The world's five longest rivers ( Nile, Amazon, Yangtze, Yellow and Parana ) may have endured little in the way of change over the last 170 years but this such is not the case for the deltas of the five male scions of the great founding father of the Standardbred breed Hambletonian 10 ( 1849 ).
Hambletonian 10 sired five sons acting as the source of the significant waterways to shape and establish the Standardbred as a recognised breed.
George Wilkes ( 1856 ) led the way founding a mainly trotting stirp and his river remains in existence today albeit the flow not as strong as it once was.
Happy Medium ( 1863 ) continues to flow strongly today enjoying somewhat of a resurgence, like the Amazon, and has two powerful arms, one a trotting arm and the other a pacing arm.
Sadly, both the Dictator ( 1863 ) and Strathmore ( 1866 ) stirps, primarily best known for their pacing influence with some trotting influences also embroiled, whilst off to a flourishing start, have all but dried up and are no longer a significant force today.
The Dictator flow was was primarily led by Billy Direct ( 1934 ), the first pacer to reach 1:55 for the mile, and Tar Heel ( 1948 ), the latter a formidable broodmare sire ( especially in association with Adios ) whose daughters are considered to carry the large heart gene ( x-factor theory ).
The Strathmore line featured mighty carriers such as Globe Derby ( 1910 ), Logan Derby ( 1930 ), Johnny Globe ( 1947 ) and the little black dynamo Lordship ( 1958 ) but has since diminished in traction.
For Electioneer ( 1868 ), it is a totally different fate, one of swift flow just like the Nile. Such flow is seemingly all one way, at a rapid pace with emphasis totally focussed on the development and evolution of the pacer.
For the breeders of the pure trotter emanating from the George Wilkes or Happy Medium stirps, there is saviour as modern day globalisation with accompanying frills such as longhaul flights and permitted use of frozen semen has facilitated a European bloodline infusion which in turn has introduced outcrossing and with it hybrid vigour.
But Europe cannot be the same saviour for the breeder of the pacer primarily because the great majority of European countries only foster the trotting breed.
Breeders of the straight out pacer have for a number of decades now focussed on trends in North America ( both the United States and Canada ) keeping specific tabs on trends, and especially "Crosses of Gold" for those stallions that are relevant to the Southern Hemisphere ( either as shuttle stallions or available via frozen semen ).
But, are the current winds of change beginning to affect our great rivers by introducing a cascade effect?
Whereas once we lingered some 10-15 years behind North America, today this is not the case as the Southern Hemisphere product is equally as competitive on the racetrack, no better example that the recent Lazarus / McWicked rivalries in North America.
Admittedly, improved track design in the Southern Hemisphere had also allowed the gap to be bridged dramatically especially with race times. Not any longer are we the the poor cousin.
The pacing breed nowadays has sorted itself into four predominant sirelines which tend to complement each other in their respective traits and attributes.
The Western Hanover sireline has introduced natural athleticism, generally fluent gait and often precocity whilst the Cam Fella sireline is generally regarded as imparting stamina and toughness although the Cam's Card Shark scion can also bring with it a speed component.
The Artsplace sireline also presents unrelenting stamina with an accompanying winning desire whilst the Direct Scooter sireline has been breed shaping introducing a refined fluent gait which in turn has facilitated greater levels of energy conservation through enhanced pacing efficiency. The flow on effect has seen higher levels of speed and the ability to sustain such speed over greater distance.
As we highlighted a little earlier, we are now down to largely two rivers in the pacing breeding world, these coming through Electioneer and Happy Medium.
And whilst Electioneer acts as the mighty Nile embracing the Cam Fella, Western Hanover and Artsplace sirelines, it is Happy Medium who has acted as the all important Amazon in introducing the breed shaping Direct Scooter stirp to the Standardbred as a breed.
Let us now take a paddle back up river to the headwaters.
Electioneer's son Chimes ( 1880 ) sired The Abbe ( 1903 ) who in turn sired two influential sons in Abbedale ( 1917 ) and Bert Abbe ( 1922 ).
Bert Abbe, via son Gene Abbe ( 1944 ) has brought us the revered male influence Big Towner and his valued sons Walton Hanover and Towner's Big Guy but this tributary is down to a mere trickle these days as the Abbedale arm via son Hal Dale ( 1926 ) has assumed full flow through the latter's two mighty sons Dale Frost ( 1951 ) and Adios ( 1940 ).
Adios became a breed changer in the Southern Hemisphere with his flotilla of sons injecting enhanced speed into the colonial homegrown bloodlines that prevailed especially in Australia and to a lesser degree in New Zealand.
Two of Adios's sons in particular have made a big splash and kept the waterways flowing today, namely Bret Hanover ( 1962 ) especially through his Falcon Seelster ( 1981 ) stirp and Henry T Adios ( 1958 ), the latter the forerunner to the Abercrombie ( 1975 ) cascade through Life Sign but even more poignantly Artsplace ( 1988 ), founder of one of today's four great dominant sirelines.
