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Archive for December, 2012

A recent query asked what I thought about this cross: Tintin In America with a Trump Casino mare. It is an interesting question as Trump Casino is a son of Falcon Seelster and McArdle (sire of Tintin In America is also a son of Falcon Seelster).

Basically my response is this: unless I knew more about the mare, particularly her maternal lines, her conformation, ability/attributes, I really would not want to make a recommendation in a particular case. Even then, I would rather you work it out!

That is what b4breeding is all about – encouraging you as the breeder to take what you know of your mares and families (because you know far better than me) and to make informed or at least thoughtful decisions. “Look b4 you leap” – and that is not a warning, it’s an encouragement to dive in, but at least to be aware of the risks and the waters…

Trump Casino is an Australian sire I know little of, so won’t pretend to have that close up knowledge of how he is perceived as a sire or (more importantly) how he really performs as a sire or damsire. I have had a quick look at his stats, but not enough to really understand where he sits in terms of current performance and perception. He’s not in the top tier though. The sire and broodmare pool in New Zealand, where I am, and in Australia (where the question comes from and where Trump Casino stands) is quite different. I don’t have the resources to be very knowledgeable about Australian breeding. But the principles for breeders making decisions are going to be the similar.

Here’s what I do know – because I bred and raised him:

With Tintin In America, as I have already stated in a past blog,  I would not exclude Falcon Seelster mares for him. That is because Falcon is such an outcross sire, and that where he would sit twice in such a pedigree would not really worry me in terms of the resulting foal.

Falcon Seelster is a sire that Tintin’s wider family has mixed well with previously (Elsu, Falcor, De Lovely etc). So that would be a plus factor in a Tintin In America/Trump Casino mare cross.

Personally, I don’t think McArdle (Tintin’s sire) has a lot of Falcon Seelster influence in him. I think he may be driven by the genes he got from his dam lines rather than from his dad. The Falcon Seelster factor (his click with the family previously) was not a big factor in my selection of McArdle for Tintin’s dam Zenterfold.

Add to that, Tintin In America is strongly rooted in his own very good maternal family, and may well be just as much influenced by those connections as by his granddad. Keep that firmly in mind when you are looking at mares for Tintin!

So to summarise – I would be relaxed and happy about mixing Falcon Seelster back to Tintin in the maternal lines or sire lines of mares.

Trump Casino appears from his record to have done supremely well as a 3yo with 21 starts for 9 wins and 10 seconds, and took a 1:49.2 record as a 4yo.  That seems to have been in Kentucky, which is not a state with strong standardbred siring prospects. His maternal family is not familiar. He must have been a sound horse, carrying on racing until 8yo. A nice horse! Tough and durable, strong and consistent 3, 4 and 5yo seasons. I love these type of horses. His dam Laker’s Fortune was a good race mare, earning over $300,00.  I was interested to find Trump Casino’s grandamsire Adios Boy was one of the first 2yos to break the 2 min mile barrier, and Adios Boy appears in the bottom line pedigrees of both Camluck and Presidential Ball.  Trump Casino’s damsire Fortune Teller was a son of Governor Skipper, a Little Brown Jug winning son of Meadow Skipper – neither of them carried on the Meadow Skipper line to any extent but they were good horses.

Call me biased (but I have absolutely no financial interest in Tintin as a sire) I do think he deserves a chance to show what he can do as a sire. In previous blogs I’ve given lots of information about Tintin and his family and my breeding decisions around that (See the blogs It’s business time, the one on Shadow Wave, on Tintin Are you looking for speed and Tintin’s fertility 90% and the page on Destination Moon for example). So hopefully some of that will be helpful in deciding if Tintin is a good sire for your mare.

Remember! You need to make the decision first about what qualities your mare is bringing to the table – what she offers, and then what she might need. A sire cannot provide a miracle, only a shot of semen filled with a number of  genetic options that may or may not be compatible with your mare.

Fun, isn’t it!!

