Archive for May, 2016

As one of my blog readers points out, I had overlooked an important descendant from Lydia Knight’s daughter Marjorie Armstong in my blog. She is also the grandam (through her daughter Beatrice Adios) of a colt called Meadow Paige, who was available down under for just two seasons, 1977 and 1978, for a total of just 37 live foals registered in Australia and 52 registered in New Zealand. Unlike the hopeful article shown below, he didn’t turn out to be a “super sire”, but his legacy has been important in a couple of ways. The article also fills in the gap in my knowledge of what Meadow Paige was like as a performer on the track.

Meadow Paige

Article in The Age newspaper, Australia, 8 April 1976.

In Australia, Meadow Paige’s best offspring was the good mare Family Credit who was a good producer herself but the line seems to have withered.

In New Zealand, his best foal was Harvest Gold, but she had just one foal before proving impossible to breed. That foal, Autumn Harvest has just two current lines I can find – in New Zealand there are some very young foals bred by Go Ziggy Go Ltd from her Live Or Die daughter Bonnie Harvest, and in Australia a good Bettor’s Delight racemare called Morton Plains who is a 4yo still racing. Morton Plains is from another Live Or Die daughter of Autumn Harvest called Dont Answer That.

Globally, Meadow Paige’s main claim to fame is as the damsire of the USA sire Bo Scots Blue Chip, a 1979 foal who as a racehorse took a record of 1:53.3m and $352,156 in stakes. He was brought out here to stand at stud from 1983 through to 1992 and then exported to Australia. As a son of Most Happy Fella, Bo Scots Blue Chip also has Lydia Knight through Knight Dream in his sire’s maternal line. Some of his well known offspring include Anne Franco (one of my favourite mares), Franco Ice, and Unique Blue Chip. But it is as a damsire that Bo Scots Blue Chip’s legacy is strongest – he is the sire of Pleasant Franco, dam of the great New Zealand racehorse and sire Christian Cullen and his full sister Kate’s First. Bo Scots Blue Chip is also the damsire of Anna Matao, The Court Owl, and many others.

Apart from Bo Scots Blue Chip, Meadow Paige’s other outstanding damsire credit is Anvil Gale, who was born in New Zealand, won the 1996 2yo Sires Series Final and went on to perform with credit over several years in Australia.

Definitely, it is as the damsire of Bo Scots Blue Chip and through Christian Cullen and Kate’s First that Meadow Paige shines brightest down under.

As always – add to my knowledge with a comment or contact me on bee.raglan@xtra.co.nz . For example did Meadow Paige stand in North America for any enduring results?

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I don’t usually do blogs on race meetings but there is one thing that caught my eye in the Alexandra Park meeting tonight that might be of interest to blog readers.

Firstly the dam of Sir Lincoln (aka Lincoln Royal for Aussie blog readers) has two young progeny racing. In Race 1 the 2yo full sister to Sir Lincoln, called Lincolns Superstar, has her fourth start at the races. Her formline is average so far but it is all learning at this stage for a majority of the babies.As most will know, Sir Lincoln is bred in a very similar way to Somebeachsomewhere, being by Mach Three from a Beach Towel mare. So his dam Clare De Lune has gone 4 more times to Mach Three after Sir Lincoln’s success. That’s a total of 5 from 8 breedings, which is very much a case of going back to the well, and havng confidence in a cross. Of course Sir Lincoln is marketed very much on his mirror of Somebeachsomewhere, and it would be a commercially astute to return to Mach Three for a number of reasons – but Lincoln Farms/the Streets & the Blackburns were much more into keeping and racing their foals, so the commercial side of it was probably less of a factor in their decisions than the success of Sir Lincoln and the tie-in with the great Somebeachsomewhere.  But interestingly, the other Clare De Lune offspring racing tonight in Race 4, called Lincolns Keepsake, is not by Mach Three. She is a 3yo Rocknroll Hanover filly and her formline is very impressive, with 2 wins from 3 starts. She qualified in August 2015, so was never pushed as a 2yo, and had three races in September. This is her first race back after a long spell, but she has been at the workouts a few times and getting better with each outing. For the record, the other two non-Mach Three foals from Clare De Lune were her first one, by Bettor’s Delight, who could get a win in 48 starts, and her most recent foal born in 2014 by Well Said, yet to be registered.

