Posts Tagged ‘Bettor’s Delight’

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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Dot Schmidt in Australia has sent in this thoughtful response to the discussion in the previous blog re the influence of Tar Heel with Bettor’s Delight and He’s Watching.

David has obviously put a lot of work into that but for mine there’s a couple of things to query. For his top 50 performers in Australia are these restricted to foaled in Australia, or are NZ imports included? To make the figures relevant a % of performers to foals is needed. 11 in the top 50 from ITP mares foaled in Australia I’d guess would be a very high % of performers but probably not if some of these are imports and thus cherry picked from a much larger foal crop. %age wise maybe the Artsplace, or particularly the Safely Kept crosses as I doubt that BD served many Safely Kept mares may actually be much better. Off course you need, and this goes particularly for some of the other sires listed a large enough number of offspring to be statistically relevant.

I noted Falcon Seelster wasn’t on David’s list of Broodmare sires in Australia which I thought was interesting as I recall something on your blog about the success of BD over Falcon Seelster mares in NA. I’m sure that this would be an anomaly rather then evidence  that BDs out of Falcon Seelster mares can’t run in Australia!

Is David’s fondness for Tar Heel based on the theory of “X factor” as found in Mariann Hanns books? If so the horse genome has been completely mapped and there is no single large heart gene found on the X chromosome. There are sires who do make a bigger contribution to a breed as broodmare sires then others and Tar Heel was certainly one. It may have something to do with the X chromosome but it will be multiple genes and probably as much to do with skeletal muscle as large hearts which obviously do exist just not as the result of a single gene.

With He’s Watching I’m not sure that the 8 (6 unique) strains of Tar Heels in the 6th generation is particularly relevant but perhaps the symmetry is what appeals. Meadow Skipper, not all in the 6th generation but there abouts has 13 strains through his sons and daughters and 7 unique so actually contributes a larger % of genes to He’s Watching. I think He’s Watchings high speed and success as a racehorse is largely due to the reinforcing of his highly successful U7 influences Leah Almahurst and Three Diamonds and luck in the genetic draw moreso then the influence of Tar Heel in the 6th generation. I do agree with David on the reinforcing of family U2 though.

I agree he could do well with BD mares but not in my opinion because of the Tar Heel lines in both but moreso because closer up BGs Bunny is genetically speaking very nearly a full sibling to Three Diamonds. Also the Abercrombie over Albatross found in both. Off course the other half of the mares pedigree counts too, some of Shy Ann’s descendants  as found in both Real Desire and Jenna’s Beach Boy wouldn’t go astray and as David pointed out The Old Maid/ Spinster U2 family.

I doubt it would ever happen but I’d imagine a He’s Warching out of Adore Me could a seriously fast horse! Two BGs Bunnys plus Farm timer who descends from Nora Adelle and has two lines of family U2

Of course the beauty of discussing breeding theories is just that, it’s theory and no one is necessarily more right then another and as they say opinions are like a***holes, everyone has one!

See also Kevin’s comment to this post. Click on the arrow alongside “One comment” below.

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I’d like to share some research and observations by Australian blog follower David Sinclair. David says: “Although I currently don’t have any horses nor am I currently breeding any I am truly fascinated with bloodlines and pedigrees, and really enjoy learning as much as I possibly can.” David emailed me with his analysis of some of the influences of Tar Heel/Volomite/San Francisco combination in current crosses with Bettor’s Delight and potentially with He’s Watching, and then with some of his thoughts on why some sires perform a huge role as damsires but struggle to leave a top siring son – and will his permission I’d like to share this exchange with you.

Addtional thoughts welcome – leave a comment at the end of the blog (although I know a lot of you prefer to email me direct at bee.raglan@xtra.co.nz). David’s comments are based on Australian statistics.

David Sinclair:

Touching on your very informative article on B4Breeding.com regarding He’s Watching, I too am very interested to see what kind of job He’s Watching is able to do at stud. I have always suspected that he would be a fine job but until the results finally come to fruition I guess he’s still a bit of an unknown.

I have actually been doing a bit of research because I have a theory regarding what type of mares he would best suit. I am very interested to hear your thoughts. The first thing that stands out to me is the 8 sources of Tar Heel in his 6th generation, 6 of those sources being unique. I have always held the view that a big part of the reason for the success of Bettor’s Delight as a sire is his affinity with Tar Heel maternally, particularly In The Pocket mares. Although I only have Australian stats to go by, I had a look at the broodmare sire of Bettors Delight’s top 50 money earning progeny to race in Australia in order to try and determine any pattern. Not surprisingly, I believe that stats validate my suspicions.

Of Bettor’s Delight’s top 50 progeny to race in Australia, the list of broodmare sires is as follow with number of foals within the top 50 listed in brackets.

In The Pocket

In The Pocket – his mares are a great cross with Bettor’s Delight. His damsire is Tar Heel.

In The Pocket (11)
Artsplace (3)
Safely Kept (3)
Christian Cullen (3)
Sokys Atom (2)
Butler BG (2)
Dream Away (2)
Albert Albert (2)
Holmes Hanover (2)
Ticket To Heaven
BGs Bunny
What’s Next
Walton Hanover
Classic Garry
Northern Lights
On The Road Again
Silent Spring
Sands A Flyin
Seahawk Hanover
Die Laughing
Perfect Art
Make A Deal
New York Motoring
Direct Scooter
Village Jasper
Live Or Die
Save Fuel

As you can see, not surprisingly In The Pocket as a broodmare sire accounts for 11 of Bettor’s Delights top 50 progeny by earnings, a staggering 22%! However, when you look at what Bettor’s Delight brings to the table, the affinity for Tar Heel makes complete sense.

Bettor’s Delight carries:
Tar Heel/Volomite/San Francisco double through dam sire (Armbro Emerson/Most Happy Fella & Amrbro Emerson/Tar Heel), Adioo through dam sire (Armbro Emerson/Adios), Dillon Axworthy/Adioo through dam sire (Armbro Emerson/Follow Up), Kathleen double through dam sire (Armbro Emerson), through both Most Happy Fella via Good Time and through Armbro Emerson’s 9th dam who is Kathleen; Tar Heel/Volomite/San Francisco through 2nd dam sire (Albatross/Tar Heel), The Old Maid/Spinster/Kathleen through 2nd dam sire (Albatross/Dancer Hanover); Lida W through 3rd dam sire (Meadow Gene/Nutwood Wilkes) **San Francisco is out of Oniska, with Oniska bred 2×3 maternally to Lida W**; San Francisco through 7th dam sire (San Francisco).

Given Bettor’s Delights own strong connection to Tar Heel/Volomite/San Francisco/Oniska/Lida W, his ability to match so well to In The Pocket mares is not surprising, given In The Pocket is out of a Tar Heel mare. You may also note a close up connection to the Old Maid/Spinster/Kathleen blood as well through Bettors first 2 dams. Given the strong influence of Spinster, particularly through Light Brigade and Bachelor Hanover, amongst the NZ broodmare band I believe that this serves to further strengthen the connections to Tar Heel, adding a further string to the bow.

Now, considering Holmes Hanover is also out of a Tar Heel mare you may wonder why there aren’t more horses in the top 50 with Holmes Hanover as a broodmare sire. In my opinion I do not believe that Tar Heel is the main driving force behind Holmes Hanover maternally, rather it is more focused upon Margaret Parrish/Arion/Manette.

