Archive for the ‘Standardbred breeding’ Category

Blog followers will know my series earlier in the year tracing the Romola Hal family and some of its branches “down under”. That’s the family of Art Major and Captain Treacherous – quite close up. I didn’t cover all of the descendants, and one branch which wished to fly under the radar at that time was Dot Schmidt’s mare Mataranka Maggie in Australia. It’s been a bit of a passion for Dot, but circumstances have changed, and now is the time for some other breeder to step up and carry on!

Mataranka Maggie (b 2002) – Armbro Aussie x Rostrata (Windshield Wiper). Wouldn’t be available to move from Benstud in Victoria until after this year’s foal is weaned (not born yet) but new owners could breed her this season, she has been easy to get in foal and is a great mother.

Dot is a very astute and knowledgeable breeder, and has a familiarity with pedigrees that I really admire. So far with this mare she has invested in quality, but situations change and Dot now believes it is time to pass the mare to another breeder. This is one of the greatest modern maternal families. Thanks to Dot, the mare has already bred back to the Romola Hanover line, several times. So there is something going on in the background which may end up supporting a new breeder’s decisions. She will tell you the details of those foals, which are recent and still to figure in terms of racing.

Don’t miss this chance. I did the same thing in buying Dreamy Romance (from Romola Hal family) and it is one of the most exciting and potentially good decisions I’ve made as a breeder. Dot is open minded about cost, this is not an expensive buy at all. But, hey, what a wonderful opportunity!

Mataranka Maggie is descended from Romola Hal’s daughter Romola Hanover, so this is the same family branch as Rodine Hanover (Art Major and Perfect Art, Captaintreacherous, Real Artist and so on). That’s the good news.

The challenging news is that the next daughter in the family tree is called Romette Hanover and she doesn’t appear on the Classic Family database at all.  And yet, there’s more to the story than that. Romette Hanover actually had just 9 starts for 1 win, 1 second and 1 third. More than that, she was a daughter of the cross of Dancer Hanover x Romola Hanover. So all those great background family nicks are there: with Tar Heel and then Dancer Hanover. Romette Hanover went to a range of sires for 10 foals in America and more in Australia, but as Dot will probably tell you, they didn’t make the best choices of sires for her. Yet, more than half of them have wins against their name and a couple were good accumulators of wins – the tough aged horses.

One of Romette Hanover’s progeny was Rostrata, by Windshield Wiper. And Rostrata is the dam of the mare that Dot has for “very reasonable” sale. That’s another positive, as Windshield Wiper brings in some really nice lines – Adios and his full sister Adieu double up, plus The Old Maid on the X line and then another double up this time to Kings Counsel who is the damsire of Meadow Skipper. And the immediate damsire of Mataranka Maggie is Armbro Aussie (who brings in Tar Heel again, with Adios and Nibble Hanover in his maternal line, and then Volomite.)

So what you get with this mare for sale is some damn impressive breeding which needs to step up. Dot has done her bit, with a big investment in Art Major as a sire.

What about you?

As they say in sport, form changes but class is permanent. If Dot will forgive me, I’d suggest changing tack at this point and trying something new – what about Roll With Joe (look at the pedigree mix with the mare and damsire Armbro Aussie’s good attributes) or Heston Blue Chip for some maternal line hook ups and of course if you want to go up in price and more commercial in either of those directions there is Bettor’s Delight (instead of Roll With Joe) and Captaintreacherous (instead of Heston Blue Chip). PS Dot has added a couple of other suggestions in a comment on this blog.

There are other options I covered off in my Romola Hal blog series, including viewing the “herd” wider to include extended branches of the wonderful kicking on Klata Thorne (Miss Duvall) family which Romola Hal belongs to. That includes all the K Nora/Adora branches like Western Ideal, American Ideal and He’s Watching.

The mare is waiting. Just contact Dot for more details:



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There was a win at Invercargill (North Southland Trotting Club) meeting on Saturday that interests me for several reasons. It wasn’t a huge win in terms of stakes, but it was a very impressive win.

