Archive for January, 2016

Update: Have received the photos from Sara and also a very recent result from Lady Moonlight’s first foal – one start, one win, you can’t do better. Check the race result at the bottom of the blog and thanks to Dot “Sherlock” Schmidt for picking that up.

Just a wee heads up – I have been very crook with a virus last week, and it has knocked me over. I hope to be better this week but it will take time. You can always pick up discussions via “Comments”.


The question

A few blogs ago I asked the question, who is going to be the inheritor of the In The Pocket siring line? And I took a closer look at some of the potential heirs including sons of Christian Cullen. Blog reader Ted Sieper rightly pulled me up for not mentioning Raging Bull. Dot Schmidt also came in with the comment that maybe we should try to get one of the well bred North American sons of Christian Cullen, from the brief stint he had over there as a sire.

Ragin Bull sire

Raging Bull as a racehorse, for trainer Cran Dalgety.

If you look at his pedigree, Raging Bull already fits that bill.

So why is he flying under the radar of too many breeders?

I wish it was a puzzle to know but it is a common dilemma. Using a rugby analogy (instead of my usual cooking ones) – the conservative nature of breeders, trainers and buyers makes it very hard for any new young flanker to slip past the “tight five” they are facing – Bettor’s Delight, Mach Three, American Ideal, Art Major and still in there Christian Cullen.

Raging Bull was one of several hugely talented youngsters who dropped out for various reasons and never had the opportunity to prove what they could do on the track in the long term. Alta Christiano falls into that category too. They didn’t get the time to really embed themselves in our imagination.

Raging Bull himself was an extremely talented 2yo and 3yo, but injured himself in the suspensory. He was tried again very briefly in 2014 by trainer John Parsons but the old injury quickly flared up, and he is now a sire. As that Harnesslink article points out,

Since Raging Bull disappeared off the harness racing scene, we have worked out just how good the only three horses that have ever beaten him are – Christen Me, Smolda (x3), and Ideal Scott.

The third problem for Raging Bull is that he wasn’t picked up by any of the main studs. Nevele R and Alabar already had their own sons of Christian Cullen standing (though neither have stepped up enough in the end). Woodlands is already committed to Bettor’s Delight son Highview Tommy as their “local boy” at the cheaper end. And Raging Bull would have had even less traction and more low end competition in Australia. He did however get huge support from Robert Famularo and his resources at Cavalla Bloodstock, who was not afraid to send quality mares to him.

He now stands at Craig and Nicky Kennedy’s stud “The Oaks”. Craig describes the stallion as a lovely type with a temperament like his father’s, whom he worked with as a sire at Wai Eyre. Raging Bull had 30 mares in his first year at Dancingonmoonlight, a small handful at Barra Equine last year and 10 this year at the Kennedys.  Craig Kennedy says they are not expecting much more until some of his foals hit the track – “He has to show he’s worth going to.” An advantage, he notes, is that even with his very small numbers this year, most of them are mares with a bit of breeding or racing performance behind them.

“When we got him to stand, I heard from owners of his foals and there was not one bad comment.”

Raging Bull stood at $1500 this season.

As a sire, he’s not a wild gamble. He is a calculated bet based on credentials.  He is an extremely well bred horse, being by the best pacing sire we have had in New Zealand in recent years – Christian Cullen – with some super North American maternal breeding that includes Galleria, who retired as the richest and fastest pacing mare of all time. What is there not to love?

His maternal family being USA based is perhaps less known by many breeders here except for Galleria. And I count myself amongst the ignorant, when he was on the scene as a race horse. Yet the more I looked at his pedigree credentials, his record and his potential crosses, I  consider him “on paper” as one of Christian Cullen’s best chances to carry on his line. With his own Christian Cullen and Artsplace influences, he is available at just the right time for many well bred New Zealand mares to cross back into two lines that are now well-embedded in a lot of good mares, or to outcross from mares from No Nukes or other Direct Scooter lines. Often for a sire, the timing is wrong – but not in this case.

