With the effluxion of time, sirelines come and sirelines go, some always to be remembered but most forever to be forgotten.
This story, we hope, will never be forgotten and focuses on a stallion named Blue Peter and some of his better known male descendants referencing an Australian line in particular.
But first of all, we begin our story in New Zealand coinciding with the commencement of World War I in 1914.
A young 17 year old lad by the name of Tom Hogan had emigrated to New Zealand in search of a better life, coming from Ballindooley , County Galway in the Republic of Ireland, although deeper family roots lay in County Tipperary, lured by a letter he had read back in Ireland sent by his cousin Mick Hogan.
Landing firstly in Wellington and immediately taking on a manual job shovelling metal with a very busy NZ Railways, Tom was soon to find himself in South Taranaki working on the construction of a branch line from Te Roti to Opunake.
His deep love of animals, fostered back home in Ireland, and the green outdoors soon saw a change in vocation for a young Tom who went to work on the wide open spaces of his Uncle Jack Casserly's 2500 acre Maori Lease block near Hawera.
His Uncle Jack bred draught horses in an era pre-tractors and owned a famed Clydesdale stallion named Blue Peter.
Tom got the job being Blue Peter's handler and during breeding season taking him around local farmers properties to mate with their mares, the pair being a common and well known sight in the early 1920's.
In 1919 at the tender age of 22 years Tom had married a local South Taranaki girl by the name of Sarah Small whose parent's had also emigrated from County Galway.
Life was looking up in South Taranaki as they developed a young and growing family but by 1938 the days of "working horses" was fast drawing to a close as tractors were fast emerging on farm after farm.
It was time for a new challenge and Tom and Sarah shifted the family North to Fencourt, near Cambridge, where they had purchased a mixed dairy farm which they then developed and soon had flourishing.
Within a year of arrival in the Waikato, Patrick Hogan was born in 1939, ironically the same year as the commencement of World War II.
And just like Tom Hogan, a young Patrick was also to become a staunch lover of animals and the great outdoors. Life was good.
Fast forward to 1956 and forever thinking of a new challenge to his farming vocation, Tom was sat in his chair one day reading the fine print of an English Stud publication and was intrigued with the bloodlines of a stallion by the name of Blueskin.
That moment was to be defining for the Hogan family as Tom made the decision to venture into breeding thoroughbred horses.
It was a natural progression from his earlier days handling Clydesdales.
Blueskin was available for purchase and an even more enticing proposition as a "deeply superstitious Irishman" took on board that he was sired by none other than Blue Peter, Not the South Taranaki Clydesdale that he worked with in Hawera, but rather a thoroughbred stallion that carried the same name. What an omen for an Irishman if ever there was one!
But Tom Hogan could not afford the asking price for Blueskin alone nor could his Fencourt Stud cater for an upsurge in horse numbers likely to occur with standing a thoroughbred stallion so he sought a 50/50 deal with fellow Irishman Tom Laird who resided just a few miles down the road at a property Laird had named Cambridge Stud.
Naturally, one Irishman could not let another fellow countryman down and the offer was accepted.
When Blueskin arrived into Auckland after a 6 weeks journey from England by ship, and in the company of fellow stallions Chatsworth, Astreus and Alpenhorn ( destined for other established New Zealand Studs ) both he and Chatsworth found addendums had to be added to their names as these names were already registered in the NZ Stud Book so they became Blueskin II and Chatsworth II.
An agreement had been reached between the two Tom's that Blueskin II would stand at Tom Laird's Cambridge Stud as it's foundation stallion.
Prior to the son of Blue Peter arriving in New Zealand, the Hogan team including a youthful Patrick had spent enduring days trucking to Tom Laird's property as a farmhand readying it ( i.e. making it horse friendly ) for Blueskin II's arrival.
And the son of Blue Peter was not to disappoint making an instant impact in leaving the country's top two three year old colts from his early crop in Bargoed and Blue Lodge.
Blueskin II's instant success became the catalyst for a long journey which would ultimately see the Hogan's take over Cambridge Stud.