The 3yo chestnut filly by Panspacificflight is from the good mare Weka Lass, owned and bred by Lester Smith, trained by Lauren Pearson and driven by Brent Barclay. It was her third start but she has been building nicely (with a 5th, then 3rd in previous starts), so understandably went out a pretty hot favourite. She returned a winning dividend to the punters and the main slice of the $7500 stakes money to the owner.

That is a nice example of reciprocity, which basically means “returning the favour”.

And after hearing race caller Dave McDonald struggle with the word and end up calling the filly “Recipro City” I can help him learn how to say it: “Reci Prossity”  with the emphasis on the Prossity. Think like you are saying “recipe” i.e. “reci-pe” but add the “-procity” ending instead. If you google it you can even hear a nice voice saying it for you. If anyone knows Dave, pass it on. It is a lovely name, and the filly is starting to put it into action.

Another reason I am following this filly is her breeding. She is from the line of the very good filly Oaxaca Lass (19 wins, 13 places from 48 starts and $456,134). She belongs to the big sprawling Tondeleyo family mainly associated with the Woolleys and Kerslakes with Adio Star’s descendants, but also with many other branches that are firing today – like the Rosslyn Rowan branch with Highview Tommy and The Falcon Strike, and the Paramount branch with Percy The Punter, Seel N Print, Smooth Crusa and more recently Say My Name. It is one of those families worth exploring through the Classic Families database.

Weka Lass was the first of Oaxaca Lass’s 12 (to date) foals, with only one year missed. And she has been pretty consistent, with all but one (Verde Lima, by Bettor’s Delight, 2 race starts only) of racing age being a winner. Of those retained in New Zealand, Weka Lass is by far the most successful so far, but Condrieu (colt by Bettor’s Delight) was sold to Austalia and has won $194,210 via 18 wins and 18 places from 63 starts. A tough campaigner, like his older brother Intrepid Traveller, who won $81,857 over exactly the same number of starts.

Illegal Immigrant is an American Ideal half brother to Weka Lass, current racing for Ken Barron and definitely worth keeping an eye on. He’s a 4yo now with a record of 12 starts, 2 wins and 4 places to date, but like many American Ideals will keep improving.

A further reason I’m taking an interest in this filly is her relationship to a young Kiwi breeder. Sam Langrope has Weka Lass’s Presidential Ball half sister Kusadasi (44 starts, 3 wins, 11 places, $43,747) and he was a breeder that got in touch with me a few years ago. He’s a breeder with his own thoughtful ideas and passion, and I’m delighted to see his first foal from the mare is showing quite a bit of promise – that’s Kardesler by American Ideal, sold by Sam through the sales for $19,000 and is currently owned by M H Fenton, R A Payne, Mrs R M Dakin with 1 win and 2 places from 6 starts. Sam Langrope has next bred a Changeover filly, now yearling, and the mare is served by Sir Lincoln. Talent showing up from the wider family is always good for a breeder, so good on you Sam for your own one, and getting into this talented family.

And now one last reason why this filly Recipocity has taken my interest – she is by Panspacificflight, a sire with a maternal pedigree that is simply excellent, and from the Western Hanover sire line. He stands at Macca Lodge. It is great to see some really nice horses showing up from this sire. This is not the first talented winner and will definitely not be the last. His maternal line is so close to Art Major it is not funny, but instead of the Artplace sire line he brings in Western Hanover (via The Panderosa) as his sire line.

