Archive for June, 2016

I want to tell you a very personal story about a gelding called Silk Singlet. His sire was Silk Legacy, a son of the great mare Silk Stockings, and  his dam was a New Zealand mare called Scenic Flight. He was bred in Wesport by A J Rogers and Mrs C E Rogers, and born in 1989.

Silk Singlet raced in New Zealand as a 4yo, 5yo and 6yo (from 1994-1996) for Peter Yeatman and was driven by Jim Curtin. He had some success – 6 wins – before being sold to North America. There he continued to be moderately successful until his 1998/99 seasons when, after moving to Canada, he had a great run of consistent performances in well-staked claiming races to notch up over $190,000 in each of those two consecutive years. He took his record of 1.52 in 1999 as a 10yo at Woodbine and last raced in 2003 as a 13yo. Crikey what a campaigner. In 2002 he had 26 starts for 8 wins and 7 places but obviously for much lower stakes, and even in his last year he had a 2nd from just 2 starts.

He ended up with total earnings of over $580,000 and 51 wins.

Silk Singlet

My connection with Silk Singlet is nothing to do with those statistics. It began with listening to harness racing commentaries on the radio and later on Trackside (although I can find no video record on Silk Singlet’s races). Whether it was a particular race I heard or and integral part of his racing style, I can’t recall, but what I associate Silk Singlet with was a flying run down the outside of the track. This is the association I transferred (along with moving Silk Singlet to Hutt Park, the Wellington track I frequented but he never raced on, and adding in a field of horses created by my own imagination) to a short story I wrote back in 1995. This was the era when I would often head out to the night trots with a friend or two and a flask of brandy or whiskey in the back pocket, and spend a frosty evening in the stand taking one dollar each ways and having a hot dog, or maybe a picnic in summer on the benches just around the first corner. Also an era when I wrote and shared short stories.

And that is how Silk Singlet ended up as the hero of this short story, and an emblem of love, loss and sexiness.

Silk Singlet by Bee Pears.


Pedigree notes:

Silk Singlet is by Silk Legacy (a son of the great mare Silk Stockings, and so a half brother to Temujin) and a Waratah mare called Scenic Flight. Her pedigree included the half siblings Light Brigade and The Old Maid. Scenic Flight had just two foals, both colts, and interestingly the other called Innocent Flight (by Clever Innocence) did most of his racing in Australia and ended up with 10 wins, 14 places and $48,377 from 41 starts. Of course Clever Innocence brought yet another dose of The Old Maid into the pedigree mix with Scenic Flight. 

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Alta Leonie

Lovely Lot 128 Alta Leonie looks me in the eye at the 2015 yearling sales.

Let me first take you back to the 2015 Karaka yearling sales – and one of the fillies that really caught my eye was the sole Big Jim representative, Lot 128 Alta Leonie (breeder Tony Dickinson) out of the Road Machine mare Thanks Anita. Big, black and beautiful, in my blog at the time I wrote “..the Big Jim filly was huge but will have an exceptional reach if you are willing to wait just a year”.

She sold for just $7000 to Dave Higgins who, with his good friend David Marshall (Cambridge trainer and father of Kyle) picked out two yearlings and got them both. The other was a colt Lot 94, an Art Official son of Okay Matao, and again the only representative of his sire in that sale. That colt, called G B Maverick (breeder Mr J I G and Mrs S G Taylor) was bought for just $8000.

What would the odds be that two “cheapie” yearlings would be showing up as talented 2yos with enough ability to go 8 seconds under qualifying time at the workouts today?

G B Maverick, Art Official colt

G B Maverick, 2yo Art Official colt at the Cambridge workouts 18 June 2016

Alta Leonie, Big Jim 2yo filly

Alta Leonie,  2yo Big Jim filly at the Cambridge workouts 18 June 2016

Yes, what a difference a year can make.

While neither won the workout, that’s not the point. They both ran very well, with the colt showing more race nous and the filly a bit green. Both finished off their race really nicely.

Afterwards I caught up with Dave Higgins, who has a close personal association with Cambridge Raceway and harness racing, even though his current role is as the president of Racing Te Aroha and in recent years most of his runners have been gallopers. He’s just got out of his last galloper, as the cost of racing them is just too high. Back in 2015 he had seen how David Marshall was making a good go of improving tried racehorses brought up from the South Island, and he reckoned Marshall deserved a chance with something younger and better. Hence the hand was raised at the yearling sale auction. Now, with a few of his mates brought in on ownership, the filly and colt look to have been very astute buys and will provide a heap of enjoyment.

Watching the Big Jim filly bowl around this morning, you could see she has grown even bigger, but Marshall points out the the growing has been really even. She would be closing in on 16hh as a late 2yo, and the length of her stride is impressive. With a bit more strength and experience, she’s definitely going to develop into a lovely 3yo and later a big, bold mare. She takes after her sire Big Jim in her dark good looks and, like him, although she is tall and long-legged there is nothing heavy boned about her.

Dave lost his wife to cancer, and is proudly sentimental in giving Alta Leonie her name as a stable name.

The Art Official colt is medium sized and had a very professional attitude in his race. Art Official is gone as a sire, at least in any truly commercial sense. His offspring here were all over the place in terms of size and type and ability. Probably the best of the NZ-bred Art Officials is Grump Possum, now racing in Australia as Ima Grumpy Possum and has 7 wins and 9 places from 29 starts and just over $40,000 in stakes. G B Maverick comes from a good family – Pat Hanover/Miss Burnside/Okay Matao (herself a really nice race filly, and the half sister of Missy Matao who is the dam of Carpenters Daughter).

Alta Leonie

Alta Leonie as a yearling – already tall and has grown since.

Tony and Val Dickinson of Alta Breeding are very astute breeders as I have often noted, so I dived into Alta Leonie’s pedigree to see what the fit with Big Jim looks like from a pedigree matching perspective – and it is interesting. Thanks Anita’s sire Road Machine brings in the line of Vacation Time which I’ve already mentioned in my blog on my match of Big Jim and my mare Dreamy Romance. Different descending lines from Vacation Time (who is from the U7 family) are in both Big Jim’s and Road Machine’s maternal line. There’s a different strain of U7 coming in from Thanks Anita’s great-grandam Big Softie who is by Nevele Bigshot, a son of Romola Hanover.

Thanks Anita’s grandam is Kind Hearted (dam of NZ Cup winner Gracious Knight), and her sire Rashad brings in my old mate Shadow Wave and also another influence of the U2 family (in particular the Spinster/Old Maid links). It is interesting to track back the influence of the great U2/U4 cross in Thanks Anita’s dam Kind Martar, as there are a stack of them in the background, and it comes in again with Road Machine via Warm Breeze.

On the face of it, it is quite an outcross, but digging deeper there are very nice elements in the match.

All the best to Dave Higgins, his co-owners and to David Marshall’s team with these nice youngsters.

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Welcome to the “Dream about Paris” competition. Paris Hanover was a Knight Dream foal from a Hal Dale mare called Precious Hal. We know the family best down under through New York Motoring and Artiscape (Happy Motoring).

This is a “friendly” for us to play over early winter.

Deadline is end of July.Paris Hanover competition

Unfortunately I can’t offer of trip to Paris as the prize. The prize will be the ideas and information we gather in, and also there may just bee (somewhere down in my bag of tricks) a reward for those who come up with the best presented answers. If I get plenty of good responses, I will look at donating a free share in one of my best bred horses, as I did for the last competition I ran (and that filly is out in our paddock now looking SO good). I have also been known to get a bottle of whiskey across to Australia as a thank you for a favour, so who knows what might happen.

Sharpen up your pencils, flick your mouses into life, and get going!

Entry details below.

What I want is this:

  1. A short summary of what you see as the most important contributions from Paris Hanover and her descendants. (not a cut and paste from Classic Families, but your own summary)
  2. Any interesting observations of what happened along the way – e.g. why certain lines might have fired (or not), or what sons did on the track or in the siring barn, her own pedigree etc.
  3. What you personally rate as her most important (ONE ONLY) contribution to the development of the standardbred breed and WHY (this need not be an individual horse).
  4. Your “perfect pedigree match” for any ONE female descendant of Paris Hanover (through male or female lines) who is currently of breeding age (2yo or older) – and this can be anywhere in the world.

