There is a saying that quality goes before quantity and that saying certainly does apply when it comes to the progeny of the beautiful Gaskonia. This grey mare was born in 1987 at Michalów State Stud in Poland and while she was destined to leave only four offspring, three of them have become chief sires and so her great legacy lives on through her sons.
Gaskonia is a daughter of the celebrated Gizela (Palas x Gilza by Espartero) and by the great producing sire Probat (Pohaniec x Borexia by Exelsjor). Probat was bred at Blommeröd Arabian Stud in Sweden in 1975 and was leased during two periods to Poland to reintroduce the line of Kuhailan Afas through Comet (Abu Afas x Carmen by Gwarny) through his son Pohaniec (ex Planeta by Nabor out of Pienoczka). Gaskonia was produced during Probat’s second time in Poland before he was exported to the USA. Probat was a very valuable sire and a very good producer of both sons and daughters. Three of his sons have been Polish National Champion – Garnizon (ex Glownia by El Paso out of Gwardia), Fawor (ex Fatma by Anarchista out of Fatma) and Pamir (ex Parma by Aswan out of Pokaznaja) – while three of his daughters, including Gaskonia, have been Polish National Champion Mare, the other two being Egzotyka (ex Elana by Elf out of Etola) and Empressa (ex Emfaza by Eukaliptus out of Ekstaza).
Gaskonia as a filly
Gaskonia’s dam Gizela has been one of the best producing Palas daughters and a direct daughter of the great mare Gilza (Espartero x Gastronomia by Marabut). Gilza produced thirteen foals at Michalów before, at the age of 20, she was sold to Weatherford Farm in the USA. Gilza is the dam of the mares Gildia (by El Paso by Czort out of Ellora), Gitana (by Eskimos by Elf out of Eskapada), Gąsawa (by Probat), Grenada (by Set by Etap out of Sekwana), Gernika (by Pesennik by Kumir out of Pesnia), and the three full sisters by Palas (Aswan x Panel by Nil), Gizela, Giemza and Getynga.
Gizela was foaled in 1977 and like many of the members of the Gilza family, she was a good racehorse and spent two seasons at the racetrack with 14 starts (5-4-2-1), of which two wins were in Stake races. She produced one foal every year, except in 1991, before her untimely death in 1996. Her first two daughters, Geneza and Giza, were both by Pepton (Bandos x Pemba by Czort) and they were excellent racehorses with Geneza winning both the Criterium and the Oaks in 1987. Giza is the dam of Gepard (by Pamir by Probat out of Parma), the 1995 Derby winner. While Geneza was sold to the USA, Giza was retained at Michalów. Unfortunately, she passed away in 1995 which was a huge loss for the stud.
Gizela’s daughter Garonna (by Fanatyk by Aloes out of Fatima) won the Oaks in 1989. She is the dam of Ganges (by Monogramm by Negatraz out of Monogramma), who proved himself in both racing and performance as well as in the show-ring. His offspring have also been successful in all disciplines, proving just how strong this damline is in producing beautiful athletes.
Gizela’s two last foals were the full sisters Georgia and Gehenna by Monogramm. Gehenna was sold to Australia in 2006 and Georgia was sold to Athbah Stud in 2015, leaving her daughter Galilea (by Laheeb by Imperial Imdal out of AK Latifa) to carry on her legacy at Michalów. Galilea is both a World and Polish National Champion Mare.
Gaskonia was raced for two seasons with 19 starts (1-5-5-4). When she returned from the racetrack, she was chosen to be bred to the great Russian stallion Menes (Nabeg x Metropolia by Priboj). Born at the Tersk State Stud, Menes was sold to Aries Arabians in the USA. At the beginning of the 1990s, he returned to Europe to stand at the Kossack Stud in Holland. Michalów bred the maiden mare Gaskonia to Menes and she produced a tall, handsome chestnut colt in 1993 named Gaskończyk. He was raced for two seasons with 19 starts (2-3-1-2-3) and in 1998, he was sold to Ismer Stud in Germany. Gaskończyk was the winner of his Stallion Licensing in Germany and was awarded a Golden Premium Stallion. Although he had already proved himself at the racetrack, the Ismer family put him through the tough 70-day stallion test that he passed with glory, scoring an impressive 100.61 points. Gaskończyk is the grandsire of the double Endurance World Championship and European Championship winner Nobby. Gaskończyk was later leased to Saudi Arabia and unfortunately he passed away in 2010.