In August last year Macca Lodge website posted this news:

The MACCA LODGE colours were in the winner’s circle for the first time this season when three-year-old Panspacificflight filly Sally Maclennane broke through maiden ranks at Gore on 23 August. After making a mistake when well-supported in her first run for the season at Invercargill a fortnight earlier, Sally Maclennane was eased out of the gate by John Dunn in the 2200-metre event. She made a run three-wide with a round to go before pressing on to lead at the 600-metre mark and holding on gamely to win in 2:49 neat. The McIntyres leased her dam, the Badlands Hanover mare Weka Lass, from owner Leicester Smith for a season to put to Panspacificflight. Sally Maclennane, who trialled in 1:58 as a two-year-old, is the second winner from her sire’s second crop here behind quality filly Arden’s Choice. Weka Lass, who is out of the big winner Oaxaca Lass, has also left a full-sister to Sally Maclennane called Reciprocity.

So there you go! Reciprocity’s older sister Sally Maclennane was sold to Australia early 2016 after she won at her third start here, and has had a couple of seconds and a couple of thirds since then at Globe Derby. But I’ll predict on the ability she showed on Saturday Reciprocity will end up with more wins under her girth strap than her sister.

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Still wondering if you can afford to breed again this year? If you are looking to race yourself or bring a foal up to race and sell, here is something to think about.

Studs these days are increasingly offering a range of deals for breeders, and far more openly than the mates rates deals of earlier times. There are plenty of options for paying early for a good discount or paying more later on a live foal.

However goStallions has gone a step further with the sire Prodigal Seelster. There is an option for a service fee of NZ$3250 + gst or you can opt for a pay-on-delivery-at-racetrack option which means you will only be charged when your foal qualifies later in life… that’s when a bill of $3000 + GST becomes payable; then once your horse runs its first placing at the races, the final payment of $1000 + GST is due. So all up that is $4600 (including gst) if you successfully take that option. I assume it is a breeding contract and therefore the breeder is responsible for those payments regardless of who owns the horse when it starts to perform.

It is an interesting option, and it places the risk of going to an unproven sire who is less known here, with the rewards of getting financial pain relief until the horse proves he can earn his way.

In the pricing, he is more or less the equal of Macca Lodge’s Net Ten EOM and Panspacificflight.

So what credentials does he have?

Prodigal Seelster

Canadian horse Prodigal Seelster, Camluck x Platinum Seelster (Western Hanover) stands in New Zealand with an interesting pay on success fee option

Prodigal Seelster (Camluck x Platinum Seelster – Western Hanover) is a reasonable sire prospect in his own right, although in the competitive market here I would place him probably more at $2200 than $3250. However the shared-risk deal adds an appealing sweetener, particularly when the attributes of the stallion in terms of pedigree and racing CV make him worth much more than a passing thought. If your mare (and your pocket) suits, this could be quite a tempting option to lower your risks. He was a decent winning racehorse from a solid family, with good looks.

The stud will have built some of their risks into the pricing structure too. And the deal doesn’t take into consideration the costs you will have incurred getting the foal to that stage of qualifying and racing, so even a 1st at his first start won’t cover all your obligations unless you are really lucky. But if it suits you, and you have the sense to either save or put aside the rest of the service fee (or make sure you sell with that margin built in), the deal is definitely worth a look.

Prodigal Seelster was raced solely in Canada and through the rich stakes series there, so it is really hard to get a line on his actual ability at the very top level – but he has decent credentials.

As a sire, he has several things really working for him, if you have a mare that clicks with these:

  • By Camluck from a Western Hanover mare, he’s bordering on being an outcross to almost every broodmare we have here, apart from recent daughters of Western Hanover or one of his earlier sons (such as Badlands Hanover). Having said that, he’s the only sire I can find that has Western Hanover himself as an immediate damsire in his maternal line. So if you are looking to hook up directly to that factor or duplicate it, he’s a nice option as it comes direct through his dam, rather than through a sire of a damsire.
  • He has a solid maternal pedigree, with his second dam Parcel having left, amongst others, a Camluck filly called Paula Seelster ($600k+) who has bred on well to sires Artiscape, Real Desire and Life Sign.
  • He traces back to Barbara Eden, which is a nice modern family in the making (see below).
  • He is a nice individual, although like so many colts who are retired with injury after taxing racing as youngsters, his soundness is a question mark. But that is not a genetic thing usually, unless it is about bone density or an inherited conformation issue or distinctive racing action.
  • His very few foals look like nice types, but way too early to tell from such small numbers.

