AHT's April Leader Of The Times
Leaders Of The Times: Turismo RA—Mr. America
by MARY KIRKMAN
“He’s an all-American horse,” says Merrilee Lyons about her Turismo RA. “And an all-American hero—he never lost the battle of the show ring.” By age 5, he had been named U.S. National Champion in Futurity Colts and Junior Stallions, Canadian National Champion Futurity Colt, and unanimous Scottsdale Champion. Those who immediately fear a political discussion brewing can calm down. Merrilee is all about coming together to appreciate Arabian horses, concerned that with so many stallions sold to homes overseas, more topflight individuals need to remain easily available to American breeders. Now 7, Turismo is establishing himself at stud, and for Lyons, he is akin to a national resource.
Turismo is a reflection of generations of knowledgeable breeding. His pedigree offers the hybrid vigor of the Arabian’s melting pot experience in North America, where the best of breeding programs globally was employed over a century’s time. Every generation features the work of revered names: Gleannloch and Ansata; Frank McCoy and Dan Gainey; Sheila Varian, Lasma, and Bru-Mar-Ba; Om El Arab—all operations which bred extensively—and countless others who perhaps turned out only one or two superstars, but those stars were brilliant. And finally, there is Rojo, the mega-successful Florida nursery which bred both Turismo and his sire, Trussardi, and a long list of other national champions.
It all came together in Turismo, who stands at Cathy Vincent’s Adandy Farm, in Greenwood, Delaware, just up the road from his owner, who visits him most days. “His foals are crazy-good,” Vincent states flatly. “They’re outrageous. He himself gets more beautiful all the time, and if anything, his foals are a little more exotic. He’s been bred to some really nice mares, but not always, and he’s consistently improving the foals. We have a lot of repeat breedings.”
In fact, the first horseman to patronize Turismo, longtime breeder John Code, was rewarded with Evolution CCA, U.S. National Top Ten Yearling Colt and Region 16 Champion. Last year, his mare Marwans Silhouette produced a dazzling full sister to Evolution named Azia CCA.
Brad Herman, a breeder for nearly four decades, also is one who came back for more. “We were able to get the best of our mare, Emmanda, who was a national champion,” he says. “We got a filly that is amazingly correct—wonderful legs and feet, beautiful topline, great hip, body, and shoulder, all fitting together marvelously well.” They have two mares in foal to Turismo now, with another breeding for the future.
Meanwhile, at home, Merrilee’s Canadian National Champion Edens Fantasy just produced a colt that has Vincent over the moon. “This colt is better than both Turismo and Edens Fantasy,” she marvels. “What he’s doing, not an everyday stallion can do—it’s incredible necks, beautiful eyes, beautiful heads, length of leg, and the backs are as short as they can be. Turismo also has an extraordinary hip, and of course he’ll give that most of the time.”
The name most in the news right now is Turbo JB, 2020 Scottsdale Half-Arabian Junior Champion Gelding and Champion Yearling Colt/Gelding, both unanimously, shown by Paul Glans. Turbo’s story is heartwarming. When David Boggs was showing Turismo, Lyons became aware that Boggs’ son, Jake, loved the stallion, so she gave Jake a breeding. He used it on Rohara Mademoiselle, a mare he had shown to a Scottsdale championship and a national reserve. Mademoiselle has produced several national champions, but as David reports, “Turbo is by far her best. When the colt was born, he had so much energy that Jake named him Turbo, after [his other love], Lamborghinis. Turbo’s been super-special since the beginning—extremely leggy (almost like a spider), and upright. It was all about Merrilee’s friendship and kindness, and out of that came this amazing baby who probably has no end in sight.” Will they be breeding back? “Oh, yes!”
For Merrilee, Turismo, in addition to being the horse of her heart, represents all those breeders through generations that created the American Arabian. “It’s an emotional thing for me, when I look at him,” she says. “He’s beautiful, but there’s a sense of strength about him. I’m very proud of him, of who he is, what he embodies, and what he can do for the Arabian breed in the future. He is indeed a stallion for the ages.”