Archive for December, 2014

The blue Lotus with foal

The Blue Lotus enjoys a carrot while her foal enjoys a rest.

Lovely to have The Blue Lotus back home with her Shadow Play colt foal at foot.

She’s back in foal to A Rocknroll Dance.

More photos below.

The Blue Lotus and Shadow Play colt a

The Blue Lotus with her Shadow Play colt 31 December 2014

Lottie loves carrots

May your 2015 year be as sweet as a carrot!

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Following on from my last post, where I noted the absence of Western Hanover as a damsire of commercial sires, this time I look at our local sires and see where the damsires are coming from.

Once again, there is a big name almost totally missing – In The Pocket.

In The Pocket, a super son of Direct Scooter, was the southern hemisphere equivalent of Matt’s Scooter, and he did a similar remarkable job as a sire of speedy sons and daughters.

But unlike Matt’s Scooter, so far In The Pocket’s influence on New Zealand sires is very much as a sire of sires (Changeover, Christian Cullen, Courage Under Fire) rather than as damsire of sires.

To date there is only one sire standing with In The Pocket as his damsire, and that is Tintin In America (by McArdle). That surprises me, given In The Pocket’s record as a sire here over such a long period. There is also one sire with Christian Cullen (top sire and son of In The Pocket) as a damsire, and that is Highview Tommy (by Bettor’s Delight).

There’s several reasons why I would love to see more of In The Pocket in the damsire role of our locally bred sires. He was a horse not only known for his speed and determination, but also his heart. Whether or not you totally agree with the “x factor” theory of Marianna Haun, there does seem considerable evidence to show that a larger heart may be passed on the x chromosome, i.e. able to be passed from a male horse to his female progeny but not to his male progeny.

If this is the case, then one of the most important qualities of In The Pocket will be able to be passed on to a sire when he is in the maternal line.

In the Northern Hemisphere, this role has been picked up by Matt’s Scooter (as well as him being a sire of sires).  He is a key element in the maternal line of some of the good sires coming through – American Ideal of course, but also Shadow Play and Well Said.

Becoming a successful sire is very hard. Becoming a sire of sires is almost impossible. Becoming an important damsire of sires is also a mountain to climb, or rather a totally different and more technically difficult face of the same mountain perhaps.

I hope Tintin In America can advance his cause in that regard, and I also hope In The Pocket gets more chances in the future as a damsire of champion sires. We need him in the “engine room” of more of our sires – the the back pocket where we like to keep our reserves of cash.



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I was flicking through the 2014/2015 Register of Standardbred Stallions of New Zealand today (while listening to the NZ vs Sri Lanka cricket test) when a strange fact jumped out at me:

Western Hanover is almost totally missing from the maternal line of sires. In fact the only sire available here with Western Hanover as his damsire is the Canadian newcomer Prodigal Seelster (Camluck x Platinum Seelster). Apart from him, the closest we get is A Rocknroll Dance whose bottom maternal line is the same as Western Hanover’s (and same for the sire Modern Art in Australia).

Shark Gesture is the only other one I can think of, and he was only here for one season in 2011, but was quite well received and his foals look lovely types. They will be 2yos this season. But Shark Gesture has not been given much of a chance to shine in the breeding barn to date – read the Harnesslink review of his career as racehorse and sire to date here. A huge pity as I think he brings a lot to the table in terms of his pedigree and performance, and would be an interesting option for the daughters of Western Hanover line sires. (See a blog of mine about his yearlings last year.)

Since we get access to many of the top international sires now, the absence of Western Hanover so far as a damsire of top sires seems to be a phenomenon wider than just New Zealand.

On the other hand, Artsplace is already the damsire of Well Said and Rock N Roll Heaven, and in New Zealand also two lower tier but interesting newcomers Raging Bull and Net Ten EOM.

Beach Towel was also born around the same time as Artsplace and Western Hanover and has damsire credits for Somebeachsomewhere and our own Sir Lincoln.

