This year’s crop


New Kids




the block


These days there are new babies in every stud farm of the equestrian neighbourhoods.


Text and photos Camilla Alfthan. 


What could be cuter than a foal suckling milk from her mum? 

Possibly, two foals feeding from their mums as you can vaguely hear their suckling sounds and there’s  a whiff of horse milk in the air. Their mothers seem in a trance of happiness and they stay close to their offsprings who are, in return,  as curious as they come, exploring anything new.


The 19 new kids on the block of the York stud north of Copenhagen are like all foals : Friendly and very silly, too, making sure that you have up to four muzzles breathing down your neck as you are photographing their friends in front.

To the stud’s managers, Alexander Elsass, 35, and his wife Karina, 33, the horses are much like an extended family – a hobby which became a job and it all began with his parents who also live at the yard.

”We live and breathe for the horses. It is a lifestyle.  We start working at seven in the mornings and sometimes we go straight from the stable to bed. The horses start foaling in the winter, sometimes during the night and we have clients who visit during the weekends. So it’s  a round the clock sort of life and nothing like an ordinary office job,” tells Alexander who for years toured the Scandinavian race tracks as a jockey just as his wife.


He learned the breeding business at the National Stud in Ireland and at Arrowfield stud in Australia while Karina worked at John Oxx’s racing stables before she quit her career as a jockey around the age of 25.


”Both of us find that this is a dream life. Waking up in the mornings and bringing new horses into this world is a priviledge. We look forward to going to work every day. Our two children are also a part of it. My five year old daughter has already seen mares being covered and she assisted foalings and pulled the foals legs to help it out from the mare’s womb. For them it is a great way to learn about the beginnings of life,” he tells.

With over 200 hectars of land and 70 horses there’s always something to do. The family makes their own hay and they go to the races to keep up with the business. Several times a year they’re off to the sales in Ireland, England and France to buy horses for their clients.


”Many breeders nowadays live in the city. They make their dream horse at our stud. Others come here to have their mares covered.”


”Both of us find that this is a dream life. Waking up in the mornings and bringing new horses into this world is a priviledge. We look forward to going to work every day.”


The stud was named after Richard of York (Rainbow Quest)who fathered over 600 foals.

”Blue Mary, Corrèze and York Street became millionaires and there were many other top horses from him.  People used to call him Richard Lionheart as they were all very brave,” Alexander tells.

Their best mare is Tigress Elleven who won the 2011 Derby – a real tiger mum who is keeping the others at bay.


The horses are handled early on. They’re power walked, lounged and put in the walker with a girdle on.


”They have to feel secure around people and it gives them a good start in life. We’ve already touched them and saddled them when they leave us to go in training which means that it is not as stressful as it would otherwise be. Before  they go under the hammer they’re in 10 weeks of intensive training.”

Mingun is the top gun of the stud.

”He’s the talk of town – the most fashionable stallion right now while  Binary File is a little bit underrated. ”

Another top stallion, the Danehill son, Academy Award suddenly became infertile in 2013 and now they are looking for another one to replace him. Alexander can’t yet tell who it will be – but he’s not the only one in the family who’s looking around.

Both his parents are still very much involved and they often sit down together to discuss the future of the stud.

”We sometimes joke that we’re like a Polish farm. The entire family is a part of it. Hopefully our children will become vets and make sure that York becomes a third generation stud.”

After all, they were bred for that.




Suckling in the sunset


2011 Derby winner, Tigress Elleven with her first foal.