Southern Hemisphere standardbred breeders have experienced past waves of breed changing stallions but none with such dominance as that offered by Bettor's Delight.
He has truly been a megastar.
From colonial traditions we have witnessed the great speed Adios's sons injected into the local genepool especially in Australia whilst in New Zealand it was Meadow Skipper through his sons enacting a similar role through the likes of Albatross and Most Happy Fella and their sons led by Vance Hanover and Smooth Fella.
The introduction of new blood via the sons of Direct Scooter notably Stoneridge Scooter in Australia and In The Pocket in New Zealand brought additional qualities such as enhanced gait and associated new levels of sustained speed.
But none of those above have enjoyed an enduring dominance such as that offered by current siring revelation Bettor's Delight.
As you will see shortly there can be numerous reasons for this but firstly we must acknowledge that Bettor's Delight has utterly defied the theory professed by a man who is still referred to as the "Master Of Pedigree Design" ( albeit in the world of thoroughbred breeding ) in Italy's own Federico Tesio.
Tesio acknowledged that often a highly successful racehorse ( be it a stallion or mare ) does not automatically become a successful breeding horse simply because large reserves of "nervous energy" are required in competing at the highest level, a "nervous energy" that also plays an equally important role in the breeding barn to produce top class future offspring.
As a racehorse Bettor's Delight was top shelf, many will remember his great racetrack rivalry with arch enemy Real Desire.
The loss of "nervous energy" from these encounters was certainly not to diminish Bettor's Delight's breeding barn potency.
Although sometimes cursed for it, mostly Bettor's Delight enjoyed great fertility over a sustained period of time and being a shuttle stallion without a break, serving unprecedented numbers in both Hemispheres.
This is also a tribute to his temperament and longevity as much as it is to his sustained fertility given he will be 26 years of age in 2024.
Initially available to Southern Hemisphere breeders from 2002 to 2005, serving 21,9,36 and 9 in New Zealand alone in those years with matching numbers in Australia at a Fee of $6000+gst he was quick to put "points on the board" prompting 2006 to become his first year of shuttling to New Zealand. And breeders were instant in their response.
His New Zealand broodmare numbers alone jumped to 343 mares in his first season of fresh chilled semen availability and Australian demand was also very strong, a pattern which has continued ever since only to be moderated by pricing to influence supply and demand variables.
What may be some of the factors driving his unparalleled prepotency never seen previously in a single stallion downunder?
These are numerous and we will not cover all but we will attempt to outline the key driving forces as we see them.
It has often been said that a good stallion must have a strong maternal line of descendancy and Bettor's Delight certainly has tracing directly to the highly influential matriarch Aidawho also happens to be the direct maternal descendant of Direct Scooter's best racetrack product in $3 million earner the super talented Matt's Scooter.
It has also been noted that Bettor's Delight carries solid levels of Volomite baseblood which is well-endowed in the downunder broodmare genepool hence providing an instant platform for superior genetic affinity.
Volomite was a hugely successful sire in his own right with the ability to leave both good trotters and pacers.
It has not gone undetected that Bettor's Delight has left a successful trotter or two during his downunder siring career with perhaps the most notable being Group 1 2016 Harness Jewels 3YO victor Donegal Bettorgretch in the hands of Dexter Dunn beating out the likes of Wilma's Mate, Conon Bridge and Temporale.
Timing can be everything and we have little doubt that Bettor's Delight offered a pedigree fabric to fully capitalise on the Adios-led broodmare genepool in Australia as well as the Meadow Skipper-led genepool that was already well-established in New Zealand.
Why is this?
For Australia, Bettor's Delight was himself bred on a 6x6 reverse-sex cross to Adios meaning this was at the very heart of his breeding core not to mention his own "engine room".
For the New Zealand broodmare genepool he carried an equally strong force.
This came via sex-balanced lines to Meadow Skipper's two best sons, the complementary influences Albatross ( speed and gait ) and Most Happy Fella ( stamina and toughness ).
These acted as an upgrading influence for most mares' carrying Meadow Skipper presences through their sex-balancing capabilities.
In terms of Bettor's Delight's own individual pedigree if we break it down by each quartile we find a well-rounded full complement of attributes.
His paternal sireline featuring Cam Fella ( who remains to this day North America's greatest ever racetrack stamina product ) is all about stamina and toughness whilst his own sire Cam's Card Shark is Cam Fella's best racehorse and sports a damline through Jef's Magic Trick that is well-recognised for it's early running prowess.
Damsire Armbro Emerson was also talented and very quick in his day whilst Bettor's Delight's own dam Classic Wish was noticeable for her high speed during her race career perhaps facilitated by her maternal roots tracing to Aida.
The introduction of the Direct Scooter line stallions into New Zealand and Australia in the late 90's and early 2000's was a move to introduce new blood so as not to narrow the Southern Hemisphere genepool.
And it worked, especially so for Bettor's Delight who became prime benefactor.
This was a huge gamble but it worked a treat as not only did it bring very welcome new blood but also different traits and attributes especially in terms of refined and enhanced gait paving the way for new levels of high speed which could be sustained over longer distance.
This was a great catalyst for the evolution of the downunder breedin terms of improving race times.
Direct Scooter-line stallions added a certain sharpness making for well-rounded horses, mostly well-gaited and with inherent stamina capability, a recipe not only for racetrack longevity but also one which saw the breed getting better with age.
Bettor's Delight therefore arrived out in 2006 as a shuttle stallion very much at a time when the first of the Direct Scooter-line mares were going to Stud and he was a natural outcross with complementary attributes.
He instantly found affinities with In The Pocket mares followed by Christian Cullen and Courage Under Fire mares to such an extent ( numbers permitting this ) that he soon established "golden crosses" with the first two aforementioned both in New Zealand and Australia.
There is little doubt that Bettor's Delight landed in New Zealand at a salient time in the downunder standardbred breeding evolution and he was "good enough" to transition from initial "run of the mill" mares to "creme de la creme" mares in a very truncated passage of time.
And his roll has been unrelenting as he now enters his twilight breeding years.
As a final observation, whilst his progeny have not generally been noted as natural juvenile types those that have run as juveniles have done well.
They have also typically displayed an underlying intelligence or maturity in that they understand the difference between the training track and raceday.
They also tend to evolve, getting better with maturity whereas a lot of the breed today can go "missing" after their "Age Group" racing has come to an end.
It is going to be one heck of a challenge to find another Bettor's Delight in the years to come, or even for another stallion to come close to his accomplishments given the escalating costs of shuttling stallion's becoming more prohibitive and the breeding world transitions to "homebred" stallions, fully purchased non-shuttling North American stallions or towards a "frozen semen only" offer from non-shuttling North American domiciled stallion's.
The breeding landscape is certainly changing at an ever increasing pace for today's breeders and it is highly conceivable that we will never see the likes of another Bettor's Delight ever again.
One can only hope that that the changing landscape is a positive thing for the evolution of the standardbred as a breed for both Australia and New Zealand as we prepare to say goodbye to Bettor's Delight.
He will never be forgotten for the role he has played in this part of the 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.