Posts Tagged ‘Courage Under Fire’

If ever there was a horse that epitomises the Anzac spirit in the modern era, it is Courage Under Fire.

Courage Under Fire in action

Courage Under Fire in action

Aptly named, Courage Under Fire was a racehorse loved and respected in both New Zealand and Australia for his heart, gait and sheer willpower which overcame his pint-sized (14.3h at a push) frame.

He was born (1995) and developed in New Zealand, owned by Australian Greg Brodie, and raced at the top level in both countries.

He was simply a superb racehorse as a 2, 3 and 4yo, winning 24 out of 24 starts in a run that reminds us currently of Black Caviar – and “The Pocket Rocket” was just as much a crowd pleaser.

A really lovely summary of his racing career by Adam Hamilton can be found here on the excellent Addington Raceway Timeline webpages, written when Courage Under Fire retired.

The admiration he had earned “under fire” on the racetrack continued on both sides of the Tasman Sea when he went to stud.

He’s left 10 crops of foals so far (2002-2012) – it’s a milestone worth celebrating. His NZ bred foals have just topped the 1000 mark, and in Australia now exceed 500 and many more to come I hope! His oldest progeny are now 9yos. He’s got the ability to leave really good horses, and to inject a needed element of speed and toughness. And he hasn’t stamped his small size.

His popularity in Australia as a sire is undiminished, and he is still getting full books there, with good supplementary bookings for his chilled semen coming from New Zealand.  He first stood at Nevele R in New Zealand for several years, then after a stint under the Stallion Station he has found a home more recently at Alabar Australia. He is currently standing at a $6000 service fee which indicates how well he is regarded at this stage of his career.

His siring career could be headed in the same direction as his damsire the great Vance Hanover, carving out a great reputation over a long period, not leaving a major siring dynasty in his own right, but likely to provide some very good broodmares in the future.  Many of his best sons are geldings – Pembrook Benny, Sleepy Tripp, Smolda.

Thoughts on Anzac Day

Completely on a different tack, I’d like to give a tip o’ the hat to the horses who have literally performed under fire through many different wars. Forget the awful Spielberg movie and search out some of the real stories to be found about these horses and their handlers.  I hate war for what it does to people, to animals, to the environment. It’s a soul-destroying aspect of life, and its only good side is the other part of the human condition it reveals – courage, resiliance, and humanity shown by individuals against all odds. That’s what I think about on Anzac Day.

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As it turned out, my viewing of the yearlings was more erratic than previous years when I have made a point of viewing all of the parade. This time I saw most of the fillies but missed a large chunk of the colts in the middle section. So my picks are based on those I saw rather than the full catalogue.

I am still struggling to find time to ‘do the numbers’ but my impression was that there were some lovely types of fillies that went for a real bargain.  At the industry forum on the Sunday after the Karaka sales, the issue of keeping up our stock of racing and breeding fillies was well canvassed. John Mooney’s “Chairman’s Corner” in the March issue of Breeding Matters is well worth a read on this and other issues. For vendors of nicely bred fillies from very good sires but not outstandingly bred fillies from the hottest sires, the sale was mainly a pretty tough experience. Some of those breeders won’t be back. It raises alarm bells in terms of the future possibility of being able to pre-select sex of foals. Personally I am totally against this other than in exceptional circumstances (in the same way that I am not in favour of embryo transfer other than in exceptional circumstances).

I digress!

Here are my 4 selections of fillies and colts from the Karaka (Australasian Classic) Yearling Sale, using the pedigree pages and my own amateur observations on the day (no inspections).

Please give me yours! Add as “comment” to this blog.

Lot 122, Kamwood Courage, Courage Under Fire – Kamwood Lass (New York Motoring). Sold $11,000
If I’d had a spare $12,000 hanging around in my pocket I would have loved to take this one home. She stood out for me in the parade ring – not big, but good length of body and a lovely deep chest. She is a very nice speedy type and a full sister to a gelding and a filly who have both done well.

Lot 118,  Schleck, Muscle Mass – Merckx (Dream Vacation) (Sold $28,000)
A lovely athletic looking filly from a family that is full of natural talent. I really enjoy the Paynter approach to breeding, always looking ahead, tapping into European trends and contacts (will do more on this later).

Lot 74, Stolen Secret, Mach Three – Hot Secret (Beach Towel). (Buy back $25,000)
Good size, strong type. Is this a ‘golden cross’? Time and statistics will tell.

