Posts Tagged ‘rich n elegant’

I saw this in Harness Racing Update issue of 25 January. Given my recent blog on a yearling with double ups to the mare Rich N Elegant  in our 2014 sales, I thought this might be of interest.

Russell Hanover is by Somebeachsomewhere from Rich N Elegant, so a half to Rocknroll Hanover, Red River Hanover, Rustler Hanover et al.

A hock injury early on seems to have put paid to a racing career. Hanover Farms were patient and waited for him to get sounder, which he did but not to the point where he could be trained.

Breeding to him has been largely in-house so far, on purpose, wisely seeing how things went, and his crops have been around 25 mares. The first crop will sell at public auction in 2015 as yearlings.

Jim Simpson of Hanover Farms  says: “We are in the business of relying on genetics and I can’t think of a better bred prospect for a sire than he is. I understand that doesn’t always work out. We were devasted when he was untrainable and unsaleable. Being a Beach and a good looking individual, which he is, he would have been close to the top of our sale.”

Interestingly, Russell Hanover was an embryo transfer, and Hanover’s Farm Manager made the comment that Rich N Elegant (“Richie”) was such a good mother that had she raised the foal herself the injury may never have happened. See here for the full article (November 2012, when Rich N Elegant died).

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The last in this series looks at Lot 231 at the Premier (Christchurch) yearling sale – a colt by Rock N Roll Heaven out of Highview Diamond, who is a Red River Hanover mare.

So that makes the colt, named Rockn Roll Xtra, 3×3 to the great producer Rich N Elegant. There are also double ups to sires – to Western Hanover 3×4, and to Direct Scooter 4x4x5. But I’m focusing on the female double up. I’m not sure the position of Rich N Elegant in the sire’s pedigree is as influential as it may appear expressed as “3×3”. I made the same comment in my Part 2 blog about Roydon Gal. Rock N Roll Heaven’s maternal line is superb, and would have much to do with his success as a racehorse and potentially as a sire. In my view, it places him well to be a sire of good fillies as well as colts.

Nevertheless, Rich N Elegant is a class act in any pedigree. I’ve blogged on Rich N Elegant before so I won’t repeat myself – see my blog of November 2012 when she died, and from there you can link to the 3-part series about her sons at stud.

Basically she has left several very, very good racehorses, and the best was definitely Rocknroll Hanover who won over $3 million. He is also the only son to etch out a second career as a highly successful sire both in North America and in Australasia. Her other sons at stud here – Rustler Hanover, Red River Hanover and Righteous Hanover – have left some good horses here and there, but not consistently top racehorses.

Still, the quality of the genes they carry from their dam’s strong pedigree and their sires could make them good propositions as damsires.

Red River anover

Red River Hanover. Photo: Nevele R Stud.

This is very much the case for Lot 231’s damsire Red River Hanover who was a million-dollar racehorse but only a very moderately successful sire. He was a tall good looking stallion, 16.2h, but from what I have heard many of his foals here were a bit ‘fizzy’ or lanky and weak –  not suited to run early – and even when given time many of them simply lacked high speed.  He was given plenty of chance at stud, having live foal crops of 127, 84, 86, 122 in his first years at Nevele R Stud, but it dropped dramatically after that and he was exported to Australia. He has left some very nice types – Garnett River and Chloe Maguire, both racing in Australia, are examples, and Drop Red won $700,000 plus in North America.

A note: Red River Hanover died in Australia of a snake bite just over a week ago. 

So let’s have a peek at Red River Hanover as a damsire so far in New Zealand. On the ground he has 19 registered foals who are 2yos or 3yos, nothing older. He also has 14 unregistered foals on the database who are not yet yearlings. Some of his daughters have had more than one foal, indicating some level of confidence in the broodmare perhaps: Qualified mare Motu Glitz N Glam has two by Real Desire; qualified mare Tiber Franco has been to Bettor’s Delight twice and to Real Desire; nice two-win mare River Belle has been to Bettor’s Delight twice; unraced Miss Elegance has been to Mach Three, Real Desire and Gotta Go Cullect; David Phillip’s Hambletonian Ltd has put unraced Cathar to American Ideal (died), Art Official, Modern Art and now Tintin In America; unraced Zoe Bromac has been twice to Falcon Seelster. There are some trends there – quite a few searching for speed and going to sires who carry another strain of Direct Scooter. And with Real Desire, the attraction may also be his maternal Golden Miss line, which Rich N Elegant also has.

