Archive for the ‘Standardbred breeding’ Category

It’s 7 years since I bought my own U7 family member, Dreamy Romance, a broodmare in a dispersal sale. I blogged about her and my own dreams soon after – Romola Hal line mare is my next big project.

Last year the mare was put down after developing a large growth on her knee which made her acutely lame. She was an 18yo and the option to put her back in foal was not fair to her. So I made the call.

In this last blog in the series, I’ll recap on what has happened over the past five years and my own efforts to keep a quality U7 family going Down Under.

Dreamy Romance left three foals from my breeding efforts. The first two matches, I wanted to go back to the U7 “well” as best I could. Art Major’s service fee was far above what I could afford. Panpacificflight, Big Jim and Sportswriter were the other options, and I gravitated to Big Jim who impressed me when I saw him at the Alabar stallion parade. The pedigree match added three U7 influences: his sire is Western Ideal (Leah Almahurst), and his dam’s pedigree contains two links to Abbie Dodge. My mare was a big girl and Big Jim a tall stallion, but I felt his athleticism would balance the potential risk. What I got was a beautiful, big black filly in 2015 named My Big Romance who loved food far above any aspect of exercise or training! She qualified, and even won a trial, but basically she didn’t want that life, and thanks to Amber Hoffman we found her a home doing what she really loved – getting attention, looking beautiful and earning ribbons at shows.

The second foal I got from Dreamy was by Mr Feelgood, a horse I saw win The Little Brown Jug and continue to race at the elite level here and in Australia. Although not viewed as a very commercial sire in New Zealand, his semen was available here at a very affordable price, and his pedigree gave me exactly what I was looking for – Leah Almahurst close up on his maternal line. And from a stallion who had a finer build but heaps of stamina. The result is now a 4yo mare called My Feelgood Romance, who is medium build – No star but could win a few races, says the now owner/trainer Kirstin Barclay – but she has also been a real trouble magnet with knocks, injuries etc always interrupting her preparations. The fastest she’s gone is 1.58.7 for the mile at Winton for a decent 5th in her last start which was back in December 2020 and that was only her third race day start. I know Kirstin feels in no hurry as Dreamy’s foals have usually taken a bit of time to strengthen up and show their best. So fingers crossed we may see her back on track at some stage, and regardless she’ll be an interesting broodmare and could kick start this line again.

The next foal from Dreamy Romance was a match I flagged up in my original blog, Rock N Roll Heaven. Instead of going to the U7 well, it has a No Nukes / TMI match and also contains a double up to Sonsam. He’s a smaller sire too, although he can leave all sizes of foals. The resulting colt, which I co-own with Kirstin, is a nuggety nice looking yearling called My Rocky Romance who has been broken in and now doing his next prep, all good so far.

I should add there was also an American Ideal filly from Dreamy Romance for breeder Bill Keeler, but she went sore during her early training and is now being bred from by Tom Kilkelly. With the availability now of some very classy (and not expensive) U7 family stallions, I wonder if one of them could be an option for her?

To be honest, the two best performers from Dreamy Romance were further back in her breeding career and also bred by Bill Keeler. They have both done their later racing in the USA – and with some very consistent results as tough older horses: Rainbow Romance (gelding) and My Rona Gold (mare), and the latter has posted some good times and results in her career overseas. Their breeding is totally removed from any connection to U7 or indeed to highly rated sires – their sires are Knight Rainbow and Klondike Kid.

Breeding is definitely not as simple as U7 + U7 = Success. That’s what keeps us fascinated.

Just a last note to those who have followed these U7 posts, I see Tasmcmanian’s son Taroona Bromac (see Part 3 of the series) got a very close up second at Menangle last night at very juicy odds – turning his recent form around. Today at Timaru we have Twilight Bromac, the 3yo Art Major gelding from Tasmcmanian, in race 4.

Well, that completes this B4breeding blog burst on the U7 family Down Under. I wish you all the best in the current breeding season whether it is getting mares in foal or safely landing their foals. May you have every success and enjoy the moment.

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Just a quick diversion from my look at the Down Under branches of U7 – but still focused on that amazing Miss Duvall family…

I noticed in the recent Ohio Selected Yearling Sale 2021 that the top selling lot (Elusive Beauty, $200k) was a Downbytheseaside filly out of the Art Major mare Swinging Beauty who is from Stunning Beauty. Art Major of course being a U7 family member. However what was not highlighted in reports is that Swinging Beauty has another even closer connection to the U7 family branch in that her grandam is Dominique Semalu who is Downbytheseaside’s great-grandam. A close relation is Sling Shock who is one of Downbytheseaside’s best performers to date, from a full sister to Swinging Beauty. (See image at end of this blog which can also be found in the Ohio sales catalogue).

Another Downbytheseaside yearling that sold well at Ohio (85k) is by the mare Skippin By who is from a totally different U7 branch (Farm Bell/Nora Adele).

Some of his Downbytheseaside’s top performers to date – Gulf Shores descends from Rodine Hanover; and Pebble Beach is from a Western Ideal mare.

A word of caution – which I can hear many already raising – It is easy to join dots when there are so many dots on the page! Given the depth and breadth and quality of the U7 family, it is not at all surprising if connections like this can be made and that some of them will turn out to be successful.

What does interest me is that breeders are willing to try close options in some cases, and also that the overall quality of modern representatives from U7 (both sires and mares) mean we are not hunting in obscure back alleys for family matches. They can be current and proven, from a number of family branches, especially if we look at our mares’ damsire families not just their maternal bottom lines.

Some families seem to appreciate being bred back to their own bloodlines, and U7 seems this way. It has also nicked well with the Spinster (U2) and Golden Miss (U20) families – which seem to mix so well together – and has enjoyed outcross sires at pivotal points along the way to keep things fresh.

In my final blog of this series, I’ll look at my own recent low key attempts at this – which are by no stretch of the imagination a big success, but I’m not afraid to share my learning curve and my efforts at alchemy!

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Tasmcmanian was American bred and imported Down Under for breeding. She comes from the Angel Hair side shoot of the K Nora/Adora branch, and is the only one by her dam Shy Devil to be by McArdle.

Most of Shy Devil’s foals were by Artsplace and several went to successfully cross back to the U7 family in the shape of Western Ideal and American Ideal.

Since Tasmcmanian was brought to New Zealand by Bob McArdle of Bromac Lodge, I’d be tempted to see Bob’s hand in Tasmcmanian’s breeding as the stallion McArdle was named after him and later stood here as a sire at Bob’s Nevele R Stud.

Tasmcmanian has had 8 foals and the most successful of those on the racetrack were also bred back to two outstanding U7 family sires – Tas Man Bromac (American Ideal-Tasmcmanian), who won 10 of 31 races for $119,722 when trained by Nathan Williamson and subsequently was sold to West Australia, where he died after just 6 races, but won at lifetime total of over $162,000; and Taroona Bromac (Western Ideal-Tasmcmanian) who has heaps of talent and as a 5yo now has won 15 of 49 starts and over $126,000. Like his half brother, he was exported to Western Australia, this time as a 3yo, and had a particularly good last season, winning 11 of his 27 races and $90,000. For those who are interested, I came across this quote in an article about Taroona Bromac when he was starting his racing career here in NZ:

Although Tas Man Bromac (by American Ideal) and Taroona Bromac (by American Ideal’s sire Western Ideal) are closely-related, they are opposites in physique. “Tas Man Bromac was a lovely, beautiful, little nuggety horse,” Barry said. “Taroona Bromac is a lot bigger so we have to be a bit careful with him not putting pressure on his joints, so we’re just going slowly with him.”

Article in archived news blog, Bromac Lodge

Three of the four fillies left by Tasmcmanian have gone to sires with no connection to the U7 family – Santanna Blue Chip for Tilly Bromac, Mach Three for Trendy Bromac, and Auckland Reactor for Tempest Bromac.

Tilly Bromac didn’t make a lasting impression on the racetrack but has had some success as a broodmare with three foals to date, all colts, for Ivan and Ann Behrnes – two by Mach Three and one by Sunshine Beach. Balducci is doing a great job over in Australia with 7 wins, 10 places from 22 starts and $50,000 in stakes so far. His younger brother is recorded as deceased after just three starts over there. And the Sunshine Beach is in new ownership as a yearling.

Trendy Bromac showed some good racing ability and fast times here before following the route to Australia to complete her racing career with a very respectable 7 wins and 13 places from 39 starts and almost $59,000 in stakes. She’s now started her breeding career in Australia with a 2020 service by Bettor’s Delight.

Tempest Bromac’s race career never really got underway, but she has started breeding, firstly for Alabar NZ – a He’s Watching colt which was sold as a yearling in May 2020, and the following year a Rock N Roll Heaven colt for Ivan and Ann Behrnes which was sold as a weanling (to Western Australia) in May 2021. Both as yet unnamed but ones to follow – their sales videos show nice types. The match with He’s Watching is of course back to a large dose of U7 blood. If anyone can add more recent information of these two, please add a comment to the blog.

Tasmcmanian’s 2016 foal Tas Girl Bromac is by American Ideal (U7). It looks like she was qualified in 2019 for Barry Purdon, then out for a year, back in for Jack Harrington and lightly tried, bred in the 2020 season to Art Major but missed. Back to racing, she has got 2 wins from 15 starts in Jack Harrington’s colours and is now leased by Harrington with the Vella brothers, so they may be trying again with breeding her this season. There’s a story in there, and she may not be the easiest horse to train, but I will leave it for another day or someone can fill in the gaps. Again, a nice one to follow in her racing and breeding career.

Tasmcmanian’s last foal born in New Zealand in 2017 is Twilight Bromac, a gelding by Art Major (U7) who is currently racing in the South Island for Trent Yesberg, and is starting to show a bit of ability.

Tasmcmanian herself was exported to Australia in 2018 and is now being bred by the Vella brothers. She has a 2020 unnamed foal by He’s Watching (U7) and hopefully is due soon to Always B Miki.

Tasmcmanian has done a remarkable job at keeping this branch of the K Nora/Adora U7 family thriving Down Under. I rate it as one of the strongest descendant families we have available. At 15 years old, she still has breeding time ahead hopefully, but already she has proven to be very consistent and potentially starting some really good modern lines of the family in both New Zealand and Australia. Often the gems will really appear a generation or two on, but solid breeding choices have given her family a real chance to succeed.

Updates and comments about this family are welcome!

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Just a quick reminder – these updates of the U7 family descendants in Australia and New Zealand are not meant to be examples of how any U7 family descendant is somehow capable of performing breeding miracles! We all know how hard it is to breed successfully, even from well-credentialed mares and good families, especially if they are not part of the strongest branches. The idea is to share some interesting stories and give us some younger mares or progeny to follow in their careers on the track and in the breeding barn over the next year or so.

Trilogy Franco / Glenisla & Balcatherine

This family traces back to Three Diamonds and the Adora/K Nora branch of the U7 Miss Duvall family, via Touche Franco and her dam Trilogy Franco and grand-dam Tropez Lobell, a Brittany Farm USA mare and daughter of Three Diamonds. It looks like Wayne Francis bought and imported Trilogy Franco to New Zealand as a young mare, tried her a few times at the races for ok results, then retired her for breeding. (Her half-brother Franco Terminator was imported from USA to stand at stud in Australia in the early 2000s – for not much result.)

Wayne Francis died in 1999 and Trilogy Franco continued to be bred from by his Nevele R partner Bob McArdle. Trilogy Franco’s first foal was Touche Franco (b2000) by Holmes Hanover. She had 6 starts for 1 win and then also went to the broodmare paddock. Trilogy Franco had a number of foals (including Twice Again Franco and Triple Franco whose breeding results you can track in the Australian Harness website), and more recently another clutch of filly foals for the Harrisons in Timaru, which will be interesting to follow.

But back to Touche Franco – after not much success for her first foals, she was sold by Bob McArdle to Brent and Sheree McIntyre (Macca Lodge) in 2008 and their subsequent breedings have been very successful. Of particular interest for the breeding future are her two daughters Glenisla (by Panspacificflight) and Balcatherine (by American Ideal) – two sires who also descend from good branches of the U7 family. As racemares currently in Australia, they have turned in some excellent results, including a Group 1 for Balcatherine late 2020.

Read the story in more detail on Macca Lodge website.

Glenisla end her racing career with 19 wins and $86,402, while 5yo Balcatherine is still racing and has chalked up 10 wins from 24 starts and $208,048.

Glenisla’s breeding career has got off to a slow start with one dead foal and one missed breeding. But both of these representatives of a wonderful branch of the U7 Miss Duvall family will be interesting to follow in their future breeding career.

Next time – Tasmcmanian

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As branches of the U7 family starting showing up consistently in North American breeding, a number of male and female members of that family were imported to Australia and New Zealand, mainly by larger breeding establishments like Bromac Lodge / Spreydon Lodge / Nevele R Stud, and Roydon Lodge in New Zealand, and Farquharson Pty Ltd and Cold Mountain Stud in Australia. Some were stallions with a U7 maternal line like Nevele Bigshot who was available in New Zealand for more than a decade from 1976, or Bookmaker in Australia. Others were mares brought here to enhance the breed or to give a sire standing locally a chance with a mare from such a well related family.

