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Archive for April, 2014

4yo mare by Sutter Hanover. Lovely temperament, about 15.3hh and similar build to the sire. Long reaching stride.

Bought as a weanling, qualified as a 2yo and given time to mature.

She has had only had 9 starts for 2nd (at Auckland) and 3rd (at Cambridge).

Always showed potential. Workout formline for this season is 1,2,1,3,4. Has high speed finishing off her races. Check out her race this year for 3rd at Cambridge

Her workout form can also be seen on HRNZ’s Info Horse website.

Her last race (20 March) was disappointing – so bloods taken, showed she had a virus. Given 5 weeks off at Isa Lodge.

She’s feeling great now. She’s ready to fufill her potential.

Offers over $16,000. This is a great price for a ready to race mare that has caught a lot of people’s attention with her natural ability.

Current vet report available. Inspection welcomed (weekends only).

Send offers to me (Bee Pears) on bee.raglan@xtra.co.nz or phone on 027 2806569.

Driving The Dragon mare

Driving The Dragon winning at the workouts last year

 

 

 

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Following my last blog about marketing harness racing to a wider market, Harness Racing Update has another interesting article in its 19 April issue (at http://www.harnessracingupdate.com).

“The USTA has decided not to make a financial contribution to Jeff Gural’s efforts to put a select group of harness races on national television, a major blow to the proposed series.Gural had secured air time on the CBS Sports Network for several races, including the Little Brown Jug, the Meadowlands Pace and the June 28 stakes-laden card atPocono Downs.
Eventually, his plan was boiled down to include just the Meadowlands Pace and the Little Brown Jug and he asked the USTA to put up $75,000 to help cover the payments to the network.”

UTSA voted 13/1 against putting money in, as they felt the proposal unfairly advantaged just two race tracks. Read the full article here.

What they appear to miss is that mainstream audiences are only going to be interested in the top races, not some equitable spread of meetings. Which is why in New Zealand, mainstream TV sometimes gives coverage to the Melbourne Cup or (if we are really lucky) the NZ Trotting Cup. It’s news-worthy.

It’s also the thin edge of the wedge. And that’s a wedge we need to hammer further in with some clearly thought out strategies and sponsorships. Other sports get a round-up in the main TV news every day, but horse racing never gets a “best race finish of the day/week” or even a mention of Derby, Oaks, major cup winners.

We have to ask ourselves why not. I think one answer is that we cannot decide what we are – a sport, an industry, an entertainment. And if we don’t know, it’s harder to mainstream programmers and news producers to understand where reporting on horse racing fits into their schedules.

I’ll discuss this in a future blog – our identity crisis. It is at the centre of a lot of our problems.

 

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Wow! a breath of fresh air in the debate about how to market harness racing – please check out the article by Dean Towers on page 5 of the 12 April edition of Harness Update newsletter.

It’s called “Tape It, Mic It Up and Package It: A New Way to Show Harness Racing”. Or find it under http://www.harnessracingupdate.com.

I’ve raised some outside the square ideas over the years as well about the need to change the way we present our product for the less obsessed viewer or to attract interest of a younger audience. See my blog of November 2012 “A race – the short form of the game”. 

It is interesting that as a sport we have two tv channels dedicated to racing, one radio station virtually dedicated to it, and race meetings of one sort or another held daily – and yet we cannot seem to expand our audience or our participants. Other sports or entertainment would love to have such incredible opportunities to showcase their product!

For me, the key issue is exactly what the Harness Update article suggests: We cannot grow our audience until we cross over from targeting the participants themselves, to targeting people who are not yet involved – “mainstream”. What makes them excited? What engages them? What entertains them? The answers are more about human nature than about betting products. New Zealand Lotto gets millions of dollars each week spent on hope, human stories and a brief 5 minutes of action – and simplicity. We could learn a lot from that.

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Today Cambridge, a small town just south of Hamilton in New Zealand’s North Island, is playing host to William and Kate aka the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge (appropriately for today, but I think referring to the Cambridge in England!) They are the Queen of England’s son and daughter in law, and the Queen is also the Queen of New Zealand and Australia, hence the visit downunder.

Cambridge NZ is, of course, a horse breeding centre famous more for its thoroughbreds than its standardbreds, but the place where many very good trotters and pacers have been born and raised. We have a track here which regularly holds harness meetings and hosts the Harness Jewels day every second year.

Majestic Son colt

Lot 116 Karaka yearling sale 2014, a trotting colt by Majestic Son from Miss Whiplash, named Royal Willie.

