Premier Pedigrees has been tracking the seemingly "X-factor" mare Blue Horizon in recent years in the belief that she creates "something special" when duplicated in pedigree compilation wherever the opportunity arises.
That "something special" is extreme high speed ( one of the hardest attributes to breed into any horse ).
As readers / breeders will have noticed in our previous article, Blue Horizon is a grand-daughter of the famed mare Golden Miss aka the "Queen Of Gait", something seen as an absolutely fundamental pre-requisite in the evolution to extreme high speed.
The Direct Scooter invasion in the mid-nineties and beyond gave us our first glimpse of how refined and superior gait attributes could enhance speed in a largely Meadow Skipper genepool but with Blue Horizon came no Direct Scooter influences.
She was seemingly "doing it on her own".
Even more noticeably, she was producing it when duplicated relatively close-up in a pedigree, particularly via the use of what is known as a Rasmussen Factor ( Breeding Back To Superior Females Through Different Individuals Within The First Five Generations ) breeding technique.
Blue Horizon first came to our attention having been highly impressed by the racing attributes of 2005 New South Wales Derby victor Make Me Smile ( Grinfromeartoear - Panoramic Lady ). His sizzling gate speed to cross fields in the blink of an eye from wide draws was eye-catching not to mention his electric bursts of speed on many other occasions.
As with any exceptional performer or one which displays specific outstanding attributes it would be remiss of any pedigree consultant not exercising due diligence on the subject horse's pedigree to ascertain the likely contributer/s to these standout traits.
Make Me Smile's pedigree revealed an immediate and highly likely cause which suggested that close "inbreeding" to the mare Blue Horizon was a highly likely source of developing high speed.
Technically, in Standardbred breeding circles a 3x3 reverse-sexed Rasmussen Factor at that position in a pedigree is not inbreeding but rather the first stage of linebreeding at Factor 6 ( Factor 5 being the true outside edge of inbreeding ).
As Blue Horizon featured in the direct maternal bloodline of the stallion via her daughter Smile Upon ( dam of Grinfromeartoear ) this also allowed the opportunity to return the same blood from the mare Panoramic Lady ( a daughter of Panorama ) to the stallion's "bottom line" also recognised as a speed enhancement breeding practice ( and widely utilised by both Thoroughbred and Standardbred breeders ).
With Panorama being a son of Blue Horizon the reverse-sexing opportunity not only provided Make Me Smile with a desirable breeding core but also a likely "engine room", an engine room based on high speed.
But one example does not provide absolute proof of any contention. We needed to find another example to solidify our belief.
Back in 2003 I was fortunate enough to accompany then Linden Park Studmaster Graham Bell ( he was standing stallion's such as Sands A Flyin and Road Machine at the time ) as his pedigree authority on a week long South Island road trip visiting other Studs as well as numerous breeders throughout Canterbury and Southland.
At about that time Sly Flyin was going great guns flying the flag high for Sands A Flyin.
We had dual hosts in Southland in Mark Shirley ( a son of Ascot Stud's Gil Shirley ) and Debbie Scarlett ( later to become Debbie Smith of Shard Farm fame ). Both proved wonderful hosts introducing us to nearly every horse-interested person in the province.
So it was not surprising that a couple of years later an email came through to Premier Pedigrees from Debbie seeking opinion on who she should breed her Panorama mare to. The particular mare in question was Sly Shard ( a half-sister to Sly Flyin ).
Here was the opportunity to test our theory on Blue Horizon using essentially the same template that was used to produce Make Me Smile.
But it was hard work convincing Debbie especially as it involved an element of seemingly "inbreeding". I recall having a file about half an inch thick on email correspondence back and forth trying to convince Debbie on the merits of this breeding without the knowledge that Dave Phillips and an unidentified Australian breeding consultant were on the same wavelength as ourselves.
But we stuck to our guns on every query Debbie threw at us on the mating as we were desperately wanting another example to support our beliefs about Blue Horizon.
Fortunately the mating went ahead and in 2006 Sly Shard foaled a small yet neat compact colt by Grinfromeartoear.
That colt was named Smiling Shard and he went to the PGG Yearling Sales in Christchurch as Shard Farm was primarily a "seller".
Only a week or two later I was in Geoff Small's barn one day when Cran Dalgety walked in looking for Geoff. I recall making a comment at the time to Cran that he "got the best pedigreed horse in the Yearling Sales" having been the successful buyer of the colt.
Cran's reply still rings in my ears today, "Oh I don't know about that, the little squib" and "I paid too much for him" in reference to his $42,000 price tag when, Catalogue in hand, he showed me that he had $30,000 written down as his maximum limit ( self valuation ) on him.
It did not take long to have our observations and beliefs about Blue Horizon confirmed as Smiling Shard proved precocious and went on to win both the Australasian Breeders Crown Final 2YO Colts and Geldings and the Australasian Breeders Crown Final 3YO Colts and Geldings displaying both natural precocity and great dash on his way to becoming a millionaire pacer.
So where to from here with further opportunities to double-up on the prize blood of Blue Horizon?
To answer this question we first need to identify those stallions or broodmare sires that hold the presence of Blue Horizon in our part of the world. Forgive us if we have missed any.
They include Panorama ( 1st generation ), Grinfromeartoear ( 2nd generation ), Smiling Shard ( twice at the 3rd generation ), Mr Feelgood ( 3rd generation ), Shoobees Place ( 3rd generation ) and The Storm Inside ( 3rd generation ) whilst Soho Tribeca holds the presence of Panorama at his 5th generational level meaning Blue Horizon appears at his 6th generational level.
We can see from this that all except for Soho Tribeca offer distinct opportunities to create Rasmussen Factors to Blue Horizon where their bloodlines are brought together in a planned mating.
Moving forward though we are particularly excited by the opportunities provided to the young Alabar based stallion The Storm Inside ( Rocknroll Hanover - Spirited Storm, by Artsplace ) with mares from those other stallions as identified above. Why is that?
The answer lies in the way The Storm Inside has been bred.
And this is the way former Australian pedigree guru Mr Gordon Campbell ( ex Computabred Ltd ) favoured best "Breeding Back Into The Herd" ( aka BBITH ) and hopefully also incorporating a Rasmussen Factor ( breeding back to superior females through different individuals within the first 5 generations ).
The Storm Inside is the product of being "bred back into the herd" utilising a 4x5 Rasmussen Factor to Shifting Sands ( the famed daughter of the "Queen Of Gait" Golden Miss ) through her own powerful daughters Proven Perfect ( granddam of Rocknroll Hanover ) and Shifting Scene ( 3rd dam of Spirited Storm via Blue Horizon ).
So let us do a brief summation of the outcomes of breeding mares by those other stallions we have afore-mentioned to The Storm Inside.
Panorama mare - produces a 4x3 reverse-sexed Rasmussen Factor to Blue Horizon via daughter Stormy Pursuit and son Panorama. This is a similar template to that used to produce both Make Me Smile and Smiling Shard.
Grinfromeartoear mare - produces a 4x4 Rasmussen Factor to Blue Horizon via her daughters the full-sisters Stormy Pursuit and Smile Upon ( both by Storm Damage ).
Mr Feelgood mare - produces a 4x5 Rasmussen Factor to Blue Horizon via her daughters the full-sisters Stormy Pursuit and Smile Upon.
Shoobees Place mare - produces a 4x5 Rasmussen Factor to Blue Horizon via her daughters the half-sisters Stormy Pursuit and Shoobeedoaday.
Smiling Shard mare - produces a 4x5x5 Rasmussen Factor desirably sex-balanced via the full-sisters Stormy Pursuit and Smile Upon and their half-brother Panorama.
Soho Tribeca mare - perhaps one for the future but produces a 4x7 sex-balanced linebreeding opportunity to Blue Horizon via daughter Stormy Pursuit and son Panorama.
Trainer Emma Stewart's comments on The Storm Inside's traits and attributes on the racetrack are perhaps very salient in terms of what we have identified as being typical of this Family, "He has everything you'd look for with his blistering high speed, beautifully gaited and a real athlete".
As we see it, the only word's missing are "family inheritance" which allowed him to display these great qualities on the racetrack right from an undefeated precocious juvenile through to his 5 year old season where he ran his career best time of 1:50.7 for the mile and winning 16 or his 19 career starts.
We also see The Storm Inside as enjoying considerable success in the future with mares from both the Artsplace and Meadow Skipper sirelines and we will be following his Stud career with a little more than a keen interest.
William Shehan of Ann Arbor, Michigan, was only 5 years old when the mare Miss Pluto Scott was born in 1934.
This was at a time when the trotting gait had an apparent stranglehold on the Standardbred as a breed in North America give or take the odd stallion or superior mare that was beginning to throw dual-gaited horses i.e. could both trot and pace at speed. Others preferred just a single gait, be that just trotting or pacing.
The progeny of the stallion Volomite were beginning to show these dual tendencies whilst broodmare bluehen Spinster was leaving progeny that also displayed these dual attributes.
Shehan became a graduate of his native University of Michigan and for almost 20 years operated a New York Corporate Law Office specialising in International Finance.
His involvement with Standardbreds occurred during his College years where he did some work for the immortal Sanders Russell and gained immense equine knowledge.
In particular, he developed ideas on the kind of gait required to maximise speed and he endeavoured to develop such gait utilising his own quickly growing band of broodmares.
He specifically bred for the traits of good gait and physical type, breeding away from any perceived faults. He was particularly successful in bringing to life several branches of maternal families who have produced top performers for multiple successive generations.
Whilst these have included the likes of Adora, K Nora and Lover's Walk amongst others it is another of his foundation mares' in Golden Miss that we want to specifically focus on for the purposes of this article.
When it came time to mate a near 20 year old mare in Miss Pluto Scott, Shehan didn't have a lot to go on as her only other foal had been the 1951 filly Winifred ( by the Volomite horse King's Counsel ) who can be found in today's pedigrees most commonly as the 4th dam of the stallion Four Starzzz Shark.
But this may have been enough to start Shehan thinking as Volomite was leaving a number of dual-gaited horses as had been his sire Peter Volo, the latter a son of Peter The Great ( who's blood also significantly under-pinned Direct Scooter but that is digressing for now although worth considerable food for thought ).
So when it came time to breed Miss Pluto Scott, a mare 3x3 paternally linebred to Peter The Great ( via his sons Peter Scott and Peter Pluto ) a stallion carrying sex-balanced lines of Peter The Great ( via Peter Volo and Miss Pierette ) appealed greatly as the perfect mate for Miss Pluto Scott. That stallion was Ensign Hanover, a son of Billy Direct, the latter the first pacing horse in history to run 1:55 for the mile.
Shehan knew the appeal of this but at the same time his mare drew huge compatibility from the maternal bloodlines of Ensign Hanover who's dam Helen Hanover was 3x3 delta pattern bred to Peter The Great through son Peter Volo ( who was displaying a tendency to leave a number of pacing-gaited progeny ) and daughter Miss Pierette, the 3rd dam of Ensign Hanover and a member of Spinster's wider family ( Miss Pierette coming through the opposite branch of the famous "Thompson Sisters" in Madam Thompson as opposed to Spinster coming through Madam Thompson's full-sister Tilly Thompson, both grand-daughters of taproot matriarch Minnehaha ).
The above features saw the 1954 filly foal ( to be named Golden Miss ) not only 5x5x4x4 sex-balance linebred to Peter The Great but also 5x4 reverse-sex bred to him as well thus offering both a breeding core and a likely "engine room".
