Anyone standing close to true greatness feels the rush, a moment of truth that is a heart-stopping brush with eternity. Like standing on the edge of an abyss with air racing up past you so fast that your breath catches in your throat, the first look at a great horse has the power to suspend time.
“When he was born, Robert and I were still relatively new to the horses,” says John Brown of Rojo Arabians. “We still remembered vividly that time when we bought a mare and a foal as lawn ornaments for our farm. Even so, when Versace stood up for the first time, took a deep breath and presented himself to us like a young prince there was no mistaking the moment. We knew instantly that he was a priceless and utterly unique Arabian.”
The son of a great National Champion and sire, Fame VF+ out of U.S. Reserve National Champion Futurity and multi-Top Ten Halter Mare, Precious As Gold, Versace was shown modestly during his youthful show career taking championships at Region 12 in 1996 and 1998 and earning Top Ten honors in the U.S. National Breeders Sweepstakes and the U.S. National Futurity. All of this paled into insignificance once his offspring began to appear in international competition. From his first dozen foals in his first foal crop came four national winners. His second foal crop was four times as large and produced four times as many national winners, including seven national and reserve national champions. Within a few short years Versace was recognized globally as one of the great Arabian sires of the 21st Century. At the end of 2010 he has sired 109 national winners, 40 of them national and/or reserve national champions, 20 in Halter, 16 in performance and four in both.
In 2008 Versace died unexpectedly at the age of 13. He died in the stall where he was born and was laid to rest in the pasture where he ran and played as a foal. It was the end of a legendary, almost mythical era for Rojo Arabians. “When we lost Versace I thought ‘… that’s it. We’re done,’” John remembers. “We had accomplished things with our horses that most breeders could never come close to accomplishing. When Versace died I honestly just assumed I would retire. I began to disperse the breeding equipment and sell some of the horses. Then a strange thing happened. Out of the blue, our good veterinarian Dr. Shannon Luznar took an interest in Versace’s dam, Precious As Gold.”
Sired by the great international sire *El Shaklan out of a Classy McCoy daughter, Precious As Gold was a formidable show horse, a national winner and, of course, the dam of world class breeding sire Versace. She had suffered through a prolapsed uterus during a difficult delivery in the late 1990′s and had not really been successful as a broodmare since then. “Dr. Luznar said ‘… why not let me take a crack at it?’ and I thought about how it didn’t work the last time we tried, but I told her to go ahead anyway,” says John. “The first time we got nothing. The second time, to my complete surprise, we got an embryo, and then another embryo. I began to seriously consider my breeding stallion options.”
John had heard about the young Stival, a Gazal Al Shaqab son out of a Soho Carol daughter. Stival had a world class pedigree filled with great show and breeding horses. His dam, Paloma de Jamaal was a U.S. National Top Ten Futurity Filly and his sire is a U.S. Reserve National Champion Stallion, as well as the father of multi-National Champion *Marwan Al Shaqab. Once the decision was made, the fates slipped into the picture. Stival was collected and Precious As Gold was bred right as she ovulated. Early in 2009 Stival was named Las Vegas World Cup Champion Colt, All-Nations Cup Silver Champion Colt, UKIAHS Towerlands Gold Champion Colt, Arabesque International Festival Gold Champion Colt and a Top Ten at the World Championships at the Salon Du Cheval in Paris. Meanwhile, back in Florida, Precious As Gold’s foal was born on May 2nd and named Trussardi.
“Did I mention I was on my way to retirement and I had planned to travel?” John smiles ruefully. “When Versace was born we recognized that he was special. When Trussardi was born and it happened again, we were stunned. How was it possible that this could have happened to us twice? If anything Trussardi was better than Versace at birth. He was correct, regal, and charismatic, with ‘star quality’ written all over him!”
Having discovered that Precious As Gold was both an SCID and CA carrier and having gone through the agony of finding Versace to be an SCID carrier, John and Robert tested Trussardi as soon as possible. To their amazement the colt tested clear for both. Almost daily the colt grew ever more beautiful and quickly became a photographer’s favorite. His pictures in the magazines began to draw international attention. By the time he was ready for his first show at Region 12, he had already developed a following. He was Champion Colt at Region 12 and then closed his first year in the show ring as 2010 U.S. Reserve National Champion Sweepstakes Colt.
“When people first came to see him they were just stunned by his quality, Arabian character and almost mystical charisma,” John says. “Beginning from the time he was born until the first part of 2011 we booked 140 mares to Trussardi for 2011 through 2013, with no discounts and no free breedings. We are currently booking for 2013 and beyond.”
To their credit Robert and John have a unique guarantee. In the event something happens to the colt, he is sold overseas or for any reason is not able to honor the breeding contracts all of the service fees including the booking fee will be refunded in full. Currently Trussardi is being collected and frozen to honor 45 breeding commitments in the Middle East and Europe. The mares that are booked to this amazing youngster have Arabian blueblood in their veins. Daughters of Padrons Psyche, Magnum Psyche, Falcon BH, *Marwan Al Shaqab and of course, Versace are waiting in the wings to breed to Rojo’s new matinee idol. For now Trussardi is taking care of his obligations as a young sire. But in 2012, when he is three he will reemerge as a superstar show horse.
“He is so much like his dam, Precious As Gold,” John muses. “He has her body and most of her markings, though his neck is longer. He even acts a great deal like her. He would rather be in the barn with people than out in the pasture. Between the pair of them it’s like having twins in the barn.”
Fate has placed young Trussardi directly in the hoof prints of his older brother Versace. Will he become the extraordinary success his brother was for John Brown and Robert Williams? Whisper the question into the air in the Rojo Farm barn aisle and then listen carefully to the walls and the rafters ringing the answer in the affirmative. The Legend lives.