Send all entries to bee.raglan@xtra.co.nz or use the response/comments on this blog (NOTE: I will not show/approve for publication any entries returned as comments until the competition is closed, so these will be regarded as personal and secure entries).

Length is not an issue, but be aware that I like things reasonably concise and readable! Take your time and have fun!

Any queries about the competition, just let me know. 

Postscript: Someone has asked: Is this a trick question because she is not part of a top famous family?
The answer is “NO”. She and her family/descendants are genuine contributors to standardbred breeding, and although I have always been interested in Peaches N Cream, I’ve never looked into the wider family backwards or forward. So I am interested in getting your thoughts and research and ideas on this family, centred around Paris Hanover. Explore Paris for me!

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Continuing my “A Nibble and a Knight” blog series.

Knight Dream (born 1945, died 1977 at 32 years of age, just like his sire Nibble Hanover) is one of the most enduring and successful legacies from both Nibble Hanover and Lydia Knight.

Knight Dream

Knight Dream, photo from the Hanover Shoe Farms stallion brochure 1973

Overall he has been/is such an influential horses in both hemispheres, mainly as a sire and broodmare sire in North America. He currently shines in the maternal lines of some of the top American sires of the past 15 years. Life Sign, Western Ideal, and more recently American Ideal, and now He’s Watching, all of which have been or are available here.

Hall Of Fame entry here summarises Knight Dream’s racing and siring career highlights. He was super as a 2yo and a 3yo.
As a sire, overall he was average, the Classic Families database indicates that in terms of classic race performers he was not a big player.
As a sire of sires, like many sires he could not leave a son good enough to inherit his mantle. Torpid was a great racehorse but a failure as a sire, and Duane Hanover was also a good racehorse whose siring career was only average and his main claim to fame is as the broodmare sire of Abercrombie (see below). But another son, Lumber Dream from the Dominion Grattan mare Miss Dominion Watt, was hugely significant in New Zealand as a sire and especially a broodmare sire.

It is as a broodmare sire that Knight Dream excelled. Blog friend Mike Finlayson pointed out that the good racehorse Jack Cade ($742,232) is an example of New Zealand bred horses rich in Knight Dream’s blood. His dam Janet Blue Chip has Knight Dream 5x4x3, and then the match with Il Vicolo brings in another dose of Knight Dream (via Vance Hanover and Best Of All) – as well as a couple of different Nibble Hanover connections. And there will be many, many more examples of this sort of breeding in New Zealand.

The Classic Families publication looks at New Century Era sirelines in Chapter 4 (available on line at Classic Families) and has this to say:

As a broodmare sire Knight Dream produced forty five Classic Winners and five exceptional horses, each with a significant number of Classic Race wins. These were Valiant Bret with seven, Coffee Break nine, Dream Maker ten, Best of All nineteen, including a Little Brown Jug, and Triple Crown champion Rum Customer with sixteen.

As a sire, Knight Dream had less success. His best, Torpid (1:58), was a super star with twelve Classic Race wins including the Cane Pace and Little Brown Jug in 1957. He was Pacer of the Year at two years of age when he set a new world record for his age. At three Torpid was even better, winning nineteen of his twenty two starts, recording nine two minute miles, the most ever in a season by any horse and being named Harness Horse of the Year. The following year he retired to Hanover Shoe Farms but proved a disaster. His only two progeny of merit were two year old star Truluck and Little Brown Jug winner Vicar Hanover. Neither of them had any success at stud.

A second son, Duane Hanover (1:58) won the National Pacing Derby but also failed to breed on. He did manage some fame as the broodmare sire of Abercrombie.

The last of the Nibble Hanover sireline was the unhoppled pacer, Lumber Dream (1:58.2). Winner of only two Classic Races, he became one of the greatest broodmare sires of New Zealand and sire of champions Robalan and Preux Chevalier who are discussed further in chapter sixteen.

Duane Hanover

As mentioned, Knight Dream’s son Duane Hanover is the damsire of Abercrombie. He also appears as a damsire in Artsplace’s maternal line – as the sire of Miss Elvira’s grandam Lady Kacne, making Artsplace 3×4 to Duane Hanover. I’ve talked before about how some families seems to thrive on branches intercrossing and double-ups of its key players. Here is an observation of that concerning Duane Hanover, taken from John Bradley’s wonderful book Modern Pacing Sire Lines, in his chapter on Abercrombie:

[Bergdorf’s] sire Duane Hanover p,4,1.58 ($280,288) was an excellent pacer in the mid to late 1950s and is a son of Knight Dream. We will see later that returning crosses to Knight Dream through mares bred to Abercrombie resulted in some of his top sons and daughters…….Abercrombie’s richest son and daughter, Artsplace and Anniecrombie, each have second dams by Duane Hanover who is a son of Knight Dream [making them 3×4 to Duane Hanover]. And Knight Dream shows prominently in the pedigree of several of Abercrombie’s other top horses. For example, Life Sign is bred 4×4 to Adios and Knight Dream as is Albert Albert, Leah Almahurst, As Promised p,4,1.50.2 ($669,639), Lisheen, Curragh p,1.51.4 ($509,740) and Lisryan p,1.52 ($507,621).

Lumber Dream

Knight Dream’s son Lumber Dream stood here for 15 years and produced over 600 foals, but his main legacy is as a broodmare sire (of wonderful racehorses like Blossom Lady, Insucha, Kym’s Girl, Defoe, Roydon Glen, Sapling, Lord Lenny, Skipper Dale, Victor Supreme, and others who became great broodmares like Quest For Glory).

Lumber Dream

Lumber Dream

Apparently Lumber Dream raced in America as “Tillys Boy”. There’s a good summary of his contribution online here and just below that article is an interview with Bill Denton in which he talks about Lumber Dream among several sires he stood: “Lumber Dream. He was getting the overflow from mares who could not get into Garrison [Garrison Hanover] for quite a while. He was a top sire. He was a free-legged pacer, which was unusual then, and he left a champion free-legged horse in Robalan. He was sent out by Marty Tannenbaum of Yonkers Raceway, who had a lot to do with the International series they had in the 1960s. Marty struck problems and the horses were sold up. I think Clarrie Rhodes got Lumber Dream for $2000.”

His career is summarised in this article on the Addington Raceway Timeline, originally in the Harness Weekly of 1985:

After 26 years at stud in New Zealand, the vastly-successful imported stallion Lumber Dream has been withdrawn from service. Although still in good health at 31, Lumber Dream is no longer fertile and will spend the rest of his days at North Canterbury’s Stonegate Stud.

Lumber Dream, a son of Knight Dream, sired 39 who rated 2:00 or better. His star performer was the free-legged pacer Robalan (1:57.6) who won the NZ Cup; another was Preux Chevalier (1:54.3, Aust), now at stud. Other big winners sired by Lumber Dream were Westburn Vue, the good trotter Maudey, Dream Lustre, Guard Of Honour, Lucy Lumber, Tokorangi, Rocky Tryax, Dreamy Guy, Dreaming Neebray, Gentle Lumber (1:55.4,US), La Sharee (1:56.5,Aust), Brookfield (1:56.6,US), Josias and Best Dream.

Lumber Dream became leading broodmare sire in the 1984-85 season, with 34 winners of 79 races. This was the 4-year-old season of Roydon Glen, who supplied $235,865 of the $487,335 won by horses from Lumber Dream-sired mares. Others that season were Rollicking Dean, Maureen’s Dream, Skipper Dale, Empire Lobell, Hondo’s Dream, Free’s Best and Fredrick.

Westburn Grant, Defoe, Cardinal Star, Lord Lenny, Yankee Loch, Khmer Jitsu, Lookahead, Tuapeka Knight, Paleface Bubble, Quite Famous, Steady Lady, Betty Adios, Cyllarus, Newt, Dictatorship, Sapling, Bronze Trail, Classic Fella and Scottish Loch are other top- liners from mares by Lumber Dream.

Credit: NZ HRWeekly 15Nov89

As a son of Knight Dream, Lumber Dream cannot access any x factor gene that Lydia Knight may have passed on to Knight Dream. He will have inherited his Y chromosome from Knight Dream and his X chromosome from his dam Miss Dominion Watt. But for me there are other ways that various families and branches add value to each other. In this series of blogs and also in the series on Romola Hal, I’ve pointed out how some crosses within or among families seems to add a spark. The crossing of Nibble Hanover (U12) with Lydia Knight (U29) and then the potent crossing at key moments with the U7 family is an example of the inter-twining of genes rather than a strict “x factor” influence.

Like Knight Dream, Lumber Dream’s legacy is as a broodmare sire – think of families that have flowed from his daughters like Romanda, Lumber Lie, Dream Bel, Glamour Dream, and Tuapeka Dream (the latter being the dam of Tuapeka Knight, an outstanding young racehorse and then good sire here).

Preux Chevalier

Preux Chevalier

Preux Chevalier

However Lumber Dream wasn’t the end of the Nibble Hanover/Knight Dream siring line. That honour falls to Preux Chevalier, a son of Lumber Dream and a very popular and extremely successful pacer ($791,331, and a bunch of Group races to his name including the Miracle Mile and Interdominion final). He was bred in New Zealand but did almost all his racing (and siring) in Australia. There is actually a good entry to him on Wikipaedia. After a stellar racing career he was retired to stud and in three seasons here in the late 1980s left just over 200 foals, then moved to Australia for more than 300 additional foals until he died in 2007.

Classic Families shows his best performers were Noble Chevalier (1:56.6 $138,018), Ryan’s Day (1:57.9 $233,915) and First Glimpse (1:57.8US $150,699). There are also solid performing families from his daughters such as Chevaux Star, French Flair, Nats Classic Lady (through progeny bred to Life Sign), Second Glimpse, and others. He seems to be a sire/broodmare sire that has punched above his weight (or you could say, delivered on his breeding) and added quite a few good performers in the next couple of generations.

Would love to hear from Aussie readers on how he is seen in hindsight and what families are kicking on currently.

Preux Chevalier was from the mare Heather Frost, which is the same solid family as another very good NZ horse Scottish Command.

Just an interesting aside, some Noodlum mares went to Preux Chevalier, crossing two Nibble Hanover sire lines – Nibble Hanover/Knight Rainbow/Lumber Dream/Preux Chevalier, and Nibble Hanover/Bachelor Hanover/Noodlum. It could only happen down under!

I’ll look at Bachelor Hanover in the final blog in this “A Nibble and A Knight” series.

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Shocking timing – just a couple of days before the Jewels so it got lost – but here is a really provocative and interesting analysis of NZ harness racing from a couple of guys who have been very committed to what is happening down under, and very good buyers of our yearlings.

So PLEASE lets drop any attitude to outsiders and really listen to these guys.

We have a common aim which is to nurture and progress harness racing. Globally. Sometimes that is hard to translate to local field nominations for a particular club. But our main aim is to get the industry ticking over in a working fashion, and supply lines set up for future demand. That’s the basics.

These guys have some really interesting ideas. Read. Think. Don’t jump into your comfortable bunker.

All of us are struggling and sometimes it takes left field views and helicopter vistas to show us where we are on the landscape.

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Thanks to a chance meeting with Ian Grant at the Harness Jewels meeting (under brilliant sunshine and no wind at our local Cambridge Raceway, yes!) I can share a gold mine of great race videos that Ian recorded at the time, stored (and unlike most of us did not overtape or chuck out) and transferred to digital format for uploading on YouTube. These are the videos that Ian recorded on the old Trackside or equivalent channels, but the originals from those sources seem to have been discarded. So : Thank you Ian!

The easiest way to get to it is Goggle:  Ian Grant Robalan. That will allow you to click on Ian’s name and get to his gallery of videos. Interviews with the trainers and drivers of the time, classic races, and all sorts. Or click here

I was keen on races in the 1970s but got a wee bit diverted in the 1980s so here is a great chance to see some horses in action that are only names to me.

Including Robalan – like, I didn’t realise he was a pacer who raced without hopples. What a win! So exciting!

And what an interesting family that was, a real “one out of the box” which reminds me of Flashing Red in many ways. His family has struggled to kick on anything new but…. I will do a catch up on its most interesting newcomer shortly.

P.S. Bet only tiny interest bets on the Jewels, but want to share the results – lots of fourths and fifths, and won it all back on a bet on a pacing-bred trotter, only because I looked for the best gait in the prelims. Phew! But what an enjoyable day!

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