I confess (lol) I’m not religious, but I was saying a little prayer for Father Frank coming around the home bend at the Cambridge workouts on Saturday (15 October 2016).

He had trailed nicely all the way around but was he going to fade out? He didn’t, driver Mark Johnson brought him out and he ran past and away from the nice Rev The Chev and David Butcher. Workout One: Won. (You count your blessings with Father Frank…)

Our Stretto family Father Frank

Father Frank (Real Desire x Gold Return)

Father Frank was a yearling (Real Desire x Gold Return) bred by the Yesbergs that I picked out and bid on at the 2014 Christchurch yearling sales. He went to Frank Cooney, who also liked his look a lot, and I ended up taking a quarter share. Fast forward a few preps and some racing, it was clear Father Frank needed time. The penny, as they say, had not dropped. He was a bit lost, he had issues. The four owners agreed to sell or lease, and eventually he ended up down here at Cambridge with Kym Kearns so I get to see him regularly and keep in close touch with his progress,

Kym is, like many hobby trainers, putting in huge hours before and after a full time job at Cambridge Library. I have nothing but admiration for her discipline and patience. As a trainer she has the advantage of being able to really “read” horses and get into their world. That’s a gift, and something she had from a very young age in spite of having no family background in horses.

So it is lovely to see the very early mornings, the attention to detail, the bonding with Father Frank coming to fruition in a horse that is gradually (as Frank Cooney guessed) getting some strength and confidence.  But boy, it takes time! Has he any real ability? Father Frank is a “work in progress” and who knows what will happen at the races. Kym likes to keep hopes up but expectations low. That way she can enjoy the progress being made. He’s a big, lanky Real Desire who is only just filling out a bit now. The penny still hasn’t dropped, but it might be hovering on the edge.

Out of interest, he is closely related to Missinmemate (by Grinfromeartoear) and Bettor Be Gold who picked up the Sires Stakes 2yo Silver for the Purdon/Rasmussen team in May this year. The connection is full sisters Return To Gold and Gold Return by the Australian based sire Armbro Operative, who are grand-daughters of (Our) Stretto, such a great lovely mare.

The circuit of Red Shores in Prince Edward Island is small – just Charlottetown and Summerside – but the history is long and the passion is deep. And it looks like a lovely place to visit, not just for the horse racing. As it says on the Red Shores website:

The Charlottetown Driving Park first opened it doors for standardbred harness racing October 2, 1889. It’s been an amazing journey that has touched every Island community over the years. Horse racing has been a major part of our island heritage. Visitors from around the world come to Prince Edward Island to experience an island tradition and visit the Kentucky of Canada.

I’ve put it on my “wish list” although I might have to sell a horse or two to get there! But looking at views of the racetracks and surrounding town and countryside, someone from Cambridge New Zealand would feel quite at home.

Here in New Zealand, I know about Red Shores thanks to one of our much loved mares, Driving The Dragon or “Sam” as we knew her – she ended up there in August this year (2016) after being exported in March the previous year and racing for trainers Carmen Auciello at Yonkers for 2 wins in the $10k race bracket, and briefly with Rene Allard and has now thrived under the care of Canadian trainer/driver Jason Hughes (“the Blue Knight stable”) to win 6 of her 7 races to date for him, 5 in a row, the other race being a third. Sure, these are low stakes races, but she also performed superbly for Hughes in the Atlantic Mares Final run at the oldest Canadian standardbred racetrack in Summerside, just week or so ago, for a stake of $15,000, and then backed up for another win at her home track in Charlottetown. In the Atlantic Mares Final she went out about 2nd favourite, from the widest post, powered around to take the lead and never gave the others a look in. Maybe a wee holiday next for the big girl?

Driving The Dragon N

Off the gate fast from a wide drawn, Driving The Dragon swooped around to lead.

Driving The Dragon

Comes home with a wet sail. Go Sam!


That was so “Sam-ish” for those of us who watched her string of 3 wins in a row down here in New Zealand – two at the tight Manawatu track and the last one at the galloping grass track in Wairarapa, which is wide and long.