Miss Pluto Scott also held the presence of the mare Kinglyne ( May King - Young Miss ) deep in her maternal bloodlines which also presented compatibility with the bloodlines of Ensign Hanover's fast pacing sire Billy Direct who carried the presence of Bingen ( May King - Young Miss ), a full-brother to Kinglyne, in his own maternal pedigree.
A well-constructed pedigree match by Shehan which was to go on and see Golden Miss earn the accolade of the "Queen of Gait" out on the racetrack.
In 1977 Bill Shehan founded Clermont Farm, a 560 acre Standardbred nursery in Versailles, Kentucky and continued his challenge in bringing to life several branches of maternal families to produce top performers generation upon generation ably assisted by other breeding farms that had purchased fillies from Shehan developed families at various Yearling Sales.
Shehan died in 1991 with his Clermont Farm largely being the home today of what now makes up George Segal's Brittany Farms.
But for now, let us return to the legacy of Shehan's great creation, Golden Miss.
Golden Miss's 8th dam Foot was by the Thoroughbred stallion Glencoe ( a note large heart source ) and out of the mare Fishing Filly ( by Bertrand 1821 ). Maternal recordson the foundations of this family do not extend back any further than Fishing Filly but we do know that Bertrand was by Sir Archy ( 1802 ) and from a mare known as Eliza. The interesting thing to also note here was that Sir Archy was also by a widely acclaimed pioneer of large hearts in the Thoroughbred breed in Diomed ( 1777 ).
Retirement from the racetrack saw the "Queen Of Gait" Golden Miss embark on a broodmare career which saw her produce just the five foals, three colts the most distinguished being Strike Out ( a handsome beautifully gaited high speed individual who was later to make a valued sire ) whilst also producing two fillies in Shifting Sands ( her first foal and foaled in 1965 ) and Malaysia ( her last foal and foaled in 1978 ).
Malaysia had eight foals over a period from 1982 to 1995 but none came close to the greatness of her 1990 colt by Jate Lobell named Riyadh.
Although Riyadh was also to make it eventually to Stud he was never the same star in the breeding barn and Southern Hemisphere breeders have only managed to sight his name albeit fleetingly as the granddam sire of Racing Hill ( by Roll With Joe ) who stood a season or so at Alabar Australia before permanently returning to North America.
Shifting Sands on the other hand had seven foals over a period from 1970 to 1984 with a remarkable six of these being fillies.
Whilst Miss Meadowlark met with modest success, it was three of Shifting Sands other daughters in Shifting Scene, Whispering Sands and Proven Perfect which were to become household names in the pedigrees of today's stallions so familiar to Southern Hemisphere breeders, all under-pinned by the name Golden Miss.
Proven Perfect is listed as having just the one foal in 1990 to Direct Scooter. A filly, she was named Rich N Elegant. She in turn went on to have eight foals over a period from 1995 to 2007, six colts and two fillies. Her claim to fame being not only that she was to produce a siring dynasty but also that she was to become the first broodmare in history to produce three individual millionaire pacers and narrowly missing out on a fourth.
Rocknroll Hanover, Royalflush Hanover and Red River Hanover all acclaimed such status with Rustler Hanover narrowly missing out joining this trio.
Of Rich N Elegant's two fillies, BJ's Canouan ( a full-sister to Rocknroll Hanover) has yet to make an appearance in any stallion pedigrees in our part of the world whilst Rye Hanover ( a full-sister to Red River Hanover and Rustler Hanover ) in recent times has resided at Benstud in Australia and is listed as the dam of thirteen live foals with her 2009 colt by Christian Cullen named Blazin N Cullen being easily her best racetrack performer to date with lifetime earnings of $576,352 but she does have four daughters in Treat Me Good, Rockahula Baby, Dancing With Daisy and Smooth Rye to continue the Proven Perfect tentacle of Shifting Sands branch.
Another of Shifting Sands produce was Whispering Sands who produced five foals from 1975 to 1990 with all five being fillies though only two have made their way to our part of the world as names we have become familiar with in the pedigrees of stallions. These two are her first foal Windward Passage ( 1975 ) and Mystical Mood ( 1985 ).
Mystical Mood had four foals from 1989 to 2002, two colts and two fillies. Mystical Prince went on to become a stallion with moderate success in Australia whilst Deadly Desire amongst her two progeny to Life Sign left Real Desire ( the great racetrack foe of Bettor's Delight ).
Windward Passage amongst her four filly foals over the period 1981 to 1983 left Secret Passage who went on to become the dam of Safely Kept, a revered sire in Australia who could leave equally good pacers and trotters.
But of all the grand-daughters of Golden Miss to descend through Shifting Sands it is perhaps Shifting Scene who has been the most under-rated especially in terms of the deeds of her daughters as opposed to the likes of Proven Perfect who has made her impression largely through the deeds of her sons.
Shifting Scene is recorded as having twelve offspring over a period from 1976 until 1991. During this time she produced eleven fillies and a single colt, a 1989 production by the name of Present Danger.
Of her eleven fillies, three have presented themselves in stallion pedigrees in our part of the world in more recent times.
They are her first two foals Blue Horizon ( 1976 ), Blue Gingham ( 1977 ) and Sonspree ( 1984 ).
Amongst Sonspree's five recorded foals ( three fillies and two colts ) only her last foal Treasure For Trish ( 1992 ) has kept her name abreast of downunder breeders as the dam of the filly Lifesliltreasure. The latter is best known as the dam of the stallion Control The Moment, the best racetrack son to date for the stallion Well Said.
Control The Moment had been available to Australian breeders until the 2021 season via frozen semen ex KTC Bloodstock in Western Australia.
Blue Gingham is recorded as having only the three foals from 1982 to 1989, two fillies and a colt named Armbro Khaki.
One of her two fillies was named Enroute ( again a first foal ) who features as the third dam of the recent Alabar shuttle stallion Sunshine Beach making Blue Gingham the fourth dam of Sunshine Beach.
Blue Horizon was the first foal of Shifting Scene and a full-sister to Blue Gingham, both being daughters of Meadow Skipper.
Of the three daughters of Shifting Scene most familiar to downunder breeders, Blue Horizon is also most probably the most familiar and certainly the largest producer with eight recorded foals from 1981 to 1995, four of which Australian breeders in particular can identify with. In total she had two colts and six fillies.
Her first three foals are all familiar names especially to Australian breeders.
Her first foal, a colt by Abercrombie, was named Panorama who made an indelible mark in Australian standardbred breeding circles whilst her next two foals the full-sisters Stormy Pursuit and Smile Upon ( both by Storm Damage ) were about to leave their imprint as also a later daughter in Shoobeedoaday ( 1995 ).
Stormy Pursuit can be found in the pedigree of the promising young stallion The Storm Inside ( available to both Australian and New Zealand breeders ) as his granddam whilst Smile Upon is the dam of the highly admired Grinfromeartoear and can also be found in the pedigrees of his sons Mr Feelgood and Smiling Shard.
Shoobeedoaday can be found as the granddam of the Artsplace stallion Shoobees Place who these days stands in Western Australia alongside Bonavista Bay.
The sole purpose of this article was to capture the essence of the Golden Miss influence , not in it's entirety, but more with respect to it's relevance to and influence in Australasia.
In our next article, we are going to stay on this theme but single out just one of it's "player's" who we have touched on in this article, and explore their potential impact on future breedings.
So stay tuned.
The death of the champion thoroughbred Secretariat in October 1989 and his subsequent autopsy findings revealing an enormous 22lbs heart size was the inspiration behind writer Marianna Haun and her 1997 work the X-Factor Theory claiming that the large heart gene is located on the X-chromosome hence meaning that a colt foal can only inherit an over-sized heart from his dam and as a stallion this can only be passed on through his daughters.
Such a brave theory is only that and in more recent times with modern day mapping of the equine genome there is no scientific confirmation that heart size is passed on via the X chromosome.
But what we do know from in the thoroughbred world is that certain female lines can throw horses that carry larger hearts than normal and this size can vary dependent on the taproot source.
Marianna Haun in her famous workings of the late 1990's contended that 28%of the thoroughbred population carried the large heart gene in some shape or form.
Large hearts of up to three times normal size ( estimated at 6 lbs back then ) were initially attributed to the male forebear Eclipse ( 1764 ) who possessed a 14 lbs heart ( the same size as that of Phar Lap's ).
A decade or so later along came Diomed ( 1777 ), the best racehorse in Great Britain since Eclipse, whose daughters it was claimed could pass on 18 lbs hearts.
A widely speculated belief was that the mare Pocahontas ( 1837 ) was the source of all present day large hearts, something widely dispelled by large heart authority Harold Matthews who claimed that Pocahontas possessed a 15 lbs heart and because of this she was only capable of passing on a 15 lbs heart, in other words the heart size does not go up or down but rather remains constant from generation to generation.
Matthew's identified four what he termed " base root " large heart mares originating from in the mid-1600's.
These included Darcy's Royal Mare ( 1690's ), the source of an 18 lbs heart, Royal Mare ( circa 1665 ) and Montagu Mare ( circa 1650 ), both the source of 16 lbs hearts, and the Vinter Mare who writer James Hardiman in his work "Confused Pedigrees and Mistaken Identities" believes was the same mare as the Montagu Mare by another name.
It has been claimed that early large heart progenitors were in existence before the thoroughbred was established, many of unclaimed parentage originating at Darcy's Stud, being left over "Hobby-Running" horses of King Charles reign ( aka Royal Mares ) of which there was an estimated population of just over 100 mares.
These mares did not carry any Barb, Arabian or Turk appendages of the "Oriental" breeds, the first of these entering the thoroughbred breeding genepool being the Old Moroccan Barb ( aka Fairfax Moroccan Barb ) in 1637 as seen in the pedigree of the Spanker Mare.
So can we relate any of this development of the large heart gene inheritance in the thoroughbred across to the standardbred, a breed which is far younger in establishment but which derived much of it's origins from the thoroughbred breed in association with other breeds of defined gait such as the Clay and Morgan breed?
In an attempt to answer this question we would like to focus back on the thoroughbred stallion Diomed.
Eclipse has long been considered as a prime mover in the development of the large heart gene in modern day thoroughbred pedigrees through his daughters but it is perhaps his near contemporary Diomed that has had a far more profound effect on the modern day standardbred.
Diomed was intensely linebred to the Spanker Mare ( no fewer than 9 close-up presences including this mare being his own 7th dam ) but more importantly he carries the large heart gene of Darcy's Royal Mare ( a source of 18 lbs hearts ) being out of a mare named Sister To Juno, by Spectator, out of Partner Mare, out of Bonny Lass, by Bay Bolton, out of Makeless Mare, out of Brimmer Mare, by Brimmer, out of Darcy's Royal Mare.
Whilst other large heart sources are attributable in the standardbred world as coming through the little known origins of the stallion Pilot Jnr ( and passed on through his daughters ) other acclaimed female sources are the likes of Midnight ( 1865 ) a daughter of Pilot Jnr with two lines of Diomed and a line of Glencoe ( another thoroughbred large heart source ), Esther ( 1860's ) from the Diomed sireline and possessing five lines of Diomed along with her dam being bred on a 3x3 reverse-sex cross to Glencoe, and Miss Russell, the last-mentioned being a daughter of Pilot Jnr out of Sally Russell, the latter also from the Diomed sireline.
In contemporary standardbred breeding circles any mention of the large heart gene and first thoughts move towards Tar Heel or more specifically towards the daughters of Tar Heel.
This is little surprising as Tar Heel's tenth dam is the thoroughbred Robert Wickliffe Mare, a daughter of Diomed.
