Posts Tagged ‘Romola Hanover’

This blog is a tribute to Bachelor Hanover whose bloodlines bring together some great rivers I have so much respect for – from his sire Nibble Hanover, his dam The Old Maid (a daughter of Spinster) plus the synergy (nick) this family has had with other great maternal lines through the influence of Breath O Spring and her offspring, through the nick of The Old Maid’s son Dancer Hanover and Romola Hanover, and of course Dancer Hanover as the damsire of Albatross.

For me, Spinster and her offspring, particularly her daughters, are one of those clusters of quality like Adora, Golden Miss, Romola Hal and many of their daughters, and the trotting family of  Goddess Hanover as an example in the North American trotting families, who have added something extra to our breeding lines well over and above what could be expected from good individuals.

In fact, they are clusters of excellent genes that have enough power as rivers of influence to cut through the rocky landscape, spread out and forge fertile valleys and tributaries. Here is a big tip o’ the hat to those wonderful families.

How lucky we were to get Bachelor Hanover in New Zealand!

Bachelor Hanover stood in New Zealand 50 years ago – a new import from America after a very successful racing career but a slow start to breeding. He stood light stud duty at the North American Symphony Acres Stud Farm and was purchased by Jim Dalgety at that establishment’s dispersal sale in 1964. Tip o’ the hat to Jim Dalgety and I will try to follow this blog up with some more personal recollections if possible.

My personal connection is through my mare Zenterfold (In The Pocket x Zenola Star). Zenola Star is the grand-daughter of Zenover who was 3×4 to Spinster through her sire Bachelor Hanover and her grandsire on her maternal line, Light Brigade. When I went into a deal to breed Zenterfold with Aria and Geoff Small I noted that Aria said: “The family likes The Old Maid”. That was the only tip I got, but it has served me very well. It is why I have kept a Grinfromeartoear mare as a broodmare, who is delivering good progeny so far.  I’m surfing the river currents. If you are interested, check out the pedigree of my latest foal from Shadow Play x The Blue Lotus, just arrived and a full sister to the colt I sold previously, and you will understand why I went with this match. I may end up surfing to Somebeachsomewhere lol. (Note for North American readers, the Grinfromeartoear brother racing up your way is called Destination Moon N)

Back to the Bachelor

Bachelor Hanover courtesy of Addinton Timeline

Bachelor Hanover, son of The Old Maid, half brother to Dancer Hanover and a really great contributor to our “down under” bloodlines.

Bachelor Hanover was a very good racehorse – amongst many other achievements he was 2nd in the first American Messenger Stakes ever run: 1956 Messenger – 2nd behind stablemate Belle Acton (Harnesslink), a good sire and a really potent broodmare sire. This harness racing video shows Bachelor Hanover and Stanley Dancer in the very first edition of the Messenger Stakes in 1956 at Roosevelt Raceway link

His presence in pedigrees of New Zealand families gives us a link back to one of the finest and most influential modern maternal families – Spinster, a daughter of Spencer and the Belwin mare Minnetonka. Spinster’s legacy includes another sire so influential in NZ pedigrees, her son Light Brigade (by Volomite). But also Lady Scotland and Vixen (by Scotland), and the sire Thunder On (also by Scotland).

Her daughter The Old Maid, the dam of Bachelor Hanover, has proven a potent influence in many pedigrees, and a line with some quite specific preferences as well as generic great genes. As well as Bachelor Hanover the Spinster line has produced many top horses and solid families (a detailed legacy is better traced on Classic Families).

Just some of the results of The Old Maid branch:

Frugal Gourmet, French Chef, Sutter Hanover, Plat du Jour, Kentucky Spur, Thorpe Hanover, Clever Innocence, Tylers Best, Bettor Be Perfect, Jimmy Nail, Motu Hatrick, Kiwi Scooter, Major In Art, Man Around Town, Dave Palone, Wakizashi Hanover…In no particular order and missing a lot of really interesting highways and byways of this family and plenty of other top performers.

Bachelor Hanover is well known down under, but his Adios half brother Dancer Hanover was the North American star – he nicked so well with Romola Hanover so appears in many topline modern sire pedigrees, and he is the damsire of Albatross.