And Matt’s Scooter, only just a few years older than Artsplace and Western Hanover, is the damsire of American Ideal and Shadow Play.

Falcon Seelster was renowned as a sire of good broodmares, and he has managed damsire credits for Art Official, and for New Zealand-bred sires Ohoka Arizona and Charles Bronson.

So the lack of Western Hanover in the damsire position of top stallions is really intriguing. His own sire No Nukes has proven really potent in the maternal lines of sires. So why not Western Hanover himself?

It’s almost as if his whole legacy is concentrated as a sire of sires.

Have I missed something? What do you think the reason is? Is there anything on the horizon to change that?








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Seasons greetings to all b4breeding blog readers.

Since recently “downunder” we imported the idea of monte racing from Europe, I wondered if we could also follow the Arctic nations example and add reindeer racing to our winter agenda (or given that Christmas time here is usually warmer and sunnier maybe we could find an alternative with Christmas cow-ski-racing over newly cut grass just before it is rolled up into haylage bales??)

If you can’t believe your eyes, just google “reindeer racing”.

Reindeer racing

Have a wonderful Christmas and New Year, and a successful and happy 2015.

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The answer is: YES. Stallions and mares have different rules.

What I am less sure about is the WHY. Sure, when it comes to racing I know it needs tougher and exceptional fillies and mares to step up to compete in the best classes – and it can be done.

But when it comes to breeding, I believe the only reasons for separate rules for the males and the females is for the health of the horse, the impact on the overall industry, and the ability for those investing ( the breeders) to get a fair go at a return.

That’s why I read with a lot of interest the American newsletter Harness Racing Update which talked about the mixing of siring duties with a horse that continues his racing career. As the article said (and it is a good article, well written and reasoned) there are many horses in Europe who have done this for years, and in North America the penny is just starting to drop. You can have a bet each way, if the stallion is able and willing and managed correctly. I really like that idea, as it keeps great male horses racing (with an added incentive to keep proving their worth) and it allows those slightly-less famous horses with great breeding and/or performance a chance to prove their worth in the breeding barn.

So…why is there the resistance to mares doing the same? The resistance to embryo transfer has been (still is?) enormous and bureaucratic compared to the freedom stallions now have to race and breed at the same time. It is regarded as something almost scandalous to take an egg off a racing mare. If our champion mare of today Adore Me used a surrogate mare to breed a foal while she raced on, how would you feel about that?

Now compare that to how you feel about a champion stallion having a go at siring in his off season with 20 or more mares.

male femaleIt’s about transferring sperm and eggs. It’s not rocket science.

The rules changed when AI was approved. And the rules need to be reviewed in the light of the current industry’s future. The focus needs to be more on industry needs and horse welfare, than the ideological resistance of some people based on – how do I say this politely? – prejudice that may be a remnant of our own human struggle with inequality among the sexes.

Another example is the ability of a sire, via artificial insemination (AI) to cover in theory many hundreds of mares across a range of countries. Whereas a mare (although accessing a number of sires potentially), must settle on one stallion – you hope – to get pregnant during one season.

Isn’t this a form of wastage, when compared to the stallion’s options?

A while back I floated the idea of a mare being able to get more than one foal per season via surrogate mares. It was greeted with a warm reception from many breeders who saw how, like stallion owners, you need to maximise you investment while you can.

But the effort to get things changed – particularly internationally – seems a long way off. I doubt if it has been more than “raised”, if that.

If that is the case, then I think breeders are being short-changed.

More than that, I think the old arguments about what is okay for the boy but wrong for the girl are lurking in a way that a future looking industry doesn’t need.

You can put good rules around anything. If you REALLY want to. It just takes effort and good will.

I’d go for just allowing a mare to breed twice in a season (hey, we know it is hard enough to get one positive strike, but it would be lovely to have two options).

