Archive for January, 2013

Calling for expressions of interest

Breeding can be rewarding and fun!

Would you like to join others in a syndicate to breed a top yearling for the sales?

I’m proposing a breeding syndicate for 2013/14 season to breed a commercial foal for the 2016 yearling sales, using my young well-bred black type mare, who is a half-sister to Tintin In America.

Are you

  • Keen to get involved in breeding standardbred horses – or know someone who might be?
  • Love breeding but struggling with the costs and risks?
  • Or maybe you don’t have a commercial mare?

I want to do something positive to bring in new people to breeding and help current small-scale breeders stay involved. Rewards, if any, will be shared by all syndicate members, as will the risks.

I am looking for 15-plus syndicate members. Preference will be given to those who are

  • new to breeding standardbreds, or
  • have been out of breeding for some time and looking to get involved again, or
  • are small-time breeders who are struggling to stay involved and enthusiastic, or
  • breeders who have a small financial interest in breeding already, but want to learn more and scale up their operation in future.

Although the syndicate would be North Island based, if sufficient numbers in the South Island expressed interest there may be a way to breed from two mares, one in each island.

One affordable up-front payment. No weekly or monthly payments.

This is an opportunity to have a positive experience in breeding by sharing the risks and rewards of breeding and have some fun and learning along the way.

If you are interested, contact me (Bee Pears) on bee.raglan@xtra.co.nz  or leave a comment on this page by 15 March 2013- please give an indication of your current involvement in breeding.

More details on the b4breeding page Breeding Syndicate Proposal (top of my blogsite home page)

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In my last blog I looked at close breeding from imported American lines by Charlie Roberts for Lot 37.

Now I want to focus on a lot that is a good example of outcross breeding from New Zealand lines by Bryan Macey for Lot 48 – wonderfully named Local Yokel.

Kiwi Outcross

Local Yokel

Lot 48 Elsu colt, Local Yokel

Lot 48 is a black colt by Elsu (Falcon Seelster-Interchange) from Rare Class (In The Pocket-Rare Gift) bred by Brian and Marilyn Macey.  You finally find Meadow Skipper 5 x 5,  through Interchange (New York Motoring-Most Happy Fella, sire-sire), and through In The Pocket (Black Jade-Miss Skipper, dam-dam) connection.  He’s also 5×5 to U Scott.  The closest double ups he has are Overtrick at 4×5, and Tar Heel at 6x6x4.

The Rare Class family is  based on a solid Kiwi maternal line with some upgrading for speed lately via In The Pocket, the sire of Rare Class.

Line breeding, Bryan says, only works well when you are in the position to  breed back to very good sires or families. Otherwise outcrossing is the best option.

Like Charlie Roberts, Bryan Macey is no spring chicken – but with age comes experience and the willingness to back yourself.

This is a family that pops up some very nice horses. Matched by the Maceys to Presidential Ball, the mare has produced multiple winners Presido,  (My) Sound Of Thunder and  Jambo Emali.  Ace Of Spades was bred from Rare Class’ dam, and NZ Cup winner Homin Hosed from the 3rd dam.

The choice of Elsu as the sire of this colt is interesting. Bryan and Marilyn liked Elsu as a racehorse and respected his outstanding record of performances.

You have to say that Elsu is finding a niche as a sire of later developing, honest, good value bread-and-butter horses, but as Bryan points out, it was harder to tell which way the sire was going two years ago when the breeding decision was made. Lot 48 is one of the very few Elsus in the yearling sales, and Elsu is not really going to be a “yearling sale sire” in future – but he still has the ability to still throw up some very, very good horses of a stronger, tough type.  He’s there to sell, says Bryan.

This colt will have admirers on type and the strength of his maternal family. Look at the photo  – he’s probably not going to be a natural 2yo speed demon, but he has a lovely long barrel. Bryan is the first to say: he’s in the middle of some growing and got more growing to do.  He has the two most recent fillies from the mare in training at the moment, both of which are working up well.

Lot 35 trotting filly


Lot 35 Megaspeed

The Maceys have another lot in the sales that I’d like to mention – Lot 35, the only filly by Angus Hall in the total NZ yearling sales. I’ve already covered the Isa Lodge entry, a colt by Angus Hall (also from an Sundon mare), and Bryan describes this filly in similar terms to Kym Kearns’ description of her Angus Hall colt – medium size, solid/strong, correct. You can see from the photo that she looks a very nice type.