I’m not a royal follower, but I thought it was appropriate to profile one of the yearlings that really caught my eye at the Karaka yearling sales this year – the delightfully named Royal Willie, a Majestic Son colt from the very good mare Miss Whiplash. What a handsome looking black colt with a strong white blaze! He had me clicking my camera quite a few times, not unlike the paparazzi and the people of Cambridge will be doing at the Royal Walkabout today.

He was passed in on vendor’s bid at $28,000 with a reserve of $40,000, which means he returned to the good care of the Parkers at Drury. Tony Parker is the breeder of many fine racehorses including the great Auckland Reactor.

Miss Whiplash is a half sister to one of my favourite trotters of yesteryear, Lilly The Pink who got a 3rd in the Interdominion Trotters Final. Miss Whiplash herself won 13 races including the Thames Trotting Cup and a second in the Rowe Cup.

They are all from the Nevele R mare Working Girl. Apart from having a lot of fun with the naming (Emma Hamilton, Dutch Annie, Madam Heidi etc), those involved in the offspring are getting some fine results on the racetrack. Miss Whiplash’s daughter Dutch Annie seems to be one of the strongest branches, with her first two foals, fillies by Majestic Son (Hot Pants) and Love You (Yougunnakissmeornot) both making good starts so far. Her third foal, another filly by Majestic Son, was also offered at the Karaka yearling sale by the Parkers, and also bought back on a bid of $20,000. Quite rightly as you wouldn’t want to be giving away fillies from such a strong family. Although having said that, I see her next foal was also a filly!

Likewise, Dutch Annie’s dam Miss Whiplash has produced overwhelmingly filly foals, and in fact Royal Willie is only her second colt foal out of 8 live foals (and several misses).

By the look of him on sales day, he will be yet another from the family to fly the flag – as many will be doing in Cambridge today for “Royal Wills” as he drives past with his princess.

 

Royal Willie

Royal Willie

 

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Jereme’s Jet is an example of a sire with good credentials and now some very solid performance statistics, who could not get a foothold as a commercial shuttling sire. His last season here was 2012, and he’s not likely to be back.

The reasons are mixed, and he is one of many sires who have found the challenges of shuttling too difficult. I will have a look at those challenges of shuttling in my next blog.

Jereme's Jet 2011 NZ

Jereme’s Jet at the NZ Alabar 2011 stallion parade – bookends of a big shoulder and a big bum.

Jereme’s Jet stood for 4 seasons in New Zealand for a $6,000 service fee. He is a lovely strong looking individual, with a big shoulder and bum – bookends – on a 15.2hh body, so he is compact but looked the type of sire that could produce speedy earlier types. I’ve seen him personally a couple of times at Alabar stallion parades.

His credentials are very good. His main selling point is his own speed – consistently fast – and he raced from 2yo to 4yo which gives more confidence of durability, toughness. So on type – very fast, compact, not big but built like a brick sh**house as we say – Alabar and the sire’s owners must have been hoping he would eventually fit the same siring mould as Bettor’s Delight.

On the so-so side of the equation, Jereme’s Jet’s maternal family is not that strong and certainly not well known here. His dam was an outstanding racehorse with Jereme’s Jet and his full brother Ohubetterbelieveit by far the best of her progeny to date. Back further, there is a solid family but nothing that really stands out.

Also Jereme’s Jet is a son of Western Hanover and, apart from Badlands Hanover who has build a very fine reputation here over 14 years, New Zealand has had little experience of the Western Hanover line, and some of those who have ventured here have not been successful at all (Red River Hanover, P Forty Seven). His best son Western Ideal has been available only as frozen semen and often at a high price, so has only had a handful of “boutique” foals here (from 15 foals now aged 2 and 3, he has had 5 starters for 3 winners). However Western Ideal’s son American Ideal is gaining in popularity each year and had the backing of the Woodlands Stud broodmare band to help him in those first awkward years when he got only around 70 or 80 mares – now he is regularly getting well over 100. Same for Western Ideal son Rocknroll Hanover who, after a very slow start (again due to frozen semen and high service fee) is now getting around 50 mares, still with frozen semen but at half the original asking price.

So overall, New Zealand has been more successful hunting ground for sires from the Artsplace line rather than sons of Western Hanover, and Western Ideal’s own sons are the main flag carriers of the Western Hanover line.

What’s interesting about Jereme’s Jet is that he hasn’t left many 2yo speedy types at all, if any. But his statistics get a lot better as his foals develop. In fact, they are impressive for a sire that had an average of less than $10,000 across both New Zealand yearling sales this year. At the Australasian sale (Karaka) he had just 5 yearlings for sale, with 3 selling (average $$5,500) and 2 passed in on vendor’s bid. One of those was Peter Fraser’s colt Lot 89 Campora which was bought back at $17,500 – it’s a full brother to Vapour who is now doing well in Australia.  At the Premier sale (Christchurch) there were 9 lots on offer. 6 sold (average $10,833) and 3 were passed in on vendor’s bid.