Now to go through what each of those broodmare sires brings to the table maternally.
In The Pocket – carries Tar Heel/Volomite/San Francisco through dam sire (Tar Heel);
Artsplace –carries Tar Heel/Volomite/San Francisco through dam sire (Albatross), The Old Maid/Spinster/Kathleen through dam sire (Albatross), plus Dillon Axworthy/Adioo through 2nd dam sire (Columbia George), 3rd dam sire (Duane Hanover) & 7th dam sire (Dillon Axworthy);
Safely Kept – carries Dillon Axworthy/Adioo through dam sire (Abercrombie), The Old Maid/Spinster/Kathleen through 3rd dam sire (Race Time), Dillon Axowrthy/Adioo through 4th dam sire (Shadow Wave), Helen Hanover/Dillon Axworthy/Adioo through 5th dam sire (Ensign Hanover);
Christian Cullen – carries Dillon Axworthy/Adioo through dam sire (Bo Scots Blue Chip), Helen Hanover/Dillon Axworthy/Adioo through 2nd dam sire (Overtrick)
Sokys Atom – carries Tar Heel/Volomite/San Francisco through 2nd dam sire (Tar Heel), Adioo through 3rd dam sire (Adios);
Butler BG – carries Spinster/Kathleen through dam sire (Race Time), Volomite/San Francisco maternal double through 2nd dam sire (Adios Butler);
Dream Away – carries Tar Heel/Volomite/San Francisco triple through dam sire (Forrest Skipper), Dillon Axworthy/Adioo through dam sire (Forrest Skipper), Tar Heel/Volomite/San Francisco double through 2nd dam sire (Sonsam), Dillon Axworthy/Adioo through 2nd dam sire (Sonsam), Tar Heel/Volomite/San Francisco through 3rd dam sire (Bret Hanover), Dillon Axworthy/Adioo through 3rd dam sire (Bret Hanover);
Albert Albert – carries Tar Heel/Volomite/San Francisco through dam sire (Albatross), The Old Maid/Spinster/Kathleen through dam sire (Albatross), Tar Heel/Volomite/San Francisco through 2nd dam sire (Bret Hanover), Dillon Axworthy/Adioo through 2nd dam sire (Bret Hanover);
Holmes Hanover – carries Tar Heel/Volomite/San Francisco through dam sire (Tar Heel), Dillon Axworthy/Adioo through 5th dam sire (Dillon Axworthy).**also carries Manette/Arion/Margaret Parrish through 2nd dam sire (Henry T Adios) & 3rd dam sire (Rodney), in my opinion this is the primary influence**;
Ticket To Heaven – carries Volomite/San Francisco through dam sire (Airliner), The Old Maid/Spinster/Kathleen through 2nd dam sire (Thorpe Hanover), Helen Hanover/Dillon Axworthy/Adioo through 5th dam sire (Ensign Hanover);
BGs Bunny – carries Tar Heel/Volomite/San Francisco through dam sire (Bret Hanover), Dillon Axworthy/adioo through dam sire (Bret Hanover);
Camtastic – carries Tar Heel/Volomite/San Francisco through dam sire (Albatross), The Old Maid/Spinster/Kathleen through dam sire (Albatross), Tar Heel/Volomite/San Francisco through 2nd dam sire (Tar Heel), Dillon Axworthy/Adioo through 3rd dam sire (Sampson Hanover), Volomite/San Francisco through 4th dam sire (Irish Hal);
What’s Next – carries Tar Heel/Volomite/San Francisco through dam sire (Bret Hanover), Dillon Axworthy/Adioo through dam sire (Bret Hanover), Tar Heel/Volomite/San Francisco through 2nd dam sire (Tar Heel), Adioo through 3rd dam sire (Wilmington);
Walton Hanover – carries Dillon Axworthy/Adioo through dam sire (Best Of All), Helen Hanover/Dillon Axworthy/Adioo through 2nd dam sire (Bullet Hanover);
Troublemaker – carries Tar Heel/Volomite/San Francisco through dam sire (Bret Hanover), Dillon Axworthy/Adioo through dam sire (Bret Hanover);
Classic Garry – a bit of an anomaly, does not carry any Tar Heel/Volomite/San Francisco, Dillon Axworthy/Adioo, or The Old Maid/Spinster/Kathleen maternally. From what I can tell the main influence is via Lady Marjoe and her son Jack Potts through 2nd dam sire (Kimberlene)???;
Northern Lights – carries Tar Heel/Volomite/San Francisco through dam sire (Albatross), The Old Maid/Spinster/Kathleen through dam sire (Albatross), Tar Heel/Volomite/San Francisco through 2nd dam sire (Tar Heel), Adioo through 3rd dam sire (Adios);
On The Road Again – carries Adioo through dam sire (Bye Bye Byrd);
Silent Spring – carries Tar Heel/Volomite/San Francisco through dam sire (Bret Hanover), Dillon Axworthy/Adioo through dam sire (Bret Hanover), Volomite/San Francisco through 2nd dam sire (Good Time), Kathleen through 2nd dam sire (7th dam of Good Time), Spinster/Kathleen through 4th dam (Lady Scotland/dam Spinster by Spencer whose 3rd dam is Kathleen);
Sands A Flyin – carries Tar Heel/Volomite/San Francisco through dam sire (Bret Hanover), Dillon Axworthy/Adioo through dam sire (Bret Hanover), The Old Maid/Spinster/Kathleen through 3rd dam sire (Dancer Hanover), Tar Heel/Volomite/San Francisco through 5th dam sire (Tar Heel);
Seahawk Hanover – Midnight through dam sire (Meadow Skipper), Midnight through 4th dam sire (Billy Direct), Dillon Axworthy/Adioo through 5th dam sire (Sandy Flash);
Die Laughing – Tar Heel/Volomite/San Francisco through dam sire (Albatross), The Old Maid/Spinster through dam sire (Albatross), Dillon Axworthy/Adioo through 2nd dam sire (Shadow Wave), Dillon Axworthy/Adioo through 3rd dam sire (Painter), Volomite/San Francisco through 4th dam sire (Good Time), Kathleen through 4th dam sire (7th dam of Good Time);
Perfect Art – Tar Heel/Volomite/San Francisco through dam sire (Nihilator), Dillon Axworthy/Adioo through dam sire (Nihilator), Margaret Parrish/Arion/Manette through dam sire (Nihilator), Dillon Axworthy/Adioo through 2nd dam sire (Big Towner), Margaret Parrish/Arion/Manette through 2nd dam sire (Big Towner), Volomite/San Francisco through 2nd dam sire (Big Towner), Kathleen through 2nd dam sire (Big Towner 10th dam Kathleen), The Old Maid/Spinster through 3rd dam sire (Dancer Hanover), Tar Heel/Volomite/San Francisco through 4th dam sire (Tar Heel);
Make A Deal – Dillon Axworthy/Adioo through dam sire (Abercrombie), Tar Heel/Volomite/San Francisco through 3rd dam sire (Bret Hanover), Dillon Axworthy/Adioo through 3rd dam sire (Bret Hanover), Adioo through 5th dam sire (Adios);
New York Motoring – Dillon Axworthy/Adioo through dam sire (Shadow Wave), Tar Heel/Volomite/San Francisco through 2nd dam sire (Tar Heel), Volomite/San Francisco through 5th dam sire (Volomite);
Direct Scooter – San Francisco through dam sire (Noble Victory), Kathleen through 3rd dam sire (Spencer);
Village Jasper – Dillon Axworthy/Adioo through dam sire (Abercrombie), Volomite/San Francisco through 2nd dam sire (Most Happy Fella), Kathleen through 2nd dam sire (Most Happy Fella), Tar Heel/Volomite/San Francisco through 3rd dam sire (Bret Hanover), Dillon Axworthy/Adioo through 3rd dam sire (Bret Hanover), Kathleen through 6th dam sire (Spencer), Margaret Parrish/Arion/Manette through 7th dam sire (Arion Guy), Arion/Manette though 8th dam sire (Todd);
Live Or Die – Tar Heel/ Volomite/San Francisco double source through dam sire (Temujin), Kathleen through dam sire (Temujin), Adioo through dam sire (Temujin), Tar Heel/ Volomite/San Francisco through 2nd dam sire (Romeo Hanover);
Save Fuel – Midnight through dam sire (Meadow Skipper).