Like many of these really pivotal families you can find as many weaker branches as successful branches, and sometimes there are unexpected later eruptions of talent from either one. What helps is where breeders keep adding quality and more importantly compatibility to a line.

Just “coping” with the good “guy”

The sire of Bachelor Hanover is Nibble Hanover. For someone like me, who often focuses on the maternal lines of horses, my exploration of Nibble Hanover’s contribution in so many quality pedigrees has been a relevation. Check out my various blogs in the series starting here. What did Nibble Hanover bring to the match with The Old Maid? Added his classic families –  dam Justissima with her double dose of Expectation/Miss Copeland, including on the maternal side the wonderful broodmare Fruity Worthy who deserves a blog of her own. And remember Nibble Hanover is part of the Guy Axworthy sire line, and what a potent horse Guy Axworthy was. That’s the same sire line that comes through with The Old Maid, via Guy Abbey. And through Guy Abbey’s maternal line, The Old Maid gets that incredible Princess Royal maternal influence I have blogged about before. And her damsire Spencer also pulls down the Guy Axworthy sire line, plus brings in that other great (x factor) line of Ethelwyn/Kathleen.

Going way back in Bachelor Hanover’s pedigree you find that both Nibble Hanover and The Old Maid have strong influences from the U2 family of Minnehaha. In Nibble Hanover’s pedigree it come via two sons of Beautiful Bells – Chimes and Belwin. Belwin is buried in his sire’s line as the damsire of Calumet Chuck, and Adbell more accessible in his maternal line as the sire of Fruition. With Bachelor Hanover’s damline,  The Old Maid brings Minnehaha in again twice via her sire Guy Abbey (Chimes on his sire and maternal line), and twice from her dam Minnetonka. (There is also another reference from Spinster’s sire Spencer, tracing to a sire called Bow Belles from a daughter of Minnehaha.

Crikey, that kind of really old pedigree tracing back is not usually my “go”. These duplications probably reflect the small world that standardbred breeding was back then – and still is now. But it also is an example of successful line breeding to quality maternal and paternal influences. “Form is intermittent but class endures”. Often it needs a fresh kick up the arse along the way, a wake up call on type and ability, but if you time it right, reaching back to really strong quality influences and repeating them (or what they love) seems to work wonders. I recommend you spend a lazy hour just grazing this amazing family back and forth on Classic Familes, the free database that gives successful (as defined on the site) offspring of sires and mares.


Bachelor Hanover died in 1975 but he had made a great contribution to our breed – read about him on Addington Raceway Timeline here which is a lovely summary of his career and contribution.

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Brian Cowley is a thoughtful breeder and the winner of the competition I held a couple of years ago to find a match for my own mare The Blue Lotus. So although he says, “I haven’t been exactly consistent with my breeding strategy for Light Of The South”, that certainly doesn’t mean lack of thought. Light Of The South descends from the Romalie Hanover line of Romola Hanover, and as Brian points out she has another connection to the family through her sire Live Or Die, through Romoloa Hanover’s siring son Romeo Hanover. Her 2011 foal Articulight’s last start was last Thursday at the Metropolitan Racing Club in Christchurch where he ran on well for fourth on a quick pace.

Christchurch breeder Brian Cowley writes about his breeding choices for Light Of The South

Light of the South with Ohoka Arizona colt

Light of the South with Ohoka Arizona colt Oct 8 2014 – photo provided by Brian Cowley

Light Of The South progeny to date:

2009 b f Lyra Finn by Art Major
Breeder: Finash Bloodstock Limited
2011 b c Articulight (2.00.6,S*)by Art Official
Lifetime: 12 starts, 2 wins, 3 seconds
Breeder: B C Cowley
2012 bl f Luminary by Shark Gesture
Breeder: B C Cowley
2014 br c Word On The Street by Ohoka Arizona
Breeder: B C Cowley
2015 b c unregistered by Art Official
Breeder: B C Cowley

Because she carries Romola Hal blood via her sire, Live Or Die, and her dam, Natural Talker, I was keen to reintroduce it in her foal by a mating with Art Official whose sire, Art Major, traces to Romola Hal five generations back on his dam’s side. The result of the mating to Art Official was a colt, Articulight. Interestingly, although he receives Romola Hal blood from three different streams, there are no sire duplications until the fifth line of his pedigree.