This means that Robert Wickliffe Mare was a carrier of Diomed's large heart gene directly attributable to Darcy's Royal Mare ( a source of 18 lbs hearts ).
Of particular interest here is that Robert Wickliffe Mare is also the granddam of Family 558 matriarch Jessie Pepper which sees the maternal line through Princess Royal, Roya McKinney, Rose Scott, Rosette and Leta Long all equipped with the large heart gene.
From yesteryear we have the stallions Kentucky and No Nukes as well as present day stallions such as Rock N Roll Heaven descending from the Jessie Pepper family.
Daughters of these male influences are potential large heart gene carriers.
But for now, let us return to Tar Heel and more specifically his own pedigree composition.
Tar Heel is by Billy Direct out of Leta Long, by Volomite out of Rosette.
Whilst his sire Billy Direct does carry the presence of Midnight deep in his maternal bloodlines it is through his dam Leta Long that Tar Heel's large heart gene is derived.
But from which side of her pedigree is the key question?
Leta Long's sire Volomite is out of the mare Cita Frisco who is by San Francisco out of Mendocita.
Mendocita is a daughter of Esther ( see comments earlier as above ).
San Francisco's dam is Oniska who is linebred 4x5 to Miss Russell ( also see earlier comments above ), a daughter of Pilot Jnr.
Miss Russell is herself heavily inbred to strains of Diomed inheriting one strain through the dam of her sire Pilot Jnr with her own dam Sally Russell being more intensely bred to Diomed than any other female Stud Book product.
Plenty of genetic connections to large heart influences here but it is through Leta Long's dam Rosette that the large heart gene has been passed to Tar Heel according to "the experts" on this subject.
It is not our intention to be contentious here but rather just informative.
Rosette is claimed to have derived the large heart gene from her sire Mr McElwyn ( even though her damline traces directly back to Diomed ) who in turn derived his from his dam Widow Maggie who got hers from Peter The Great who got his from the brilliantly fast mare Santos.
Santos got her gene in turn from her sire Grand Sentinel who got his from dam Maid Of Lexington who got hers from Mambrino Pilot who inherited his from Juliet, another daughter of Pilot Jnr.
And from Tar Heel down the line the large heart gene passes with Bret Hanover inheriting the large heart gene from his dam Brenda Hanover, a daughter of Tar Heel, meaning Bret Hanover had the ability to pass on the gene through his daughters as well.
Before we leave our segment on Tar Heel we would like to share a couple of interesting facts on this stallion.
Tar Heel derived his name from the state of North Carolina where the practice of stripping pine trees to produce turpentine earned these workers the nickname of "Tar Heelers".
Tar Heel, a Little Brown Jug winner himself, was known as the "King Of Queens" in the breeding barn because the genes he passed onto his daughters were considered "very special".
Even today, we still laud the deeds of a Tar Heel daughter such as Romola Hanover when we peruse the pedigrees of current top stallions such as Art Major and Captaintreacherous.
Back in the 60's, 70's and early 80's it was claimed that Tar Heel's daughters propped up most stallions and both launched and saved many as they invariably produced a stallion's best runner.
Tar Heel ( 1948-82 ) lived to the tender age of 34 years at a time when the average lifespan of standardbred horses was 24 to 27 years. A son of Tar Heel in Waco Hanover recently became the longest lived standardbred on record reaching 41 years and 281 days.
One can only ponder at the thought that some of these achievements were heart related.
The interest in large inherent hearts and heart scores will always remain when one can find or develop a superior "V8 versus a 4-Cylinder" product.
A larger heart can pump more oxygen giving the horse optimum speed, greater endurance and capacity for exercise.
Australian researcher Dr James Steel created the Heart Score as a genetic marker for X-Factor through the use of an Electrocardiogram ( ECG ) to measure heart size, a scale that correlates heart weight, stroke volume, cardiac output and aerobic power.
Heart scores of average horses were typically in the range of 104-116 but Steel determined a break point of 117 for female and 120 for male horses to pinpoint potential larger heart animals.
As a point of interest here Secretariat was asserted to possess a heart score of 180.
Another study of standardbred ( trotters ) by Nielsen and Vibe-Petersen of the Royal Veterinary and Agricultural University of Copenhagen found that 41 stallions with a heart score of 115 or greater amassed double the earnings of 81 stallions with heart scores below 115.
In conclusion, on this non-exact science of the large heart gene, we do hope though that your funds investment scheme does include a few shares in a medical instruments manufacturer as the demand for stethoscopes begins to reach insatiable heights in the quest for that larger hearted horse with the competitive edge.
Astute standardbred breeders ( of both pacers and trotters ) will be well aware of the many good horses produced that carry a double ( via two individual ancestors ) of the revered female bluehen Extasy ( 1896 ).
We can quote as examples the likes of Beach Towel $2,570,357 ( the best offspring of French Chef ), Western Hanover $2,541,647 ( the best offspring of No Nukes ), Cam Fella $2,041,367 ( the best offspring of Most Happy Fella ) and Jenna's Beach Boy $1,972,172 ( the best offspring of Beach Towel ) as all carrying doubles of Extasy.
La Coocaracha, General Jujon, Safe And Sound and Rowleyalla were all top Australian racehorses that carried a double of Extasy.
And so too did one of Australia's best sires of all time in the Cam Fella horse Fake Left.
An additional line of Extasy through a different individual to those already present in Fake Left produced some of this stallion's finest racetrack products the likes of Drop Dead Gorgeous, General Jujon, Bronski Warrior, Aquagold, Cherry Cheer and Five Star Comfort.
It also produced his best runner, the incredible Blacks A Fake.
And it is Blacks A Fake who we will briefly use as an example of illustration here.
His sire Fake Left carries Extasy through two individuals; Good Time ( as present in grandsire Most Happy Fella ) who holds Extasy as his 5th dam via her daughter Pleasant Thoughts, and Dale Frost whose damsire Raider carries as his own granddamsire Prince McKinney, a son of Extasy.
So we have Extasy coming through son Prince McKinney and daughter Pleasant Thoughts in Fake Left.
To add the third individual line we need to analyse the pedigree of Blacks A Fake's dam Colada Hanover ( a daughter of Vanston Hanover ) noting with special interest in Vanston Hanover's direct maternal ( or "bottom line" ) that his 4th dam Vesta's Pride is a daughter of Spencer.
Spencer's dam is Petrex, a daughter of Extasy, meaning Blacks A Fake carries in his pedigree three individual lines of Extasy desirably sex-balanced for maximum influence through Extasy's son Prince McKinney and daughters Pleasant Thoughts and Petrex.
The interesting thing to note here specifically with reference to Blacks A Fake's pedigree is that these lines of Extasy come through both pacing and trotting forebears yet they appear to fuse with relative comfort.
To further understand this we are best guided by both the origins of Extasy as well as her own racetrack and breeding exploits.
Extasy's pedigree and family origins are the oldest of any Standardbred tracing back through foundation mare Kathleen ( Family 123 ) who was by Pilot Jnr, the only trotting sire that Kathleen's dam Little Miss ( a full-blooded thoroughbred mare by Sovereign ) was put to.
Little Miss traces back to an English thoroughbred mare ( Cub Mare ) foaled around 1700.
Little Miss's own pedigree was heavily immersed with crosses of the Spanker Mare and her dam Old Peg with the latter tracing closely to great English thoroughbred sires such as Flying Childers, Bartlett's Childers, Jigg, Fox and Basto, many of whom were heavily inbred. Retain a mental note of this for later in this article.
It was Kathleen's mating with Harold that produced Ethelwyn in 1882.
Pilot Jnr, sire of Kathleen, earned a reputation as one of the greatest broodmare sires of all time, his daughters striking accord with a wide range of sires.
Sires of more recent times benefitting from multiple infusions of Pilot Jnr include the likes of Adios, Albatross, Artsplace, Western Hanover, Speedy Crown, Super Bowl and Valley Victory.
Ethelwyn was bred on a template, Harold over a Pilot Jnr mare ( Kathleen ), the same cross that produced the elite racemare of that time Maud S.
Harold was inbred 2x2 paternally to Abdallah I, with his sire Hambletonian 10 and dam Enchantress both being out of maresby Bellfounder.
Ethelwyn's mating with Dictator was to produce Grendel, an unraced mare who went on to become the 5th dam of the trotting stallion Bill Gallon, best known as the sire of Galophone ( winner of 51 of his 112 starts ).
Another daughter of Ethelwyn's in Impetuous equalled the World Record for a 2YO trotter and went on to become the ancestress of Southwind Tempo ( $2.4 million, 1:48.2, a multiple Group winning pacing mare ).
But it was Ethelwyn's mating to Baron Wilkes that was to produce Extasy in 1896.
Extasy was 3x3 paternally linebred to Hambletonian 10.
Her sire Baron Wilkes was by George Wilkes, a son of Hambletonian 10 and flagbearer for a sireline branch of Hambletonian 10 for many decades but near extinction today.
Baron Wilkes dam Belle Patchen was by Mambrino Patchen, a great broodmare sire who carried multiple strains of a significant English thoroughbred influence, Diomed.
Diomed had 4 crosses of Flying Childers, 1 of Bartlett's Childers, 2 of Jiggs, 1 of Fox and 2 of Basto.
Any of this sound familiar? Just take a look back at our previous comments on Little Miss to spot the remarkable resemblance.
Could the blood of Mambrino Patchen ( standardbred ) and that of Little Miss ( thoroughbred ) have fused in the one pedigree i.e.that of Extasy to produce a legacy mare?
Diomed was the first winner of the Epsom Derby in 1780 and has long been referenced as a possible large heart source.
Just to digress here for a moment. Tar Heel ( through his daughters ) has always been recognised in standardbred breeding circles as a large heart progenitor and it may be no coincidence that Tar Heel's 10th dam Robert Wickliffe Mare is also a daughter of Diomed.
Diomed is intensely inbred to the Spanker Mare with no fewer than nine lines, one of which features in his direct maternal bloodlines where we see the Spanker Mare featuring as his 7th dam.
Trotting breeding enthusiasts in particular may be interested in a comment in William Preston Russell's book "Kingdom For The Horse" where he noted that the heaviest concentration of Diomed can be found in the descendants of Miss Russell, Midnight, Mambrino Patchen and American Star.
Switching focus back onto Extasy, as a racehorse, her most notable feature was that she was dual-gaited and immensely talented in both gaits.
In 1898 she won the 2YO Pacing Division of the Kentucky Futurity, setting a World Record for her age and gait which stood for 29 years until broken in 1927.
In 1899, as a 3YO trotter, Extasy won a heat in the Senior Division of America's oldest Futurity, another significant accomplishment.
As a broodmare Extasy produced two sons and four daughters.
Her sons both became sires, Prince McKinney ( by McKinney ) and Lord Dewey ( by Admiral Dewey ) with each siring about a dozen mares that would their bloodlines. The closest these two can be found in the pedigrees of Australasian mares today are through the presences of Sandydale ( his dam is by Lord Dewey ) and Raider ( his granddam is by Prince McKinney ) with the latter being far more common as the damsire of Dale Frost.
It is however through the daughters of Extasy that she can also be found reasonably comfortably in modern day pedigrees.
Extasy had four daughters; Petrex, Ethel Volo, Pleasant Thoughts and Pleasant Memories.
Whilst Pleasant Memories has made little impact in extending Extasy's presence in the breeding world there is little doubt that the other three have produced dynasties across America, Europe and Australasia and it is from these three that descend past and current influences ( male and female ) carrying lines that trace directly back to Extasy.
