Archive for the ‘Horses’ Category

Peak, Alabar stallion parade 2015

Peak, Alabar stallion parade, October 2015  (Photo: Bee Pears)

He's Watching, Alabar stallion parade October 2015

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

Sunshine Beach, Alabar stallion parade October 2015

Sunshine Beach, Alabar stallion parade October 2015  (Photo: Bee Pears)

Today I saw some serious horses. And actually got to hold and  get photo taken with a World Champion. Be still my heart! (And thanks to Wayne at Alabar for trusting me for a few minutes to hold the lead rope….)

Very different types paraded at Alabar this afternoon and all of them looked great.

I’ve covered He’s Watching and Sunshine Beach in previous blogs but it was good to see them in person. I know a lot of breeders don’t worry about seeing a horse in person. I really relish the opportunity. You get to understand a wee bit more about his personality and his conformation. And with most stallion parades, they will tell you a few anecdotes that help flesh out the picture of a potential mate for your mare.

If you care, try to be there.

Some of us breeders were there today, and good to see them. This is a great chance to look up close at the best horses in the world. Why would you not want to?

But yes, many cannot, so here are some photos to help share the moment.

And can’t help but add in this one of Bee with He’s Watching….

He's Watching

Bee Pears with champion race horse He’s Watching  (Photo: Thanks to Lynn Neal)



Read Full Post »

I remember hearing “back in the day” about mares being left down in the back paddock, getting in foal to some convenient or cheap sire, and breeding foal after foal who hardly ever made it to the races. I used to look through the stud books when I started out breeding and saw the results, and vowed never to go that path even if I had the land to do it.

Time passes and now breeding numbers are down and costs are up – and land is scarce. Back paddocks are in maize or dairy cows, or lavender plants or houses.

Local cheap sires have to prove themselves up against tough opposition on the track and the breeding barn.

Yes, it is an overall decline in numbers, but it also reflects the reality of economic shifts and time moving on. These days breeders need to be innovative, canny and passionate. And – a particular requirement of mine – thoughtful.

THINK b4breeding.

Today Kym and I have washed, brushed and trimmed up two of our tiny broodmare band. And we are so proud of them.

We know them well, and their families. We follow their foals’ progress as supporters but also to see what we can learn.

Our mares Sun Isa and The Blue Lotus have spent the past few of months together in a lovely paddock, enjoying each others company and with visits every second day by yours truly after work to give them the broodmare feed they need this time of their pregnancy.

Today we floated The Blue Lotus to Alabar, where we also got up close (but not too personal!) with the lovely looking, great natured Peak, trotting sire, who was getting a wash-down from Wayne who was on hand to receive our mare.

We’ll see more of Peak tomorrow when we go back up to Auckland to deliver Sun Isa to Woodlands and then track over to Alabar for the parade of Peak, He’s Watching and Sunshine Beach, three really interesting stallions on Sunday 4 October 2015 at Alabar.

Hope to bring you photos of that tomorrow night.

Below – we are so proud of our mares. Be proud of yours, get to know them, listen to what they need.

Kym with Sun Isa, 3 October 2015

Kym Kearns with Sun Isa, 3 October 2015

The Blue Lotus and Bee Pears October 2015

Bee Pears with The Blue Lotus, 3 October 2015

Read Full Post »

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

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

Mister Big, sire

Mister Big, sire

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

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

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

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

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

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

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





Read Full Post »

As I touched on in my last blog, we’ve got a good range of sizes of sires now, including several that are only just on 15 or 15.1 hands and some that are over 16 hands.

I know that yearlings who are “good size” will catch the buyer’s eye, but my own ignorance about what determines foal size has led me to do a wee bit of research on the topic. Do small sires leave small foals? Do big mares always leave big foals?


Mare Sophie’s Choice with her newly born Tintin In America colt foal October last year

I’ve always followed the rule that you don’t put a very big sire to a very small mare because of the risks of rupturing the mare or making the birth more difficult, and that you are careful around your choice of sire for a maiden mare. Likewise I’m aware that people recommend a smaller sized sire for a particularly big mare, or at least a sire that seems to leave smaller types.