Highview Diamond, however, is the only Red River Hanover mare put to Rock N Roll Heaven so far in New Zealand, to get that 3×3 double up to Rich N Elegant. In Australia, there is also an unnamed yearling filly on the same cross, being by Rock N Roll Heaven from the New Zealand Red River Hanover mare Red River Laine who was exported to Australia in 2008.

A quick check shows to date in New Zealand and Australia, mares by Rustler Hanover haven’t been tried on this cross with Rock N Roll Heaven yet, either – but Rustler Hanover’s overall record as a broodmare sire looks quite promising with the likes of Shelbyville and Glenferrie Rustler (both raced in Australia), Franco Nikau and Franco Nadal, and the successful trotter now in Australia (Our) Dolly Would whose breeding is a bit of a surprise for a trotter, being by Artsplace from a Rustler Hanover mare Dixie Darlin (who is from the same family as Courage Under Fire). Sorry just an odd aside!

Rich N Elegant’s third son at stud here, Righteous Hanover, had very few foals and only one so far has been tried as a broodmare, the 7 win Samarias Bromac who has a weanling by Falcon Seelster. There are a few more in Australia, but none using the cross to Rich N Elegant.

Another siring son Richess Hanover never stood ‘down under’ as far as I am aware.

The fourth son is the top sire Rocknroll Hanover, but of course as the sire of Rock N Roll Heaven his mares would be out of the question for that cross. However there is a 2013 colt foal in Australia who is by Rocknroll Hanover from a Red River Hanover mare (Nolarama) which would make it inbred 2×3 to Rich N Elegant, so I guess you never know what breeders might try!

Of course it is very early days for Rock N Roll Heaven as a sire, and more foals 3×3 to Rich  Elegant may turn up in future.

Looking at Lot 231 overall, it’s a family that has had some strength back a bit with the Venetian Star/Star Rhapsody branch, but other branches have not kicked on. His dam Highview Diamond is being given every chance to reverse those fortunes. The result of her first mating is a 3yo filly by American Ideal who looked okay at workouts late last year and has had only one race start to date – her name is Highview Idol. Lot 231 is her next foal, and the Strongs forked out the service fee for a top quality sire and one who throws that interesting double up to Rich N Elegant into the mix.

You can see the colt on PGG Wrightsons Sale of the Stars website – video for Lot 231. He looks a good enough type and it will be interesting to view him in person when I’m down in Christchurch.

Certainly, Rich N Elegant is a very classy mare to have twice in your pedigree!

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Rich N Elegant died on 19 November at the age of 22 – a remarkable mare whose foals included 6 in 1.54 and 5 with earnings over half a million dollars. She was a good racehorse herself, earning over $97,000 and taking a 1.56.8 mark at 3yo.

You can find a 3-part blog about her siring sons in my blog archives 2011 – and I can see a number of North American readers have already followed a forum link to those blogs.

Her son Rocknroll Hanover has certainly cemented his siring success in North America but will need more foals on the ground downunder for us to see what happens here, and he is already under stiff competition from his own classy son Rock N Roll Heaven. After very small frozen semen crops the last few years, he served 56 mares in 2012 in New Zealand.

All that aside, Rich n Elegant had the ability to produce extremely good racehorses, particularly her colts.  All of us breeders know it is hard to produce one top race horse, let alone sever

al and from different sires – and that is a sign that your mare is something very, very special.

She is one of the few dams of top racehorses who had Direct Scooter so directly accessible (he was her damsire) and therefore, for those who follow the x factor/heart size theory, the ability to pass that on to her colt foals. They in turn, as sires,  have the ability to pass it on to their filly foals only. Other dams of successful and upcoming sires that have Direct Scooter in their maternal lines almost always do so through his role as the sire of Matts Scooter, rather than directly Direct.

Her bottom line was the very, very potent Shifting Sands/Golden Miss family, which has proven to be one of the most powerful maternal lines of the modern era. It underscores sires like Real Desire, Panorama, Safely Kept who have all been successful in Australia and New Zealand.