And that would be enough to double the potential breeding of each mare in New Zealand, although reality is that the cost of providing for good surrogate mares has to be taken into account and only breeders with good quality mares would probably look at the option. But isn’t that the right signal?

The results for the industry would be more foals on the ground, from quality mares. And probably from more diverse sires, if the rules were set correctly.

We are so used to seeing top sires dominating the progeny in one race – Bettor’s Delight, Sundon, Mach Three, etc.

Why are we so adverse to seeing a mare’s name more than once on the ledger?

It makes you think, eh.

Anyone reading my blog will know how much I love the mares I have. This is not about “being greedy”. It is about opening our minds to think EQUALLY and FAIRLY about breeding. In the end, the choices are still (and should be) individual and personal and with some sound financial basis, and within the rules. But maybe it is time to change those rules to a more equitable situation between sires and mares.

What do you think? Responses welcome to this blog.

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Lovely to see this young Rock N Roll Heaven filly hooning around the big rolling paddock at Breckon Farms when I visited this morning.

With her is dam Zenterfold – who enjoyed two apples and a good scratch.


Zenterfold with her Rock N Roll Heaven filly, nicknamed Taffey.

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There’s relief for me as the breeder as well as for the owners and trainers when a horse I’ve bred qualifies. I really want to produce horses that race well, not just ones that get a good price at the sales.

Thephantomtollbooth qualified at Alexandra Park this morning, and although he was fourth of four, it was all he was required to do. Job done.

Qualifying race Alexandra Park

Nice qualifying win by Rock N Roll Heaven-Party Girl Becqui 2yo filly Killer Queen, while Thephantomtollbooth sticks on 4th in a 28.3 last quarter. They were all well inside the qualifying time.

He’s a big handsome boy with a lot of condition on him, but Lincoln Farms like him and are prepared to take time.

Sweaty and heading for his hose down.

Sweaty and heading for his hose down.

His effort today follows in the hoofprints of all his other siblings – remarkably all 7 foals of racing age from the mare Zenterfold have now qualified as 2yos (as Zenterfold did herself).

She’ll get an extra carrot or two when I visit her and her Rock N Roll Heaven filly foal at Breckon Farms tomorrow.

Holmes Hanover filly qualifies too

As you know I enjoy noting when a horse pops up from the last crops of our favourite sires.  In the previous qualifying heat for 3yos at Alexandra Park today I was surprised and delighted to see a filly by Holmes Hanover win very nicely. The filly’s name is Wirreanda Piper, trained by Penny Fensom. There are only 5 Holmes Hanover progeny registered in New Zealand who are 2 or 3, and 4 others unregistered. Those were the last crops of the great sire who died in 2006.

Holmes Hanover 3yo filly Wirreanda Piper winning her qualifying trial 20 December 2014.

Holmes Hanover 3yo filly Wirreanda Piper winning her qualifying trial 20 December 2014.

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This blog is about a mare born in 1890. Her name was Princess Royal, and through three daughters Regal McKinney (born 1907), Queenly McKinney (1908) and Roya McKinney (1911), she has made an incredible contribution to trotting and pacing breeding. They are usually collectively known as “the McKinney sisters”.

The name of a sire/broodmare sire is often more obvious in pedigrees because stallions have so many more opportunities to leave sons and daughters – usually somewhere between 30 and 300 progeny a year – whereas a mare has perhaps between 5 and 15 opportunities (i.e. foals) in her whole lifetime. So when I see a mare in the background of so many top sire lines, damsire lines and bottom maternal lines, I want to give that mare the credit she deserves.

This blog is not a tip o’ the hat. It’s a hat thrown high in the air.

Three cheers for Princess Royal! Hip hip…HOORAY!

Scotland as a 2yo

A grandson of Princess Royal – the famous racehorse and sire Scotland as a 2 year old.