So now I have found her race replays are on Red Shores website, we’ll be watching her races with a lot of pride and support – “Go Sam!” And wishing we were up close and personal to meet the Blue Knights team and give Sam a big hug. You never know. If you are reading this Jason, get in touch.

What a great year Bit Of A Legend N is having in North America. In April he won the Levy Final, then had a break late May and since winning a trial in early July he’s been highly consistent with two more wins and three seconds, mainly in $45,000 open handicaps at Yonkers. All in all, his North American winnings now total $610,950, which is almost exactly the same as his earnings down under before he was sold over there. So his total stakes are $1,270,636, and his record 1.51. As a 7yo, he still has another good season in him at least. That must rank him right up there with our most successful harness racing exports.

I was always a fan of his back here when Cran Dalgety trained him – a smallish horse with a big heart, and bred by Brian West from the family of Skipper’s Romance, who is a full sister to the very good racehorse and sire Nero. (And one of her sons is Seahawk Hanover who stood for many years in Australia.)

When I visited Brian in Christchurch back in 2013 I fell in love with a yearling filly from Bit Of A Legend’s half sister, A Legend. She was a dark, long bodied, leggy lass, with a tough nut head. The fact the filly was by Tintin In America, whom I bred, was another big plus of course. Read about that in a previous blog here. I bought a half share in her, and we named her Be A Legend.

She had a couple of preps and showed enough to keep us interested but was quite headstrong and needed a bit of time and patience. A year on, and after a long spell, she just wasn’t making much progress so we made a decision to change tack. I now have a racing lease with Craig (Spud) Crosse and we’ve brought her up to Arna Donnelly’s training stable in Cambridge.  She has thrived under Arna’s care, and over the last couple of months Arna has identified and improved quite a few issues she arrived with. I have to say the now 4yo mare is looking once again like the big, long bodied lovely individual I fell in love with three years ago! She’s also looking like a happy and settled horse, which is really important to me.

Be A Legend Oct 2016

Be A Legend at Arna Donnelly’s barn after the workouts last Saturday 8 October

Last Saturday was her second look at the Cambridge workouts and after playing up behind the mobile arm, she flew off wide from the gate and showed gate speed to get from last to first in the first 200m. She bowled along nicely in front, handed up and then trucked home well for second behind an impressive Art Major 3yo filly called Artanne. The time was nothing, but they came home the last 400m in 28.1. Arna says she is still “a work in progress” but if we can keep finding improvement in her she will hopefully make an enjoyable race horse – and later provide a super platform to breed from.

Be A Legend 2nd at workouts

Home straight at the Cambridge workouts 8 October 2016, with winner Artanne, followed by Be A Legend well ahead of the rest of the field.

In a previous blog I skated over the tricky territory of “golden crosses” and whether a nick between a sire and a maternal family endures through the sons of that sire.

I opted for: Unlikely but not impossible.

The reason is that although we know more about horse genetics, we still don’t understand fully what influences carried on X and Y chromosomes play the most important role in a progeny’s likelihood of having the attributes for success as a racehorse. (For example, not every tall boy or tall girl is programmed to be a potential basketball player.)

So when I got Lincoln Farms’ latest email newsletter, I was initially “Yes” and then “Really?” as I read it. Why? Because the first part is, in my view, sound. It points out correctly that:

Sir Lincoln is from the family of leading sire Fake Left and with Fake Left mares he will get desirable reverse sex crosses to both Cam Fella and Albatross as well as a double dose of Miss Exceptional.  Fake Left’s 2nd dam Miss Exceptional is a half- sister to the 5th dam of Sir Lincoln. The only NZ live foal out of a Fake Left mare (a filly) was sold for $30,000 to Aus as a 2yo.

It makes sense to me because you are breeding back into “the herd” which is usually defined by the maternal family.

