Archive for March, 2012

As it turned out, my viewing of the yearlings was more erratic than previous years when I have made a point of viewing all of the parade. This time I saw most of the fillies but missed a large chunk of the colts in the middle section. So my picks are based on those I saw rather than the full catalogue.

I am still struggling to find time to ‘do the numbers’ but my impression was that there were some lovely types of fillies that went for a real bargain.  At the industry forum on the Sunday after the Karaka sales, the issue of keeping up our stock of racing and breeding fillies was well canvassed. John Mooney’s “Chairman’s Corner” in the March issue of Breeding Matters is well worth a read on this and other issues. For vendors of nicely bred fillies from very good sires but not outstandingly bred fillies from the hottest sires, the sale was mainly a pretty tough experience. Some of those breeders won’t be back. It raises alarm bells in terms of the future possibility of being able to pre-select sex of foals. Personally I am totally against this other than in exceptional circumstances (in the same way that I am not in favour of embryo transfer other than in exceptional circumstances).

I digress!

Here are my 4 selections of fillies and colts from the Karaka (Australasian Classic) Yearling Sale, using the pedigree pages and my own amateur observations on the day (no inspections).

Please give me yours! Add as “comment” to this blog.

Lot 122, Kamwood Courage, Courage Under Fire – Kamwood Lass (New York Motoring). Sold $11,000
If I’d had a spare $12,000 hanging around in my pocket I would have loved to take this one home. She stood out for me in the parade ring – not big, but good length of body and a lovely deep chest. She is a very nice speedy type and a full sister to a gelding and a filly who have both done well.

Lot 118,  Schleck, Muscle Mass – Merckx (Dream Vacation) (Sold $28,000)
A lovely athletic looking filly from a family that is full of natural talent. I really enjoy the Paynter approach to breeding, always looking ahead, tapping into European trends and contacts (will do more on this later).

Lot 74, Stolen Secret, Mach Three – Hot Secret (Beach Towel). (Buy back $25,000)
Good size, strong type. Is this a ‘golden cross’? Time and statistics will tell.

Lot 119

Lot 119 Delia with preparer Clare McGowan

Lot 119, Delia, American Ideal – Merrily Merrily (Life Sign). (Sold $7000)
I thought this was a very attractive , tall type, with a long barrel and good chest. She looked in the midst of a bit of growth spurt, but I like what I see of American Ideals on the racetrack and I like the double up of the excellent mare Three Diamonds (3×3) – it is good to see a breeder try something like this rather than the usual focus on double up of sires. I’ll have to check, but my recollection is the American Ideal has had some performers in America from Life Sign mares. Breeder Geoff Elton says he is a little disillusioned with the industry at the moment and has moved into other interests. He has quit this family now, and will probably not be selling at the sales next year. I hope this filly does really well and draws him back in! I won’t expect her to be a 2yo, she’s got growing to do.

The colts I’ve picked are:

Lot 25

Lot 25 Charlie Chuckles

Lot 25, Charlie Chuckles, Grinfromeartoear – Charioteer (Christian Cullen). (Sold $34,000) 
Nice strong type, looked great.  Nice pedigree match too.

Lot 19, Derringer, Bettor’s Delight – Bury My Heart (In The Pocket). (Sold $22,500)
The full brother to Texican but Cran Dalegety didn’t want him and the price is surprisingly light. Without having inspected him, the only downside I could spot was his size – he is a small, compact type, but not the “built like a brick shithouse” round, solid and strong type that Bettor’s Delight can stamp even if they are small. He looked to me more like a smaller In The Pocket type. However the family has plenty of class and I like the breeding – I’ll take my chances.

Lot 175, Crixus Brogden, Real Desire – Swift Mirage (What’s Next) (Sold $9,000)
Sold so cheap I must have missed something!! I’m just taking a punt on this guy because he paraded so well, looked so focused.

Lot 148

Lot 148 Destination Moon

Lot 148, Destination Moon, Grinfromeartoear – Zenterfold (In The Pocket) (Sold $67,000)
Call me biased, but… I’m very happy to have him in my “virtual stable”.

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When I spoke to Nevele R Stud’s Peter O’Rourke  recently I was delighted to learn that Tintin In America has settled in very well at Nevele R and is relaxed and comfortable. The soreness in his leg is no worse and in fact a little better, and it has not affected collection of his semen at all. In fact Peter describes him as a ‘great little stallion” and his fertility rate for his first year standing as a sire will be around 90%, which is outstanding.

Tintin In America

Tintin In America winning the 3yo Breeders Crown.

Tintin In America served 63 mares this season (40 in NZ and 23 in Australia), including about 15 on farm at Nevele R.

