Archive for February, 2014


Bettor’s Delight – outstanding siring son of Cam’s Card shark

Just announced by Hanover Shoe Farms today – Cam’s Card Shark has been retired from stud duties.

Interesting to see what a strong sire line that has become.

Will it be continued with Bettor’s Delight leaving a great siring son? We’ll have to wait and see. I’ve blogged on that before and it is quite intriguing.

Hanover shoe Farms has also done a deal to stand at stud there:

Myron Bell, the racing manager of the outstanding pacing colt Captaintreacherous and Jim Simpson, President of Hanover Shoe Farms today announced that an agreement has been reached for the great son of Somebeachsomewhere to stand at stud at Harness Racing’s greatest breeding farm beginning with the season of 2015.

Present plans call for “The Captain” to continue racing for the duration of 2013 and through the entire racing season of 2014.



Read Full Post »

Will post again shortly (I’m head down with day job at the moment) but in the meantime please have a look around past blogs as they cover a wide range of topics.

You can use the “Search” facility at the top right corner of my blog to enter in topics you are interested in – keep in simple like names of sires or families Rich N Elegant, Nedda, Tintin In America, yearling sales, Shadow Wave, Overtrick etc.

It will help you find topics of interest that I have covered in the past few years.

Read Full Post »

Maths was never my strong suit. Thanks to Helen Smith, my maths teacher who took extra classes after school, I squeezed through School Certificate maths with 54%.  And then I had to do a statistics course at university when I majored in geography. It was torture.

But at least I know the difference between “average” and “median”. Which is useful, because they can tell quite different stories about prices at the yearling sales, both overall and for individual vendors.

PGG Wrightson (who run the sales) uses averages to monitor how the sales went. It is a useful tracking tool over time, and it does indicate if there is a strong trend in one direction or another. However we know that if 5 horses sell for $10,000 and 1 sells for $100,000, the average for the 6 is $25,000. Does that really reflect what happened? If those results are for one vendor, it is a useful indicator that overall they have well covered their costs per horse and probably made a small but welcome profit, thanks to one outstanding sale. But across a day of sales or three days of sales, I am not convinced that averages mean that much.

Before I get on to “medians” here are some quotes from PGG Wrightson about the averages for this year’s sales:

(Day 1 Christchurch) A strong middle market on the first day of the two-day New Zealand Premier Sale in Christchurch yesterday (Tuesday) saw the average price lift from $22,186 in 2013 to $25,191 in 2014. Canterbury rep for PGG Wrightson, Bruce Barlass put the 14 per cent rise in prices down to a strong Canterbury and Southland presence, as well as the healthy state of dairy farming in the South Island.

(Day 2 Christchurch) The average was also well up, rising 10% to $24,536, which came down to the large number of lots which sold within the $30-$90K bracket.
“There wasn’t as many $100,000 plus yearlings as there has been in years gone by, but the middle to top market was very strong,” said PGG Wrightson’s Rachel Deegan.

Good observations, but it is interesting how the “middle market” has now been defined as around $30-40,000, which is above the average.

I understand that the Australasian Classic at Karaka had an average of $31,577 this year.

Now let’s look at what medians can tell us. The median is the middle of a range of numbers – basically the point where there are an equal number above and below it. So in terms of yearling sales, it gives a more accurate indication of how many vendors achieved a price higher or lower than that for their horse. In all cases it covers only horses sold at the auctions, not those passed in.

Add in the fact that just to cover costs a yearling probably needs to achieve $15,000 (if you have gone to a moderately priced sire and are doing the raising and preparation yourself) or over $20,000 (if you have gone to an expensive sire and are being charged for raising and preparation).  These are ballpark figures, but they give a steer on what a vendor needs as a realistic return on investment.

The median at the Australasian Classic (Karaka) sale this year was $26,000. In other words, an equal number of horses sold for less than that, and more than that.

For the total Premier (Christchurch) sale the median was $16,000. That indicates that about 126 horses sold for less and 126 horses sold for more. That’s a lot of horses not making it to break-even.

So medians paint quite a different picture compared to averages.