As you may be able to see, one thing all of Bettor’s Delight’s top 50 money earners in Australia have in common, with the exception of Classic Garry & Save Fuel, is a doubling up of the primary influences of Bettor’s Delight maternally with what the broodmare sire offers maternally. Either a close up connection to Tar Heel/Volomite/San Francisco blood, Helen Hanover/Dillon Axworthy/Adioo blood, or The Old Maid/Spinster/Kathleen blood maternally, quite often in combination. But without a doubt, the blood that seems to pop up most prominently is Tar Heel/Volomite/San Francisco.

Which brings me to He’s Watching’s maternal pedigree. And please bear with me because it is very detailed.
Dam sire (Real Desire) – carries Tar Heel/Volomite/San Francisco through dam sire (Real Desire/Troublemaker/Bret Hanover), Dillon Axworthy/Adioo through dam sire (Real Desire/Troublemaker/Bret Hanover), Helen Hanover/Dillon Axworthy/Adioo through dam sire (Real Desire/Trenton/Overtrick), The Old Maid/Spinster/Kathleen through dam sire (Real Desire/Trenton/Thorpe Hanover), Adioo through dam sire (Real Desire/Trenton/Adios), Dillon Axworthy/Adioo through dam sire (Real Desire/Trenton/Sandy Flash), Spinster/Kathleen through dam sire (Real Desire/Race Time), Dillon Axworthy/Adioo through dam sire (Real Desire/Shadow Wave), Helen Hanover/Dillon Axworthy/Adioo through dam sire (Real Desire/Ensign Hanover)
2nd dam sire (Jennas Beach Boy) – carries Tar Heel/Volomite/San Francisco through 2nd dam sire (Real Desire/Jennas Beach Boy/Cam Fella/Bret Hanover), Dillon Axworthy/adioo through 2nd dam sire (Real Desire/ Jennas Beach Boy/Cam Fella/Bret Hanover), Dillon Axworthy/Adioo through 2nd dam sire (Real Desire/ Jennas Beach Boy/Cam Fella/Dale Frost), Helen Hanover/Dillon Axworthy/Adioo through 2nd dam sire (Real Desire/Jennas Beach Boy/Cam Fella/Ensign Hanover), Adioo through 2nd dam sire (Real Desire/Jennas Beach Boy/Windshield Wiper/Bye Bye Byrd), The Old Maid/Spinster/Kathleen through 2nd dam sire (Real Desire/Jennas Beach Boy/Windshield Wiper/Thorpe Hanover), Adioo through 2nd dam sire (Real Desire/Jennas Beach Boy/Windshield Wiper/Adios), Dillon Axworthy/Adioo through 2nd dam sire (Real Desire/Jennas Beach Boy/Windshield Wiper/Raider), Adioo through 2nd dam sire (Real Desire/Jennas Beach Boy /Adios), Helen Hanover/Dillon Axworthy/Adioo through 2nd dam sire (Real Desire/Jennas Beach Boy/Norette Hanover)
3rd dam sire (No Nukes) – Helen Hanover/Dillon Axworthy/Adioo through 3rd dam sire (No Nukes/Overtrick), Tar Heel/Volomite/San Francisco through 3rd dam sire (No Nukes/Tar Heel), Volomite/San Francisco maternal double through 3rd dam sire (No Nukes/Good Time), Kathleen through 3rd dam sire (No Nukes/ Good Time)
4th dam sire (Abercrombie) – Dillon Axworthy/Adioo through 4th dam sire (Abercrombie)
6th dam sire (Bret Hanover) – Tar Heel/Volomite/San Francisco through 6th dam sire (Bret Hanover), Dillon Axworthy/Adioo through 6th dam sire (Bret Hanover)
8th dam sire (Adios) – Adioo through 8th dam sire (Adios)


With his the 8 sources of Tar Heel in his 6th generation, 6 of which being unique, I think that He’s Watching will match up wonderfully well to Bettors Delight mares, particularly those who also carry a maternal connection to Tar Heel/Volomite/San Francisco through In The Pocket or to a lesser extent Holmes Hanover, Helen Hanover/Dillon Axworthy/Adioo through Falcon Seelster and Overtrick, or The Old Maid/Spinster/Kathleen through Bachelor Hanover or Light Brigade. I also suspect that he will match very well to Christian Cullen mares given the 5 separate maternal traces to Helen Hanover that He’s Watching possesses maternally through the first 3 dam sires (Real Desire, Jennas Beach Boy, No Nukes) considering that Christian Cullen also contains a trace to Helen Hanover through his 2nd dam sire Overtrick. Another stallion whose daughters I would not be surprised to see He’s Watching match up well with is Artsplace given his strong infusion of Dillon Axworthy maternally through his 2nd, 3rd and 7th dams.



Yes the influence of Tar Heel through the maternal lines of mares has been critical to some of the success of sires. Not doubling up necessarily, but complementing. Like that blog I did on “engine room sires”, you need the guy at the wheel but you also need the guy shovelling coal in the engine.
The Tar Heel factor is so interesting, as it poses a question about how long an influence can endure through broodmare sire (as his siring line is really gone now) and why it was/is that way for so many great male horses in the end, rather than leaving siring sons. Albatross the other standout longer term example.

David Sinclair:

I completely agree with your engine room sires post, especially laying the foundation within a pedigree. I believe that Tar Heel/Volomite fit your description perfectly maternally. I am constantly amazed at how many top horses from both hemispheres who carry Tar Heel and Volomite maternally, whether they be a dam sire, 2nd dam sire, 3rd dam sire etc, or whether they appear on the maternal side of dam sires. Albatross is quickly becoming very similar to Tar Heel in that regard. I have no doubt that when we look back in 20 years time he will provide a very similar influence.

The question you pose regarding some lines being successful maternally but not producing a lasting siring line has always puzzled me. I often wonder whether they become the victim of their own success. Being such dominant sires their fillies will often become quite potent broodmares. However, it is very rare that you would put a daughter of a particular sire to a son of that same sire, therefore you often have to look for another siring line. Tar Heel, Bret Hanover and Albatross have all been breed changing broodmare sires who were well ahead of the competition, with their daughters often becoming broodmare gems. However, with those other sires being so far behind in a broodmare sire sense, their daughters, looking collectively as a whole, would be somewhat inferior.