By looking at these three in a little more depth we hope we will unlock some modern day influences ( "the couriers" ) that you can look at for additional lines of Extasy just as the breeders of Blacks A Fake may have done with their mare Colada Hanover.
Petrex ( by Peter The Great ) left a predominantly trotting influence and was influential in Australasia through her son Spencer ( still present in numerous present day trotting pedigrees ) and daughter Esprit ( imported downunder ).
From Esprit descended Inter-Dominion champions of both gaits in Castleton's Pride and Sir Castleton ( trotting ) and Golden Reign (pacing ) whilst Spencer has a major role to play in Extasy being found in the pedigrees of the trotting influences Hoot Mon, Florican, Rodney, Spencer Scott and Emily Scott ( female ) to name but a few so all these presences can be looked for in the bloodlines of the new sires of today.
Pleasant Thoughts ( by Prodigal ) commenced her breeding career in much the same way as Petrex looking like she was going to establish a strong trotting bias.
She was the dam of World Champion trotting mare Nedda who trotted a mile in 1:581/4 in 1922, a time that was to stand for another 19 years.
It was however Nedda's daughters Meda ( 5th dam of World Champion racemare Handle With Care and 9th dam of the ultra fast Hurrikane Kingcole ) and Nedda Guy who went on to swing this branch of Extasy's family into full pacing mode with Nedda Guy in particular having a large influence through the impact of her two daughters in On Time and Olympia.
On Time had six offspring, one son Good Time ( found in many modern pedigrees of today ) and his 3/4 sister Adioo Time ( dam of Able Bye Bye ) whilst Good Time's four other full-sisters ( My Time, Next Time, Our Time and Your Time ) are much harder to find in modern day pedigrees.
John Bradley in his wonderful 1999 masterpiece "Modern Pacing Sire Lines" in his section on Good Time stated "Good Time's maternal family is known as Kathleen ( or Ethelwyn ) and is one which has shown extreme speed for decades".
No wonder breeders look for additional individual lines of Extasy to breed good horses like Blacks A Fake!
Good Time can be found in numerous pedigrees. Just to name a few relevant to our part of the world that may be found back a few generations in the broodmares of today are Best Of All, Boyden Hanover, Colombia George, Race Time, Butler BG, Chairmanoftheboard, Dragon's Lair and Miles McCool whilst it must not be forgotten that he can be found tucked behind influential broodmares as well the likes of Helen Hanover etc.
Olympia stakes her claim to fame as being the 4th dam of the bold front running free-legged pacer and wonderful outcross influence Big Towner ( who can be found in numerous pedigrees today including through a female double in a stallion as recent as Always B Miki ). Big Towner has a presence in older stallions the likes of Stature but is also present in a host of more contemporary stallions the likes of Art Major (and his sire sons ), Fear The Dragon, Stay
Hungry and others.
The third and final big producing daughter of Extasy is Ethel Volo ( by Binvolo ).
Ethel Volo only had three daughters.
Whilst one was largely of no consequence, Ethelinda was a Kentucky Futurity winner who left Hambletonian winner McLin Hanover ( later exported to Italy where he became a champion sire )but far greater things were to aspire from another of Ethel Volo's daughters in Mimzy.
Mimzy left two full-sisters in Pick Up and Follow Me, both by the relatively unheralded but well bred Follow Up.
Follow Up was 3x3 delta pattern bred to Peter The Great and descended maternally from the family of Minnehaha coming through the Madam Thompson branch of the famous "Thompson Sisters". As downunder breeders you will probably be more familiar with legendary broodmare Spinster coming from this family although Spinster does come through the other branch of the Thompson Sisters via Tillie Thompson.
It should therefore come as no surprise that Pick Up's progeny were pure pacers and Follow Me's progeny were pure trotters as we have seen this divergence with even Spinster's
progeny just as much as we have seen it with the family of Extasy.
Follow Me's daughter Stenographer was superior to the trotting colts of her time and became the first 3YO trotting filly to claim the North American Horse Of The Year title.
Stenographer left Keystone Selena ( by Hickory Pride ) who was to become USA 2YO Trotting Filly Of The Year ( claiming an amazing 21 juvenile wins ) and subsequently the granddam of the successful Australian trotting stallion Keystone Salute.
But it was Follow Me's full-sister Pick Up who was to provide a far wider impact in the pacing ranks through her Adios daughter Dottie's Pick.
Dottie's Pick was to have six foals; two sons in Armbro Hurricane and Eagle Armbro who were full-brothers by Tar Heel and both finding their way to New Zealand as sires. She also had four daughters in Armbro Fancy and Armbro Kerry ( full-sisters also by Tar Heel ) as well as Armbro Impel ( by Capetown ) and Armbro Lenore ( by Bye Bye Byrd ).
Of her four daughters, two in particular, Armbro Fancy and Armbro Impel should be familiar to Australian and New Zealand breeders as they feature in the pedigrees of two of the most dominant stallions of the last decade ( both North America and Australia and New Zealand ) and will continue to do so for decades to come through the exploits of their sons and grandsons as well as their broodmare daughters. We refer here to Bettor's Delight and Somebeachsomewhere.
Armbro Fancy is the granddam of Armbro Emerson, damsire of Bettor's Delight, who has been acclaimed as the most likely source of speed in Bettor's Delight's progeny but we will also acknowledge here that Bettor's Delight's dam Classic Wish was also a source of high speed. Did she acquire her speed from her sire Armbro Emerson?
Armbro Impel features as the dam of Armbro Nesbit who presides in the maternal bloodlines of Somebeachsomewhere behind the latter's damsire Beach Towel. In fact, Armbro Nesbit is Beach Towel's damsire.
What is of interest here is that when we look at the full 7-generational pedigrees of both Bettor's Delight and Somebeachsomewhere we find that Bettor's Delight possesses three individual strains of Extasy via son Prince McKinney ( Raider ) and daughters Pleasant Thoughts ( Good Time ) and Ethel Volo ( Armbro Emerson ) whilst Somebeachsomewhere goes one better with four individual lines of Extasy.
These come via son Prince McKinney ( via Raider as present in Dale Frost ) and daughters Pleasant Thoughts ( via Good Time in Most Happy Fella ), Ethel Volo ( via Armbro Nesbit in Beach Towel ), and the one Bettor's Delight hasn't got in Petrex ( via Spencer who can be found as the sire of Averill, damsire of Steady Star ).
Moving forward, these Extasy presences will mean it is going to be a good deal more difficult to find a new individual line of Extasy in a mare for the sons and grandsons of Somebeachsomewhere than it is for the sons and grandsons of Bettor's Delight where there is marginally more wriggle room.
With these useful guidelines time for you to to build your own Blacks A Fake.
The economic environment of the 1980's was best described by author Stephen Stratford in his book The Dirty Decade as "New Zealand's adolescence, full of cringe-making behaviour, styles and attitudes, but a necessary part of our development as a nation".
In particular, the period 1982 through to 1987 was a time of excess and indulgence. The sharemarket soared and the champagne flowed.
Even I can vouch for this personally as it corresponded with my own time working in Wellington for a multi-national oil giant where going out to lunch more than once a week frequently morphed into staying for dinner as well to be followed by an unwanted scramble to Wellington Railway Station to catch the last train to Upper Hutt at 11.00pm.
They were times when lavish restaurants also became extended business workplaces.
If you were in the corporate world then borrowing money went seemingly unabated, paper worth was colossal amongst the many corporate high flyers and fashion events like the Yearling Sales became magnets as prices rocketed through the roof with a flurry of new entrants as new Stud Farms sprung up and ownership syndications flourished.
One man who was to first hand experience this new found frenzied environment, described by Stratford as being a backlash to the policies of the Muldoon government ( "Muldoon supressed us for so long that when freedom came we, or at least lots of us, exploded in craziness and bad behaviour" ), was David W Phillips.
A brother to accountant Steve Phillips, a co-founder of the Amateur Drivers movement along with his wife Anne ( who also devoted her time to the Northern Branch of the Cadet training scheme and a direct descendant of the famous Grice family of Seaview near Ashburton ), it is fair to say Dave Phillips had an introduction into the world of Standardbreds that also included a bit of pedigree already in the Industry.
Once acclaimed as New Zealand's "most eligible bachelor" amongst the leaders of the corporate high flyers when he was at the helm of both Pacer Pacific Corporation and Pacer Kerridge Corporation, he also found time to establish firstly Redvale Standardbreds ( mainly a Syndication vehicle ) and then National Bloodstock Corporation and it is through these two businesses that he first came to prominence as a significant participant in the Standardbred Industry.
National Bloodstock became an importer of North American stallions and quickly became a serious competitor to the highly established Nevele R Stud ( owned and operated by equally fierce competitors in Wayne Francis and Bob McArdle ) so much so that when Dave attended a Nevele R broodmare sale Wayne had Dave arrested and removed from the property. No love lost here right from the outset and it continued at a later date at the NZ Breeders Broodmare Of The Year Awards in Auckland where Patric O'Brien ( a former Studmaster at Nevele R and then working for Dave at National Bloodstock ) tried to arrange for Bob McArdle to have a drink with Dave. Whilst Dave agreed to this, Bob McArdle point blank refused.
So just like in the corporate world there was no love lost in the face of stiff competition.
From the outset of the establishment of National Bloodstock, Dave Phillips was destined to do things his way and on his terms, something that was to lead to division amongst breeders either loving him or loathing him and a determinant that would ultimately restrict breeding numbers to a great number of his stallion's including the highly effective Soky's Atom.
Just like in the corporate boardroom, Dave Phillips was establishing a reputation in the Standardbred breeding industry as a hard dealer or at the very least a difficult dealer.
When importing stallions from North America you do take a huge gamble as invariably the best are retained locally and we can often end up with the offcasts, good on blood but often poor on performance. And then there is the further worry over "will they work" across our existing broodmare genepool?
Amongst the many stallions that National Bloodstock imported into New Zealand were the failures, for one reason or another, such as Jiffy Boy, Jive Talk II, Apollo's Way and Rashad but equally where there are failures there are also successes with the likes of Soky's Atom, New York Motoring, Butler BG, Chiola Hanover and perhaps even the under-rated and moderately successful Devil's Adversary.
The likes of Soky's Atom and Chiola Hanover could be argued as having a defining impact on the advance of the New Zealand standardbred as a breed.
Through this period Dave was so immersed in Standardbred genetics and pedigrees that all 32 of his National Bloodstock broodmare band fitted into either his "A" grade team of mares, "B" grade team or his "G" grade team of mares.
When Studmaster Patric O'Brien asked Dave where the C,D,E and F grades were located he was replied to "G is for Genetics".
From a pool of 32 mares "with no breeding at all" and "certainly zero commercially" Patric mentioned that Dave worked on his theories and crosses with them to produce " a lot of good horses". Breeding for type and genetic characteristics was always important to Dave and was a major part of his success. Tight Connection, Desperate Comment and Spirit Of Zeus were three that he was extremely proud of when they were only a few days old.
I can also personally endorse these comments and sentiments of Patric O'Brien as from memory in April 2009 I think it was, I had the privilege of having a meeting with Dave at his Heartland Farm property in Pokeno and one of the things he did was take me around every one of his mares ( most with foals at foot and back in foal ) telling me what each foal was by and why he had bred the mare to the stallion and pointing out the pleasing outcomes he had achieved with each foal vindicating his initial decisions. This was Dave the perfectionist at work.