Angus Hall’s frozen semen fee that year was not cheap, and I have respect for those breeders who grabbed the opportunity in spite of that. He is a very classy and proven trotting sire in North America who deserves a go with our good mares – and in the total sales the three Angus Hall lots are from three top quality Sundon mares.

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Looking through the 2013 New Zealand yearling sales catalogue, there is a real mix of outcross, close bred and in-between pedigrees on show, which is great. It’s hard to tell if they reflect what breeders are deliberately trying, or more a match based on other preferences (commercial status of the sire, type, previous siblings etc)  that just happened to end up like that.

There are three yearlings, all fillies, from the wonderful USA Lismore family in the Woodlands draft (on behalf of Charlie Roberts). One of which has a very unusually close double up (in this case to the sire Western Ideal). Inbreeding is not something we often see now in New Zealand, so I was interested to find out what was behind it.

In this blog I’ll look at those three lots, and in the following blog I’ll check out an example of the other extreme, Lot 48 at the Australasian yearling sale, an outcross with a strong “colonial” flavour bred by Bryan and Marilyn Macey.

Line breeding US style

Charlie Roberts of Woodlands Stud fame had the opportunity to buy two affordable fillies from the wonderful Lismore family some years ago – Lismurray with a broken shoulder and Lisgarden with a slightly crooked leg – and bring them to New Zealand.

Lot 37 is a daughter of Lismurray called Lisconnie who is a Western Ideal mare. Charlie Roberts has bred her to Woodlands’ American Ideal, who of course is a son of Western Ideal. So that makes Lot 37 2×2 to the sire, and double ups so close on the siring line are unusual these days. Lisconnie’s previous foals were by Artsplace (I’m) Lisart now racing in Australia, and then by Bettor’s Delight for Red Sky Night who has just qualified at Cambridge this month.

Charlie Roberts’ reasoning behind selecting American Ideal as the next sire for Lisconnie is simple – if you are line breeding, breed to the best stallions in the pedigree and to the best stallions available. Not surprisingly, he rates American Ideal and Bettor’s Delight as the best.  He believes there is no problem about breeding so close (what would generally be regarded as inbreeding) so long as the horses are the best quality.

It is an interesting thought, and one that has thrown up some exceptionally good results in history – but also some disappointments. My own concern would be more about type.  In Lot 37 the pedigree is packed with horses that can leave types that we don’t recognise as sheer speed influences – Abercrombie, Cam Fella, Western Ideal himself can tend to leave bigger strong, tough types. However both the female lines have Albatross, and American Ideal does throw Matt’s Scooter into the mix.

It’s a risky breeding that Charlie Roberts is very relaxed about, and I guess he’s in a better position than many of us to experiment if he so chooses.  As they say,  the proof of the pudding is in the eating. And some of us may end up eating our words, while Charlie is eating the pudding!

There was a forum thread about this particular foal and similar close breeding later last year (although I don’t agree with this foal’s cross being described as 2×3 rather than 2×2 – if Tesio says 2×2 that’s good enough for my small brain!)

Lot 45 is Lisdargan’s filly also by American Ideal. Lisgarden is by The Panderosa, which makes this foal 3×3 to Western Hanover, again on the siring lines. And again, you get the double up of Albatross on the female lines.

And then finally Lot 53, a filly by Bettor’s Delight from Lismurray, who is a Presidential Ball mare, so that brings a 3×3 to Cam Fella, again on the siring lines. The filly will be a full sister to Lisharry who is now pushing the $70,000 mark in combined earnings here and Australia.

These lots all have a very strong American influence, of course.  As I said before, Charlie Roberts has followed his belief in going to “the best” and went to the best NZ bred sire of the time, Christian Cullen, with two of these mares but the results have been a bit disappointing to date, he says.

While the Lismore family is a fine one, we only know it here  from Lislea and Lis Mara as sires, who have not yet set our mares on fire although Lis Mara needs to be given a bit more time. The NZ families Charlie is creating from the two fillies he bought are the other connection to that family. There is plenty of room for the family reputation to improve in this corner of the world, and I think Charlie Roberts is enjoying that challenge.

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Heads up about this blog from Kentucky stud Diamond Creek Farm owned by Adam Bowden and his father, Chris. The farm arrived on the Standardbred scene in 2005  and in this short time the farm has bred, or raised and sold, such top stakes winners as Archangel, Vertical Horizon, Valentino and Big Rigs and campaigned top stakes colts and fillies, such as Ultimate Cameron, Swan For All, A Rocknroll Dance, and Naughtytiltheend. The farm’s yearlings are sold at the Lexington Selected and Harrisburg sales each fall.

