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Posts Tagged ‘Kevin Foley’

Oh yeah, baby. It’s business time. And what many breeders are hoping over the next few months is that their mare will get “in conchord” with the stallion of choice.

Thanks to artificial insemination, chilled and frozen semen and different breeding seasons in north and south hemispheres, our mares and breeders have more options and less stress (and often less costs) than the thoroughbreds. But even so, we know that decisions made now can play a major part in future prospects for us (return on investment, meeting our aims whatever they are) and our mares (increasing their value and the family’s reputation, the risks of breeding). 

So I imagine right now there are many breeders who (after putting out the recycling and cleaning their teeth) are settling down in bed to study the register of standardbred stallions, or the latest newsletter from one of the studs, or perhaps something they found of interest on the web…or like me might take John Bradley to bed for a little flick through the pages. Yes, it’s business time! (For those who wonder what the hell I’m talking about, a little google on Flight of the Conchords, lyrics It’s business time will give you the reference.)

My biggest tip to those who are looking to breed, is to work out what your aims are, what you want to achieve. Without this focus you are sailing without a compass. If you really want to get a stunning price at the yearling sales, or if your goal is to breed a NZ Cup winner, or to breed an affordable bread-and-butter- racehorse for you and your friends to enjoy, then you need to be clear about that BEFORE you make your breeding choices.

That’s the b4 part of b4breeding (as well as being my name Bee) because I’ve learned from even my limited experience how important it is to have clear goals and work towards them. My goal for the mare Zenterfold, for example, is to keep enhancing and building the reputation of the family for delivering very high quality performing progeny. That means my focus is on breeding the best possible racehorses (male or female) that I can, not just the quickest commercial return for myself at the yearling sales. Hence, why my choice of sires so far for this wonderful mare may have some people scratching their heads. Unproven McArdle when he first arrived? Grinfromeartoear twice? Why not Bettor’s Delight and Art Major? (Both of which have credentials for this mare).

While it is lovely to have the choice of so many good sires, choice can be confusing unless you have goals.

The next thing you need to think about (after your own goals) is your mare. Because she, more than anyone else, has the information you need to make a good decision on a sire. Listen to her, look at her, read her record, know her strengths and weaknesses, and be honest about her credentials. And be good to her. If she is worth breeding from, she is worth looking after – before and after “business time”.

The Blue Lotus just born

The Blue Lotus a few days after being born – not pretty but real

I’m lucky (or is that unlucky) this year because I have no choices to make. My mare Zenterfold is already in foal and her next turn lies with Geoff and Aria Small, so I don’t even have to think about suitable sires. Her Grinfromeartoear daughter The Blue Lotus has a first foal deal with the small group of owners who leased her for her racing career. They’ve made the decision to go to Bettor’s Delight and then she returns to me after her first live foal. It’s been a good arrangement that takes the pressure of me financially for the racing period, which I could not afford to do on my own,  but gives those who front up with the money (the leasees) for racing seasons a ‘sweetner” in getting the first foal to sell (or not) from the horse when she retires. It’s all built into the written agreement.

The Blue Lotus qualified as a 2yo, same as all Zenterfold’s progeny to date, and raced very well as a 3yo for a couple of wins and her main claim to fame is a third in the Sires Stakes Fillies Final, chasing home those fantastic fillies Carabella and Under Cover Lover, which makes third place, running on but lengths behind, a lot sweeter! However after a tear in a tendon, she was retired as a broodmare. What she showed in her racing career was grit, toughness, competitive streak… and that’s worth it’s weight in gold. In conformation and size, she took after Grin, and in temperament and speed (1:56.6) I can see Zenterfold.

The next foal from Zenterfold I bred was also from Grinfromeartoear, but a completely different type – quick, early type (Destination Moon now with Gareth Dixon). Which reminds me of Jack Glengarry’s advice: if a mating makes a big appeal employ it at least twice in case the union didn’t fire in the first instance. Given the nature of genetics, it is sound advice, so long as the mix is well founded to start with. I’ve been lucky enough to get a big, strong mare and a quick looking young colt because the sire (Grin) had attributes that click with the mare regardless of particular individual type and the sex of the foal.

It’s a fascinating business – and at “business time” as breeders we are challenged to do more than just tick the boxes. The best steer we can get is to be clear about WHY we are breeding, and WHAT our mare needs.

To be honest, we are spoilt for options for globally known sires once we have have sorted out our own end of “the business”.

For a really interesting, readable account of “business time” with stallions and mares (mainly thoroughbred but includes a chapter or two with really up-close-and-personal observations on Western Hanover, Sierra Kosmos, The Panderosa, Big Towner and others), I recommend “Stud – adventures in breeding”, by Kevin Foley published by Bloomsbury 2002, a “strange and seductive” (and detailed) account of breeding stallions.

You may need to explain to your spouse/partner/occasional friend why you can’t put it down at bedtime!!

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