So a tip o’ the hat to one of pacing greatest mares ever.

Google Rich N Elegant horse to get many more articles and accolades, but here is a very nice one on the Canadian Hall of Fame website that gives the mare a lovely credit as a great mum:


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(A rich and elegant puzzle Part 3 of 3) With all things lined up in their favour, why are four of Rich N Elegant’s sons not proving to be top sires? And why is there one son who is?  That’s the intriguing question I posed to Ray Chaplin of Australian pedigree consultancy equineexcellence.biz

This blog can only summarise Ray’s work  – his full report with the tables is available free of charge by emailing contact@equineexcellence.biz and it is well worth a read.

So good on paper and on the track – but not the impact at stud: Why? – by Ray Chaplin

Considered by many to be the greatest standardbred mare in harness racing history, Rich N Elegant is the first mare ever to produce three sub 1:50 performers: Red River Hanover (1:48.4), Royal Flush Hanover (gelding) (1:49.3) and Rocknroll Hanover (1:49.4).
Assessing her dam line

Rich N Elegant is by Direct Scooter out of the Abercrombie mare Proven Perfect who had four foals for three winners (75%wtf). Her second dam Shifting Sands by Shadow Wave from the Ensign Hanover mare Golden Miss had thirteen foals for eight winners (57%wtf). These results indicate a significant genetic upgrade has taken place.

We identified the source and positioning of this EEATM Genetic Excellence Affinity between Direct Scooter and Proven Perfect and armed with this information we researched the breeding barn performance of Rich N Elegant’s second and third dams. From the nineteen progeny of these mares one stood head and shoulders above the rest – the 1969 Bret Hanover colt Strike Out. Strike Out exhibits the same EEATM “Genetic Excellence Affinity” between sire and dam as does Rich N Elegant, and both these performers are by sires with proven superior genetic attributes – Direct Scooter and Bret Hanover.

Assessing her sires:

Rich N Elegant has produced top performing racehorses from three different sires: Western Hanover (for Rustler Hanover, Richess Hanover, and Red River Hanover), Cam’s Card Shark (for Royal Flush Hanover), and Western Ideal (for Rocknroll Hanover).

We assessed the genetic excellence indicators of the dams of each of these sires and compared the strengths of Wendymae Hanover (dam of Western Hanover) with Jef’s Magic Trick (dam of Cam’s Card Shark) and Leah Almahurst (dam of Western Ideal).

Western Hanover takes the bronze medal, Cams Card Shark the silver and Western Ideal the gold, based solely on the race and breeding record of their dam.

We believe that the dam line of a sire plays an important role in the overall genetic makeup of any progeny the sire produces. Western Ideal has a significant genetic strength advantage over Western Hanover.

Assessing her sons:

We then assessed and compared the race records and premier racing achievements of Rich N Elegant’s big four stallions. These results were benchmarked against leading stallions in the USA and Australasia today – Bettors Delight and Art Major.

Rocknroll Hanover clearly shines, with Bettors Delight and Art Major following. Rustler Hanover and Red River Hanover rate less, and Richess Hanover rates least.

These same sires were next assessed and benchmarked on their progeny records to date, looking at USA, Australian and New Zealand results as at October/November 2010.

Rocknroll HanoverWith far fewer starters, Rocknroll Hanover is already ahead of the accumulated totals of his three siring siblings in terms of worldwide starters, $1M plus earners and $500K plus earners.

Interestingly, of Rocknroll Hanover’s five $500K plus progeny to date, four (including his highest two earners Rock N Roll Heaven and Put On A Show) are from quality Artsplace mares.

Whilst it is early days, these insights may have important implications for those breeding to Rocknroll Hanover in Australasia. Currently he has thirteen Australasian bred 3yo+ foals but none of them are from Artsplace mares. Given the limited number of Artsplace mares in Australasia, time will tell if Rocknroll Hanover is able to emulate his North American breeding barn performance in the Southern Hemisphere.


Well, the research evidence in this report does not provide a categorically proven answer to the question “What’s going on here?”