I haven’t seen him in the flesh yet, but I believe Michele Carson in her interview with me, who described him as one of the finest looking horses she has seen. She saw him in a box without knowing what colt he was. He just stood out.

Sara Smith on the yearlings – Lot 264 and 412

There are two yearlings from his first crop  in this 2016 Premier sale in Christchurch by Raging Bull, both colts, and also a third colt from his Western Ideal half sister San Rafaella which I’ll look at in a later blog. All of them come from proven families, and when you add in the credentials of Raging Bull, I would hope these colts get a lot of interest.

Both lots are prepared by Sara Smith (Famularo) of Dancingonmoonlight Farm on behalf of Cavalla Bloodstock, so I rang her to find out what they were like “in person”.


Lot 264 Getarattleon (colt)

Raging Bull x Lady Moonlight – Sands A Flyin
Breeder/owner: Cavalla Bloodstock
Preparer: Sara Smith, Dancingonmoonlight Stud

2nd dam Sirius Flight, 3rd dam Direct Flight.

Raging Bull x Lady Moonlight yearling colt

Raging Bull x Lady Moonlight yearling colt

Sara describes this yearling as a standout. “He’s colty, a bigger type, makes his presence known.” She says he is one of the those colts that people may not mark down in the catalogue but when he parades they go “Oh wow, who is that?”

What sticks out to me in this pedigree is that it is both familiar downunder but also USA proven. At a really good level. The grandam of this filly was the wonderful Pacific Flight who raced here so well then absolutely made her mark in the USA as a great winning, tough, fast and durable mare. She left one good foal over there called Droppinthehammer ($323,617). Her daughter by The Big Dog is Sirius Flight, and she achieved 5 wins in the USA and went under 1.55 there. Brought back here she had the Bettor’s Delight colt Malak Uswaad who did very well both here and later in the USA.

All of this family goes back to Significant from the remarkable Black Watch family, one of our best quality families in New Zealand.

Lady Moonlight’s first foal is by Santanna Blue Chip, and qualified/trialed in some fast times before being exported to Australia late last year.

Lot 412 Boy George (colt)

Raging Bull x Soul Sister – Presidential Ball
Breeder/owner: Cavalla Bloodstock
Preparer: Sara Smith, Dancingonmoonlight Stud

Dam a half sister to Carabella.

Raging Bull x Soul Sister yearling colt

Raging Bull x Soul Sister yearling colt

Sara describes this colt as very well put together, muscular, not overly big, but very even in growth and conformation.

Being from a half sister to the absolutely stunning Bettor’s Delight mare Carabella, this colt could get quite a bit of interest.

The USA factor comes in because their dam Andress Blue Chip is North American bred  (Artsplace x Athens Blue Chip, an On The Road Again mare) and is a half sister to some very well performed USA horses including Athena Blue Chip, a World Champion by the Cam Fella sire Goalie Jeff. You can see it all in the catalogue entry. (Just a very short aside, Goalie Jeff comes from the same maternal line as McArdle’s .)

Soul Sister is an unraced mare by Presidential Ball. Presidential Ball is proving to be a good damsire and outcrosses this pedigree to balance up a 3 x 3 to Artsplace. Although she was unraced, Soul Sister carries quality genes. Look at the quality of sires who contribute to her maternal line. Presidential Ball, Artsplace, On The Road Again, and her 3rd dam was by hardly-known sire Super Wave (a son of Shadow Wave) but who was one of Shadow Waves best sons. Beyond that it continues with Bret Hanover and then Duane Hanover who of course appears twice in Artsplace’s own pedigree – as Abercrombie’s damsire, and in Miss Elvira’s maternal line.

Plenty to like about these two colts and their sire.


Race code:  BHC20011601    Stakes: $6,360    Gait: PACERS    Class: 2YO


1st BLUE MOON RISING NZ Add to Blackbook

Owner(s): H Harper, D W Harper
Breeder(s): S A (Sally) Smith

Track Rating: GOOD

Gross Time: 2:05:3, Mile Rate: 1:56:6

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Thanks to all of you who joined in this K Nora discussion and several who provided very interesting examples from their own breeding decisions and research. There seems to be a lot of agreement that this is a family that is travelling really well into the modern era.

