Every time there is a sudden or unexpected stallion announcement either during the breeding season or at the end of it, I find myself scurrying to the pedigree to formulate some early thoughts on what mares' ( genetically ) might suit.
I do this because now is the era of instant communication and my next conversation or email just might be from a breeder who may ask for my thoughts on what mares' the stallion may suit.
Whilst it is impossible to conjure an answer on the spot for every mare, without individual analysis, I find it does pay to have a shortlist of ideas which can be shared upon that initial communication with a breeder.
This situation has just evolved in the last couple of weeks with firstly Te Akau's talented young colt Cool Aza Beel succumbing to suspensory issues closely followed by trainer Michael Pitman announcing the retirement of his top class sprinter Sensei after cracking a sesamoid bone.
Whilst I will touch only lightly on Cool Aza Beel, I will go into a little more detail with Sensei and a mare I was asked to look at on Gavelhouse back in April 2020 for one of my loyal client's.
At this time both future stallion's have yet to be placed for the 2021 breeding season but let's hope they find a place in New Zealand as I see them both as welcome additions to our local stallion ranks.
Firstly though to Cool Aza Beel.
He will be well-placed in New Zealand stallion ranks joining both Embellish and What's The Story as sons of the great Savabeel to stand at Stud in New Zealand.
A quick look at his maternal pedigree reveals an outstanding Australian speed influence led by an appealing sex balanced double to the epitomy of speed in Vain.
He also carries the "Special" pattern in sex balance as well as a female double to Without Fear and male doubles to both Hail To Reason and Nijinsky II so mares with opposite sex lines of these presences are of immediate appeal.
Cool Aza Beel's damsire line is full of good bullets including the likes of Testa Rossa, Red Ransom, Bletchingly, Whiskey Road and Vain.
It is in this area that a real opportunity arises for those breeders fortunate enough to possess a mare by Ekraar or Roc De Cambes as it enables you to breed a horse on a 4x3 reverse-sex cross to Red Ransom, a rare cross for New Zealand but one which occurs in a highly influential position in a pedigree. These two broodmare sires ( Ekraar and Roc De Cambes )are also seen as being very receptive to a mass infusion of Australian speed blood which Cool Aza Beel promises to deliver.
And now to Sensei.
Without doubt we never saw the very best of Sensei on the racetracks of New Zealand for one reason or another, his trainer Michael Pitman quite candid in his reasoning that he could never find a flint hard racing surface even during a golden Summer.
Sensei will bring welcome new blood to the New Zealand thoroughbred genepool especially through his sire Dream Ahead, a son of Diktat.
Diktat is a grandson of the highly influential mare Park Appeal hence providing an instant genetic connection with any mares' featuring the presence of Iffraaj, Cape Cross or even Great Britain.
The fact that Dream Ahead, once possessing a Time Form rating the equal of the great Frankel, is also bred on a 5x4 reverse-sex cross to Balidar just adds further genetic fuel to mares' by Iffraaj or those carrying Cape Cross or Great Britan presences being of serious consideration for a date with Sensei.
And even a little further down the track the future looks good for Sensei with mares' by Turn Me Loose, Jon Snow, Wyndspelle, Almanzor and even Ribchester joining in on the above bloodline compatibilities.
It doesn't end here either as Sensei has the female line of Special via Fairy Bridge so will also be looking for mares' with the male line in Nureyev to complete the highly proven "Special" pattern.
He also has a rare male line of Tamerett in her son Known Fact which should strike accord with all those mares' holding the presence of Gone West who's dam Secrettame is a half-sister to Known Fact.
The daughters of other sires holding the presence of Gone West such as Ghibellines, Mongolian Falcon, Vespa and even Ten Sovereign's are also well placed genetically to excel with the blood of Sensei.
A lot of the above is for the future but for now let's return to the present.
As I alluded to earlier on, back in April 2020, a long time loyal client now based in Southland asked Premier Pedigrees to have a look at some possible stallion matches for a mare listed at the time on Gavelhouse by the name of Sacred Delight ( Iffraaj - Capacia, by Cape Cross ).
From memory, our top stallion recommendation was Rip Van Winkle ( alive then but to die only a few months later in August at the very onset of the breeding season ) but my client was not to purchase the mare anyway. She was instead purchased by Michael Roustoby and headed to the lush pastures of Putaruru where Michael has continued to race her.
With Sacred Delight's pedigree firmly etched in memory and looking for an Iffraaj mare to "test-mate on paper" with Sensei utilising Tesio I could not have achieved a better pedigree match even if I had asked for one.
Sacred Delight, by Iffraaj, carries a sublime damsire line featuring Cape Cross, Tale Of The Cat, Sir Tristram, Sovereign and Hermes.
Bred on a close-up but favourably sex-balanced 3x3 reverse-sex cross to broodmare bluehen Park Appeal ( this also doubling as a Rasmussen Factor ), this acts as a huge compatibility factor with the blood of Sensei's grandsire Diktat, adding a third sibling in Arvola, a half-sister to Pastorale and her half-brother Cape Cross, the latter two appearing in Sacred Delight.