However in practice, finding a sire that leaves a consistent size of foal (big, small or medium) is really difficult. Most of the great ones can stamp in terms of type, but not necessarily in terms of size. Think Bettor’s Delight. Or Courage Under Fire. They often have a certain look about them, but not necessarily size.

It’s more common to find a mare who stamps her foals according to size, particularly if she is big.

And that’s pretty much what the research seems to show. The foals size is more in the mare’s hands – or rather, in her uterus.

But even then, consistency of size is not something sires or mares seem to care about much. Many sires are known for “throwing them all sizes” and mares can be likewise.

My own experience with a medium sized mare over a number of foals is an example. Zenterfold’s her first foal (Tintin In America by McArdle, 16h) was a strong, nuggety foal, not tall but with a decent length of barrel and grew to just 15.1h. Next foal was Zenstar (even smaller in size, by Falcon Seelster, 15.3h). Zenterfold also has left a couple of medium sized types (both by Grinfromeartoear, 15.3) and she has also left a tall colt (by Real Desire, 15.2h) who could end up well over 15.3h, plus a very big type to Geoff and Aria Small who was a colt by Elsu – and of course Elsu is only 15.2h himself.

So there are no golden rules.

Where size does seem consistent, there may be strong enduring family traits (genetic) that are influencing things beyond the immediate match of that mare and that sire.

Here’s a readable article that looks at a pretty scientific study about the comparative size of foals from older maiden mares and foals from mares who had bred several foals.

Here’s a quote from another article that looks at whether crossing a big with a little means you get a medium….

Let us, for a brief moment, take a step back into history and look at the work of Gregor Mendel. He decided to produce hybrid plants by crossing purple flowered plants with white flowered plants. He also did the reverse. He fertilized plants that produced purple flowers with pollen from a white-flower plant.

At that time, one of the prevailing theories was that if plants with opposing colors were crossed, the result would be a plant that was intermediate in color. In the case of the white-flowered plant being crossed with the purple-flowered, the result might have been expected to be a light lavender.

Mendel proved that theory to be groundless. He did not get any plants with intermediate coloration with a crossbreeding program.

All of this brings us back to our earlier scenario involving the breeding of a short mare to a tall stallion. Genetics will dictate that we won’t get the in-between horse we have been seeking. The offspring would have inherited one or the other of the parent’s genes for growth. If it received the mare’s gene for growth, the offspring will likely wind up being short. If it inherited the stallion’s growth gene, it will likely be tall. This does not mean that the offspring will be the exact size of one of the parents. It means that one or the other of the genes-tall or short-will be expressed, and it is unlikely that the resultant foal would wind up midway between its parents in size.

Read the full article here

Another study of sport horses (Brazil, April 2015) focus just on the foal’s weight soon after birth, and is reported by Kentucky Equine Reasearch

Analysis of data showed that bigger, older, and multiparous mares had larger foals than smaller, younger mares foaling for the first time. The foals from larger mares were taller and heavier and had greater thoracic perimeters at birth and also at 7 and 30 days of age. Older and multiparous mares also produced heavier placentas, which is possibly related to the better ability of these mares to allow the uterus to expand during pregnancy. Fetal nutrition is provided by the placenta, and a small or poorly developed placenta may be less able to deliver nutrients and support fetal growth.

There were no significant relationships between sire characteristics and neonatal foal characteristics for the horses in this study.

Or this article in the journal Reproduction – “The influence of maternal size on pre- and postnatal growth in the horse: III Postnatal growth” by W R Allen, Sandra Wilsher, Clare Tiplady and R M Butterfield, which compares the outcomes from ‘restricted’ in utero existence with ‘luxurious’ in utero existence, and concluded their were enduring differences in size but these were not statistically significant.

Check this range of views and evidence about size of mares, sires and foals from this (archived) forum.