So, he is a very interesting option and not to be dismissed lightly.

Noel Kennard is behind this initiative and I give a big tip o’ the hat to him and goHarness for putting different breeding and racing options out there for people to choose from. At least they are trying something different!

Find out more on their website here or contact Johnny Robinson on 021 883 713.  I have no financial interest in the sire and this is not an advert, but I am interested in promoting different options that may suit some breeders, particularly financially.

For me the main thing would be to NOT regard it as a free service and to ensure you have saved the potential service fee payments early on, in expectation of a good result.

PS Another interesting and inexpensive breeding option this year comes from the same maternal Barbara Eden (U44) family as Prodigal Seelster – Shadyshark Hanover standing at Barra Equine for $2500 + gst.  Again the cross is with a sire from the Cam Fella sire line, in this case Cam’s Card Shark, and with a No Nukes damsire. It is a family that has got some momentum going in recent years, particularly on the branch of her daughter Barbret (which is the branch Prodigal Seelster belongs too). Included in the Barbret branch is the wonderful filly Sassa Hanover born 2012 by Rock N Roll Heaven – 1:49.4US $1,008,469.

Barbara Eden was an American actress well known on Tv in the later 1950s and 1960s, best known title role as the blond genie in a bottle in the 1960s TV show I Dream of Jeannie opposite Larry Hagman. The mare Barbara Eden was born in 1966.


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This year’s Little Brown Jug was the 10th anniversary of Mr Feelgood’s win – the one I was privileged to see in person in Delaware. I was reminded of that by an article in Harness Racing Update where driver Mark Macdonald recalled the moment prior to the racing:

Ten years ago in this very stall, Mr Feelgood stood, virtually unnoticed,as a crowd gathered around his neighbour, straining to see the dog-sized speedster named Doonbeg. “Everyone wanted to see the little horse. Adam Hanley was (Mr Feelgood’s) groom and he was standing there with Mr Feelgood and it was like a joke,”Hey guys, Mr Feelgood over here.” But no one wanted to see him.He was put off,because he loved the horse so much and I said,”We’ll get them on the track, don’t worry about it,” MacDonald said.


The pint-sized Doonbeg (shown here in his stall on Jug Day) captured everyone’s imagination but Mr Feelgood captured the Little Brown Jug. Photo: Bee Pears

I confess I put my money on Doonbeg, but it was Mr Feelgood who won, and went on to many more wins including the Interdominion Championship and Hunter Cup in this part of the world, and a siring career that has been somewhat strange – his first crop was born before he had officially started at stud, his biggest crop in Australia is the result of a free service deal which has resulted in 227 foals born in 2015, and yet in New Zealand (where he raced very well for trainer Tim Butt) he has been totally ignored. They haven’t been able to give his semen away!

Well, there are a handful of us New Zealand breeders who have grabbed the opportunity, and it is appropriate that (fingers crossed for a safe landing) I will have a Mr Feelgood foal landing later this year from my Dream Away mare Dreamy Romance. Maybe if it is brown, it will have its name pretty well sorted! You can still get Mr Feelgood’s frozen semen at extremely good price ($1,750 + gst) from Lee Morris at Equibreed, and there may still be some at Nevele R Stud if you ask. Remember this was a fast (1.49 at 5yo), durable (raced until he was 8 and was still winning big stakes at the top level), and rich (lifetime earnings well over $3m) horse, with a maternal line (the K Nora/Adora family, Leah Almahurst branch) which is firing so beautifully at the moment.

I’ll be heading back to him again.

Betting Line’s family

Unfortunately this year’s Little Brown Jug has ended in a cloud that will be hard to disperse for a while, regardless of test outcomes, for winner Betting Line.

