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.
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.