Archive for the ‘Pedigree matching’ Category

I was doing some research recently for a blog reader who has an Angus Hall mare he wants to breed from. What sire might suit? As always, I probe into the mare’s own pedigree and type, and try to identify the things that you would want to reinforce or build on, and the things that might be weakness to counteract.

It all led me, quite excitedly, to one of the French sires offered by Haras Des Trotteurs (loosely translated as The Trotters Stud Farm) which is doing down under breeders a huge favour by negotiating good deals to give more consistent access to frozen semen from top French sires.

Quaker Jet

French sire Quaker Jet

The sire that came up as a great match for the mare was Quaker Jet, a son of Love You but perhaps more importantly a grandson of the great Coktail Jet.

The thing that struck me most when looking at Quaker Jet’s pedigree is how beautifully balanced it is, to the point, almost, of in-breeding. He reminds me of pacing sire He’s Watching in that regard. I described that sire’s pedigree as “a perfect Easter Egg” and like Quaker Jet he offers huge opportunities to add fuel to the fire or to out-cross for “hybrid vigour”. But you have to think a bit.

Quaker Jet is 2 x 2 to half siblings Coktail Jet and Delmonica Jet, so the mare Armbro Glamour appears 3 x 3 in his pedigree, in the maternal line of his sire (Love You) and in the maternal line of his dam (Jenny Jet). Both Coktail Jet and Delmonica Jet were very well performed horses – Coktail Jet legendary at almost $2m EU, and Delmonica Jet 6 wins and over $100k EU.

But wait, there’s more! as they say in the “infomercials”.

Go back further in Armbro Glamour’s pedigree and you find a lot of really lovely influences that could add a lot of value to certain mares in this part of the world. The timing of Quaker Jet is almost perfect. Armbro Glamour comes from the incredibly important trotting family of Goddess Hanover. In this case, Cassin Hanover (a Hoot Mon daughter of Goddess Hanover, and so a sister to Arpege). Yes, this is the family of Angus Hall, Andover Hall, and Conway Hall, as well as Texas. Ayres and many others. And it is a family equally well known and highly regarded in Europe and North America. It is a family that likes finding itself again, but also has some well discovered “clicks” with sires/families like Speedy Count and Super Bowl.

But what does this mean for New Zealand and Australian trotting breeders?

It is great news. As I said, the timing is really good. Although we look to American sires to add speed to our down under trotting families, there is growing recognition that European sires (especially those with a dose of historical American breeding) will really enhance the quality of our trotters in the long term. Already some sires – like Love You – have caught the imagination. They may not be so much sires of speedy 2yo trotters, but they are sires of class and have the ability to strengthen and improve our mares.

And for breeders, that is gold. Well, gold at the end of the rainbow. But we all know that you have to keep building a stronger and stronger foundation to maximise the likelihood of consistent successful breeding. Looking at what works well with these bloodlines, I see strongly the influence of Speedy Count and of Super Bowl adding value when it counts, and folding back into the family in the pedigrees of some of the best offspring in modern times.

What is exciting is that we have some lines already here that could do well to look at Quaker Jet as a cross – older lines (such as Count Bay mares, Straphanger mares), as well as newer ones from the “Hall” brothers, particularly Angus Hall but in future Andover Hall. Some of these mares are at or will be reaching breeding age. Look at the potential there! Goddess Hanover is a driving force in those brother’s pedigrees, through Texas on their maternal line linking with Genya Hanover (a daughter of Ayres) on their sires maternal line.

Then let’s go wider. As I mentioned, this Goddess Hanover family clicks well with itself but also with Speedy Count and Super Bowl – those are the intersections that seem to really step up to another level. Not every time, but enough to make us sit up and take notice.

So here is a popular broodmare sire that is putting his hoof in the air for a chance with Quaker Jet – Armbro Invasion. Look at his pedigree, particularly his maternal line – and you will see a heap of added values to this match.

I will go into the detail in the next blog. But keen to hear from people who have thought about this and already acted on it.