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It was almost 2 years ago, Friday 18 February 2011, parade day at the Australasian Classic Yearling Sale, Karaka.

I was leaning on the parade ring fence, watching a few of them stretching  their legs and get used to the place.

And then I saw him.

He didn’t have a lot number on him. I had no idea who he was or what his breeding was. Goofy, big, good natured. Full of character.

I was smitten.

“He’s nice,” I called to the handler. “What lot number?” “Number 6 I think,” was the reply.

In the formal parade, I checked Lot 6 – yes, it was him. Big Is Good. On sale from Croon Bloodstock. Bay Colt, Art Major-Twice As Good.

Big Is Good yearling sale

Big Is Good leaves the parade ring at Karaka’s Australasian Classic Yearling Sale 2011

I watched him walk around again, and made a note in my catalogue: “Lovely, gawky young thing. Tall.” I fell in love all over again. I even took this photo of him. He didn’t make my last cut for my 2011 yearling sales virtual stable, mainly because I thought he would need a lot of time to mature, but I’ve been following him as best I can.

Today, at 1.19pm Big Is Good makes his debut at the races, after showing up well enough in his qualifying trial. I’ll be watching.

Twice As Good’s family is one I hold in high regard. Stunningly consistent, often underrated at the sales, the family keeps throwing up good performers from a wide range of sires.

Twice As Good was a decent racehorse herself and was bred mainly by Steve and Anne Phillips (for Twice As Hot by In The Pocket, Trelise by Holmes Hanover and Waitfornoone by Albert Albert) and then by Robert Death for St Barts by Island Fantasy (one of the few Island Fantasies that really showed big ability), before moving to Croon Bloodstock. She’s then left the good filly Fight Fire With Fire by Artiscape (again, a sire many have struggled with), the Christian Cullen filly Goodlookinggirl who is now owned by Breckon Bloodstock, and more recently the Bettor’s Delight colt Mark Dennis who is showing up nicely. That sort of production record indicates a mare who has a very good genetic structure herself.

The mare to date has left far more fillies than colts, so it must have been with some relief and hope that Big Is Good by Art Major was foaled and aimed at the yearling sales.

But at auction time, few bids were made and he went for a lowly $5000 (although I noted $10,000 on the day, but maybe that was the auctioneer trying to get a bid). Why?

It was announced he was a rig – but does that really count for much if the product is a big strapping Art Major colt?

I think it was more his type – he looked happy, soft, lanky, like a gawky teenager.  Maybe there was something else amiss that I didn’t spot. But now he’s at the races, and in hindsight he was a real bargain.

PGG Wrightson’s Kerry Shaw is one of the owners, with L J Smith, Mrs E A Whitelaw.

I wish them all the best with Big Is Good, the goofy boy who stole my heart.

Note: Just checked on trainer Cran Dalgety’s website for his comments about Big Is Good and a recent photo – and his chances in the race debut today.

Further note: Sat back, loomed up, sat parked, trucked on but got passed by a few. 5th. You wouldn’t be too disappointed with that run unless you’d thrown the house at him – rather than a little one each way bet like me; he’ll be improved with that.

Breeding note: For those interested, check out Australasian 2013 sale Lot 110, a Bettor’s Delight colt from a Artiscape daughter of Twice As Good (and therefore a sister to Fight Fire With Fire). The family’s record is well displayed there.  He’ll probably get a wee bit more than $5000, me thinks!

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My last couple of blogs have brought some interesting responses sent directly to me rather than posted up.

But let me summarise and also add in some thought-provoking comments from Ken MacKay of Premier Pedigrees (premierpedigrees@gmail.com) who is also the agent for Pepper Tree Farm’s Rock n Roll Heaven, Sportswriter and Roll With Joe this current breeding season, so has an interesting perspective on market trends.

A combination of falling breeding numbers spread among a wide range of sires, plus a large number of breeders going to one proven sire (Bettor’s Delight) is going to have an impact downstream in several ways.