In 1995, Gaskonia had a filly named Garsoniera (by Wojslaw by Tallin out of Wilejka). After returning from the racetrack, she was sold to a private breeder in 1999. She has produced three foals for her owner, Agricola Arabians, previously known as Tarus Arabians. These are the colts Garfild (by Emigrant by Ararat x Emigrantka), foaled in 2000, and Graham (by Eldon by Penitent out of Erotyka), foaled in 2002. In 2008, she produced the filly Georgiana (by Pegasus by Gazal Al Shaqab out of Pepesza).
Unfortunately, Garsoniera would be Gaskonia’s only daughter, but even if she was sold without any produce at Michalów, Gaskonia’s legacy is carried on by her two sons born in 1996 and 1998, Grafik (by Eukaliptus by Bandos out of Eunice) and Gaspar (by Emigrant). After these two great colts, Gaskonia did not produce any more foals.
Grafik was raced for two seasons with 15 starts (3-5-1-1-1). He is a great athlete and is Michalów’s most successful dressage horse, competing at the top level. Grafik also holds the record as the horse awarded with the most Polish National Reserve Championship titles, something that he managed to do four times – in 2002, 2005, 2006 and 2007 – before he finally claimed the title of Polish National Champion Stallion in 2008. Grafik has also been Champion Stallion in Belzyce and Falborek, International Champion Stallion in Poznan, and Warsaw Summer Show Champion Stallion.
Grafik started out his breeding career at Jadem Arabians in Belgium in 2001 and then he stood at Michalów between 2002 and 2004. In 2005, he was stationed at Grabów Stud and in 2006 at Roslonce Stud. After that he returned to Michalów, where he has been standing since.
Gaspar was raced for one season with seven starts (0-0-0-0-1). Gaskonia greyed out very late and the same can be said about Gaspar who, now at the age of 18 years, has a dark mane, legs and croup.
Gaspar is a very charismatic stallion and at the age of two, he was Polish National Champion Colt and Best in Show at Białka. He has also been Warsaw Summer Show Champion Colt in 2001, Reserve Champion Stallion in Wintzenheim France in 2002, Champion Stallion in Belzyce and in 2006, he was named Polish National Champion Stallion. Gaskonia was shown the same year and at the age of 19 she looked absolutely fantastic and wowed both the judges and the crowd with her movement, her correctness, and her classical Arabian type. It was to no-one’s surprise that she was named Polish National Champion Mare and Best in Show. She would also go into the history books as the only mare to achieve this honour at the same show where her two sons claimed the Polish National Champion and Reserve Champion titles when Gaspar and Grafik were respectively awarded.
At the start of 2016, Gaspar was sold to Manny Vierra’s Valley Oak Arabians in the USA. Manny already owns Gaspar’s sire, Emigrant, and has enjoyed much success with him.
Michalów Stud has three daughters of Grafik and Gaspar at the stud: Emiriona (Grafik x Emmona by Monogramm), Dębowa Łąka (Gaspar x Dębowa Góra by Laheeb), and Flaminia (Gaspar x Filistia by Gazal Al Shaqab).
Even though Gaskonia has not produced a foal since 1998, she has an important role at the farm. She has been the nanny to several orphaned foals, the last being the young colt Polimer in 2015. This son of Equator (QR Marc x Ekliptyka by Ekstern) lost his mother, Polonica (Ekstern x Panika by Eukaliptus), when she tragically passed away. Polonica was a full sister to Palanga and the dam of the great Piacolla (by Enzo by Padrons Psyche out of RD Bey Shahmpane). Polimer was placed with Gaskonia, and she took care of him and loved him as her own.
Gaskonia with the Polonica colt, Polimer
At 29 years of age, Gaskonia is the oldest Arabian mare at Michalów and she is a favourite among many visitors. Her best friend for many years is 27-year-old Ernestyna (Piechur x Erwina by Palas), the dam of Ekstern (by Monogramm). It is wonderful to see these two old grand ladies out in the pasture, enjoying life, and to know that even if neither of them produced a lot of foals – with Ernestyna also only having four – their legacy is carried on by the great sons that they produced. It is all about the quality in the breeding, and the knowledge to treasure it.
Gaskonia, Wildana and Ernestyna in September 2016
The majestic Gaskonia
All photography Anette Mattsson www.fotografmattsson.com First published in The Arabian Breeders’ Magazine Volume I Issue II December 2016
Lead photo: Scott Benjamin handling Gaskonia at Michalów State Stud