The story of Stunner Rascal
Stunner Rascal was bred by Jose Verkerk. Jose a dedicated and gifted horseman bred and trained her own horses, to race. Jose also show jumped and evented them. She bred tough athletic horses for the track that also excelled in the disciplines. Jose had had much success as a trainer and a breeder over the years, combining her busy business life with her dedication to her horses. From mares of proven bloodlines she used carefully researched sires from the best in Europe. From Stunner's Dam Bishops Gate she also bred Candid Rascal (Sire Uncanny), who won 4 races in Holland, 2 in Belgium, placed 10 times inc. 3rd in the Hollonaise Handicap (L) as a two year old. By Uncanny out of Bishop's Gate she also bred Canny Rascal who proved himself an outstanding event and point to point horse, placed many times in big military steeplechases at Boekelo and Luhmulen etc. He was sold to the states as an eventer. Jose also bred 3 outstanding foals out of Bishop's Gate to the great German Derby winner Stuyvesant. Two fillies,Stylish Rascal, and Static Rascal and the colt Stunner Rascal. Stylish ran once at 2 and won by 6 lengths, despite having fractured her leg. She never raced again but went on to become the dam of Injun Style a colt who raced successfully and Minstrel Style the stallion who came to England as a foal . He was not ready at two and after trying him it was decided to let him mature We produced him and sent him to Ireland where he evented successfully and was passed by the IHB as a Sports Horse Stallion. Now back in England he will pursue a show jumping career.
Stunner was born in1982.He was a big bold colt pictured here the day he was born He had a wonderful life until he was 2 Jose used to ride his mother in the sea with the colt swimming behind. He could not have asked for more. At two Jose could see that he was big and needed to mature so she sent him to a race yard as a national hunt store. Jose then lost his own sister Static in an accident, so now she only had his other own sister Stylish. This is when we start to come into the picture.
Having resolved to breed performance horses to prove the Cleveland Bays we knew that we wanted a big athletic TB.I had seen one that I liked Sousa, but he was not available. The other that I liked was Current Magic, standing with Max Abraham's Busk Hill Stud. I had occasion to go to Busk Hill, to collect Forest Foreman. Current Magic, then 19 was available for lease, but in view of his age I asked Max Abrahams, what else he had. Most of the HIS stallions were not the stamp I was looking for and so I was shown a stallion that was for sale.
This is when I first met Stunner Rascal and to me it was a revelation. He was just the sort of big loose moving TB that I thought that I would never find. Its a long story as to how Stunner left Holland. Another Story, another time. A few days after I had agreed to buy him I had a call from Max Abrahamss asking if I would be prepared to sell him. It was not something that we were prepared to consider. He still was at Busk Hill as we were in process of moving from Trewyn Court to set up the new Stud. I did not realise at the time but it was actually a Dutch Bloodstock agency trying to get his bloodlines back to Holland He was in the HIS scheme and so I had the challenge of getting him ready for New market with a few precious weeks in hand. As the horse was needed at the Stud we were not prepared to lease him to another area. I therefore knew that it would be unlikely that there would be a place for him in Herefordshire.
This proved to be the case and we never entered him for the scheme again, knowing that he would have to go away from home for the season. Stunner at New market where he came 2nd in the Donald Buchanan Cup in his only year in the scheme. Stunner was well received by mare owners and settled into his career with us.
One day I had a call out of the blue from Jose Verkerk, who bred him. It was the start of a dynasty. A friendship was struck and Jose and I have had many adventures to do with horses in the last decade. It transpired that she had been trying to trace Stunner and Weatherly's gave her our number as he was registered with them. Jose came to England to see him and arranged for his own sisters foal to come over to Newmarket to race and then stand here.I went to Holland to see her breeding programme and on one such visit we resolved to bring Minstrel Star to the stud. He was on lease to a dressage yard, so I had not seen him on earlier visits. I was interested because he was the sire of Minstrel Style.We were looking for a Stallion to replace No Evil as he had left the line. Minstrel Star was the ideal TB to compliment Stunner and so it was agreed.
Stunner was producing good foals, but we were frustrated that the stamp of mares that we knew would breed foals to go to top level competition were not coming forward. We had bought in on breeding terms all the Wayland stock and were producing them. They have all gone on to do well and include the Grade A show jumping Stallion Pembridge Soloman, who combines a career as a Masters Horse with show jumping. Our own breeding programme started 10 short years ago, when we began finding the mares that we wanted for Stunner.
Like Stunner the progeny of these mares have been given the time to mature and are just starting to make their mark now.In view of his links with Europe many of his good progeny are competing there. Stunners own career under saddle came to a tragic end following his licensing at AES in 1994. He had had a glorious day where his exceptional jump had caught much attention inviting comments from Geoff Glazzard, 'that it was one of the best TB jumps that he had ever seen' Stunner waiting on the lorry to go reacted to another stallion passing the box and went down in the lorry: demolishing the partition, he then got wedged under it and we thought that we had lost him with a broken leg. Not Stunner. This tough brave horse, fought back and defied all the odds. Various vets said that he would never be sound again, never cover again and certainly never be ridden. The story of how we achieved the impossible is for another time. Suffice to say within the year Stunner was covering again and within eighteen months sound and ridden. The breathtaking jump is still there, but after his courage through his ordeal no more will be asked of the horse in competition. He lives to jump and its is a relief that that has not been taken away from him. He still is the showman and loves to jump when shown to stud clients. He was a precious asset to British Breeding that was so nearly lost. Jane Kidd referred to him in the preface to the 1998 Otterswick Marketing Stalllion Guide as the 'unsung hero' of British Breeding. Like so many good stallions, this could well prove to be true and it will be through his progeny that his worth will be realised.
I will say this that it is a privilege to have the horse as part of the stud. He stamps his progeny with his athleticism and his temperament. They say of a good horse a type hard to find. He is one on his own the likes of which are rarely seen.
These are but a few brief extracts from the life of a horse that is one of the core stallions in our Performance Breeding Programme. The book is being written, but neither he nor I are ready for the epitaph yet.