Therefore, the broodmare band that sons of Tar Heel, Bret Hanover and Albatross had to access was inferior compared to those that other sires were able to access, given that these other sires were able to breed to daughters of Tar Heel, Bret Hanover, Albatross etc. Consequently, these lines eventually fall out of favour.

In this regard, I would not be surprised to see the Artsplace siring line and the Bettors Delight siring line to also eventually die out solely due to their success as broodmare sires.

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Many of you will have already spotted this blog about siring lines on the View from the racetrack grandstand blogspot posted in February this year – but the announcement today that Highview Tommy (son of Bettor’s Delight) will stand at Woodlands Stud has prompted me to revisit it and seek your views. And of course to share mine!

Take time to read his post, and mine, and send in your comments via “Comments” at the very bottom of this blog. (Update: already had a very interesting comment posted from Murray Brown, check it out).

It raises the question of when and if two of the top racehorse producing sires of recent times – Cams Card Shark (Bettor’s Delight) and Artsplace (Art Major)  – will have the ability to continue their siring lines into the future.

It is remarkable that after so long at the top of his game, Bettor’s Delight has so few sons (such as Kenneth J, Betterthancheddar, and now locally Highview Tommy) as candidates to take over that dynasty. I blogged on that myself in September last year.

Likewise Art Major, although less tried in New Zealand, has had plenty of time internationally to throw up more than Art Official as a candidate for the Artsplace succession so far. I mean candidates that grab the commercial interest of breeders as well as their admiration for past deeds on the track. Sires than gain traction and can hold their service fees.  Siring success is such a tough venture.

I can see Art Major’s fortune as a sire or sires changing locally if the crop of young Art Major colts racing here like Isaiah, Sky Major, Tiger Tara and Follow The Stars keep performing like they have done to date. But Kiwi breeders will want to wait a year or so until they show a step up to the Cups and Interdoms before getting too carried away.

The blog highlights the rise and rise of the Direct Scooter siring line, which only 15-20 years ago looked like it might be a goner. There’s the Matt’s Scooter / Mach Thee / Somebeachsomewhere line from the Northern Hemisphere and In The Pocket / Christian Cullen and Changeover giving every chance to the line in the Southern Hemisphere.

Another factor the “View from the racetrack grandstand” blog highlights is the increasing arsenal of the Western Hanover branch of Meadow Skipper’s line internationally – most strongly through Western Ideal / Rocknroll Hanover (neither of which had much influence directly here in New Zealand), most potently through the latter’s sons Rock N Roll Heaven and now A Rocknroll Dance who are both available in Australia and New Zealand.

And yet there are no guarantees, are there!

It would have been a brave person 15 years ago to predict that Western Hanover / Direct Scooter combination in ascendence now.

Siring lines turn up some lovely surprises. For example, the strongest Meadow Skipper line we have today was founded by Oil Burner whose one outstanding son at stud was No Nukes – no other son of Oil Burner reached anything like No Nukes’ siring success. (Downunder we had Oil Burner’s son Devil’s Adversary standing for about 10 years from 1992, and he got a couple of decent books but didn’t show up much and dropped right away).

In the same way, it only took one of No Nukes’ sons – Western Hanover – to open up a range of strong branches that are still evolving and sorting themselves out. Will the Western Ideal branch keep growing? Or will a “dark horse” like Shadow Play or Well Said turn out to be Western Hanover’s most successful siring son?

Cam Fella, born in the same year as No Nukes, appeared to have many more successful siring sons to carry on his legacy – Cambest, Camluck, Cam’s Card Shark, Presidential Ball…. and yet he is struggling now with just one descendant – Bettor’s Delight – as a top sire, and no proven inheritors yet.

What does this tell us? That it takes just one, just one, to turn a line’s fortunes around.

And that one “sire of sires” can come from the less-than-obvious sources.

As breeders, we have a role to play in all this. Thoughtful breeding and giving quality new sires an opportunity are two ways we can contribute.

In another 15 years we might be looking back and saying: “Well, you’d never have guessed a son of Mister Big would reignite the Artsplace line.” Or perhaps: “Cam Fella line was almost gone until those sons of Roll With Joe really stood up to be counted!” Or even: “So it’s the Changeover line rather than Christian Cullen that’s blossoming down here.”  Or in my own dreams: “Thank heavens for Tintin In America, keeping that Bret Hanover line alive, and his outstanding son Tantan has already left 50% winners to foals.”

What do you think?

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Bettor’s Delight – outstanding siring son of Cam’s Card shark

Just announced by Hanover Shoe Farms today – Cam’s Card Shark has been retired from stud duties.

Interesting to see what a strong sire line that has become.

Will it be continued with Bettor’s Delight leaving a great siring son? We’ll have to wait and see. I’ve blogged on that before and it is quite intriguing.

Hanover shoe Farms has also done a deal to stand at stud there:

Myron Bell, the racing manager of the outstanding pacing colt Captaintreacherous and Jim Simpson, President of Hanover Shoe Farms today announced that an agreement has been reached for the great son of Somebeachsomewhere to stand at stud at Harness Racing’s greatest breeding farm beginning with the season of 2015.

Present plans call for “The Captain” to continue racing for the duration of 2013 and through the entire racing season of 2014.



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I’ve been promising a blog on Betterthancheddar for a while. Here it is, with a cheesy twist.

The title of this blog comes from a very well known old advertisement for New Zealand’s Mainland cheese!  It’s a blast from my childhood – sorry I can’t resist sharing this with readers from around the world.

Like a good cheese, Betterthancheddar (Bettor’s Delight – Lady Ashlee Ann – Camtastic) took time. He is a result of his own unique conformation and attitude, his trainer’s ability and the foundation of his pedigree.

He started racing as a 3yo, improved even more as a 4yo and was retired injured as a 5yo when looking as if he would improve yet again. With a 3×3 to Cam Fella, many would say that time might well be his friend.

Apart from Kenneth J, he is the first really commercial son of Bettor’s Delight we have seen at stud “downunder”, or in North American yet.

This blog isn’t about that, however. It takes the focus off the Bettor’s Delight connection and puts it back onto the maternal strengths and overall family inheritance that produed Betterthancheddar.

What I see in his pedigree is the meeting of lovely maternal lines. It’s no guarantee that a champion will be produced, but it increases the odds of getting good horses more consistently, generation after generation. And in turn that increases the chances that some of them will be extra good.

So this blog isn’t about which of our mares might ‘click’ with him. It’s about the female strengths that surround him, looking back and looking forward at them as producers and performers.

I have covered two of the strong female influences in his pedigree before, so I won’t repeat those:

Lady Ashlee Ann with her recent Bettor's Delight foal. (Photo from Winbak Farm website)

Lady Ashlee Ann with her recent Bettor’s Delight foal, a full brother to Betterthancheddar. (Photo from Winbak Farm website)

In this current blog I want to look more closely at

  • Lady Ashlee Ann, the dam of Betterthancheddar
  • Lushkara, the dam of Camtastic
  • Camtastic as a broodmare sire.

I don’t have new insights. This is a gathering of background information.

Of  interest to New Zealand and Australian breeders is that Lady Ashlee Ann is a daughter of Camtastic, who stood here for several years without much success. More about Camtastic and his dam Lushkara further on.