However the next part of the newsletter used the argument that a lot of sire studs do, that this “family nick” should carry through to sons of Fake Left, i.e. they may nick well with mares from that same line:

All standardbreds cross well back to their own blood, so Sir Lincoln will cross well with mares by Fake Left and his sons Safari, Rollon Bigred and Robin Hood. This also gives a reverse sex cross to Cam Fella 4×3 (Fake Left mares) and 4×4 for Safari, Rollon Bigred and Robin Hood mares.

In fact, none of these “sons of” Fake Left come from Fake Left’s maternal line. So in a “herd” comparison, they are not breeding back to their own family. Fake Left’s family is U84 (immediate damsire family is Albatross which is U6). Safari’s maternal family is U308, and immediate damsire family is U18. Rollon Bigred is N7 and immediate damsire family is U19. Robin Hood is N146 and immediate damsire family is U2. I’m not a great analyst of the maternal families, but I do know just by tracing these maternal families that there is a lot of classy breeding coming from the maternal families of these sires and damsires along those bottom lines that a simple “son of Fake Left” doesn’t take into account.

In the wild, sons in a herd would inbreed (if allowed) to females that shared the same immediate maternal family. But often they are pushed away by the dominant stallion (whose maternal family may or may not be the same as his herd’s). They go somewhere else to try their luck, becoming (if they go far enough) outcross sires to another herd. Likewise some cheeky young pups from the house down the road come up and ask your daughters out. Battle with dad. End result, foals on the ground. Nature looks on the surface to be a sexist pig sometimes if you don’t realise how much the females are calling the shots.

I’m putting it crudely, although not as crudely as Donald Trump would have done (can’t stand the man), and with a totally different agenda. But I am trying to show that if we use terms like “cross well back into their own blood” for sires, just be aware that we still don’t understand how this fits together in terms of horse breeding, genetics and breeding for the strongest attributes. No matter how hard you promote the sires and sons of sires, the engine room of breeding is the maternal lines and how mares can or cannot convert a stallion’s input into the much bigger and longer term goal of keeping that family going.

The newsletter finishes with:

Other Stallions with blood from this family include Double Century,It Is I, Major Bronski, and For A Reason. Major Bronski, and For A Reason are out of Fake Left mares. Mares by Double Century  have a reverse sex crosses to both Miss Exceptional and Albatross 6×3 and 5×3 to Sir Lincoln and their daughters would be 6×4 and 5×4. It Is I mares also have a reverse sex cross 6×5 to Miss Exceptional.

In many of these pedigrees the connection is at least along a maternal line, the root family, but often not in a position that we know can be effective.

In summary, we are all finding our way in the dark, trying to work  out if connections matter or not. And generally going with them if they reinforce a preconceived idea or liking we have. That’s just being honest!

But as breeders, I think we do need to be aware that so-called pedigree hints from sire studs are more about selling their product than guiding your mare.

Deciding what might really work? That’s your job – and hers if you listen.

Blog followers will know my series earlier in the year tracing the Romola Hal family and some of its branches “down under”. That’s the family of Art Major and Captain Treacherous – quite close up. I didn’t cover all of the descendants, and one branch which wished to fly under the radar at that time was Dot Schmidt’s mare Mataranka Maggie in Australia. It’s been a bit of a passion for Dot, but circumstances have changed, and now is the time for some other breeder to step up and carry on!

Mataranka Maggie (b 2002) – Armbro Aussie x Rostrata (Windshield Wiper). Wouldn’t be available to move from Benstud in Victoria until after this year’s foal is weaned (not born yet) but new owners could breed her this season, she has been easy to get in foal and is a great mother.

Dot is a very astute and knowledgeable breeder, and has a familiarity with pedigrees that I really admire. So far with this mare she has invested in quality, but situations change and Dot now believes it is time to pass the mare to another breeder. This is one of the greatest modern maternal families. Thanks to Dot, the mare has already bred back to the Romola Hanover line, several times. So there is something going on in the background which may end up supporting a new breeder’s decisions. She will tell you the details of those foals, which are recent and still to figure in terms of racing.