Betting Line

Betting Line gets a cool down after racing.

It is the old story – justice has to be seen to be done, and clean trainers have to be seen to be clean. So anything, any talk or action that could be misinterpreted should be ringing alarm bells. Perhaps a simple notification to the stewards that vanilla yogurt was going to be administered would have avoided all of this. It is really sad, as Coleman is an extremely good, hard-working trainer, and Betting Line is a very good horse. An 8-length win should be something we are all celebrating, instead of just hoping it was all done right.

Putting that to one side, let’s have a closer look at Betting Line – he’s a Bettor’s Delight from Western Hanover mare Heathers Western, who was a Pink Bonnet winner. Betting Line already has three well performed siblings from other sires – All Or None (2006 mare, $225,053) by Cams Card Shark, Full Picture (2007 mare, $581,876) by Artsplace, and  JK Folly (2011 mare, $176,872) by Art Major. A mare that can produce quality foals like that from a range of sires – two siring lines in common, to be sure – is a sign of a really good broodmare.

Betting Line’s grandam is Santastic, a Camtastic mare. If that rings bells, she is the dam of Santastic’s Pan who has stood at stud in Australia for many years. In fact I am sure he was at the same Little Brown Jug day when Mr Feelgood won – and if I recall, he was a winner there of the Jug Preview and I had a bet on him because I was a Camtastic fan at the time! Just checking on Santastic’s Pan siring stats in Australia, I see he has had 66 foals for 35 starters and 22 winners, but these are dribbled over 8 breeding seasons and the most mares he’s ever had in a season is 23. But those results are not disgraceful from such limited opportunities, and it is interesting to see some of his best are from In The Pocket mares, much like Camtastic himself. It’s interesting that both Betterthancheddar and Betting Line are both sons of Bettor’s Delight that carry Camtastic in their maternal lines.

This is a really strong family and if you use the Classic Families pedigree option to show X factor individuals, you will see Santastic’s maternal line is chock full of good things. So if Betting Line (who I think is a colt) ends up down here as a sire in future, I think he will a better chance of showing off his strong maternal foundation.



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Kym Kearns describes this colt as probably the best type her mare Sun Isa has produced to date, and that’s a big call since the siblings have all been very good-looking horses.

Angus Hall x Sun Isa yearling colt.

Isa The Great

Isa The Great after his weekend wash.

“Hank” as we call him, is the 6th foal from Sundon mare Sun Isa and her 4th son. She leaves strikingly good-looking horses, big and bold, and with plenty of ability.

Kym retained the previous foal, a filly named Library Lady, who is now a very strong 2yo with a lovely trotting action.

Previous foals from Sun Isa are: Flying Isa (56 starts, 17 wins, $481,667), Isa Smiling (very talented, 3 wins, now dam of a 2yo colt), Angus Fogg (late developing but talented 5yo trained by Derek Balle), Isa Flyer (died recently in paddock accident),  Library Lady, and Isa The Great. The first four foals were all sold at the PGG Wrightson yearling sales, and that is where Isa The Great is heading to.

Sun Isa

Kym with Sun Isa at Isa Lodge, after her Spring wash and brush.

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The more I see this filly (out my window every day) the more I like what I see.

A Rocknroll Dance x The Blue Lotus yearling filly.

The Blue Beat

After her shower, looking gorgeous.

“Iris”, as we call her, moves easily, naturally and she has attitude but manners. She is starting to mature and understand things.

Last weekend, we brought the mums in from other paddocks for a wash, and then their yearling offspring at our home paddocks, also for a wash and brush. Lots of winter hair was shed, lots of enjoyment under the shower!

Below: The Blue Beat – finally got a registered name for this filly, and it is a cracker! The Blue Beat, the rock n roll song made famous in Australasia by our own wonderful Dinah Lee. “Come on and do the blue beat, the blue beat, and you’ll never be blue!” Hey, if you’re my age you will remember bopping around the living room to this song.

