Astek Stud began out of the quest for the perfect competition horse and was set up as a premium warmblood stud in the heart of Canterbury in 1995. Founded by mother and daughter duo, Sue and Diana Fowler, Astek Stud, offered breeders the chance to secure progeny carrying some of the world’s leading bloodlines.
Right from the outset Sue Fowler has been searching for the perfect horse! She started her early riding life in the South Canterbury high country, learning natural horsemanship skills from some of the country’s grand old masters. In the early 1970s she started breaking and selling young horses.
Initially Sue bought and sold St James stationbred horses. Although they were saleable and competitive on the equestrian field, Sue says she was always on the lookout for something with a bit more movement and scope. On a trip to Australia she noticed a number of nice moving Anglo-arabs. Thinking she’d found the answer, she imported the Arabian stallion, Elenbee’s R-Rated to cross with New Zealand thoroughbred mares. "Automatically there was more interest in what we were doing.”
The market demanded Warmblood Stallions at this time so Immenhof Castello was imported from Gehard Quast in Australia as a weanling. Although the stud was attracting attention, Sue and Diana were still on the look out for what they considered to be the ultimate competition horse. Meanwhile, a friend had imported a well-bred Hanoverian weanling from the prestigious Kinnordy Stud in Toowoomba, Australia, now closed due to Horgers death. Unfortunately he was seriously injured as a yearling fracturing his pelvis and three ribs. His owners were devastated because he had shown immense promise.
Still a colt, Sue and Diana jumped on a plane to see him thinking he could very well be what they were looking for. They had been interested in finding another sire to stand alongside Immenhof Castello and were attracted to the Hanoverian breed.
Kinnordy Gym Bello is by the Premium Class 1 Licensed and Performance Tested sire, Gymnastik Star, out of the Graf Landau mare, Kinnordy Gabriela. His immediate pedigree boasts no less than six famous sires which are all responsible for producing at least one or more showjumping world champions.
On his sire side, Gym Bello features a fourth generation double cross of the famous Gotthard and Wenderkreis, the refinement and elasticity enhancing abilities of the great Cor de la Bryere and the reliability of the highly regarded Werther. His dam side is also proving highly successful through the deeds of Graf Landau (Genever x Wendekind). Licensed and Performance tested, Graf Landau is the sire of numerous talented performers including the Australian 2005-06 Showjumper of the Year, KS Genoa, and New Zealand’s own Grunelius Legacy, Supreme Champion Young Dressage Horse of 2004 and winner of the Medium title at this year’s national championships. “His quality was obvious from the first moment we saw him. He had it all – the pedigree, the looks, the movement and a magnificent temperament,” says Sue.
Although there was a risk Gym Bello would never be able to be used as a sire because of his injuries, Sue and Diana felt it was a risk worth taking. The risk paid off. At just 2 years old they were able to collect semen from Gym Bello, serving 12 approved mares via AI in his first season. With his first foals due that spring (2004), Sue and Diana headed to Kinnordy Stud to see his sire and dam for themselves. They couldn’t have been more impressed. “When I saw Gymnastik Star I saw the epitome of the perfect sport horse. I felt I had found what I had been searching for. The quality of his progeny was unmistakable,” explains Sue.
While there, Sue and Diana purchased the Winterkoenig mare Wulle Bulle, which has remained at Kinnordy Stud to be served by Gymnastik Star annually with the progeny coming to New Zealand. Kinnordy Go Girl was imported a Multiple Show Hunter Champion. As soon as Gym Bello’s first foals hit the ground, Sue says she knew the initial gamble had paid off. “They were outstanding. Without exception his foals have beautiful heads; friendly, calm, intelligent temperaments; athletic, correct conformation; and show the makings of some superb movement as well.”
Although he carries some of the world’s top jumping bloodlines, his progeny have appealed to both sides of the sport with dressage people attracted to progeny’s springy trot, not to mention their exceptional nature across the board.
Towards the end of 2004 Astek Stud was offered its second huge break with the offer to buy the Holsteiner stallion, Ramirez, which had stood semi-privately for former Olympian John Cottle. Bred and imported from Germany, Ramirez comes from the Holsteiner “R” line internationally renowned for producing Olympic and grand prix sport horses, and is blessed with his sire’s upstanding presence, intelligent head, expressive movement and kind, willing temperament. Ramirez is by Ramiro Z (Raimond X Valine), known as the King of Kings and Sire of the Century due to his outstanding offspring, especially in showjumping.
His progeny includes numerous international and European grand prix dressage and showjumping champions as well as many successful sire sons. Probably the most well-known of his offspring was the great mare Ratina Z, winner of both gold and silver at the Barcelona Olympics in 1992 and the 1993 Volvo World Cup.
Ramiro Z was also a top competition horse in his own right, winning at nations’ cups, grand prix and puissance (up to 2.2m). Ramirez’s dam line is equally impressive coming from the same female line as the highly regarded showjumper and sire, Corrado, ridden by Frankie Sloothaak. His dam Riletta (Roberto X Filetta) was herself an advanced “S” level showjumper in Germany.
Although his own competitive career was cut short due to injury he showed a lot of promise as both a showjumper and dressage horse, scoring 9s and 10s for paces with world-renowned Dr Ense.
Standing at just over 17hh, Ramirez’s progeny are stamped with his star presence and ability, and have proved successful in all disciplines from limited outings. Some of his progeny successes include Cheleken Heidi winner of the New Zealand 5YO National Showhunter Champion in just its first competitive season, multiple supreme show champion Roulette, New Zealand National 5YO Showjumping Series 3rd= and 6th placegetters in Mind Games and Metropolitan respectively, and Raimius SL, which finished 3rd overall in the preliminary section of the 2006 National Dressage Championships. Ramirez is a registered and branded Holsteiner with the German Verband, and is licensed and classified with the NZ Warmblood Association and the Holsteiner Association of Australia and New Zealand.
Ramirez’s move to the South Island coincided with his oldest progeny’s successes and he attracted a strong following from breeders in his first season at Astek, with interest even coming from across the Tasman.
With his arrival however, Sue and Diana felt they had no option but to sell their first warmblood stallion Immenhof Castello. Although he had his supporters, of the two, Ramirez’s pedigree coupled with his star presence always stole the show with prospective breeders, says Sue. “We have been impressed by Ramirez, who produces very upstanding, correct conformation, flowing movement and kind, inquisitive temperaments.”
Sue says with the stallion side of the operation taken care of recent attention has concentrated on improving their broodmare band.
In purchasing mares Sue and Diana have placed the ultimate importance on temperament followed by body type, movement, versatility and performance history. They have bought a mixture of stamina-bred New Zealand thoroughbreds and quality warmbloods. They include the likes of Canterbury Tales (TB), a full-sister to the multiple stakeswinner Canterbury Belle, Evolution by Aachen, Queensland 6 yr old Showjumper of the year and Kinnordy Ghandia whose full-sister Genoa, has recently been named as Australian Showjumper of the Year. Kinnordy Gabriela dam of Kinnordy Gym Bello and numerous dressage and show jumping stars. Rangeview Natasha, Spectacular Dreams and Vienna SL and many more!