Don’t miss this chance. I did the same thing in buying Dreamy Romance (from Romola Hal family) and it is one of the most exciting and potentially good decisions I’ve made as a breeder. Dot is open minded about cost, this is not an expensive buy at all. But, hey, what a wonderful opportunity!

Mataranka Maggie is descended from Romola Hal’s daughter Romola Hanover, so this is the same family branch as Rodine Hanover (Art Major and Perfect Art, Captaintreacherous, Real Artist and so on). That’s the good news.

The challenging news is that the next daughter in the family tree is called Romette Hanover and she doesn’t appear on the Classic Family database at all.  And yet, there’s more to the story than that. Romette Hanover actually had just 9 starts for 1 win, 1 second and 1 third. More than that, she was a daughter of the cross of Dancer Hanover x Romola Hanover. So all those great background family nicks are there: with Tar Heel and then Dancer Hanover. Romette Hanover went to a range of sires for 10 foals in America and more in Australia, but as Dot will probably tell you, they didn’t make the best choices of sires for her. Yet, more than half of them have wins against their name and a couple were good accumulators of wins – the tough aged horses.

One of Romette Hanover’s progeny was Rostrata, by Windshield Wiper. And Rostrata is the dam of the mare that Dot has for “very reasonable” sale. That’s another positive, as Windshield Wiper brings in some really nice lines – Adios and his full sister Adieu double up, plus The Old Maid on the X line and then another double up this time to Kings Counsel who is the damsire of Meadow Skipper. And the immediate damsire of Mataranka Maggie is Armbro Aussie (who brings in Tar Heel again, with Adios and Nibble Hanover in his maternal line, and then Volomite.)

So what you get with this mare for sale is some damn impressive breeding which needs to step up. Dot has done her bit, with a big investment in Art Major as a sire.

What about you?

As they say in sport, form changes but class is permanent. If Dot will forgive me, I’d suggest changing tack at this point and trying something new – what about Roll With Joe (look at the pedigree mix with the mare and damsire Armbro Aussie’s good attributes) or Heston Blue Chip for some maternal line hook ups and of course if you want to go up in price and more commercial in either of those directions there is Bettor’s Delight (instead of Roll With Joe) and Captaintreacherous (instead of Heston Blue Chip). PS Dot has added a couple of other suggestions in a comment on this blog.

There are other options I covered off in my Romola Hal blog series, including viewing the “herd” wider to include extended branches of the wonderful kicking on Klata Thorne (Miss Duvall) family which Romola Hal belongs to. That includes all the K Nora/Adora branches like Western Ideal, American Ideal and He’s Watching.

The mare is waiting. Just contact Dot for more details:



There was a win at Invercargill (North Southland Trotting Club) meeting on Saturday that interests me for several reasons. It wasn’t a huge win in terms of stakes, but it was a very impressive win.

The 3yo chestnut filly by Panspacificflight is from the good mare Weka Lass, owned and bred by Lester Smith, trained by Lauren Pearson and driven by Brent Barclay. It was her third start but she has been building nicely (with a 5th, then 3rd in previous starts), so understandably went out a pretty hot favourite. She returned a winning dividend to the punters and the main slice of the $7500 stakes money to the owner.

That is a nice example of reciprocity, which basically means “returning the favour”.

And after hearing race caller Dave McDonald struggle with the word and end up calling the filly “Recipro City” I can help him learn how to say it: “Reci Prossity”  with the emphasis on the Prossity. Think like you are saying “recipe” i.e. “reci-pe” but add the “-procity” ending instead. If you google it you can even hear a nice voice saying it for you. If anyone knows Dave, pass it on. It is a lovely name, and the filly is starting to put it into action.

Another reason I am following this filly is her breeding. She is from the line of the very good filly Oaxaca Lass (19 wins, 13 places from 48 starts and $456,134). She belongs to the big sprawling Tondeleyo family mainly associated with the Woolleys and Kerslakes with Adio Star’s descendants, but also with many other branches that are firing today – like the Rosslyn Rowan branch with Highview Tommy and The Falcon Strike, and the Paramount branch with Percy The Punter, Seel N Print, Smooth Crusa and more recently Say My Name. It is one of those families worth exploring through the Classic Families database.