Earlier this year Lady Ashlee Ann was inducted as a Hall of Fame Broodmare – and this is her record in the official citation:

LADY ASHLEE ANN (Broodmare) p,3,1:51.3 ($95,481) Bay Mare, 1993 (Camtastic – Preacher Edith – Adios Vic)

Sired by 1987 Pacer of the Year and two-time Breeders Crown champion Camtastic, pacer Lady Ashlee Ann was bred by A. J. Gross of Manhasset, New York and was foaled on June 14, 1993. Lady Ashlee Ann raced from 1995-1997 and compiled a record of 28-8-5-1 with earnings of $95,481. Her major career victories came in a division of the 1995 Debutante Stakes and the 1996 Tarport Hap.

The progeny that qualified Lady Ashlee Ann for the Hall of Fame are Breeders Crown, Ben Franklin, Cane Pace and American-National winner, world champion Betterthancheddar p,4,1:48f ($1,577,219) (sired by fellow 2013 Hall of Fame inductee Bettor’s Delight), Art Rooney Pace, Classic Series final and Tattersalls Pace winner Ashlee’s Big Guy p,6,1:50.4f ($978,168) (sired by fellow 2013 Hall of Fame inductee Life Sign) and Artist’s View p,5,1:49.4 ($788,811), sired by Hall of Fame Immortal Artsplace.

To date, Lady Ashlee Ann has produced four fillies and nine colts, with eleven racing and earnings of $3,806,878. She is currently performing her broodmare duties for her owners at Winbak Farm in Chesapeake City, Maryland.

So one of the first things that I see is that Betterthancheddar is no fluke. This is a family that is rock steady with performers including Lady Ashlee Ann herself.

Lady Ashlee Ann’s dam is Preacher Edith (by Adios Vic, a very fast racehorse, only so-so sire, but good broodmare sire) who herself won 11 races as a 3yo and 4yo and left 6 of her 15 foals in 1.57. Her grandam is Keystone Sophie (by Tar Heel) who won $57,829 and produced some good fast performers including two by Cam Fella. From there the maternal family traces back to Knightland, a daughter of Lydia Knight and therefore a half sister to sire Knight Dream. The maternal family of Badlands Hanover also traces directly to Lydia Knight. As the dam of Knight Dream, Lydia Knight pops up in a number of classy pedigrees of sires like Abercrombie and Most Happy Fella and mares like Three Diamonds and in New Zealand in the maternal line of  New York Motoring, and of course Knight Dream was the sire of Lumber Dream.

Lady Ashlee Ann’s half sister Edith’s Girl is the dam of Parson’s Den, who stood as a sire for many years in Western Australia with considerable success. And her son Ashlee’s Big Guy (by Life Sign) has had a siring role in Maine, it seems, after being one of those durable and successful horses racing and winning from 2yo to 8yo for just a tad under a million dollars stakes.

Here’s a really nice article by Steve Wolf posted on the Winbak website (link here, extract below) at the time of Lady Ashlee Ann’s induction into the Hall Of Fame middle of this year:

She was a good racehorse, sired by Camtastic from the Adios Vic mare, Preacher Edith. Lady Ashlee Ann took a record of 1:51.3 at age 3 and retired to the broodmare barn after her four-year-old season with career earnings of $95,481. She is also a full and half sister to eight winners, including five sub 1:56 pacers.
But it was who Lady Ashlee Ann foaled that has earned her induction into the Hall of Fame. She has had 13 foals of racing age, one is a two-year-old getting ready for his first start, but of the other 12 foals, only has not raced and from the other 11, well her breeding record is one that may never get beaten.
Let’s start with her first foal, BJ’s Squall in 1998. She took a record of 1:53.1 and earned $261,750; then came Ashlee’s Big Guy 1:50.4 and $978,168 in earnings, then three pacers that were just OK, but then Artist’s View 1:49.4 with earnings of $788,811 then three more raceway horses and then she dropped a bomb by the name of Betterthancheddar. He is only one of the best pacers currently in harness racing, has a record of 1:48 and earnings of $1.6 million which in all likelihood will surpass $2 million by year’s end.
“I bought her dam, Preacher Edith,” Thomson explained, “and she was in foal to Camtastic and when she foaled on June 15, I named the filly after my daughter Ashlee Ann. She was a small filly so instead of selling her I gave her to Joe Holloway to train and she barely covered her training and stakes costs as two-year-old. But at age three she improved but one day Joe called me and said that Lady Ashlee Ann got a spider bite and might die from it. Well, two weeks later she not only recovered but took her mark of 1:51.3. So I knew she was something special, we tried to get $100,000 in earnings on her card and then bred her. She has done us great as a broodmare.”
And just by chance, who might the sire be of Lady Ashlee Ann’s best foal, Betterthancheddar? Well it’s none other than the first half of Winbak Farm’s Daily Double induction into the Hall of Fame, Bettor’s Delight!
But Lady Ashlee Ann’s story does not end so fast as she just had a foal on May 9, a colt and it’s sired by none other than Bettor’s Delight…anyone want to start the bidding for this foal in two years?

And finally something about CAMTASTIC and his dam LUSHKARA

Lushkara was a good filly taking a 1.54 record at 3yo. As well as Camtastic, she is the dam of Lush Limbaugh and several other daughters who have gone on to be good producers. This pedigree for one of her descendants shows the family in some detail. It is a family where speed and durability are features.

Camtastic was a brilliant 2yo himself, but never left any speedy youngsters as a sire. He stood in New Zealand in the late 1990s and again in the early 2000s, with a year’s break in between which I can’t recall the reason for.

The best of his progeny were stayers, definitely not speedsters.  In my view (and I have a fondness for Camtastic, having owned a couple of his mares) he’s a sire that didn’t upgrade mares. But he didn’t downgrade them either.

Sometimes it is a matter of timing, too. Camtastic would probably have relished In The Pocket mares, with their fierce will and speed. He just missed the main bunch of them, they came a wee bit later when he was already seen as a less commercial for highly rated mares, but the three he got turned out well.

Over the years there have been some remarkably good horses (also mainly males and tough stayers) coming from Camtastic mares. Smoken Up is one of course, and (Mysta) Magical Mach another, but there are several who have proved good earners – and some of the sires who feature in those are Courage Under Fire (especially) and Christian Cullen who are both top sons of In The Pocket, Tinted Cloud (for Smoken Up) who is another son of In The Pocket, and Live Or Die (son of Die Laughing), who really seems to add that determination required to win.

North American stats for Camtastic as a damsire indicate he had a 100% (12/12) hit with Artiscape mares, but that match was tried only once here for no result.

What about Camtastic mares with Bettor’s Delight, the same cross as Betterthancheddar? The four or so Camtastic mares who have been to Bettor’s Delight here in New Zealand have not really performed well enough to indicate any special nick.

So a Camtastic broodmare mare with good breeding or perhaps more importantly some real ability herself could/can be matched to sires that will leave speed and toughness, and now and then you get a beauty. Overall, I don’t think Camtastic adds or detracts from Bettorthancheddar’s pedigree, and it’s hard to know if Lady Ashlee Ann’s family’s previous success with Cam Fella indicates anything except it is a family with underlying maternal speed that can cross well with sires that add strength and durability.

Of course Bettor’s Delight is a sire known for speed, and that was certainly the way to go for a Camtastic mare, no matter how fast she was herself.

I think it is mainly the mares who are calling the shots in Betterthancheddar’s pedigree, with help from Bettor’s Delight, a sire than can really stamp his ability and his own traits in a way that Camtastic (and probably most sires who attempt a siring career) could not achieve.

Betterthancheddar is standing at Alabar New Zealand at $4,500.

Lot 322 Premier Yearling Sale 2014, New Zealand
Just a wee footnote: A grand-daughter of Lushkara is Lucky Yankee, by Western Hanover out of Lush Limbaugh. It looks like Lucky Yankee was imported to New Zealand by Cavalla Bloodstock for breeding. She is now owned by Davinia Harrison who has Lot 322 a colt by Christian Cullen out of Lucy Yankee in the yearling sale in February 2014. And you can see her other foals here at HRNZ Info Horse – nothing much happening yet, but it will be interesting to see what develops over time.

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Hindsight is a glorious thing.

And in hindsight we will be able to sort out the strange situation we have at the moment where a sire like Grinfromeartoear, who is not a glamour boy in the siring ranks, now has 3 sons at stud in the southern hemisphere*, while Bettor’s Delight, who has been incredibly popular and serving big crops here for 6 years has had only Kenneth J and now this season Betterthancheddar borrowed from the northern hemisphere and having a go downunder in a truly commercial way – and of course his brother Roll With Joe.

Kenneth J  has had reasonable but not large foal crops so far – there was a huge lack of interest in New Zealand (4 live foals), but more traction in Australia with 63 foals in his first season, 51 in his 2nd season and 49 in his 3rd season for a total of 163. So the earliest foals have only just turned 3yo, and it is hard to tell yet what those results mean. He’s had 18 starters from his first crop of 63, for 6 winners. The 6 in Australia who won as 2yos cover a range of earnings from $4,625 to $82,544  – the latter being a filly called Im Bella Jay, from Belturbet (a Barnett Hanover mare out of Chivasso, a New Zealand bred Save Fuel mare.  Chivasso is of course the dam of NZ very good mare Donegal Delight by Bettor’s Delight).

Check out some other sire lines here: Mach Three now has Auckland Reactor and Sir Lincoln as local representatives, as well as access to Somebeachsomewhere.

Both Christian Cullen and Courage Under Fire (by In The Pocket) were exceptional racehorses and sires, but look at the differences when it comes to sons at stud. Christian Cullen has already got several “options” at stud, while the Courage Under Fire has only got a freshman sire about to start. Courage Under Fire is an oddity – and yet not unlike Bettor’s Delight in this debate – such a remarkable horse and sire, but has taken many years to get just one son, Lanercost, finally standing at stud. For all the very good horses he has left, none have had breeders drooling at the prospect of sending their mares in that direction. And like Bettor’s, some of his best have been geldings. Compare that with Christian Cullen who has half a dozen options (not all will make it) but the range of potential inheritors is at least maximising Christian Cullen’s chances of leaving a successful son at stud.

What makes a siring line get traction with breeders?

Is it breeder/buyer perception in a commercial sense? (In which case why has Grinfromeartoear got the jump on Bettor’s Delight?)

Is it the domination of the dad that make it hard for the sons to compete? (In which case why have Christian Cullen sons been so willing to line up as sires as soon as possible, while Bettor’s Delight sons have held back?)

Is it the quality of the potential sire as a racehorse that make the difference?

That is an intriguing question, when you look at Bettor’s Delight.

What an amazing sire. And yet if I ask the question: So which of his outstanding sons in NZ, now 3, 4 5 or 6 years old, would you name as potential sires….what names spring to mind? (Even taking geldings into account?)

Highview Tommy, an entire? A racehorse I love and his owners do too. Gutsy little guy, proven. But a sexy sire that would attract mares? An inheritor of Bettor’s Delight’s mantle as a sire here? I can’t see that happening commercially.

Border Control and Five Card Draw are the only real contenders in New Zealand to date – and woops, both are geldings.

It is an interesting puzzle. Why some sires produce a legacy of sires. What will happen with the siring line of Bettor’s Delight?

Then again, numbers are not everything. Some of the most potent sire lines have held on by a single (sometimes relatively unfashionable) sire.  While others have had to spawn many in the search of a successor. Life
Sign is a good example of that, a fantastic sire who has struggled to leave a son/s to carry on his line. Real Desire has that chance and I personally like him a lot, but he has a battle now to show it, given his “here today, gone tomorrow” history as a sire in New Zealand.

But I still find it unusual for such a hugely successful sire, with such large numbers of foals on the ground, to have yet to produce a potential successor in this part of the world.

Perhaps, in the end, it is horses for courses. Some are just amazing sires.

And that is enough.

Having said that, I will check out Betterthancheddar in a blog soon. He’s got a pedigree that will intrigue many breeders here.

* Mr Big, Mr Feelgood, Smiling Shard – plus his own continuin performance as a sire!

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Harvey tweeted this question: “Got a conundrum for you. Bettor’s Delight=great stallion. Falcon Seelster=great broodmare sire. In USA, Falcon Seelster mares have crossed exceptionally well with Bettor’s Delight. In Aust/NZ, the cross has been very average. Why do you think this is so?”

I don’t want to approach this like a train spotter. More a helicopter view of the railway network. I don’t have a nice clean answer.

Comparing stats from different hemispheres or even countries can be tricky. Just as tricky as comparing horses from different eras.

Bettor's Delight at Woodlands Stud NZ

Bettor’s Delight at Woodlands Stud in New Zealand

The latest USTA stats I’ve got indicate Bettor’s Delight x Falcon Seelster mares has delivered 22 foals of racing age, all have started, 21 have won, and half of them have won $100,000 plus. Those are amazing statistics.

Therefore it seems a big drop down to find, via the HRNZ current statistics on Info Horse, that Bettor’s Delight’s foals 2yo and older out of Falcon Seelster mares have numbered 51, for 20 winners to date. Which is a foals to winners percentage of 39%. Sorry haven’t had time to check the Australian equivalents.

Using the latest published Crosses of Gold stats on the NZSBA website (at end of 2011/12 season) the stats are 43 foals of racing age, 17 starters (39%), 13 winners (30%), and 1 (2%) winning $50,000 plus. Compare that to Falcon Seelster’s stats as a broodmare sire for all sires – 49% starters and 35% winners.  And Bettor’s Delights stats as a sire with all broodmare sires – 47% starters and 33% winners.

When figures from North America and Australasia get so far out of alignment, I would look to three possible reasons:

  1. The different types of racing which may skew results e.g. less emphasis here on 2yo racing, different types of tracks and distances, etc etc.
  2. Different genetic pool. Even though the sire and damsire are the same, it ignores the very different genetic maternal lines an grandamsire lines that we have in New Zealand, and different again in Australia. These may have as much influence on the success of a pedigree match as the more obvious sire/damsire cross.
  3. The statistics themselves – are we comparing apples with apples? How are the stats compiled and what are they saying?

I don’t know the answer to the conundrum, if there is one. I’m not so sure that the statistics for Australia and New Zealand are that bad, just average so far, remembering that Bettor’s Delight has some big crops still to move through the 2-5 yo age groups. It seems more to me that the US stats are remarkably good. And not just for Falcon Seelster as a damsire. Looking down the list of other damsires Bettor’s Delight has crossed with in America, starter percentages are mainly in the 80-100% and winner percentages in the 70-100% range. These would be extraordinarily rare in New Zealand.