When Shark Gesture came to town, I sent the three mares that I owned or held shares in to him. Bloodlines did not come into that decision. Shark Gesture was a magnificent racehorse with an outstanding temperament – and it did not hurt that his dam, Simple Gesture, was a half sister to the well-performed racehorse and sire Ponder. That union produced a filly, Luminary, who was broken in but, at three, has yet to be tried.

Light Of The South has had a yearling colt by Ohoka Arizona, whose progeny have recorded 42 wins, 55 seconds and 54 thirds in three and a half racing seasons, and a weanling colt back to Art Official.

It will be interesting to see whether line-breeding prevails over outcross selection from those four matings. Certainly, Articulight has shown potential in 10 starts from which he has gained two wins and three seconds. The weanling colt looks like a replica of him and, if paddock speed is any indication, it would be nice to think he would follow (quickly) in his full brother’s footsteps.

However, until the other pair are tried, it would be premature to judge. Suffice to say though, I am considering Panspacific Flight for Light of The South next season because Romola Hal glows like a beacon five steps back on his maternal line.

I lean towards continuing to breed the Romola Hal bloodline back into Light Of The South’s progeny. It has certainly proven its worth over the years. However, there are many genetic influences along the pedigree path and any one of them can intervene to affect the desired outcome. Only time will decide whether we have made the right choices.

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I don’t want to go over Romola Hanover’s colt foals legacy in any detail at all. It is available elsewhere including Frank Marrion’s 2008 Harnesslink article when Art Major was first available here as a sire, which sums it up well. It is remarkable!

Another photo of her racing here, in her Harness Museum Hall of Fame entry (it needs to be updated to include what a remarkable number of sires she has left!)

Here’s an extract from the book “Quest for Excellence: Hanover Shoe Farm’s First 75 years”:

After all, it had once been John Simpson’s task to break and train most of the fillies that eventually found their way into the Hanover broodmare band. Although he may not have been at Hanover when Miss Bertha Dillon was the most revered broodmare in the world, he understood what broodmares meant to a farm. Some extraordinary producers were graduates of the Simpson stable. One exemplary alumna was Romola Hanover the nonpareil racing mare who was the hottest mama in the sport in the 1960s. Her first son Romeo Hanover won the Golden Crown for pacers in 1966 and his kid brother Romulus Hanover was voted the pacing sophomore king the following year. A few years later, Romola’s daughter Romalie Hanover was the most admired fillies in the sport. This trio had been sired by Dancer Hanover, but Romola Hanover also had exceptional performers by Lehigh Hanover, Torpid and even later Albatross.

She deserves a book of her own! When you look at her descendants and can mention top pacers of modern times and often who have also gone on to be very good sires like Real Artist, Art Major, Panspacificflight, Perfect Art, and potentially Captain Treacherous…it is quite incredible. Of course her own sons had a big role to play as sires in New Zealand, Nevele Bigshot and his Lehigh half-brother Nevele Romeo were imported here for stud duties in the mid 1970s, and were the foundation stallions for Nevele R Stud (started by Wayne Francis and Bob McArdle in 1973) – and Nevele Romeo lent his name to what is still one of New Zealand’s top studs. Neither left much of a legacy in terms of their enduring performance as sires, however. But Romeo Hanover, her very well performed son, stood in America and then for 11 years in Australia (for good “down under” results of 498 foals, 250 starters and 196 winners.) Romeo Hanover had an influence here in New Zealand as well through the likes of Live Or Die’s pedigree, and his son Speedy Romeo was also a sire here, but I suggest it is more through his daughters he has added value, and I’m interested in comments on how much you feel Romeo Hanover has contributed as a sire in the longer term.

Romola Hanover

Romola Hanover with John Simpson snr at Du Quoin in the late 1950s

Right now, it is Romola Hanover’s female descendants and what has ended up as useful lines “down under” that I am interested in.

Two are of particular importance here – her Dancer Hanover daughters Romalie Hanover and Romona Hanover.