The Blue Beat

A Rocknroll Dance x The Blue Lotus

Below: The Blue Lotus, dam of The Blue Beat, Amazon Lily (3 wins, 6 placings from 13 starts) and Blackend (Shadow Play colt broken in well for Australian owner Domenic Martello) looking great and very much in foal with her next Shadow Play offspring.

The Blue Lotus

The Blue Lotus

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The Blue Lotus

The Blue Lotus (Grinfromeartoear x Zenterfold) in foal to Shadow Play and getting a wash at Isa Lodge yesterday.

My last two blogs have deliberately reversed the usual sire x mare breeding notation in the title of the blog. That’s for a reason. For me, the mare plays such an important role in terms of her genetic structure (what she brings to the table), and how good she is as a broodmare (her ability to conceive, carry and deliver a healthy foal, and her ability as a mum, because the foal will have 1000% more to do with her than with the dad!) Her own history will also come into the equation – what she has left so far, what issues if any are there, what in her family is showing up now or could be showing up later…

So I know and respect the conventions for breeding notations which put the sire and his pedigree double-ups first.

But that’s not the same as making a decision about breeding.

For me, once you have a potentially good or good broodmare, she must have the strongest say in your choice of sire.

It is easy to latch on to a sire that you like.  There is such a line-up of well-performed, handsome horses coming to a siring career each year. There is also a handful who have conquered the challenges and become “the chosen ones”, our proven sires like Bettor’s Delight and Art Major. And then another market of the “repêcharges” – sires both new and established who are carving out a specific career for themselves – Badlands Hanover has been a master of this, Live Or Die also successful, Grinfromeartoear finding his niche nicely over the years, and the new guns like Sunshine Beach, A Rocknroll Dance, Sportswriter, Auckland Reactor, Sir Lincoln and Tintin In America trying to get a foothold in a very competitive race.

Sometimes, when your budget doesn’t extend to the top commercial sires, there are rich selections amongst these “been there, done that” sires and the “going places if you let me” sires. They offer incredible value for money if you have done some thinking about why you are breeding and what your mare needs.

The one to give you the best answer about that isn’t me.  It’s your mare.

Treat her right. Do the thinking. Make the choice. And then look after her interests each step of the way – through the 11 months and 11 days and beyond.

In a very real sense, breeding is not a partnership of Sire x Mare, but more about how well you as a breeder can find the best mate for the mare. That’s actually what many of us breeders are about, what keeps us going. Some might be pimping for sheer profit, but most of us are searching for something deeper than that – a sire that suits our mare, and then a foal that goes on to be a really good racehorse!

Bingo! (Has that name been taken??)

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Nostalgic Franco and her Tintin In America colt foal at Macca Lodge

Nostalgic Franco and her Tintin In America colt as a foal last year at Macca Lodge

Nostalgic Franco is the second of the two mares I am breeding this season – a Rustler Hanover mare I bought at a mixed sale in foal to Tintin In America. That was a cross I really, really liked the look of and the resulting (now yearling colt) foal is a very nice type and I will go back for more in future. The mare then had a year off.

I look at the reality of Nostalgic Franco: a mare with some ability as a racehorse but quite one-paced, who has been bred to Nevele R sires as part of a broodmare band, and done well with that opportunity – but more potential is there, not yet the speed sire to click her genes into a new gear. That is my challenge.

According to my breeding formula I also needed to sort out WHAT I am breeding this next foal for, and what I would optimally want to do with it. It is a question that stops you going in wider and wider circles (which I started to do, just out of interest), and narrows your options to a reasonable number of sires you can afford and match your aim.

I decided I wanted to breed from a commercial sire to give me the option of selling as a yearling (depending on the sire’s commercial appeal at the time and the quality of the foal, of course).  That didn’t mean the 4 to 5 top sires. For financial reasons, they were out of the question. The Art Major choice for Zenterfold is where any savings are going! So I was left with considering sires that were within my budget but are likely to be or could be commercial about 3 years from now. And that gets further reduced by sires that for genetic reasons might be totally unsuitable.