But it was not wholly about North America with his stallion choices.
The brilliant juvenile Tuapeka Knight was acquired by National Bloodstock for NZ$1 Million as a future stallion prospect but ongoing fertility issues thwarted what promised to be a stellar stallion career whilst a subsequent wave of North American stallions included Sands A Flyin and Road Machine.
National Bloodstock also imported quality mares the likes of Becalm Lobell ( granddam of I Can Doosit ), Tabella Bindy ( dam of Desperate Comment ) and perhaps the best and most influential of all on the New Zealand breed in Tabella Beth ( ancestress of Lazarus ).
The latter is now well-established as New Zealand's premier pacing Commercial maternal family.
When Dave bred Tabella Beth in 1979 she was to become one of his first horses syndicated for racing from one of the first Redvale Standardbred Syndicates that he had established prior to the founding of National Bloodstock a short time later.
And it was during her three year old season that she was to realise her trademark high sustained speed under the training care of John Butcher winning four of her last seven starts three year old starts and subsequently being sold to a USA buyer for NZ$100,000.
But Dave;s affinity with this mare was such that he was always destined to buy her back for breeding once her North American racedays were complete and so it eventuated.
With the Stock market having been on an unchecked bull run for five years from 1982 through to the latter part of 1987 and the digital world rapidly advancing and providing fingertip financial transparency, change was about to implode the economy world wide and on Black Monday 19 October 1987 all hell was to break loose, the American Stock Exchange falling over 20% in a single day.
Companies, many high flying household names, collapsed right left and centre and many businesses were to become casualties seemingly over night including National Bloodstock.
I recall some years later Geoff Small who worked at National Bloodstock at the time ( along with Aria, his wife to be, and also Peter Davis, Geoff's boss at the time ) telling me how under the cover of darkness he had to quickly move the nine horses he was training and had based at the premises, out to the sanctuary of Charlie Hadley's Pukeoware farm including horses such as Motoring Magic.
Not only did this market crash spell the end of National Bloodstock, it was to bring the curtain down on widespread syndications and also spelt the end for David Phillips as a corporate high flyer just as it did for a great deal of other "household names" in the corporate world, many of whom subsequently found themselves having to face court proceedings like David.
Life was to change for Dave as he regrouped to Heartland Farm with a smaller band of mares which he had retained and the stallions redeployed in other directions.
And some of this change I was to experience albeit from a distance.
Through my time working at Linden Park Stud in 2002 and 2003 for Graham Bell who had purchased the stallion's Sands A Flyin and Road Machine from Dave and played host to Dave's mares during breeding season ( part of the Sale conditions for these stallion's was that Dave had ongoing breeding entitlements to them ) I was able to see the tougher business side of Dave when it came to routine monthly financial settlement of his account, one meeting at the Stud resulting in Graham rejoining us for the day's work with tears rolling down his eyes and it took a lot for my old Tuakau Terrabulls Golden Oldies rugby buddy to show that level of emotion.
Resolution was not obviously attained at that meeting.
Through the period when I worked as part of the ground staff team at Geoff Small Racing Stables in his halcyon years of 2005-2008 I got to observe another side of Dave which exemplified his passion for his animals and the healing and medicinal applications of various plants and herbs. This was Dave the scientist and botanist. Often he would rock up to the stables with great bunches of willow tree leaves and other medicinal plants which he would toss into the boxes of his two racehorses Geoff was training for him, High Flyin and Mr Chin.
In April 2009 as part of my NZ Agency arrangement with one of the stallion farms I then worked for, I was to have a much closer personal encounter with Dave.
This involved a scheduled two hour mid-afternoon meeting with him at his Heartland Farm property. The two hour meeting extended to a four and a half hour visit and saw me departing in unplanned darkness.
As I drove up his long driveway I could not help but being "taken" with the little white signs prevailing saying that "Every living insect/animal deserves a life." Dave obviously also had a spiritual and philosophical side, that was in evidence.
As I sat upstairs at the balcony table outside the Attic entrance which he inhabited, he offered me a schooner of his home grown water fresh from the natural spring at Heartland along with one for himself adding the reassuring comment to our discussions that "I've been drinking this water for 20 years and it hasn't killed me yet" in glowing testimony to how good and pure it was including going into it's chemical test results.
Perhaps I treated some of his scientific discussions a little lightly as I was in deep concentration mentally telling myself not to slap and kill the mosquito that was free-feasting on the blood in my forearm.
Today, as you drive past Heartland Farm on Highway 2 there is a sign advertising that this water can be purchased. Marketing always wins out in the end.
This was a side of Dave which I was over the years becoming more familiar with, peaking one day when I picked up a copy of The New Zealand Herald and on the front page a half-page photo of a teepee village set up by alternative lifestylers in one of the paddocks at Heartland Farm.
By this time the entrepreneurial skills of David Phillips had led him to pursuing a Commercial life in St Petersburg in Russia, a port city on the Baltic Sea. Founded in 1703, appropriately by Peter The Great, St Petersburg was the Imperial capital of Russia for two centuries before becoming Petrograd in 1914 and Leningrad in 1924-91 but with the collapse of Communism Leningrad's name was returned to St Petersburg with the assistance of the Russian Orthodox Church. It is also Russia's cultural centre with a population in excess of 5 million.
Rather fittingly, the statue of "The Bronze Horseman" ( aka Peter The Great ) stands proudly even today in the Senate Square in St Petersburg.
Each year Dave endeavours to return to New Zealand to take in a few months of our peak New Zealand summer ( in reality escaping the harsh Russian winter where -20 degrees is often the norm as the outside temperature in St Petersburg ) coinciding with the annual February Yearling Sales.
It was during one of these annual pilgrimages in more recent times ( when I was NZ Agent for the stallions of the NSW based Pepper Tree Farm such as Rock N Roll Heaven, Roll With Joe, Sportswriter,Always A Virgin and Aces N Sevens ) that Dave presented me with a beautiful and very professional ring binder dossier detailing each of his mares and the stallion's that he identified as being most compatible for each mare including some "outside" stallion's as well.
Each selection came with his personal justifications identifying the strength of each mating.
The aim was to put a package deal together for maximum cost benefit not only in terms of Stud Fees but also some ancillary costs. While a deal was not concluded, I was so impressed with the depths of Dave's work that I have retained this dossier to the present day.
One could write a book about David Phillips impact on the Standardbred breeding world in New Zealand and with experience he was not short of an opinion on something.
Just like stallion selection, sometimes you get it right and sometimes you can get it wrong.
One memorable one that was widely quoted at the time was when the first of the Direct Scooter invasion of stallions occurred in the 90's through the likes of In The Pocket, OK Bye, Deal Direct, Direct Flight, WRH and company in New Zealand and Stoneridge Scooter, Yankee Sensation and company in Australia.
Dave was on record as saying that Direct Scooter blood would not work with the saturation of Meadow Skipper-line mares that presided in New Zealand at that time.
But work with it, it did, and with resounding results, so much so that just about every horse bred carrying a 4x4 or 4x5 reverse-sex cross to Meadow Skipper ( as a result of a mating with In The Pocket ) was like a licence to print money.
One can only admire the courage of Dave Phillips here in coming clean and admitting publicly that he did get that one wrong proving that none of us are infallible in life's forecasts and predictions including other former great and memorable names that the name David W Phillips sits firmly alongside in shaping New Zealand's Standardbred past, present and future.
We salute you, Dave..
This post has been prompted by a recent request from one of Premier Pedigrees loyal Victorian based clients requesting information on stallions that have a good connection with Spinster both past and present.
On the surface of it all we would have thought this would have been a very easy question to respond to but having googled for information on this highly influential mare we were surprised at just how little information was at our fingertips to readily reply.
So we have had to gather it through our own hard graft and the valued assistance of our Tesiopower programme.
We thought our resultant findings were worth sharing with fellow breeders as well as our other followers.
The easiest way to have gathered this information was by going into www.classicfamilies.net .
This was available on a compact disk ( some of you may still have one ) and was the brainchild of John Peck ( long time Editor of the Harness Racing International magazine ) along with another chap from WA who's name currently eludes me for now.
A website was developed for Classic Families but somewhere along the line it changed hands and now one cannot get access to it ( comes up with an Error 304 message ) like it's been abandoned.
One can only imagine the constant need to update it became uneconomic and it appears to have disappeared into thin air in much the same way as Gordon Campbell's huge privately owned Computabred database disappeared into oblivion when he and his wife retired to the northern Central Coast.
Spinster is without doubt the most influential mare in the Standardbred Stud Book.
She is the Standardbred equivalent of Selene in the Thoroughbred Stud Book.
The following is not an in-depth look at the influence of Spinster on the Standardbred as a breed but rather one that summarises the various branches of her Family with specific mention of her sons and daughters and her daughters descendants as they have impacted the breed downunder ( both Australia and New Zealand ) with familiar names ( male and female ) both past and present.
Spinster derives her maternal descent from the matriarch Minnehaha ( Family 1111 in the Australian Ian Daff's famous Black Book ) or Family U2 under it's equivalent North American classification.
Minnehaha's daughter Eva gave rise to two famous branches of the family through her daughters who are better known as the "Thompson sisters", Tillie Thompson and Madam Thompson. They were full-sisters, both being by Guy Wilkes.
Of these two, Spinster is a great granddaughter of Tillie Thompson via The Miss Stokes and Minnetonka.
Spinster had four siblings; Emily Stokes ( Spencer ), Minnie Scott ( Scotland ), Pronto ( Protector ) and Tilly Tonka ( Spencer ), all females with Emily Stokes and Tilly Tonka being full-sisters to Spinster.
Spinster had the following live foals.
1936 ( filly ) Mystery Child
1937 ( male ) Light Brigade
1941 ( filly ) Rose Day
1942 ( filly ) Lady Scotland
1945 ( filly ) The Old Maid
1950 ( filly ) Vixen
1951 ( male ) Thunder On
Of the above, there were two in particular that extended the Spinster dynasty, those being The Old Maid and Lady Scotland with Vixen having a far less effect.
By going through the progeny of these three daughters of Spinster we may be able to identify the lines of influence they have created and some of the more recognised past males and females that belong to the Spinster dynasty.
1958 filly Sunorama
1961 filly Time Wave
1965 filly Perfect Shadow
Of these, only Time Wave was a significant producer leaving Tudor Hanover ( a sire ), Tyros Hanover, Tarpeia Hanover, Timona Hanover ( Armbro Nashville ), Tissa Hanover and Tika Hanover ( dam of Tika Belle, dam of Shady Daisy and Shady Katie ( dam of Shady Character )).
1943 Lady Scotland:
1953 filly Breath O Spring - dam of Charming Time, Race Time, Storm Damage and Touch Of Spring ( dam of Spring Romp, Warm Breeze and Toria Hanover ( dam of Telemon Hanover )).
1956 male Hodgen's Surprise
1957 filly Hodge Podge - dam of Prelude Lobell ( the dam of Pammy Lobell who left It's Levity, Paulsboro, Present Laughter and Easy To Love who's daughter One More Kiss is the dam of Pacific Fella).
1959 male Harold J
1960 male Calcaneus
1962 filly Tar Lady - dam of Ballerina, Tamara Almahurst, Tricia Almahurst, Tullamore and Tanya Almahurst ( dam of Rashad ).
1966 male Prince Butler
1967 male Wonder Colt
1945 The Old Maid:
1950 filly Terka Hanover - dam of Gamecock, Tempest Hanover, Tarbel Hanover ( dam of Tiger Lily Lobell ( dam of Clever Innocence ) and also found in the direct maternal line of Tyler's Best )
1951 filly Spinster Hanover - dam of Pompanette who had La Pomme Souffle ( dam of French Chef, Plat Du Jour, Peach Melba ( dam of Kentucky Spur ) and French Dressing ( who had Sami Cam ( dam of Sutter Hanover ) ).
1953 male Bachelor Hanover
1955 male Thorpe Hanover
1957 male Dancer Hanover
1958 filly Truly Rainbow - dam of Truala Rainbow ( dam of Rectory ) and Tual Rainbow ( dam of Man Around Town )
1959 filly Timely Rainbow - dam of Rosie Sampson ( dam of Mister Hillas ) and Byrdlesk ( dam of Frugal Gourmet ) as well as Sonny Silver.
1960 filly Tootsie Rainbow - dam of Toliver Hanover and Tona Hanover ( granddam of Lifes Not Fair and Major In Art ).
1961 male Torpedo Hanover
1963 filly Truly Hanover
1965 filly Theo Hanover - dam of Banksia who's family is now extinct in New Zealand and Eucalyptus who's family live on in Australia still today.
Looking at the stallion's available today, both Major In Art and Sutter Hanover are tail female to Tillie Thompson ( Spinster's branch ) whilst the newer stallions Poster Boy and Yankee Rockstar are tail female to Madam Thompson ( the full-sister to Tillie Thompson ).
Whilst all four of these stallion's are accessible to Australian breeders only the promising new young sire Poster Boy is available to New Zealand breeders.
A very respected Southland breeder the late Alec McDonald who bred the likes of Lento and Whanau was a huge Spinster fan and liked to use wherever possible over his mares stallions well-endowed in lines of Spinster.
In more recent times a stallion that he frequently used was Grinfromeartoear because he carried the two sons of Spinster's daughter Breath O Spring ( Race Time and Storm Damage ) up close in his pedigree which he liked.
And a favourite breeding practice was putting Falcon Seelster mares to Grinfromeartoear as the former held the presence of Touch Of Spring, a female sibling of both Race Time and Storm Damage and thus offering highly desirable sex-balancing to Breath O Spring. Any other stallion carrying Warm Breeze e.g. Shadow Play, could offer likewise.
How many Queensland breeders utilised the services of Cammibest to offset his two close-up male lines of Harold J with a female balancing line emulating the same situation with Grinfromeartoear?
Back at the beginning of the new millenium I worked for a couple of years ( 2002 + 2003 ) at the fledgling Standardbred stud, Linden Park, Pukekawa, where stallions stood such as Sands A Flyin, Road Machine and others the likes of Tuapeka Knight, Hitchcock, Butler's Reward and even a trotting stallion in Bellam.
Whilst each was competitive as a racehorse, none were deemed highly Commercial or stallion's to consider for breeding Yearling Sales prospects.
At an early date Sands A Flyin did have a few cracking racetrack performers in Sly Flyin and Sparks A Flyin to be followed by Monkey King but still these super horses were not enough to see any sort of flow of Commercial broodmares, let alone any significant increase in numbers, either coming through the gates of Linden Park or via increased off-farm semen transportation.
Commercial stallion's were the realm of the big Studs largely because of their ability to grapple with the costs of shuttle stallions and the latest and greatest bloodlines from North America.
The so-called "little players" or "Wee man" as Grant Beckett aptly puts it, were left to pick up on domestic stallions ( Grant has two currently in Royal Aspirations and Locharburn ) or discarded shuttle stallions looking for re-homing.
"Breeding to race" was essentially their place in the market and "lesser" mares the norm.
So it came as no surprise when Grant & Di Beckett from Phoebe Standardbreds burst into print last week on their Facebook page admonishing racing journalists and reporters alike for the lack of any acknowledgement or story regarding the Group 1 success on 31 December 2020 of Imperial Count's highly progressive daughter Keayang Livana in the Vicbred 4YO Trot Mares Final at Tabcorp Park in Melton, Victoria,in an impressive 1:57.8 mile rate and in the process providing her sire Imperial Count with his first Group 1 winner.
I can fully understand and empathise with this claim having worked at Linden Park and facing a similar situation with stallion's not considered Commercial.
Bosses like Graham Bell at Linden Park and Grant Beckett at Phoebe Standardbreds must become so frustrated when they face the question of "What could be if only their stallion's could be given the opportunity with a bevy of better bred or Commercial mares?" It always leaves the big question unanswered and therefore highly frustrating and in the case of Graham, forces them out of the game in sheer despair.
Good on Grant and Di hanging in there, with sheer passion, but for how long?
A horse such as Keayang Livana ignites this passion and keeps it fuelled for a good deal longer. For her sire Imperial Count it has happened at the right time to provide future hope.
Her victory in the Group 1 Vicbred 4YO Trot Mares Final made it 4 wins in a row for this exciting new talent having been preceded by two Group 2 victories in both the Breeders Crown 4YO Trot Mares Championship and the IRT Australia Matriarch Trot.
Keayang Livana now has 10 wins from just the 21 starts having already bankrolled $130,930 with the promise of a whole lot more to come.
There is no doubt that a lot of her "genuineness" can be attributed to her sire Imperial Count who was just that himself as a racehorse, being one of the fastest and richest sons of Angus Hall, a Noble Victory-line legend.
Trained in North America by ex-Kiwi Richard 'Nifty' Norman, these were the words 'Nifty' used to describe Imperial Count "A horse trainer's dream, never been sick or lame, never made a break, never had a bad day, 26 seconds gate speed, very good gaited, very easy to drive, never wore a headpole on any sized track, Mr Reliable." Imperial Count raced from 2 years old through to 5 years old and predominantly in town hall company, winning 17 races and placed 21 times for $680,393 at a time when contemporaries included the likes of Market Share ( $3.4 million ), Daylon Magician ( $1.7 million ), Mister Herbie ( $1.8 million ), Sevruga ( $1.0 million ) and Tamarind.
With such a strong damline, racetrack performance and tracing back to legendary matriarch Minnehaha, Imperial Count possessed the right credentials to become a successful sire.
His own dam Miss Imperial won 12 races at 2 and 3 years old, taking a record of 1:53.6 with three of her foals being sub 1:58 performers whilst granddam Rush Light left 4 winners from 5 foals and great granddam Starlight Sue left 4 winners from 8 foals.
Arriving late into New Zealand during the 2013-14 breeding season to Jonathon McNeil's Barra Equine Stud in Canterbury, Imperial Count served only 15 mares in what proved to be a rather truncated breeding season.
A decision was made to switch him to Lemon Tree Stud ( Ross Gange ) Shepparton in Victoria for the 2014-15 season where he served 28 mares, staying on for the 2015-16 season where he was to serve a further 22 mares.
In an ironic twist, having been returned to New Zealand for the 2016-17 breeding season, Imperial Count's sons and daughters have been "on fire" in Australia in recent times.
Apart from Keayang Livana, his flag has been consistently waved by his sons and daughters the likes of Monaro Mia, Countess Chiron, Glengariff and Who's Countin. You will hear a lot more of these names in the months and years to come simply because they are so genuine, just like their father was on the track.
From 2016-17, Imperial Count has served books of 3, 17, 24, and 15 in the 2019-20 season so has struggled to gain any real Commercial appeal from his new Canterbury base at Phoebe Standardbreds but now that he has proven he can leave a Group 1 winner off the back of very low numbers we hope New Zealand trotting breeders will take notice of the fact that Imperial Count "has kicked a Stephen Donald like goal" as a springboard to his future stallion career being still only a relatively young stallion at just 12 years of age.
Winners to date for Imperial Count have come from mares by Sundon ( 4 winners including Keayang Livana ), Wrestle ( Monaro Mia ), Gee Whiz II ( Imperial Whiz ), Monarchy ( Phoebe Imperial ), Bacardi Lindy ( Imperial Countess ) and Grinfromeartoear ( Imperial Poet ).
The last-mentioned of this list has a dam by pacing sire Grinfromeartoear but it comes as no surprise to us here at Premier Pedigrees that this blood has "nicked" with Imperial Count's bloodlines.
And here is where New Zealand and Australian breeders of trotter's should take note.
Grinfromeartoear's pedigree is full of lines of the grand old matriarch, Spinster. Some refer to her as being the "Queen of Matriarchs". And there are bountiful trotting mares out there that hold the presences of Spinster's sons and daughters, Light Brigade being one that readily springs to mind.
Breed them to Imperial Count and you may just get a pleasant surprise for your very modest outlay ( currently standing at NZ $1500+gst ),
Why?, do you say. The answer, we say, is because of the common genetic denominator that exists.
Spinster is tail female to Minnehaha. So too is Imperial Count!!!
In the case of Imperial Poet ( out of a mare by Grinfromeartoear ), the blood of Minnehaha ( via Spinster and her tribe of descendants ) is being returned to Imperial Count's very own line of direct maternal descent which also traces directly to Minnehaha.
And if you are a follower of effective breeding techniques, you will be aware that returning this same good blood from your mare to the stallion's "bottom line" is a well-recognised and practised breeding formula ( used in both equine codes ) for the creation of speed enhancement.
A high value stallion at a rock bottom Stud Fee shapes Imperial Count as a stallion promising an excellent return on investment as well as giving the "Wee man" with a passion for the sport, a helping leg up.
It is extremely gratifying when one can witness a horse, in this case a mare, progress from humble beginnings to becoming the biggest act on the World Stage, of going from "ordinary" to "extraordinary" and perhaps defying her modest breeding.
But Shartin's breeder Grant Crabbe would challenge some of this saying as a young foal she was never "ordinary" but "special" and that her breeding was precisely targeted to the point of being cleverly constructed.
We will have a look at Shartin's pedigree a little later in this article but firstly a rundown on her life beginnings and racetrack accomplishments.
Bred in Canterbury in 2013, the result of a mating between Tintin In America and the Live Or Die mare Bagdarin, it was not until Shartin went to the breakers that it was becoming obvious to Grant that she was deserving of the "special" tag.
After winning a trial at Ashburton, Shartin was never to line up at a New Zealand race meeting, being sold to Australian interests off the back of her winning trial.
She had just the 13 starts in Australia during 2017, her three year old season, winning 7 of these including the Tasmanian Oaks ( Gr3 ) and the Queensland Oaks ( Gr2 ) as well as running 2nd in both the Queensland Derby ( Gr2 ) and the Provincial Oaks ( Listed ) and bankrolling $105,718 all in a little over 7 months.
It was however her win at Melton defeating Victorian Horse Of The Year Jilliby Kung Fu ( 1:48.4, $529,710 and now a sire ) after sitting parked out and winning in a class record 1:52.5 mile rate for the 1720 metre journey that caught the attention of Standardbred bloodstock agent John Curtin, always on the lookout for a suitable horse to handle North American racing for one of his North American buyers.
With the deal done, Shartin was on her way to the home of harness racing, the United States, where principal new owner Richard Poillucci of South Easton, Massachusetts, would also bring in firstly JoAnn Looney King of Delaware and a little later top driver Tim Tetrick, also from Delaware, into the racing ownership of Shartin.
And what a ride they were all about to experience.
Poillucci was the first to admit that when she first came into the barn of trainer Jim King Jnr, Shartin was not a well-mannered mare but through the tutelage of her trainer and the patience of her driver ( Tetrick ) along with the constant work and attention of JoAnn King they turned her into the World Champion that she became.
In 2018, Shartin captivated North American harness racing fans winning 19 of her 24 race starts, earning $1,053,236, and almost completing a clean sweep of the major races for mares that year.
This earned her the title of Dan Patch Pacer of the Year, her earnings for the season setting a record for the highest ever total by a pacing mare.
As if this wasn't enough, 2019 was to get even better for her racetrack resume. In August of that year at The Meadowlands in the Lady Liberty, Shartin was on a pedestal the winning the race in 1:46.4, eclipsing the old record by 0.6 seconds and also becoming the fastest Standardbred ever to be bred in New Zealand.
By the end of 2019 the Shartin juggernaut had won another 15 of her 19 starts for season earnings of $982,177, a season's high for her gait and sex.
This culminated in her being named 2019 Dan Patch Harness Horse Of The Year, becoming only the 5th female pacer and the first horse bred outside of North America to win this award.
To give you some idea of the exalted competition she was up against, this included champion 3 year olds Bettor's Wish 1:47.3 $2,781,240 and Warrawee Ubeaut 1:48.3 $1,948,175, the top FFA and joint world recordholder Lather Up 1:46.0 $1,917,935 as well as McWicked 1:46.2 $5,103,271 and world record holders and leading trotters Manchego 1:49.0 $2,857,315 and Atlanta 1:49.1 $2,859,610.
In her final truncated season in 2020, Shartin was to win another 5 races including both the Lady Liberty and the Artiscape for the third time each whilst also winning the Clara Barton for the second time.
With quarter cracks appearing in her feet it was time to look after the mare in another way with the curtain drawn on her racing career, retiring as the winner of 46 races from her 68 starts and the equivalent of NZ$3,745,946 in lifetime earnings.
As her North American owners were not really breeders it was time once again for New Zealand based Standardbred bloodstock agent John Curtin to once again step in and broker another deal this time finding a new owner to share in her breeding barn exploits, this being Ola Yoder of Kountry Lane Standardbreds based in Indiana.
Already it has been signalled that Shartin has her first date in 2021 with Captaintreacherous to be followed in 2022 by a date with Lazarus. Truly cases here of putting the best to the best and hoping for the best.
Shartin is a product of a family belonging to Ashmorven Farm in Canterbury set up by Bruce Francis's parents and continued by Bruce. It is a family beginning with the U Scott mare Chenault, born in 1955. Shartin's branch is arguably the best descending through Chenault's daughter Bravine ( by Bachelor Hanover ) a very good 8 win mare who teetered on the edge of Cup class. The female line continues through Bravine's daughter Kiatina ( by Fallacy ), a 5 race winner and a 3/4 sister in blood to Locarno. Those of us watching harness racing through the 70's will remember the blistering high speed Locarno frequently demonstrated in his highly successful 18 win $181,915 career as one of this family's leading performers along with the likes of Italian Delight 1:50.2, Donegal Delight ( North Island Breeders Stakes ), Im Bella Jay ( WA Wesbred 2YO Classic ) and Kanturk ( NZ Celebrity Stakes ).
Kiatina then produced Kinsale ( by Noodlum ) who qualified but went unraced. A mating of Kinsale with Ashmorven Stud's resident stallion Save Fuel produced Slatina, the winner of 5 races with a personal best of 1:57.9.
It was from Slatina's mating with Live Or Die that we saw Bagdarin's appearance in the world with the latter going on to produce Shartin.
If nothing else, this was a family that frequently produced high top end speed with the correct matings. Throughout it's development we have seen examples of this.
Having painted the background picture, it is now time for an analysis of the pedigree of Shartin and identify where and what we think may have contributed to her arsenal of talents as a racehorse.
What we do know is that Shartin had superior speed and stamina qualities all rolled up into one body.
So it would be good to identify the possible sources of these two great qualities from the presences within her pedigree page.
The first thing that stands out is that every one of her parents and grandparents close-up in her pedigree was a sub 2.00 minute performer.
From her parents Tintin In America 1:53.2 and Bagdarin 1:57.7TT, through to grandparents McArdle 1:49.0, Zenterfold 1:56.6, Live Or Die 1:51.8 and Slatina 1"57.9TT, the first foundations are laid for speed inheritance.
Shartin is a product of sensible linebreeding at 5x6x4 favourably sex-balanced to Bret Hanover ( his great attributes being a tenacious winning desire and a great heart ) with Tintin In America providing the key female balancing line via Margie's Melody's presence in his sire McArdle.
This is ably supported by strong sex-balanced linebreeding to Most Happy Fella ( stamina and toughness being his overwhelming attributes ) at 5x5x6x6. And what is particularly interesting here is that Shartin's pedigree not only combines two male and two female strains but the two female strains just happen to be Most Happy Fella's two best racetrack daughters in Happy Sharon ( his best daughter found in McArdle ) and the high speed Silk Stockings ( present in Live Or Die ). It is relatively rare to see these two great daughters of Most Happy Fella combining in a single pedigree. Are they a key influence in Shartin's greatness?. Or are they just part of it?
We have always said where you have heavy under-pinning of Meadow Skipper in a pedigree, present here at 7x7x6x6x6x7x6x7x5 and in favourable sex-balance, then so too should you have balanced lines of his two best sons for best results since they provide complementary attributes.
Albatross, in contrast to Most Happy Fella, is all about speed and good gait.
So we go looking for balanced lines of Albatross within Shartin's pedigree chart.
And do we find them? Yes, we do but only just. There is just the single duplication of Albatross in Shartin at 6x5 but fortunately for her it is favourably sex-balanced through son Niatross ( again via McArdle ) and daughter Makin Smiles ( in Live Or Die ), rather intriguingly in the same two forebears as the top two daughters of Most Happy Fella were found in.
Finally, and before we leave the pedigree make up of Shartin, it would be remiss not to mention some intricate linebreeding, again in favourable sex-balance, that is taking place in the maternal depths of Shartin's pedigree where she carries a 6x7 sex-balance to Bachelor Hanover ( via Noodlum and Bravine ) as well as a 7x6 sex-balance to Light Brigade.
The 6x7 sex-balance to Bachelor Hanover also meshes with the female line of Bachelor Hanover ( via Zenover ) in Tintin In America, both Tintin In America and Bagdarin carrying Bachelor Hanover as their 4th damsire.
And who is the common denominator here? None other than that grand old highly influential matriarch, Spinster, still weaving her magic all these years later.
And in Shartin she weaves a complex jigsaw with at least 8 presences through son Light Brigade ( twice ), grandsons Bachelor Hanover ( 3 times ) and Dancer Hanover ( once )via daughter The Old Maid, as well as through great grandson and great grand-daughter Race Time and Touch Of Spring ( full-brother and sister ) via another daughter in Lady Scotland ( twice).
The above sees 6 strains of Spinster coming via Bagdarin and 2 strains from Tintin In America resulting in even the great old matriarch herself being sex-balanced in Shartin's pedigree and providing a significant influence running through Shartin's veins.
We will follow the proposed matings of Shartin with Captaintreacherous and Lazarus with keen interest and pray they may result in offspring that can be at least somewhere near as good as their legendary mother out on the racetracks of North America.
Here at Premier Pedigrees we firmly believe that there are times to linebreed, there are times to outcross breed, and yes ... you guessed it, even times to inbreed where the opportunity is presented, for best outcomes.
A lot depends on opportunity with the pedigree of the mare you have placed in front of you and the strength and desirability of particular ancestors within her pedigree and whether these can be favourably built upon with the available pool of stallions.
For a heavily inbred mare, an outcross stallion is probably the preferred option. A mare with desirable ancestors present may present better linebreeding opportunities if you decide to concentrate on the multiplication of a perceived superior ancestor.
And a mare with powerful female presences, especially featuring close-up in her pedigree may present inbreeding opportunities to stallion's carrying the same influential female presence up close.
In this particular article we are going to focus on inbreeding with Rainbow Blue being used as our example.
With specific reference to the standardbred as a breed, inbreeding describes the mating of close relations such as two individuals from the same immediate maternal line or two individuals who share a common ancestor that occupies a prominent or close-up position in each horse's pedigree.
A 1x2, 1x3, 1x4, 2x2, 2x3 or 3x2 duplication are all inbreeding positions ( in some cases incestual ) in the standardbred with Factor 5 ( say 1+4 or 2+3, you add the generational numbers rather than multiplying them ) being recognised as the outer edge of inbreeding.
Whilst this breeding practice has largely been avoided mainly because of the increased chance of duplicating any faults the doubled-up individual may carry, there have been some successful stories documented with so-called "inbred" horses such as C R Kay Suzie ( a full-brother and sister are present at her second generation ) and A Stud Named Sue ( had two half-brothers at his second generation ) in North America where close-up duplication has taken place to seemingly fault-free individuals.
In Australasia, both Make Me Smile ( NSW Derby winner ) and Smiling Shard ( Australian Breeders Crown Final winner ) were bred on the same genetic template carrying a half-brother and sister at their second generational level.
In the thoroughbred world all four of the above horses are clear examples of inbreeding forces at work but technically in the standardbred world the common duplicated ancestor occurs at the third generational level and is at a 3x3 position in the pedigree ( Factor 6 ) therefore at the very inside edge of linebreeding. Nevertheless the point here is that close-up duplication of female ancestors in particular can be very effective and especially with regard to speed enhancement.
If you are going to undertake inbreeding or very close to it then it is recommended that you do so to superior and correct individuals.
Often standardbred inbreeding occurs to a superior female rather than a male forebear but in the case of our subject study Rainbow Blue we are going to focus on a close-up male forebear duplication.
Bred by Winbak Farm, Chesapeake City, Maryland, Rainbow Blue was foaled on 8 March 2001, almost six months to the day before 9/11. She was purchased for just $10,500 at the 2002 New Jersey Classic Yearling Sale by ex-North American baseball star George Teague Jnr along with his sister Brenda and good friends Kevin and Ron Fry ( K & R Racing ), all of Houston, Delaware.
Trained by part-owner George Teague Jnr and mostly driven throughout her career by Ron Pierce, Rainbow Blue was to achieve a lifetime record from 32 starts of 30 wins and a 3rd placing, bankrolling $1,428,934 with a personal best time of 1:49.4.
As a two year old in 2003, Rainbow Blue won 6 of her 7 starts, earning $102,674 but was to have her debutante season curtailed because of a knee injury.
Returning in 2004 as a three year old, Rainbow Blue was to sweep nearly all before her winning 20 of her 21 starts, bankrolling $1,195,010 and taking a personal best of 1:49.4.
She was the leading money winning pacer in 2004 and the first three year old filly to win two sub 1:50 miles. Her average winning margin of victory in her three year old season was 2 3/4 lengths.
Her extraordinary achievements in 2004 saw her elected as North American 3YO Pacing Filly Of The Year, North American Pacer Of The Year and North American Horse Of The Year, the latter seeing her edge out Trotting Triple Crown winner Windsong's Legacy for the Dan Patch Award by 119-98 in the tightest vote since veteran trotter Savoir beat 3YO Filly Pacer of the Year Silk Stockings in 1975.
This achievement also allowed Rainbow Blue to join Fan Hanover ( 1981 ) and Bunny Lake ( 2001 ) as the only female pacers to win the Horse Of The Year award, ironically all three fillies winning it in their three year old season.
Her four year old seasonin 2005 saw Rainbow Blue win all 4 of her starts earning a further $131,250, running 1:49.24 again before succumbing to a tendon injury that brought an end to her wonderful racing career.
In 2012, Rainbow Blue was inducted into the United States Racing Hall Of Fame and deservedly so.
Rainbow Blue is by Artiscape out of Vesta Blue Chip, the latter a daughter of On The Road Again.
