Archive for February, 2015

In several blogs recently I’ve looked at yearlings who have some level of line breeding or inbreeding, in an usual or particularly interesting way.

Joe Louis (Art Major x Snap Wilson) is Lot 456 at the PGG Sales of the Stars Premier yearling sale in Christchurch (17 & 18 February), and what caught my eye about his pedigree is how few double ups there are, especially to Meadow Skipper, in the first 6 generations.

You can see if for yourself using the TestMating programme on the Alabar website, or Tesio or equivalent if you have it. But basically the nearest double up across the sire’s pedigree and the dam’s pedigree is Albatross 4×6 and Bret Hanover 5×4. There is plenty of Adios on both sides, but only in the 5th and 6th generation, and Tar Heel pops up twice on both sides but only in the 6th generation.

So although there will be plenty of Hal Dale and Dale Frost beyond that in Joe Louis’ pedigree, he is beautifully outcrossed in his first four generations or so.

What sires are filling the gaps? In the dam’s pedigree those two outcross sires Falcon Seelster and In The Pocket certainly help, and throw into the mix Live Or Die and again the Meadow Skipper influence is pushed back a generation or two. Art Major’s damline includes another outcross sire in Big Towner (Gene Abbe), as well as Nihilator (who puts Meadow Skipper another three generations back), and his sire Artsplace is by Abercrombie who, thanks to his maternal line, is very much an outcross sire as well.

Joe Louis has a supporting cast of super broodmare sires in his corner who are extremely capable types – Big Towner, Overtrick, Adios Butler, Bret Hanover, Tar Heel, Shadow Wave, Good Time.

Closer up in his pedigree, Joe Louis’ maternal line is a series of “one offs” – His third dam (3 wins) had just one foal, and his second dam also has had just one foal. All of them have been winners. Joe Louis is the dam’s first foal and here’s hoping she has a few more – all winners – to give the family a bit of width!

Joe Louis is bred by Pat O”Brien in Blenheim and prepared by Lisa Daley at West Melton.


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On 25 January the Chertsey Trotting Club held their workouts. Race 6 was for 2yos and the field of four concluded the 1700 distance in 2-20.3, which is not an eye catching rate. None of the names will leap out from the page as “talked about future stars.”  They were very much learners, just there for the experience. But who knows what the future holds for these 4 young horses?

Chertsey in a small club near Ashburton. South Island, NZ (for my non-New Zealand readers). I’m using these low key workouts as an example, steering away from the high end of the market buyers/trainers who are also starting their 2yos at the moment.

Distance: 1700m
Plc      Horse                         Driver
1st       Miranda Cullen     T W Jellyman
2nd     Regal Gesture     D L Mitchell
3rd      Chal Storm           J C Fanning
4th      Goforjack              G T Ward

At this stage you must be thinking – “Why is Bee even talking about this workout?”

Two reasons. Both examples of the upside and downside of selling at the yearling sales.

The yearling sales divide breeders into winners and losers. Is this a good approach to developing a sustainable product for our industry?

1. All of these yearlings were sold at the 2014 Premier yearling sale in Christchurch – cheaply.

  • The winner, filly Miranda Cullen (Gotta Go Cullen x La Rouge, breeder Davinia Harrison) was bought for just $2000 by the Jellymans. She made a mess of her first trial appearance on 7 January, breaking early in what proved to be a good and fairly quick qualifying race. At the 25 January workouts she put in a much better effort with less pressure on.
  • Colt Regal Gesture (Shark Gesture x Gorgeous Guest, breeder N W Cranston) was bought at the yearling sales for $4500 by the Mitchells, and the current owners are listed as D L Mitchell, G R Smith. He likewise came last at his first official appearance late December, but much improved this time, and then not so good a week later. But he’s got some potential.
  • Colt Chal Storm (Jereme’s Jet x Chal Roco, breeder R L Herbert) was a buy back at the yearling sales, not reaching his reserve just $10,000, and is still owned by R L Herbert. This was his first official outing.
  • Colt Goforjack (Real Desire x Laurent Perrier, breeder Jack Smolenski) was another purchase by the Mitchells, this time for $14,000, and the current owners are listed as B A Small, D L Mitchell, Dr J C Fanning.  Although the sale price is a little higher, it is still incredibly cheap when you consider this colt (and he was a lovely looking type) is a half to Lancome, In Monaco, The Phantoms Guest, and Roanne (dam of Holy Grail).

I’m not saying these will turn out to be superstars or even multiple winners – although it wouldn’t surprise me! But it is no mean feat to get 2yos to the workouts and trials, and congratulations to the breeders, current owners and trainers for creating racehorses. This is a nice reminder just before the 2015 yearling sales, that there is plenty of opportunity to find a racehorse at the lower end of the market (PGG Wrightson Sale of the stars upcoming sales).

If you like a yearling, back yourself and check it out, even if no-one else seems to be very interested. Many a great horse has been an affordable buy at the sales!

2. But for sellers, bargains can be a disaster.

Going to the yearling sales involves a lot of costs for breeders. Your yearlings need to be of a certain standard and in most cases need to be paid up for the major series. You put a big effort into the dam and foal, and then the yearling (feeding, education). It’s all expertise and time and resources.

It involves a financial commitment from the breeder or vendor (often the same person) to present the best horse they can for the buyer at the time of the sale. This is the breeder’s opportunity to get an early return on that significant investment.

Estimates may range from $10,000 to $20,000 to cover costs and give some return depending on the service fee of the sire, the situation of the breeder (e.g. donates own resources and time, or has freehold land to graze and take feed from, or has to pay an external provider).

For many breeders, the sale price of a yearling at auction no where near makes a return on investment, and often will not even cover the basic costs of service fee and feed, let alone the human time and expertise, vet expenses and feed costs of raising a foal.

That’s why many breeders/vendors put a reserve on their yearlings and decide to carry the rest of the costs until they can make (with luck) a better return.

But many cannot afford to hold on to a yearling and take the loss. It is fundamentally a donation to the overall harness racing industry – by breeders.

So when people buy a low cost foal at the yearling sales, please remember: While buyers/owners also take a huge risk at yearling sale time, the foundations of success have already been created by the breeder. And whether the horse goes on to make $10,000 or a million dollars in stakes, the breeder will (with only tiny exceptions) get no percentage of that unless they have kept the yearling or taken an ownership share.

We work in a high risk business. Even so, it seems absurd that the producers of the product we market are left in such a situation – no business works this way.

Isn’t it time we took an industry-wide approach to this issue?








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