And at the other extreme here is the 2008 masters thesis on NZ thoroughbred mares by Luciana de Freitas Aiex.

What seems to be common ground is that the size of the mare’s uterus does have a big influence in most cases the size of a foal at birth, and that is nature controlling things so a mare is not damaged during birthing (although this is not necessarily a fail-safe as we know).

And most studies seem to show that foals born smaller often don’t take too long to catch up. The initial size on the ground is not what will determine how big they grow in the end.

One reply in a forum struck me as very clear and sensible:

“A longer bodied wide ribbed mare will give more room for a foal to develop than a short bodied narrow ribbed mare will. There are always variables such as proper nutrition and mare care. Once the foal is born, again, proper nutrition, worming and other necessary vet type care are will affect the size of the foal. However after that, the final size of a foal seems to be a mix of a range of factors.” (including genetics).

Tintin In America yearling

Sophie’s Choice x Tintin In America colt now a strapping type of yearling

So is there a clear answer? It is certainly not as simple as:


As most breeders will tell you, it is better for a broodmare to have a longer and wider body than to be narrower and short-coupled, regardless of her height.

In other words look for SHAPE rather than size.

The wellbeing of a mare and foal during the whole process of pregnancy (and in particular the proper nutrition of the mare during her pregnancy) and the raising of the foal are just as important in building a horse to the best size it can be.


Read Full Post »

Addington main stand fire

Addington main stand fire

A fire alarm callout at Alexandra Park tonight recalled the historical event from 1916 when the stand caught fire at Addington raceway.

I recall a number of photos of the event, and some of them show not only the blazing stand, but the on track punters turning their backs on the fire to watch the exciting final straight finish of the race that was happening at the time. Go, you passionate harness racing followers!  It was, after all, NZ Cup Day.

Another fire in the stand happened in the 1950s, again at Addington.

Is this the night for Courage Under Fire horses to show their worth?
Good to see the old guy is still available to Australian breeders at $5,500, and he deserves a good book. One of my all-time favourites is “Might Mouse” as he was known. As smaller horses can show as racers and sires (like Bettor’s Delight, Tintin In America, Highview Tommy, and in older days ones like Good Time), size only matters when it comes to the size of the cup you win or the stakes you make.

Update later same night: Ah, there you go, winner of the last at Forbury Park tonight a talented 4yo Courage Under Fire x Denice’s Dream (Armbro Operative) who now has 8 starts for 2 wins and 3 seconds. Nice. Australian blog readers might know the family through (I’m Elmer Fudd) who got about 8 wins and $50,000+ here before crossing the ditch to more or less double that in total.

Read Full Post »

It’s always great to see a horse you’ve bred make it to the racetrack, even if it is low key workouts at Alexandra Park.

This morning it was the 3yo Angus Hall trotter Kym Kearns bred from her mare Sun Isa, so he is a half-brother to Flying Isa.

She named him after the successful NZ V8 SuperTourer driver, Angus Fogg.

The colt had his first workout at the Park under Derek Balle’s colours. He was purchased by John Street (Lincoln Farms) at the 2013 yearling sales but was never a natural 2yo. He simply kept growing, and his gait wasn’t great at first. So Lincoln Farms made the call to send him to Derek Balle, who is so good with trotters, and now – at a majestic 16.1h – he is starting to get the hang of it.

Angus Fogg didn’t disappoint today, getting away faultlessly from the standing start and maintaining the lead at a qualifying sort of rate until the last 20m when he skipped and broke. Derek said it was his fault, not the horse’s, and he remained very pleased with the run.

On course to watch him was his namesake Angus Fogg and partner Tracy Smytheman, who really enjoyed the experience. They’ve seen Angus as a wee foal and now he’s a big handsome good-natured fellow with plenty of fun ahead.

Angus Fogg Derek Balle and Angus Fogg

Namesake Angus Fogg and Derek Balle with Angus Fogg. Photo Bee Pears

Angus Fogg 3yo trotting colt by Angus Hall from Sun Isa.