Father Frank a Real Desire colt

Father Frank, Christchurch Lot 223, a lovely Real Desire colt sold for only $12,500 – appropriately to Frank and Ann Cooney.

I’ll dig a little deeper, using $15,000 bands – of the almost 100 lots sold by auction at Karaka, 31 were $15,000 or less, 29 were between $16,000 and $30,000, and another 18 were between $31,000 and $45,000.  That’s about 60% of horses selling for less than $31,000, and 78% for less than $46,000. About 30% probably hardly covered costs and certainly wouldn’t have made a decent return on investment and risk.

Same story in Christchurch. 126 lots sold for less than $15,000. That’s about 50% of the lots that were sold by auction on the day. Another 87 sold between $16,000 and $30,000. That’s just over 80% of lots selling for less than $30,000.

So you can start to see why vendors were feeling a bit mixed about the results by the end of it. So much depended on whether you had enough good results or one really excellent one to average out your overall return.

Or looking at it from the other side of the business, it was a buyer’s market. Yes, there was good competition for the top end horses. But you could sense the effort required to get bidding beyond $10,000, and again to shift it over $20,000. Once over $30,000, the bigger bidders came in – and that is why many buyers with smaller pockets felt they could not get a decent look-in at the better quality, more commercially bred horses. On the other hand, they had a wealth of opportunity to pick up some very well raised attractive individuals at quite cheap prices, if they had done their homework.

The lower end prices were not necessarily a reflection on the individual product.

Often it was just a case of type, family and sire. It is such a conservative buying market. I’ll look at that in more detail next time.

Once again, these figures don’t include the passed in lots that were later sold (and quite of few of them were in the higher range). But the sheer volume of <$15,000 lots in unlikely to alter very much at all.

Read Full Post »

Kym Kearns with Lot 39

Kym Kearns of Isa Lodge with Thephantomtollbooth at the sales.

Back in Cambridge after the Auckland and then Christchurch yearling sales. Tired but happy.

It seems strange not to look out my window and see “the boys” hanging out in the paddock or finding shade under the gum trees. Both our yearlings sold well at the Australasian sale, Karaka.

I hope they are settling in well to their new environments and stable mates, and we look forward to following their progress. I’ve updated the pages for Thephantomtollbooth and Isaputtingonmytophat – but in a nutshell, the former sold for $84,000 and the latter for $42,000. Thanks Milo and Bert!

The day after the Australasian Classic Sale I flew to Christchurch for the two-day Premier Sale, and found that very interesting. In spite of reports, neither sale provided the real boost for breeders that we had hoped for. I feel for many sellers who put very good looking products forward – but took at loss or at least no reward for their investment of time, money and thought. Newer sires were left without a clear steer on their future demand. Some sires are basically “gone”. And even established top sires were picked over.

But there are some positive signs if breeders can hang on in there.

Jamie the auctioneer

Jamie the auctioneer

My experience in Christchurch was as great as I had expected:

  • Best tip from a trainer? “Try the whitebait fritter sandwich.” YUM! Thanks Sean.
  • Best horse in the show? Fell in love with lot 288 Christchurch, the Mister Big colt who sold for $54,000. (More about him later.)
  • Best show in town? Jamie, the spotter/auctioneer who kept us awake as temperatures soared into the high 30s.

Over the next few days I’ll process my observations and photos and share those via some short blogs.

Lot 45 Christchurch, a Sundon colt with a good trotting pedigree and nice looking type goes for just $6000.

Lot 45 Christchurch, a Sundon colt with a good trotting pedigree and nice looking type goes for just $6000.

Congratulations to those who sold well. And commiserations to those who came away with a loss. I’ve been there, down in the $4000 and $7000 range and it is hard. Don’t lose heart. I think these sales were a turning point in many ways. Your passion for breeding horses is something our industry needs to recognise and reward in a wider way and over a longer period than a few moments in the auction ring.



Read Full Post »

Tonight I paid the bill for the working fee for my mare Zenterfold. That’s for her current season, and she is in foal to Rock N Roll Heaven.

