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Once Upon a Time… Haras d’Aïnhoa

JM Valerio launched the Arabissimo concept

By Sophie Robert-Taymont

The story started back in the late 60’s when Jean-Marc Valerio, French jumping rider,  fell in love with a stallion noticed on L’EPERON magazine: Alhabac.

Two years later, he finally managed to find that horse in Spain, near Malaga.

The horses were already promised to Dr Laredo but Jean-Marc Valerio managed to bring Ispahan back to France, a mare by Alhabac and foal of Galero.

When asked why he chose Ispahan, he explained that she had no outstanding qualities but definitely no defect.

JM Valerio’s first successful sale was in Jerez during a show where he sold Malik (Galero x Ispahan x Alhabac) to the WAHO President who took him to the USA where his colt became a famous stallion.

On one hand he kept buying thoroughbred mares for flat racing and on the other arabian mares for show: the purest breeds of the world, the only breeds with a worldwide studbook.

Located near the Spanish border, JM Valerio worked on his bloodlines with Dr Laredo, experiencing successful inbreeding on Spanish bloodlines.

The choice fell on Arabian breeding with the objective to create show champions in fact, one of Alhabac’s colts, Alha Edin, won the European Championship in 1979.

JM Valerio knew what made the Arabian horse so special: Its versatility. He was sure that producing operational horses led to producing beautiful ones too.

Sol d’Oa, who was born in 1981 (Alha Edin x Radiada x Cranleigh Karim), represents the perfect ambassador of this theory: winner of flat races, Show champion, Cross country winner and a real star of the equestrian theater Zingaro!

Once, a breeder asked JM Valerio if Sol d’Oa could cover his mare. He was not interested in his beauty or speed nor in his jumping abilities, but he knew he was a very smart horse.

In 1987, Valerio’s foals were named Aïnhoa and all their names initially ended in «OA ».

To prove the Arabian horse’s versatility, JM Valerio launched the Arabissimo concept. Scoring depends on: show, heart recovery, cross country, jumping, dressage, speed and mind (a precious quality that makes the Arabian horse so similar to men).

The first endurance experiences of Aïnhoa horses occured in the mid-90’s when marathon was added to the Arabissimo program.

The first serious results were achieved by Aïnhoa El Rih (Arbikd’Oa x Riffien) finisher of the 1999 Montcuq 2×100 km ride and the 2000 160km ride in Florac) and Aïnhoa Shoureya (Kil d’Aïnhoa x Ourinhoa), finisher of the 1999 Santa Susanna 2×100 km ride and 2000 Florac 160 km ride.

Both horses were trained and ridden by Christele Derosch.

Future breeding choices were made to achieve fast horses or show horses and Aïnhoa endurance performers weren’t originally meant for that discipline.

Amongst Aïnhoa performers, two are memorable and worth mentioning: Aïnhoa Le Fol AA (Sol d’Oa x  Hiloa) exported to the UAE in 2011, winner of Bou Thib 120 km and 3 months later, winner of the Dubai 160 km.

The other one is Aïnhoa Catharissime (Padrons Immage x Rebelle Doa) Silver medal at the 2014 Young Riders European Championship, ridden by Nina Lissarrague.

When JM Valerio worked on endurance bloodlines, he outcrossed his beloved Spanish bloodline mares with French bloodlines for speed (especially Tidjani and Manganate). He never denied his first love and always preserved his Spanish dam bloodlines and horses as they originally were.

Currently, Valerio is wondering if outcrossing with Persik bloodlines could be interesting in order to achieve a quiet mind… What makes a good endurance horse? Isn’t it also  its ability to enter the vets gate with no emotion ?

Haras d’Aïnhoa also provides several stallions for different disciplines: Speed (Aïnhoa Kesberoy, Aïnhoa Eclipse and Aïnhoa Flash), Show (Aïnhoa Le Flutiste who already shows very interesting recovery abilities) and versatility (Aïnhoa Sapristi).

Other Aïnhoa stallions are available in private stables as breeders consider Valerio’s selection as a qualitative basic bloodline (for endurance : Aïnhoa Enfin, two CEI3* completed including the 160km ride in Florac).

Speed or show Arabian horses of any age are available at Haras d’Aïnhoa… and who knows…the best Aïnhoa endurance horse might be there waiting for you !?




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