In the formative days of Premier Pedigrees back in 2001 ( also the year of 9/11 ) I recall taking a call from a hobby breeder by the name of Stan Dunlop who lived on the outskirts of Morrinsville.
Stan had a Camtastic mare by the name of Carnlough Bay and sought our advice as to a suitable stallion for her. He and his wife were going to breed her with their good friends the Monk's.
Stan told me, almost challengingly, that Carnlough Bay was from the "Grantham breed" tracing back through Dinnaken ( bred by the Corrigan's ) and what I vividly recall from Stan were the words "crossfire", "crossfired" and "crossfiring" throughout the conversation until they were absolutely ringing in my ears sufficiently so for me to be mentally ( not verbally ) replying "Direct Scooter", "Direct Scooter", "Direct Scooter" in response to Stan's pleas for a remedy.
This was at a time when Standardbred breeding was immersed to the point of saturation in the blood of Meadow Skipper but it also coincided with a new opportunity.
It also corresponded with the arrival of a new potential breed-shaper in the form of Direct Scooter bloodlines through several of his sons the likes of Deal Direct, Direct Flight, OK Bye and others.
But it was another son in In The Pocket who had begun revolutionising performance of the Standardbred on New Zealand racetracks through fast dominant and precocious horses such as Christian Cullen, Courage Under Fire, Tupelo Rose and Under Cover Lover.
Put a Meadow Skipper-line mare to In The Pocket and you just about had a licence to print money. And after all, Carnlough Bay was a Meadow Skipper-line mare.
Whilst this outcross blood was very welcomed to broaden the New Zealand Standardbred genepool from the almost total dependence on Meadow Skipper bloodlines, the real value at play here was the contribution that Direct Scooter made in enhancing the relatively moderate gait qualities inherent in a large majority of Meadow Skipper descended progeny.
Enhanced gait was Direct Scooter's trademark ( even if temperament wasn't ) and laid the platform for energy conservation and efficiency which in turn created the ability to sustain higher levels of speed over greater distances.
Evidence of this was certainly on show in plentiful abundance particularly with the top sons and daughters of In The Pocket.
When it came time to making a recommendation to Stan that he should breed Carnlough Bay to In The Pocket I was a little deflated when he thought he was a little expensive at his then Service Fee of $6000+gst. At that stage his progeny were in full flight and there were strong murmurings that his Service Fee was about to head North of this figure. In The Pocket was now proven and you knew what you were getting.
So it was back to the drawing board, but racking my brain it didn't take long to come up with an alternative.
I was hellbent on staying with a son of Direct Scooter and then I remembered.
I had been at Alexandra Park one day, not sure whether it was at a rare Sale Day they had there or if it was a race day/night and Michael House had a new stallion arrival in the barn on parade. His name was Tinted Cloud and he was a big 16.2 hands eye-catching son of Direct Scooter. Michael was displaying him proudly to prospective breeders and alike and I thought "what a grouse looking horse" and he was only going to be standing at $1500+gst.
I mentioned him to Stan and at that price I could feel Stan warming to him by the minute on the premise that he could counter a lot of the gait imperfections that his breed held.
So a breeding match was rubber-stamped and a booking made.
Little did either Stan or Premier Pedigrees know that together they were about to create another of Australasia's pacing greats.
As a non-Commercial foal, Smoken Up as he was to become known ( as named by the Dunlop's and the Monk's ) was bred as a racing commodity and placed in the care of trainer John Butcher at nearby Tamahere.
A 2002 foal, Smoken Up qualified locally at Cambridge on 24/8/2006 winning his trial in 2:51.5 at a mile rate of 2:05.4 so nothing out of the ordinary.
I saw Smoken Up run one evening at Cambridge in a low class event and was of the opinion that a small hitch was still evident in his gait.
This may have been an immaturity weakness which is often present in a young horse and later disappears as they develop but it was not enough to deter a vastly experienced Australian trainer/driver in Lance Justice to purchase him for a Group of his owners.
And it soon became evident with more racing and maturity that Smoken Up became more fluent in his gait.
Never in a thousand years could Stan or myself have believed that this horse of humble origins would go on to record 74 wins, 23 seconds and 11 thirds, earn $2,681,026 and acquire a personal best time of 1:48.5.
These figures could have been even better if he had not been disqualified from winning the Inter Dominion Grand Final in Auckland for a subsequent EPO breach.
I was there that night in Auckland as he flashed past the winning post in front of me some 3 lengths clear of some pretty reputable horses after easily doing the most work in the race. He left me just shaking my head in awe. What a heart this horse must also have had.
Smoken Up, you were one of the true ironhorses and one where we may have held a small but important part in his creation.
Tinted Cloud is testimony to the old adage that "every stallion is capable of leaving a good horse". The secret is presenting him with the right cocktail ( physical and genetic ) to allow it to happen.
For Tinted Cloud that horse was Smoken Up just as for Sharvid Adios it was Tyler Foulden whilst in the Thoroughbred world for Pag-Asa it was Bonecrusher and for Sharivari it was Shivaree.
There are many other examples in both codes and they will continue to occur sometimes planned but mostly by fluke.
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.