It would be great if someone in Australia can have a look at what the APG yearling sales 2016 offer in this regard or what is showing up at races with this line breeding to a great maternal family branch.

I had a look through the PGG Sales of the Stars (both Australasian and Premier) and there are several lots who have the K Nora branch in their veins. (I have put in brackets the number of strains of K Nora branch I can spot in the yearling, but I might have missed some, and of course American Ideal will automatically bring in 2).
Remember this whole discussion kicked off with my blog about three of them here, as they are ones who have gone to American Ideal to increase the number of crosses.

I’m noting the fillies, in particular, as buyers may be interested in some of these for the longer term prospect they offer to breed on this cross with a sire like American Ideal or He’s Watching. And perhaps sometime in the future with Canadian horse Control the Moment, as one blog reader suggested, if he keeps on winning and ends up at stud.

NZ Sale yearling fillies:

Lot 67, by Rocknroll Hanover, dam is by Life Sign from Aberfeldy family (2); Lot 138, by Bettor’s Delight, dam an American Ideal mare (2); Lot 144, by American Ideal, grandam is by Life Sign (3); Lot 167, by Always A Virgin, grandam is by Life Sign (2); Lot 219, by Betterthancheddar, grandam is by Life Sign, from family of Changeover (1); Lot 235, by Shadow Play, dam is by Life Sign from good family (1); Lot 273, by Bettor’s Delight, dam is by Life Sign (1); Lot 315, by Changeover, dam is a Life Sign mare from family of Live Or Die and I will do a blog on her next week or so (1); Lot 353, by American Ideal, dam is by Life Sign (3); Lot 481, by Artsplace, dam is by Western Ideal (1); Lot 495, by Bettor’s Delight, dam is by American Ideal (2); Lot 502 by Gotta Go Cullect, dam is by Life Sign, family of Courage Under Fire (1).

NZ Sale yearling colts:

Lot 121, by American Ideal, dam is by Real Desire (3); Lot 125, by Sir Lincoln, dam is by Real Desire (1); Lot 241 by Stunin Cullen, dam is by Life Sign (1); Lot 301, by Well Said, dam is by Real Desire (1); Lot 487 by American Ideal, dam is by Life Sign (3).

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He's Watching, Alabar stallion parade October 2015

He’s Watching, Alabar stallion parade October 2015. Photo: Bee Pears

When I wrote the previous blog on the sales yearlings bred on the American Ideal x Life Sign cross, I got diverted into seeing how other double ups with important mares from the K Nora line could happen, and what had already been tried here with our limited resources.

I edited much of that out, and it is now part of this extended blog looking at our potential downunder to dip into the K Nora/Adora pool in a number of different ways. Please comment if you find other options of interest, particularly in Australia where timings and numbers, siring and even Adora descendant options might be different.

As Australian blog reader C Rookwood notes in his comment on the last blog:  Another way to get the Three Diamonds double up is American Ideal/Real Desire mare. Yes, absolutely, and in his case an American Ideal colt foal from a dam by Real Desire out of a Panorama mare, so in his mare he already has a duplication to another very good maternal line, aka Golden Miss. That is impressive. It is the same other strong maternal line that He’s Watching brings of course, via Real Desire. You also find a mix of the K Nora and Golden Miss families in $3.7m earner Mr Feelgood.

Mr Feelgood in the winners circle 2006

Mr Feelgood in the winners circle, 2006 Little Brown Jug
Photo: Bee Pears

Just before I go into some of these other cross options, I did take a look at the closer Australian crosses with American Ideal x Life Sign mares – in total 12 to date, and about half of those are 2yos or younger, so it’s really hard to get a line on anything from small numbers. So far the best performers are Life’s Just Magic (49 starts, 9 wins) and Spinner’s Boy (15 starts, 6 wins).

So let’s have a look at what other crosses deliver crosses to Three Diamonds or the K Nora/Adora line. Here’s part 2 of the blog:

American Ideal is offering more opportunities to achieve multiple influences of the Adora/K Nora family, and his coming of age as a sire is also well timed to catch breeding mares not just from Life Sign himself, but also from some of his sons – Day In A Life, I Am A Fool, Island Fantasy and (like He’s Watching) Real Desire.

But in many of these cases, the double ups are moving back in the pedigree and may not be situated in particularly influential positions. For example their influence is going through two males (e.g. Three Diamonds to Life Sign to Real Desire), rather than what seems to be a more influential female-to-male-to-female or female-to-female relationship. What we might call the “x factor” line. The numbers are so small here, that drawing conclusions is impossible. But it is still worth taking a look – and a punt that quality + quality will result in better quality. In New Zealand and Australia to date there is just a scattering of these sons of Life Sign mares going to American Ideal and it would be foolish to try to draw conclusions one way or another. You can check out the NZ ones on the HRNZ Info Horse website by filtering American Ideal progeny on damsire. My own view is that each of these sons of Life Sign is a different package in terms of pedigree and in their ability to pass quality genes and other attributes as a damsire, and for some of them the drivers may be less Life Sign/Three Diamonds, and more influences from their own maternal lines. Both Real Desire (via Whispering Sands, a daughter of Shifting Sands) and Day In A Life (via Strike Out, a half brother to Shifting Sands) bring in the Golden Miss family which, as noted above, may complement  the K Nora family.

In future there may be a reverse way of getting these strong female double ups, and that is through American Ideal as a damsire. In New Zealand he has 11 damsire credits to date, none of the mares going to sires with K Nora influence in their pedigree. Of potential sires, only Mr Feelgood and sons of Western Ideal meet the criteria at the moment as far as I can see, with He’s Watching being too close, Mr Feelgood not getting much traction here unfortunately, and sons of Western Ideal (like sons of Life Sign) really putting the Leah Almahurst factor in a position where it may not be particularly influential.  So a sire with perhaps Life Sign as his damsire or grandamsire is what we are looking for.

What about the Leah Almahurst branch of K Nora?

Leah Almahurst

Leah Almahurst. Photo from Gene Riegle Memorial website

Going back to the American Ideal x Life Sign cross offspring in New Zealand…. Remember there are 8 produced on that direct cross. Included in the 8 is Ideal Romance a mare who is bred and owned by Brisbane Pastoral Company Ltd and was exported to Australia in July this year but not yet sighted racing. Perhaps is going straight into breeding? She is of interest because (like He’s Watching), her maternal line adds two K Nora strands, one from Life Sign and the other via Angel Hair, who is Leah Almahurst’s grandam. Pedigree link here. Ideal Romance is from the American-bred mare Ashley’s Romance imported downunder and bred by Bromac Lodge and Cee Bee Holdings Ltd before selling her to Brisbane Pastoral Company Ltd.

As well as some imported mares, we are getting to a stage when Leah Almahurst will start appearing in the maternal pedigrees, through Make A Deal mares (so far only one bred on the American Ideal cross), Western Ideal mares (perhaps too inbred to go to American Ideal although Charlie Roberts has not shied away from it), and eventually Mr Feelgood, Rob Roy Mattgregor and He’s Watching mares. In Australia there may be other, different possibilities as well with Leah Almahurst or other descendants from Adora – let me know. I see Mr Feelgood has just had his first damsire credit in Australia – a colt foal born in October 2015 by, yes you guessed it, American Ideal.

In New Zealand we have only about 16 fillies or mares by Western Ideal, and the 3 ones doing most of the breeding so far are Lisconnie, Western Starr, and San Rafaella. Lisconnie, bred and owned by Charlie Roberts of Woodlands Stud, has gone 3 times to American Ideal (the 2yo and yearling already exported to Australia), but the others have made different choices, mainly to Artplace or one of his sons, or to Bettor’s Delight.

