When James and Helen Alliston saw the chestnut Canadian Warmblood yearling Nemesis (Novalis 46 x Maesy) online, they decided to take a bit of a gamble and purchase the young horse sight unseen from his breeder Danielle Burgess in Kamloops, British Columbia. They never imagined that their calculated risk would pay off when several years later Nemesis would be named the 2021 USEA 7-Year-Old Intermediate Leaderboard Champion.
“I saw him on the internet and he looked to have nice breeding for eventing, his mother was a Thoroughbred and his dad was a showjumper. He was in Kamloops in British Columbia, so not necessarily a big eventing area but I spoke to the girl that bred him and she said that the mare had bred some other nice horses. I liked the look of him and he was a nice mover,” James reflected.
Of course, buying such a young horse comes associated with a bit of risk seeing as you cannot try the horse under saddle. But, James had an idea that the young gelding could be something special in time. “When they are unbroke yearlings all you are really looking at are the legs and how they move. You go with what mother and father have done and if the mother has produced nice horses, I think that is really key for me. I have bought quite a few young horses over the years and I think if the mother is a proven producer it really takes the risk out of the young horse being nice, even more so if the mother has performed for me.”
The Alliston’s took their time with Nemesis as a young horse, chipping away at his training bit by bit. When he was 3, Helen brought him in from the herd of young horses the couple keeps at their farm to be broken and James was a bit cautious about the prospect at first.
“I would say he was fairly sharp to break initially, it definitely wasn’t easy. My wife did it and I was a little bit nervous for her initially when she got on him,” said James. “Obviously that isn’t a reflection of how he is to ride now because he is very, very easy. He has a good mind and is quiet, but the first time someone got on him he was not sure of that, that is for sure.”
Luckily, Nemesis seemed to settle into his new career as an event horse and an easier, kinder personality began to emerge. The more they worked with him, the more they found to like about him. The Thoroughbred blood on his mother’s side gave him a natural run to him, making the fitness work easy, and he quickly became quite keen on his new job, showing off a sense of bravery and carefulness, although he has a bit of his own style over the fences.
“When we were sort of assessing him I always thought he was quite a clever horse with really good jumping instincts, but he does have a sort of looser forearm when he jumps,” shared James. “But, actually as the jumps get bigger, he gets sharper. He is careful, he doesn’t want to touch the jump, it’s just the way he does it. I saw a video of his dad actually and he kind of jumps like that as well. “
Once settled into his work, Nemesis’ easy-going personality worked in his favor in the show ring. James describes him as a quick learner, which is apparent from his show record. The rising 8-year-old has never had a cross-country jump penalty and sports just two rails out of 14 outings in his career. After getting his start in 2019 at the Training level, Nemesis won his Preliminary debut at Twin Rivers in July of 2020, one of five first-place finishes on his record. In fact, the horse has only ever finished outside of the top five once in his entire career. Upon moving up to the Intermediate level in 2021, Nemesis showed off just how good he is at his job by winning the division on his dressage score.
“We have had him for a long time so we know him very well,” commented James. “He has done a lot as a 7-year-old but that is because with him everything is so straightforward and it is a testament to his mind really. He was a quick learner and we never had to work him very hard, he seemed to learn things very easily and to understand the different phases quite well.”
The Alliston’s were so fond of Nemesis that when the opportunity to buy a horse related to him came available they jumped on it. “Obviously Nemesis was nice so I actually bought another, Flinterro Z, who is a year younger so we have him too. Hopefully, we will see what he does this year but he looks like a nice horse as well.”
In 2021, Nemesis had four Intermediate outings before stepping up to the three-star level. The gelding was first at his first CCI3*-L at Rebecca Farm in July of 2021, followed by a first-place finish in the CCI3*-S at Woodside in October. Nemesis wrapped up his year in style with a second-place finish in the three-long at Galway Downs in November before getting a little bit of a vacation for the winter. “He has had a real good season of Intermediate so hopefully we can go Advanced at some stage. That is the big thing on the horizon for him,” said James.
Winning a leaderboard title is exciting for most people, but for the Alliston's to win this award with Nemesis, it was extra special. “It was awesome, we are really proud of him. He is our baby and he is really part of the family here. We are just excited that we have such a nice horse and that he has done so well. To win this award is awesome, but to do it with a horse that you have had a long time and one that you have sort of talented spotted as a yearling is pretty cool.”
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