Romalie Hanover

First, a quick look at one of Romalie Hanover’s sons who has left a thin line in New Zealand – George Allen, by Meadow Skipper.  It’s one of George Allen’s daughters that might ring a bell here, imported Armbro Zip Zap, although her descendants are few and far between now. The only daughter of Armbro Zip Zap breeding on here is Sequita. Sequita is closely related to the former star juvenile in Australia My Handsome Fella 1:59 ($79,573) who had a go as a sire there (346 foals, 95 winners). One of Sequita’s sons Elliot Daniel has done okay  in NZ for owner Bernie Lim (Harnesslink article from 2014), but Lim has not breed much else from the family, although I see he has put Sequita to Art Major this season, which of course links back to Romola Hanover too. Interestingly, Elliot Daniel has turned out to be one of those lovely durable older horses – now leased by Breakout Syndicate and W S Abernethy and trained by Jay Abernathy, he is still racing and had his late (9th) win a week or so ago on 3 April 2016 at Taranaki, as an 8yo.

Romalie Hanover has left a few more branches in New Zealand and Australia through her daughter Dental Floss (what a strange name!!) who is by Columbia George. A daughter of Dental Floss called Only Natural was imported to Australia from America in 1991. It appears Only Natural’s first foal, a filly called Lady Lynda Lee, was bred in America a couple of years prior to that by Bob McArdle, and then brought to New Zealand for breeding, and her third foal Talk About Natural was also based in New Zealand for breeding.

In Australia, (It’s) Only Natural went on to have numerous foals for I M Walsh and R B Woodhouse, the best of them in terms of racetrack performance being the “grind it out” geldings The Don, Boy From Bowral, and Natural Lobell. Nothing that really raised the roof, and this branch has pretty much withered and died.

In New Zealand none of the lines from Lady Lynda Lee proved special either.

The bright spot in this turns out to be Talk About Natural for breeder John Fokerd. But the progeny page for her doesn’t present a pretty picture at first glance. Digging deeper we can find a few veins of minerals the mine, but it is not gold yet.

Talk About Natural’s daughter by Falcon Seelster is She’s A Natural, and she brings me into familiar ground – her Tinted Cloud daughter Umbra (born 2008) is now with breeder G B M Corbett who is obviously wanting a cross with Tintin In America. (And when I look at that cross I can see why). Another of She’s A Natural’s fillies was To Die With Dignity and she was exported to Australia and raced okay herself and has gone on to breed a couple of decent winners by Jereme’s Jet and Always A Virgin, and a registered Courage Under Fire Colt called Ferdinand who would be a 3yo now.

Tracking down the lines of the family gets tricky now, as many don’t appear (yet) in Classic Families, so often it is a matter of working back. I’ve got a couple of examples that I know of, and blog readers are already contributing more (see the comments under the last blog on this topic). To get there, we go back to Talk About Natural and look at what other breeding lines she has produced other than those mentioned in the previous paragraphs.

After all, 6 of her 9 foals were fillies!

One of the most active lines at the moment is in the good hands of blog friend Brian Cowley, who owns the Live Or Die mare Light Of The South, a daughter of Natural Talker, who is an Andrel daughter of Talk About Natural. Technically that puts Romola Hanover 5 x 6 generations back in the pedigree of Light Of The South, as she appears in Live Or Die’s pedigree as well as the mare’s maternal line. It goes like this. Light Of The South was originally owned and bred by Mike Finlayson, another blog friend, who put her to Art Major (a cross back to the family) for a filly called Lyra Finn who was sold on to Australia but didn’t amount to much and became a hack. Brian has followed a less direct route, and I’ll give his comments in the next blog. Suffice to say at this stage he has the very talented and sometimes wayward Articulight (by Art Official) racing at the moment, and a couple more foals in the waiting room. (Background is a blog I wrote in October 2014 with photos of Light Of The South foals at that time)

The first filly from Natural Talker was Mon Repos and she is in Australia after a very modest racing career, and has been an awkward breeder. Her first (2009) raced foal by McArdle is gelding Allies Mate (18 starts, 5 wins and still racing), and the next live foal was born in November last year, by Million Dollar Cam and bred by K M Hall, Victoria. The sire choice is, for me, a positive one – as I will explain in a later blog when I lay my own  thoughts on the line.