Weka Lass was the first of Oaxaca Lass’s 12 (to date) foals, with only one year missed. And she has been pretty consistent, with all but one (Verde Lima, by Bettor’s Delight, 2 race starts only) of racing age being a winner. Of those retained in New Zealand, Weka Lass is by far the most successful so far, but Condrieu (colt by Bettor’s Delight) was sold to Austalia and has won $194,210 via 18 wins and 18 places from 63 starts. A tough campaigner, like his older brother Intrepid Traveller, who won $81,857 over exactly the same number of starts.

Illegal Immigrant is an American Ideal half brother to Weka Lass, current racing for Ken Barron and definitely worth keeping an eye on. He’s a 4yo now with a record of 12 starts, 2 wins and 4 places to date, but like many American Ideals will keep improving.

A further reason I’m taking an interest in this filly is her relationship to a young Kiwi breeder. Sam Langrope has Weka Lass’s Presidential Ball half sister Kusadasi (44 starts, 3 wins, 11 places, $43,747) and he was a breeder that got in touch with me a few years ago. He’s a breeder with his own thoughtful ideas and passion, and I’m delighted to see his first foal from the mare is showing quite a bit of promise – that’s Kardesler by American Ideal, sold by Sam through the sales for $19,000 and is currently owned by M H Fenton, R A Payne, Mrs R M Dakin with 1 win and 2 places from 6 starts. Sam Langrope has next bred a Changeover filly, now yearling, and the mare is served by Sir Lincoln. Talent showing up from the wider family is always good for a breeder, so good on you Sam for your own one, and getting into this talented family.

And now one last reason why this filly Recipocity has taken my interest – she is by Panspacificflight, a sire with a maternal pedigree that is simply excellent, and from the Western Hanover sire line. He stands at Macca Lodge. It is great to see some really nice horses showing up from this sire. This is not the first talented winner and will definitely not be the last. His maternal line is so close to Art Major it is not funny, but instead of the Artplace sire line he brings in Western Hanover (via The Panderosa) as his sire line.

In August last year Macca Lodge website posted this news:

The MACCA LODGE colours were in the winner’s circle for the first time this season when three-year-old Panspacificflight filly Sally Maclennane broke through maiden ranks at Gore on 23 August. After making a mistake when well-supported in her first run for the season at Invercargill a fortnight earlier, Sally Maclennane was eased out of the gate by John Dunn in the 2200-metre event. She made a run three-wide with a round to go before pressing on to lead at the 600-metre mark and holding on gamely to win in 2:49 neat. The McIntyres leased her dam, the Badlands Hanover mare Weka Lass, from owner Leicester Smith for a season to put to Panspacificflight. Sally Maclennane, who trialled in 1:58 as a two-year-old, is the second winner from her sire’s second crop here behind quality filly Arden’s Choice. Weka Lass, who is out of the big winner Oaxaca Lass, has also left a full-sister to Sally Maclennane called Reciprocity.

So there you go! Reciprocity’s older sister Sally Maclennane was sold to Australia early 2016 after she won at her third start here, and has had a couple of seconds and a couple of thirds since then at Globe Derby. But I’ll predict on the ability she showed on Saturday Reciprocity will end up with more wins under her girth strap than her sister.

Still wondering if you can afford to breed again this year? If you are looking to race yourself or bring a foal up to race and sell, here is something to think about.

Studs these days are increasingly offering a range of deals for breeders, and far more openly than the mates rates deals of earlier times. There are plenty of options for paying early for a good discount or paying more later on a live foal.

However goStallions has gone a step further with the sire Prodigal Seelster. There is an option for a service fee of NZ$3250 + gst or you can opt for a pay-on-delivery-at-racetrack option which means you will only be charged when your foal qualifies later in life… that’s when a bill of $3000 + GST becomes payable; then once your horse runs its first placing at the races, the final payment of $1000 + GST is due. So all up that is $4600 (including gst) if you successfully take that option. I assume it is a breeding contract and therefore the breeder is responsible for those payments regardless of who owns the horse when it starts to perform.

