Clone of British eventer Tamarillo born in US

William Fox-Pitt and Tamarillo winning Burgley in 2008.
William Fox-Pitt and Tamarillo winning Burgley in 2008. © Horsesports Photographic

William Fox-Pitt’s star eventing horse Tamarilo has been cloned, with the rider describing the foal as “absolutely stunning”.

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The cloning of Tamarillo (Tarnik x Mellita [Master Spiritus]) , an anglo-arabian on whom Fox-Pitt won Badminton and Burghley, took place in the US. The resulting foal, named Tomatillo, was born at Replica Farm on June 20.

Tamarillo is owned by Hampshire breeders MW and Finn Guinness, who said they wished they could have bred from him. “Now, owing to advances in technology, we think that we will be able to do the equivalent. We hope that in due course he will be a breeding stallion at Biddesden and able to disseminate Tamarillo’s genes.”

They had tried to breed a full sibling to Tamarillo, but his dam, Mellita, died.

The four generations of mares on Tamarillo’s damline were all bred at the Guiness family’s Biddesden Stud in Hampshire. The stud has bred anglo-arabians for many years, and two of the stud’s foundation mares, Starilla and Dafinetta, came to Biddesden from Crabbet Park in 1939, when the stud was established.

For the first few decades the stud primarily bred purebred arabs but from the early days there were anglo arabs too, mostly from a thoroughbred dam. But later the arabian mare Darya was sent to the Wiltshire thoroughbred stallion Master Spiritus and produced Mellita.

Tamarillo's clone Tomatillo.
Tamarillo’s clone Tomatillo. © Biddeston Stud

The Guinnesses said they felt it was worth the effort and expense to clone Tamarillo because of his big movement, and his agility and stamina over cross-country courses. “He has superb stamina as his wins in heavy rain and sodden ground at Badminton and Burghley demonstrated. He seemed to find demanding cross-country courses easy, cantering round the four-star tracks with ears pricked.”

Tamarillo is now 21. He was retired in 2011, having last completed a competition in 2009.

He was also in the British team to the 2004 Olympics in Athens, but chipped a stifle during the cross-country, after being in fifth place.

Tamarillo came back from the injury to take the runner-up title at Badminton in 2005, and individual silver and team gold at the European Championships at Blenheim. They won team silver at the World Championships in 2006 at Aachen in Germany. Unfortunately, Tamarillo was again injured in 2009 in the build-up to Pau.

At the time of his retirment, Mary Guinness said: “Tamarillo’s part-bred Arab pedigree is apparent in his light and extravagant movement in dressage and his speed and nimbleness in cross country and show jumping. He has been both an ambassador for British breeding as well as for Arab blood lines.

“Tamarillo’s consistent performances around the hardest courses in the world, skipping through the largest and most complex combinations with ears pricked, show his amazing agility and indomitable spirit. Tamarillo is a great example of the outstanding bloodlines we have in England,” Guinness said.

Of the cloning of one of his most successful mounts, Fox-Pitt said: “There will be plenty of opinions, I am sure, on whether this is a good or a bad thing.   However, this is something that the Guiness’ decided to do for personal reasons, and they will be hopefully able to enjoy keeping the Tamarillo gene alive at their fantastic Biddesden stud.

“It is an unbelievable that there is another Tamarillo around. Tomarillo is an absolutely stunning foal.”

Tomatillo. © Biddeston Stud

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