But the flip side of paying bills is what this lovely mare delivers. Because an hour later I watched her 3yo son, Destination Moon, win very well at Alexandra Park – his second win in his last two starts. That makes his record now 3 wins and 3 seconds from just 10 starts. He’s owned by Rosslands (Kerry Hoggard), trained by Steven Reid and Simon McMullan, and driven by Josh Dickie.

And then tomorrow I will be watching as Kym Kearns (who raises and prepares my foals) load his half brother yearling, Thephantomtollbooth, onto the float and we will be heading to the yearling sales in Auckland.

Neither Destination Moon nor ThePhantomtollbooth are by expensive sires – Grinfromeartoear and Real Desire respectively – but they are sires I chose for their compatibility with Zenterfold, in type and pedigree.

Same with Tintin In America, her first and (so far) best foal by McArdle.

I don’t breed “the best to the best and hope for the best”. I breed a 4 win mare who showed an incredibly determined and competitive attitude and a ton of sprint speed, to the sires that I believe add the most value and help produce the type of foal I’m looking for. One that will perform very well on the track. And with amazing help from Kym in raising and educating them, I try to give them every chance to fulfil their potential.

A ton of credit goes to the mare Zenterfold and the quality branch of the family she is forming.

Bee with Zenterfold

Bee with Zenterfold

I breed Zenterfold alternatively with Geoff and Aria Small, and the spacing of every other year is great – it gives me time to think and see the results from my last choice, and it also takes off some of the financial pressures for a small-time breeder.

Zenterfold is a lovely horse to have around. She can be bossy with other horses, but she loves interaction with humans. She’s a fantastic mum. She has a McArdle colt on her at the moment, for Geoff and Aria, and when that foal is weaned Zenterfold will be heading down here (Cambridge) as usual. She’s a shuttle mare, and I think she knows and kind of enjoys the routine now.

I’m really looking forward to seeing her again.

Thephantomtollbooth is Lot 39 at Karaka (prepared by Isa Lodge), and Zenterfold’s daughter The Blue Lotus has a very nice Bettor’s Delight filly  Lot 34 (prepared by Breckon Farms) in the same sale. The Blue Lotus is a full sister to Destination Moon and was placed 3rd in the 3yo Sires Stakes Fillies Final behind Carabella and Bettor Cover Lover, before she got a minor tendon tear early and was retired to stud.

All the best to everyone who is preparing, selling and buying yearlings at the moment, in Australia and New Zealand.  The mood feels more positive than the last couple of years.

I will blog again in a week, after attending both Karaka and Christchurch sales.

Read Full Post »

We (Isa Lodge) are selling our two colts at Karaka, the Australasian yearling sale on Monday.

That’s exciting enough.

For me, an extra dose of excitement is that I’m heading south afterwards for the next two days of the Premier sale in Christchurch.

And what excites me about that sale is that I’ll get a chance to see more yearlings from a wider range of sires and families than at Karaka.

Karaka is often regarded as the top end sale, and that can lead to a more constrained and commercially driven parade of offspring. That’s fine. But by the end of the day, I will be craving to get to Christchurch to see a

Lot 236 Christchurch by Kenneth J

Lot 236 Christchurch  a colt by Kenneth J from a Village jasper mare

Changeover or a Panspacificflight or a Shadow Play or a Gotta Go Cullect. I’ll be hungry for a Badlands Hanover, or a McArdle. I can’t wait to see The Pres yearlings and compare 9 Shark Gestures and 2 Raffaello Ambrosios. I’ll be so keen to check out the Santanna Blue Chips, and look at the only Mister Big, Kenneth J, Major In Art and Muscle Hill in the sales. I will even get to look at 3 Rob Roy Mattgregor colts and see if he stamped them in any way. There’s almost twice as many Jereme’s Jets as there are at Karaka! I’ve got 12 Art Official yearlings to look at, whereas there is not even one at Karaka.

Because at Auckland, Bettor’s Delight dominates again, and there’s a photo finish for Art Major and Mach Three, and then another photo for the first four between American Ideal and Rocknroll Hanover.