And there are some other trends such as the improved breeding stock (mares and sires) in Australia, which will provide New Zealand with additional challenges in future years.

But as the saying goes, challenges can bring opportunities – in my view, the chance for locally bred sires to shine and to continue the point of difference in our gene pool which has been a strength before and may be again. That’s taking a fairly long-horizon view. The next few years will be a lot trickier!

Comments from blog readers on the ‘saturation’ by Bettor’s Delight, especially in sales yearlings on offer, point out that Woodlands Stud has chosen not to temper demand through pricing, nor has PGG Wrightson taken responsibility for evening things out a bit more at the two top sales days. However you have to remember that these are commercial companies looking after their own interests.

The people that make final decisions are breeders, individually. Perhaps, due to some risk aversion, many breeders have made ‘safe’ choices that are leading us into a bit of a cul de sac if we are not careful. As Ken points out, those studs that are offering top imported/frozen semen sires will not keep offering their product here if the market appears not to want them or too small to give a financial return.

It is not too late for some serious thinking,  collectively and as individuals, to avoid the ironic situation where being ‘risk adverse’ in fact opens us to a greater risk – that we will over-supplied in our own market and cut ourselves out of others.

Following are some of Ken’s observations which I enjoy –  this is thoughtful debate and discussion, with a good dose of passion, which is exactly what we need!

I heard a few breeders say this season that we are “spoilt for choice”. Whilst that may be the case this season, I believe it can disappear just as fast as it came.

Last season Empire Stallions made about a dozen of their stallions available to NZ breeders including the likes of Modern Art, Artistic Fella, Kenneth J, Village Jolt etc, but between them ( excl. Rocknroll Hanover ) they could muster a sum total of 21 mares. This season Ron Burrell could offer only 3 to NZ breeders and he had to fight tooth and nail to make Four Starzzz Shark available again. Talking to Ron the other day he has about 16 bookings to him this season so doesn’t know if he will win that battle again.

I myself tried to get all 5 Pepper Tree stallions available to NZ breeders but couldn’t get Aces N’ Sevens or Always A Virgin  (he currently sits in 2nd place on the New Seasons Sires premiership in N. America behind only Somebeachsomewhere) as there was not enough “margin” given the average cost of semen transport per mare to warrant their availability into NZ.

With poor numbers this season to USA horses of the year in Sportswriter (20) and Roll With Joe ( just over a dozen ) it will be a real struggle convincing the Australian studs that is economically viable to send their semen over the Tasman next season just as Ron will have difficulty with Four Starzzz Shark.

Where does this leave us then other than supporting NZ Studs with home-grown talent? Just as you say “re-invent the colonial”.

With the top end we will be just a nursery for Australian buyers, we hope. Or will they need to come to NZ any more, as they have secured the best bloodlines of our NZ families over the past two decades and now they have direct access to the best N. American stallions?

Problem is the Australian based Studs have now taken the high ground with the top stallions and have upgraded their broodmare gene pool (thanks to NZ ) that the time will soon be here where they don’t need to come over to NZ to buy “superior” stock as APG will be fully meeting that need without the additional expense.

The likes of Emilio Rosati recently buying in Harrisburg sends an alarming message to the NZ breeding industry.

The gulf could just become wider than the Tasman Sea and very quickly too!

There is groundswell speculation that in the near future that those big studs that are left in Australia and NZ will be purchasing mainly local product off the racetracks. Top horse owners are aware of this. The evidence was right there in the 2012 NZ Trotting Cup with 10 of the starters being entires (and this excluded others such as Sir Lincoln). So a move back to “colonial” days in the modern era!!  Who knows but the alarm bells are certainly ringing.

In my next few blogs, I’ll write more on these issues and implications – always happy to have readers post comments directly under here, or to me by email at bee.raglan@xtra.co.nz but please note if you want to be quoted or not on the blog.