Princes Royal and her daughters are from the Jessie Pepper family. Jessie Pepper, who was blind, had 18 foals, and the seventh of them was Annabel. She was the dam of Estabella who in turn was the dam of Princes Royal. Princess Royal’s sire was Chimes (a son of Electioneer) and the foundation of so many of the pacing sire lines of today.

Just check out a few of the influential lines that trace back to her three daughters (I recommend you look through the super Classic Families database to discover all the threads).

Here is a brief summary of her contribution through her three daughters:

Roya McKinney is the dam of 11 foals including great sire Scotland, his fast brother Highland Scott, and his sisters Rose Scott and Elsie Scott (all sired by the Peter Scott, a son of Peter The Great), as well as another daughter La Roya by Guy Axworthy.

Three of Roya McKinney’s daughters bred on particularly well, and her son Scotland has been such an influential sire I can’t possibly list his achievements here:

  • The Rose Scott branch gave us the sires Tar Heel, Hickory Smoke, Hickory Pride, Armbro Goal (whose dam was the World Champion mare Armbro Flight), and Earl.
  • The Elsie Scott branch contributed with Falcons Future, and No Nukes, and trace through No Nukes sister TMI to the very good mare Artistic Vision and her top performing sons Rock N Roll Heaven (becoming a top sire himself) and Clear Vision.
  • The La Roya line can be traced down through several generations from her daughter La Reine (via Maggie Counsel, Meadow Maid and Maryellen Hanover) till you find outstanding branches like Napa Valley (grandam of Vintage Master) and Silk Stockings (dam of NZ sire Silk Legacy and Temujin who is the damsire of Live Or Die) and Village Jiffy; and tracing down through another daughter of La Roya, Midway, you will find Falcon Seelster.
  • Scotland’s influence in both pacing and trotting is immense. He turns up multiple times in so many top pedigrees as a sire of top broodmares (Emily Scott, Scotch Claire – grandam of Direct Scooter, and Lady Scotland – and through the latter to Breath O Spring). He is a sire of important sires and damsires including Spencer Scott (who was the sire of Speedy Crown and Rodney), Darnley, Hoot Mon, and The Intruder).  In New Zealand one of his sons U Scott has had an incredibly strong and positive influence on our breed.
  • One of Roya McKinney’s other daughters, Luxury, traces to El Patron who stood as a popular sire in New Zealand from the mid 1970s to 1990.

Queenly McKinney found herself a place in history when she foaled the first winner of the Hambletonian in 1926, Guy McKinney (f.1923). One of his most enduring legacies as a sire was the colt Spud Hanover, born in 1936 and earned only $7,917 but is the sire of the good racehorse Florican who is the damsire of Speedy Crown (and one of the multiple Princess Royal influences in that remarkable horse). Florican’s sire line leads to Sierra Kosmos. Florican has Spencer as his damsire, and is just one of many examples of the crossing of Spencer with the Princess Royal family for outstanding results. Another of Guy McKinney’s notable credits is the mare Vivian Hanover, the great grandam of Albatross and Henry T Adios. In fact Albatross has three separate traces to Princess Royal in his maternal line – through The Old Maid/Guy Abbey/Regal McKinney, though Tar Heel/Rose Scott/Roya McKinney, and through Vivian Hanover/Guy McKinney/Queenly McKinney. Albatross was by far the best of his dam’s foals of course, so bloodlines are no guarantee in themselves. However leaving something as incredible as Albatross is still something to be wondered at, given the odds that are against any mare. Similar interwoven threads of the three McKinney sisters and Roya McKinney’s son Scotland can be found in many top pedigrees.

Greyhound and Rosalind trotting i

Greyhound and Rosalind trotting in their famous dual harness. Scotland (son of Roya McKinney) was the sire of the great race mare Rosalind. Guy Abbey (grandam Regal McKinney) was the sire of Greyhound.

Regal McKinney found a place in standardbred history through her daughter Abbacy who was the dam of Guy Abbey. Guy Abbey was the sire of The Old Maid as mentioned above, but also sire of world champion Greyhound. He turns up in the pedigree of many good trotting sires as the damsire of Hoot Mon. Scotland is the sire of Hoot Mon. So that puts the two sisters Regal and Roya McKinney 2 x 4 in Hoot Mon’s pedigree, and Princess Royal herself 3 x 5.

Another interesting pedigree in this regard is Valley Victory who has Scotland or one of the McKinney sisters through multiple links on many lines of his pedigree.

Princess Royal is a great example of one of those amazing “clusters” or “hubs” of breeding where a mare from a good line suddenly cranks it up another notch or three and creates a number of strong quality branches, both male and female lines. Another is Spinster, who was served by Scotland and Guy Abbey and created yet another hub, and then the line continues to build remarkable momentum with multiple contributions from The Old Maid, Lady Scotland and later Breath O Spring.

Whether you start with Estabella or Princess Royal doesn’t really matter. The wonderous facts are there for all to see in a lasting legacy of quality racehorses, quality mares and broodmares, quality sires and broodmare sires and stunning crosses of gold.

Hip Hip Hooray, Hip Hip Hooray!!


Note: When using the HRNZ Info Horse database, I see that it places Regal McKinney as a daughter of Roya McKinney rather than as a sister. This also occurs in one other publication I have noticed. It is incorrect. She is a daughter of Princess Royal.

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Toggle (Britewell x Isa Countessa) is proving to be a great mum for her adventurous, bold 3 month old Majestic Son filly foal.

This afternoon foal and mum got a walk around our property, led by breeder Kym Kearns, and the highlight for the filly was her first experience with a rotary clothesline!

Here’s a photo showing her fascination with some striped pyjamas. Maybe she’s connecting with that old song: “..still looks like a horse in striped pyjamas” although this girl is not zebra!

Filly foal from Toggle

Toggle’s filly investigates the striped PJs.

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Tintin In America colt Zee Dana went the fastest time ( last 800m in 55.3, splits in 27.6 and 27.7) and was sold for a super price ($71,000) at the Garrards 2yo Trialling Sale on Sunday at Menangle. Trialling sale format is similar to what we used to call “ready to run sales” in New Zealand, but are no longer held here.

Tintin In America x Zwish 2yo colt Zee Dana

Tintin In America x Zwish 2yo colt Zee Dana

Zee Dana is bred and owned by Dave Kennedy, who took a big punt on Tintin In America as a sire. And it looks to be paying off.

Trainer Greg Payne, who took a bunch of nice types over for the trialling sale,  thought Zee Dana could have broken 54 for the 800m but the pacemaker horse couldn’t keep up and he switched off a bit. Zee Dana was bought by Michael Brenan from WA and Nathan Jack and Amanda Turnbull from Victoria. On his own website, Greg Payne described him as a beautifully balanced horse.

Dave Kennedy went over for the sale – congratulations Dave! Not just on the sale price (which of course comes down quite a bit by the time it reaches Dave’s hands!) but on the confidence you placed in Tintin In America. Dave was part of the syndicate that raced Tintin. Read more here.

Dave reports that the top sale on Sunday was a filly by Sportswriter. The results are not yet posted on line but hopefully will be soon.

Update: Check out the video 2014 Trialling Sale – a look at the sale on this website www.harnessmediacentre.com.au and see some interviews and trial runs, including Greg Payne and Zee Dana.

Thanks to Melanie Holmes in Australia for spotting Zee Dana’s performance – appreciate anyone out there sending me news of Tintin In America foals they have or that they see at the workouts etc.

As the breeder of Tintin, I’m enjoying following his progress as a sire.

Don’t worry, the blog is not turning into a Tintin In America fan page. Shortly I am posting up about one of the stunning broodmares of the past and her three daughters who have added so much to standardbred pedigrees around the world.

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