Archive for May, 2012

Apologies for a bit of a gap in blogging, but there are a number of reasons (recalcitrant mouse and old computer, got new computer but delay in hooking up, got a virus – me, not the computer! – and being dizzy with the viral infection made me fall, falling cracked a rib – oh, and I’m moving house) so it is a challenge to blog at the moment, but after a week or so me and my computer should be in full working order again!.

However the good news – some topics coming up include a look at Bettor’s Delight and his full brother Roll With Joe, and some observations on other “brothers at stud”. What are the pros and cons from breeding, commercial and genetic perspectives? Also I am collaborating with Ray Chaplin of equineexcellence.biz to do some in-depth analysis of Life Sign sons at stud. This follows our previous collaboration on the great mare Rich N Elegant and her sons at stud (see previous blogs). The question in both cases is: Why do some top sons perform at stud and others are flops? That article will initially be published in Breeding Matters magazine (official magazine of NZ Standardbred Breeders Assn) probably in August and then posted on this blog.

In the meantime, I will continue to post up my usual range of observations and articles as often as I can.

Jewels this Saturday!

Locally (Cambridge, New Zealand) we are hosting the Harness Racing Jewels event this Saturday, where the top earning 2, 3 and 4 year old pacers and trotters compete over a mile for top stakes in one day of fantastic racing. (2 June 2012). The Jewels is an event that has great memories for me with Tintin In America winning the 4yo Emerald for pacers last time it was held in Cambridge in 2010, the 3yo Emerald in Ashburton in 2009, and placed 3rd in the 2yo Emerald in Cambridge in 2008.

It’s also an event the captures the mix of fun day out and intensity of top racing that are the hallmark of The Little Brown Jug and Breeders Crown race days internationally. Well worth supporting – and Cambridge is a really lovely place to visit.  Cross our fingers for a fine day – we’ve had some beautiful clear sunny days after overnight frosts this autumn, and one of those on Saturday would be superb.

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A great sunshiney day and a good turnout at Alabar’s Waiau Pa property.  You’d have to be a bigger risk taker than I am to pinhook in the current economic climate, particularly weanlings that are from okay but not recently performing families, and you would need to look for potential to develop into a standout individual over the next 10 months, regardless of breeding. That’s a real gift! However weanling sales do offer the opportunity for owner/trainers to pick up something at a very reasonable cost and have a go. The cheaper initial cost takes some of the pressure off and gives leeway to let them develop at their own pace. Kym (who has an eye for young horses and their potential that I will never have) has bought three weanling fillies from the Alabar draft over the past couple of years, and all are developing nicely. It was interesting to see their half sisters/brothers as part of this year’s weanling draft.

I did my usual first walk around the weanlings “blind” i.e. picking out what appeals on type before I know what the breeding is.  I don’t judge on size until I can check the foaling dates, as there were some very early and several late foals in the mix.

Lot 32 weanling sale at Karaka 2012

Lot 32, Art Major-Heather Laurique filly

Overall, I came up with number 32, an Art Major filly out of Heather Laurique as my top choice – she’s a December foal and so lacks size but was attractive, nicely proportioned, lovely neck and head. She had a spring and energy about her – an athletic type (photo).  I would not normally seek out Art Majors as a personal preference, so it was interesting to find I’d picked her! At the other end of the spectrum in looks, but almost as appealing to me, was number 8, a Real Desire filly out of an American bred mare. A late October foal, she was already showing size and had good strong body and legs, but I reckon she will go through a tall and lanky stage before maturing and probably not a truly early type even though she might get up and running at 2. Compared to 32 she was a plain type, but from the brief encounter I would say she’d have a good temperament.  Number 4 is the Santanna Blue Chip filly out of Alta Magari I mentioned in my last blog – she was smaller than I expected although not a late foal – the dam’s influence perhaps, but very correct.

Lot 21

Lot 21, Shadow Play-Dunbeath colt

Of the colts, I’d take home number 16, a lovely compact but strong looking Grin, and number 21 a Shadow Play out of a Falcon Seelster mare. But there were several colts – and particularly some of the Santanna Blue Chips – that were very appealing.

In fact the overall impression of the Santanna Blue Chip weanlings was  favourable. I thought they looked good correct types, straight in the leg, decent length of body and upstanding.

Lot 25 Shadow Play – Esha colt

Shadow Plays were also on my list to check out on type – overall they looked a finer,  perhaps athletic type. Not leaping out at me in the same way that most of the Santanna Blue Chips did. Number 25 was a stockier, more solid type and an earlier foal than some of the other Shadow Plays. He has thrown in markings to his damsire Elsu (including a blaze) and perhaps Elsu mares will give a bit more ‘solid body’ to their foals.

The sale itself is on this Sunday 20 May when offerings from Woodlands and others will join these weanlings – and of course some mixed aged horses/broodmares.

We are not buying this year, and I may not make it to Karaka this time, but I welcome any comments and observations from those who do.

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These sales are a great opportunity for those looking for value. They lack the hype of the yearling sales and therefore both the vendor and the buyer are likely to have more realistic expectations.

At these sales you can also see some of the new sires’ foals in larger numbers than many of us might normally – especially in the North Is where Alabar uses this sale rather than the more risky yearling sales to showcase and move on its young stock. The Alabar inspection day is on Saturday 5 May, and there were plenty of people taking advantage of that last year.

I’ll be particularly interested in looking at Shadow Play’s and Santanna Blue Chip’s weanlings, and checking if some of the other sires are starting to show any signs of ‘throwing to type’ that I noticed from prior weanling and yearling sales.  The filly by Santanna Blue Chip out of Alta Magari looks striking in the photo, but there is nothing like seeing these little ones in the flesh. Overall, the Santanna Blue Chips look very nice types. I’m not an expert judge at all (far from it!), but I like to get an overall impression built up from as many individuals as I can see, rather than base my views on a few horses I might know.  At the inspection day,  I can ask the Alabar crew about the weanling’s dam to find out what she might have added to the mix – they are a really helpful, friendly team up there.  Of particular interest to me will be the Gotta Co Cullects, as I am so impressed by the sire and his weanlings/yearlings to date and now have a half share in a filly we picked up at last year’s weanling sale and is breaking in nicely.

In the all aged category, the 2yo Grinfromeartoear filly Provocative could be a good sneaky bid if you want something ready to run – she was unwanted at the yearling sale last year in spite of being a nice type (I recall her in the ring and wondered why she was not attracting more bids, but the Grins aren’t sexy at the sales), and was bought back by the Barlows for about $9000 – and they persuaded Linda Hamilton to take her, with Steven Argue doing the breaking in and training. She qualified nicely enough as a 2yo at Franklin, long before many of the other pricier sales yearlings have made it to the track. Grins tend to need time and can be a little one dimensional in their racing until they mature mentally and strengthen, but those that have natural ability can hold speed and are tough minded – and this filly is from the same family that produced Charge Forward and Covert Action, both Grins of course.  The pedigree match refers in some really nice ways to great mares Breath of Spring, The Old Maid and therefore Spinster, and Grin’s Storm Damage damsire provides the close up footnote to those – one of the things I really like about Grin from a genetic perspective, pulling older references back into the pattern (see my blog on fairisle knitting!)

The South Is sale is much more oriented to broodmares with a bit of a clean out occuring.  I would be interested in getting comments from those in the South Island who can assess some possible nuggets amongst those horses on offer.

More from me – and hopefully others who want to comment – after the Alabar inspection day and sales days.

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