Jul 27, 2021

Windfall's Olympic Legacy

Windfall and Darren Chiacchia. RedBayStock.com Photo

Very few stallions compete at the top level in eventing - let alone at the Olympics. Windfall did just that, winning a team bronze medal under Darren Chiacchia for the USA in Athens in 2004. The fact that Windfall now has not one, but two, sons due themselves to compete for the same country as their sire, the USA, in Tokyo really does make him one in a million.

Both Tsetserleg, Boyd Martin’s Tokyo Olympic ride, and Doug Payne’s Vandiver are sons of Windfall, the handsome almost-black Trakhener who retired from eventing, sound, at the age of 17 in 2009.

Tsetserleg, Boyd Martin’s Tokyo Olympic ride. USEA Photo

Windfall was bred in Germany by Heinz Lembke, by Habicht - who evented with Martin Plewa and who completed the CCI5* at Burghley, as well as winning Achselschwang’s CCI4* - his dam was a thoroughbred. She both raced and evented, and was accepted into the Trakhener studbook as an approved mare.

Windfall went to the great German rider Ingrid Klimke as a four-year-old and was very successful with her, first in dressage and show jumping and then eventing. He was short-listed with Klimke for the German team for the Sydney Olympics in 2000, but Ingrid chose to ride another horse, Sleep Late.

Doug Payne and Vandiver. USEA Photo

Later that year Windfall was sold to Tim Holekamp for Darren Chiaccha to ride, and also for the Holekamps to breed from. With Chiacchia, Windfall enjoyed an outstanding career, with multiple wins at Advanced level and top placings at CCI4*-Ls such as the Foxhall Cup and Fair Hill. In 2003, they won the individual gold medal at the Pan Am Games, held that year at Fair Hill.

The highlight of their career together, however, was Athens. In 2004 they became the first winners of the first event - Rolex Kentucky - to run under the new short-format (without roads and tracks and steeplechase), and earned their selection for the U.S. Olympic team. Chiacchia and Windfall joined Kim Severson with Winsome Adante, Amy Tryon (Poggio), John Williams (Carrick), and Julie Richards (Jacob Two Two) and, clear inside the time across country, they were one of the three scores that counted towards that bronze medal.

The pair continued competing, and in 2006 won the second of their two World Cup qualifiers at CCI4*-S level. Windfall also competed with Cheryl Holekamp to Grand Prix dressage and performed at recognized shows to scores well in the 60s, proving to be one of the only upper-level eventing horses capable of going to the Grand Prix level in dressage.

Eventually Windfall retired to Tim and Cheryl Holekamp’s farm in Ocala, Florida, and enjoyed hacking around the property. In 2015, the popular stallion was given an official “retirement” ceremony at the Kentucky CCI5*, where his many fans were given another chance to see him.

Windfall at his retirement ceremony. RedBayStock.com Photo

Now if Tsetserleg and Vandiver could emulate their sire’s bronze medal - or better it - in Tokyo, that would be the most fitting end to this remarkable story possible.

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