Let’s review Jereme’s Jet siring stats to date: (remembering the season is not over yet)

His current 2yos   43 live foals   3 starters (7%)   1 winner (2%)
His current 3yos   55 live foals   31 qualifiers (56%)  20 starters (36%)  12 winners (21%)
His current 4yos   87 live foals   54 qualifiers (62%)   45 starters (51%)  33 winners (37%)

Just to put this in context, here are the equivalent stats for American Ideal’s current 4yos born in New Zealand in 2009:
His current 4yos    61 live foals   32 qualifiers (52%)  25 starters (40%)  18 winners (29%)

And yet American Ideal has been given the time to establish his reputation, solidly. His annual numbers of mares is now well over 100. Whereas Jereme’s Jet is gone. And like Jereme’s Jet, American Ideal foals on type were perhaps expected to go earlier than they do. In reality, both sires are leaving foals that get better and stronger with time.

Just to put both those sires in perspective, Bettor’s Delight currently has 52% of his 2009 crop as winners. That shows both how remarkable he is as a sire, but also the increased opportunities for a sire with big books and quality mares. It is a hard market to crack.

Jereme's Jet filly

Lot 117 Karaka yearling sale 2014, the Jereme’s Jet filly sold to Adam Wilkinson for just $10,000

In terms of yearling sale prices, Jereme’s Jet was reasonable well received with his first crop at the 2011 sales, with several selling in the $15,000 to $40,000 range. The following couple of years show a slide so common in the first few years as sales buyers wait to see how the yearlings look, how the 2yos perform. So few buyers wait to see how the 4yos turn out. Those that do were rewarded at the yearling sales this year with some very astute buys of some very good looking Jereme’s Jet yearlings. The photo in this blog shows Adam Wilkinson’s purchase for just $10,000 at the Karaka sale – from a Soky’s Atom mare, the same cross as Whisper Jet ($60,000 from 15 starts, 4 wins to date).

So Jereme’s Jet moved very quickly into the breed-to-race-and-sell category, rather than a commercial “sales-type” sire. That probably suits the type of horse he is leaving. However his service fee couldn’t reflect that change without the owners obviously struggling to break even on the shuttle arrangement. His departure is a no-brainer in business terms, and judging by the relatively low fertility (hovering under 70% after his first season here) maybe the horse didn’t thrive on the demands of shuttling.

Helena Jet is, of course, his outstanding New Zealand representative today and embodies the qualities of the sire – she’s attractive, has character, and is strong – and yes, she is getting faster as she gets older.

It’s the consistency of his starters that I like. When I look through the race form book, I’m always interested to see the Jereme’s Jets. They usually don’t have a lot of starts but the formline reads well. For a small bettor like me, they are a great bet. I’ll do a squizz back sometime in the future and see how his stats are tracking when his youngest foals have reached the end of their 4yo season, here and in Australia.

So this is a tip o’ the hat to a sire that I really like and seriously considered.

Jereme’s Jet now stands at Ivy Lane Farm in Indiana at US$3000.

 

 

 

 

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It is hard enough to breed for yearling sales, and even harder when the time gap between decision making and bid is about 2.5 years apart – a timespan when trends change, reputations are made or lost, freak 2yos appear or not, and stakes can encourage or totally turn off buyers.

Add into that volatile mix the situation where the sire of the horse you breed suddenly vanishes from the scene.

Oh oh.

The sires that have been affected by change of situation recently include three from Alabar – Jereme’s Jet, Santanna Blue Chip  and Real Desire – and Shark Gesture, Stonebridge Regal, Rob Roy Mattgregor, Four Starzzz Shark.

The reasons for their absence is varied but the affect on the breeder of having a sire not currently available when the yearling is being sold – well, that’s a major hurdle.

Alabar in particular committed to advertising support this time around, and that was a very helpful gesture. The fact remains: absence doesn’t make the heart grow fonder. It makes horses less desirable because at a very basic level there is a perception that “he didn’t work out as a sire here”.

The best result for the vendor then depends on individual outstanding types and really strong families. In my own case, I got a stunning price for my Real Desire colt, far and away beyond what other very nice Real Desires I saw at Karaka and Christchurch got. He was a beautiful type of yearling, but not so incredibly far ahead of some others by the same sire – I was really impressed by ones like Goforjack from the very good mare Laurent Perrier, for example, but he struggled to get a bid at $14,000.