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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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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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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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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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Brian Cowley is a thoughtful breeder and the winner of the competition I held a couple of years ago to find a match for my own mare The Blue Lotus. So although he says, “I haven’t been exactly consistent with my breeding strategy for Light Of The South”, that certainly doesn’t mean lack of thought. Light Of The South descends from the Romalie Hanover line of Romola Hanover, and as Brian points out she has another connection to the family through her sire Live Or Die, through Romoloa Hanover’s siring son Romeo Hanover. Her 2011 foal Articulight’s last start was last Thursday at the Metropolitan Racing Club in Christchurch where he ran on well for fourth on a quick pace.

Christchurch breeder Brian Cowley writes about his breeding choices for Light Of The South

Light of the South with Ohoka Arizona colt

Light of the South with Ohoka Arizona colt Oct 8 2014 – photo provided by Brian Cowley

Light Of The South progeny to date:

2009 b f Lyra Finn by Art Major
Breeder: Finash Bloodstock Limited
2011 b c Articulight (2.00.6,S*)by Art Official
Lifetime: 12 starts, 2 wins, 3 seconds
Breeder: B C Cowley
2012 bl f Luminary by Shark Gesture
Breeder: B C Cowley
2014 br c Word On The Street by Ohoka Arizona
Breeder: B C Cowley
2015 b c unregistered by Art Official
Breeder: B C Cowley

Because she carries Romola Hal blood via her sire, Live Or Die, and her dam, Natural Talker, I was keen to reintroduce it in her foal by a mating with Art Official whose sire, Art Major, traces to Romola Hal five generations back on his dam’s side. The result of the mating to Art Official was a colt, Articulight. Interestingly, although he receives Romola Hal blood from three different streams, there are no sire duplications until the fifth line of his pedigree.

When Shark Gesture came to town, I sent the three mares that I owned or held shares in to him. Bloodlines did not come into that decision. Shark Gesture was a magnificent racehorse with an outstanding temperament – and it did not hurt that his dam, Simple Gesture, was a half sister to the well-performed racehorse and sire Ponder. That union produced a filly, Luminary, who was broken in but, at three, has yet to be tried.

Light Of The South has had a yearling colt by Ohoka Arizona, whose progeny have recorded 42 wins, 55 seconds and 54 thirds in three and a half racing seasons, and a weanling colt back to Art Official.

It will be interesting to see whether line-breeding prevails over outcross selection from those four matings. Certainly, Articulight has shown potential in 10 starts from which he has gained two wins and three seconds. The weanling colt looks like a replica of him and, if paddock speed is any indication, it would be nice to think he would follow (quickly) in his full brother’s footsteps.

However, until the other pair are tried, it would be premature to judge. Suffice to say though, I am considering Panspacific Flight for Light of The South next season because Romola Hal glows like a beacon five steps back on his maternal line.

I lean towards continuing to breed the Romola Hal bloodline back into Light Of The South’s progeny. It has certainly proven its worth over the years. However, there are many genetic influences along the pedigree path and any one of them can intervene to affect the desired outcome. Only time will decide whether we have made the right choices.

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I don’t want to go over Romola Hanover’s colt foals legacy in any detail at all. It is available elsewhere including Frank Marrion’s 2008 Harnesslink article when Art Major was first available here as a sire, which sums it up well. It is remarkable!

Another photo of her racing here, in her Harness Museum Hall of Fame entry (it needs to be updated to include what a remarkable number of sires she has left!)

Here’s an extract from the book “Quest for Excellence: Hanover Shoe Farm’s First 75 years”:

After all, it had once been John Simpson’s task to break and train most of the fillies that eventually found their way into the Hanover broodmare band. Although he may not have been at Hanover when Miss Bertha Dillon was the most revered broodmare in the world, he understood what broodmares meant to a farm. Some extraordinary producers were graduates of the Simpson stable. One exemplary alumna was Romola Hanover the nonpareil racing mare who was the hottest mama in the sport in the 1960s. Her first son Romeo Hanover won the Golden Crown for pacers in 1966 and his kid brother Romulus Hanover was voted the pacing sophomore king the following year. A few years later, Romola’s daughter Romalie Hanover was the most admired fillies in the sport. This trio had been sired by Dancer Hanover, but Romola Hanover also had exceptional performers by Lehigh Hanover, Torpid and even later Albatross.