I’ll also start looking at some of the interesting lots, from a breeding perspective, at the 2013 New Zealand yearling sales.

It’s great to have just a few extra days holiday to do some researching and writing. We have been exceptionally busy in my ‘normal’ job and it has been a hard year in some ways, with my Mum passing away just a month ago (about the same time as that great mum Rich N Elegant). I do try to blog about once a week, sometimes its more of a cluster then a gap. I do appreciate the positive feedback you send me.

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When I opened the Sale of the Stars catalogue for the Australasian Classic and the New Zealand Premier yearling sales 2013, I got a shock. I sort of expected what I saw, but the extent of it still took me by surprise.

It wasn’t just the dominance in numbers of Bettor’s Delight yearlings; it was the lack of significant numbers from many very good and newer sires who, if they don’t get to showcase progeny at the sales, have a much harder job to do on the track to keep their names in the spotlight.

It’s a good illustration of how decision making by individual breeders can produce an effect that has a much wider impact downstream on the marketplace for yearlings, the likelihood of new sires being available here,  and the depth and width of our future breeding pool of mares.

But before worrying about “are we breeding ourselves into a new corner”, I wanted to have a look at the not-too-distant past and see to what extent this has happened before, with no long term ill effects – indeed some very positive outcomes?

Bear with me while I jot down some of the stats I’ve found, comparing these 2013 yearling sales with sales in 2001 (when In The Pocket and Falcon Seelster were so dominant), and the 2006,  2007 and 2008 sales when the biggest crops of Christian Cullen were yearlings. I’m not getting too precise, and the yearlings offered don’t take into account withdrawals, but the figures are close enough to paint a picture.

I’ve bolded any occasion where one sire’s yearlings are 20% or more of a sale – because this is the level where I believe (looking at those sales) dominance starts to dramatically reduce the numbers that other sires have on offer.

2001 New Zealand Yearling Sales

Total yearlings in catalogue = 534
North Island – 163, In The Pocket 34 = 20.8%, Falcon Seelster 22 = 13.4%
South Island – 371, In The Pocket 68 = 18.3%, Falcon Seelster 68 = 18.3%
Other sires with good numbers at both sales Holmes Hanover, Soky’s Atom, Fake Left
Of total yearlings – In the Pocket 102 = 19%, Falcon Seelster 90 = 16.8%

2006 New Zealand Yearling Sales

Total yearlings in catalogue = 567
North Island – 169, Christian Cullen 37 = 21%, next biggest In the Pocket 24 = 14%
Other sires’ yearlings with good numbers Presidential Ball, Falcon Seelster, Pacific Rocket (each 7%), Mach Three and Live Or Die (4% each)
South Island – 398,Christian Cullen 49 = 12%, next biggest Falcon Seelster 45 = 11.3%
Other sires’ yearlings with good numbers In The Pocket, Live Or Die and Mach Three (each 7-9%)
Of total sales yearlings – Christian Cullen 86 = 15% , Falcon Seelster 58 = 10.2%, In The Pocket 55 = 9.7%

2007 New Zealand Yearling Sales

Total yearlings in catalogue = 576
North Island – 162, Christian Cullen 26 = 16%, next biggest Presidential Ball 22 = 13.5%
Other sires’ yearlings with good numbers Dream Away 13 = 8%, Badlands Hanover and In The Pocket (each 6%)
South Island – 414, Christian Cullen 67 = 16%, next biggest Badlands Hanover 34 = 8.2%, Red River Hanover 32 = 7.7%
Other sires’ yearlings with good numbers Falcon Seelster 28 = 6.7%, Courage Under Fire 28 =6.7%,  Live Or die 25 = 6%, In The Pocket 19 = 4.5%
Of total sales yearlings – Christian Cullen 93 = 16%
(And out of interest Bettor’s Delight total sales yearlings in 2007 was 14, his first real commercial crop to the sales)