And another branch of K Nora – Halo

Tas Man Bromac

Tas Man Bromac and driver Nathan Williams. Photo Otago Daily Times.

There is another good horse bred here with a different K Nora cross, the 4yo American Ideal gelding Tas Man Bromac (15 starts, 8 wins, 2 seconds, 3 thirds, Lt $64,363). This time there is no additional presence of Three Diamonds or Leah Almahurst, but his bottom line is also descended from Angel Hair, via a different branch – Halo. Pedigree link here. Again, the family was brought to New Zealand through Bromac Lodge importing the gelding’s dam Tasmcmanian. Interestingly, her latest breeding is to Western Ideal. (I should note that the mare has a yearling filly by Auckland Reactor in the 2016 sale at Christchurch Lot 424 Tempest Bromac. The pedigree page gives a nice summary of the recent descendants from this Angel Hair line, in this case the No Nukes mare Shy Devil.)


What is clear, is the strength of this K Nora maternal line, and nothing illustrates that better than how Three Diamonds and Leah Almahurst have kicked it into another gear in more recent times.

Just part of the K Nora descendants tree in Classic Families

Just a section of the K Nora descendants tree in Classic Families


Three Diamonds

Three Diamonds. Photo from Gene Riegle Memorial website

You only have to look in Classic Families “Descendents” category for Three Diamonds and click through to see the male and female descendent results are simply stunning. There is a significant return on extended family matches with Western Ideal and American Ideal, but not solely. Do the same for the whole K Nora branches and it is fascinating how very good performers keep occurring. Again, some crosses with sires from other branches from the wider family work – but probably some haven’t and don’t even appear on the Classic Families radar. I have only shown a fraction of it in the clipping above. It’s worth taking a look yourself; many of you will already be familiar with it.

In summary then, the numbers are too small to draw any real conclusions. However the K Nora/Adora family is probably one of the top 3 of the modern pacing era and is driven currently by two extremely potent mares – Three Diamonds and Leah Almahurst. Linking back to their influence is not going to give you certain success. It won’t work miracles. But is is definitely likely to add value and quality to a pedigree.

I’ve blogged about this a number of times. Use my blog search on “K Nora” and “Three Diamonds” to find some earlier musings and information.

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With the arrival of He’s Watching as a top racehorse and now a siring option, the closer in/line breeding of the Adora/K Nora bloodline is having quite a resurgence. A double up to the magnificent mare Three Diamonds (a grand daughter of K Nora) should be worth its weight in gold and of course He’s Watching also has a double up to Leah Almahurst who is from another branch of the K Nora family.

This K Nora maternal line is very classy and enduring and, like the Golden Miss one, seems to throw up some exceptional horses when bred back to itself.

American Ideal

American Ideal at Woodlands Stud. (Photo Bee Pears)

The closest we can get in New Zealand is the American Ideal x Life Sign cross which puts Three Diamonds 3×3 in a horse’s pedigree. Remember American Ideal is also bringing in K Nora via Leah Almahurst in his sireline.

So far in New Zealand American Ideal has had 12 foals from Life Sign mares. Two of those are unregistered, 8 are of racing age and 3 starters for 2 winners to date. I checked the USTA statistics for the same American Ideal x Life Sign cross: 26 foals so far, 24 starters, 73% winners, 42% <1.55 and 19% (5 horses) winning $100,000+. The best horse so far has won $248,686 to date.

Given US-type statistics of this nature often result in percentages well above NZ equivalents (for a number of reasons), I would describe the cross as a very solid one but yet to result in any outstanding foal.

Those American Ideals that have been outstanding, such as fantastic filly American Jewel and colt He’s Watching, have had a dam who is a direct descendant of K Nora. But given how hard it is for us to get Adora/K Nora on that maternal bottom line in New Zealand, we may just have to work with what we’ve got.

So is the doubling to Three Diamonds adding value in practice? I would say: yes. No guarantees and other factors are at work, but doubling on a great female line with a great individual mare is a good move. All too often the focus is on doubling the males. But the drivers of many pedigrees downstream will be the classy females.