Adam writes a very good blog which covers the day to day events on the farm and the progress of his yearlings through to sales, as well as his thoughts on other issues around breeding.

I really recommend it as a well written, interesting read.

You can find their website at:


which has a blog summary and link, or straight to the blog (which is called Inner Workings of a Breeding Farm) at:



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I’ve blogged a few times now on the topic of the current dominance of Bettor’s Delight as a pacing sire (and probably in future as a broodmare sire).

He’s there on his own merits – but the combination of declining mare numbers and lack of siring competition means the situation is not healthy for our overall breeding industry if it carries on too long.

It’s not a “perfect storm” but it is a patch of tricky weather conditions that we need to negotiate our way through. Because I don’t believe that “market forces” will necessarily make the changes soon enough or in the best strategic long term interest of the industry.

I believe there are several solutions, and perhaps best in combination:

  • Look at some form of voluntary or compulsory industry limit of sires’ books.
  • Use pricing at the top end to manage demand, (done for Christian Cullen even though Ian Dobson got a lot of flack for it),  as well as at the lower end to encourage demand.
  • Reduce the number of sires on offer, so that good commercial sires can get a decent book of mares.
  • Ride out the trend, knowing we have had it before (e.g. with Sundon and perhaps Gee Whiz before him in the smaller trotting breeding pool), but take responsibility as individual breeders to play our part by being more adventurous in our choice of a sire.
  • Use some agreed limits on yearling sales entries overall from individual sires to avoid over-supply at our showcase market.

Many of these measures need the cooperation of the main industry players and certainly the studs – and some of them will already be making adjustments given the situation all of them, bar Woodlands, find themselves in this year – competing for a smaller number of mares with a larger range of sires in an environment where one sire is taking a significantly large portion of the pie. I’m talking about the significant New Zealand and Australian studs. This will have been a very difficult season for them.

We are spoilt for choice with sires. It seems almost criminal not to give some of these superbly performed and bred hunks of fertility the chance to have a go as a sire. But the reality is, we just don’t have the number of mares to give them all a real good chance. A new commercial sire will need at least 50 live foals to even start making his mark.

I’m not suggesting some compulsory limit on sire numbers, but a recognition that studs may well have been cutting their own throats by throwing so many new shuttle and frozen semen sires at breeders over the past 2-3 years.

What I do want to see is proven sires remaining well supported, and a smaller number of new sires offering a greater variety of bloodlines and types, rather than duplicating.

Sutter Hanover as a racehorse

Sutter Hanover warms up before the 2007 American Cup where he was placed 2nd.

And then I would love to see more breeders really thinking outside the “most in demand/best to the best” sire – being willing to try some of the new sires we do get. I was delighted, for example, when Alabar bought Sutter Hanover to New Zealand, but Kiwi breeders failed to get interested and he was moved to a niche in Australia. His sire line (Dragon Again) and maternal family (tracng back to The Old Maid) offered us some real choice and would have nicked well, I believe, with many of our mares. And on type, his conformation and reach was also something quite different. Some of the foals he  had here are quite clearly stamped by his looks and way of going. There’s a few of them already popping up promisingly, but maybe too late for Sutter Hanover to gain any traction again unless he fires brilliantly over in Australia. He would be a different sire I would have considered for my top mare.

The best short term solution is to have a voluntary limit on book numbers. I think 150 is reasonable. It is done overseas. It doesn’t have to be permanent.

And maybe less choice of sires (in numbers) but more choice (in types and bloodlines).

Regardless,  it needs to be looked at and actioned quickly, before we get into another breeding season. It will involve people looking outside their immediate commercial needs and thinking of the industry as a whole. Cooperating, even compromising. I won’t be holding my breath.

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Princess Della is a miracle in today’s breeding world. Her pedigree includes one of the the last flickers of the Globe Derby colonial siring line in New Zealand. But she has turned that flicker into a bright light of success.

And that is thanks to the confidence that Don McRae and his sister Mrs Wendy Blackie have had in the mare.

The mare hasn’t made it easy – she was a “bit of a bitch” at times, says Don, but a big jet black bitch at 16.3 hands who has gone on to re-start a family from a maternal line with some very nice sires – Princess Della’s grandamsire was Armbro Del and her great-grandamsire was Bachelor Hanover – but overall a maternal line which hadn’t shown much for a few generations.

Princess Della has changed all that. The result in 2013 is some decent black type on the top part of the page of Lot 74 at the Premier Day 1 yearling sales, a filly called The Enforcer by new trotting sire Skyvalley (Muscles Yankee-Chiola Lass) who was a double Breeders Crown winner as a 3yo and 4yo.