Although that is lower than Nevele R hoped, Peter says there are reasons for it – the overall numbers of mares being bred to continues to downward trend so there are basically fewer mares spread around a healthy number of sires, and the stud also had the herpes virus alert which contributed to fewer mares on farm than usual.

However the quality of the mares Tintin In America got in his first season was good – about 50% were winning mares, Peter says, which shows a level of confidence in the sire. When a new ‘young gun’ stands at stud at such a reasonable fee, there is always the risk that the majority of mares he gets will be less performed ones brought in from the ‘back paddock’ in the hope that a miracle may occur!  Although Tintin had exceptional speed, it is a big ask to upgrade mares unless they also bring something to the table, and many a new sire at the lower end of the stud fee spectrum has faced that problem.

As a 15.1h stallion with a reputation for speed and endurance (he won at the highest level from age 2 to 4) he will be attractive match for medium and larger mares. It will be interesting to see if he is one of those sires who ‘stamp’ their progeny in type or not.  A really important attribute he will hopefully pass on is his will power, which his dam Zenterfold also had as a racehorse – a desire to win, a really competitive streak, an arrogance. My own belief is that Tintin’s ability is driven from his maternal line, and my selection of sires is really to complement that with additional scope, and to ‘call’ to its best genes through pedigree matching.  That’s not downplaying McArdle’s contribution as a sire, but just from knowing the family well.

As the breeder of Tintin In America I remain very interested in his well being, and it was great to get an invitation from Peter to visit him whenever I am in Christchurch.

Post note: Re my previous blog, when just about to leave for the yearling sales – Tintin In America’s half brother Lot 148 Destination Moon sold for $67,000 at the Australasian Classic sale at Karaka on 8 May 2012. That’s a price I’m very pleased with, and he has gone to a good owner (Kerry Hoggard) and good trainer (Gareth Dixon).  As I said in my blog, a good price like that gives something back to the vendor but also leaves room for the new owner to add value and hopefully get a good return. I will be following his progress with interest. He certainly had the same energy and assertiveness that Tintin had. Fingers crossed for the same speed!

(Apologies for the lack of blogs post sale, for a number of reasons including family ill health and computer problems I have not been able to get to the blog for the past couple of weeks.)

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I’ll come back to Bettor’s Delight later, because it is a fascinating topic for the future.

But right now, we are bang in the middle of the New Zealand standardbred yearling sales. Day One in Christchurch is over, and I’m adding those selling prices into my catalogue for future reference.

Harnesslink describes the sale so far in fairly favourable terms, with the average only just down on last year. But averages hide many a loss. As I go through the catalogue I can see many yearlings that would not be making a profit for the vendor – or a very marginal one depending on how much of the work you do yourself and how much you have to pay others.

Yes, real quality will always attract interest and money, and there are some prices that indicate there was maybe a fault in the individual that put bidders right off. Which sort of begs the question why some of that isn’t sorted out in the inspections? Well, perhaps it was flagged up and the vendor had realistic expectations going into the sales and few other options.

It is a buyer’s market now, and has been for a few years. On the positive side, these prices leave a bit more for the new owners – a chance to try the horse and maybe get it to the races without over-investing, and a chance to make something if you are lucky. Which is important – because over-inflated yearling prices can be a disaster for the industry if buyers get burned by low stakes and the odds of success.

But I feel for those breeders who don’t have the numbers to average out their income and, like me, are relying on one or only a few horses to provide some sort of return on two years of effort and costs. It is a very nervous time at the sales!

Later today we are heading up to Auckland with our Lot 148 in the float, “Duncan” as we know him. It will be a busy few days. Somewhere along the line I will make time to look at as many of the horses parade or go through the ring as I can, particularly those whose breeding interests me for some reason.

As I said in my blog about selecting a ‘virtual yearling stable’, the sales are a good opportunity to compare and view types of yearlings and what sires are stamping their foals, what types are appealing to the market etc.

In a week or so, I will be posting up my ‘virtual yearling stable’ for 2012, and invite anyone else to pick their four lots too – just list the Lot number, Chch or Karaka, sire and sex as a comment and we can track them over the next couple of years.

Bragging rights: one of my 2011 selections was Alta Christiano, recent winner of the Kindergarten Stakes (making it 2 from 2 after a win in a Young Guns heat). Breeder Tony Dickinson often comes up with a little beauty from families that lack a lot of recent black type. Alta Christiano sold for $50,000 last year, and in the catalogue I noted (at the parade) “walks nice, character”. Well, not a very technical comment I know! But he was one of those yearlings that really catch your eye in the parade ring. I’ll hopefully get some comments from Tony over the next weeks on the breeding side of things.

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