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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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Back in 2012 I picked Charlie Chuckles (Grinfromeartoear x Charioteer) and Delia (American Ideal x Merrily Merrily) as part of my “2012 virtual yearling stable“.

They both qualified and showed enough ability that I was hopeful to get some satisfaction watching them race. Charlie Chuckles had just one race for a win, and Delia won her qualifying trial by about 2 lengths. That was in early 2014.

Then they both dropped out of sight.

Coincidence is a great thing, and this week I noticed (1) Charlie Chuckles was back at the races, at Methven on the grass today, Race 7, and (2) He’s trained by John Hay, who also trained Delia when she was in work. Another coincidence with Delia is that new sire He’s Watching led us to once again consider pedigrees that cross back to Three Diamonds or other parts of the K Nora/Adora family. And of course the 3×3 cross to Three Diamonds was one of the things that had originally caught my eye with Delia.

Check other blogs on this topic:

So a phone call to John Hay was essential, and he kindly caught me up with what had happened to Charlie Chuckles and Delia.

Charlie Chuckles had a troublesome foot problem that they couldn’t get to the bottom of. In the end it was only the use of a heat scanner that pinpointed a hairline fracture where the cannon bone meets the fetlock, which could never mend while he was in work. Treatment and plenty of time, and now Charlie Chuckles is back at the races, although John Hay warns he will need the run today and may even be scratched if the track is too wet. One to follow over the next few months.

[Update: Charlie Chuckles first up run today 20 September was a good one, finishing on well for fifth after having to sit parked and wide. Same day, different race track – in Invercargill today his younger half brother Only In Rome by Bettor’s Delight had his first race win from 5 starts. Tip o’ the hat to their dam Charioteer. Her American Ideal foal Ideal Roman had his first win, also from 5 starts, in June this year as a 2yo. Three nice foals from the Christian Cullen mare who comes from the family of Adios Dream, OK Deb, Courage Under Fire, Advance Attack et al.]

Delia is also a story of a niggling injury that is hard to pinpoint. John says she always seemed a bit sore in her back end, right from when they got her, but she was a horse with plenty of ability – John thinks she had at least 4 or 5 wins in her – and her win at the Chertsy qualifying trial is worth a look. Again a heat scan showed the soreness was going to be an ongoing issue, and the call was made to put her in foal instead. Owner Brian Davidson sent her to Changeover and the foal is due on 11 November this year. Here’s hoping it is a lovely foal and a boost for Brian who had an accident while loading cattle and has only just got out of hospital after three months, and is facing rehabilitation for a head injury.

 

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I know thousands of you (lol) have been wondering why a Real Desire fan like me hasn’t blogged yet on the availability of He’s Watching (from a Real Desire mare), a top racehorse with a great predigree, now available at Alabar.

Of course he’s been well covered in terms of his arrival:

The commonly quoted summary of his pedigree is:

The secret to He’s Watching’s brilliance can possibly be found in his breeding. He has a freakish pedigree.
His sire American Ideal is by a son of the champion mare Leah Almahurst and is out of a daughter another champion mare in Three Diamonds. These two outstanding mares are closely related having their third and second dam respectively as the great K Nora.
Remarkably, the dam of He’s Watching carries the same cross. His own fourth dam is Leah Almahurst and the dam of his maternal grandsire is Three Diamonds.
So four strains of a dominant mare in K Nora via sex-balanced duplications of two champion mares – a pedigree enthusiasts paradise.
To round off a great pedigree he also has eight daughters of Tar Heel (six of them unique) in his sixth generation.

He ticks a lot of boxes as a very complete package – great performance on the track, tractable type, extremely well balanced and symmetrical pedigree.

Sometimes with such a lovely, complete package it is hard to immediately think how it combines with something else. It’s like a perfectly oval uneaten chocolate easter egg.

Alabar has no problems with this, and I sometimes have a wee giggle at their pedigree matching recommendations because I try to find one sire or siring line that they miss out from their suggested matches. This time they are noting the siring lines of Abercrombie, Cam Fella, Western Hanover and Direct Scooter as having merit, which covers probably 90% of pacing sires.

I’m not so interested in that siring line click aspect. I think his matching with NZ mares is a lot more challenging than that.

I would look more towards out-crossing. And I do agree that Direct Scooter could be a key here, especially as our In The Pocket (and other) lines from Direct Scooter are a different pathway from the Matts Scooter line in He’s Watching’s pedigree. And yes, there is the indication that some ITP mares are crossing well with American Ideal.

Having said that, I have already heard from one breeder who is tempted to go further towards line breeding/in-breeding, because the maternal references in He’s Watching’s pedigree are just so classy. That opens it up to a lot of Australasian mares with the Golden Miss line in their pedigree, or those with Leah Almahurst sons Western Ideal and Make A Deal – or damsires like Grinfromeartoear, Safely Kept etc. Even for the brave a Real Desire mare which would be a 3 x2 cross. So there is a lot of interesting things ahead, and inevitably a long wait before any patterns (if any) become clear. I hope the sire gets the numbers to make this “statistically significant”.

We have come across He’s Watching’s great-grandam before – Cheer Me Up is the dam of Rob Roy Mattgregor who stood here briefly and has since died but did offer much more in terms of pedigree than his number of mares indicated. And interestingly so far of his NZ bred foals that have qualified (all 3yos, his only crop here), 3 are from Falcon Seelster mares and one from a McArdle mare – the Warm Breeze sire line which I think was a bit of a “and just in case” footnote in the siring line list Alabar has put forward.

Cheer Me Up is also from the same maternal line as Mr Feelgood.

His grandam Babe Watching (by Jenna’s Beach Boy) was a good enough racemare (1.53 and $170,000). Her two Real Desire foals Baberhood and I’ll Be Seeing You were very average. Baberhood has gone on to produce a champion. About all you can say is the eventually really good lines do produce really good results – but which and when and how consistently is only seen over a longer time frame. And our individual breeding decisions will form part of that answer.

So, yes, He’s Watching is an outstanding acquisition, and it will be very interesting to see how breeders picture their mares fitting with what he has to offer.

Another fascinating aspect of He’s Watching is his size (and of course that is not often referred to). He’s only 15h. I think we have gone past the stage where size counts – except for the heart and the number of quality wins – but I do give a tip o’ the hat to sires like Courage Under Fire (14.3h) and Washington VC (15.1h) that have paved the way for that more recently – and of course giants on the track and in the barn like the wee Good Time in our harness racing history. Rock N Roll Heaven (15.2h on tip toe), Bettor’s Delight (15.1h), his son Highview Tommy (15h) and Tintin In America (15.1h) are all doing their part in more recent years to dispel the myths around size of sires and offer some respite from the 16h sires.

I’m very much looking forward to seeing him in the flesh if Alabar have their usual very interesting stallion parade this year.

Re sizes, I’ll do a quick round up of views/research on size of mares/sires and resulting foals next blog.

 

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Lot 194 at tomorrow’s Melbourne yearling sale is a Mr Feelgood colt. I feel like cheering wildly when I see this pedigree, as it gives the mare (Twice Again Franco) a real chance to show what she can offer genetically.

So I think this colt is a worthy addition to our “virtual yearling stable” of 2015.

Lot 194 APG yearling sale 2015

Lot 194 APG 2015 yearling sale – a Mr Feelgood colt

The yearling’s great grandam (Tropez Lobell) is a daughter of Three Diamonds by Storm Damage. So the colt is part of the wonderful K Nora/Adora family. Tropez Lobell was crossed with Jate Lobell to produce Trilogy Franco, the dam of Twice Again Franco.

Mr Feelgood’s maternal line is also part of the K Nora/Adora family.

Plus this match reintroduces Jate Lobell – this time crossed with the great mare Leah Almahurst.

The previous foals from Twice Again Franco have not been bad – two by Falcon Seelster, one by Riverboat King, and more recently a filly by Courage Under Fire.

The mare seems to miss almost every other year.

What intrigues me – and there may well be a reason – is why some closer connections to the maternal family and to Three Diamonds haven’t been tried earlier? American Ideal is the obvious one. He’s bred very much on the same cross, with Three Diamonds in his maternal line and Leah Almahurst in his sire’s pedigree. Even Life Sign himself would have been on my list. Or taking a different angle, Grinfromeartoear with his damsire Storm Damage (Three Diamonds was crossed with Storm Damage to produce Tropez Lobell) and his ability to click with Jate Lobell mares.

The most recent mating of Twice Again Franco was with Real Desire, a son of Life Sign, but the mare slipped. Tell All and Village Jolt are also options, but less commercial perhaps.

Line breeding to the strongest maternal influences, particularly when they can be found in such good sires, is something I really like. As with any line breeding, it is a lot more than just having the same names occurring somewhere in the pedigree. Where they appear is important, as is the overall balance of the match.

That’s another reason I like this colt. I’m keen to have him in our “interesting and innovative pedigrees” virtual stable.

A series of blogs I did on Mr Feelgood a couple of years ago:

Mr Feelgood Part 1

Mr Feelgood Part 2

Mr Feelgood as a sire – Part 3

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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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There are 3 lots I want to look at because of a double up to quality females, all at the Premier sale in Christchurch – Lot 39, 45 and 231, and the double ups concerned are, respectively, Three Diamonds, Roydon Gal and Rich N Elegant.

Six Diamonds yearling colt

Lot 39 Christchurch yearling sale 2014, Six Diamonds (Photo Tuapeka Lodge)

I’m going to start with Lot 39 is a lovely long barrelled type of colt called Six Diamonds, which immediately acknowledges the 3×3 to Three Diamonds in his pedigree. He’s from a Life Sign mare (Three Diamonds was Life Sign’s dam) and is by American Ideal whose dam is from a daughter of Three Diamonds (Matt’s Scooter x Three Diamonds). check out his video on the Tuapeka Lodge website.

This cross has occurred before in New Zealand, including a current 3yo filly and 2yo colt from the nice mare Imprint, who is the dam of the good filly (Am)Opulent now in Australia. Neither have shown up yet but will be interested to keep an eye on them.

Another is Delia, who I noted at the 2012 New Zealand yearling sale at Karaka, in a blog: Three Diamonds and a ton of Adios – and did a tip o’ the hat to Three Diamonds who was a very classy racehorse and broodmare. I also looked at the success of that cross in America, but I haven’t updated those statistics yet. However I have updated news about Delia – she is being trained by John Hay and is due to get to the workouts any day now. He says earlier she was a bit weak, but now she’s working better and bowls around okay, and it will be just a matter of seeing how she steps up.

There are a few other unregistered young foals on this cross, and one unregistered 2yo to date, but  wouldn’t be surprised to see a few more in future. You wouldn’t expect early precocious speed – it isn’t coming from American Ideal regularly although he leaves lovely athletic types and very good 3yos, and nor did precocious speed come often from Life Sign, at least not when crossed with our New Zealand mares. But for those who are willing to let horses grow into their frame and strengthen up, the double up of Three Diamonds via Life Sign and American Ideal is a very attractive option.

 

 

 

 

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One of my ‘virtual stable’ of yearlings from the sales was Lot 119, Delia, American Ideal – Merrily Merrily (Life Sign) and I promised in my blog on my virtual stable to check if that American Ideal-Life Sign cross had been successful to date in North America. It gives a 3×3 to the very good mare Three Diamonds, and therefore plenty of other multiples including no less than 10 crosses to Adios across the Delia’s 6th, 7th and 8th generations!

And yes, American Ideal has been matched to Life Sign mares in America and according to the USTA crosses of gold information the result to date is 11 foals for 10 starters (91%) and 8 winners (73%) with 4 of those winning as 2yos; 5 of his starters have won in 1.55 and 2 of them have gained over $100k so far. 

These statistics may well have developed since Delia’s breeder Geoff Elton made his decision to double up to Three Diamonds, but they certainly reinforce the choice he made. Whether Delia herself will underscore it with performance is all in the future, of course, and there are other factors in the pot apart from pedigree – but I’ll keep an eye on her. And what an interesting platform she has herself as a future broodmare.

While ‘doubling up’ often focuses on sires and broodmare sires, it is less common (but pleasing) to see such a close up cross of a strong mare. With American Ideal showing up well as a sire, and with a small number but reasonable quality of Life Sign mares in New Zealand, this could be a match we see more of.

Another example of the American Ideal/Three Diamonds connection is the top (“world champion”) young filly American Jewel, who has won over $677,116 to date in North America. More of that story on theredmile.com website .  American Jewel’s damsire is Camluck, but her dam Trim Hanover is the great grand-daughter of Three Diamonds.

Delia’s dam Merrily Merrily has a maternal line which I am not at all familiar with – and I see it includes Thunder On an imported sire who is a son of Scotland out of Spinster. (Delia is Merrily Merrily’s  fifth foal – a half sister by Bettor’s Delight called Double Happy is running into a bit of form lately in the South Island.)

The following information about Three Diamonds is sourced from the harnessmuseum.com website

2010 Inductee – Three Diamonds
(1979-1995)

 A foal of 1979, Three Diamonds, p,3,1:53.1 ($735,759) was bred by Kentuckiana Farms and purchased by George Segal at the first Kentucky Standardbred Sale in 1980. Trained by Gene Riegle and driven by Bruce Riegle, Three Diamonds took victories in nine of her ten freshman year starts, including the Debutante Stake, the Sweetheart Consolation, the John Chapman Memorial and the Countess Adios, during which she set a world record for two-year-old pacing fillies of 1:56 . She closed the season with total earnings of $233,489 and the title of Two-Year-Old Pacing Filly of the Year.

Three Diamonds’s sophomore year was even more successful with sixteen wins out of twenty-one starts, fifteen of which were under
 
1:58. Her victories included the Jugette, the Mistletoe Shalee, the Tarport Hap, the Adioo Volo, and a division of the Bluegrass Stake, during which she set a world record for pacing fillies on a mile track of 1:53.1.

She amassed a total of $502,270, bringing her lifetime earnings to $735,759, and was named Three-Year-Old Pacing Filly of the Year. At the time of her retirement she held or shared world records on all three size tracks for three-year-old filly pacers, as well as having matched Niatross’ all-age-two-heat record of 3:47.3.

As a broodmare, she produced ten foals, including Life Sign p,3,1:50.3 ($1,912,454), the 1993 Little Brown Jug winner and sire of 2002 Horse of the Year Real Desire p,4,1:48.2 ($3,159,814). She is also the dam of Threefold p,3,1:51.1 ($634,004). Three Diamonds is the granddam of American Ideal p,3,1:47.4 ($786,055) and the great-granddam of Eternal Camnation p,5,1:49.2 ($3,748,574), the richest pacing mare in Standardbred history.

Three Diamonds passed away March 13, 1995 at Brittany Farms in Versailles , KY ; however, her daughters, granddaughters and great-granddaughters are among the most valued pacing mares in the breed today and they carry her influence forward.

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