Clare De Lune is from the same maternal family as Fake Left’s dam Madam Medusa. One of Fake Left’s full sisters (by Cam Fella) was Turn To Stone, who was mated with Beach Towel to produce the super American racemare Paige Nicole Q  (1:52, $712,801). Two of Paige Nicole Q’s best offspring were both by Real Desire – Cue The Paige (1:49.3, $326,973) and Teenage Paige (1:50, $379,619). She has had a reasonable successful foal by Mach Three – the “golden cross” – in 2009 filly Getya Wings Out who raced in Australia (11 wins from 35 starts, 1:58.8 $137,459), and is now started her own breeding career with a 2015 Art Major filly for J S Bussenschutt in South Australia. Another of Paige Nicole Q’s offspring is the now 10yo mare Samantha Q (by Real Artist) and Tony Dickinson of Alta Breeding Ltd is breeding from her in New Zealand. He started by sending her twice in a row to Mach Three for 3yo filly Alta Valencia (3 starts, 1 win to date), and 2yo colt Alta Intrigue (bought by Lincoln Farms at the yearling sales for $85,000), 6 starts, 2 wins, 2 places to date), then a filly yearling by American Ideal also bought by Lincoln Farms) and most recently a filly by Bettor’s Delight. Samantha Q is back in foal to Mach Three.

Paige Nicole Q was imported to Australia part-way through her breeding career and is still being bred by Farquharson Pty Ltd, Victoria, but has missed many times to a range of sires (but not tried with Mach Three since Getya Wings Out). Her latest foal is also a filly by Art Major, born 2013 and as yet unnamed.

Madam Medusa also had a Beach Towel filly herself, but that line has not fired much at all to date.

Previous blog on Sir Lincoln.

Postcript after Race 1 – 2yo filly Lincoln superstar rattled home for 3rd, paying $2.70.

And a 5th from Lincolns Keepsake first up so will watch for quick improvement from that.

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Lydia Knight, like Nibble Hanover, flies under the radar in many considerations of top mares in harness racing history.

But what an influence she has had. Did you know she shares her ancestral maternal line with trotting sensation and sire Love You? Weird eh! But true. This is the line referred to as U29.

Her own pedigree is solid but not spectacular. To be honest there is nothing there that I can see as a predictor of future influence. She was a daughter of Peter The Brewer (a son of Peter The Great) and a Guy Axworthy mare called Guy Rosa.

But going back a couple of maternal generations to Lady Shipley there are some interesting links to the French trotter/sire Buvetier D’Aunou (sire of Ganymede, and also sire in NZ of a mare named The Quiet Storm), and perhaps more potently the modern French trotters/sires Love You, Repeat Love and In Dix Huit. You never know where you may end up when you start clicking around the pedigree of great mares! In this case, it is Lady Shipley’s daughter Florence D (b1879) and Florence D’s grand-daughter Miladi Anne who was bred to Es Tu La III, a French sire I know nothing about, and in turn her 1934 grand-daughter Miss Volo (F U29 ) and finally through Miss Volo’s daughter Tanie we find some names we also know – Jet D’Emeraude, and another branch of Tanie to the very good French mare Amour d’Aunou and her descendants – Guilty Of Love (dam of Love You), and high performers Private Love, Buvetier d’Aunou and Defi d’Aunou. It is worth clicking though the family on Classic Families to see these connections. 

There is something in this family that adds value at certain moments and makes those defining crossroads, much like we looked at in the series on Romola  and Romola Hal.

Back to Lydia Knight herself. I like to paint a picture of these horses in some sort of real way, not just as a name in a pedigree. She is hard to track down but I’ve uncovered a bit of information and stories from the time that help. She was born in 1929, and was a brown filly. Given her name, it is likely she was bred at Almahurst Farm belonging to the Knight family, but I don’t have the details to support that. For her latter career at least she was owned by Tanglewood Farm. She was dual gaited and took a record of 2:03 for pacing and 2.06 for trotting which in 1935 led to her featuring in a photo montage on the front page of the Kutztown Patriot of 15 August when she took her trotting mark and became the fastest dual-gaited mare during their 1935 Fair and Exhibition:

Lydia Knight takes world record for dual-gaited mare

(A slice of the montage and the caption from the 1935 Kutztown Patriot newspaper) “To the right is Lydia Knight, brown mare, driven by Houston Stone as she crossed the finish line in world record time. Owned and entered by the Tanglewood Farm, Winston-Salem, N. C, she stepped off the 2:24 class trot in 2:06 1/4 to establish a new world’s trot record for a double-gaited mare.”

I can’t find for sure how many foals she had in total – Classic Families records 7 but of course that database doesn’t record progeny that did not contribute to the family at all, so there could have been more. Let’s focus on the 7 that did – and the first of those, Knightland, was born in 1943, and the last of them, Last Knight, in 1955. She may have had some earlier foals that didn’t perform, but even so it does make her main breeding era span when she was definitely a mature mare around 14 to 25 years old!

The advantage of that was aligning with Nibble Hanover at stud. Of those 7 foals 5 are by Nibble Hanover and the results show they certainly clicked. Lydia was a bit of a cougar – Nibble Hanover was born the year after she took that dual-gaited record at the Kutztown Fair!

Let’s have a quick look through Lydia Knight’s legacy from each of those foals, because it is easy to skip over them and focus on Knight Dream.