The averages for Real Desire yearlings were skewed by the $84,000 for one sale, so better to look at each sale separately. At Karaka 4 sold and 3 were bought back, for an average sale price of $26,500, but if you take out the top lot, the average was just $7,333. At Christchurch he had 15 yearlings sold and 9 bought back, for an average of $14,033.  All the Karaka lots that were bought back or passed in without a bid were fillies, and the fillies at Christchurch also struggled to get decent bids.

Look at the length of  body in Real Desire’s progeny; it’s something Real Desire often stamps, along with legs that reach. His record is good, from a career that means there is a lack of young racing stock at the moment. He had 152 live foals in 2008, was absent the next year, 51 live foals in 2010, 37 in 2011, and these yearlings were from his biggest crop of 159 live foals in 2012, when the performance of his earlier foals encouraged breeders to go again. He was missing again last year and I doubt he will be back unless these yearlings jump out of their skins.

I asked around quite a few buyers, trainers and breeders what it was about Real Desires that put people off, what the problem was. And the answer was never specific – often along the lines of “I don’t see anything wrong with them myself but a lot of people don’t like them.”  Nothing tangible. In fact a lot of them spoke favourable about specific Real Desires they knew or had trained.

On type, I really liked what I saw of the Shark Gestures. They look bigger, bolder types that could need time, but wow they looked strong and handsome. What a horse he was, from a juvenile to older racehorse! And a strong pedigree. Now he is based in Ohio, but the one year he was available via Wai Eyre Farm was an opportunity missed by many, and I believe those breeders who took that opportunity were hard done by at the yearling sales. I will follow them with interest.

Jereme’s Jet is another matter, and I will delve into that over the next month. Like many (when I saw his big bum and strong but more compact body) I thought he might be leaving those early sprinty types. He’s not really, but his statistics are showing something really interesting. More on that later. Suffice to say, there were several Jereme’s Jets who really caught my eye and some astute buyers got them cheap.

I have also covered Santanna Blue Chip previously so won’t go over that ground except to say that his 5 yearlings for sale across both North Island and South Island yearling sales went for $3000-$11,000, including one passed in on vendor’s bid. And yet he is a sire that stamps an attractive athleticism on his foals, but perhaps not the strong bold look some buyers are wanting.

Below are some photos of the yearlings by Real Desire and by Shark Gesture, who was here one minute, gone the next.

In all cases, I did not inspect the yearlings so there may have been reasons why the prices were so low, other than the commercial appeal of the sire himself – but many of these sires struggled to attract competitive buying interest in the ring, in spite of looking the part.

I think that is a huge shame, the often the vendor is not getting a price the individual yearling deserves. And if that individual is a filly, of course that immediately reduces the value as the sire’s ability to produce good race fillies is one big question mark. Having said that, it is interesting to see the prices paid for bold types, like a couple of the Shark Gesture fillies, held up relatively well.

Photos below of some Real Desire, Shark Gesture and Santanna Blue Chip yearlings.

Some of the  Real Desire yearlings at the 2014 sales:

LOT 111 Real Desire  colt from the wonderful Twice As Hot/Twice As Good family - he was bought back as a vendor bid for just $11,000 after not meeting the reserve.

LOT 111 Christchurch, Real Desire colt from the wonderful Twice As Hot/Twice As Good family – he was bought back as a vendor bid for just $11,000 after not meeting the reserve.

Lot 123 a Real Desire colt  from All My Art, the dam of Ohoka Nevada, et al. He was bought for $6000.

Lot 123, Christchurch, a Real Desire colt from All My Art, the dam of Ohoka Nevada, et al. He was bought for $6000.

Lot 313 Goforjack Real Desire colt from the lovely broodmare Laurent Perrier, the dam of the great Lancome. He was bought for just $14,000.

Lot 313 Christchurch, Goforjack Real Desire colt from the lovely broodmare Laurent Perrier, the dam of the great Lancome. He was bought for just $14,000.

Some of the Shark Gestures:

Shark Gesture yearling colt

Lot 99 Christchurch, Shark Gesture colt bought for $8000

Shark Gesture yearling filly

Lot 191 Christchurch, Shark Gesture filly from Holmes Hanover mare Electrify, dam of Lochinvar, was sold for just $3000.