When you look at it that way, you can see why breeding to sell early is extremely difficult. But the good news is there is plenty of choice, thanks to a very competitive Australasian market for new and enduring sires in the $4000 to $6000 bracket.

Long story cut short, I have looked closely at (in alphabetical order) A Rocknroll Dance ($6000), Betterthancheddar ($4000), He’s Watching ($6000), Rock N Roll Heaven (borderline at the $7000 price I recommended in my blog lol), Roll With Joe ($5,500), Shadow Play ($4000), Sportswriter ($4500), Sunshine Beach ($4000), and Sweet Lou ($6000). These are great horses, proven on the track, good pedigrees, etc.

Interestingly, several are from the same Western Hanover sire line as my mare. But I think my mare’s family (and I’ve talked about this with someone who has been closely involved in that maternal family for many generations) overall needs injections of speed almost every generation. It is the maternal family of Cardigan Bay. But it doesn’t have that underlying speed factor coming in genetically from its mares – it seems to rely on injections from sires who add value AND speed. Even then, the progeny tend to be good types, reasonable size, who are a little “one speed” and lack that ability to crank up another gear or two quickly. (Which is of course what most horses lack, as we humans do!)

So part of my elimination rounds – a more sporting term for “mulling” – was looking for a reinforcement of speed genes and quick flex ability, rather than strength and stamina.  The end of my mulling has been A Rocknroll Dance, and it is the combination of several factors. First, I like the match in terms of pedigree. The Western Hanover line seems to be competing with the revived Direct Scooter line as the “line of speed”. That is from a siring perspective. But for an overall match this is something quite new for me, considering how many times Wendymae Hanover pops up (3f,5m, x 4m) but this is more breeding to strong mares – both Wendymae Hanover (and her maternal package) and Rich N Elegant (and her maternal package) are coming close up.

You know I am a great admirer of strong maternal influences and much as the strong engine room sires and damsires. So I like seeing Overtrick in good places on this match.

The mare’s bottom line feeds into this in a less obvious way. Back further there are more synergies and duplication from good lines. But my focus is bringing speed and ability in, to update the family rather than reach backwards. So it is a fairly new and exciting breeding in that regard.

On type, I have kept a close eye on the foals A Rocknroll Dance is producing, including the filly I have out in the paddock here. He really stamps his mark as a sire on type – proportioned and athletic. That doesn’t mean all his foals are like that, but like some other successful sires, many of his offspring have a similar look. Signs of a sire that can make it? I don’t know but I think many breeders and buyers will take a chance on it.


A Rocknroll Dance x Nostalgiic Franco




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I’m breeding just two mares this year, Nostalgic Franco and Zenterfold. The other two (Dreamy Romance and The Blue Lotus) are having a year off. That gets them an earlier start next time, but it also takes some financial  pressure off.

Last blog I shared once again the simple formula that helps me work out these things. And one of the biggest considerations is “what is this breeding for?” The answer may be varied, complex, simple or even “I don’t know but I just want to do it!” But at least you have thought about the possible purpose – which can influence what sire you may choose from a number of sires with a suitable pedigree match, or how much money you spend, and so on.

Bee with Zenterfold May 2014

Bee with Zenterfold May 2014

For me, the aim with both these mares is to breed a foal that may be commercial enough to sell at yearling sales. That’s given me enough scope of sires to choose from, and with Zenterfold a wider range because she is a proven breeder of commercial foals and has a good track record of performers. In the past I have had the same aim, but selected a suitable sire from the borderline commercial sires in terms of yearling sales – Grinfromeartoear (x2) and Real Desire. I bred Tintin In America when McArdle was very new and unproven (which worked out well for me, less so for McArdle who has struggled to define himself as a sire). And last time I tried to go more commercial and more expensive with Rocknroll Heaven, only to come away with a lower return (but selling a really nice filly).