Another filly from Natural Talker is Lets Talk Art, now a 9yo mare by Art Major (link back to the family) who won 6 from 45 starts, and $48,525 in stakes. She is now a broodmare who missed to Panspacificflight (another link back to the family), and has since gone these past couple of seasons to Better’s Delight for breeders Mrs M E O’Brien and S A O’Brien.

No other line from Talk About Natural has left anything worth noting.

Romona Hanover

Of course the big and beautiful branch of Romola Hanover’s family comes from another daughter entirely – not Romalie Hanover, but Romona Hanover. That’s the dam of Perfect Profile (dam of Western Edition, Art Major and Perfect Art),  You Can Fly (dam of Panspacific Flight), Real Artist, and World Order.

In terms of female breeding lines here, we have little to go on. A Real Desire daughter of World Order called Cuzzin Sally was imported by Robert Famularo (Cavalla Bloodstock Limited) and bred here for two colts and a filly before she died. One of the male foals is racing in Australia – Cheyenne Warrior by Bettor’s Delight (96 starts, 8 wins, 27 places, $41,515), and the other colt is only a 3yo (by American Idea, Miss Duvall family) called Sands Of Time and has had one start for a 2nd from the Ken Barron training stable down in West Melton, NZ – and is worth keeping an eye out for. The filly is by Sands A Flyin (link back to the family) and is named Laura J. She is a 4yo mare now, and I will be checking to see what the plans are for her.

So in summary Down Under we are pretty much relying on (no pressure, guys!) She’s A Natural’s daughters  Umbra and To Die With Dignity, and Light Of The South’s progeny, and Laura J to make something of the Romola Hanover dynasty “down under”.

Next part of this series will bring some comments from the current breeders.

A virtual chocolate fish to all blog readers who have got to the end of this one!

Thank you for reading this!

Thank you for reading this!

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Let’s bring to life the remarkable story of Romola Hal. She was a good racehorse herself, but her legacy has been so much more. She is one of standardbred’s breeding gems.

Article on Romola Hal win in Chicago Daily Tribune 4 Oct 1949

Article on Romola Hal win in Chicago Daily Tribune 4 Oct 1949

The focus of the Romola Hal line revival in the past two decades has been on the flowering of the line from her daughter Romola Hanover, particular with branches such as Rodine Hanover and now her daughters like World Order and Perfect Profile.

I’ve done  a few blogs that touched on the excellence of this maternal line in modern breeding and also reported back comments from New Zealand breeders, and my own interest as a breeder from Dreamy Romance.

In this blog I want to revisit the topic in detail, and put out a call for other breeders who are working with Romola Hal descendants in this part of the world – and indeed in North America – to get in touch with me.

Does the connection play any part in your breeding? And if so, what have you tried/want to try? Or are you focused more on the present when it comes to choices of sires? How do you rate the branch you are working with? And have you got any learnings to share?

I’m using the online database Classic Families as a guide (although a word of caution: their database has Dexter Hanover wrongly listed as a son of Romola Hal when in fact he is a 1968 born Dancer Hanover son of Romola Hanover, her daughter. Plus the split of Romantic and Romantic II is also wrong, these are the same mare. I’ll take these issues up with the Classic Families contacts).

I am travelling online and real time to find out the answers – how is this family tracking now, and especially downunder?

Romola Hal’s most famous daughter Romola Hanover had heaps of ability but issues as a racehorse, as Frank Marrion covers in his very good 2008 article on Harnesslink, quoting Murray Brown of Hanover Farms as saying

She could go incredibly fast, but was neither good gaited nor the most sound of fillies.

Of course Romola Hanover’s success as a broodmare is well known and her incredible line of “classic” descendants, males and females, can be tracked on Classic Families. The modern day branches show up in maternal lines of Art Major and his late brother Perfect Art, Real Artist, Captain Treacherous, Panspacificflight, Nuke Of Earl, and the females like Worldly Beauty, Michelle’s Revenge, Artriverderci ….and so many young ones like Rock N Roll World, Wake Up Peter, Cooperstown, Shadowbriand, and Sir Richard Z Tam.

There are several maternal descendants in Australia and New Zealand, and I will catch up on some them as we go through. and would love breeders to contribute their stories.

So let’s get going on this series.

Coming soon – The “other” daughters of Romola Hal.

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