Then you drop back to only 7 from Real Desire, 6 from Rock N Roll Heaven and 5 from Christian Cullen. There’s only one Changeover yearling at Karaka, yet he was bred and trained in the north even if he now stands in the south. The rest is a smattering, flying solitary flags for their sires.

Lot 24 Changeover filly from Bettor's Delight mare

Lot 24 Changeover filly from Bettor’s Delight mare

At Christchurch there is variety and a feast of offerings from new and established sires, including those that are still trying to get a real foot-hold in the market. I know that is dangerous territory for vendors, an added risk on top of the usual risks of breeding. But some of these are very calculated risks – a thoughtful pedigree or type cross, or perhaps the willingness to put a sire out into the market.  A tip o’ the hat to those who go that route, knowing those risks. Our standardbred breeding and racing is the richer for your decisions. We will never win if we merely following in the tracks of others. Those who bred in previous years to Changeover or Shadow Play, for example, will be feeling a little chuffed, as those sires start to make a mark. It takes someone to lead, doesn’t it.

The range of damsires on offer follows the same pattern. At Karaka, new-ish damsires include only Mach 3 (lots 32, 56, 122, 127), Bettor’s Delight (lots 77, 55, 54), Artsplace who is a relatively minor sire here, for my N American readers (lots 66, 113, 123), Artiscape (lots 27, 88, 119), plus two Continentalman damsire credits for trotters (lots 49 and 81), one for Real Desire but I think imported (lot 13), and one Grinfromeartoear mare (lot 34 – hey, that’s my gorgeous mare The Blue Lotus and her first foal!).

Meanwhile down in Christchurch, you have plenty of representation from new-ish damsires – McArdle (lots 25, 79, 111, 116, 185, 186, 264, 308),  Bettor’s Delight (lots 24, 77, 132, 167, 177, 302, 312), and Life Sign (lots 39, 117, 172, 226, 249, 281, 349), plus solid representation by Artsplace, Artiscape, and Washington VC, and a few by Muscles Yankee, Mach Three, Pacific Rocket, Courage Under Fire, Red River Hanover and Badlands Hanover, and even Elsu, Earl, Rocknroll Hanover, CR Commando, Continentalman,  Julius Caesar and Tinted Cloud have at least got one credit as a damsire at the sale.

That isn’t a definitive list – I might have missed a few – but the overall point is valid.

Christchurch is where the variety lies.

Both sales are a reflection of the tough economic times (and the downturn in breeding numbers) about 3 years ago, when these breeding decisions were made.

Lot 254 The Pres colt out of Armbro Invasion mare

Lot 254 The Pres colt out of Armbro Invasion mare

We have had a couple of bank-account wrenching sales, and the impact is clear. Some breeders have consolidated to “the best to the best” and moved to a conservative position that at least might maximise their return. Others took the opportunity to get value for money and take a punt on new sires, and take a potentially lower sale price but hopefully retain a reasonable profit margin. And the market is different in Christchurch, where there are more buyers and trainers in the middle and lower market. Thank heavens!

There will be other reasons too, but this sale basically reflects the wake-up call we all got as the industry and the global economy shrank. It is just interesting to see the different responses.

Both options have good rationale. In the end the “proof of the pudding is in the eating” or as we say, “you will find out on the racetrack”.

Personally, I think going to Christchurch for the Premier Sale will be time and money well spent to widen my appreciation of current breeding. I’m really looking forward to reporting on what I find there.

Read Full Post »

I saw this in Harness Racing Update issue of 25 January. Given my recent blog on a yearling with double ups to the mare Rich N Elegant  in our 2014 sales, I thought this might be of interest.

Russell Hanover is by Somebeachsomewhere from Rich N Elegant, so a half to Rocknroll Hanover, Red River Hanover, Rustler Hanover et al.

A hock injury early on seems to have put paid to a racing career. Hanover Farms were patient and waited for him to get sounder, which he did but not to the point where he could be trained.

Breeding to him has been largely in-house so far, on purpose, wisely seeing how things went, and his crops have been around 25 mares. The first crop will sell at public auction in 2015 as yearlings.