Lot 102 Christchurch, a lovely Shark Gesture filly from an In the Pocket mare,  sold for $11,500

Lot 102 Christchurch, a lovely Shark Gesture filly from an In the Pocket mare, sold for $11,500

One of the Santanna Blue Chip yearlings:

Santanna Blue Chip filly yearling

Lot 95 at Karaka,  Santanna Blue Chip filly from Erinyes bought back at $6000

Santanna Blue Chip yearling colt

Lot 109 Christchurch, Santanna Blue Chip colt from Dream Bel family

 

 

 

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Gotta Go Cullect had just 4 yearlings at the sales this year, selling for $13,000, $12,000, $7,500 and one passed in on a vendor’s bid of $5000 with a reserve of $10,000. That’s an average of lots sold of just over $10,000, and overall not a bad result compared to some of the other newer sires. His service fee affordability probably meant those who sold yearlings were close to breaking even, and expectations would have been realistic I think.

Like Art Official he stands at Alabar in the North Island but he had no representatives at the North Island yearling sale at Karaka. That is definitely a reflection on how he is viewed commercially by top end breeders and buyers who are the core of the Karaka sale.

The only photo I got on the day is this one of Lot 62, a nice strong type of colt from a Safely Kept mare who got the top price of $13,000. He’s being led around by Ken Spicer who is quite a tall, solid bloke, so you can get an impression he’s a bigger, bolder type of yearling and quite appealing to buyers. See his promotional photo at end of the blog.

Below the photo I do a quick summary of Gotta Go Cullect’s siring career to date. I think he’s filling a great niche in the breed-to-race market, but unless his 3yos really put the foot down on the accelerator, I can’t see many more of his yearlings turning up at the yearling sales. The recent performing families that get good prices would be taking a commercial risk to go to a sire that is not really priced for top-end sales. For example, Lot 49, the only filly, was an attractive yearling and is also the half sister to Lochaburn, the 3yo colt by Christian Cullen who has so far chalked up 8 wins from 12 starts. The mare, Suzy’s Delight is back in foal to Christian Cullen now, which makes a lot of sense commercially for breeder Mike Stratford.

Lot 62 Gotta go Cullect colt by Safely Kept mare

Lot 62 Gotta go Cullect colt by Safely Kept mare

Of the sons of our great sire Christian Cullen who stand at stud, Gotta Go Cullect has received the most support from breeders so far. He has had four good books of mares and now has just over 220 live foals at age 2 or 3, i.e. racing age.

As I’ve mentioned before in my blog late January (New sires trying to gain traction) not many of his foals to date seem to be racing or winning as 2yos; they seem to need a bit more time to develop than you might have expected from a sire whose own sire and dam were both precocious, tough youngsters.

Gotta Go Cullect’s stats are now 45 qualifiers and 11 winners (and I see there is some action over in Australia with some of his Australian born progeny, but I’m not going to delve into detail on that at this stage). As a sire, Gotta Go Cullect is hovering around 20% qualifiers to live foals, and 5% winners to live foals to date (bearing in mind that his oldest are only 3).

Breaking his stats down a bit more:

  • He has 78 registered foals born in NZ who are currently 2yos. Of those,  there are 6 starters (7.6%), no winners.
  • He has 108 registered foals born in NZ who are currently 3yos. Of those 25 are starters (23%), 11 are winners (10.8%).

Of course the season has not finished yet and these figures will change over the next 4 months. But there is a bit of a trend which, as I say, is indicating that in spite of his own breeding and own track performance (4 wins from just 5 starts as a 2yo), Gotta go Cullect is not showing up as a sire of precocious horses. Well, he’s like most sires in that way. And like most sires trying to make their mark, he will need to counter that by coming up with half a dozen eye catching 3yos who show up at premier race nights rather than on the grass at Rangiora. Royal Counsel is certainly helping the cause with a very good win in the Southern Oaks recently.

One of the best and first to race here was his son Offtocullect who was exported to Western Australia and has 3 more wins to add to the 4 he got here in NZ and a 1.57.7 MR. He got one of his wins as a 2yo, but so far none of this season’s 2yo Gotta Go Cullects have managed a win. Offtocullect is the sort of horse that catches the attention of future buyers and gives a bit of confidence. Alabar NZ is selling a full sister to Offtocullect at their weanling sale on 30 May. The dam is Shazza’s Dream, a Pacific Rocket mare from the useful Marika/Russianero family.

Lot 49 Gotta Go Cullect filly from Washington VC mare. She's a half sister to the very talented Lochaburn.

Lot 49 Gotta Go Cullect filly from Washington VC mare. She’s a half sister to the very talented Lochaburn.

Lot 62 Gotta Go Cullect colt from Safely Kept mare

Lot 62 Gotta Go Cullect colt from Safely Kept mare. Same yearling as in the photo I took on the sales day.

 

 

 

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