A perusal of Rainbow Blue's pedigree is an interesting exercise as it contains multiple genetic delights.
Firstly, she is bred on a 5x5 reverse-sex cross to Meadow Skipper which not only provides her with a breeding core but also a potential "engine room".
This is compounded by an intricate direct maternal line which sees her granddam Penny Royal bred on the famed Adios/Tar Heel golden cross whilst her great granddam Greentree Marie was bred on a Tar Heel/Adios cross.
And here is where we believe things get interesting genetically.
Rainbow Blue is also inbred 3x2 to On The Road Again on what is known as a female reverse cross ( as opposed to the much more common reverse-sex cross ). Observant breeders may also be aware that the highly successful New Zealand stallion Holmes Hanover was also bred on a reverse female cross at 4x2 to large heart progenitor Tar Heel. And he was a significant stamina influence as well, just like On The Road Again.
For those not aware, On The Road Again has frequently been acclaimed as the second greatest stamina horse ever produced in North America, behind only the legendary Cam Fella.
Could it be that On The Road Again is both the stamina influence and the speed influence in Rainbow Blue?
The stamina coming from his paternal pedigree ( via Happy Motoring / Most Happy Fella ) whilst the speed is derived from his maternal pedigree where his damsire Bye Bye Byrd "triggers" the deep maternal Adios presences in Rainbow Blue's dam Vesta Blue Chip by feeding her Adios's full-sister Adieu ( granddam of Bye Bye Byrd ).
It could be the case that this inbred 3x2 reverse female cross that Rainbow Blue carries is also in a position of great influence and one where we see "returning the best blood of the mare to the best blood of the stallion" right up close and personal and in the favoured second and third quartiles of the pedigree match i.e. right where Rainbow Blue carries it.
Lots of speculation here but good sense at the same time and it just could be that this inbreeding presence featuring On The Road Again is the very reason why Rainbow Blue turned out as good as she did on the racetrack.
It has been a long time since Australasia has had a standardbred stallion exert such prepotent dominance as that recorded by Bettor's Delight.
He has been a true revelation for those breeders subscribing to the breeding theory of "Breed to the best and hope for the best" simply because "Bettor's" did not leave many duds.
They say "timing is everything" and Bettor's Delight came along at the right time to march the "downunder" standardbred to a new level.
Detractors would say that this has occurred too quickly to the point that it has suddenly "narrowed the genepool".
We at Premier Pedigrees are not in agreement with this view. Rather we look it as a time of sudden in the quality of bloodlines going into our genepool.
Just a few decades ago "colonial bloodlines" prevailed with a mix of imported Adios blood ( particularly in Australia ) and in New Zealand we saw Meadow Skipper particularly through his complementary sons Albatross and Most Happy Fella making their mark on the previously largely "home grown" product.
The outcross influence of Direct Scooter through his sons such as Deal Direct, Direct Flight, OK Bye, WRH and In The Pocket in New Zealand as well as the likes of Stoneridge Scooter and Yankee Sensation in Australia came next and was to take the breed to the next step particularly through gait refinement which then facilitated higher levels of speed, an impact experienced on both sides of the Tasman.
All of this then played right into the hands of new stallion arrival Bettor's Delight.
He had the right genetic cocktail flowing through his veins to offer huge compatibility with the broodmares of the time.
He was bred on a 6x6 reverse-sex cross to Adios ( a speed upgrader in his own right pre Meadow Skipper ) so he had an invaluable breeding core as well as an "engine room" ( on display on the racetrack as well in his many great battles with his mighty foe, Real Desire ).
This would ensure he would be highly receptive to mares' with a strong Adios influence of which there were perhaps more in Australia than New Zealand.
At this time New Zealand had a plethora of Meadow Skipper-line mares mostly coming though either Albatross or Most Happy Fella. The Albatross over Most Happy Fella, or vice versa, breeding cross also abounded.
These proved a godsend for Bettor's Delight as his pedigree held exactly that which most of these mares lacked and in the firm view of Premier Pedigrees one of the key reasons for his success with New Zealand mares in particular.
Bettor's Delight possessed balanced lines of both Albatross ( speed and gait ) and Most Happy Fella ( stamina and toughness ). This meant he could immediately supply these mares with a sex-balancing line of either Albatross or Most Happy Fella so that their potential gene inheritance could be "triggered" in their resultant foals. Hardly any other stallion at the time could offer this thus giving Bettor's Delight a decisive "competitive edge" genetically.
It also meant that he had the means of instantly upgrading colonial bloodlines with an infusion of Meadow Skipper in the best possible manner through injecting sex-balanced lines of his two best sons in Albatross and Most Happy Fella with their complementary traits and attributes.
You may well ask then, "Why did Bettor's Delight develop a golden cross with firstly the blood of In The Pocket and then Christian Cullen when they were largely outcrossed bloodlines?" Was it the benefits of hybrid vigour shining through or was it something else at play?
In our constant perusal of pedigrees sometimes it pays to dig a little deeper than 7-generations to find a common denominator that may be at play.
And the one we find is perhaps one of Bettor's Delight's other great secrets, this one a little further "back in genes".
In The Pocket is a son and Christian Cullen a grandson of Direct Scooter meaning Direct Scooter is the common denominator.
So we search his pedigree make-up and compare it with the pedigree fabric of Bettor's Delight to see if we can find another common denominator that could lay reason to a possible genetic affinity.
And do we find one? Yes we do. His name is Volomite.
Peter The Great has 12 occurrences within Direct Scooter's 8-generational pedigree chart, easily the most by a single ancestor.
Direct Scooter is bred on a 5x5 reverse-sex cross to Peter Volo ( a son of Peter The Great ) thus the latter being at the very heart of his breeding core and "engine room".
Direct Scooter is also 4x5 paternally linebred to Peter Volo.
Both of these Peter Volo presences are through his son Volomite hence making Direct Scooter also 3x4 paternally linebred to Volomite with his damsire Noble Victory also being paternally linebred to Volomite at 2x4.
Because of Volomite being present in Direct Scooter relatively close-up at 3x4x6, on linebreeding weighting factors ( more points are allotted the closer-up the presences occur generationally without being incestuous ), Volomite incurs the highest weighting percentage at 5.08%.
How then do we relate this to Bettor's Delight's 8-generational pedigree?
We hope Bettor's Delight displays a strong proportion of this Peter The Great-Peter Volo-Volomite presence as well.
And yes, we do find what we are looking for.
These are led by Abbedale 19 presences, Hal Dale 16 presences, Billy Direct 14 presences then both Volomite and Peter Volo with 12 presences each and Peter The Great with 4 presences.
Better still, as an additional genetic connector between Direct Scooter and Bettor's Delight, the latter holds in his 8-generational pedigree the presence of revered mare Volga E who is a full-sibling to Peter Volo ( both Peter The Great - Nervolo Belle ).
Where is all this heading then?
We are trying to put up a case for what bloodlines Bettor's Delight has reached an affinity with as a stallion and if these might work for his daughters in their future matings. Reverse therapy if you like.
Obviously, daughters of Bettor's Delight cannot go to sons of Bettor's Delight such as Lazarus or even grandsons such as Lather Up which leads any standardbred breeder having to look at sons or grandsons or now even great grandsons of the Western Hanover, Artsplace, Direct Scooter or perhaps even Cam Fella ( his own sireline ) as the dominant sirelines or else the more scattered less Commercial sirelines the likes of Dragon's Lair with a stallion like Fear The Dragon.
Truth is that Bettor's Delight has demonstrated his own versatility over a wide range of sirelines and "produced the goods" and this may very well prove a similar case with his broodmare daughters showing wide range versatility with a number of sirelines and sires.
Whichever way you might already have headed or are contemplating heading, one thing is for sure, there is no template or magic "golden cross" in play as yet.
No doubt breeders will be keeping a very close eye on North American "Crosses of Gold" just as they will in Australia and New Zealand for the next outstanding performer out of a Bettor's Delight mare.
The Studs are quick to come out in their advertising with crosses that are working for their stallion's with Bettor's Delight mares, for example, Rock N Roll Heaven has produced Let It Ride out of a Bettor's Delight mare and Heaven Rocks was produced from a Cam Fella-line mare etc but really the truth is the dust has yet to settle on a golden cross this way around.
Another practice has been to reverse-sex to Cam Fella ( utilising both a breeding core and a potential "engine room" ) which can be done with stallion's carrying Cam Fella in their damsire line as do the likes of Somebeachsomewhere, Rock N Roll Heaven and even Sir Lincoln.
Those breeders seeking a little value or breeding to race could also look at reverse-sexing opportunities to Cam's Card Shark ( a big influence on Bettor's Delight's own mojo ) via the likes of A Rocknroll Dance or Heston Blue Chip.
At Premier Pedigrees we are going to go out on a limb with another decision to breeders of Bettor's Delight mares and it is for part of the reason why we spent so much time in this article on Direct Scooter's genetic linkages with the blood of Bettor's Delight.
We are all well aware of In The Pocket's affinity with Bettor's Delight particularly in New Zealand at one time being New Zealand's "golden cross" but also working in North America to produce million dollar earner Dream Out Loud.
Well, we are going to endeavour to go one better by saying breeders possessing mares by Bettor's Delight should ensure that they have the presence of Matt's Scooter fitting somewhere in the bloodlines of the chosen consort for their mare. Our reasons for this are twofold.
Firstly, Matt's Scooter was Direct Scooter's best performed racetrack son, easily eclipsing the deeds of In The Pocket and also eclipsing him as a sire in North America.
As a racehorse Matt's Scooter sustained high speed, could run within himself, and possessed an extreme reaching stride which was best suited to top gear. He passed these qualities on to his top juvenile colts and fillies who inherited his own sustained speed.
Our second reason for the inclusion of Matt's Scooter is simply genetic but one where we see Matt's Scooter holding a huge edge over In The Pocket.
Matt's Scooter is tail female to Aida. So too is Bettor's Delight. In other words they descend from the same maternal family hence breeders should be taking the opportunity to compound this same blood but not in a way which sees either inbreeding or incest.
The following is a brief listing of stallion's either carrying the presence of Matt's Scooter in their paternal or maternal pedigrees;
Captaintreacherous American Ideal
Captain Crunch Fear The Dragon
Downbytheseaside Net Ten Eom
This may be a restricted bunch but it sure packs some quality and you may be feeling a little smug if you already have young stock on the ground by one of these sires' from your Bettor's Delight mare or if you currently have your "Bettor's" mare currently in foal to one of these stallions.
But there is also a little value to be found in the above listings for those planning to "breed to race" or with a non-Commercial "Bettor's" mare.
I can recall having a lengthy telephone conversation with Empire Stallions principal David James two to three years ago now with David preaching to me back then how Captaintreacherous was going to become Bettor's Delight's obvious successor.
With just 60 Captaintreacherous bookings allotted to New Zealand breeders, I wonder just how many of these have been snapped up by breeders with Commercial Bettor's Delight mares and of those missing out how many have been accommodated by David James other stallion's with a Matt's Scooter presence the likes of Stay Hungry and Somebeachsomewhere.
One thing is for sure, there may be more than one reason why Captaintreacherous over a Bettor's Delight mare becomes the next "golden cross" and we may just have pinpointed one of the key genetic contributing factors as above.
Premier Pedigrees was born out of Ken Mackay's passion for horse pedigrees to offer a very affordable pedigree matching service and valuable recommendations to new and existing Australian and New Zealand clients for both thoroughbred and standardbred mares.