Posts Tagged ‘Life Sign’

Thanks to all of you who joined in this K Nora discussion and several who provided very interesting examples from their own breeding decisions and research. There seems to be a lot of agreement that this is a family that is travelling really well into the modern era.

It would be great if someone in Australia can have a look at what the APG yearling sales 2016 offer in this regard or what is showing up at races with this line breeding to a great maternal family branch.

I had a look through the PGG Sales of the Stars (both Australasian and Premier) and there are several lots who have the K Nora branch in their veins. (I have put in brackets the number of strains of K Nora branch I can spot in the yearling, but I might have missed some, and of course American Ideal will automatically bring in 2).
Remember this whole discussion kicked off with my blog about three of them here, as they are ones who have gone to American Ideal to increase the number of crosses.

I’m noting the fillies, in particular, as buyers may be interested in some of these for the longer term prospect they offer to breed on this cross with a sire like American Ideal or He’s Watching. And perhaps sometime in the future with Canadian horse Control the Moment, as one blog reader suggested, if he keeps on winning and ends up at stud.

NZ Sale yearling fillies:

Lot 67, by Rocknroll Hanover, dam is by Life Sign from Aberfeldy family (2); Lot 138, by Bettor’s Delight, dam an American Ideal mare (2); Lot 144, by American Ideal, grandam is by Life Sign (3); Lot 167, by Always A Virgin, grandam is by Life Sign (2); Lot 219, by Betterthancheddar, grandam is by Life Sign, from family of Changeover (1); Lot 235, by Shadow Play, dam is by Life Sign from good family (1); Lot 273, by Bettor’s Delight, dam is by Life Sign (1); Lot 315, by Changeover, dam is a Life Sign mare from family of Live Or Die and I will do a blog on her next week or so (1); Lot 353, by American Ideal, dam is by Life Sign (3); Lot 481, by Artsplace, dam is by Western Ideal (1); Lot 495, by Bettor’s Delight, dam is by American Ideal (2); Lot 502 by Gotta Go Cullect, dam is by Life Sign, family of Courage Under Fire (1).

NZ Sale yearling colts:

Lot 121, by American Ideal, dam is by Real Desire (3); Lot 125, by Sir Lincoln, dam is by Real Desire (1); Lot 241 by Stunin Cullen, dam is by Life Sign (1); Lot 301, by Well Said, dam is by Real Desire (1); Lot 487 by American Ideal, dam is by Life Sign (3).

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He's Watching, Alabar stallion parade October 2015

He’s Watching, Alabar stallion parade October 2015. Photo: Bee Pears

When I wrote the previous blog on the sales yearlings bred on the American Ideal x Life Sign cross, I got diverted into seeing how other double ups with important mares from the K Nora line could happen, and what had already been tried here with our limited resources.

I edited much of that out, and it is now part of this extended blog looking at our potential downunder to dip into the K Nora/Adora pool in a number of different ways. Please comment if you find other options of interest, particularly in Australia where timings and numbers, siring and even Adora descendant options might be different.

As Australian blog reader C Rookwood notes in his comment on the last blog:  Another way to get the Three Diamonds double up is American Ideal/Real Desire mare. Yes, absolutely, and in his case an American Ideal colt foal from a dam by Real Desire out of a Panorama mare, so in his mare he already has a duplication to another very good maternal line, aka Golden Miss. That is impressive. It is the same other strong maternal line that He’s Watching brings of course, via Real Desire. You also find a mix of the K Nora and Golden Miss families in $3.7m earner Mr Feelgood.

Mr Feelgood in the winners circle 2006

Mr Feelgood in the winners circle, 2006 Little Brown Jug
Photo: Bee Pears

Just before I go into some of these other cross options, I did take a look at the closer Australian crosses with American Ideal x Life Sign mares – in total 12 to date, and about half of those are 2yos or younger, so it’s really hard to get a line on anything from small numbers. So far the best performers are Life’s Just Magic (49 starts, 9 wins) and Spinner’s Boy (15 starts, 6 wins).

So let’s have a look at what other crosses deliver crosses to Three Diamonds or the K Nora/Adora line. Here’s part 2 of the blog:

American Ideal is offering more opportunities to achieve multiple influences of the Adora/K Nora family, and his coming of age as a sire is also well timed to catch breeding mares not just from Life Sign himself, but also from some of his sons – Day In A Life, I Am A Fool, Island Fantasy and (like He’s Watching) Real Desire.