She deserves a book of her own! When you look at her descendants and can mention top pacers of modern times and often who have also gone on to be very good sires like Real Artist, Art Major, Panspacificflight, Perfect Art, and potentially Captain Treacherous…it is quite incredible. Of course her own sons had a big role to play as sires in New Zealand, Nevele Bigshot and his Lehigh half-brother Nevele Romeo were imported here for stud duties in the mid 1970s, and were the foundation stallions for Nevele R Stud (started by Wayne Francis and Bob McArdle in 1973) – and Nevele Romeo lent his name to what is still one of New Zealand’s top studs. Neither left much of a legacy in terms of their enduring performance as sires, however. But Romeo Hanover, her very well performed son, stood in America and then for 11 years in Australia (for good “down under” results of 498 foals, 250 starters and 196 winners.) Romeo Hanover had an influence here in New Zealand as well through the likes of Live Or Die’s pedigree, and his son Speedy Romeo was also a sire here, but I suggest it is more through his daughters he has added value, and I’m interested in comments on how much you feel Romeo Hanover has contributed as a sire in the longer term.

Romola Hanover

Romola Hanover with John Simpson snr at Du Quoin in the late 1950s

Right now, it is Romola Hanover’s female descendants and what has ended up as useful lines “down under” that I am interested in.

Two are of particular importance here – her Dancer Hanover daughters Romalie Hanover and Romona Hanover.

Romalie Hanover

First, a quick look at one of Romalie Hanover’s sons who has left a thin line in New Zealand – George Allen, by Meadow Skipper.  It’s one of George Allen’s daughters that might ring a bell here, imported Armbro Zip Zap, although her descendants are few and far between now. The only daughter of Armbro Zip Zap breeding on here is Sequita. Sequita is closely related to the former star juvenile in Australia My Handsome Fella 1:59 ($79,573) who had a go as a sire there (346 foals, 95 winners). One of Sequita’s sons Elliot Daniel has done okay  in NZ for owner Bernie Lim (Harnesslink article from 2014), but Lim has not breed much else from the family, although I see he has put Sequita to Art Major this season, which of course links back to Romola Hanover too. Interestingly, Elliot Daniel has turned out to be one of those lovely durable older horses – now leased by Breakout Syndicate and W S Abernethy and trained by Jay Abernathy, he is still racing and had his late (9th) win a week or so ago on 3 April 2016 at Taranaki, as an 8yo.

Romalie Hanover has left a few more branches in New Zealand and Australia through her daughter Dental Floss (what a strange name!!) who is by Columbia George. A daughter of Dental Floss called Only Natural was imported to Australia from America in 1991. It appears Only Natural’s first foal, a filly called Lady Lynda Lee, was bred in America a couple of years prior to that by Bob McArdle, and then brought to New Zealand for breeding, and her third foal Talk About Natural was also based in New Zealand for breeding.

In Australia, (It’s) Only Natural went on to have numerous foals for I M Walsh and R B Woodhouse, the best of them in terms of racetrack performance being the “grind it out” geldings The Don, Boy From Bowral, and Natural Lobell. Nothing that really raised the roof, and this branch has pretty much withered and died.

In New Zealand none of the lines from Lady Lynda Lee proved special either.

The bright spot in this turns out to be Talk About Natural for breeder John Fokerd. But the progeny page for her doesn’t present a pretty picture at first glance. Digging deeper we can find a few veins of minerals the mine, but it is not gold yet.