Knightland (by Scotland) – I am not sure how many foals Knightland had in total, but clearly her 1956 filly foal Adios Land (by Adios Boy) is the only one who carried this line into the future. Adios Land has 10 foals on the Classic Families database and overall what a very solid line it has turned out to be. In terms of modern day performers that we know down under, this line has produced Preacher Edith and therefore her descendants Parson’s Den and Lady Ashlee Ann (the dam of Betterthancheddar and other very good performers). Lydia Knight’s trotting gait carries on in some of the Adios Land branches that migrated to Scandanavia and one those is a grandson of Sampson Maid called Sandy Bowl (by Super Bowl) who ended up as the sire of some very good trotters, but nothing that has bred on at an elite level that I can spot. Likewise Sandy Bowl’s sister (aptly if unimaginatively named Sandys Sister) has left some good trotting descendants in America, the best being a 2011 great-grandson called Muscle Matters by Muscle Mass. But her real legacy lies in Europe where her Victory Dream son Keepitinthefamily turned into a very nice sire including the high performing Swedish trotter Finders Keepers.

Lydia Knight’s next daughter was Marjorie Armstrong (by Nibble Hanover), who was mainly bred to Adios. Like so many maternal lines, it has many branches which are often if not dead ends then just mildly successful with consistent performers or one or two really good ones dotted among the decendents. For us New Zealanders of most interest is that two sires who stood here were both sons of Marjorie Armstrong – Bulvon (by  Thorpe Hanover, very limited success) and Schicker (by Most Happy Fella, slightly better innings as a sire). In North America Marjorie Armstrong also pops up in the maternal line of the very good racehorse Stabilizer (1:54.4, $525,771 and world champion status) who crosses 4 x 4 to her and her full brother Knight Dream. And the richest son of Laag, Bilateral, has a 5 x 5 x 5 to the same siblings – Laag through his sire Abercrombie, and through his bottom maternal line to Majorie Armstrong. She also is in the maternal line of the very, very good 2007 gelding PH Supercam by Million Dollar Cam – 1:49.2 and $1,244,251. 

The following year Lydia Knight foaled the little chap who grew up to be Knight Dream. What a legacy he has left as a sire and a broodmare sire. We will come back to him separately.

Following that in 1950 was Sweet Dream, another full sister to Knight Dream. She has left many branches that have popped up very good horses along the way. Of most long term significance is Badlands Hanover by Behave Hanover, a great-granddaughter of Sweet D

ream. I have so much respect for Badlands Hanover as a sire. He came into siring ranks when sons of Western Hanover were not nearly as attractive

Badlands Hanover

Badlands Hanover – classy sire with many links to Lydia Knight.

or recognised in New Zealand as other lines, and yet by sheer tenacity (much like his best horses) he has proven himself a sire that has delivered again and again through the past 16 years, and often through top, tough females. In American he has retained his status as a popular sire consistently for well over a decade. Durable and classy. He is now 20 years old and hasn’t shuttled here since 2013 but is still available as frozen semen. He deserves a blog to himself, but for the moment just a tip o’ the hat to a fantastic quality sire – and one very real and enduring descendant of Lydia Knight. As well as the maternal link to Sweet Dream, Badlands Hanover carries Knight Dream through double doses of both Best Of All and Most Happy Fella.

A more direct offspring of Sweet Dream also stood as a sire here – Timely Knight – in the mid to late 1970s. He had been a very good racehorse. His two outstanding foals were the great mare Armalight and a tough colt Camelot (who stood himself for a while but with little to show for it). Armalight of course was a top racemare but has proved a bit of an enigma in terms of breeding on. With every chance at top sires the most consistent branch as been her Vance Hanover daughter Berkleigh Square who produced  the very good London Pride and London Express, raced mainly in Australia, while one of Armalight’s great-great-grandaughters is the dam of the super Bettor’s Delight horse Ohoka Punter who has 38 starts for 17 wins ($664,376) and at this point in time (May 2016) is almost equalling pegging with his maternal ancestor Armalight’s score of 36 starts for 18 wins ($277,520). Timely Knight’s daughter Marilyn led to a sprawling family with the best branches coming from Candle In The Wind, with English Elegance, Thomas Pyke, and Jaccka Turk etc.

Lydia Knight’s later foals are:

Rosa Knight (also by Nibble Hanover) whose best branch crossed to a son of Scotland (Scottish Pence) to produce Rosa Pence, and one of her best descendants is Catch The Wind, a 1977 filly by Aldebert Hanover who is descended from May Dodge i.e. the U7 family that I am talking about in my parallel series on Romola Hal’s descendants.  Remember it was the Knight Dream (U29) intersection with the Miss Duvall (U7) line that seemed to really kick things off with Adora’s resulting foal K Nora. Although the offspring from Rosa Knight’s branch haven’t endured at a high level.

