response by Rombus), breeder Kelley Willemze of Orangeville’s first homebred, won his debut horse trials in the pre-training division and placed fourth at his next event in the training division.

That was the start of an eventing career that took him up to the intermediate level and numerous good placings with riders Paul Delbrook and Curtis Barbour. In 2012, he was winner of the Cäsar Memorial Cup perpetual trophy awarded annually to the ATA-approved Trakehner stallion with the highest score in eventing. Although he loved cross-country, Tagaelen was a versatile athlete. At six, he won the first Eastern Ontario free-jumping competition where judge Bob Henselwood noted: “It is nice to finally see a conformation champion actually able to perform.” At a 2007 dressage clinic, clinician Walter Zettl praised his lofty movement, remarking, “If I were to build a horse for myself, this would be it.” Tagaelen also showed in the jumper ring at the lower levels. He sired about two dozen foals, which tended to inherit the dam’s colour and Tagaelen’s lovely movement.

Today, he’s retired at Willemze’s farm, where he serves as his owner’s hack horse.

Tangerine Tango FF. Photography by Bailini

Tangerine Tango FF. Photography by Bailini


Governor General’s Cup 2004

After her Cup win, Tangerine Tango FF went on to prove her versatility as a hunter, jumper, and eventer. The bay Canadian Sport Horse mare out of Fieldstone Farm’s foundation Thoroughbred broodmare, Apt to Win, is by Art Deco. ‘Amber,’ as Tangerine Tango is known, was her dam’s first foal and Fieldstone Farm’s first homebred. She was the Canadian Sport Horse Association Grand Champion at the Royal in 2002 as a yearling.

“She’s done so much,” says breeder Shannon Smith. “She’s had three foals, she did Trillium hunters and Andrea Volasko evented her up to preliminary. Then Garry Roque had a client from Bermuda who had never evented looking for a safe mount, so she was leased to them for a year and had a brilliant show season.” Last year, she was leased to a girl who needed a safe, brave horse to move up to the jumpers from the hunters.

Amber is now retired as a broodmare. Her first two foals were sold to show homes in the U.S. Her third foal, Diamond Mine FF, a black filly by Diamond Stud, is owned by Smith and is a Cup candidate for 2018.

Smith has enjoyed other Cup triumphs: Bravado FF (deceased) won the Lieutenant Governor’s Cup in 2007 and Abbey Road FF (Aloha x Heartbreaker Heff) was the Governor General’s Cup winner in 2014 before being sold to the States as a hunter.

Roman K. Photo by Mackenzie Clark/Ben Radvanyi Photography

Roman K. Photo by Mackenzie Clark/Ben Radvanyi Photography


Governor General’s Cup 2005

Bred and owned by Peter Karneef, and Paul Morgan and Darlene Tierney of Ashland Farm, Roman K is by Yavari, an Argentinian Thoroughbred grand prix show jumper, out of Eloretta, Popeye K’s dam. When the 2002 bay Canadian Sport Horse was a foal, Jill Henselwood bought him as a surprise birthday present for her partner, Bob Henselwood, who had been instrumental in Ashland Farm acquiring his sire, Yavari. When Henselwood came to Ashland Farm to see his gift horse as a two-year-old, he wasn’t terribly impressed and Ashland Farm retained the colt.

Fast-forward to November 2005. Tierney and Morgan are on their way to the Royal and are having a heated argument about entering Roman K in the Cups. Tierney felt he wasn’t the type the judges would like; Morgan felt otherwise. It was the last year before qualifiers were held to whittle down the number of Cup horses at the Royal and there were 58 horses in the ring. Roman K ended up winning the Governor General’s Cup. Ironically, one of the judges was Bob Henselwood.

Paul Halpern produced Roman K as jumper and showed him to the modified grand prix level. Roman K was also used as a breeding stallion, then gelded and sold. Lexy Paynter of Prince Edward Island, a student at Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia, bought Roman K in 2012 and showed jumpers for four seasons before switching to the hunters as the gelding got into his mid-teens. Paynter showed him in the junior hunters in 2016 and competed at the Royal. In 2017, Roman K and Paynter showed in the amateur owner 3’6” hunters and won numerous championships and reserve championships in Nova Scotia and Quebec.

Café Noir. Photo by Ben Radvanyi Photography

Café Noir. Photo by Ben Radvanyi Photography


Lieutenant Governor’s Cup 2012

This pretty bay mare showed that a small backyard breeder could achieve big things when she brought home the Lieutenant Governor’s Cup (and placed second in the Governor General’s Cup) for breeder/owner Ulla Brooks of Wyndalways Farm in Caledon, ON. ‘Mocca’ as the Canadian Sport Horse mare is known at home, is the first foal from Brooks’ English Thoroughbred mare, Penny Black, and is by W. Charlot Farms’ renowned hunter sire Cabardino. Brooks had purchased Penny Black in England, where the mare competed up to the 1.20m jumpers and also evented. When Brooks brought her Canada, she switched disciplines after someone told her “that’s a hunter doing an eventer’s job.” Brooks and Penny Black competed successfully in the three-foot hunters until the mare was retired to be a broodmare. Brooks chose Cabardino as a match for Penny because of his fabulous jump and exceptional temperament.

Mocca is following in her parents’ hoofsteps. She has shown for three seasons and in 2015 won her first class over fences with top hunter rider Tommy Serio at the Wellington Equestrian Festival. She also was champion Baby Green Hunter the last week at WEF that year. Brooks started showing her in 2016 in the 2’9” division and she was year-end Ontario Hunter Jumper Association champion. In 2017, Mocca and Brooks moved up to the 3’ amateur owner division and she was OHJA and Angelstone circuit champion. “Mocca has been an absolute superstar. She tries her heart out,” says Brooks.

Mocca’s dam has had four foals, including three by Cabardino. Mocca’s full sister, Noir de Noir, won the 2017 Governor General’s Cup and was second in the Lieutenant Governor’s. Another Cup contender is waiting in the wings: full sister Carte Noir, who will be three in 2019.