It is an interesting option, and it places the risk of going to an unproven sire who is less known here, with the rewards of getting financial pain relief until the horse proves he can earn his way.

In the pricing, he is more or less the equal of Macca Lodge’s Net Ten EOM and Panspacificflight.

So what credentials does he have?

Prodigal Seelster

Canadian horse Prodigal Seelster, Camluck x Platinum Seelster (Western Hanover) stands in New Zealand with an interesting pay on success fee option

Prodigal Seelster (Camluck x Platinum Seelster – Western Hanover) is a reasonable sire prospect in his own right, although in the competitive market here I would place him probably more at $2200 than $3250. However the shared-risk deal adds an appealing sweetener, particularly when the attributes of the stallion in terms of pedigree and racing CV make him worth much more than a passing thought. If your mare (and your pocket) suits, this could be quite a tempting option to lower your risks. He was a decent winning racehorse from a solid family, with good looks.

The stud will have built some of their risks into the pricing structure too. And the deal doesn’t take into consideration the costs you will have incurred getting the foal to that stage of qualifying and racing, so even a 1st at his first start won’t cover all your obligations unless you are really lucky. But if it suits you, and you have the sense to either save or put aside the rest of the service fee (or make sure you sell with that margin built in), the deal is definitely worth a look.

Prodigal Seelster was raced solely in Canada and through the rich stakes series there, so it is really hard to get a line on his actual ability at the very top level – but he has decent credentials.

As a sire, he has several things really working for him, if you have a mare that clicks with these:

  • By Camluck from a Western Hanover mare, he’s bordering on being an outcross to almost every broodmare we have here, apart from recent daughters of Western Hanover or one of his earlier sons (such as Badlands Hanover). Having said that, he’s the only sire I can find that has Western Hanover himself as an immediate damsire in his maternal line. So if you are looking to hook up directly to that factor or duplicate it, he’s a nice option as it comes direct through his dam, rather than through a sire of a damsire.
  • He has a solid maternal pedigree, with his second dam Parcel having left, amongst others, a Camluck filly called Paula Seelster ($600k+) who has bred on well to sires Artiscape, Real Desire and Life Sign.
  • He traces back to Barbara Eden, which is a nice modern family in the making (see below).
  • He is a nice individual, although like so many colts who are retired with injury after taxing racing as youngsters, his soundness is a question mark. But that is not a genetic thing usually, unless it is about bone density or an inherited conformation issue or distinctive racing action.
  • His very few foals look like nice types, but way too early to tell from such small numbers.

So, he is a very interesting option and not to be dismissed lightly.

Noel Kennard is behind this initiative and I give a big tip o’ the hat to him and goHarness for putting different breeding and racing options out there for people to choose from. At least they are trying something different!

Find out more on their website here or contact Johnny Robinson on 021 883 713.  I have no financial interest in the sire and this is not an advert, but I am interested in promoting different options that may suit some breeders, particularly financially.

For me the main thing would be to NOT regard it as a free service and to ensure you have saved the potential service fee payments early on, in expectation of a good result.

PS Another interesting and inexpensive breeding option this year comes from the same maternal Barbara Eden (U44) family as Prodigal Seelster – Shadyshark Hanover standing at Barra Equine for $2500 + gst.  Again the cross is with a sire from the Cam Fella sire line, in this case Cam’s Card Shark, and with a No Nukes damsire. It is a family that has got some momentum going in recent years, particularly on the branch of her daughter Barbret (which is the branch Prodigal Seelster belongs too). Included in the Barbret branch is the wonderful filly Sassa Hanover born 2012 by Rock N Roll Heaven – 1:49.4US $1,008,469.

Barbara Eden was an American actress well known on Tv in the later 1950s and 1960s, best known title role as the blond genie in a bottle in the 1960s TV show I Dream of Jeannie opposite Larry Hagman. The mare Barbara Eden was born in 1966.


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