Beautiful Dream (again by Nibble Hanover) was Lydia Knight’s 1953 foal, and the best of her descendants has been the 1982 mare Saccharum ($805,295) but that line hasn’t kicked on to any degree.

What I notice when I look at the stronger lines from Lydia Knight – or the pedigree some of the really key horses in those lines – is that at some stage they intersected again with Nibble Hanover himself or Knight Dream and his amazing influence. And of course the apparent synergy with the U7 family as well. Nibble Hanover’s family is U12 going back to the Miss Copeland mare and in a superb case of serendipity to her grandam called “Lydia”. I’ll blog more about that another time.

Lydia Knight and Nibble Hanover. What a team.

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Still carrying on my series about Romola Hal’s legacy, in this blog I take a closer look at the breeding options I’ve gone for with my mare Dreamy Romance. Romola Hal sits 5 generations back on her maternal line. It’s the line of Romola Hal’s Overtrick daughter Romantic Hanover and I covered that off in detail in Part 2 of this series.


Dreamy Romance

Dreamy Romance with her Big Jim filly as a foal

I bought Dreamy Romance (Dream Away x Romantic – No Nukes) because of her connection to such a great mare and family, but unlike some of the breeders we have looked at in this series, I have not contemplated going to a sire that also carries Romola Hal in his pedigree. This is partly for type reasons – the mare is on the big side and leaves bigger, later types, so a “beefy” sire like Art Major is not what I want. But it is also for pedigree matching reasons. I don’t see enough evidence that going back to the immediate “Romola” family is working. It seems to be a family that strongly “clicks” with specific outsiders and also its wider iwi.

So although I agree that “going back to the herd” breeding has a logic to it, I have defined “the herd” more broadly. So rather than looking for a sire descended from Romola Hal, I have been more interested in sires from the wider Miss Duvall family (U7) of which Romola Hal is, of course, a member.  Or to be precise, from the May Dodge branch of the Miss Duvall family, which is where two daughters of May Dodge, both by The Senator, started their modern legacies – Nora Adele and Romola. I’ve also noted some of the elements that really fired up Romola Hal’s branch, and to some extent Adora’s branch, to spot any “nicks” or “clicks” that might indicate an enduring compatibility.

As blog readers might know, in pedigree matching I am often swayed by what is compatible with what, who likes who – rather than what is the same as what, who is like who. I go right back to one of my original articles where I compared pedigree matching to cooking. Dishes are made by combining different ingredients that work off each other or are compatible in combination – flavours, textures and the role they play in the recipe. Yeast, water, flour, salt = Bread.

So what am I baking with Dreamy Romance? A mix of going back to the wider herd maternally, but also some out-crossing to compatible lines.

So far, Dreamy Romance has progeny by Knight Rainbow, Klondike Kid and American Ideal (for breeder Bill Keeler), and then by Big Jim and hopefully later this year Mr Feelgood, for me as breeder. Both of the sires I’ve chosen to date have links back to the U7 family via different routes than the mare. Both are sires with very strong maternal performers and with a type that I hope might inject more speed and heart into the mare.

Big Jim? Upfront, there is the basic Artsplace line mare crossed to Western Hanover line sire, and all the statistics that come with that. But honestly, it was not a big factor in my decision.

Mr Feelgood? Crossing of two Artsplace lines but there are so many other factors involved, that didn’t bother me one bit.

In terms of foal, I wanted a sire that might give my bigger mare a more athletic type of foal (not necessarily smaller, as I think the mare will dictate the size anyway). So I am looking for proven speed and heart in the sire’s maternal line. If it’s a bigger foal, it needs a decent ticker. You can see in the two photos I’ve included of Big Jim and Mr Feelgood the type I have been looking for.

That’s the summary, but for those who enjoy the journey below is more detail following the pedigree links and the rationale.

The detail

First a quick review of some of the key intersections where multiple breedings from the Romola line resulted in several longer-term outcomes: who triggered that maybe? You find The Senator (a son of Peter The Great whose dam is inbred to Axworthy), Knight Dream with Adora (Knight Dream is 3×4 to Guy Axworthy, and of course I’m looking at his sire Nibble Hanover and his dam Lydia Knight in my new blog series), and then Bret Hanover crossing with K Nora for Angel Hair and Ambiguity amongst other daughters. On the Romola branch the repeated cross of Tar Heel with Romola Hal, and of Dancer Hanover with Romola Hal’s daughters. One of Romola’s other daughters, Willola, is the grandam of the wonderful mare Hobby Horse Tar by Tar Heel – and what a legacy she left. I don’t get stuck on these “click” sires, but I note them off to the side as “good to haves”. There are no surprises, as these were some of the top sires or broodmare sires in history accessible to good mares.

Now to the present and the choices for Dreamy Romance:

For Bill Keeler, the mare went to Knight Rainbow and Klondike Kid, and then American Ideal. Knight Rainbow was a lovely-bred local sire being from the same maternal family as Vance Hanover and his sire Tuapeka Knight had a beautifully constructed pedigree which includes Knight Dream as the sire of Lumber Dream. But the influence isn’t quite where it needs to be, which is connecting more directly with the U7 maternal line. Klondike Kid also has an interesting maternal line that brings in BG’s Bunny with his rich dose of two “click” sires Knight Dream and Bret Hanover plus Dancer Hanover.  American Ideal – ah, now we’re cooking! That’s a horse carrying two super strong U7 strains on his sire’s maternal line and his dam’s maternal line, neither of which are the Romola branch. Through Three Diamonds he brings in three “click” sires Bret Hanover, Knight Dream and Dancer Hanover, all through maternal lines. The resulting filly is now a big 3yo that trainer Kirsten Barclay likes but is giving time to grow.

American Ideal would be one of my top selections for Dreamy Romance, but his service fee is too much of a stretch at this stage.

Instead, I opted for Big Jim. Yes, he’s tall, but looking at him in the flesh I saw a finer type of horse, more athletic. His maternal line is a branch of U7 that separated in the early 1920s with May Dodge doing her thing (as described at the start of this blog) and a sister called Klata Dodge starting another line. And in that line the best strike rate was the 1958 mare Vacation Time. One of her daughters leads to Road Machine and a couple of other very high performing racehorses. Another of her daughters leads to Big Jim, via Vacation Byrd, Sea Pine, Cool Pink and Bold Pink.

Now here’s another interesting tidbit for you U7 fans. Sea Pine, Big Jim’s great-grandam, is 3 x 4 to Abbie Dodge, a daughter of Klata Dodge. It turns out that Sea Pine’s sire Airliner (who we usually think of as a lesser son on Adios) is actually a grandson of Abbie Dodge and hence a close part of the U7 family. Some of you will probably go “yes, we knew that,” but just indulge my journey, which is what makes breeding such a sensational discovery trek.

Big Jim Alabar 2013

Big Jim Alabar 2013

Big Jim’s sire is Western Ideal, whose dam Leah Almahurst traces back to May Dodge.

Did I know all the detail when I made the booking to Big Jim? No, some of it makes sense in retrospect when I have had time to dig deeper, like finding the Airliner connection. Not being one to follow the foundation mares and family numbering as a priority, I don’t always pick up those family connections on first glance. Sometimes it is more an instinct that says “That feels right”, and later finding out why. What I felt at first glance were synergies and compatibilities as well as the obvious “delta” formation from the double up of Sonsam and No Nukes, and the stunning speed and reach of an athletic sire to complement Dreamy Romance on type.

The other elements I liked about Big Jim were the multiple links to On Time and therefore Nedda and Nedda Guy (previous blogs). Same in Dreamy Romance’s pedigree. That’s one of my favourite maternal lines as many of you know, as it brings heart and speed with it, delivering well down the track. In this case tough speedy sires like Big Towner, Sonsam, and of course No Nukes. Also his maternal line has proven speed ability – his dam, grandam and great-grandam all earned more than $100,000 and took good times.

The result is the now weanling filly called My Big Romance.

Mr Feelgood

Trainer Luke McCarthy with then racehorse Mr Feelgood at his Cobbitty property. Photo: Jonathan Ng

The next sire I chose for Dreamy Romance was Mr Feelgood, and for similar reasons – a sire that is not small, but is a finer boned, more athletic type with proven speed, and importantly offers incredible value at the service fee for a horse that won over $3m and has a glorious pedigree for those of us who study these things. Plus Mr Feelgood has a strong speedy maternal line that traces back through K Nora and Adora, to dear old May Dodge. Remember she is the full sister to Klata Dodge, who Big Jim traces to. We could call them the Dodgy sisters, but in fact they have been anything but! More like the classic car than a dodgy deal! Pedigree-wise, Mr Feelgood offers even more – it’s another No Nukes double up with the mare and so the connection back to Nedda through No Nukes – but more importantly that same connection to Nedda via On Time through Jate Lobell’s maternal line, which makes it more accessible. On the siring line sits Grinfromeartoear, and blog followers will know my admiration for this sire from way back.  I am not surprised he produced such a great racehorse as Mr Feelgood from his opportunity with Best Of Memories. It is a crossing of two great maternal lines – Adora and Golden Miss. And they work well together. Interestingly the other excellent foal from Best Of Memories was Remember When (1:50.3, earnings $917,523) by Camluck who carries On Time and Golden Miss in his pedigree too.

Fingers crossed the Mr Feelgood x Dreamy Romance foal will arrive later this calendar year. I have yet to decide whether I can afford to put the mare back in foal, probably not and a year off will not be a bad thing. But always open to offers if anyone would like to try another American Ideal or perhaps Bettor’s Delight. Would He’s Watching be over-the-top? Probably. Unless, going back to the cooking analogy, you like “duck 5 ways” as your main.

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Nibble HanoverNibble Hanover and Lydia Knight are names most breeders will recognise from the past, because they pop up in so many pedigrees, and particularly together as the sire and dam of Knight Dream. So with the resurgence of the Adora/K Nora line  – and Knight Dream being mated with Adora to produced K Nora – they have surfaced again with bells on.

I confess that for me they have flown a little bit under the radar in terms of my coverage of “engine room” sires and “turning point” mares that have had quality influence far ahead in pedigrees.

You know what it’s like. Someone comments on the new blue-flowering plant that seems to be on the roadside this year. Really?  But the next day you drive to work and – crikey, you see so many blue flowers. How did I miss those before??

I’ve had the same feeling when I have looked at pedigrees of so many great racehorses, sires and broodmares. Lo and behold! There is Nibble Hanover and Lydia Knight (sometimes together, often apart) now jumping out of the page at me and just pumping quality genes into the pedigree of so many influential horses.

They meet in a way that (cue music and lights) reaches beyond their own mating and adds a huge kick in the arse to breeding in several different lines.

To recognise them individually and in combination, here’s a new series of blogs.


Part 1 – Nibble Hanover

I will start with Nibble Hanover. What a strange name, because he was much more than a nibble at this standardbred game! More like a decent bite.



Nibble Hanover

Nibble Hanover was a foal of 1936 so in many ways he is a boy of the Second World War. He was a trotter, and a damn good one. His entry in the Harness Racing Museum Hall Of Fame says:

Nibble Hanover began setting world records as a two-year-old and continued doing so year after year. It was as a five-year-old that he set his 1:58 3/4 mark. Of the 67 heats Nibble Hanover raced, he failed to share the purse on only five occasions and his earnings of $25,559 were considered quite good for those days. He began at the stud at Almahurst and was later purchased by Hanover Shoe Farms for $100,000. He died there in 1968.

So he died at the grand age of 32, but even by then his legacy was immense. When he started as a sire, he was in the post-war era and other sires of about the same age and that have endured in reputation were Billy Direct (b1934 and of equal importance in the long term), The Widower (b1935) and later the two racetrack combatants Adios (b1940) and Kings Counsel (1940), and also Worthy Boy (b1940). Later still Ensign Hanover (b1943), Good Time (b1946), and even Tar Heel (b1948).

The war years, from my look at it, did not produce many pacers that turned into enduringly successful sires; it was not the ideal environment, to say the least. But the pre-war mares had been good. So Nibble Hanover got his go with some very classy mares and I think plenty of them. If anyone can find the stats around that, I would love to know.

He made the most of the opportunity too. He sired 140 “classic progeny” including Little Brown Jug winner Knight Dream and Hambletonian winning filly Miss Tilly. I will look at those two in a separate blog.

Where on earth do I start? Like the blue flowers, Nibble Hanover seems everywhere. There are some key places where he is NOT. Like Meadow Skipper, Direct Scooter, Albatross.

I’ll start with the big name pedigrees that he appears in either more than once or in a very influential way, and in particular with Lydia Knight:

Abercrombie 4 x 4 – as the damsire of Henry T Adios in the sire line, and through Knight Dream as sire of Duane Hanover in the maternal line. Therefore wherever Abercrombie goes Nibble Hanover follows.

Artsplace – as above, Abercrombie, but also another connection via Duane Hanover as sire of Miss Elvira’s grandam.

Bret Hanover –  Nibble Hanover was the sire of Beryl Hanover, the grandam of Bret Hanover.

BG’s Bunny – twice in his maternal line. His dam Bret’s Romance is by Bret Hanover,  and also Bret’s Romance’s dam Knight Embassy is by Knight Dream. Because BG’s Bunny’s full sister was Lismore, that same Nibble Hanover influence comes through the maternal lines of very good racehorses like Albert Albert, Lisheen, Lahar, Lisryan, and of course down under we had her grandsons Lis Mara and Lislea as sires, and Woodlands Stud owner and breeder Charlie Roberts is breeding from several female descendants of Lismore.

Most Happy Fella’s grandam Maxine’s Dream is by Knight Dream. So again, anywhere MHF goes, there goes the Nibble Hanover and Lydia Knight combination. When Nan Cam (by Bret Hanover) was mated with Most Happy Fella, the result was Cam Fella and a 5 x 5 to Nibble Hanover.

Best Of All – who plays such an important role on many good pedigrees is often more known as one of the best siring sons of the great Good Time and a wonderful broodmare sire. Best Of All’s damsire was Knight Dream, so here come Nibble and Lydia once again. So in Western Hanover’s pedigree, which doubles up so many lovely mares and sires, you get a 6 x 5 to Knight Dream thrown in for good measure.

Life Sign – 4 x 4 to Knight Dream, and of course one of those is his maternal line to K Nora and Adora. And with the Adora family really firing in modern times, we can chuck in names of sires like Western Ideal (who through his dam Leah Almahurst brings Nibble Hanover via Abercrombie and then two more doses via Angel Hair, one being through her sire Bret Hanover and the other being through her dam K Nora). American Ideal of course has the K Nora double up on her Western Ideal sire line and her Three Diamonds bottom line.

Even a modern sire like Sportswriter carries dear old Nibble Hanover through multiple lines including his close sibling association with Abercrombie’s sire.

Next blog I look in the same way at Lydia Knight’s influence. Then we will get into the down under connections with wonderful influences like Bachelor Hanover and Lumber Dream.

As always, input appreciated via comment on the blog or email (bee.raglan@xtra.co.nz)  – particularly from my Australian blog readers who can throw a different light on the influence of these horses, because many different sires were available in Australia and never reached New Zealand.

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Friday 13 May meeting at Alexandra Park included the PGG Wrightson Yearling Sale 2yo Fillies Final, and amongst the field, although not the winner, were two foals closely related to the great broodmare Vicario.

Strawberry Stride, who got third, is a Bettors Delight grand-daughter out of the Christian Cullen 5-win mare Temepara Cullen. And Smiling Sophie is an Art Major daughter, who came 6th out of a field of 7th but has plenty more to offer in future.

They both trace back to Rosehaven and the two lines from her that made the most impact in the broodmare barn for the Yarndleys – Black Watch (by Scottish Command) and Nancy Iola (by Black Fury).

That is a big story that has been told many times (perhaps one of the best is this 2009 article on Harnesslink written by Frank Marrion). It is good to note however that the family continues to shine in top races like this. I am not sure that the family is punching above its weight, as many of the mares have been given opportunity aplenty to produce good horses. But it is certainly living up to its potential overall. Black Watch had 15 foals, 7 of them females. Nancy Iola had 10, 6 of them females. So there have been many branches, twigs and leaves since then, and some of them delivering little, but there are enough fruiting buds and stunning fruit each generation to warrant the family’s great name in New Zealand breeding.

Sandy and Jan Yarndley have seen most of this family come to fruition, and their success is based on principles of good farming and stockmanship as much as anything, following tried and true rationale – raising stock well, putting the best of the females to the best sires available, working on from the strongest branches, and building a commercial reputation. Vicario is a particularly strong branch and she is the dam of two highly successful racehorses in Stunin Cullen and Coburg, with a raft of female descendants who have the opportunity to take Vicario’s name well and truly into the next few generations.

And just a quick post-script: I see Vicario’s great-grandson (Shanocon, by Bettor’s Delight from Veste, a Christian Cullen daughter of Coburg) qualified well as a 2yo at the Auckland Trials on Saturday 14 May, breeder Coburge Syndicate, Owner G Shand, Trainer Maurice McKendry. 

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The Manawatu track in Palmerston North is a tight track that can favour the inside runners or the swoopers if the pace has been too frenetic. But over a mile and first up for the Tintin In America filly American Flybye tonight (after a significant spell with not even a workout to her name) it went awry and she faded badly after having a one-one sit for most of the way. Hard to tell why, I watched if she was giving Scotty Phelan a hard drive, but he disguised it well if she was. The Tintins can be keen and eager to get on with it sometimes. I just hope nothing has gone wrong with her. Fitness for a mile is something else these days, isn’t it. There is no room for using a race as a workout if you are the favourite.

In this case the bickies went deservedly to a 6yo tough mare Kilkeel Lady, trained by Colin Butler and bred by the Greaves, who is a Sutter Hanover x Miss Abigail mare. In turn Miss Abigail is from Janet Harlyn, a good broodmare who won 5 herself and then produced tough durable horses like Pegasus Bee Bee (9 wins, 13 seconds from 85 starts), Janine’s Delight (4 wins), Jessica Nicole (5 wins), the very good Dashing Dave (10 wins, 16 places and $74,518 from 66 starts), and then Miss Abigail.

Kilkeel Lady is her second foal, and that means there are a few more in the wings, including Emerson Margaret by Gotta Go Cullect (trained by Steven Reid and Simon McMullan, 22 starts, 1 win, 2 places to date), a 3yo Grinfromeartoear filly, a 2yo Big Jim filly, and a Gotta Go Cullect yearling filly.  While I might not hold my breath for them as early types (although the Big Jim one will be interesting), the family has credentials as showing up tough and durable as they age. And that is a treasure in today’s quick-and-then-gone world.

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There are two direct maternal descendants of Romola Hal racing in New Zealand today. Articulight, the Art Major gelding son of Light Of The South, is in Race 9 at 6.17pm, and My Rona Gold, the Klondike Kid mare from Dreamy Romance, is in Race 9 at Invercargill at 3.28pm.  On 1 May Elliot Daniel chalked up another win – he’s descendant from Romalie Hanover via her son George Allen, as covered in Part 3 of this series. I want to say just a week bit more about Elliot Daniel while I’m thinking about it – he’s particularly interesting in that he has three quite close links to Romola Hal through his sire (Live Or Die) his damsire Sands A Flying as well as through his grandam Armbro Zip Zap.

