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.
It must now be close to two decades ago that two keen young lads mucked out the boxes and drove work for their then youthful Pukekohe based boss in Todd MacFarlane, the latter relatively fresh from his tutorage under the experienced eye of Roy and Barry Purdon.
The two lads, Chris Gillies and Clint Mackay ( my son ) got on that well that soon the relationship extended to further family members on both sides.
Whilst Chris was shortly after to return to Cambridge, Clint has remained with Todd to this current day.
But distance was not a stopper when through my own two years working at Linden Park Stud, Pukekawa in 2002-3, I had singled out a couple of pacing mares running in a herd which had not been tried and were at least four years old.
Both were owned by Greg Corbett from Lurnea, New South Wales, whom I had the good fortune to meet on one of his frequent visits to New Zealand. Greg operated a large and successful second hand office furniture business in South Western Sydney and loved talking standardbred pedigrees.
And so began the Gillies / Mackay racing partnership as I was able to secure firstly Nullabor Song and then Cool Service which got us launched on the front foot.
After these two horses came a succession of useful pacers for us to race together which Chris had managed to acquire by keeping his ear to the ground including the likes of The Ledge, Can't See A Thing ( he actually only had one eye ) and Lofty Brogden.
By now we had multiple photos on the wall ( we even won two races on the same programme one evening at Cambridge ), attended the races regularly, and were beginning to think the game "wasn't too hard" even though we were not winning out of turn.
But it was from here on in that things were about to take a sudden change.
From memory it was 2010 when I took a phone call from Chris saying there was a well-bred young trotting filly for sale in the Harness Racing Weekly that was from the Martina H Family, a two year old that was big, had been prepped but needed another year to mature before becoming a racehorse.
This was a Family that breeder Kevin Marr had kept full control over but on this occasion he had too many filly's around him so was prepared to let her go.
She was advertised cheap at $2000. Chris said we had to move quickly to get her and we agreed to go 50/50 so a quick call to Chris's brother Owen ( who worked for Derek Balle where the filly was domiciled ) and we had her secured for less than asking price.
Sometime later Derek ( who trained Nullabor Song for us ) told me he could have sold Daniela H four times over and for more money than what we paid. But we were in first and got the chocolates.
At Chris's suggestion, since we had to wait a year, we put her in foal as a two year old with the intention of racing her after having the foal.
Derek Balle knew the Lang's from Victoria when he successfully campaigned Miami H at the Breeders Crown so was able to arrange a package deal of 7 mares to Skyvalley of which we became one.
When I went out to Woodlands Stud where she foaled a filly in 2011 the foal was anything but what I was expecting.
With Daniela H being 16.2 hands and a big mare and knowing Muscles Yankee ( sire of Skyvalley ) could leave quite coarse bone I was not expecting a petite very fine boned filly. Far from it.
All I could put it down to was that our dark brown bordering on black filly had thrown to Skyvalley's damside i.e. Chiola's Lass who was not very big herself.
We named this filly Valle De La Luna ( Valley Of The Moon ) and whilst racing and showing extreme promise with three good placings in her first few starts she did succumb, not unexpectedly, to ongoing tendon and suspensory issues that led to her premature retirement.
Upon having her first foal, we had Daniela H at Woodlands Stud to be mated with Pegasus Spur.
As Daniela H was by Dream Vacation out of a Sundon mare Justine H ( a full-sister to Martina H ), Chris had been told several times by his mare "Dixie" ( trainer John Dickie ) that any mare with Sundon close-up in her bloodlines, it would be foolhardy going to any other stallion than Pegasus Spur based on their personal experiences with the ill-fated Paramount Geegee and also the courageous Speeding Spur.
So to Pegasus Spur did we go and our resultant foal was literally a cross between an elephant and a giraffe. A colt, he could not have been more different than Daniela H's first foal.
We named him Whips N Spurs and we had to wait for him for a long time before he debuted but in a few starts he snaffled two wins at the "Ribbon of Light" ( Alexandra Park ) for trainer Derek Balle.