Talk About Natural’s daughter by Falcon Seelster is She’s A Natural, and she brings me into familiar ground – her Tinted Cloud daughter Umbra (born 2008) is now with breeder G B M Corbett who is obviously wanting a cross with Tintin In America. (And when I look at that cross I can see why). Another of She’s A Natural’s fillies was To Die With Dignity and she was exported to Australia and raced okay herself and has gone on to breed a couple of decent winners by Jereme’s Jet and Always A Virgin, and a registered Courage Under Fire Colt called Ferdinand who would be a 3yo now.

Tracking down the lines of the family gets tricky now, as many don’t appear (yet) in Classic Families, so often it is a matter of working back. I’ve got a couple of examples that I know of, and blog readers are already contributing more (see the comments under the last blog on this topic). To get there, we go back to Talk About Natural and look at what other breeding lines she has produced other than those mentioned in the previous paragraphs.

After all, 6 of her 9 foals were fillies!

One of the most active lines at the moment is in the good hands of blog friend Brian Cowley, who owns the Live Or Die mare Light Of The South, a daughter of Natural Talker, who is an Andrel daughter of Talk About Natural. Technically that puts Romola Hanover 5 x 6 generations back in the pedigree of Light Of The South, as she appears in Live Or Die’s pedigree as well as the mare’s maternal line. It goes like this. Light Of The South was originally owned and bred by Mike Finlayson, another blog friend, who put her to Art Major (a cross back to the family) for a filly called Lyra Finn who was sold on to Australia but didn’t amount to much and became a hack. Brian has followed a less direct route, and I’ll give his comments in the next blog. Suffice to say at this stage he has the very talented and sometimes wayward Articulight (by Art Official) racing at the moment, and a couple more foals in the waiting room. (Background is a blog I wrote in October 2014 with photos of Light Of The South foals at that time)

The first filly from Natural Talker was Mon Repos and she is in Australia after a very modest racing career, and has been an awkward breeder. Her first (2009) raced foal by McArdle is gelding Allies Mate (18 starts, 5 wins and still racing), and the next live foal was born in November last year, by Million Dollar Cam and bred by K M Hall, Victoria. The sire choice is, for me, a positive one – as I will explain in a later blog when I lay my own  thoughts on the line.

Another filly from Natural Talker is Lets Talk Art, now a 9yo mare by Art Major (link back to the family) who won 6 from 45 starts, and $48,525 in stakes. She is now a broodmare who missed to Panspacificflight (another link back to the family), and has since gone these past couple of seasons to Better’s Delight for breeders Mrs M E O’Brien and S A O’Brien.

No other line from Talk About Natural has left anything worth noting.

Romona Hanover

Of course the big and beautiful branch of Romola Hanover’s family comes from another daughter entirely – not Romalie Hanover, but Romona Hanover. That’s the dam of Perfect Profile (dam of Western Edition, Art Major and Perfect Art),  You Can Fly (dam of Panspacific Flight), Real Artist, and World Order.

In terms of female breeding lines here, we have little to go on. A Real Desire daughter of World Order called Cuzzin Sally was imported by Robert Famularo (Cavalla Bloodstock Limited) and bred here for two colts and a filly before she died. One of the male foals is racing in Australia – Cheyenne Warrior by Bettor’s Delight (96 starts, 8 wins, 27 places, $41,515), and the other colt is only a 3yo (by American Idea, Miss Duvall family) called Sands Of Time and has had one start for a 2nd from the Ken Barron training stable down in West Melton, NZ – and is worth keeping an eye out for. The filly is by Sands A Flyin (link back to the family) and is named Laura J. She is a 4yo mare now, and I will be checking to see what the plans are for her.

So in summary Down Under we are pretty much relying on (no pressure, guys!) She’s A Natural’s daughters  Umbra and To Die With Dignity, and Light Of The South’s progeny, and Laura J to make something of the Romola Hanover dynasty “down under”.

Next part of this series will bring some comments from the current breeders.

A virtual chocolate fish to all blog readers who have got to the end of this one!

Thank you for reading this!

Thank you for reading this!

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