For the 2014 yearling sales I flagged up the nicely bred Six Diamonds and I noticed he had his first start at Gore the other day, and rattled home for a good third after getting an early check. He was sold for $34,000, and his full sister Southern Rain is in this year’s 2016 Premier Yearling Sale in Christchurch.

She is one of two yearlings in the PGG Wrightson Sale Of The Stars 2016 yearling sales bred on the American Ideal x Life Sign cross, both selling at the Premier sale in Christchurch:

Lot 353 Southern Rain (filly)

Lot 353 American Ideal x Raindowne

Lot 353 American Ideal x Raindowne

American Ideal x Raindowne – Life Sign
Breeders/vendors: Mrs J M Davie, P T and D J Cummings
Preparer: Dan Cummings

I think Six Diamonds will go on to win quite a few races, and this filly would be an “ideal diamond” as a broodmare. For New Zealand this filly’s family heritage is “solid as” in its own right, going back to Maureen’s Dream (half sister to Tuapeka Knight) – and of course her daughter Tuapeka Wings was the dam of the American Ideal multiple group winner Ideal Scott. The more immediate family is very consistent and it is reassuring to see that Raindowne herself was a well performed race horse with 5 wins and time trialled at 1.56.4.

Check out the video on the PGG Wrightson Sale of the Stars catalogue online, and she is a powerful looking filly.

Lot 487 Jack Starr (colt)

Jack Starr

American Ideal x Zoe’s Charm – Life Sign
Breeder/vendor: M Caig
Preparer: Michelle Caig
Photos now posted on PGG Wrightson Sale of the Stars catalogue website.

Again, this brings the Three Diamond double up into a very well known family – Bella Ragazza, the dam of the great Holmes DG and Giovanetto, and several other good winners. Of her 11 foals, 9 were colts. Of her 2 fillies Zoe’s Charm is, to be blunt, the one to carry on this line.

The fact the mare was by Life Sign was a factor that influenced her to get Zoe’s Charm. The mare had an Art Official filly at foot which was sold. Michelle is stepping up the quality of breeding, with her first choice being American Ideal for Jack Starr and next to Bettor’s Delight.

Michelle describes Jack Starr as an outstanding type, a good size, quite thoroughbred looking, and correct.

“He’s got a lovely head and a beautiful eye. He’ll click naturally into a pace when we are exercising them on the jogger.”


There is another yearling, this time in the Australasian sale at Karaka, who is bred with a double up of Three Diamonds, but through her grandam:

Lot 144 Lady Liberty (filly)

American Ideal x Bonnie Maguire – Dream Away.
Breeder/vendor: A K W Bublitz, Mrs E E Bublitz
Preparer: Tony Grayling, Woodlands Stud
No photo available yet.

The filly’s grandam is a Life Sign mare.

This filly is from a mare that Andrew Bublitz trained and raced with his mother. The family is quite thin on the page – you need to go back to the 3rd dam, Body Electric to get some black type and find her son Body Armour who toughed out 15 wins over 5 years of racing in Australia. And back further Robert Harlyn was also a good Aussie campaigner, and his sister Janet Harlyn has produced a branch of tough raceway horses in New Zealand.

The Bublitz have been wise to resist going to less worthy siring options as some branches have, and instead are building on the strengths in the breed and going to a top sire that suits. American Ideal is producing tough horses that sometimes are not show-off 2yo types. But they seem to have a touch of class and speed about them and trainers/buyers love them.

The fillies and mares have held their own as racehorses in this family – Body Electric (5 wins, 1.56.9), Janet Harlyn (5 wins, including 2nd in the Grt Nth Oaks Gp 1), Miss Abagail (8 wins, 11 places) and the dam of the tough Kilkeel Lady (3 wins, 26 places), and in Australia My Killarney Miss went 1.57.4 … and so on. So I’d look at this filly in terms of racing potential. If Life Sign can add the gems from his own genes, then this family has potential to pop up a durable, tough but also very classy mare that might in future win some damn good races.

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