Posts Tagged ‘Ken Mackay’

There are two direct maternal descendants of Romola Hal racing in New Zealand today. Articulight, the Art Major gelding son of Light Of The South, is in Race 9 at 6.17pm, and My Rona Gold, the Klondike Kid mare from Dreamy Romance, is in Race 9 at Invercargill at 3.28pm.  On 1 May Elliot Daniel chalked up another win – he’s descendant from Romalie Hanover via her son George Allen, as covered in Part 3 of this series. I want to say just a week bit more about Elliot Daniel while I’m thinking about it – he’s particularly interesting in that he has three quite close links to Romola Hal through his sire (Live Or Die) his damsire Sands A Flying as well as through his grandam Armbro Zip Zap.

Breeder Mike Finlayson writes about Light Of The South and breeding back to the herd

Mike Finlayson of “Finn” fame, bred the first foal by Art Major from Light Of The South, before she went to Brian Cowley. He adds some more insight on the breeding, but adds ‘Give a tip 0’ the hat to Ken MacKay of Premier Pedigrees because most of it is based on his work. In my view Ken is ahead of his time when it comes to standardbred breeding.” And I think many of us would concur with that.

Thought I’d chip in with a few comments on this mare for your most excellent blog on the Romola Hal’s line.

First off the O’Briens bred this mare. I got her to put to Art Major because it was a great opportunity to breed back into the herd through a set of full sisters. The family were also natural runners which was probably due to it tracing relatively close up to thoroughbred origins.

She was for sale for next to nothing through the Weekly.  Light of the South didn’t have a great reputation when I got her. She was a lay-down-sally on the track when they tried her and when she arrived from up north she was SPCA material. Motherhood and TLC softened her and she was a great mum in the end.

I think the interesting thing in all this is that just because she went to Art Major and didn’t produce a champion first up doesn’t mean that it was a bad choice of stallion. The law of probabilty is 1 in 4, so theoretically you should patronise a sire four times for maximum results. This is directly related to the X factor theory that says that a union of each chromosome will produce a differing set of genes. Perhaps the best example of this is Pleasant Franco. She went to In the Pocket four times producing a champion in Christian Cullen, two good  horses in Julius Caesar and Tiger Woods and a mare Dreamsaregold which was unraced and hasn’t produced anything of any significance.

Thus its difficult to draw conclusions about a cross based on one union.

I think the interesting thing in this particular discussion is that the law of probability is often overlooked in breeding. In other words one shot is often not enough to see if a cross works as you’ve only got a 1 in 4 chance of hitting the jackpot. That’s why I’ve put Eilish Finn back to Grinfromeartoear for the third time. She has produced two very good horses in Mac the Finn and That Guy Finn to Grin. I’m hoping this time will be the champion. But it may be a dud. Or it could be another good horse. Because the odds remain forever 1 in 4 for every mating.

I asked Mike if he thought it was important where the cross lay in the sire’s pedigree e.g. Art Major versus his son Art Official:

If you are breeding back to a superior female, it is better if the particular female is in the very bottom line of a proposed sire’s maternal pedigree although the duplication can be anywhere within the broodmare’s total pedigree. That way you are returning blood to the direct maternal line of the sire and that is considered a superior form of pedigree matching than breeding back into the sire’s paternal line (Ken MacKay).

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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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