Breeder Mike Finlayson writes about Light Of The South and breeding back to the herd

Mike Finlayson of “Finn” fame, bred the first foal by Art Major from Light Of The South, before she went to Brian Cowley. He adds some more insight on the breeding, but adds ‘Give a tip 0’ the hat to Ken MacKay of Premier Pedigrees because most of it is based on his work. In my view Ken is ahead of his time when it comes to standardbred breeding.” And I think many of us would concur with that.

Thought I’d chip in with a few comments on this mare for your most excellent blog on the Romola Hal’s line.

First off the O’Briens bred this mare. I got her to put to Art Major because it was a great opportunity to breed back into the herd through a set of full sisters. The family were also natural runners which was probably due to it tracing relatively close up to thoroughbred origins.

She was for sale for next to nothing through the Weekly.  Light of the South didn’t have a great reputation when I got her. She was a lay-down-sally on the track when they tried her and when she arrived from up north she was SPCA material. Motherhood and TLC softened her and she was a great mum in the end.

I think the interesting thing in all this is that just because she went to Art Major and didn’t produce a champion first up doesn’t mean that it was a bad choice of stallion. The law of probabilty is 1 in 4, so theoretically you should patronise a sire four times for maximum results. This is directly related to the X factor theory that says that a union of each chromosome will produce a differing set of genes. Perhaps the best example of this is Pleasant Franco. She went to In the Pocket four times producing a champion in Christian Cullen, two good  horses in Julius Caesar and Tiger Woods and a mare Dreamsaregold which was unraced and hasn’t produced anything of any significance.

Thus its difficult to draw conclusions about a cross based on one union.

I think the interesting thing in this particular discussion is that the law of probability is often overlooked in breeding. In other words one shot is often not enough to see if a cross works as you’ve only got a 1 in 4 chance of hitting the jackpot. That’s why I’ve put Eilish Finn back to Grinfromeartoear for the third time. She has produced two very good horses in Mac the Finn and That Guy Finn to Grin. I’m hoping this time will be the champion. But it may be a dud. Or it could be another good horse. Because the odds remain forever 1 in 4 for every mating.

I asked Mike if he thought it was important where the cross lay in the sire’s pedigree e.g. Art Major versus his son Art Official:

If you are breeding back to a superior female, it is better if the particular female is in the very bottom line of a proposed sire’s maternal pedigree although the duplication can be anywhere within the broodmare’s total pedigree. That way you are returning blood to the direct maternal line of the sire and that is considered a superior form of pedigree matching than breeding back into the sire’s paternal line (Ken MacKay).

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A break from my Romola Hal series – I want to show you my three current youngsters.

First of all my two mares based at Macca Lodge in the South Island (Dreamy Romance and Nostalgic Franco) have just gone through weaning, and Brent McIntyre has sent up these photos. Delighted with them both, very different in type, and handled really well.

This is the colt by Tintin In America x Nostalgic Franco (Rustler Hanover). He’s now registered as No White Flag after the Dido song: “I will go down with the ship, I won’t put up my hands and surrender. There will be no white flag above my door. I’m in love and always will be.” It also harks back to his great-grandam No Regrets.
Nostalgic Franco had the next season off, and I’m still trying to decide where to send her this coming season. Given this result, Tintin In America is not off my radar for a repeat.

No White Flag April 2016

No White Flag

And below, here is the filly by Big Jim x Dreamy Romance (Dream Away). She’s registered as My Big Romance. The mare leaves bigger types regardless of the sire. The last breeder of the mare was Bill Keeler and he let me know recently that her Knight Rainbow gelding Rainbow Romance (who won 4 here for Kirsten Barclay before being sold to America) has just run a very good 1.49.4 for 3rd at Meadowlands in his third start. Nice one, Bill! And tip o’ the hat to Macca Lodge for the work they are doing with my mares and foals. Dreamy Romance is now in foal to Mr Feelgood, and I’m thinking of giving her the next year off, mainly to be “fiscally prudent”.

My Big Romance April 2016

My Big Romance

And finally, close to home I have this filly by A Rocknroll Dance x The Blue Lotus (Grinfromeartoear). She has yet to be named, but we call her Iris. Like the other two, she is all you could want in terms of type and has a bold attitude and a beautiful way of moving. Thinks her shit don’t stink!  Brian Cowley helped me choose the sire in the competition I ran a few years ago and he has 5% share of this filly as a prize. She’s heading for the sales, whereas the other two are probably not. And then after foaling to Shadow Play this coming season, the Blue Lotus aka Lottie will also have a year off.

Iris 2

The Blue Lotus with her A Rocknroll Dance filly

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