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.
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.