Lot 119

Lot 119 Delia with preparer Clare McGowan

Lot 119, Delia, American Ideal – Merrily Merrily (Life Sign). (Sold $7000)
I thought this was a very attractive , tall type, with a long barrel and good chest. She looked in the midst of a bit of growth spurt, but I like what I see of American Ideals on the racetrack and I like the double up of the excellent mare Three Diamonds (3×3) – it is good to see a breeder try something like this rather than the usual focus on double up of sires. I’ll have to check, but my recollection is the American Ideal has had some performers in America from Life Sign mares. Breeder Geoff Elton says he is a little disillusioned with the industry at the moment and has moved into other interests. He has quit this family now, and will probably not be selling at the sales next year. I hope this filly does really well and draws him back in! I won’t expect her to be a 2yo, she’s got growing to do.

The colts I’ve picked are:

Lot 25

Lot 25 Charlie Chuckles

Lot 25, Charlie Chuckles, Grinfromeartoear – Charioteer (Christian Cullen). (Sold $34,000) 
Nice strong type, looked great.  Nice pedigree match too.

Lot 19, Derringer, Bettor’s Delight – Bury My Heart (In The Pocket). (Sold $22,500)
The full brother to Texican but Cran Dalegety didn’t want him and the price is surprisingly light. Without having inspected him, the only downside I could spot was his size – he is a small, compact type, but not the “built like a brick shithouse” round, solid and strong type that Bettor’s Delight can stamp even if they are small. He looked to me more like a smaller In The Pocket type. However the family has plenty of class and I like the breeding – I’ll take my chances.

Lot 175, Crixus Brogden, Real Desire – Swift Mirage (What’s Next) (Sold $9,000)
Sold so cheap I must have missed something!! I’m just taking a punt on this guy because he paraded so well, looked so focused.

Lot 148

Lot 148 Destination Moon

Lot 148, Destination Moon, Grinfromeartoear – Zenterfold (In The Pocket) (Sold $67,000)
Call me biased, but… I’m very happy to have him in my “virtual stable”.

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Continuing my look at some of the new damsires in the yearling sales catalogue for 2012:

Lot 14 and 101, Karaka – Courage Under Fire mares from same family, both bred to Jereme’s Jet

These yearling colts are bred by David Phillips – and he’s saved me investigating why by writing an extremely detailed advertisement in the Feb 9 Harness Weekly: “Jereme’s Jet: the Golden Cross”.

These are the only Courage Under Fire mares with yearlings in the catalogue this year, although there were three last year and I would expect more to start turning up in coming years.  If David Phillips is right, they will be lining up at the door of Jereme’s Jet! However I reckon Courage Under Fire mares will be well positioned to go to a range of quality sires.

The advert is typically idiosyncratic, but it is refreshing to see a breeder openly explaining to anyone who wants to read the small print exactly why he has bred along these lines. David lists “the wonderful reverse sex of Sampson Hanover…in mid pedigree, the fact that JJ and Vance Hanover (sire of dam of CUF) are from the same dam’s family; the relationship of Adios Butler and his sister, and Light Brigade and his sister; the reverse sexed Albatross; and more.”

Phew! On the catalogue page none of them show up – and that’s to do with the limitations of space because most of the double ups or brother/sister connections in the yearlings’ pedigree are 6 or more generations back. So I guess he’s saying that the nature of these double-genetic double-ups and the positions they are in will result in a higher likelihood of genetic excellence in the yearling colts, even though they are relatively far back in the current yearling’s pedigree.

I’m not a fan of double-ups for their own sake, but good on him for making a call on the Jereme’s Jet x Courage Under Fire cross and putting it out there in print for all to witness. It’s refreshing to see someone committing to that, and being very open about their breeding decisions. Whether we agree or not is up to us. Some buyers and trainers will ignore it and simply like Jereme’s Jet as a potential ‘early’ sire, and see a Courage Under Fire mare as adding potential “gait speed” and “heart” to the equation. Either way, the combination might work well.

I’ll be interested to see the colts themselves at the yearling sales auction. Jereme’s Jet is an exciting sire, with a slightly different twist on pedigree which is great,  and he is a very muscular horse.

What David Phillips doesn’t mention in the advert is the maternal family of both these mares – the genetic match is almost entirely about the Courage Under Fire aspect of their pedigree rather than their maternal family, i.e. the recent entrance of Courage into the mix which he has obviously done with purpose. Both mares were lightly raced and indicated some speed. It’s an interesting maternal line, coming from a full sister to Soky’s Atom (Jef’s Galleria). More recently there have been ups and downs getting Red Electric Moon in foal. It would be great to see Courage Under Fire and then Jereme’s Jet injecting a real revival into the family fortunes. 


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