2008 New Zealand Yearling Sales

Total yearlings in catalogue 700
North Island 201, Christian Cullen 29 = 14.4%
South Island 499, Christian Cullen 46 = 9.2%
Of total sales yearlings – Christian Cullen 75 = 16%

2013 New Zealand Yearling Sales

Total yearlings in catalogue = 515
North Island – 180, Bettor’s Delight 56 = 31%, Art Major 22 = 12%, Christian Cullen 17 = 9.4%, next biggest Mach Three 16 = 8.8%
South Island (Day 1) – 183 , Bettor’s Delight 44 = 24%, Art Major 24 = 13%, Christian Cullen 19 = 10.3%, next biggest Changeover 15 = 8%
South Island (Day 2) – 152 , Changeover 20 = 13% (Bettor’s Delight 7 = 4.6%)
Of total sales yearlings – Bettor’s Delight 107 = 20%, Art Major 47 = 9%, Changeover 39 = 7.5%

Closest to Bettor’s Delight’s dominance at the yearling sales was in 2001 (In The Pocket) and 2006 (Christian Cullen), but in both cases their dominance was tempered by good representation from a number of other sires.

In 2013 we have an extraordinary situation at the North Island (Karaka) sales were almost one third of yearlings offered are by Bettor’s Delight. And at the Premier Day 1 sale in Christchurch a quarter are sired by Bettor’s Delight.

The implications for the vendor are huge. The pressure is now on them to produce absolute top quality Bettor’s Delight yearlings, because buyers have such a range to choose from and they will be able to pick and pay optimum price only for those they perceive as being a desirable type or with a very strong pedigree. As happened with some of the larger Christian Cullen yearling sale crops (although his service fee was usually higher than Bettor’s Delight) there may be many vendors whose profit margin might not beas big as they hoped. The marketplace may well self-correct over the next few years when even bigger crops of Bettor’s Delight are coming through the sales, and breeders move to other sires with the aim of being less ‘one of a crowd’ and more having a point of difference.

In the meantime, however, I am more concerned about the paucity of yearling sale representation by some top quality or newer sires commercial sires. If they don’t get their chance to showcase yearlings at the top sales (in particularly the Australasian Classic at Karaka and Day 1 at the Premier) their profile for the next breeding season is lower.  Buyers of their yearlings also have a hard job to do chasing the Bettor’s Delights in the Sales Series races, which involve quite a commitment of payments.

Mach Three’s representation is lower than I expected, and so is American Ideal’s and Badland Hanover’s.  Jereme’s Jet and Lis Mara racehorses are starting to show up more as 3yos, but they are low profile in the 2013 catalogue, particularly Lis Mara. Santanna Blue Chip’s yearlings last year (not many) were lovely looking types and he has 10 yearlings in the 2013 sales, and Art Official also has 10, but both would have probably liked a few more (out of 500 plus on sale) to show off at the premium sales days. Real Desire is well down on numbers, but was well down on foals for that year so that is no surprise. McArdle is struggling for a sales profile although on the track is fillies (which in the past seemed his weak point) have started to show up and there are some nice colts currently racing by him as well. Given the nice type he produces and the large number of foals he had, I would have expected to see some more Gotta Go Cullects.

The winner, apart from Bettor’s Delight and runner up Art Major, is Changeover – with a total of 39 yearlings mainly in the South Island sales, he can display enough range of type and mares to make his mark if they are up to scratch. Christian Cullen may also have a good year for vendors, with fewer for buyers to choose from and a lower service fee giving a better profit margin, and there are some good mares still being loyal to the king!

So there are plenty of sires represented, butmost do not have the numbers they really need to make an impact, an impression. One factor may be that the range of sires that produced this 2013 yearling sale crop of yearlings was not as great in number or as exciting (in terms of new sires in the higher fee/commercial bracket) as what we have had this current breeding season, for example.  Another factor is that the economical climate was rapidly changing, contracting, and breeders for potential sale horses responded to that, I guess, by playing it safe. And Bettor’s Delight is about as safe and sure as you can get these days. And yet another factor may be the contraction of our breeding mare population and too many sires to choose from, particularly in the affordable end of the service fee, which means (1) many sires get fewer mares and (2) breeders may opt to put their mares to cheaper sires and bypass the expense of yearling sale preparation and commercial risk this time around.