Alas, the best mares of the best U7 branches were not available to us – mainly we got the half sisters, nieces, non-performing daughters, presumably at more affordable prices, and always with the hope that quality would kick on.

If Rodine Hanover (b1982) had been imported here as a mature mare, would things have been different? Would her foals from Holmes Hanover or Vance Hanover or Andrel or OK Bye or a colonial bred sire have set the Kiwi breeding world alight for years to come? Who knows, and it is only a fascinating “what if”. The reality is we got mares who were distant relatives (vertically or horizontally) of the best performers of U7. Our closest access to the top U7 femalelines has almost always come through good sires like Life Sign, Art Major, What’s Next, American Ideal and a bunch of others as covered in my previous blog.

Tracking the results from the imported U7 mares over a number of generations is not easy reading. Many lines have quickly died out or left a trail of disappointing results.

In some cases, there’s been enough to keep the line going to the present day, and I want to look at some examples.

But overall the results tell us that being part of the U7 family (or any of the best standardbred families) is not enough in itself. Unless the subsequent breeding keeps adding in value and building on strengths, any possible influence from Willola (b1940) or Romola Hal (b1946) or Adora (b1952) would have quickly become diluted. And as breeders know, not all foals from a mare are born equal. Even full brothers and sisters do not share identical genetic makeup, let alone identical ability on the racetrack or in the breeding barn. So starting with mares who were not the U7 family stars and bringing them to sires who were not the world’s best was always going to be a tricky task, particularly in earlier decades.

Over the next few blogs I will check some of the U7 family descendants who have made a go of it Down Under and even have progeny worth watching for on the track at the moment.

I’m hoping some of you will chip in with local updates as observers or breeders, either by leaving your contribution as a comment or emailing me at bee.raglan@xtra.co.nz

Let’s make a start…

All My Art / Millwood Liberty / Millwood Susie

This family traces back to Rochelle Hanover, daughter of Romola Hal. There are many generations inbetween, but All My Art’s thread passes through some pretty classy contributors – Misty Raquel by Meadow Skipper (b1973, 1:55.3US $484,463) a very good racemare and a good producer. She was the dam of Misty Bretta by Bret Hanover whom we know as Sands A Flyin’s dam. Misty Bretta was also the dam of many other really talented horses who either won good money on the track or produced some very good earners themselves or both.

One of her daughters, Celerity by No Nukes, is the dam of Lil Sweet Art by Artsplace, who was imported to New Zealand by Dave Carville. Her first foal was All My Art by Falcon Seelster. All My Art went on to produce some excellent racehorses from a range of sires – Ohoka Nevada (1.51, $505,757) by Sands A Flyin so a double up to Misty Bretta, Ohoka Du Nord (1.52.7, $200,760) by Bella’s Boy, Ohoka Squire (1.54.8, $177,386) by Christian Cullen, and the wonderful Millwood Liberty (1.49.8, $303,449) also by Christian Cullen. There was also a 2012 colt foal by Real Desire who got 3 wins and 3 places, then several years of bad luck getting the mare in foal and two dead foals.

Finally in 2018 the mare’s last foal, a filly by He’s Watching called Millwood Susie was born. Owner Katie Carville says the mare was having trouble inside so the filly’s gestation was 12.5 months and she arrived looking “like a dog with long legs”. However her conformation turned out to be perfect. “She was a miracle filly in the fact that she survived. I was lucky to keep her alive. I did break her in and she paced beautifully, but I have decided to put her straight into foal as I wanted a mare to breed from.”

The choice of the first sire for Millwood Susie is Downbytheseaside, whose maternal line is also U7 from the Hobby Horse Tar branch.

Just going back to Susie’s older half sister Millwood Liberty – she is a broodmare in Australia now, and has had two fillies, both by Bettor’s Delight. Can Can Dancer (b2018) has had 6 starts including a 4th in the APG 2yo Fillies Gold in April this year. Millwood Liberty’s second filly is named Liberty Bell (nice!) so keep your eyes out for these two in the next few years.

Next time….