Jim Simpson of Hanover Farms  says: “We are in the business of relying on genetics and I can’t think of a better bred prospect for a sire than he is. I understand that doesn’t always work out. We were devasted when he was untrainable and unsaleable. Being a Beach and a good looking individual, which he is, he would have been close to the top of our sale.”

Interestingly, Russell Hanover was an embryo transfer, and Hanover’s Farm Manager made the comment that Rich N Elegant (“Richie”) was such a good mother that had she raised the foal herself the injury may never have happened. See here for the full article (November 2012, when Rich N Elegant died).

To subscribe to the very good Harness Racing Update online newsletter go here

Read Full Post »

… to my Shy Ann family article

One of the USA/Australian-bred members of Shy Ann’s family, Follow The Stars, took out the New Zealand Sapling Stakes today at Ashurton’s flying mile day in a very good 1:53.8.

The colt was bought by Mark Purdon at the APG Sales as a yearling. Link to article on the All Stars Stables website which gives the details of the breeding.

The connection is via Dateable/Tarport Martha/Adios Betty, one of the strongest branches of the family.

My article on Shy Ann can be found here or just use the Articles tab at the top of the blogsite

… to my blogs on the last foals of In The Pocket

Another interest in today’s racing at Ashburton was 5yo mare Highview Aria coming 3rd in her race, and 4yo mare Sara Holley coming 2nd in hers, after doing it tough three wide for much of the way. They are from ITP’s last and second to last crops. Twenty years after his first crop, he’s still got representatives running and doing well today. Remarkable! See my previous blogs about Sara Holley, and some dead but still with us sires.


Great racing at Ashburton today – highlights for me were Majestic Time’s win in the 3yo Hambeltonian Trot – didn’t he just fly! – and Ricky May’s drive on Helena Jet, talk about “threading the needle”!




Read Full Post »

The last in this series looks at Lot 231 at the Premier (Christchurch) yearling sale – a colt by Rock N Roll Heaven out of Highview Diamond, who is a Red River Hanover mare.

So that makes the colt, named Rockn Roll Xtra, 3×3 to the great producer Rich N Elegant. There are also double ups to sires – to Western Hanover 3×4, and to Direct Scooter 4x4x5. But I’m focusing on the female double up. I’m not sure the position of Rich N Elegant in the sire’s pedigree is as influential as it may appear expressed as “3×3”. I made the same comment in my Part 2 blog about Roydon Gal. Rock N Roll Heaven’s maternal line is superb, and would have much to do with his success as a racehorse and potentially as a sire. In my view, it places him well to be a sire of good fillies as well as colts.

Nevertheless, Rich N Elegant is a class act in any pedigree. I’ve blogged on Rich N Elegant before so I won’t repeat myself – see my blog of November 2012 when she died, and from there you can link to the 3-part series about her sons at stud.

Basically she has left several very, very good racehorses, and the best was definitely Rocknroll Hanover who won over $3 million. He is also the only son to etch out a second career as a highly successful sire both in North America and in Australasia. Her other sons at stud here – Rustler Hanover, Red River Hanover and Righteous Hanover – have left some good horses here and there, but not consistently top racehorses.

Still, the quality of the genes they carry from their dam’s strong pedigree and their sires could make them good propositions as damsires.

Red River anover

Red River Hanover. Photo: Nevele R Stud.

This is very much the case for Lot 231’s damsire Red River Hanover who was a million-dollar racehorse but only a very moderately successful sire. He was a tall good looking stallion, 16.2h, but from what I have heard many of his foals here were a bit ‘fizzy’ or lanky and weak –  not suited to run early – and even when given time many of them simply lacked high speed.  He was given plenty of chance at stud, having live foal crops of 127, 84, 86, 122 in his first years at Nevele R Stud, but it dropped dramatically after that and he was exported to Australia. He has left some very nice types – Garnett River and Chloe Maguire, both racing in Australia, are examples, and Drop Red won $700,000 plus in North America.

A note: Red River Hanover died in Australia of a snake bite just over a week ago. 

So let’s have a peek at Red River Hanover as a damsire so far in New Zealand. On the ground he has 19 registered foals who are 2yos or 3yos, nothing older. He also has 14 unregistered foals on the database who are not yet yearlings. Some of his daughters have had more than one foal, indicating some level of confidence in the broodmare perhaps: Qualified mare Motu Glitz N Glam has two by Real Desire; qualified mare Tiber Franco has been to Bettor’s Delight twice and to Real Desire; nice two-win mare River Belle has been to Bettor’s Delight twice; unraced Miss Elegance has been to Mach Three, Real Desire and Gotta Go Cullect; David Phillip’s Hambletonian Ltd has put unraced Cathar to American Ideal (died), Art Official, Modern Art and now Tintin In America; unraced Zoe Bromac has been twice to Falcon Seelster. There are some trends there – quite a few searching for speed and going to sires who carry another strain of Direct Scooter. And with Real Desire, the attraction may also be his maternal Golden Miss line, which Rich N Elegant also has.

Highview Diamond, however, is the only Red River Hanover mare put to Rock N Roll Heaven so far in New Zealand, to get that 3×3 double up to Rich N Elegant. In Australia, there is also an unnamed yearling filly on the same cross, being by Rock N Roll Heaven from the New Zealand Red River Hanover mare Red River Laine who was exported to Australia in 2008.

A quick check shows to date in New Zealand and Australia, mares by Rustler Hanover haven’t been tried on this cross with Rock N Roll Heaven yet, either – but Rustler Hanover’s overall record as a broodmare sire looks quite promising with the likes of Shelbyville and Glenferrie Rustler (both raced in Australia), Franco Nikau and Franco Nadal, and the successful trotter now in Australia (Our) Dolly Would whose breeding is a bit of a surprise for a trotter, being by Artsplace from a Rustler Hanover mare Dixie Darlin (who is from the same family as Courage Under Fire). Sorry just an odd aside!

Rich N Elegant’s third son at stud here, Righteous Hanover, had very few foals and only one so far has been tried as a broodmare, the 7 win Samarias Bromac who has a weanling by Falcon Seelster. There are a few more in Australia, but none using the cross to Rich N Elegant.

Another siring son Richess Hanover never stood ‘down under’ as far as I am aware.

The fourth son is the top sire Rocknroll Hanover, but of course as the sire of Rock N Roll Heaven his mares would be out of the question for that cross. However there is a 2013 colt foal in Australia who is by Rocknroll Hanover from a Red River Hanover mare (Nolarama) which would make it inbred 2×3 to Rich N Elegant, so I guess you never know what breeders might try!

Of course it is very early days for Rock N Roll Heaven as a sire, and more foals 3×3 to Rich  Elegant may turn up in future.

Looking at Lot 231 overall, it’s a family that has had some strength back a bit with the Venetian Star/Star Rhapsody branch, but other branches have not kicked on. His dam Highview Diamond is being given every chance to reverse those fortunes. The result of her first mating is a 3yo filly by American Ideal who looked okay at workouts late last year and has had only one race start to date – her name is Highview Idol. Lot 231 is her next foal, and the Strongs forked out the service fee for a top quality sire and one who throws that interesting double up to Rich N Elegant into the mix.

You can see the colt on PGG Wrightsons Sale of the Stars website – video for Lot 231. He looks a good enough type and it will be interesting to view him in person when I’m down in Christchurch.

Certainly, Rich N Elegant is a very classy mare to have twice in your pedigree!

Read Full Post »

A heads-up (yes, I can do short blogs sometimes!)

The article I wrote about the influence of the Shy Ann family is now online. Just click on the Articles tab at the top of my blog. This article was originally published in Breeding Matters, and thanks to them for approval to reprint on my blog. I cover some of the historical and present day connections in New Zealand, and to a lesser extent in Australia (readers: please add comments to flesh this out).

Photos from Rod Croon and Highfields Bloodstock show some of the older representatives of the family that are still alive (and in some cases breeding) in New Zealand.

Shy Ann not so shy after all

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: