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This will be the last b4breeding blog post I will write for….well, certainly for several months, and maybe for much longer. Except for one which will serve as an introduction for people who arrive at the blog home page and wonder what it is all about.

It’s time to do something different.

I’ve really enjoyed creating this blog and it has taken me on many adventures and I’ve met some very interesting, talented and friendly people through it too. Happy to keep in touch or to respond to any requests via my email bee.raglan@xtra.co.nz

The blog has covered a wide range of topics over several years, from the future of harness racing, to some of the amazing individual old time horses and families that have had such an influence on our breeding, to the potential of yearlings at the sales, to assessments of new sires on the block. I do apologise for being light on trotting analysis and knowledge and more focused on pacers, but pacing is where my own experience lies. The blog has also traced some of my own horses from newborn foals to the races, and even to another part of the world, and in other cases seen another generation start. Time flies when you’re having fun!

The volume of hits and visitors has grown steadily over the past 5 years, and I’ve had good feedback to my positive approach.  Readers come almost equally from Australia and New Zealand, with increasing number of hits from North America in recent years – and the odd one from Russia too (hello David!)

It is easy to get down about our industry and to find fault, but I have always tried to come up with solutions or fresh ideas – like being able to breed two foals a year from one mare, or using drones and GPS to find new angles that improve viewer and punter experience. I’ve tried to be encouraging and helpful, because I’ve always appreciated that in other people when I needed advice or help.

me-and-tintin-sharper-2

Bee Pears, proud breeder of Tintin In America from mare Zenterfold. This photo was taken in 2006 when he was between weanling and fully developed yearling. He sold to Geoffrey Small and later trained on to be highly successful racehorse and now sire.

It is really important that we are realistic, practical but also innovative and willing to take risks. Working together and with “nous” is the only way a small industry can survive. For so long we have failed to really understand if we are an agricultural industry, an entertainment industry or a sporting event. The answer is a mix, which has made for very confusing internal, political and public perception of who we are, why we need investment and where we are going. In New Zealand, I look with growing admiration at Alexandra Park as an example of grasping this nettle and making some therapeutic nettle tea (not only good for your liver but if you add honey it tastes nice lol). Nationally, we are doing this bit by bit – a tip o’ the hat to Southland for their strong Southern Bred Southern Reared initatives and to Addington for the breeders bonuses.

Although I am stopping the blog, my own involvement in harness racing and standardbred breeding continues.

Bee Pears and Tintin In America at Nevele R Stud

Tintin In America and Bee in 2014. Years on, and after a 2yo Sires Stakes Final win, 3yo & 4yo Jewels Crown, 3yo Australasian Breeders Crown, a NZ Messenger and 2nd in the Auckland Cup to Monkey King. This photo shows him standing as a sire at Nevele R Stud in Christchurch. I’m wearing my Mum’s blue parka – she was a huge supporter of my harness racing interests and of Tintin – “his legs just flew”.

It is a big commitment for someone on a cash flow shoe-string, but somehow I’ll make it happen because I have had such a fantastic time learning to breed and race horses on a small scale, small budget but with lots of passion. It really sharpens the mind!

My biggest success is Tintin In America, but I learned so much along the way from names that never appeared in lights – like Have No Secrets, who features in my blog here with a link to the background article. It is true – you learn as much if not more from “failures” as from successes. And I don’t see those mares and foals as failures, but as horses in their own right.

Thoughtful breeding doesn’t mean being bogged down in theories and pedigree charts. It means above all knowing your mare, and knowing what you are trying to achieve. Sometimes those two simple things don’t add up and you need to be open to that and be flexible. Sometimes you can make decisions that put the odds more in your favour. Having an open mind is a breeder’s best asset, even more so than having a perfectly bred broodmare!

Many thanks to followers and blog readers who have come on this journey with me, or joined me for a blog or topic or two along the way, or just stumbled on http://www.b4breeding during a browser search. Keep using the “Search” function on the blog itself or just do random year/month to explore some blog topics you may have missed. Hindsight can be quite amusing!

I wish you heaps of success and above all enjoyment in your horse breeding and racing adventures. If you start a blog about that, let me know and I’ll follow you!

Bee Pears
Cambridge
New Zealand

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This blog is a tribute to Bachelor Hanover whose bloodlines bring together some great rivers I have so much respect for – from his sire Nibble Hanover, his dam The Old Maid (a daughter of Spinster) plus the synergy (nick) this family has had with other great maternal lines through the influence of Breath O Spring and her offspring, through the nick of The Old Maid’s son Dancer Hanover and Romola Hanover, and of course Dancer Hanover as the damsire of Albatross.

For me, Spinster and her offspring, particularly her daughters, are one of those clusters of quality like Adora, Golden Miss, Romola Hal and many of their daughters, and the trotting family of  Goddess Hanover as an example in the North American trotting families, who have added something extra to our breeding lines well over and above what could be expected from good individuals.

In fact, they are clusters of excellent genes that have enough power as rivers of influence to cut through the rocky landscape, spread out and forge fertile valleys and tributaries. Here is a big tip o’ the hat to those wonderful families.

How lucky we were to get Bachelor Hanover in New Zealand!

Bachelor Hanover stood in New Zealand 50 years ago – a new import from America after a very successful racing career but a slow start to breeding. He stood light stud duty at the North American Symphony Acres Stud Farm and was purchased by Jim Dalgety at that establishment’s dispersal sale in 1964. Tip o’ the hat to Jim Dalgety and I will try to follow this blog up with some more personal recollections if possible.

My personal connection is through my mare Zenterfold (In The Pocket x Zenola Star). Zenola Star is the grand-daughter of Zenover who was 3×4 to Spinster through her sire Bachelor Hanover and her grandsire on her maternal line, Light Brigade. When I went into a deal to breed Zenterfold with Aria and Geoff Small I noted that Aria said: “The family likes The Old Maid”. That was the only tip I got, but it has served me very well. It is why I have kept a Grinfromeartoear mare as a broodmare, who is delivering good progeny so far.  I’m surfing the river currents. If you are interested, check out the pedigree of my latest foal from Shadow Play x The Blue Lotus, just arrived and a full sister to the colt I sold previously, and you will understand why I went with this match. I may end up surfing to Somebeachsomewhere lol. (Note for North American readers, the Grinfromeartoear brother racing up your way is called Destination Moon N)

Back to the Bachelor

Bachelor Hanover courtesy of Addinton Timeline

Bachelor Hanover, son of The Old Maid, half brother to Dancer Hanover and a really great contributor to our “down under” bloodlines.

Bachelor Hanover was a very good racehorse – amongst many other achievements he was 2nd in the first American Messenger Stakes ever run: 1956 Messenger – 2nd behind stablemate Belle Acton (Harnesslink), a good sire and a really potent broodmare sire. This harness racing video shows Bachelor Hanover and Stanley Dancer in the very first edition of the Messenger Stakes in 1956 at Roosevelt Raceway link

His presence in pedigrees of New Zealand families gives us a link back to one of the finest and most influential modern maternal families – Spinster, a daughter of Spencer and the Belwin mare Minnetonka. Spinster’s legacy includes another sire so influential in NZ pedigrees, her son Light Brigade (by Volomite). But also Lady Scotland and Vixen (by Scotland), and the sire Thunder On (also by Scotland).

Her daughter The Old Maid, the dam of Bachelor Hanover, has proven a potent influence in many pedigrees, and a line with some quite specific preferences as well as generic great genes. As well as Bachelor Hanover the Spinster line has produced many top horses and solid families (a detailed legacy is better traced on Classic Families).

Just some of the results of The Old Maid branch:

Frugal Gourmet, French Chef, Sutter Hanover, Plat du Jour, Kentucky Spur, Thorpe Hanover, Clever Innocence, Tylers Best, Bettor Be Perfect, Jimmy Nail, Motu Hatrick, Kiwi Scooter, Major In Art, Man Around Town, Dave Palone, Wakizashi Hanover…In no particular order and missing a lot of really interesting highways and byways of this family and plenty of other top performers.

Bachelor Hanover is well known down under, but his Adios half brother Dancer Hanover was the North American star – he nicked so well with Romola Hanover so appears in many topline modern sire pedigrees, and he is the damsire of Albatross.

Like many of these really pivotal families you can find as many weaker branches as successful branches, and sometimes there are unexpected later eruptions of talent from either one. What helps is where breeders keep adding quality and more importantly compatibility to a line.

Just “coping” with the good “guy”

The sire of Bachelor Hanover is Nibble Hanover. For someone like me, who often focuses on the maternal lines of horses, my exploration of Nibble Hanover’s contribution in so many quality pedigrees has been a relevation. Check out my various blogs in the series starting here. What did Nibble Hanover bring to the match with The Old Maid? Added his classic families –  dam Justissima with her double dose of Expectation/Miss Copeland, including on the maternal side the wonderful broodmare Fruity Worthy who deserves a blog of her own. And remember Nibble Hanover is part of the Guy Axworthy sire line, and what a potent horse Guy Axworthy was. That’s the same sire line that comes through with The Old Maid, via Guy Abbey. And through Guy Abbey’s maternal line, The Old Maid gets that incredible Princess Royal maternal influence I have blogged about before. And her damsire Spencer also pulls down the Guy Axworthy sire line, plus brings in that other great (x factor) line of Ethelwyn/Kathleen.

Going way back in Bachelor Hanover’s pedigree you find that both Nibble Hanover and The Old Maid have strong influences from the U2 family of Minnehaha. In Nibble Hanover’s pedigree it come via two sons of Beautiful Bells – Chimes and Belwin. Belwin is buried in his sire’s line as the damsire of Calumet Chuck, and Adbell more accessible in his maternal line as the sire of Fruition. With Bachelor Hanover’s damline,  The Old Maid brings Minnehaha in again twice via her sire Guy Abbey (Chimes on his sire and maternal line), and twice from her dam Minnetonka. (There is also another reference from Spinster’s sire Spencer, tracing to a sire called Bow Belles from a daughter of Minnehaha.

Crikey, that kind of really old pedigree tracing back is not usually my “go”. These duplications probably reflect the small world that standardbred breeding was back then – and still is now. But it also is an example of successful line breeding to quality maternal and paternal influences. “Form is intermittent but class endures”. Often it needs a fresh kick up the arse along the way, a wake up call on type and ability, but if you time it right, reaching back to really strong quality influences and repeating them (or what they love) seems to work wonders. I recommend you spend a lazy hour just grazing this amazing family back and forth on Classic Familes, the free database that gives successful (as defined on the site) offspring of sires and mares.

 

Bachelor Hanover died in 1975 but he had made a great contribution to our breed – read about him on Addington Raceway Timeline here which is a lovely summary of his career and contribution.

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A real test of our choices as breeders is if you are as pleased to get a filly as a foal. My latest foal on the ground is at Macca Lodge and is a nice filly from a totally underrated sire but $3 million earner Mr Feelgood and from my Dream Away mare Dreamy Romance.

I’ve done heaps of blogs on Mr Feelgood and still cannot understand why NZ breeders are not queuing up for this sire.  Bloodlines to die for and so currently of interest, with his maternal line tracing direct to Leah Almahurst and then to K Nora! And then Grinfromeartoear’s pedigree is chokka of older strong elements in his maternal line – classic lines of Golden Miss and Breath O’Spring. Wow! The match with Dreamy Romance is exactly what I wanted, for reasons I have blogged about before.

So I am really pleased to get a filly as she will have access to a load of good things in this match.

Now I’m interested in linking up with others who would like to have a filly to race and breed from, carrying on this match from great bloodlines, and having the goal of making the best Romola Hal branch in this part of the world.

The filly (to be named My Feelgood Romance) is from the mare I bought at a dispersal sale a few years ago from Roydon Lodge – Dreamy Romance (by Dream Away) and a descendant of the great Romola Hal, one of the few maternal branches of that amazing American family in New Zealand. So I am delighted to see a healthy filly foal on the ground at Macca Lodge. This is the branch of Romola Hall that produced good race horses Roymark, Precious Romance, and Beyond The Silence. But its mares have not really had breeding opportunities to the right lines, in my view.

I’m putting my resources where my mouth is and breeding the mare to sires I can afford but which really fit the bill for compatibility and stepping the mare up.

As usual for the mare this filly looks a good size and attractive – the previous filly foal I bred was by Big Jim and a very nice type with Kirsten Barclay. I believe this branch of Romola Hal can step up again and with careful selection we can get a great family going. Read my blog on both these matches here

If anyone would like to become involved, let me know.  I’d love to build a small syndicate around this, for racing and breeding.

Contact me on bee.raglan@xtra.co.nz if you would like to be involved.

Mr Feelgood filly

My Feelgood Romance – a filly by Mr Feelgood from Dreamy Romance

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I was interested to read about a pilot in Canada using drones to monitor races and give stewards a better view of what happens during a race. Read Harnesslink article 

There are a lot of issues to consider including any disruption to horses and drivers, but like an older style blimp over a sporting event, there is now more potential than ever to offer punters and others just wanting to be entertained a more comprehensive and exciting coverage of races.

Back in November 2012 I blogged about how we could make the harness racing product more entertaining and competitive with other forms of betting and entertainment, and I see drones as being a technical breakthrough that can really assist, if we are willing to experiment.

In that 2012 blog some of the ideas I suggested were:

  • Improvements for remote viewing might involve GPS tracking devices on horses/drivers so individual punters can select and follow a horse’s position through a race (it is often not easy to see what is happening during a race, which can be a factor in viewers losing interest), but it could be even more personalised so a remote viewer (via smart phone or live streaming) can view the race in several different modes simultaneously to follow their horse/s’ progress. The race caller and cameraman are good, but could be combined with today’s technological advances.
  • Much improved camera angles – the high wire camera at Flemington on Melbourne Cup Day blew me away – I got a much better understanding of the early part of the race, distance between runners, interference etc than I ever had from a side on or head on camera. Yes, putting overhead cameras on courses would be horrifically expensive, but what a selling point, what a product!
  • Developing some very cool apps for smart phones might include packages where you can place a bet and order the product (race) to be delivered to your phone live or recorded. No need to interrupt what other entertaining you are doing, you will be reminded at the time and the race sent to your phone in the format you selected – “GPS overhead view plus voice commentary with results/time/dividends.” Or whatever suits your needs. Subscriber services could have a field day – perhaps this is already available somewhere?

So although I am neither young nor techie by nature, that won’t stop me thinking ahead. We all need to, for the sake of our industry.

You can read the full 2012 blog here: A race – the short form of the game

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Thanks to breeder David Phillips, I now have much more information on this family, and with his permission will reproduce some of it here.

It is a lovely story of belief in a mare and she has repaid affection and belief by establishing one of the top modern breeding families in New Zealand.

David’s connection with the family started when he bought Tabella Beth’s dam Double Tested as an older empty mare. He points out the New Zealand origins of the family start with Roydon Lodge importing the mare Belle Keller, as mentioned in Roy McKenzie’s book “The Roydon Heritage” on p119:

Certissimus, one of New Zealand’s greatest juvenile trotters, traced to Belle Keller imported by JR [Roy’s father John Robert McKenzie] in the 1920s. Before shipping her to New Zealand, he had her bred to Arion Guy 1:591/4.

The result of that match was Roydon’s Pride, the dam of Certissimus. Belle Keller was then bred to Arion Guy for another daughter called Past Memories. (In fact all six of the foals bred here from Belle Keller were fillies). Four more generations on from Past Memories is Double Tested. I’ll let David pick up the story:

I bought Tabella Beth’s dam (Double Tested) in dispersal sale when I was as just starting out in harness racing/breeding – and I bought several older mares as they were in my price bracket (I still to this day love older mares who have already been good dams of some quality winners) . Had I then been more experienced, I probably would not have bought Double Tested….from memory she cost me about $400 and was old and empty, and had not got in foal for some years. I bought her at auction from Don Hayes if my recall is correct. When I got Double Tested home I realised she was more like stallion, and had lost her femininity, and I guess her ability to breed. She also later demonstrated with a petite feminine mare a definite lesbian tendency. But that is another story? It was a journey and a half to get her cycling again as a female..The next breeding season I sent Double Tested and her girlfriend to Nandina Stud with strict request to Max Allan that the two mares were not to be separated, and both would likely come into season same days and be served same days….in end they were served by Able Bye Bye (a sire I loved then, and still do today). Both mares got pregnant and both had their filly foals within day of each other. Double Tested’s filly was Tabella Beth.
David describes Tabella Beth as an amazing horse from day one.
When a foal beside her mum, Tabella Beth would come running up to me and be by my side as I would each day take mares and foals feed. As I moved and fed out into each feed jn paddock she was more interested in human contact, than her daily feed; but she would then get the last feed.
It was not till her mid 3yo year that she demonstrated high sustained speed for trainer John Butcher, and won 4 of her last 7 races as 3yo filly.
For racing in NZ Tabella Beth was one of first horses we syndicated- via one of the first standardbred syndicates in NZ called ‘Redvale’. That was before days of National Bloodstock. My (now late) parents were members of that Tabella Beth Redvale racing syndicate. Some people I still meet in harness racing today were also syndicate members racing Tabella Beth. I can still recall a race at ATC, when she was favourite, and Reg Clapp saying words such as: “the favourite Tabella Beth would have to have wings to win from there” (she was last at about 400m mark). She had remarkable quick sprint, and that night at ATC she flew past the entire field in length of ATC straight, and duly won.
After showing such high speed, Tabella Beth was then sold for 100k to a USA buyer (the Pelling family). But that’s when a sentimental connection and a belief in a very good mare served New Zealand well.
After we set-up National Bloodstock, I was determined to buy Tabella Beth back from USA, to bring her back to NZ to breed to our new sire Soky’s Atom. Soky had a lot of Adios blood on dam line – which i sought to mix with the Able Bye Bye links.  In USA Tabella Beth was, I heard, used as a betting horse – and so her form was sporadic. In one USA race she was meant to win, she only got clear very late in that race, and flew home to miss by nose in world record time for mares. I was in USA, and watched her in her last race at the Meadowlands – the day before her auction sale. I had gone to see her in her stable the morning of the race and she looked terrible – thin and dejected. When I went into her stall with her, she went from drab and dejected to alert and with an amazing recall of her and my prior positive and loving relationship, and she perked up in an incredible way. Then she put her head under my armpit, and snuggled up – and I knew I had to buy her back, no matter what the cost.  The then USA agent David James (now master of Empire Stallions) was with me when I visited her in her stall that day, and we were both going to Meadowlands racetrack that night – where she was racing. I said to David she would win that night – given she knew I would be watching her. But David pointed out the strong field, and showed her poor current race form, and reminded me of her poor physical condition. She was the outsider of the field – and she duly sprinted down the outside from last and won easily. She took her lifetime mark that night. I am not a better/punter of any substance – but I did put a few dollars on her that night. I re-purchased Tabella Beth from that next day dispersal sale in New Jersey, USA – but the Yankees saw me coming, so I overpaid to buy her back for NZ.
On her arrival in New Zealand, Dave Phillips was given the news that the mare had had one of her ovaries removed, probably when with a USA trainer and it was possible that she could not bred at all!  The good news is she did breed. Today (despite not many horses emanating yet from her line) she has become one of most influential broodmares in NZ history. She was awarded the Broodmare of Excellence in 2001/02 in NZ.
Tabella Beth foaled a total of 13 foals who lived past yearling age (Atom Of Zeus died soon after being named), of which 5 were fillies. All 8 of her colts won. In terms of type and race ability David Phillips rates them:
Her best filly, in my view, was Spirit of Bethlehem, who we never even got broken in. She in turn only left 1 filly from 2 foals…and that filly had lightening speed when educated by Malcolm Shinn, and she was injured, and is now top class broodmare Spirit of Eros. Spirit of Beth I would have ranked equal second of all of Tabella Beth’s fillies, along with Star Of Bethlehem. And then Sokys Sunday a distant fourth on type and she had no race ability. However this dam has herself left four individual 100k+ winners, and I bred Asoka from her daughter [New York On Sunday], and he has also won over $160,000 in Australia and is now in USA. BUT then it also depends on sire choices of each generation.

In his view the family has crossed very well with In The Pocket but not so well with Christian Cullen in terms of racing success (Bethany, the dam of Lazarus, is by Christian Cullen, but was unraced herself). In David’s view the best crosses for this mare’s dam family include:

  1. Bettor’s Delight
  2. Real Desire
  3. Sweet Lou
  4. Somebeachsomewhere and his sons
  5. Art Major
  6. American Ideal
  7. Tintin In America
  8. Mach Three and his sons- especially with Soky Atom to dam (Auckland Reactor)
  9. Sands A Flyin
  10. Lis Mara
  11. Elsu
  12. Ponder
  13. McArdle
Spirit Of Beth

Spirit Of Beth, grandam of Lazarus, is now at Benstud in Australia. Her two last foals are both mares – a 2010 foal by Grinfromeartoear and a 2012 foal by Art Major. Both these mares are now broodmares for Benstud. Photo taken from Benstud website: http://www.benstudstandardbreds.com.au/

 

Many thanks to David Phillips for sharing this – and a lot more that I can’t fit in!
Just a footnote from me – one of Spirit Of Eros’ progeny is Spirit And Desire who has been one of my favourite mares to follow at the races, such a beautiful looking mare by Real Desire an one of his strongest. I see David has leased her and she is now in foal to American Ideal. Spirit And Desire is one branch of the family I will take particularly interest in following.

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Raging Bull sire

Raging Bull as a racehorse, for trainer Cran Dalgety.

Keeping any siring line going over time is not easy. They bloom and fade, then bloom again. Dominance changes, and a sire line also needs a good compatible or outcross mare pool to work with, and vice versa. So there is a lot of genetic logic behind the changing fortunes of siring lines. What was likely 10 or 20 years ago – the growing dominance of the Artsplace sire line, the struggle to keep Direct Scooter’s line alive, several Western Hanover sons not living up to expectations…. has turned around to become a blossoming of the Direct Scooter sire line in both hemispheres, a big burst from Western Hanover thanks to Western Ideal, and Artsplace more or less relying on Art Major and his sons to keep that line going – but recent entrants Sportswriter and Sweet Lou could change that if Art Major doesn’t find a really strong son and heir soon.

Cam Fella has had huge success with his sons in North America, but Bettor’s Delight is the only real star sire as a grandson available here, and he has yet to find a really strong successor, the anointed son to carry on the Cam Fella siring line.  Ironically, it is a son of his brother Roll With Joe who may pick up that mantle – Racing Hill, recently retired to stud, has a pedigree to die for. Check out his maternal line on Classic Families here, so many influences and strengths to tap into!

What about the In The Pocket/Direct Scooter line downunder?

In New Zealand we have our own conundrum which I’ve blogged about before – the search for a sire to continue the highly successful In The Pocket line. With his super racehorses and well-bred sons Courage Under Fire, Changeover and Christian Cullen, there seemed to be every chance that at least a few successors would come from those sires and carry on the mahe in a commercial way. But it has proved much harder. Changeover is still a work in progress as a sire, and needs more topline sons who also happen to be colts to have a chance to carry on that branch. Courage Under Fire is so admired as a sire and damsire, and his only siring son Lanercost is a low cost option standing in Queensland, Australia. Lanercost was a super racehorse, especially as a 2, 3 and 4yo and has solid New Zealand breeding on his side but he will have the job of upgrading the small numbers of mares he is likely to get, so he needs luck. So the likely successor was always going to come from Christian Cullen with his super record as a sire and big numbers over many years, and generally having the pick of our mares. But it is never that easy.

Sons of Christian Cullen as sires to date

Many have been or are being tried, yet none have stood out yet and some, for fertility or poor response reasons, have been moved to small studs in Australia or simply dropped out of sight. His siring sons have included (with total NZ bred live foals to date in brackets) – Pay Me Christian (36), Charles Bronson (36), Christian Fire (24), Gotta Go Cullen (133), Tomahawk (38), Ohoka Arizona (209), Justa Tiger (56), Gotta Go Cullect (406), Raging Bull (40), Stunin Cullen (78), Alta Christiano (7 – but stands at Alabar Australia where he has 81 live foals). As I will cover in more detail below, Gotta Go Cullect has had the most opportunity, but couldn’t covert it to performers, and I believe he has retired from breeding. Ohoka Arizona has been solid, but again his performers (apart from a couple of exceptions) are one or two win horses. Alta Christiano did much of his racing in Australia and won the WA Derby, which explains his appeal there, as well as Fake Left, who stood very successfully in Australia, being his damsire. If he gets the numbers and some early runs on the board, he’s a possible heir – and I’ll look at him more closely in a later blog. I’m proud to say he was a yearling I picked out years ago for one of my yearling sales “virtual stables”, such a good looking horse.

Why Raging Bull is different

GalleriaRaging Bull stands at goStallions (Noel Kennard) in the South Island of New Zealand for $1500 + gst. I’ve blogged about him previously – and the two yearlings I covered in that article sold for $27,000 and $22,000 respectively. Where he differs from almost all other sons of Christian Cullen is that his maternal line is solidly North American, being from an Artplace mare San Sophia who is a full sister to the extraordinarily good mare Galleria. Galleria paced 1.49 back in the late 1990s, when that sort of record was incredible, and earned US$1.8million. The bottom line of this pedigree is not well known to us at a glance – it is the U6 family, which is actually the maternal family of Albatross, Nihilator, and more recently Pure Country amongst others. We probably know it best as the Margaret Parrish family. I’m familiar with it because it is the maternal family of the mare Sophie’s Choice that I leased a few years ago to breed to Tintin In America (lovely foal, now 2yo gelding with trainer Maurice McKendry).

It is one of those really solid families, consistent rather than spectacular – although of course you would have to use spectacular for those incredible descendants listed above! But with the Artsplace element coming into the picture, it becomes a very classy option. The Christian Cullen x Artsplace mare cross not only resulted in Raging Bull but also (NZ breds) 23 foals of racing age, for 17 qualifiers and 12 winners to date. That’s 50% winners to foals, which is very good.

What I’m about to say is controversial but it is worth thinking about.

Over many decades we have slowly been improving the quality and performance of New Zealand standardbreds by bringing in some of the best bloodlines from North America – as sires and sometimes as imported mares for breeding. Royden Lodge and many others were doing this right back in the 1950s and before that. That’s how our maternal families have injections of top quality from sires like Bachelor Hanover (a son of two pivotal individuals Nibble Hanover and The Old Maid) and of course U Scott and Light Brigade who is a brother to The Old Maid. The upgrading of our stock continues to the present, with top sires from around the globe now available, pacers and trotters, to match with our mares and therefore move into our maternal families.

Christian Cullen, Courage Under Fire and Changeover are all the result of a match with American bred In The Pocket and NZ bred mares who have had some input along the way of American bred sires feeding into their maternal pedigree as damsires. Courage Under Fire has Vance Hanover and Adios Butler, for example. Changeover has Vance Hanover, Tuft, Light Brigade and U Scott. And Christian Cullen has Bo Scots Blue Chip, Overtrick, Lumber Dream and U Scott all bringing American breeding into the maternal pedigree.

If the principle over all these years is to upgrade by bringing in currently globally top bred/performed sires for our local bred mares, why not do the reverse – bring in the currently globally great mares and damsires for our locally bred sires?

Importing in American bred mares is difficult to achieve logistically and financially – but it is done, and Raging Bull is an example. The result is that his pedigree is totally North American breeding apart from Christian Cullen’s maternal family (N1). It probably helped him as a racehorse, and now it gives him an edge as a sire too.

What this means is that Raging Bull has a lot more modern classic families to draw on to deal with the varying quality of mares he may get as a low-priced sire. And if breeders sent better quality mares to him with North American elements that work with his breeding, then that is even better.

For these reasons, he stands out to me as having some credentials that could make him a very successful sire – if only he gets the numbers and the quality. There are already some wellbred mares with his foals, including 2 or 3 that create a 3×3 to Artsplace in his pedigree. In my dreams, what a match he would be with the now 21 year old great broodmare Classic Blue Jeans! Or look at the potential match with a mare like Halley Parker! (Scroll down for this testmatching thanks to the goStallions website but it is reverse sex 3×3 to Artplace and reverse sex 4×4 to Direct Scooter.

Compared to Gotta Go Cullect

Let me look at  another son of Christian Cullen with US influences in his maternal line – Gotta Go Cullect. He had plenty of chances and sired some capable types, but overall he has not succeeded as a sire, let alone as the potential inheritor of the In The Pocket sire line. He was a lovely looking athletic horse, retired halfway through his 3yo season because of injury. He was promoted well by Alabar as the “breeders choice as Christian Cullen’s successor” but hindsight says No. However it was not a silly notion at all. He had a lot going for him. His maternal family is interesting – it is the US family of Norice (U30), although Norice was imported and raced here in New Zealand and Australia before being bred (mainly to imported American sires but not entirely – her great-granddaughter Single Star is by Nelson Derby, a son of Norice which make Single Star 2×3 to the mare).

