Posts Tagged ‘Real Desire. Life Sign’

This blog is “Part 3” of an article written by Ray Chaplin and myself for the latest edition of Breeding Matters, the magazine of the New Zealand Standardbred Breeders Assn.  You can read Part 1 and Part 2 in the latest issue of the magazine at the association’s excellent website http://www.harnessracing.co.nz/

The article looks at the sire sons of Life Sign in Australasia  (Island Fantasy, I Am A Fool, Day In A Life, Peruvian Hanover and Real Desire) , and asks the question: Why have they failed to become commercially successful sires, whereas Real Desire appears to be making his mark?

Part 3: Real Desire – speed sire has a rollercoaster start

Real Desire’s first few years at stud here (with Alabar) have been a bit of a rollercoaster ride.
Firstly, he didn’t settle here in his first shuttle season as Alabar’s New Zealand manager Graeme Henley explains:

“Real Desire didn’t handle the shuttling that well in his first season (2007/8) and he was a bit below par after he returned to the US. The owners decided to not send him back for the next season – they wanted to give him a season off to recover and make sure there was nothing seriously wrong with him. Anyway, with the break he was back to his usual health and condition and he has been back shuttling without any problems since.”

He got 202 mares in his first season here. However a year out of the limelight meant he struggled a bit for numbers when he returned to shuttling, dropping to just 68 in 2009 and 52 in 2010. The quality of his mares dropped as well, which meant Real Desire was hovering on a well-known slippery path that many sires have trod before him.

Then his first yearlings didn’t sell that well – “He is a plain type himself and leaves very plain types as a rule and I don’t think the buyers got their heads around this. Even now buyers go for the big, showy Christian Cullens and under value the little plain Bettor’s Delights for example,” Henley says.

However some of the Real Desire’s started showing up as 2yos – and they displayed that rare and highly valued ingredient: natural speed. With Let’s Elope and Cowgirls N Indians getting Group wins and others showing ability, there was a growing sense of a “speed sire” in the making.

Then Cowgirls N Indians went amiss and Let’s Elope went through a flat patch, plus Real Desire had no yearlings coming through the 2011 sales, and therefore no 2yos and only 3yos to fly his flag in the 2011/12 racing season.

But in the later part of the season, several Real Desires were catching the eye as they developed more physical and mental maturity to go with their speed, and Let’s Elope regained his mojo. At the end of the 2011/12 season, Real Desire has had 55 starters for 28 winners which is a good enough record for his only crop here of racing age. The next couple of years will still be awkward for Real Desire as his missing crop is followed by the two smaller crops, so it will be some time before larger numbers of Real Desires hit the tracks again. However his progeny should get better with age, and that will help keep his profile up.

Although yearling sales buyers have been cautious, breeders have seen enough evidence of speed in Real Desire progeny both in his North American crops and his New Zealand foals to take a punt, and (I am sure to Alabar’s relief) he served 212 mares in the 2011/12 breeding season, including my own mare Zenterfold, the dam of Tintin In America.

If you take any direction from his North American “crosses of gold”, Beach Towel, Albatross and Direct Scooter mares do stand out, but he has performed well with a number of others including Artiscape and The Panderosa. Of more interest to Kiwi breeders, his results in America with Falcon Seelster mares (from only a few foals) is poor to date, from Artiscape mares (from 19 foals) is good, and Presidential Ball mares (from 8 foals) is average. These statistics are updating all the time of course, and worth keeping an eye on.

In New Zealand remember Real Desire’s oldest crop is 3yo (at time of researching in late July, so now have just officially turned 4yo on 1 August) with no 2yo crop here at all, but some statistics of interest include:

  • 23 foals from In The Pocket mares, 13 are 3yo, 9 starters and 7 winners.
  • 32 foals from Holmes Hanover mares, 21 are 3yo, 7 starters and 4 winners.
  • 16 foals from Christian Cullen mares, 11 are 3yo, 7 starters and 2 winners.
  • 9 foals from Falcon Seelster mares, 6 are 3yo, none qualified.
  • 8 foals from Presidential Ball mares, 6 are 3yo, 3 starters, 2 winners.
  • 11 foals from Sands A Flyin mares, 3 are 3yo, none qualified.
  • 7 foals from Beach Towel mares, 4 are 3yo, 1 qualified.
  • 4 foals from Artiscape mares, 1 is 3yo, qualified and exported to Australia.

In most cases, the mares we can offer Real Desire have quite a different look from what he is accessing in North America in terms of their maternal lines and damsires, and the results to date look particularly promising for our In The Pocket mares, and I have heard some good reports on his yearlings from Christian Cullen mares too.

Real Desire has two foals as a damsire in New Zealand (by Bettor’s Delight and Sands A Flyin) from one imported mare.

Real Desire’s ability to be a quality sire that can leave speed sets him apart from the other sons of Life Sign who have been offered here. The answer to a large extent lies in his maternal genes. As pedigree analyst Ken McKay points out: “His maternal pedigree, Golden Miss “The Queen Of Gait” and her daughters are a running line and also one that leaves significant siring prospects amongst it’s male members. If you have great gait then the speed will follow.”

Of course that line has also produced sires with too much fizz (Red River Hanover) and more grit than sheer speed (Grinfromeartoear).  However I think the presence close up in his other maternal line of the fast Troublemaker, bringing with him Most Happy Fella and Bret Hanover, helps keep speed in the frame. It’s good to see New Zealand breeders are doing their bit to keep adding that speed element, rather than relying on a sire to do all the work for them!

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