The dominance of Bettor’s Delight has some pros and cons, I believe.

Firstly the pros –

  • He is a top, proven sire and adds a lot of quality in terms of producing a good percentage of starters/winners to foals
  • He is known as a sire who injects speed into many of his progeny, although part of that may be attributable to his ‘golden cross’ with In The Pocket mares and others who carry speed genes themselves;
  • His pedigree is quite an outcross for many of our mares and includes elements like a successful branch of the Cam Fella siring line (Cam’s Card Shark) and the excellent maternal line of his dam Classic Wish (which I examined in a previous blog that looked at his full brother Roll With Joe).

The cons –

  • Any dominance of a sire carries with it the risk that the future mare breeding pool is skewed until market forces and time even it out again;
  • His sheer volume of foals continues to pour Bettor’s Delight yearlings into the mix, and subsequently oversupplying the market and risking poorer returns for those who bred to him;
  • He overshadows some really top new sires who may not remain available to us if they cannot get the numbers or quality of mares they deserve.

Longer term opportunities:

  • The stud that finds the sire or sires who appear to click brilliantly with Bettor’s Delight mares will have a field day;
  • These sires may very well be our own ‘colonial’ bred sires with their quirky pedigree structures and their underlying influences of Tar Heel, Direct Scooter, Albatross, Most Happy Fella etc so ironically this dominance of Bettor’s Delight could aid the success of New Zealand bred sires who are arriving at just the right time.
  • Breeders that have already moved to other quality sires will pick up the benefits at future sales as the buying market shifts.

That’s a long blog, but a fascinating issue. Please leave comments or email me direct on bee.raglan@xtra.co.nz and I will continue looking at this issue and other views on it in future.

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In my recent blog on Big Towner I added a link to the viewfromthegrandstand American blog on the influence of Meadow Skipper (Skipper, Skipper Everywhere) which noted the passing of one of Big Towner’s last siring sons – and the domination of Meadow Skipper blood in the “top” and “bottom” lines of many sires. He listed those few sires who are relatively Meadow Skipper-free, amongst them In The Pocket and his son Christian Cullen, both of which are powerful elements in the breeding industry in New Zealand.

The proposition is that when a siring line dies out, we lose an important ability to outcross. We risk getting too much of one bloodline, and our pacing breed is worse off for that.

I agree with that in general. But almost all our siring lines descend from Hambletonian, so what really is an outcross sire? Siring lines branch and develop, and those branches take on their own characteristics. They ebb and flow in what contribution they make to the overall breed. Some don’t survive, but overall I think the desirability of outcrossing ensures that remote branches often become sought after and revive their fortunes when a certain “saturation” level of one dominant siring line is reached.

Of course “market forces” in breeding may not quite line up with the timeframes required for this to happen i.e. a siring line may die out before there is enough interest in outcrossing to it. With Direct Scooter, it was quite a close call.

Meadow Skipper himself now sits usually 4 or more generations removed in most pedigrees, so his influence becomes mixed with a range of many other genes and types – often including outcross sires like Big Towner, Direct Scooter and Abercrombie appearing in the maternal lines – for the very reason that breeders have looked for for that difference to get some “hybrid vigour” or to avoid “too much of a good thing” or just as likely have looked for a certain type of sire to complement their type of mare (stamina sire over smaller speedy mare, etc). So to a large extent the tendency to overdose on one line or branch of a line will self correct over time as breeders turn to other options.

Having said that, there was a long period in North America where it seemed the Dale Frost (Meadow Skipper) line and the Adios (Abercrombie) line sires were in a dance of their own.  The Gene Abbe (Big Towner) siring line was thin on the ground, and Steady Star was the last of the Tar Heel siring line. Thank heavens for Direct Scooter!

In The Pocket to the rescue
In The Pocket is a son of Direct Scooter from a Tar Heel mare,  who actually has Meadow Skipper as her damsire (which is an unusual juxtaposition because Tar Heel was really a generation before Meadow Skipper but Tar Heel’s enduring 28 years at stud allowed him to overlap in this sort of way with the early siring careers of horses like Meadow Skipper).  In The Pocket was otherwise pretty much an outcross sire with his two closest double ups being to Billy Direct  and Scotland.

In The Pocket stood here in New Zealand from 1994 until his death in 2010 and two of his best sons bred sons – Christian Cullen and Courage Under Fire – are making longterm impressions as sires, starting to look very nice as damsires and potentially (particularly Christian Cullen) as sires of sires. Several other top performing sons of In The Pocket have also stood at stud but need more time to see what they will deliver as sires – the tough New Zealand Cup winner Changeover is one with a lot of potential and received good numbers of mares in his first couple of years at stud, and his first yearlings are fairly well represented at the 2013 yearling sales next February.

I would like to make a comment on the list in the Skipper, Skipper Everywhere blog I referred to earlier – Christian Cullen is listed as having Meadow Skipper on his bottom line only but in fact he has Meadow Skipper in both his sire’s family (In The Pocket’s grandamsire) and his dam’s family (his damsire Bo Scots Blue Chip is a son of Most Happy Fella, a son of Meadow Skipper of course).  I’m not sure if by ‘top line’ the writer is referring to the siring line only rather than the sire’s paternal and maternal lines. But it is certainly true that compared to many North American sires, Christian Cullen brings a very different genetic mix to the table.

Influence through maternal lines
It is important to remember that in terms of lines like Tar Heel and Big Towner “dying out”, we are only talking about siring lines. The lines that have become siring ‘stubs’ are some of the most potent influences on our pacing breed and have produced sires that have made a huge contribution through maternal lines. I’ve done some blogs on Overtrick and Big Towner and also Shadow Wave as examples of this. It’s just worth repeating the observation because their genetic contribution is just as (if not more) vital to the future of breeding as the more commercially promoted siring lines.

In a very real way, these bloodlines have found their optimum influence – a way to ensure their best assests are carried forward into future generations with less danger of being made “redundant” as a sire of sires. If you buy into the x factor/heart size theory (and there is a lot of evidence to support it), then we should be more concerned about identifying and nurturing potent damsires among those lines who may struggle to deliver a succession of sire sons, so that we make sure the ‘baby’ is not thrown out with the ‘bathwater’. Bret Hanover-Warm Breeze-Falcon Seelster is one sequence that I’d flag up in that regard. In each case, as sires they have produced top racehorses, but their enduring contribution is more in the bottom line of pedigrees through their daughters. The sons of Falcon Seelster (Elsu and McArdle) may well be continuing this.

Outcross sires in the New Zealand breed
The impact of In The Pocket and another outcross sire Falcon Seelster here in New Zealand has been phenomenal in the past 20 years – these were two sires with plenty of “outcross” blood, and hence our smallish breeding pool has developed in recent decades in a different way than the North American mare population. These sires crossed well with the Meadow Skipper line sires that had stood here – Albatross sons Vance Hanover, Holmes Hanover and Soky’s Atom, and Most Happy Fella sons Smooth Fella and New York Motoring – none of which were the Meadow Skipper line stars that North America accessed.  Readers from North America will recognise New York Motoring perhaps as the brother of Happy Motoring. But these sires did a great job with our mares and produced many excellent racehorses. Interestingly, none of them left a really successful siring son but they carried classy maternal lines that have become an important part of our breeding pedigrees.

