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Alta Leonie

Lovely Lot 128 Alta Leonie looks me in the eye at the 2015 yearling sales.

Let me first take you back to the 2015 Karaka yearling sales – and one of the fillies that really caught my eye was the sole Big Jim representative, Lot 128 Alta Leonie (breeder Tony Dickinson) out of the Road Machine mare Thanks Anita. Big, black and beautiful, in my blog at the time I wrote “..the Big Jim filly was huge but will have an exceptional reach if you are willing to wait just a year”.

She sold for just $7000 to Dave Higgins who, with his good friend David Marshall (Cambridge trainer and father of Kyle) picked out two yearlings and got them both. The other was a colt Lot 94, an Art Official son of Okay Matao, and again the only representative of his sire in that sale. That colt, called G B Maverick (breeder Mr J I G and Mrs S G Taylor) was bought for just $8000.

What would the odds be that two “cheapie” yearlings would be showing up as talented 2yos with enough ability to go 8 seconds under qualifying time at the workouts today?

G B Maverick, Art Official colt

G B Maverick, 2yo Art Official colt at the Cambridge workouts 18 June 2016

Alta Leonie, Big Jim 2yo filly

Alta Leonie,  2yo Big Jim filly at the Cambridge workouts 18 June 2016

Yes, what a difference a year can make.

While neither won the workout, that’s not the point. They both ran very well, with the colt showing more race nous and the filly a bit green. Both finished off their race really nicely.

Afterwards I caught up with Dave Higgins, who has a close personal association with Cambridge Raceway and harness racing, even though his current role is as the president of Racing Te Aroha and in recent years most of his runners have been gallopers. He’s just got out of his last galloper, as the cost of racing them is just too high. Back in 2015 he had seen how David Marshall was making a good go of improving tried racehorses brought up from the South Island, and he reckoned Marshall deserved a chance with something younger and better. Hence the hand was raised at the yearling sale auction. Now, with a few of his mates brought in on ownership, the filly and colt look to have been very astute buys and will provide a heap of enjoyment.

Watching the Big Jim filly bowl around this morning, you could see she has grown even bigger, but Marshall points out the the growing has been really even. She would be closing in on 16hh as a late 2yo, and the length of her stride is impressive. With a bit more strength and experience, she’s definitely going to develop into a lovely 3yo and later a big, bold mare. She takes after her sire Big Jim in her dark good looks and, like him, although she is tall and long-legged there is nothing heavy boned about her.

Dave lost his wife to cancer, and is proudly sentimental in giving Alta Leonie her name as a stable name.

The Art Official colt is medium sized and had a very professional attitude in his race. Art Official is gone as a sire, at least in any truly commercial sense. His offspring here were all over the place in terms of size and type and ability. Probably the best of the NZ-bred Art Officials is Grump Possum, now racing in Australia as Ima Grumpy Possum and has 7 wins and 9 places from 29 starts and just over $40,000 in stakes. G B Maverick comes from a good family – Pat Hanover/Miss Burnside/Okay Matao (herself a really nice race filly, and the half sister of Missy Matao who is the dam of Carpenters Daughter).

Alta Leonie

Alta Leonie as a yearling – already tall and has grown since.

Tony and Val Dickinson of Alta Breeding are very astute breeders as I have often noted, so I dived into Alta Leonie’s pedigree to see what the fit with Big Jim looks like from a pedigree matching perspective – and it is interesting. Thanks Anita’s sire Road Machine brings in the line of Vacation Time which I’ve already mentioned in my blog on my match of Big Jim and my mare Dreamy Romance. Different descending lines from Vacation Time (who is from the U7 family) are in both Big Jim’s and Road Machine’s maternal line. There’s a different strain of U7 coming in from Thanks Anita’s great-grandam Big Softie who is by Nevele Bigshot, a son of Romola Hanover.

Thanks Anita’s grandam is Kind Hearted (dam of NZ Cup winner Gracious Knight), and her sire Rashad brings in my old mate Shadow Wave and also another influence of the U2 family (in particular the Spinster/Old Maid links). It is interesting to track back the influence of the great U2/U4 cross in Thanks Anita’s dam Kind Martar, as there are a stack of them in the background, and it comes in again with Road Machine via Warm Breeze.

On the face of it, it is quite an outcross, but digging deeper there are very nice elements in the match.

All the best to Dave Higgins, his co-owners and to David Marshall’s team with these nice youngsters.

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