The best performed descendants of Single Star are found in the branches of her two U Scott daughters Petra Star (leading to the Sakantula branch with Ermis, Iraklis, and also Monkey King amongst the many descendants) and Riviera – her descendants include Mach Alert, but mainly the performers are in the branch belonging to Ruling Caste, where you will find Lochaburn, Ruling VC, Anvilanunoit, Bellam (who became a trotting sire here), Brabham, amongst her descendants along with the tough great mare Elect To Live who of course is Gotta Go Cullect’s dam. There is one other branch of Single Star’s family that is worth a mention – that’s from her Dillon Hall daughter Starlet and her daughter Morano Star. The many descendents from branches of that family include Courage to Rule (by Courage Under Fire) and Star Nurse’s descendants including Starship, Ima Rocket Star, and Anvil’s Star.

So the maternal family is no slug at all. But although the maternal bottom line is American, the sires along the way have perhaps been lacking a real top quality sire in recent times – the last three for Gotta Go Cullect were Live Or Die, Lopez Hanover, Card Shark. While Raging Bull’s equivalents were Artsplace, Sherman Almahurst (questionable), and Striking Image (son of Strike Out who is a son of Golden Miss). Striking Image is the damsire of Lucky Lady, the dam of Camluck and grandam of Kikikatie amongst others.

And finally…

As blog readers know, I like exploring the “what ifs” but there are times when I put my money where my mouth is.

This is one such time, and I will be booking my mare The Blue Lotus to Raging Bull for this coming season. The match is unusual in that it is a reverse sex 3×3 to both Artsplace and In The Pocket, two very different but highest quality sires and damsires. It is a bold match, but I really like the balance of it and that there are other complementaries like Breath O Spring, Good Time and Race Time pulling threads together behind the scenes. There is also a duplication further back to Golden Miss via Blue Horizon and Striking Image, and her known love affair with Shadow Wave who is also in the mare’s maternal pedigree. As you know, the Blue Lotus is a full brother to Destination Moon who has now earned over $100,000 and a half sister to Tintin In America, so this is a strong family.

Going right back to one of the original articles I wrote which compared breeding to fairisle knitting (amongst other things), this is a jersey with a really bold two-colour scheme – perhaps red and black, but the pattern when you look closely is more complex than it seems, and there is a touch of white coming in to really highlight the other colours.

 

Potential mating of Raging Bull with Grinfromeartoear mare The Blue Lotus

Raging Bull x The Blue Lotus

Potential mating of Raging Bull with unraced Art Major mare Hallie Parker

Pedigree match Raging Bull x Hallie Parker

 

 

 

 

 

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I confess (lol) I’m not religious, but I was saying a little prayer for Father Frank coming around the home bend at the Cambridge workouts on Saturday (15 October 2016).

He had trailed nicely all the way around but was he going to fade out? He didn’t, driver Mark Johnson brought him out and he ran past and away from the nice Rev The Chev and David Butcher. Workout One: Won. (You count your blessings with Father Frank…)

Our Stretto family Father Frank

Father Frank (Real Desire x Gold Return)

Father Frank was a yearling (Real Desire x Gold Return) bred by the Yesbergs that I picked out and bid on at the 2014 Christchurch yearling sales. He went to Frank Cooney, who also liked his look a lot, and I ended up taking a quarter share. Fast forward a few preps and some racing, it was clear Father Frank needed time. The penny, as they say, had not dropped. He was a bit lost, he had issues. The four owners agreed to sell or lease, and eventually he ended up down here at Cambridge with Kym Kearns so I get to see him regularly and keep in close touch with his progress,

Kym is, like many hobby trainers, putting in huge hours before and after a full time job at Cambridge Library. I have nothing but admiration for her discipline and patience. As a trainer she has the advantage of being able to really “read” horses and get into their world. That’s a gift, and something she had from a very young age in spite of having no family background in horses.

So it is lovely to see the very early mornings, the attention to detail, the bonding with Father Frank coming to fruition in a horse that is gradually (as Frank Cooney guessed) getting some strength and confidence.  But boy, it takes time! Has he any real ability? Father Frank is a “work in progress” and who knows what will happen at the races. Kym likes to keep hopes up but expectations low. That way she can enjoy the progress being made. He’s a big, lanky Real Desire who is only just filling out a bit now. The penny still hasn’t dropped, but it might be hovering on the edge.

Out of interest, he is closely related to Missinmemate (by Grinfromeartoear) and Bettor Be Gold who picked up the Sires Stakes 2yo Silver for the Purdon/Rasmussen team in May this year. The connection is full sisters Return To Gold and Gold Return by the Australian based sire Armbro Operative, who are grand-daughters of (Our) Stretto, such a great lovely mare.

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