All of this would add up to Sacred Delight's foal by Sensei carrying a 5x4x4 Rasmussen Factor to Park Appeal. This mirrors how legendary Northern Hemisphere mare Urban Sea was utilised the pedigrees of some recently very well-performed horses in Europe. Oh la la!!!
And with Pastorale being by Nureyev, this also facilitates the completion of the "Special" pattern as mentioned earlier above.
If the female duplications to Park Appeal and Special are not enough, a third one surfaces to Tamerett through her son Known Fact ( in Sensei ) and daughter Secrettame ( in Sacred Delight's sire Iffraaj ).
So there is very strong overall genetic affiliation in this proposed mating particularly via the blood of Sensei's grandsire Diktat and that of Sacred Delight's own sire Iffraaj but Sacred Delight takes this one step further by having a maternal linkage also to the blood of Diktat.
In the case of Sacred Delight, she also offers the key male sex-balancing line of Park Appeal through her damsire Cape Cross, a son of Park Appeal.
And male sex-balancing would also be to the fore in this proposed mating. Leading the way here is a resultant 5x4 sex-balance to Green Desert via daughter Sahara Star ( granddam of Dream Ahead in Sensei ) and son Cape Cross ( damsire of Sacred Delight ) as well as a 4x5x6 sex-balance to Mr Prospector ( through son Woodman and son and daughter Gone West and Yarn in Sacred Delight ).
For good measure, and those seeking some stamina application, Sacred Delight's two female lines of Balidar, both through Irish Oaks victor Balidaress, are well placed to feed back to the blood of Sensei where his own sire Dream Ahead is bred on a 5x4 reverse-sex cross to Balidar through the latter's daughter Balidaress ( once again ) and son Young Generation.
This culminates in Sacred Delight's Sensei foal carrying sex-balanced 7x6x6x6 linebreeding to Balidar.
A sublime genetic mating indeed.
As a closing remark on Sensei, it is noted that he descends directly from the maternal family which includes Canny Lass as his granddam.
This makes him a soughtafter target also for any mare carrying the presence of Canny Lad ( a full-brother to Canny Lass ) in her pedigree.
Since this article was written on 3 January 2021, a subsequent press release on 15 January 2021, has announced that Cool Aza Beel will stand at Stud at Newhaven Park, Boorowa, New South Wales for the 2021-22 season, joining another ex Te Akau horse in Xtravagant. With no Danehill in his pedigree, Cool Aza Beel should be well-suited to the Australian broodmare genepool.
One of the forebear influences that we have admired here at Premier Pedigrees has been the impact made on the thoroughbred breed by Native Dancer.
His influence remains today even if beginning to get a little further removed in pedigrees.
He is best represented through just a small group of elite horses which include the likes of Raise A Native, Shenanigans, Natalma, Dancer's Image, Kauai King, Dancing Cap, Hula Dancer, Native Charger, Atan and Dan Cupid.
From this elite handful his influence was to spread far and wide.
His best son Raise A Native was to sire Mr Prospector whilst his daughter Natalma produced Northern Dancer later giving rise to the famed Northern Dancer / Mr Prospector cross with Native Dancer being the common denominator.
Another daughter Shenanigans produced Ruffian who some still consider the best filly ever produced in America whilst his son Dan Cupid sired Sea-Bird who many considered as the best racehorse in Europe in the 20th Century.
"The Grey Ghost" of Sagamore was born in 1950 and developed into a massive horse, standing 16.3 hands and weighing more than 1100 lbs.
On the racetracks of North America he was not only imposing but also surprisingly precocious, winning 21 of his 22 races at 2 and 3 years old at distances from 1000 metres through to 2400 metres. This led to mirror-like comparisons with the great Man o' War, again with split camps, the Native Dancer fans claiming he won one more race than Man 'o War.
His only defeat was a narrow one, beaten a half head by Dark Star but it happened to be in the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs. It also denied Native Dancer the glory of becoming the first horse to win the Triple Crown as he picked up both the Preakness and Belmont Stakes.
Crowds warmed to his endearing racing style of getting well back in the running early and thundering home. This is how he gained his fan club.
With the advent of television corresponding with the rise of "The Grey Ghost" Native Dancer was to become horse racing's first equine TV star as his racing style endeared viewers of the new medium and introduced them to the sport.
But he also had what is best described as a "pounding galloping action" and this was to take it's toll on his feet giving him recurring lameness, forcing him to be retired at the beginning of his 4 year old season in 1954.
It was here that he drew a number of detractors, many of whom were quick to label that he was passing on these same traits to his progeny.
His son Raise A Native was an outstanding 2 year old before injuring himself, and his son Mr Prospector was a top sprinter until he fractured a sesamoid bone.