Let’s look at some of our other top or enduring sires:

  • Live Or Die for example comes up with 51% starters to foals and 36% winners to foals. (56% and 43% with Falcon Seelster as a damsire)
  • Mach Three at 51% and 38% (46% and 32% with Falcon Seelster as a damsire)
  • Christian Cullen shone at 67% and 50% (70% and 56% with Falcon Seelster as a damsire)

So even where Falcon Seelster mares really seems to have clicked with a top sire, the percentages for starters/foals and winners/foals is much lower than commonly seen in the USTA statistics.

Let’s have a look at another 100% USTA statistic for Bettor’s Delight – Beach Towel as a damsire – 11 foals, 11 starters, 11 winners. But in New Zealand? The stats so far for that cross are 50% and 40% – 10 foals for 5 starters and 4 winners. Other 100% US winner crosses with Bettor’s Delight are Laag, Goalie Jeff, Presidential Ball, On The Road Again and Sonsam. In The Pocket has 100% starters as a damsire for Bettor’s Delight in the USTA stats, but only only 47% here in NZ – and yet is regarded as a potent cross here. It certainly rates well compared to our average ratios – but compared to what is “a cross of gold” in the US, we are far behind.

What makes the US stats so much higher? That’s the puzzle I have buzzing around in my Bee brain.

I don’t think the answer lies with Bettor’s Delight and Falcon Seelster. I don’t think the conundrum is unique to that cross.

There’s the a conundrum that crossing a great sire with a great damsire will not necessarily be the most compatible match. But that still doesn’t explain the difference in statistics between the hemispheres.

So the question for me is more: How come US achieves such high starters/winners to foals statistics?

I’d like to throw the original conundrum and also my own question out to readers for some wider responses and insights.

What answers do you have?

(Use the Respond/comments facility at the bottom of each blog to add your views, or you can email me direct at bee.raglan@xtra.co.nz and I’ll collate some replies and add to the blog.

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Warning – this blog is LONG – but an important topic. So hope you will hang in there!

I want to go back to the topic of sire representation at this year’s New Zealand yearling sales.

Three things to make clear:

  1. This is not a criticism of Bettor’s Delight, who is a fantastic sire.
  2. I realise many progeny never pass through the sales. But as I’ve said before, yearling sales represent the most commercial end of the breeding spectrum, often the most successful families providing a significant percentage of top racehorses, and therefore sales trends are important.
  3. There are a number of factors creating this situation, not just one. Other important factors are the siring competition in the relevant year, and the growing perception of Bettor’s Delight’s mega-sire status (in part a self-fulfilling prophecy).

I’ve been doing a bit more number crunching to see if my ‘gut feeling’ about dominance is significant or not.

I’ve made more comparisons with other years – using the 2012 year when I did detail analysis of damsires at the sales as my baseline. Hence I have picked 2007 (5 years prior) and 2002 (10 years prior) as sales to look at in more detail, as well as the current year (2013) of course.

There will always be some dominant sires, and a smattering of sires that have very few representatives, either because they were so expensive or unusual, or because they are not commercial.

My main concern is the bit in the middle where a trend becomes so dominant that sires represented by 10+ yearlings or 20+ yearlings are virtually squeezed out by one or two very dominant top sires. This can have impacts on the careers of some very good sires, and make it extremely hard for new sires to get a slice of the action (particularly because New Zealand breeders are often very cautious about new sires, unlike the North American situation where hot-of-the-track sires are usually popular and given some of the best mares).

Why have I made the mark of 10+ yearlings? Generally, a sire will need to have 10+ yearlings across the 3 days of sales to provide a display of his types from a range of families as well as staking his claim in the minds of buyers and optimising his chances of having progeny appear in the higher profile stakes series. At 20+ yearling, the sire is established or has is a new sire that has been welcomed with open arms (or should I say open mares!) and that is a healthy level of sales yearlings to be offering – a buffer against sudden death in the arena of fickle fashion trends.

More recently, the South Island sales were split into Day 1 and Day 2, and the perception of sires and yearlings can be different depending on whether they were selected for the more prestigious Day 1 or the more ‘good value for less money’ Day 2 sale.

The analysis is summarised below. But first I want to discuss why we’ve got here.

I believe the 2013 statistics, and the potential continuing dominance of Bettor’s Delight yearlings at the sales over the next few years, should give us incentive to consider what measures might mitigate the negative impacts on our breeding industry. In a recent thought-provoking article in NZ Harness Weekly, David Phillips raised the issue and mentioned voluntary or set limit on stallions’ books. In a small and shrinking breeding pool such as New Zealand’s, I believe this is a sensible option. It is done overseas – recognising that “the market” does not necessarily respond in time or get the right (pricing) signals to self-correct over-dominance.

I hope NZ Standardbred Breeders Association will be looking hard at this issue and discussing it with industry players, particularly the studs. While it is natural for commercial owners and operators to “make hay while the sunshines”, it is up to breeders and their representatives to assess what the wider results might be.

However let’s take a quick look at some of the other factors leading to Bettor’s Delight’s dominance in 2013 – which Woodlands Stud had no immediate influence over.

First, the foals born in 2011 (the yearlings of 2013) are one of  Bettor’s Delight’s biggest crop, but not the biggest or only big crop he has had. In 2007 (271) and 2009 (243) were actually bigger crops than 2011 (232). But what has happened in the meantime? Two things: His main rival Christian Cullen’s live foal numbers have been decreasing – 2007 (154), 2009 (124) and 2011 (73).  And Bettor’s Delight’s reputation has been growing hugely. It is almost a self-fulfilling prophecy because: sheer weight of numbers by a good sire = a higher percentage of races won = trainers and owners liking them more = commercial yearling sales breeders opting for what will be popular.

Second, some sires struggled to challenge Bettor’s Delight, due to breeder perception, caution about new sires, disappointing siring results,  or the cheaper “non-yearling sales” market that the sire has been aimed at. Examples of sires who could have stepped up again but are struggling to for a range of reasons  (with live foals born 2011): McArdle (61), Elsu (92), Grinfromeartoear (34), Lis Mara (38). Examples of newer sires needing to get a foothold in the market are Gotta Go Cullect (94), Gotta Go Cullen (38), Santanna Blue Chip (52), Jereme’s Jet (43) and Art Offical (49). Real Desire is exciting enough to have a real chance to shine, but his 2011 crop was only 37. Even Art Major’s crop was just 87, even though he was getting the big thumbs up in Australia.

So Bettor’s Delight has hit his straps at the exact time that other sires are struggling to break the 50 or 100 foals barrier given such a low number of New Zealand breeding mares to compete for and such strong preference by commercial breeders for one or two top sires.

Third, the economy stagnated and that hits breeders and buyers in the pocket. The attractiveness of harness racing is also struggling against other entertainment and investment options. It’s a high risk industry, and in that situation breeders often choose (if they breed at all) the proven and safe over the new and exciting. As I’ve said before, I think this is a strategy that may well end up “biting a few bums” at the sale, but time will tell, and I will certainly not be laughing if it does.