But in many of these cases, the double ups are moving back in the pedigree and may not be situated in particularly influential positions. For example their influence is going through two males (e.g. Three Diamonds to Life Sign to Real Desire), rather than what seems to be a more influential female-to-male-to-female or female-to-female relationship. What we might call the “x factor” line. The numbers are so small here, that drawing conclusions is impossible. But it is still worth taking a look – and a punt that quality + quality will result in better quality. In New Zealand and Australia to date there is just a scattering of these sons of Life Sign mares going to American Ideal and it would be foolish to try to draw conclusions one way or another. You can check out the NZ ones on the HRNZ Info Horse website by filtering American Ideal progeny on damsire. My own view is that each of these sons of Life Sign is a different package in terms of pedigree and in their ability to pass quality genes and other attributes as a damsire, and for some of them the drivers may be less Life Sign/Three Diamonds, and more influences from their own maternal lines. Both Real Desire (via Whispering Sands, a daughter of Shifting Sands) and Day In A Life (via Strike Out, a half brother to Shifting Sands) bring in the Golden Miss family which, as noted above, may complement  the K Nora family.

In future there may be a reverse way of getting these strong female double ups, and that is through American Ideal as a damsire. In New Zealand he has 11 damsire credits to date, none of the mares going to sires with K Nora influence in their pedigree. Of potential sires, only Mr Feelgood and sons of Western Ideal meet the criteria at the moment as far as I can see, with He’s Watching being too close, Mr Feelgood not getting much traction here unfortunately, and sons of Western Ideal (like sons of Life Sign) really putting the Leah Almahurst factor in a position where it may not be particularly influential.  So a sire with perhaps Life Sign as his damsire or grandamsire is what we are looking for.

What about the Leah Almahurst branch of K Nora?

Leah Almahurst

Leah Almahurst. Photo from Gene Riegle Memorial website

Going back to the American Ideal x Life Sign cross offspring in New Zealand…. Remember there are 8 produced on that direct cross. Included in the 8 is Ideal Romance a mare who is bred and owned by Brisbane Pastoral Company Ltd and was exported to Australia in July this year but not yet sighted racing. Perhaps is going straight into breeding? She is of interest because (like He’s Watching), her maternal line adds two K Nora strands, one from Life Sign and the other via Angel Hair, who is Leah Almahurst’s grandam. Pedigree link here. Ideal Romance is from the American-bred mare Ashley’s Romance imported downunder and bred by Bromac Lodge and Cee Bee Holdings Ltd before selling her to Brisbane Pastoral Company Ltd.

As well as some imported mares, we are getting to a stage when Leah Almahurst will start appearing in the maternal pedigrees, through Make A Deal mares (so far only one bred on the American Ideal cross), Western Ideal mares (perhaps too inbred to go to American Ideal although Charlie Roberts has not shied away from it), and eventually Mr Feelgood, Rob Roy Mattgregor and He’s Watching mares. In Australia there may be other, different possibilities as well with Leah Almahurst or other descendants from Adora – let me know. I see Mr Feelgood has just had his first damsire credit in Australia – a colt foal born in October 2015 by, yes you guessed it, American Ideal.

In New Zealand we have only about 16 fillies or mares by Western Ideal, and the 3 ones doing most of the breeding so far are Lisconnie, Western Starr, and San Rafaella. Lisconnie, bred and owned by Charlie Roberts of Woodlands Stud, has gone 3 times to American Ideal (the 2yo and yearling already exported to Australia), but the others have made different choices, mainly to Artplace or one of his sons, or to Bettor’s Delight.

And another branch of K Nora – Halo

Tas Man Bromac

Tas Man Bromac and driver Nathan Williams. Photo Otago Daily Times.

There is another good horse bred here with a different K Nora cross, the 4yo American Ideal gelding Tas Man Bromac (15 starts, 8 wins, 2 seconds, 3 thirds, Lt $64,363). This time there is no additional presence of Three Diamonds or Leah Almahurst, but his bottom line is also descended from Angel Hair, via a different branch – Halo. Pedigree link here. Again, the family was brought to New Zealand through Bromac Lodge importing the gelding’s dam Tasmcmanian. Interestingly, her latest breeding is to Western Ideal. (I should note that the mare has a yearling filly by Auckland Reactor in the 2016 sale at Christchurch Lot 424 Tempest Bromac. The pedigree page gives a nice summary of the recent descendants from this Angel Hair line, in this case the No Nukes mare Shy Devil.)


What is clear, is the strength of this K Nora maternal line, and nothing illustrates that better than how Three Diamonds and Leah Almahurst have kicked it into another gear in more recent times.