However our research suggests that the reason is primarily linked to “genotype” excellence factors of the individual stallions, the genetic strengths of the mares they served and the number of those that created a proven EEA™ “Genetic excellence affinity©” between sire and dam when expressed at conception.

Of the eleven progeny $500K+ that were sired by Rustler, Red River and Richess all exhibit the same common EEA™ “Genetic Excellence Affinity©” between their respective sires and dams as does the leading lady in this report “Rich N Elegant”

Another factor may well be how many quality well matched mares each stallion received in his first two books which would contribute to ongoing stud success as a result of attracting a continuing supply of quality mares

Finally there may be a “halo” effect resulting from the combined racetrack success of Rich N Elegant’s three Western Hanover colts and therefore a tendency to evaluate each of these sires on the basis of their combined efforts rather than as individuals (even though they are full brothers).

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(A rich and elegant puzzle Part 2 of 3) Why do the sons of successful sires and top broodmares sometimes not make it as a sire? That’s the question I posed to New Zealand breeding consultant/writer Frank Marrion.

The proof of the pudding – by Frank Marrion

I think it is important to remember that no two horses are the same genetically.

You might have brothers and sisters and three quarter brothers from the same mare, but they will still be individuals with strengths and weaknesses.

The foals from Rich N Elegant are a good example.

I don’t know a lot about Richess Hanover, other than that he went amiss as a 2yo and has just been fair at stud standing in Illinois.

Rustler Hanover had some conformation issues which showed up in his foals, while Red River was a big horse who had ‘wheels in his head’ i.e. a nervous temperament. On the whole it seems many of the Red River Hanovers don’t want to ‘be there’ and lack that real genuine racehorse quality where they will always try their best whatever the limits of their ability.

As an individual, Red River was a very good horse of course, winning a North America Cup beating Mach Three, but after that he proved a very difficult horse to get the best out of because he had such a nervous disposition.

I can recall talking to Brett Pelling about him and he was saying that the horse was so ‘wired’, he would never sleep. We can almost certainly attribute this to his dam being by Direct Scooter. While that sire line is a legitimate source of speed, it is also a source of ‘craziness’ and the reason Direct Scooter was not a good sire of fillies.

Red River Hanover progeny and the Direct Scooter line generally produces horses that can be ‘fiery’ or ‘hot headed’ types. They may come with degrees of ability, but getting them to consistently show this or getting them to fulfil their potential, can be entirely different matters.

We can double up to Direct Scooter in various ways, one example being Red River Hanover over In The Pocket mares, and this can produce very ‘speedy’ horses, but one also runs the risk of breeding a horse which is just a lunatic and no racing proposition at all.

Rocknroll Hanover has done very well with his first crop, but it remains to be seen whether he can maintain that momentum with his follow up crops. He would have got a great book of mares when he first went to stud, but that quality mare support would have shifted to other sires straight off the track such as Somebeachsomewhere, because the American breeding scene is very much geared towards first crop sires at the yearling sales.

If there is a problem with a sire, that quality mare support just disguises the inevitable.

I don’t mean to bag Rocknroll Hanover, but I’m not getting too carried away just yet. Very few sires at all make it commercially, so I don’t see a surprise that Rich N Elegant’s foals have not transferred racecourse success to breeding barn success, outside of Rocknroll to date. That is just the way of things.

Pedigrees and bloodlines actually have very little to do with it when a sire does succeed – most of those sires that did find success weren’t rated at all when they first went to stud.

Meadow Skipper could hardly get mares for a start because he had a bad hitch in his gait, and look what he did!

It is mostly about the individual as a type, and whether or not they possess the genetics to be prepotent.

Most sires don’t…and you never really know that until the ‘proof of the pudding’…

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(Part 1 of 3) Here’s an intriguing question: Why are the fabulous sons of amazing broodmare Rich N Elegant proving a mixed blessing as sires?

First, let me set the scene. Every year the latest hotshot colt is retired off the track and heads straight into a career as a stud. He will join several others who probably raced alongside him, sometimes losing to him and sometimes beating him, and now they are taking on an even more challenging career. Being a great sire.

To have a shot at success as a sire, a colt  must have performed well enough to catch the eye of the trainers and breeders who will be buying his future yearlings. He will have a reputation and a racing media profile that his stud managers can build on. Ideally, he comes from a proven or very commercial sire line. Even better he will link to a strong maternal line that is well liked. His pedigree may offer outcross or ‘golden cross’ opportunities with a large pool of mares in the country or state where he stands, because that will help with the marketing and hopefully the outcomes. Preferably he is a good looker (although a skilful photographer can work wonders). And of course he needs to be fertile.

But even when all the stars are lined up – by a champion sire, from an exceptional broodmare, top earner as a racehorse and brothers who also performed superbly and have gone to stud, a reputation of being from one of the hottest families in harness racing, and good looks…. he might still not strike gold as a sire.

In this blog, I want to take a look at a “rich and elegant puzzle”, a classic example of this situation, and ask the age-old question: Why?

Rich N Elegant - photo by Aaron ReRich N Elegant is one of those mares often referred to as a broodmare gem. She wasn’t a bad racehorse herself, pacing 1:57.4 at 2 and 1:56.8 at 3, and earning almost $US100,000. But it is as a broodmare that she really makes her mark. She’s the dam of 12 foals over the age of 3, and these offspring have already earned just over $US7.6 million to date.

Most remarkably, five of her sons are standing at stud – Richess Hanover, Rustler Hanover, Righteous Hanover, Red River Hanover and Rocknroll Hanover.

Here’s the puzzle. To date, the first four Western Hanover sons have been disappointing at stud. I’m not saying all their offspring are flops. Red River Hanover’s Mister Zion, Red Zone, Code Red, River Field and Garnett River are just a few who have done well. Red River Hanover now stands at Warwick Stud in Victoria for $2500. Rustler Hanover has built up some credentials as a sire in America. He stands at Winbak for $US4500 and is more a mid range journeyman sire now. His seasons in Australia have resulted in only a handful of really successful progeny. Righteous Hanover was a high priced yearling who was lightly raced due to injury and retired. He stands at Stallion Station for around $1500 and has only had a handful of foals with good percentage success but nothing really outstanding so far. Richess Hanover, who raced successfully as a 2 year old, now stands in Illinois at $US3500 but was never available ‘downunder’.

None of them rate as top sires in the highly competitive world of stallions at stud.

Red River HanoverThere were only six Red River Hanover yearlings in this year’s 2011 New Zealand yearling sales, and four of those were in the last day at Christchurch. That, and the shifting location and pricing of the stallion himself, tells a story. The expectation when he first stood here was based on a strong foundation, but that expectation hasn’t been fulfilled. Neither the stud who stood him nor those people who bred to him could have predicted that.

Or could they? There’s an intriguing question!

This article is not slagging off these talented sons of a wonderful mare, or the many horses that are sired by them, or the breeders who spotted an extremely well credentialed sire and booked their mare. I will be the first to crack open a bottle of bubbly if, for example, Champagne Kiwi (Lot 362 in Christchurch) goes on to win some of the classic 2yo and 3yo races or ends up as our Interdom champ!

What I’m trying to find out is why the excellent pedigree and performance credentials of Rich N Elegant’s sons haven’t led to them becoming reliably good sires.

And then there’s another fascinating question: Why is one out of the five Rich N Elegant sons at stud (Rocknroll Hanover) bucking the family trend and becoming a super sire?

To help me answer these questions, I asked New Zealand breeding consultant/writer Frank Marrion and Australian pedigree consultant Ray Chaplin (www.equineexcellence.biz) to present their viewpoints.

Ray Chaplin uses his analytical techniques to find some possible answers. He assesses the EEA(trade mark) Genetic Excellence Affinity of Rich N Elegant herself with the three stallions she has used, and then compares those stallions’ records in siring champion horses with each other and with two different ‘top sires’ we can access: Bettors Delight and Art Major. The results are fascinating. This blog can only summarise Ray’s work briefly – his full report with the tables is available free of charge by emailing contact@equineexcellence.biz and it is well worth a read.

Frank Marrion takes quite a different perspective, looking at the overall chances of picking a future champion sire based on pedigree and performance, and throwing light on individual characteristics that can have a huge influence on siring success.

Both of them highlight that getting the right type of mares – genetically or temperamentally – can make a big difference to a sire’s early success and reputation.

These views are expressed in the following two blogs.

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