Notes on the stats below:

  • I haven’t had time to further break this down to pacing and trotting sires/lots. So it is a general scan, not a micro analysis.
  • I am taking numbers on basis of lots entered in the catalogue (regardless of withdrawals).
  • And there will be other yearling sales in the inbetween or previous years that may well show quite differing results. I’m just trying to get a feel for where this year sits and what trend there might be.

The figures for each year go like this:

  1. Total number of lots
  2. Total number of individual sires represented
  3. Number of sires represented by 10+ yearlings.
  4. Number of sires represented by 20+ yearlings.
  5. Number of sires represented by 50+ yearlings.
  6. Top sire, number of yearlings and as percentage of all lots.
  7. Breakdown of number of sires represented on each day.


  • 515
  • 56
  • 14
  • 6
  • 1
  • Bettor’s Delight, 107, 20.7%
  • Australasian Classic (Karaka)  30
  • Premier Day 1 (Christchurch)  32
  • Premier Day 2 (Christchurch)  44


  • 592
  • 43
  • 18
  • 9
  • 4
  • Mach Three, 70, 11.9%
  • Australasian Classic (Karaka)  32
  • Premier Day 1 (Christchurch)  27
  • Premier Day 2 (Christchurch)  37 


  • 574
  • 40
  • 17
  • 11
  • 1
  • Christian Cullen, 55, 9.5%
  • Australasian Classic (Karaka)  30
  • Premier  (Christchurch)  39


  • 515
  • 48
  • 15
  • 5
  • 2
  • In The Pocket, 89, 17.3%
  • Australasian Classic (Karaka)  32
  • Premier  (Christchurch)  40

So the most similar situation out of these is in 2002 when In The Pocket and Holmes Hanover were dominating the numbers (Falcon Seelster had been temporarily unavailable as a sire). However interesting to note that in 2002 there were another 4 sires hovering at 18 or 19 yearlings, just outside that significant 20+ category but still real players as sires – they were Christian Cullen, Sands A Flyin, Life Sign and the trotting sire Sundon.

In comparison, this year (2013) there is only one sire (McArdle, at 17) who is even close to reaching the 20+ category.

It’s interesting to note that the number of catalogued lots for 2013 and 2002 are exactly the same, but Bettor’s Delight’s dominance at 20.7% is greater than In The Pocket’s at 17.3%.

Another point – the number of individual sires represented this year is the largest by far (56) – but many of these sires may have only 1 or 2 yearlings in the sale. Take the 2013 Australasian Classic: there are 30 individual sires listed but 19 of those have only 1 or 2 yearlings to represent them on that day.

My real concern is the lack of the ‘middle’ commercial sires in enough numbers to really help sustain their careers – and ensure good variety in our future pool of racehorses and broodmares.


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My last couple of blogs have brought some interesting responses sent directly to me rather than posted up.

But let me summarise and also add in some thought-provoking comments from Ken MacKay of Premier Pedigrees (premierpedigrees@gmail.com) who is also the agent for Pepper Tree Farm’s Rock n Roll Heaven, Sportswriter and Roll With Joe this current breeding season, so has an interesting perspective on market trends.

A combination of falling breeding numbers spread among a wide range of sires, plus a large number of breeders going to one proven sire (Bettor’s Delight) is going to have an impact downstream in several ways.

And there are some other trends such as the improved breeding stock (mares and sires) in Australia, which will provide New Zealand with additional challenges in future years.

But as the saying goes, challenges can bring opportunities – in my view, the chance for locally bred sires to shine and to continue the point of difference in our gene pool which has been a strength before and may be again. That’s taking a fairly long-horizon view. The next few years will be a lot trickier!

Comments from blog readers on the ‘saturation’ by Bettor’s Delight, especially in sales yearlings on offer, point out that Woodlands Stud has chosen not to temper demand through pricing, nor has PGG Wrightson taken responsibility for evening things out a bit more at the two top sales days. However you have to remember that these are commercial companies looking after their own interests.

The people that make final decisions are breeders, individually. Perhaps, due to some risk aversion, many breeders have made ‘safe’ choices that are leading us into a bit of a cul de sac if we are not careful. As Ken points out, those studs that are offering top imported/frozen semen sires will not keep offering their product here if the market appears not to want them or too small to give a financial return.

It is not too late for some serious thinking,  collectively and as individuals, to avoid the ironic situation where being ‘risk adverse’ in fact opens us to a greater risk – that we will over-supplied in our own market and cut ourselves out of others.

Following are some of Ken’s observations which I enjoy –  this is thoughtful debate and discussion, with a good dose of passion, which is exactly what we need!

I heard a few breeders say this season that we are “spoilt for choice”. Whilst that may be the case this season, I believe it can disappear just as fast as it came.

Last season Empire Stallions made about a dozen of their stallions available to NZ breeders including the likes of Modern Art, Artistic Fella, Kenneth J, Village Jolt etc, but between them ( excl. Rocknroll Hanover ) they could muster a sum total of 21 mares. This season Ron Burrell could offer only 3 to NZ breeders and he had to fight tooth and nail to make Four Starzzz Shark available again. Talking to Ron the other day he has about 16 bookings to him this season so doesn’t know if he will win that battle again.

I myself tried to get all 5 Pepper Tree stallions available to NZ breeders but couldn’t get Aces N’ Sevens or Always A Virgin  (he currently sits in 2nd place on the New Seasons Sires premiership in N. America behind only Somebeachsomewhere) as there was not enough “margin” given the average cost of semen transport per mare to warrant their availability into NZ.

With poor numbers this season to USA horses of the year in Sportswriter (20) and Roll With Joe ( just over a dozen ) it will be a real struggle convincing the Australian studs that is economically viable to send their semen over the Tasman next season just as Ron will have difficulty with Four Starzzz Shark.

Where does this leave us then other than supporting NZ Studs with home-grown talent? Just as you say “re-invent the colonial”.

With the top end we will be just a nursery for Australian buyers, we hope. Or will they need to come to NZ any more, as they have secured the best bloodlines of our NZ families over the past two decades and now they have direct access to the best N. American stallions?

Problem is the Australian based Studs have now taken the high ground with the top stallions and have upgraded their broodmare gene pool (thanks to NZ ) that the time will soon be here where they don’t need to come over to NZ to buy “superior” stock as APG will be fully meeting that need without the additional expense.

The likes of Emilio Rosati recently buying in Harrisburg sends an alarming message to the NZ breeding industry.

The gulf could just become wider than the Tasman Sea and very quickly too!

There is groundswell speculation that in the near future that those big studs that are left in Australia and NZ will be purchasing mainly local product off the racetracks. Top horse owners are aware of this. The evidence was right there in the 2012 NZ Trotting Cup with 10 of the starters being entires (and this excluded others such as Sir Lincoln). So a move back to “colonial” days in the modern era!!  Who knows but the alarm bells are certainly ringing.

In my next few blogs, I’ll write more on these issues and implications – always happy to have readers post comments directly under here, or to me by email at bee.raglan@xtra.co.nz but please note if you want to be quoted or not on the blog.

I’ll also start looking at some of the interesting lots, from a breeding perspective, at the 2013 New Zealand yearling sales.

It’s great to have just a few extra days holiday to do some researching and writing. We have been exceptionally busy in my ‘normal’ job and it has been a hard year in some ways, with my Mum passing away just a month ago (about the same time as that great mum Rich N Elegant). I do try to blog about once a week, sometimes its more of a cluster then a gap. I do appreciate the positive feedback you send me.

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