Just part of the K Nora descendants tree in Classic Families

Just a section of the K Nora descendants tree in Classic Families


Three Diamonds

Three Diamonds. Photo from Gene Riegle Memorial website

You only have to look in Classic Families “Descendents” category for Three Diamonds and click through to see the male and female descendent results are simply stunning. There is a significant return on extended family matches with Western Ideal and American Ideal, but not solely. Do the same for the whole K Nora branches and it is fascinating how very good performers keep occurring. Again, some crosses with sires from other branches from the wider family work – but probably some haven’t and don’t even appear on the Classic Families radar. I have only shown a fraction of it in the clipping above. It’s worth taking a look yourself; many of you will already be familiar with it.

In summary then, the numbers are too small to draw any real conclusions. However the K Nora/Adora family is probably one of the top 3 of the modern pacing era and is driven currently by two extremely potent mares – Three Diamonds and Leah Almahurst. Linking back to their influence is not going to give you certain success. It won’t work miracles. But is is definitely likely to add value and quality to a pedigree.

I’ve blogged about this a number of times. Use my blog search on “K Nora” and “Three Diamonds” to find some earlier musings and information.

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Life Sign died a couple of days ago at the age of 24. A champion racehorse, a great sire and from such a fantastic maternal family.

For those who are interested, this blogsite has some articles that look at his siring career from a “downunder” perspective.

And I have also linked to a few of my blogs that cover off his wonderful dam Three Diamonds – she is the one that has left a huge legacy both with her sons and daughters.

Click here for: Why wasn’t Life Sign as successful in Australasia as a sire, as he was in North America?

Click here for a look at Real Desire’s career downunder – he has since stopped standing here at all.

Click here for a look at Three Diamonds and double ups to her in pedigrees.

Note: Some of these blogs were written a couple of years ago, and I have not had time to check and update the statistics.

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The following article is a summary of a report commissioned from Ray Chaplin of equineexcellence.biz in Australia. The full report is available free of charge by emailing equineexcellence direct at contact@equineexcellence.biz

Ray’s report takes a close look at Life Sign, and why that sire struggled to make the expected big impact on the Australasian breeding scene. Ray’s analysis uses the concept of an EEA™ “Genetic Excellence Affinity©” which reflects the correct positioning between a sire and dam and hopefully is expressed at breeding. For more information about this, visit the equineexcellence.biz website.

All thirty (100%) of Life Sign’s top performers across North America and Australasia meet this Genetic Excellence Affinity © criterion. Interestingly, Ray pinpoints Holmes Hanover as a broodmare sire that offers a “Genetic Excellence Affinity©” with Life Sign – but Frank Marrion in his comments holds up this same cross as something to afford on type. Ray’s statistics certainly show that only 33% of Life Sign/Holmes Hanover cross foals bred in New Zealand were winners (27 foals for 9 winners) but the average earning per starter with that cross was NZ$66,285 compared to Life Sign’s average earnings per starter for all broodmare sires of $NZ20,634. Food for thought!

“What if?” by Ray Chaplin, equineexcellence.biz

World champion pacer, Life Sign 1990 ($US 1,912,459; 1:50.3) has proved to be one of the most outstanding stallions of the modern era in the USA. With seven millionaires, average earnings per starter of $95,694 from a total of 1394 foals, he has accrued sire winnings of over $US104 million in North America.

But what if Life Sign’s stud career had commenced in Australasia and not in North America? Would he have ever have become the “champion sire” he is?

Probably not, in the opinion of www.equineexcellence.biz

It is doubtful under this imaginary scenario that he would have received anywhere near the numbers of quality, genetically matched mares to have enabled him to put his best hoof forward as a stallion.

Life Sign provides astute breeders with a valuable “Sign” post into the world of genetics and the influence of differing gene pools that prevail from country to country and even state to state.

The Life Sign whose frozen and fresh semen has been available to Australasian breeders is exactly the same Life Sign as the sire who has established himself as one of the greatest ever North American sires. We are talking about a stallion that has left numerous elite standardbreds and in excess of 2,000 foals of racing age internationally – ample numbers to smooth out the impacts of any “type” issues. The difference in siring performance “down under” can be attributed to the size and quality of the necessary gene pool that was available to this champion son of Abercrombie in Australia and New Zealand.

The following table illustrates why Life Sign, had he originally stood down under, would have probably be shunned by breeders in North America if shipped back home thus providing little hope of him ever becoming a “Champion” sire.

LIFE SIGN (Statistics as at March 2011 – subject to change)

New Zealand
Foals 223   Starters 77   Winners 66 (30% wtf.)
Foals 1047   Starters 296  Winners 157 (15% wtf.)
Foals  1394   Starters 1092   Winners 971 (70% wtf.)

Av earnings per starter (Country of birth only) $NZ 20,634 $AU16,116 $US95,694

Why? Because the gene pool he needed to do his best work as a sire was simply too small – especially in Australia. There was little chance that Life Sign would be afforded such a potent opportunity with the limited number of genetically correct high quality mares available to him “down under”.

The five leading broodmare sires in North America for Life Sign are Tyler B mares (56) average earning per starter $US94,816; Troublemaker mares (32) $US 88,396; Jate Lobell mares (143) $US 87,405; Cam Fella mares (58) $US 86,062; and No Nukes mares (251) $US77,302.

Twenty percent (4) of the leading Life Sign earners in both New Zealand and Australia are from mares whose broodmare sires appear in his top ten earners in the USA.

This suggests that if Life Sign had access to sufficient numbers of high quality mares in Australasia by these broodmare sires his siring record down under would have been significantly enhanced.

Holmes Hanover mares are responsible for another 20% (4) of the top twenty Life Sign performers in Australasia. Holmes Hanover creates the same EEA™ “Genetic Excellence Affinity©” between Life Sign and his mares as does Troublemaker and Cam Fella. Given the affordability of Life Sign now, this could be an opportunity for Australasian breeders with quality Holmes Hanover mares.

Whilst Life Sign never had a chance to repeat his USA siring deeds, he has and still does represent good value as an Australasian sire when matched to quality mares with whom he can establish an EEA “Genetic Excellence Affinity©” The sires of these suitable matrons go beyond the Troublemaker and Holmes Hanover mares highlighted in this report.

Life Sign as a Broodmare Sire

For those breeders who have bred Life Sign fillies from quality mares opportunity still abounds Life Sign is proving to be an excellent broodmare sire in North America. In the USA Life Sign’s top ten foals as a broodmare sire all lay claim to a common EEA™ “Genetic Excellence Affinity©” between sire and dam – exactly the same EEA™ “Genetic Excellence Affinity©” that was common to all ten of his leading progeny as a sire!

Frank Marrion on Life Sign

While Ray Chaplin sees genetic affinity as vitally important, Frank Marrion emphasises the compatibility of traits and type. The following comments were taken from recent personal correspondence and from an article on Life Sign in Harness Weekly in 2006:

Broodmares in North America are more advanced in evolutionary terms and it must always be remembered that some sires will perform differently with different gene pools, or different countries. Life Sign is also suited to a particular type of mare, a type which is more prevalent in America compared to New Zealand or Australia, where they tend to be coarser and later maturing.

There is a perception out there that Life Sign has been a failure because he hasn’t sired a ‘champion’, as if all one had to do was put any old mare to him to get one…It doesn’t work that way of course, particularly when little consideration is given to our type of mare and the type of stallion we are sending her to. While speed is a trait of the Direct Scooter sire line, quite the opposite is the Abercrombie/Life Sign line. They are generally very genuine horses, but lacking speed and/or early maturity. They tend to be big horses which need time to strengthen up. Life Sign has crossed very nicely with the right kind of In the Pocket mares (e.g. Classy Filly). But you wouldn’t want to breed a mare by Holmes Hanover to Life Sign because Holmes Hanover horses (although very genuine) are often big boned horses which lack speed, so breeding to Life Sign would just double up on the ‘lack of speed’ factor.

Bee Pears on Life Sign

It was about 2000 when Life Sign was introduced to New Zealand – our interest in breeding strong staying ‘cup’ horses had been replaced by the desire for speedy juveniles who could get a quicker and bigger return on investment. Top overseas sires were seen as the way to go for speed.

Life Sign came with great credentials, and he had left some super juveniles in America such as Real Desire, Island Fantasy and I Am a Fool. But overall his siring record is much more about leaving horses that get better as they strengthen and age. Add to that, his first few crops were by frozen semen and small numbers, which made it even harder to get the noticed, regardless of percentage foal to winner success.

His first small crops were pretty well received by Yearling Sales buyers but totally outnumbered by In the Pocket and Falcon Seelster offerings and of course Christian Cullen was coming right onto the scene in significant numbers.

Commercial reality is that most new sires are given a very short timeframe to show up before buyers (and then breeders in response) drop them like hot cakes. Our commercial breeding market is dominated by Yearling Sales and the pressure of high stakes for juvenile racing. By the time his larger crops were ready to sell or race, Life Sign’s reputation as a sire of horses that need time was well established, and his best performers only confirmed that. That inevitably meant his access to quality commercial mares reduced.

Poor performance by his siring sons didn’t help at all – until Real Desire came along more recently (with a Troublemaker dam).

The fact that Life Sign still shows up well in siring statistics for Australia and New Zealand is a credit to what he has achieved in spite of small suitable gene pool and the pressure to breed early speed.

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