I’ve got to follow up on my recent post about the cloning of polo horse Califa. In that post I also mentioned the grand prix jumper – and gelding – Sapphire. The dapple grey Holsteiner earned the 2003 Pan Am Games individual gold medal in show jumping with rider Mark Watring (Puerto Rico) and had an illustrious grand prix career. At shows, Mark would often get breeding inquiries from people who’d seen him go and assumed he was a stallion. Mark always thought it was a shame that he couldn’t breed his superstar jumper, so when he was approached last year by US company ViaGen with the idea of cloning Sapphire, he agreed to give it a try. I wrote an article about Sapphire’s cloning last summer for California Riding Magazine, and posted it on my website (read the article here).
And then the magic of the Internet stepped in. Some months later, I got an email from a woman in Germany who had read my article after it popped up in her google search. The woman, Katherina Tansley, was 14 when her father bought her a newborn foal that she named Lindor. She hand raised Lindor until he was six, and then reluctantly sold him on to a family in South Germany. He then found his way to Mark via a few dealing barns, and in the process was renamed Sapphire. Katherina had been following his career since the Pan Am Games.
After she read about the cloning, Katherina asked me to help her get in touch with Mark. She wrote to me that “when I first read, that there will be a clone, I didn’t know what to think. Right now I think, he must be very loved and appreciated, that they want to clone him.”
Well, he is, and they did. The healthy clone was born in Texas about two weeks ago. I may have come off as a bit cynical in my previous post; a polo team of identical clones is still just so very sci-fi. But that was before I put the following two pictures side-by-side. It’s enough to melt any cynic’s heart.
Will you just look at that? Tell me that these are not the most astounding pair of baby pictures you’ve ever laid eyes on. Cloning inevitably begs the question of nature vs. nurture, and there is no sure answer yet. But modern science is well on it’s way to solving that little mystery.