Trilogy Franco / Glenisla & Balcatherine

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U7? Me2

How can you not be a huge admirer of the Miss Duvall (U7) standardbred family. Born in 1868 this big black mare was fertile ground from which a massive tree has grown. There are several key branches that seem to continue to grow in strength. A good summary of the family’s influence in sires who did stand or are standing in Australasia is in this article from Harnessbred.com

Among the established classics from the Romola Hal branch are Art Major, Perfect Art, Real Artist, Panspacificflight and Captaintreacherous; from the Willola branch are Silent Majority (sire of Abercrombie), What’s Next, Sportswriter; from the Adora branch are Life Sign, American Ideal, Western Ideal, He’s Watching.
Note that these are descendants of the female line, and don’t include the sons of these sires who have stood at stud, including newbies like Vincent, unless they also include a U7 female line as well.

There are also familiar names from some of the less active branches – Road Machine, Big Jim, DM Dilinger.

But Miss Duvall doesn’t stop there.

The strongest U7 branches keep providing “engine room” value on the maternal line of top colts who go on to become potential top sires.

It is the branches with proven record that continue to produce the strongest and most potent maternal lines. The branches are sorting themselves out. Not every twig is going to be a branch.

In terms of the smaller branches that we got “Downunder” I’ll look at updating that in my future blogs, but if you have a few hours to spend, then researching through the main Australian Harness Racing website (Horse Search) or Harness Racing New Zealand (Info Horse/Horse Enquiry) will give you a starting point of local interest. Start with something basic like Romola, and watch yourself go down the rabbit holes!!!

Or refresh with search on this blog for Romola Hal and my series of what was current in this part of the world 5 years ago. I will be updating this in my next blog – but would love comments from those who know more information.

Looking through the latest Register of Standardbred Sires NZ, it’s clear that the U7 momentum continues.

The latest flowering of the Miss Duvall family tree shows up in some of the well credentialed young sires available this season.

The newer arrivals with U7 strong maternal lines are (in no particular order)

  • Bettor’s Wish – his damsire is Western Ideal; his dam is a great grand-daughter of Three Diamonds
  • Capt Midnight – Worldy Treasure is the dam of his sire Captaintreacherous; American Ideal is his damsire.
  • Tall Dark Stranger – his damsire is Art Major; his dam is a descendant of Hobby Horse Tar.
  • Luck Be Withyou – his sire is Western Ideal; his dam is a great grand-daughter of Three Diamonds.
  • Rock N Roll World – his dam is Worldly Beauty, a grand-daughter of Rodine Hanover
  • Downbytheseaside – dam’s maternal line (Hobby Horse Tar)

That’s a hugely impressive list of new/potential sires.

And not so new but current:

  • He’s Watching (still available in Australia but not NZ) – his sire is American Ideal; his dam is a great grand-daughter of Leah Almahurst
  • Sportswriter – dam’s maternal line (Hobby Horse Tar)
  • Captaintreacherous – established now, but still fresh in the market, his dam is Worldly Treasure.

You could also include those sires with Western Ideal (son of Leah Almahurst) as their damsire – McWicked, Fear The Dragon… or with Real Artist as their damsire – Rockin Image (if he becomes available here). And eventually there will be young sires with Art Major as their damsire (rather than their sire) too.

What a very old, very modern and very classy family – U7.

Tip o the hat to Miss Duvall.

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Five years on

It’s the start of Spring. The “down under” standardbred breeding season is about to begin. And it is almost 5 years since I wrote a B4breeding blog. So hello to anyone who is still following me, or who stumbles across this site when searching the web on a breeding topic – as several have done over the past few years, sometimes contacting me direct or making a comment on a blog which I have responded to.

This time around, the blogs will be less frequent. A lot of the information I wrote previously is still applicable – the historical information or the blogs on key or interesting bloodlines. Dive into those older blogs and explore!

I’ve created a new page (tab at the top of the home page – 2021 Bee’s breeding) which brings you up to date with my own horses. Recently retired, I am placing realistic financial boundaries on my ‘addiction’ while still enjoying the challenge of putting theory into practice – and watching what develops.

My next blog will take a closer look at the marvellous U7 family’s influence on current sires who have been or are available to New Zealand breeders, and I hope readers will add in comments one’s that I have missed or are not available here in New Zealand.

Remember that I am not an expert, just an explorer like we all are. I don’t have a long list of champion racehorses to my name. My current band of mares are not former Group 1 winners. One’s a free lease, one cost $1000, and my most recent purchase was $500. But all have something that caught my interest as a breeder and set me a challenge to realise their best potential as broodmares, whatever that turns out to be. I’ll introduce them to you as we go.

I love a challenge, aye!

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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.


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
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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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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