Angus Fogg – 3yo trotting colt by Angus Hall from Sun Isa – at the workouts 2 May 2015. Photo Bee Pears.

Angus Fogg with Angus Fogg

Angus Fogg giving a few speed tips to Angus Fogg. Photo Bee Pears.

  • Read more about his pedigree and background here and here.
  • Read about Angus Fogg, racing car driver here.


Read Full Post »

It’s been pouring with rain most of the day, and our four weanings have been stoically waiting it out. Then at last a break in the weather! And oh boy, the Rock N Roll Heaven filly just couldn’t hold herself back. How could the Shadow Play colt not be in awe?

Rock N roll Heaven filly from Zenterfold

Hey look at me!

Rock N Roll Heaven filly with Shadow Play colt

Oi, I said look at me!

Rock N Roll Heaven filly

You’re going to miss it…

Rock N Roll Heaven filly x Zenterfold

Can’t hold it much longer!

Rock N Roll Heaven filly

Last chance…

Rock N Roll Heaven filly


Read Full Post »

Blog readers will be familiar with the story of “Sam”, or Driving The Dragon, our lovely 5yo mare who progressed from a weanling bought from Alabar, to a 2yo qualifier, to a mature racing mare with just a handful of starts. Then she went on a winning rampage and chalked up 5 wins, all in defining bold style, before being sold to Carmen Auciello in North America with just 15 races under her belt. Her last race here was in early January and then she went through a brief but acute illness before recovering very well and being exported.

She obviously coped with the trip really well, as she qualified in Ontario recently with an eye-catching 4th behind a couple of open class mares.

So she went out favourite in her first start today at Mohawk in a Fillies and Mares $20,000, and although trainer Auciello could have started her in an easier class, he opted to enter her in this one for decent money, as he prefers to do. He obviously felt confident in her ability. She didn’t let him down – as Drivingthedragon N she shot out from her 6 draw to a good lead, extended that to 4 or 5 lengths and eased up towards the finish line to win by 2 lengths and in 1.53-3.

Love you Sam!

Drivingthedragon N

Bee saying goodbye to Sam late January in Cambridge, New Zealand.


Read Full Post »

It’s been a bit of a rollercoaster ride last few of weeks, starting with yet another bold win by Driving The Dragon at the country meeting at Tauherenikau, but followed  about 10 days later by her becoming very ill and having to get transported to Hamilton vet hospital. However thanks to very prompt action by trainer Geoffrey Small and the vets involved, she not only pulled through but has recovered quickly and fully, and has now been vetted and sold to America. She flies out on Friday.

We have grown very fond of “Sam”, not just because she stepped up and did us proud (6 starts this season for 5 wins and a 2nd, and that makes her lifetime stats to date 15 starts, 5 wins, 2 seconds, 1 third, $22,394) but because she is such a willing, lovely natured, beautiful mare.

As blog readers will know, we’ve had her on the market for ages at a very reasonable amount, which never changed even after she started her winning streak. But we hardly got any interest at all. And yet Driving The Dragon is one of those horses you just love to own and trainers love to train – they pay their way, give you a thrill and they always try their best. Giving horses time to mature often pays dividends. I’d like to acknowledge the role Barry Cullen played in her education and development, and of course Geoffrey Small for “clicking” so well with the mare and bringing out her potential.

We hope she will bring the same pleasure to her new owners as she has done for us.

Driving The Dragon with Kym Kearns

Driving The Dragon gets a goodbye from owner Kym Kearns – after a week of recuperating at home the 5-win mare was ready to go back to trainer Geoffrey Small and from there will fly out to America.

Read more about Driving The Dragon here from October 2014, before she started her season of winning!

Read Full Post »

Another itch

Got it!

Thanks to Bradford Duplisea for supplying this photo.

Scratch that itch part 2 - photo supplied by Bradford Duplisea.

Scratch that itch part 2 – photo supplied by Bradford Duplisea.

Read Full Post »

« Newer Posts - Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: