Archive for September, 2015

Destination Moon racehorse

Take off – Destination Moon at 2012 yearling sales with Kym Kearns

So proud of Zenterfold and her family. After the Friday night performances:  by Tintin In America as a sire, The Blue Lotus as a dam and Thephantomtollbooth as a racehorse (getting a nice 3rd in his second race day start), I was rapt to get notification of Destination Moon N winning his latest race over in Maine today. He’s another half brother to Thephantomtollbooth and Tintin In America and a full brother to The Blue Lotus. He’s done a good job for his North American owners Diamond Creek Farm and is a regular winner and place getter up there, after already winning 5 races here before he left.

His North American stats to date are:

39 starts 13 wins 4 seconds  4 thirds Stake winnings: $US 63,459 4, 1:52.0 ($US92,986 if you add in the NZ stake earnings)

He’s a damn good consistent money earner and giving back to his trainers and owners.

One of my aims as a breeder has always been consistency. That’s the hardest thing to do with breeding.

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For a very small operation, we have plenty of comings and goings over the next week.

First off the ranks was race mare Elect To Go (“Reddy”) who boarded a Majestic float early this morning heading to Auckland, from where she will catch a boat to Australia. A private sale to Lasse (Les) Kosklin in New South Wales will see her bring newly-retired Les a lot of pleasure back training on the beach – and “Reddy” will love that too.

Elect To Go September 2015

Washed, brushed and “Reddy” to go this morning at Cambridge trotting track, with co-owner Kym Kearns.

As a mature-in-body but inexperienced-on-track mare, she has a real chance to thrive in that environment and show the ability she has.

While we will miss her, it is good to bring our focus (and outgoings) back to breeding as we move into the next season.

This coming weekend we will probably have both our mares going to Auckland for foaling and getting back in foal – Kym’s mare Sun Isa (due to Angus Hall, back to Pegasus Spur) to Woodlands, and my mare The Blue Lotus (due to A Rocknroll Dance, back to Shadow Play) to Alabar. Both of them are as spritely as young fillies, in spite of being very pregnant.

Don’t forget that Sunday (4 October) is the Alabar parade for Peak, Sunshine Beach and He’s Watching. A great opportunity to see these new sires in person.


Amazon Lily in 2012 - now grown into a winning 3yo filly

Amazon Lily in 2012 – now grown into a winning 3yo filly

The Blue Lotus’ first foal, Amazon Lily, produced a confident win at Addington on Friday night to make her record 2 wins from 2 starts. Here’s a photo of her as a foal – isn’t it incredible how time flies!!

Yes, I had a lovely night watching the races, and her quinella with Nerida Franco was one of the highlights. The Blue Lotus’ half brother The Phantomtollbooth got a good third at Cambridge and will improve from the run. And Tintin In America (who is a half brother to The Blue Lotus and The Phantomtollbooth) was represented at Cambridge by a very talented filly, American Flybye (breeder/owners I D Bublitz, Mrs J I Bublitz), who dominated her field – and now also has a record of 2 wins from 2 starts.

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Late September……I’m very conscious of the big races on at the moment – Little Brown Jug, for instance – and the big name horses starting to race here as we move into NZ Cup preparation time.

But on a personal level, I am incredibly excited about the racing tonight at Cambridge and Addington. Because there are a cluster of horses racing tonight that I have a connection to, and whose careers I follow with a lot of interest as a very small-time breeder.

There’s American Flybye, a Tintin In America filly in race 4 at Cambridge, who has one win for one start and lots of ability but a tricky draw. Then in the trot later in the evening, there’s Franco Nadal, the first foal of my “new” mare Nostalgic Franco – he’s a 7-win 8yo trotter with pure pacing breeding, having his first start after a long break. And then in the final race at Cambridge, Zenterfold’s Real Desire son Thephantomtollbooth has drawn 1 of the second row and will probably need the run. He’s grown into a big boy and is still learning the trade, but will have strengthend up as a 3yo now.

Down at Addington Race 8 will have me glued to the TV, watching Nerida Franco (a half sister to Nostalgic Franco) and Amazon Lily (my mare The Blue Lotus’ first foal) compete in the Pinlea Farms Fillies and Mares Mobile Pace.

The race before is the big one of the night, and my interest lies with Bit Of A Legend, as I have co-bred a Tintin In America filly from his half sister A Legend.

There are many others I’ll follow for other reasons – Articulight is bred and owned by blog friend Brian Cowley. Freedom Fighter is bred by my friend Brian West. And in race 2 at Cambridge Overstayer is the trotter who gave my Hawaiian friends a sulky experience a couple of weeks ago, thanks to trainer David Marshall…

It’s going to be a great night of racing, for all sorts of reasons. Enjoy!

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Rangiora trials recently (Tuesday 22 September) had a few things to note for me, including the qualifying of Stroganoff, the Mister Big gelding from So Green bred and owned by the Beales, who won his previous trial earlier in the month by over 11 lengths (after going away in a gallop at the start and losing more than 15 lengths). The gallop that day meant he didn’t qualify, but this time he did it by 2.5 lengths in a Mile Rate: 2-05.5.

This is Mister Big’s fourth qualifier from 16 foals that have just turned 3 or 4yos. It’s an okay strike rate but one that needs to step up now that his crop of 18 2yos (only 7 registered so far) are coming into racing age. There are a few Mister Bigs lining up – Big Buddie (3yo gelding from the very good racemare Imagine That, breeder/owner Jim Dalgety) won his non-qualifying workout at Rangiora, also a couple of days ago, by a nose in a sizzling 2-06.3 Last 800m: 57.5 Last 400m: 27.3. Mister Big’s eye-catching yearling at the 2014 Christchurch sales, One Big Fella from Killarney who sold for $54,000 and is trained by Nigel McGrath, got to the workouts in June but he was always going to need a bit of time – it will be interesting to see how he goes this time in. He’s a half to Bondy.

Mister Big, sire

Mister Big, sire

Mister Big’s results are more impressive when you see the quality of his racetrack performers to date – Stroganoff seems to have a lot of talent, and Followthewind (an NZ filly from the Mach Three mare Whenua, breeders C J Barron,A R McDonald) is now racing in Australia and has achieved 5 wins and 5 places from just 10 starts and $31,665. And as mentioned Big Buddie looks to have ability.

Mister Big had bigger numbers in Australia, but again the oldest have only just turned 4yos, so still hard to tell how the biggest crop – his 3yos – will shape up as the season progresses. Two of his first crop in Mista Natural and Barooga Nellie have really good percentages of wins to date.

So in many ways it is like Tintin In America – really small numbers to build a reputation on, but promising signs from those who have made it so far.

Of course, it is all too late for Mister Big – he’s gone. He’s standing at Abby Stables in Ohio and whether he will ever be available downunder again, who knows.

But I will continue to follow his foals with interest. What a magnificent horse he was – and is – with one of the highest stakes earnings of all time.

Mr Feelgood, another champion son of Grinfromeartoear, remains available to both Australian and New Zealand breeders. He has similar breeding to Mister Big, being from a Jate Lobell mare, and as I have blogged many times his maternal line is incredibly classy. So I am grabbing that option this season and sending my Dreamy Away mare Dreamy Romance to Mr Feelgood, courtesy of Nevele R Stud who hold plenty of frozen semen (as does Equibreed NZ in the North Island).

To some extent, this was Mister Big’s issue here – direct competition with another stallion more familiar to us with very similar breeding and performance. With Smiling Shard in the mix as well for Alabar, something had to give. But Tip o’ the hat to a great horse and all the best to those who have his foals. Keep me posted if you have!





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That was an eye-catching win by Princess Arts (Art Major x Natal Franco) today at Methven, in tricky conditions. She bided her time, then came home with impressive speed over the top of them. That makes it 6 wins and 5 places from just 21 starts. She was bought at the 2013 yearling sales for $37,000. Owner Alta Breeding Ltd is the company of astute North Island breeders Tony and Val Dickinson. What a lovely purchase as a future broodmare. You can read Alta Breeding updates here – including the comment about this mare that:

Our plans are to retire her to the broodmare paddock in October – however, if she steps up a notch over the coming weeks, those plans may be put on hold while she competes in the major mares races later in the season.

Her dam Natal Franco was good enough to come 4th in the Nevele R 3yo fillies final, 3rd in the Oaks, and 6th in a field of 12 in the 3yo Diamond Jewels at Cambridge, all in a cluster of really good performances as a 3yo in 2008, and ended up with 7 wins and $117,307 stakes before she was retired. A very good mare rather than an outstanding one, and a prime candidate for a broodmare. Her first foal was a Bettor’s Delight colt who was never a starter and is now a hack at 5yo. Princess Arts is her next foal and is looking like she could do even better than her mum. Her third foal is a Christian Cullen filly called Christian Who, offered at the Christchurch yearling sale earlier this year and bought – also for $37,000 – by the Whittakers, who had prepared her. Natal Franco didn’t have a foal last season, and is due to Art Major this season.

Looking at the yearling sale pedigree page you can spot why I am especially interested in this family – Natal Franco is a half sister to the mare I bought off Spreydon Lodge called Nostalgic Franco.  I bought her in foal to Tintin In America, and judging by the way the wider family and that sire are going at the moment, I might end up with a more commercial foal than I expected! Fingers and toes all crossed for a safe landing.

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Back in 2012 I picked Charlie Chuckles (Grinfromeartoear x Charioteer) and Delia (American Ideal x Merrily Merrily) as part of my “2012 virtual yearling stable“.

They both qualified and showed enough ability that I was hopeful to get some satisfaction watching them race. Charlie Chuckles had just one race for a win, and Delia won her qualifying trial by about 2 lengths. That was in early 2014.

Then they both dropped out of sight.

Coincidence is a great thing, and this week I noticed (1) Charlie Chuckles was back at the races, at Methven on the grass today, Race 7, and (2) He’s trained by John Hay, who also trained Delia when she was in work. Another coincidence with Delia is that new sire He’s Watching led us to once again consider pedigrees that cross back to Three Diamonds or other parts of the K Nora/Adora family. And of course the 3×3 cross to Three Diamonds was one of the things that had originally caught my eye with Delia.

Check other blogs on this topic:

So a phone call to John Hay was essential, and he kindly caught me up with what had happened to Charlie Chuckles and Delia.

Charlie Chuckles had a troublesome foot problem that they couldn’t get to the bottom of. In the end it was only the use of a heat scanner that pinpointed a hairline fracture where the cannon bone meets the fetlock, which could never mend while he was in work. Treatment and plenty of time, and now Charlie Chuckles is back at the races, although John Hay warns he will need the run today and may even be scratched if the track is too wet. One to follow over the next few months.

[Update: Charlie Chuckles first up run today 20 September was a good one, finishing on well for fifth after having to sit parked and wide. Same day, different race track – in Invercargill today his younger half brother Only In Rome by Bettor’s Delight had his first race win from 5 starts. Tip o’ the hat to their dam Charioteer. Her American Ideal foal Ideal Roman had his first win, also from 5 starts, in June this year as a 2yo. Three nice foals from the Christian Cullen mare who comes from the family of Adios Dream, OK Deb, Courage Under Fire, Advance Attack et al.]

Delia is also a story of a niggling injury that is hard to pinpoint. John says she always seemed a bit sore in her back end, right from when they got her, but she was a horse with plenty of ability – John thinks she had at least 4 or 5 wins in her – and her win at the Chertsy qualifying trial is worth a look. Again a heat scan showed the soreness was going to be an ongoing issue, and the call was made to put her in foal instead. Owner Brian Davidson sent her to Changeover and the foal is due on 11 November this year. Here’s hoping it is a lovely foal and a boost for Brian who had an accident while loading cattle and has only just got out of hospital after three months, and is facing rehabilitation for a head injury.


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Kiely Buttell

Kiely Buttell

It is strange but true that one of the most significant loses for harness racing breeders is someone who (I’m not 100% sure of my facts here, but 99% sure) has not bred a single race horse.

Kiely Buttell has been an excellent executive manager for New Zealand Standardbred Breeders Association for several years, and has played a key part in shaping it – more than what she may be given credit for. Having come into the industry with no knowledge of it but being open and very well organised, she became a friendly and very helpful contact for many who otherwise find the “old boys network” of the NZSBA a little hard to engage with.

One of my early encounters with Kiely was when Kym Kearns and I took  her around our horses at “feed out time” and introduced her to our scattered paddocks across Cambridge, including visiting Zenterfold for a photo in a leased paddock in Leamington, and up the hills in our trusty Toyota Hilux, with Kiely and friend hanging on in the ute’s tray as we checked out some youngsters in a beg/borrowed paddock across a nearby farm.

I have nothing but admiration for Kiely. She is intelligent, smart, thoughtful and a lovely person to deal with. A breath of fresh air in a rather stuffy room.

It is a huge loss for NZSBA. I think they know that. And I can only hope they have an eye for someone for the job who is as able as she is, and as capable of balancing out the rather resistant, precious and pompous style that NZSBA can present without the influence of someone like Kiely.

View the statement by Kiely and the call for applicants here



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Follow The Stars is heading to sire duties in Australia, and I can see multiple reasons why.

West Australian harness racing has received a tremendous boost with the news that champion juvenile pacer Follow The Stars will stand at stud at Bob Fowler’s Allwood Stud Farm in Bullsbrook this year.

Fowler purchased the four-year-old son of champion sire Art Major after he tore a tendon during the running of the group 1 Breeders Crown for three-year-old colts and geldings at Melton on August 30, in which he finished second to Menin Gate.

“Follow The Stars has been a terrific juvenile performer who has a lot to offer as a sire,” Fowler said. “He is a fine individual and has a lovely temperament. He will stand at stud this season for $2200, including GST.”

He’s a very “current” sire on pedigree with some potent inherited attributes to put on his CV.

He’s been an outstanding performer in a tough class. But more than that, he’s got a pedigree that ticks multiple boxes, as you need to do these days to get a siring career off the ground.

So the package you get with Follow The Stars will be

  • excellent individual performance and attributes
  • good siring line (newish and still a little unproven, but the Art Major line seems to be kicking on)
  • maternal line of Shy Ann which has produced many good sires and often in Australia, tougher types (his great-grandam is Dateable, from the so solid, so tough maternal line of Adios Betty and Shy Ann)
  • potential good nicks with a lot of good broodmares around now and in the future e.g. Bettor’s Delight mares, all those stunning In The Pocket line and Romola Hal line and outcross lines.

So good decision, good buy.

And hello to a another quality locally bred sire.

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It’s a big tip o’ the hat, a real “doff”, for legendary sire and damsire Jate Lobell who died on 10 September aged 31.

My blogs are dotted with his references in so many good pedigrees (just search on Jate Lobell in my blog search). He rates with me as one of those great engine room sires – that is the highest praise I can give him, because those are the boys who work their butts off adding value to your pedigree, upgrading your families, giving a line some spark and heart.

Ironically it was just a week or so ago when I found some time to read another chapter of Standardbred Old Friends, published in 2014, and chose Jate Lobell – lovely photos of the then 30yo out in the paddock, and some wonderful recollections and honest reflections about the horse:

A perfect gentleman in every way, the only time that Jate’s strength overshadowed his manners was in the matter of love. “He was never aggressive to people at all,” said Brady [Kentuckiana Farm partner Bob Brady]. “But when he saw a mare he wanted to get to, you better be a little ahead of him or you’d be on water skis. He just liked his job.”

Kentuckiana manager Mac Cooper was there when Jate started his job, more than twenty-five years ago. He’s been at the stallion’s side nearly every day and they are now in their third decade together. The two of them are, Cooper said, “Old buddies. He’s always been a very, very good-natured horse, a pleasure to be around.”

And as the authors of the book observed at the time of their visit:

At thirty, Jate’s appearance belies his age. He’s kept a sleek, trim physique typical of horses of racing – not retirement – age…. Jate still shows his light, quick gait, spending very little time on the ground as he heads across his paddock, straight to a mud puddle if there has been rain overnight.


Read the announcement here about his death.



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A little while ago I did a blog about He’s Watching and his pedigree which I described as like a perfectly oval uneaten chocolate easter egg.

I mentioned the appeal of outcrossing with Direct Scooter line mares, and also the possibility of close line breeding:

I have already heard from one breeder who is tempted to go further towards line breeding/in-breeding, because the maternal references in He’s Watching’s pedigree are just so classy. That opens it up to a lot of Australasian mares with the Golden Miss line in their pedigree, or those with Leah Almahurst sons Western Ideal and Make A Deal – or damsires like Grinfromeartoear, Safely Kept etc. Even for the brave a Real Desire mare which would be a 3×2 cross. So there is a lot of interesting things ahead, and inevitably a long wait before any patterns (if any) become clear. I hope the sire gets the numbers to make this “statistically significant”.

I had an interesting comment on that from pedigree matching expert Ken Mackay who pointed out that :

George Teague’s USA Horse Of The Year 2005 and 3YO Filly Of The Year Rainbow Blue was bred on the same 3×2 reverse female cross but to On The Road Again.
Holmes Hanover was also bred on a reverse female cross to Tar Heel. (4×2)
So there is hope for a Real Desire mare to He’s Watching. You just gotta be brave!!

Rainbow Blue’s very successful daughter Somwherovrarainbow ($1,342,848) is by Somebeachsomewhere, so a strong outcross to balance up the ledger.

And an update:

Breeder Paul Thomas writes to say

Just read your latest thoughts on a Real Desire mare to He’s Watching, someone has to be the brave (or stupid) one and that would be me, I Ching is booked.

View the He’s Watching x I Ching cross here

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