I recall rival trainers including Todd MacFarlane saying "what a magnificent animal he is" when he was parading around in the birdcage at Alexandra Park.
But like Valle De La Luna, so too was Whips N Spurs to develop ongoing leg issues that were to curtail his return to the track despite his immense talent.
We then let a third party breed a foal from Daniela H. She was put to Monarchy and had a filly which we were told had some temperament issues and whilst tried from the Todd Mitchell barn was never to grace the racetrack.
After a brief financial breather for the partnership, Chris was keen to go again and we decided to go back to Skyvalley in 2015 and see if we could get a foal that perhaps threw to the paternal side of his pedigree.
But even the best laid plans can run amuck, and at the last minute ( the day before serving ) Chris was told that they could not get Skyvalley semen to him in time for insemination.
Chris phoned me in a mad panic saying he needed to order semen that day and who else could we go to where we could get semen in a hurry.
I said "leave it with me for half an hour and I will come back to you".
Quickly grabbing the Stallion Directory for that season and rushing through the "value stallions" I noticed that Master Glide had some of his best progeny success in North America from Dream Vacation mares so a decision agreed, the semen ordered same day, and the next season we had a sizeable Master Glide filly which Jan Gillies named Slippery Mistress for us.
After several preps because of growth spurts, this impeccably mannered now four year old mare acquired her qualifying ticket on 19 December 2020 for trainer Todd MacFarlane and we finally now have another racehorse.
I already have her mate selected should she one day trickle towards the breeding barn in the Haras De Trotteurs stallion Volstead ( a sublime mating on paper ).
As part of my previous work for Queensland based Trump Bloodstock which included a service entitlement to Sebastian K, Daniela H foaled us "her best foal yet on type" in a colt we have named Sebastian Montoya, so different from all her other foal's being far more short-coupled and of average size. Now a three year old, he has had a couple of preparations at Todd MacFarlane's and according to Ian Hilliard ( who likes him ) he has shown Ian that he has "a lot of bottom to him". We have high hopes for him and do not intend to rush him.
If nothing else, the "trotting game" as opposed to the "pacing game" has taught us that you need a whole new level of patience.
In 2019 we tried to get both Daniela H and Valle De La Luna in foal, serving them both with the Trump Bloodstock stallions, firstly Sebastian K and then promising new stallion Centurion ATM ( from the direct maternal family of Sundon and a juvenile performer in similar vein to Muscle Mass ).
Surprisingly, Daniela H ( who normally gets in foal first serve ) did not hold to either stallion but her daughter Valle De La Luna did take to Centurion ATM and we now have a dark brown bordering on black yearling filly ( the only one by this sire in New Zealand ) that is built like a tank, although like her mother, not overly tall.
She remains on the lush pastures of Milan Park in Cambridge, where Jan Gillies currently works, mixing her daily life with her thoroughbred paddock mates but time will come soon where we will need her to realise what true life is all about.
Rather than leave Daniela H out in the paddock at the Gillies' Cambridge property ( on the Cambridge - Te Awamutu Road ), we have loaned her to Dr Lee Morris at Equibreed for use as a surrogate mother so she can maintain her maternal instincts in the interim should we decide to breed another foal from her as she is still only 12 years old.
For the moment, it will be Training Fees over Stud Fees as we see what we have got with these young ones but be rest-assured that if any start showing promise then out will come the cries to "breed another" such is our wonderful game.
I once told the Gillies' the wonderful s tory that the road they now live on just outside of Cambridge was once known as the "Swamp Road" which was surveyed back in the 1950's by my late Uncle, Owen Cooper Mackay, a huge Tauranga based yachting enthusiast who sailed many ocean going races as a valued navigator. Owen regularly sailed on a vessel Mata-a-Tua and he later became a considerable shareholder in the yacht Ceramco New Zealand.
As if this was not significant enough in the Gillies / Mackay partnership, I worked for 17 years for BP New Zealand at the same time as Don Gillies had worked for the same company for 35 years without knowingly crossing each others path. Don is now well into his eighties but has been a keen member of the Gillies / Mackay racing and breeding partnerships. Small world.
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.