Focus on Ulyss Morinda
A lovely article by Marie Hélène Blanchet appeared in September 2020 on HIPPOMUNDO.FR. Thank you very much.
Photo of Ulyss and Rik at the CSI at OLIVA.
At only twelve years old, Ulyss Morinda already has a wonderful career behind him. Winner of a 1m60 Grand Prix in 2019 with Rik Hemeryck, this son of Utah Van Erpekom x Jalisco B possesses many athletic qualities, and on top of that, all the qualities of a good stallion. We have been asking his breeder and owner, Herica Ravel, some questions, to find out more about him.
Why did you choose to make this cross (Utah Van Erpekom x Circée de l’Erdre by Jalisco B x Laudanum)?
Quite simply, it was because at that time I wanted to breed a coloured horse – a Skewbald. There were only two top level stallions of that colour available: Utah Van Erpekom and Visage Van de Olmenhoeve. Circée was a mare whose origins I knew well (Almé, belonged to my youth) and who had a top blood line, that of Utricule, by Monceaux who was ridden by Marc Roguet! So I rented her for a year. I thought that Visage was a bit too light for the mare, so I chose Utah.
What did you think of him as a foal? Did you already see all the potential in him?
What can you know with foals? But if I were to keep him entire, there had to have been a reason. Already he had great papers, but on top of that he had an exceptional character. He’s a very gentle and easy horse, even though he’s hot blooded. Another breeder, a friend of mine who owns his mother Circée de l’Erdre, one day said to me : “He’s going to jump.” When I asked her how she knew this, she replied that she’d seen him jump his water trough in the paddock and he already had his knees tucked right up to his chest and great scope. She was not mistaken!
How did he spend his first years competing?
As a three and four year old he already jumped very well. But we needed to take time with him and not rush him. He’s so respectful we could easily have messed him up. He was a finalist at four years old, then had only six outings as a five year old and was French Hunter Champion as a six year old. Following that, Rik took him on in the January of his seventh year and brought him on with great patience and extraordinary kindness. Ulyss is a very sensitive horse whom Rik had to reassure and be prepared to wait until he was ready. Rik explained everything to him, helped him and taught him to have confidence in him.
Why did you choose to send him to Rik Hemeryck? How did you make the choice?
We were (and still are) Belgian residents. I had three criteria for choosing a rider for Ulyss .
Firstly, a sine qua non condition, was that he should be kind to his horses, and that he was a true horseman. I don’t want horses rapped with bars and other brutal tricks of the trade.
The second criteria was that the rider must have already made a name for himself and had a career. This was necessary in order for them to be selected for the best competitions if the horse proved capable.
And the third necessity was to find someone who turns his horses out in paddocks to graze.
Julie Crasson suggested Rik to me and a current passed between us. He’s an extraordinary rider, very kind to his horses and extremely talented. On top of that he works and schools his horses perfectly. He’s a workaholic and it’s he who rides his horses, not his grooms, unlike some other riders.
Rik took Ulyss to his yard for a one month trial period (January 2015), then accepted him but said that he wasn’t ready to compete that year as a seven year old (at that time he’d never jumped anything bigger than 1m20.) Three months later Rik told me that Ulyss had come on very quickly and that he would be able to compete after all in the seven year old classes. So Ulyss competed with other seven year old, very easily. He was approved as a Selle Français stallion that year. At the end of the season I asked Rik if he could take him to St Lô for the Selle Français Young Stallions Masters. He took a ten hour journey just for him and they won with some superb marks.
As an 8 year old Ulyss had a mixed season. At first he was a bit surprised by 1m.45. Rik took his time and trained him from A to Z. When Ulyss was 9, Rik came to full confidence in him as they tackled 1m50 Grand Prix classes from then on. He was in full flow from 10 years old. He has amazed us all.
In the last few years he’s reached the summit of this top level sport and won the 1m60 Grand Prix at HARTHILL (Bolesworth) in England. As a breeder, it’s a great reward to have a horse competing at this level!
Winning a 1m60 Grand Prix ahead of Laura Kraut and Ellen Whitaker is fabulous! What a jump off! We knew Ulyss was a good horse, but just how far will he go? We just don’t know. We didn’t think he’d go past 1m50. But each time we’ve asked more of him he’s done it. 1m45 – 1m50 – 1m55 – 1m60... It’s all the same for him. It’s just a bit higher and wider. He has no difficulty even on 1m60. He’s sure of himself and has total confidence in Rik.
What are his best qualities?
Intelligence, good will and courage. Suppleness and style and a respect that’s out of the ordinary. He always gives his all. The number of times Rik has left the arena saying : “He doesn’t want to touch anything!” But Ulyss also has great strength, power and presence. Being 49% Thoroughbred, he possess all that breed’s qualities. On the course and in the jump off, he’s very fast and can turn on a sixpence. Rik has taught him his craft well. Even if he finds himself too close to a fence, as he is very fast in front, it’s no problem. He has a good stride and a long line is no problem. He has to be used for what he is, not just because of his coat colour. He’s a truly good GP horse (ISO 160 in 2018 and ISO 163 in 2019) with a 5 star XRays.
What are his products like and how do you recommend crossing him?
He passes on his gentle nature. His foals are all easy and like people. The first are still young, but mine and those that I’ve seen belonging to other people are truly good. They all move well, are big and show much of Ulyss’s style. He’s easy to cross, even with mares of character. For the chic look, I’d say it’s a one in two chance. Sometimes he passes it on, sometimes not.
What are your future plans and projects?
With Rik, we see little by little according to the fitness of Ulyss and the others. Rik’s like that with all his horses, he defines their objectives individually. For him, the horse comes first. Breeding takes a long time, and I don’t have much of that now, so I slowed down (I didn't stop). So I’ve chosen to invest in other horses, the aim being to start again at a high level. There’s Morfine de Muze, a Nabab de Rêve x Heroine de Muze gelding, who at 8 years old seems very promising. He’s in direct line from the famous Narcotique de Muze. Lolita du Ta D’bo, a 9 year old mare by Igor van de Vaddenhoek. Then there’s an excellent six year old, Caristello JP Z. It’s the start of a new story.
It’s like a dream, your story of Ulyss
Yes! It’s a fairy story. I’ve had horses for 40 years, but Ulyss is quite out of the ordinary. He’s a personality. The horse of my life. He’s given me five exceptional years, nearly six when this one has finished. He’s part of the family and he’s very happy in Rik’s yard.