We sort of skipped all the Artsplace/Western Hanover excitement that happened in North America, except for Dream Away and later Badlands Hanover,  and we tried only a few Abercrombie line sires (including a brief fling with Life Sign when he was past his peak in North America, but that didn’t really go anywhere either). We had a few sons of Cam Fella come out to New Zealand  (covered in another of my blogs) but nothing that really worked for us except Presidential Ball, and we missed access to Cam Fella’s best sons in Camluck, Cambest and Cam’s Card Shark.

We were extremely lucky that In The Pocket and then Falcon Seelster came along.

(In nearby Australia, it was quite a different story, with much more influence from Cam Fella line and Abercrombie line sires over that same period.)

Well, those are some musings on how New Zealand has ended up with such a good quality but different genetic pool.  The quality of our pedigrees started much further back than what I’ve mentioned here – there were some great ‘colonial’ breeds, and also the injection of absolute classy genes like those U Scott and Light Brigade brought with them (when imported from America by Roydon Lodge) was a turning point in the 1930s/40s, and Bachelor Hanover in the 1970s, among others.

It seems to be a story of solid building up of quality, with some spectacular injections of outcross sires with classy maternal lines at just the right moment.

Are Bettor’s Delight and Art Major going to be two of the same, in hindsight? I’m not sure about Art Major, but Bettor’s Delight (from the Cam Fella sire lines and no Direct Scooter anywhere at all) is going gangbusters to the point of saturation (more of that in my next blog), and Real Desire (from the Abercromie sire line and no Direct Scooter at all) could be another Mr Right – standout sires that leave a lasting impression on the development of our breed.

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It’s a year since I last recapped on how my virtual stable of picks from the 2011 yearling sales were going – very early days for them, at that stage. Now they are 3yos and it is interesting to see how they have shaped up.

My “virtual yearling stable” of four horses from the 2011 sales were:

  • Lot 79 Outlaw (Bettors Delight – Gift of Grace) – sold for $50,000. He qualified and had 3 starts as a 2yo for Cran Dalgety, and so far this season has had another 3 starts as a 3yo for 1 win, and earnings of just $5330. But fingers cross, there may be more to come.
  • Lot 154 Alta Christiano (Christian Cullen – Right This Time) – sold for $50,000. Six starts for4 wins as a 2yo and he looked a very, very nice horse in the making. Sold to Australia for serious money, then injury has ended his 3yo season and I am not sure what the longer term prognosis is yet. Lifetime earnings to date: $72,584.
  • Lot 92 Eye for a Deal (American Ideal – Illmakemyname). Sold for just $10,000. He’s been racing well in Australia, mainly at Albion Park, with 9 starts for 4 wins and 1 place. That’s only earned him $9,567 to date but he may keep stepping up.
  • Lot 179 Sugar Ray Brogden (Grinfromeartoear-Swift Mirage).  Trialled well, then 2 starts for no wins, and it became apparent he had developed a palate issue that needed an operation, which the owner didn’t want to proceed with. So sold as a hack.

Kym Kearns’ picks from that 2011 sale included the nice Mexicano, a Christian Cullen colt who looks to have a bit of class about him; Los Amante who had 3 placings from 7 starts as a 2yo but yet to appear this season; Assassin (sold to Australia, not yet raced); and Isa Smiling the filly trotter that she bred, who has a ton of ability and qualified but yet to learn manners.

Of my 2012 yearling sales virtual stable, understandably nothing has started yet although two of my picks Derringer (now renamed, oddly for a handsome colt, Strawberry Heart) and my own-bred Destination Moon have been noted by their trainers as looking forward 2yos. The other 2 colts I picked were Crixus Brogden (now renamed Real Impulse) and Charlie Chuckles. So I will be keeping my eyes out for those as 2yos – and for the picks that a couple of other blog readers chose.

While the virtual stable is just a fun thing, it does remind me that for breeders and buyers the odds of getting a successful result on the track or financially are a huge challenge.

That’s why it is worth doing the homework to increase the chances of success and minimise the odds of making a real mistake!

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