Ruffian ( damsire Native Dancer ) broke her leg in a match race with Foolish Pleasure in 1975, Go For Wand ( great grandsire Northern Dancer ) fractured her right cannon bone in 1990, the great Barbaro ( Mr Prospector in the 3rd generation of his dam ) succumbed to laminitis after breaking three bones in his right hind leg in 2006 and Eight Belles ( Raise A Native in three different positions in her pedigree ) broke both her front forelegs in the 2008 Kentucky Derby.
The racing world can be very unforgiving at times and a lot of these tragic events had the finger pointing at Native Dancer as once again being the common denominator.
Thankfully, there are experts out there that provide some sort of balance in defence, one of these being pedigree researcher Hermann D Lammey who says "It's unfair to blame a single ancestor for breakdowns and injury", referring to a couple of Raise A Native's better track progeny, Point Given and Flower Alley, as having both stamina and soundness, pointing to other factors such as nutrition, track surface, animal care, training or just a bad step at an unusual angle as more likely contributing factors in these breakdowns.
As a then new stallion at Stud in North America it is perhaps a little surprising that Native Dancer would never go on and win a Sire's Premiership, finishing 6th in 1965 and 2nd in 1966, the only two years he was to finish in the top ten. He left both sprinters and stayers, producing 44 Stakes winners ( from 14% of foals ).
But without doubt, Native Dancer's overwhelming legacy in the last 50 years or so has been the male lines of Northern Dancer and Mr Prospector that have come to dominate worldwide bloodlines ensuring his name will remain ever present in the vast majority of pedigrees even today.
Premier Pedigrees would now like to relate it's own personal story on Native Dancer.
Back in early 2006 in the lead-up to the May NZB National Weanling Sales we were supplied with a list of weanlings by then Whangaparaoa enthusiast Mr Alan Stuck to sort out which weanling we considered the best on pedigree.
Our top selection was Lot 129, a bay filly by Elusive City from Culburra Beach, an Australian bred mare by boom Western Australian staying sire Scenic.
No nonsense from Alan as he snapped her up for $15,500+gst.
He placed her with John Miller ( then Waiuku based ) and as Dasoudi she raced 19 times for 6 wins, 4 seconds and a third earning $142,050 at distances from 1200m to 1600m, winning on all track conditions from Good to Heavy.
She won her only trial at Cambridge on 22/9/09 and then won on debut at Counties on the 14/10/09 in the hands of Troy Harris.
Acquiring light black type in finishing 2nd in the Group 1Thorndon Mile ( beaten a half-length by Booming ), Dasoudi also went on to finish an unlucky ( blocked ) 3rd in the G 1 Haunui Farm Classic WFA before her eventual sale to Australian interests.
So what attracted Premier Pedigrees to her pedigree?
For starters, we looked at Culburra Beach's pedigree. This told us that she was bred on a 4x4 reverse-sex cross to Raise A Native. This provided the mare with not only a focussed breeding core but also a likely potential "engine room".
Her other influencing feature was her prominent sex-balanced lines of Northern Dancer at 3x4 in the mare's pedigree.
These two most prominent pedigree features amounted to a substantial bloodline under-pinning to Native Dancer.
So now, how does this all feed back from Culburra Beach to Elusive City?
We start with his two most prominent favourably sex balanced lines of Mr Prospector at 3x4,a forebear not present in the pedigree of Culburra Beach. So big tick here.
These two lines of Mr Prospector in Elusive City means he carries two male only lines of Raise A Native.
For these to take effect in the foal ( Dasoudi ) as an influence we need to find a female sex balancing line of Raise A Native in Culburra Beach and she duly provides this courtesy of his daughter Where You Lead ( granddam of Scenic, sire of Culburra Beach ).
And for good measure, Culburra Beach addsa new line of Raise A Native in the latter's son Exclusively Native.
This all means Alan's foal named Dasoudi carries sex balanced linebreeding to Mr Prospector at 4x5, Norther Dancer at 5x5x4x5 ( with Dancers Countess providing the all important female presence as dam of Culburra Beach's damsire Paris Prince ) and to Raise A Native at 5x6x5x5.
And in putting the jigsaw together, of all these prominent presences in Dasoudi's pedigree, who do we find as the common denominator and baseblood lynchpin? You guessed it....Native Dancer, sex-balanced at 6x7x7x7x5x6x6x6x7 with Elusive City providing five presences and Culburra Beach four presences.
Although Native Dancer is beginning to get a little further back in pedigrees these days he is one to capitalise on where the opportunity avails as he provides speed and a turn of foot, and if lucky, a pinch of versatility at both distances and track conditions.
We see the mating of Culburra Beach with Elusive City as either very astute or very fortuitous with the latter's immersion in lines of Native Dancer and although this stallion is no longer available to New Zealand breeders we will be keeping a close eye moving forward on the progeny of Turn Me Loose who is another young stallion we have identified as having a very liberal sprinkling of Native Dancer running through his veins.
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.