But anything Adios could contribute, Dale Frost could do better, or at least his great son Meadow Skipper ( 1960 ) and especially through his two most notable sons the complementary influences Most Happy Fella ( 1967 ) and Albatross ( 1968 ).
Each acted like a waterfall. Most Happy Fella bringing stamina and toughness and Albatross speed and gait.
Mix the two together and you got a whirlpool.
Sadly, in more recent times the Albatross stirp is displaying signs of drying up after enjoying good times in the 80's and 90's in particular through sons of the calibre of Vance Hanover, Soky's Atom and Holmes Hanover with little in the way of heirs to continue the flow.
Albatross had found himself caught up in a dam.
But such fate was not to be the case for Most Happy Fella who has found himself as the modern day equine powerhouse through in particular his sons Cam Fella ( 1979 ) and Oil Burner ( 1973 ).
Cam Fella is at the headwater of his own sireline, recognised as one of the four great remaining pacing sirelines of today with the stirp through his best son Cam's Card Shark ( 1991 ) having led on to giving rise to the Bettor's Delight ( 1998 ) dynasty.
Oil Burner via his immensely talented son No Nukes ( 1979 ) has given rise to the prolific Western Hanover ( 1989 ) sireline, another of the four great sirelines of today, with the greatest current being provided through Western Hanover's potent son Western Ideal ( 1995 ).
It does however take a diversion to the Happy Medium headwater to find down river our fourth and final modern day sireline, that of Direct Scooter. Tracing through Volomite ( 1926 ), who was recognised as a great contributor of horses that could both trot and pace, of his four most most notable sons, King's Counsel, Worthy Boy, Poplar Byrd and Sampson Hanover, it was Sampson Hanover ( 1947 ) who was to create the greatest pacing current through his son Sampson Direct ( 1957 ) and grandson Direct Scooter ( 1976 ).
At this time the Southern Hemisphere was becoming a largely Hal Dale empire through sons Adios especially in Australia and Dale Frost via son Meadow Skipper in New Zealand.
But change was in the wind as a new river as mighty as the Amazon was about to sweep in and shake things up.
With Stud farms recognising the potential to narrow the genepool the search was on to introduce an outcross bloodline for the profound Adios and Meadow Skipper proliferation.
A few sons of Direct Scooter were introduced into Australia and New Zealand acting as tributary feeders the likes of Deal Direct, Direct Flight, Stoneridge Scooter, Yankee Sensation, OK Bye and WRH but nothing of any great notice until the mighty gush that was In The Pocket ( 1987 ).
Another pacing breed changer had arrived amongst much local speculation that he would not work especially in New Zealand with it's plethora of Meadow Skipper-line broodmares.
But just like any formidable outcross, clean the rivers he did.
In The Pocket almost single-handedly opened the floodgates for the Direct Scooter sireline and in turn his own great son Christian Cullen continued a strong flow.
In The Pocket was in more recent times ably assisted by sons of Matt's Scooter ( 1985 ) most notably Mach Three.
For breeders of high-end Commercial broodmares in the Southern Hemisphere the last twenty or so years has been a decision between Christian Cullen, Art Major, Mach Three, Bettor's Delight, Rocknroll Hanover or American Ideal with little further options apart from maybe Somebeachsomewhere.
In North America the last two decades or so have seen the Western Hanover / Artsplace sireline cross ( and vice versa ) feature as the "go to" reliable and proven cross for producing hard-hitting early running two and three year olds ( where the big purses feature on the racetrack ) but there is mounting evidence that change is in the wind as the vast majority of stallions shuttling ( or being made available via frozen semen ) to Southern Hemisphere shores are from either the Cam Fella-line ( sons or grandsons of Bettor's Delight in particular ) or the Direct Scooter-line ( sons of Somebeachsomewhere or Captaintreacherous ).
As we approach the delta of these great rivers there is upheaval as to which route to take for breeders.
The Artsplace sireline has pinned it's faith in Art Major for continuity. His progeny are testing the waters but so far from the likes of Santanna Blue Chip, Major In Art, Art Official, For A Reason, Renaissance Man, Restrepo, Follow The Stars, Vincent, Sky Major or Ride High we have yet to see a successor of his equal but to be totally fair for a number it is very early days and time is still on their side. It may yet happen. Still, one gains the initial impression that it is rather vulnerable. Maybe Sweet Lou can put his hand up for the Artsplace sireline.
The Western Hanover sireline bubbles away through the two leading sons of Western Ideal in Rocknroll Hanover and American Ideal, Rocknroll Hanover hanging his hat on the deeds of Rock N Roll Heaven, A Rocknroll Dance, Pet Rock, Yankee Rockstar, Foreclosure, Johny Rock, The Storm Inside and Rocknroll World whilst American Ideal is now represented by his sons He's Watching, Heston Blue Chip, Bling It On, My Hard Copy and Soho Tribeca.
Another son of Western Ideal in Always A Virgin also adds lifeblood to the waters Western Hanover navigates through his notable son Always B Miki.
For the Cam Fella sireline nearly all future continuity appears to channel through Bettor's Delight and his sons or maybe even his grandsons as the cascading effects of three generations come together to stir up the waters as they fight for dominance. Among some of Bettor's Delight's sons there appears real hope.
In no set order, Highview Tommy, Gold Ace, Betterthancheddar, Tiger Tara, Lazarus, Betting Line, Ultimate Machete, Ultimate Sniper, Bettor's Wish, Tall Dark Stranger, Bettor's Creek, Caesar Augustus, Caribbean Blaster and Ohoka Punter are some amongst his lineup set to compete to keep this great line active whilst we also see the cascade effect once gain in play with Im Gorgeous's son Lather Up ( a grandson of Bettor's Delight ) also joining the fray almost acting as an island anchor at the delta.
But the current shining star reflecting over the river is provided by the Direct Scooter sireline led by Mach Three's illustrious son Somebeachsomewhere and his sons, once again in random order, the likes of Net Ten EOM, Sunshine Beach, Huntsville, Downbytheseaside, Papi Rob Hanover, Stay Hungry, Soho Lanikai, Poster Boy, Goodtime Sammy and Captaintreacherous.
The last-mentioned, widely touted as a likely successor to Bettor's Delight, has barely had time to get established downunder than he is already facing stern opposition from his own sons the likes of Captain Crunch, Capt Midnight and Captain Ahab.
All the signs are in place for a healthy river here.
Somebeachsomewhere may yet have another cannon to fire in the future too, and one to rival the Captaintreacherous stirp as a two year old has emerged in North America of considerable talent. Named Beach Glass ( 2019 ), and raced by similar connections to those involved with Somebeachsomewhere, this young colt is bred bred in somewhat similar fashion to Downbytheseaside ( a 4x4 reverse-sex cross featuring as the breeding core ) but has an intriguing feature in his maternal line of descent where his 14th dam Nina Neave was bred to her own sire Cassius M Clay Jnr in the late 1800's resulting in her daughter Nina Strader ( 13th dam of Beach Glass ) being 1x2 incestuously bred to Cassius M Clay Jnr. But we digress.
Whilst the rivers might be healthy in some areas there are signs of confusion at the deltas.
With the growing North American practice of retiring their best colts at the conclusion of their three year old season ( they are worth more money in the breeding shed thereafter ) the cascade effect has never been so pronounced.
We have Bettor's Delight still in active service, whilst in competition with his sons, both the the North American shuttlers as well as those available by frozen semen and joining them are home grown sons of Bettor's Delight ( both in Australia and New Zealand ) as the genetic gap closes between the Southern Hemisphere and North America and on top of this grandsons of Bettor's Delight ( e.g.Lather Up ) are also being added to breeders choices.
The same scenario is now also in evidence with Somebeachsomewhere where limited amounts of frozen semen supply remain well after his death yet his potent son Captaintreacherous is barely entrenched in the Southern Hemisphere ( perhaps more to do with his level of Service Fee and frozen semen restrictions than rivalry from a shuttling Bettor's Delight rivalry ) before he faces company from three of his young sons all shuttling downunder.
Consistent with the latest developments in North America, the tides of change are clearly pointing in the direction of the two greatest rivers, the Nile ( these days fronted by the Bettor's Delight scion ) and the Amazon ( these days fronted by the Somebeachsomewhere scion currently being led by Captaintreacherous ).
Perhaps one should have listened more closely just a few years ago when Empire Stallions principal David James boldly claimed that "The Captain" would become the natural successor to "Bettor's".
Whilst this could well prove the case in North America, where mounting evidence supports this, it will be a more difficult challenge in the Southern Hemisphere where it is clearly a numbers game.
This has seen shuttling stallions and the cost benefits of fresh chilled semen access provide Bettor's Delight and his sons and now grandsons with a competitive edge over the non-shuttling Captaintreacherous.
Is there capacity for change?
Of course there is.
The moment Bettor's Delight ceases shuttling there is room for immense change and very quickly too as we must remember that there exists a tsunami of Bettor's Delight broodmares waiting in the wings.
In the current era where swift flow ( speed ) is the desirable destination one cannot help but feel that Captaintreacherous and his new cascade of sons are extremely well-placed genetically to absorb the many Bettor's Delight and for that matter Art Major mares going to Stud where they will offer great genetic connections to highly influential female bluehens ( a time proven formula in the speed stakes ).
For mares by Bettor's Delight this includes a tail female connection to the highly influential matriarch Aida which is also shared by Captaintreacherous's great grandsire Matt's Scooter ( the best racehorse produced by Direct Scooter ) whilst mares by Art Major and his sons are set to reap the genetic rewards of resultant Rasmussen Factors ( in their foals ) to the revered bluehen Rodine Hanover.
Exciting, if not challenging times, lying ahead. May the rivers of change be kind to you in your in your future breeding endeavour.
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.