Cover Story - Vol. 49, No.6, Issue #13
Cover Story: ROL Divine Style
by MARY KIRKMAN
When you ask Nancy DeLisi, who with her DELSAN Arabians partner Carol Sandusky owns ROL Divine Style, to explain the stallion’s appeal, she just laughs. “What would you expect?” she queries. “I’m his owner. Of course,I think he’s fantastic!” Ask those who are breeding and rebreeding to him, she says, and the trainers who have worked with him. Find an objective view on what is so special about “Duke” (everyone calls him that; his personality fills the air the way film star John “Duke” Wayne once owned the screen).
As it turns out, those objective observers are as enthusiastic as Duke’s owners are. In a nutshell, his appeal is his talent (two national championships, four reserves), his beauty, and even more, his priceless, don’t-leave-home-without-it attitude.
You don’t always hear about the beauty of English horses, but you do with Duke and his foals. Their majestic look is a throwback to historic Arabian ideals, says Gene LaCroix, who has consulted for DELSAN. “His foals have type and refinement, characteristic eyes and ears,” he notes. “It’s a beautiful look, like the old Adolph Schreyer paintings.”
And there’s that temperament. According to Josh Shino, who was in the saddle when Duke’s daughter, Ames Divine, scored the U.S. National Reserve Championship in the 2018 English Pleasure Futurity, the filly is very much her daddy’s daughter. “For a young horse, she has one of the best attitudes I’ve ever dealt with—ever,” he says flatly. “From day one, she was so willing. She’s always tried really hard and she never argues; she’s always trying to learn more. Yes, she’s naturally gifted, but horses with that kind of attitude are so special, because they are always trying to please.”
That’s what impressed Denny Wigren, Manager/Trainer at R.O. Lervick Arabians, which bred Divine Style. Their 2015 filly, ROL How Divine, was impressive from the start (“we got a very pretty, big eye, a very expressive face with an upright neck, and the look of an English horse”). But it was when she went under saddle that he reached for the phone to rebook the young mare’s dam to Duke.
“[How Divine] has a lot of heart,” he explains. “You can see that; they can be in your pocket, but there will be a lot of ‘try.’ [Divine Style] never quits; he goes out there and says, ‘yes I can,’ not ‘I don’t feel like it.’ It’s a willingness to get in the frame and do his job, and in a breeding stallion, that’s what we’re looking for: all that energy in a positive direction.”
Shino was so happy with Ames Divine that he takes almost no credit for her national title. “In the futurity, it felt like I was riding a seasoned, 6- or 7-year-old show horse,” he grins. “When I was warming her up, she was so quiet and easy, but I knew that she was going to pick up when we got to the arena because she gets excited when she knows she’s supposed to show off. She still listens to what I tell her, but she’s so natural—it was cool to feel like I was just a passenger, letting her do it.”
One of the most appreciated compliments Duke has received is that he was chosen to breed to his longtime rival, Karlton Jackson’s multi-U.S. National Champion Heirs Noble Love. “We’ve gotten a pretty exceptional baby,” Ashton Kiesner reports. “Her name is Divine Love, and she has a beautiful face, big eyes, small ears, and a long, curvy neck. She’s long legged, has lots of motion in front and behind, and she has a lot of attitude. She’s a perfect combination of her dad and her mom.”
ROL Divine Style stands at Stachowski Farm and shows with Jim Stachowski, who always recognized Duke’s talent, and over the past two years has learned his charm. “I hope people will come to see Duke, experience him,” Stachowski offers. “He doesn’t have a bad thought in his mind. He wants to work; he has a great work ethic. Breeders who’ve called me are excited about him because they are excited with his babies. They’re all pretty much images of him, great movers, pretty, and with the same quality.”
ROL Divine Style—Duke—has always made DeLisi and Sandusky proud of him: proud of his beauty, his talent, his heart and unique presence. What they love most now is his ability to pass all of that on to his next generation. “I do believe that’s every breeder’s dream,” reflects Nancy. “I know it is ours.”