By: Erin Shea, @BH_EShea
A multiple group 1 winner. Two-length winner of Argentina's famed Gran Premio Carlos Pellegrini (G1). Brazil's Horse of the Year and champion 3-year-old colt. Show jumper and dressage mount.
The latest addition to Xin Xu Lin's rèsumè came just a few years ago, when the Brazilian champion arrived at the Maker's Mark Secretariat Center at the Kentucky Horse Park in 2013 and met his new owner, Kasia Jaskowska, who adopted him as a jumper prospect. But before he made it to his current home in Columbia, Md., he did a bit more traveling around the globe.
Bred by Oscar Faria Pacheco Borges' Haras Pirassununga in Brazil, Xin Xu Lin raced mostly in his home country for owner José Renato Cruz e Tucci, with the exception being his Gran Premio victory. He accumulated five wins, four coming at the highest level, in his seven starts. After he earned his champion honors at 3, Godolphin purchased the son of Wondertross and brought him to Dubai. He ran twice in group events at Meydan, his best finish being a fifth, five lengths behind stablemate Khawlah in the 2011 UAE Derby Sponsored by the Saeed & Mohammed Al Naboodah Group (G2). Xin Xu Lin was then sent to the U.S. with trainer Kiaran McLaughlin in late 2012, and subsequently finished fourth and 11th in two listed stakes.
While Xin Xu Lin never regained the form he showed in Brazil, he still shows the personality and drive that earned him Horse of the Year honors.
"If I start to do too much with my hands, he'll toss his head and he'll tell me what he thinks about me doing it," Jaskowska said. "Jumping-wise, when he's on a roll, he wants to keep going. When I put half halts in, he starts to get a little annoyed because he thinks he knows what he's doing better than I do, and most of the time I'd probably agree."
Kasia Jaskowska and Xin Xu Lin. Photo: Erika Leigh Portraits
Donated to the Maker's Mark Secretariat Center by Sheikh Mohammed's global breeding and racing operation, Xin Xu Lin wasn't the horse that Jaskowska drove to Kentucky to try.
"There was a bay that caught my eye on their website. I went out and told Susanna (Thomas, MMSC's director) I'd like to try him and (another) mare," Jaskowska said of her trip to MMSC to find a potential mount.
"The first horse, it didn't click. He was a very nice horse but something wasn't quite right about how the two of us were interacting. And (the mare) unfortunately had gotten kicked in the field so I couldn't get an accurate assessment."
"'Xin' was the last one that Susanna had told me about," she said. "He was the only one that no one got on before I got on him, so that made me a little bit nervous but once I got on, it just clicked. Something worked."
Jaskowska was certain Xin Xu Lin was the horse for her after the two tried a couple of jumps at MMSC.
"What sold me on him was the jumping. He seemed so willing," she said. "At the end of the day that was it: he was willing, he was intelligent, and he felt great under saddle. He still had that attitude, so if you did push the wrong buttons, he'd probably tell you."
Some minor setbacks, including back issues with Xin Xu Lin, have pushed the duo's show jumping plans further out. Jaskowska is currently working on building up his back muscles through dressage and has been participating in dressage schooling shows. Jaskowska, who primarily rides hunter/jumpers, said she also plans to take him through some lower-level eventing competitions and eventually compete in the 1-1.0-meter jumpers in a few months.
While she never thought she'd own a champion racehorse, Jaskowska enjoys racing and loves the tenacity of the Thoroughbred breed.
"When I was little, we'd go to the track with my grandfather. ... as a little kid I thought that would be the coolest thing, to ride a racehorse and be able to race on the track," she said, adding that while her dream of riding on the track never happened, an appreciation of racehorses did develop.
"The Thoroughbred has so much heart," she said. "That's what brought me to wanting to take an off-the-track Thoroughbred. Definitely knowing at times they can be challenging, but any horse can. They're just really good horses."