That’s all water under the bridge and winners on the track now. This time I am playing safer, with Art Major.  It is my most conservative selection ever, but also my most expensive. So there is risk involved for sure.

However there is a lot more to the equation than just the potential commercial appeal of a foal. The match still needs to be right on a range of other grounds – as the equation says: what the sire offers, what the mare offers, how that works in combination, and the effort that goes into developing a foal.

Art Major has several elements in his pedigree that I believe match really well with Zenterfold, and what I have learned about her breeding.

  • Starting with the top line, he is a son of Artsplace, as is Grinfromeartoear, and I was particularly pleased with the two foals I bred by Grin. So that gives me some confidence.
  • What I like even more is Art Major’s maternal side. Firstly, Nihilator is there sitting in exactly the same spot (as damsire) as he does for McArdle. I’ve blogged before about how I see a lot of Nihilator’s influence in Tintin In America (by McArdle) – type, physical and mental. So again, this element gives me confidence on past results.
  • Then on Art Major’s bottom line he brings in both The Old Maid – another strong connection for Zenterfold, and a beacon for many of my breeding decisions for the mare – and the great family of Romola Hal through one of her most current branches. I’ve done a whole series of blogs on that family which you can find by searching on romola hal in the blog search box.
  • Art Major also carries Shadow Wave in his maternal line through Big Towner, the sire of Rodine Hanover. I love the way Shadow Wave and The Old Maid seem to work together in a pedigree matching. And of course Zenterfold has both these influences in her own maternal half, through New York Motoring and Bachelor Hanover.
  • And finally, Art Major brings in Tar Heel through the mating of Tar Heel and Romola Hal. In Zenterfold’s pedigree Tar Heel also lies in really important places – as the damsire of In The Pocket and the grandamsire of New York Motoring.

As a bold type of horse physically, Art Major will hopefully add a bit of  size and scope into the equation too, and that is very important when you are selling a yearling.

Now going back to the “golden cross” concept, if you merely talked of an Art Major x In The Pocket cross, you would be ignoring some of the most important influences that arise from Zenterfold’s maternal family in the cross with Art Major! That’s why as breeders we need to look deeper than just “golden cross” statistics or marketing ploys.

Art Major x Zenterfold pedigree match

Art Major x Zenterfold pedigree match

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We are just about to officially click over to our official breeding season, 1 September.

Usually I have my breeding decisions sorted well and truly by now. I’ve studied, thought, mulled (with the help of a little vino), and I’ve looked at the sire and the mare naked in the paddock (them, not me of course). I’ve talked with a few people and mulled again, and then I trust my instincts and go for it. Basically, I work through the equation I have always put out there for breeders, not as an equation for glory, but as an equation for good results from what you have and where you want to go.

Breeding this way can still be incredibly exciting and outside the square. All it does is make sure you think things through – and make whatever decision you want! Breeding horses is something that gives us a sense of control over nature, while still being totally at the mercy of nature. Actually, we are just trying to get “in synch” with nature AND the market place. But nature is the best poker player you have ever sat round a table with…lol  And I am not sure that too many of us walk away from that poker table with a profit!

This is the formula I have always put up for breeders to use to make informed but personal decisions  (note: there is no subscription fee or theory you have to follow):

1 + 2 + = + $ + V + U + ?

Which translated means:

1  What the mare brings to the table, plus
2  What the sire brings to the table, plus
=  How those complement each other, plus
$  Your budget and what’s good value
V  The added value of how you raise the foal
U  Your goal – what you are aiming to succeed in, plus
?  An element of luck.


This year I am only breeding two mares – Zenterfold (to Art Major) and Nostalgic Franco (to A Rocknroll Dance).

I’ll blog on both of those breedings next time, as the Zenterfold one in particular ties in with the conversation we are having about the limitations of simple “golden cross” matches compared to looking at what might be driving things in the maternal lines.

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