Princess Della is a trotting mare by Last Lord (by Lordship), a little known stallion who sired only 30 live foals  from 1987 to 1995, for just 2 winners.

Much of the breeding interest lies in the fact that Last Lord is the tail end of the colonial siring line known here mainly as the Globe Derby line, which originated from a son of Hambletonian called Strathmore. More of that at the end of this blog.

Don McRae’s father owned Last Lord and so Don knows him well. He was a big jet black horse (where Princess Della got her looks from) who was given a fairly scanty serving of mares to make his mark as a sire and breeders who perhaps lacked attention to the subsequent foals, says Don.  So his statistics need to be taken in that context.

However one of Last Lord’s progeny was Princess Della, bred by C M Hanna and then bought by Wendy Blakie who wanted a Last Lord foal and was advised by brother Don to chose the one from an Armbro Del mare.

Princess Della had only 2 wins and 7 places but she was a better racehorse than that indicates and would have gone further except for soreness. Don McRae she also “had a bit of dirt, was a bit toey”. She got a 2nd in the NZ Trotting Stakes and that was enough to be awarded as 1992-3 Trotting Filly of the Year.

There were some big offers made for Princess Della, but Wendy Blackie wanted to keep her as a broodmare.

What a great decision.

And what an opportunity taken, as Don and his sister Wendy have made very astute and modern breeding choices for such a ‘colonial’ bred mare. It has paid off, as the catalogue page shows.

Kyvalley Mac, son of Princess Della

Kyvalley Mac, very good son of Princess Della

Princess Della is now a 23yo (note that, Don, you think she is only 21 because you look after her so well and she looks younger!)  As a broodmare she has had 9 foals and 5 winners, and three of them – Rare Opportunity, Dealornodeal and Millions To Spare are currently racing in New Zealand. She seems to leave tough, consistent types with a bit of speed – and the best of them was really good, Kyvalley Mac, who got placed in many group races in Australia and ended up with 12 wins and over $160,00. Three of her other sons have now won over $90,000 (Just A Cracker, Just Incredible and Dealornodeal).  Her most recent foal to the track is Millions To Spare (by Majestic Son) who has just got his first win with only two starts on 4 January this year.

Don and Wendy have chosen sires for Princess Della which include very good proven sires and new imported sires, some at fairly high stud fees when they were first available here. Her consorts have been Sundon (Just A Cracker and Just Incredible), Earl (Kyvalley Mac), Dr Donerail (Off The Rails who showed a lot of talent but injured himself badly before racing), Dream Vacation (Dealornodeal who had an outstanding 4 and 5yo season, particularly in Australia),  Pegasus Spur (Rare Opportunity), and Skyvalley (Lot 74 The Enforcer), and the old mare is back in foal to Muscle Mass.

When a mare leaves consistently talented horses from such a range of sires, I take notice. That is a sure sign of a mare who brings a lot to the breeding table, and takes charge of the negotiations when she gets there.

Lot 74 is described by Don as being a beautiful big filly (Skyvalley was not a big sire, but one who impressed Don and Wendy with his times and his level of success).

“The mare leaves lovely long foals,” he says. And those in trotting understand the advantage of a long (as well as square) body for good gait.

Don is hoping to take a photo of The Enforcer and send it to me probably by ‘snail mail’, and I will post it up when it arrives – but those of you who are going to the sales with a thought of getting a nice trotting filly from an exceptionally good broodmare should definitely take a look at the real thing.

Quick summary of the Globe Derby siring line

Strathmore was a son of Hambletonian whose siring line is almost gone into history. It continued in Australia and New Zealand, through Globe Derby and then his son Logan Derby, and then in New Zealand Logan Derby’s outstanding son Johnny Globe who raced here in the 1950s and early 1960s and stood successfully as a sire in the 1960s and early 1970s.  Johnny Globe’s son Lordship  raced at the top level in the 1960s and stood successfully as a sire from the mid 1970s into the 1980s, but although he left good racehorses, including Lord Module and Starship, but they did not carry on the siring line. There have been recent attempts to find a stallion to carry on this “colonial” siring line in New Zealand before it becomes totally extinct – the elderly Magic Rule has been set to work a few years ago in Australia and then NZ with a handful of mares, but these are unlikely to make an appearance at any yearling sales. Just an aside –  Last Lord has two lines to Globe Derby, one through his sire and the other through his grandam (Complaint) who was a daughter of Logan Derby. You can dig into Princess Della’s pedigree further on the HRNZ website in the incredibly useful Info Horse section. Two other sources of information on the Globe Derby line are the Globederby.com website (although I am not sure how up to date that is) and the chapter 13 on Australasian sirelines in the e-book available on Pepper Tree Farm website: The American Standardbred by Ron Groves).

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Warning – this blog is LONG – but an important topic. So hope you will hang in there!

I want to go back to the topic of sire representation at this year’s New Zealand yearling sales.

Three things to make clear:

  1. This is not a criticism of Bettor’s Delight, who is a fantastic sire.
  2. I realise many progeny never pass through the sales. But as I’ve said before, yearling sales represent the most commercial end of the breeding spectrum, often the most successful families providing a significant percentage of top racehorses, and therefore sales trends are important.
  3. There are a number of factors creating this situation, not just one. Other important factors are the siring competition in the relevant year, and the growing perception of Bettor’s Delight’s mega-sire status (in part a self-fulfilling prophecy).

I’ve been doing a bit more number crunching to see if my ‘gut feeling’ about dominance is significant or not.

I’ve made more comparisons with other years – using the 2012 year when I did detail analysis of damsires at the sales as my baseline. Hence I have picked 2007 (5 years prior) and 2002 (10 years prior) as sales to look at in more detail, as well as the current year (2013) of course.

There will always be some dominant sires, and a smattering of sires that have very few representatives, either because they were so expensive or unusual, or because they are not commercial.

My main concern is the bit in the middle where a trend becomes so dominant that sires represented by 10+ yearlings or 20+ yearlings are virtually squeezed out by one or two very dominant top sires. This can have impacts on the careers of some very good sires, and make it extremely hard for new sires to get a slice of the action (particularly because New Zealand breeders are often very cautious about new sires, unlike the North American situation where hot-of-the-track sires are usually popular and given some of the best mares).

Why have I made the mark of 10+ yearlings? Generally, a sire will need to have 10+ yearlings across the 3 days of sales to provide a display of his types from a range of families as well as staking his claim in the minds of buyers and optimising his chances of having progeny appear in the higher profile stakes series. At 20+ yearling, the sire is established or has is a new sire that has been welcomed with open arms (or should I say open mares!) and that is a healthy level of sales yearlings to be offering – a buffer against sudden death in the arena of fickle fashion trends.

More recently, the South Island sales were split into Day 1 and Day 2, and the perception of sires and yearlings can be different depending on whether they were selected for the more prestigious Day 1 or the more ‘good value for less money’ Day 2 sale.

The analysis is summarised below. But first I want to discuss why we’ve got here.

I believe the 2013 statistics, and the potential continuing dominance of Bettor’s Delight yearlings at the sales over the next few years, should give us incentive to consider what measures might mitigate the negative impacts on our breeding industry. In a recent thought-provoking article in NZ Harness Weekly, David Phillips raised the issue and mentioned voluntary or set limit on stallions’ books. In a small and shrinking breeding pool such as New Zealand’s, I believe this is a sensible option. It is done overseas – recognising that “the market” does not necessarily respond in time or get the right (pricing) signals to self-correct over-dominance.

I hope NZ Standardbred Breeders Association will be looking hard at this issue and discussing it with industry players, particularly the studs. While it is natural for commercial owners and operators to “make hay while the sunshines”, it is up to breeders and their representatives to assess what the wider results might be.

However let’s take a quick look at some of the other factors leading to Bettor’s Delight’s dominance in 2013 – which Woodlands Stud had no immediate influence over.

First, the foals born in 2011 (the yearlings of 2013) are one of  Bettor’s Delight’s biggest crop, but not the biggest or only big crop he has had. In 2007 (271) and 2009 (243) were actually bigger crops than 2011 (232). But what has happened in the meantime? Two things: His main rival Christian Cullen’s live foal numbers have been decreasing – 2007 (154), 2009 (124) and 2011 (73).  And Bettor’s Delight’s reputation has been growing hugely. It is almost a self-fulfilling prophecy because: sheer weight of numbers by a good sire = a higher percentage of races won = trainers and owners liking them more = commercial yearling sales breeders opting for what will be popular.

Second, some sires struggled to challenge Bettor’s Delight, due to breeder perception, caution about new sires, disappointing siring results,  or the cheaper “non-yearling sales” market that the sire has been aimed at. Examples of sires who could have stepped up again but are struggling to for a range of reasons  (with live foals born 2011): McArdle (61), Elsu (92), Grinfromeartoear (34), Lis Mara (38). Examples of newer sires needing to get a foothold in the market are Gotta Go Cullect (94), Gotta Go Cullen (38), Santanna Blue Chip (52), Jereme’s Jet (43) and Art Offical (49). Real Desire is exciting enough to have a real chance to shine, but his 2011 crop was only 37. Even Art Major’s crop was just 87, even though he was getting the big thumbs up in Australia.

So Bettor’s Delight has hit his straps at the exact time that other sires are struggling to break the 50 or 100 foals barrier given such a low number of New Zealand breeding mares to compete for and such strong preference by commercial breeders for one or two top sires.

Third, the economy stagnated and that hits breeders and buyers in the pocket. The attractiveness of harness racing is also struggling against other entertainment and investment options. It’s a high risk industry, and in that situation breeders often choose (if they breed at all) the proven and safe over the new and exciting. As I’ve said before, I think this is a strategy that may well end up “biting a few bums” at the sale, but time will tell, and I will certainly not be laughing if it does.

Notes on the stats below:

  • I haven’t had time to further break this down to pacing and trotting sires/lots. So it is a general scan, not a micro analysis.
  • I am taking numbers on basis of lots entered in the catalogue (regardless of withdrawals).
  • And there will be other yearling sales in the inbetween or previous years that may well show quite differing results. I’m just trying to get a feel for where this year sits and what trend there might be.

The figures for each year go like this:

  1. Total number of lots
  2. Total number of individual sires represented
  3. Number of sires represented by 10+ yearlings.
  4. Number of sires represented by 20+ yearlings.
  5. Number of sires represented by 50+ yearlings.
  6. Top sire, number of yearlings and as percentage of all lots.
  7. Breakdown of number of sires represented on each day.


  • 515
  • 56
  • 14
  • 6
  • 1
  • Bettor’s Delight, 107, 20.7%
  • Australasian Classic (Karaka)  30
  • Premier Day 1 (Christchurch)  32
  • Premier Day 2 (Christchurch)  44


  • 592
  • 43
  • 18
  • 9
  • 4
  • Mach Three, 70, 11.9%
  • Australasian Classic (Karaka)  32
  • Premier Day 1 (Christchurch)  27
  • Premier Day 2 (Christchurch)  37 


  • 574
  • 40
  • 17
  • 11
  • 1
  • Christian Cullen, 55, 9.5%
  • Australasian Classic (Karaka)  30
  • Premier  (Christchurch)  39


  • 515
  • 48
  • 15
  • 5
  • 2
  • In The Pocket, 89, 17.3%
  • Australasian Classic (Karaka)  32
  • Premier  (Christchurch)  40

So the most similar situation out of these is in 2002 when In The Pocket and Holmes Hanover were dominating the numbers (Falcon Seelster had been temporarily unavailable as a sire). However interesting to note that in 2002 there were another 4 sires hovering at 18 or 19 yearlings, just outside that significant 20+ category but still real players as sires – they were Christian Cullen, Sands A Flyin, Life Sign and the trotting sire Sundon.

In comparison, this year (2013) there is only one sire (McArdle, at 17) who is even close to reaching the 20+ category.

It’s interesting to note that the number of catalogued lots for 2013 and 2002 are exactly the same, but Bettor’s Delight’s dominance at 20.7% is greater than In The Pocket’s at 17.3%.

Another point – the number of individual sires represented this year is the largest by far (56) – but many of these sires may have only 1 or 2 yearlings in the sale. Take the 2013 Australasian Classic: there are 30 individual sires listed but 19 of those have only 1 or 2 yearlings to represent them on that day.

My real concern is the lack of the ‘middle’ commercial sires in enough numbers to really help sustain their careers – and ensure good variety in our future pool of racehorses and broodmares.


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Here’s an interesting lot on Premier Day 2. He’s a colt by Changeover, with McArdle as his damsire and Badlands Hanover as his grandamsire, all of which are Nevele R stallions, and very current ones too.

That makes him, by my flick through the catalogue, the only pacer to have a grandamsire who is in the same catalogue as a sire. (No, have now checked and Falcon Seelster and Sundon both meet the same criteria, although Falson Seelster died some years ago and is only available via frozen semen. But Badlands is by far the most “recent” of these sires, with his first crop here born 2001 compared to Sundon’s in 1993).

But it is exceptionally quick generation turnover mainly due to the recent dams in this family not having many foals, and the filly foals they did have were only lightly tried or unraced before heading to the breeding barn.

The 4th dam is completely NOT like that. Tempest Tiger (born 1975)was a good racemare with 7 wins under her girth strap and a 1.58.5 mark to boot. She won the NZ Messenger Championship for 4yos in 1979 for owner PK Ryder with Jack Smolenski in the bike. And then she had group winning sons Franco Tiger and OK Tiger and several other very competitive horses, and as a result bagged the 1995-96 Broodmare of the Year award. That was a record of 12 foals, 9 to race and 9 winners. She was owned by Franco Breeding Ltd from 1990, and Spreydon Lodge from 1993, but became very hard to get into foal as she got older and died in 2004.

This is her great-grand-daughter’s first foal. Franco Texas is quite an outcross – has few close doubleups – just a 5x5x6x7x7 reference to Meadow Skipper and 3×5 to Direct Scooter, and many of those are running through siring lines.

However there’s a nice coincidence that Tempest Tiger is a daughter of the less well known sire Tiger Wave (a rare sire son of Shadow Wave), and I talked about Tiger Wave in more detail in a previous blog re Justa Tiger’s progeny at these sales.  His dam Tigerish was a mare by Tiger Wave.  Interesting that Tiger Wave has left two mares who have gone on to create such strong families.

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These are just two of the 12 yearlings by Justa Tiger that Highview Standardbred’s Dave and Allan Clark have put in Day 2 of the Premier Yearling Sale in Christchurch.

They represent an approach and attitude that I find refreshing and courageous.

I’ve blogged previously about the yearling sales concentration of Bettor’s Delight and Art Major yearlings and low numbers from many sires particularly newer sires. There’s also a lack of newer damsires coming through.

The cautious, safe approach by breeders and by PGG Wrightson meant my eyes were starting to glaze over as I turned the catalogue pages for the Australasian Classic and Premier Day 1. Ditto, ditto, ditto. Is this where that irritating axiom ‘breed the best to the best” leads us? Into a boring box?

It was only when I got to the Premier Day 2 catalogue pages, that my interest really sparked.

Why?  Because hidden down in the green pages is a much more refreshing array of sires and damsires. A total of 44 sires are represented on Premier Day 2 compared with 32 on Day 1 and 30 at Karaka.  And they are from a wider range of mares (in terms of damsires).

Thank goodness breeders like Highview Standardbreds are thinking outside the square box!

Take these two lots from Highview as an example.

Lot 217 is a colt by Justa Tiger out of an Island Fantasy mare – and before that puts you off, the mare happens to be the dam of the very promising Johnny Fox, and a half sister to Highview Badlands (9 wins) and Oreti Beach (5 wins here plus 20 in America). The yearling’s grandam is the 8 win mare Highview Rose,  an OK Bye mare.  And the great-grandam has 6 winners from her 9 foals.  So that’s a very solid foundation.

The result is a  nice colt with a pedigree that looks very different from almost anything else in the book.

Justa Tiger filly from Highview Mystery

Lot 206 filly out of Highview Mystery as a foal

Lot 206 is a chestnut filly by a Road Machine mare, and Allan Clark describes her as “one of the nicest yearlings we’ve had out of any sire”. Again, the family is strong enough to support a more commercial choice of sire – if these mares had gone to Art Major or Bettor’s Delight they probably would be joining the many from those sires in the Day 1 pages.

But Allan Clark sees things differently. He’s backing the stallion that Highview has committed to, Justa Tiger, by putting many of Highview’s best mares to him – and then entering them in the yearling sales.

Most of these mares are from solid, consistent families with a good amount of black type dotted through. What I find refreshing is the range of damsires. The damsires for those 12 Justa Tiger yearlings are: Falcon Seelster, Badlands Hanover (2), Bettor’s Delight (2), Road Machine, Island Fantasy, Union Guy, What’s Next, Vance Hanover, Courage Under Fire, and Presidential Ball.

The only lot by Justa Tiger that made Day 1 is in fact the same family as Lot 217 – it’s a colt from a Presidential Ball mare who is a half sister to Lot 217’s Island Fantasy mare – and Allan describes him as an ‘outstanding’ type.

Highview is aiming at a very realistic end of the market – “If we average $10,000 at the end of the sales I will be happy and will have covered our costs,” he says. The more important aim for Allan is to get Justa Tiger’s yearlings spread far and wide, into the hands of trainers where they can prove their real worth.

For Allan, this new approach to the yearling sales is a welcome relief from the pressure to commit to expensive sires and still make a profit. “I feel like I am off the treadmill.” He believes some breeders are ‘committing suicide’ going to Bettor’s Delight and others, as buyers will have so many of them to choose from.

Allan knows the Day 2 buyers will be looking mainly for type and value for money.  Justa Tiger can tick those boxes – and of course he is a son of the great Christian Cullen.

“Justa Tiger carried himself like Christian Cullen in his races, and his conformation is great. He was bought and raced by Lincoln Farms, and they are very particular about correct conformation.

“That’s coming through in his yearlings, they are lovely through the hocks, big nostrils, good shoulder,  correct feet, athletic and some of them are almost thoroughbred in their head,” Allan says.

“If someone saw them in a paddock and didn’t know, they’d easily think they were Christian Cullens. They are that nice.”

We agree that ‘the eye of the beholder’ is often influenced by preconceived ideas!

In terms of temperament, Justa Tiger was a real professional. Trainer Ray Green described him as having “the best attitude and work ethic of any horse I’ve been involved with”. He may have changed careers from racehorse to sire, but the attitude is the same – Allan Clark calls him a ‘real gentleman’ to manage as a stallion.

Justa Tiger was a racehorse who hit his peak as a 3yo before bonechips in his knee really curtailed his career. His dam was the great Tigerish, winner of many group races, a speedy 2yo who developed into a tough mare – she won almost half a million dollars, and founded a very successful family for breeders Pam and Lindsay Turner.  Her bottom maternal line family is well described in the formal advert/pedigree page, but the sire Tiger Wave won’t be well known to many. He’s a son of Shadow Wave (whose heritage is as a damsire, notl sire of sires) out of the mare Diana Streak. That makes Tiger Wave a brother to Dottie Shadow, the dam of Oil Burner (sire of No Nukes). Diana Streak was no slouch, taking a record of 1:58.4 as a 4yo in the early 1950s.  Oil Burner was exported to Australia in the late 1980s and concluded his career as a sire with 1,077 foals and 279 winners in 2:00 and 29 in 1:55. He died at age 30 in 2003 in Victoria, Australia. But while there may be mares in Australia with Oil Burner in their maternal lines, that’s a long stretch in breeding terms and a long way from Justa Tiger who stands in Southland New Zealand.

As Allan Clark knows, it will be a major challenge just to get mares from outside of the Southland region!

For future breeding, Allan suggests Holmes Hanover mares could be a good cross, which was the match with Tigerish that produced Justa Tiger’s outstanding half sister Tiger Turner.

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The first 2013 yearling sales lot I want to look at is Lot 69 at the Australasian Classic sale (Karaka), named Angus Fogg after the New Zealand V8 racing car driver.

This is a young colt I’ve been keeping my eye on – literally.

If I look out the window from where I sit at my computer, there he is. I’ve been watching his development with interest.

Angus Fogg with Angus Fogg

Angus Fogg and partner Tracy visit mare Sun Isa and young foal Angus Fogg at Breckon Farms.

Angus Fogg is the latest offering by Isa Lodge partner Kym Kearns.

He’s a half brother to Flying Isa, who was a big, bold colt, very much in the mould of his dam, the Sundon mare Sun Isa and her dam, the Count Bay mare Isa Countessa.

This time the colt has taken after his sire, Angus Hall, in terms of type.

And that’s something Kym appreciates:

He’s an athletic type.  He’s a 4 December foal, but you may be surprised by his physical forwardness. The breed has a tendency to be slightly turned out in the front, but this never stopped Flying Isa – or indeed the great Sundon (the dam’s sire).  What I would say about his legs is that they are strong and really push his movement forward in a lovely motion. I like him.

From a breeding perspective, the main interest lies in the fact that it’s the first crop of Angus Hall here. There are only two at the sales (this colt and a filly at Karaka, and a colt from Landoras Special at the Premier Day One sale in Christchurch).  Of course Angus Hall has only been available via frozen semen. His first crop of 18 foals came from 27 mares served – a not bad 72% fertility. He got about the same number of mares the next year. Given what a class act he is as a sire, it would be tragic if he wasn’t supported enough to retain his services for a few more years.

Lot 69 at Karaka has a pedigree that creates some very interesting double ups to one of trotting’s golden families – Goddess Hanover and her daughters Arpege and Cassin Hanover – via the Count Bay connection on the yearling’s maternal lines. The dam of Count Bay, Baynie, is a full sister to world champion trotter and sire Ayres, and both are progeny of Arpege. The only other sires we’ve had access to in New Zealand with these bloodlines has been Straphanger (via his damsire Texas) and more recently Thanksgiving (who has Ayres as his grandamsire).

Angus Hall has the connection twice, on his sire line and his maternal line.

You can read the details of this (and photos we took of the colt this morning) on this blogsite page.

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