An homage in Buenos Aires to the late polo champion Dolfina Cuartetera recently took place, drawing quite the crowd. During this event, four of her clones played on one team, while the offspring of her clones played on the opposing team. The late champion Cuartetera was known for her agility, speed, and strength, and has left a lasting legacy in the world of polo. The champion mare was honored by the champions of the defending team, La Dolfina, who looked just like her – having the same silky chestnut coat and white markings on their noses.
The experiment began in 2006 when the owner of Cuartetera, Adolfo Cambiaso, requested that a veterinarian save some skin cells from a beloved stallion – sparking the cloning process. What was initially a tribute has now become a lucrative industry. Several clones of Cuartetera have been auctioned off for significant amounts, demonstrating that cloning horses has broadened its horizons from the polo field to the commercial sector. Arguably, the cloning of horses has changed the breeding and sporting landscape. Researchers in Argentina have contributed significantly to these advancements, with more than 100 horses being cloned on a yearly basis.
While there have been early challenges in horse cloning, the process has become more refined over the years. In many ways, Argentina is the ideal place for these cloning operations due to its permissive regulations and advanced biotech sector. The polo industry has been heavily involved in horse cloning, even for clubs that initially expressed concerns about the practice, such as the Ellerstina club. Ultimately, the success of the cloning process has been an eye-opener for those who doubted its potential.
The cloning process brings forth a new era of potential in equestrian sports. Breeders of these cloned horses anticipate that champion genetics will now be far more accessible. When comparing the new process to the traditional method of breeding elite horses, the benefits of cloning are evident. As a result, the cloning process offers a solution to the dilemma of how to obtain competitive polo horses when traditional breeding methods come with various limitations.