There could be no better tribute to Blueskin II's legacy than that highlighted by scribe David Bradford in the New Zealand Thoroughbred Breeding Annual where he states "But perhaps Blueskin II's greatest claim to fame was setting in concrete the desire of a young Cambridge farmhand to frame a career around breeding thoroughbreds".
And to think it all started with Tom's affinity with Blue Peter which transpired into a young Patrick's affinity with Blueskin II.
Blue Peter ( the thoroughbred version ) was bred by the Earl Of Rosebery in 1936 and was strongly linebred to the unbeaten wonder horse St Simon at 5x4x5x4 with Blue Peter's sire Fairway ( by Phalaris ) bred on an inbred 4x3 reverse-sex cross to St Simon.
It is worth noting here that Federico Tesio was also a staunch admirer of St Simon and linebred to him on numerous occasions where his presence can be found in a number of Tesio's masterpieces.
Blue Peter was an athletic chestnut horse oozing quality and refinement, with a Roman nose, high rump and a single white sock on his near hind leg.
Blue Peter's array of sons at Stud , aside from Blueskin II, included Masthead, Messmate, Sabaean, Ottoman, Wateringbury, Blue Coral, Instinct, Hello Peter, Bold Buccaneer and Della Porta.
Ross du Bourg in his fabulous work "The Australian and New Zealand Thoroughbred" 1980 included Blue Peter amongst Australasia's Twelve Major Speed Lines influencing the thoroughbred breed up to that time.
At roughly the same time as Blueskin II was waving the flag for Blue Peter in New Zealand so too was another line of Blue Peter emerging into a beckoning force in Australia through another son Masthead ( also to become known as Masthead II ) who was bred by Lord Derby ( of Selene and Hyperion fame ) in England in 1944.
Masthead was a dark bay and a top class racehorse demonstrating his versatility by winning from 1000m to 2800m and was imported to Oaklands Junction, Victoria in 1949.
Amongst his best progeny were Matrice, Waltzing Lady, Bendrum and Amarco.
Amarco won the 1957 VRC Oaks but was to rise to even greater fame as the dam of the Champion International racehorse and later stallion Tobin Bronze.
Whilst sons or grandsons of Blueskin II were not to kick on as breeding prospects of any consequence in New Zealand the same was not the case in Australia where Masthead was to leave an indelible mark especially through his son Matrice ( 1951 ).
Matrice ( Masthead - La Patrice, by St Magnus ) took the Blue Peter sireline to a new level of excellence especially through the 1970's culminating in him topping the Australian Stallion Earning's Table inthe 1973-4 season becoming the first Australian bred stallion in 31 years to win the Australian General Sires Premiership.
With 48 winners of some 107 races and earnings of $365,011 Matrice had a lot to thank his two leading sons for, both Manihi and the judiciously linebred Taj Rossi ( out of the Coronation Boy mare Dark Queen ) who went on to be Australia's Racehorse Of The Year for 1973-4.
Taj Rossi was sent to North America immediately upon completion of his race career standing at Spendthrift Farm, Lexington, Kentucky for the 1975 and 1976 breeding seasons before being repatriated to Australia to stand at Pinecrest Stud, Garfield, Victoria.
Both Manihi and Taj Rossi were to fly the flag high for the Blue Peter sireline through the 70's and into the 80's and were joined by imported sons of another of Matrice's champion sons in Pago Pago.
By 1978 Matrice had some 16 sons standing at Stud in Australia, not only Manihi and Taj Rossi but also the likes of Mikado, Kiltrice, Timajon, Toltrice, Chapeau, Chasmat, Bold Patriot and Aristocratic to name just a handful.
The post World War II accomplishments of Matrice ranked him alongside both Todman and Sobig as one of the three greatest homebred Stud champions in Australia of that era.
Matrice was a powerful burly dark chestnut horse of immense strength, carrying a Roman nose and a body cast low to the ground.
He was a champion sprinter/miler, starting 45 times for 27 victories at distances from 800m to 1800m, bankrolling $60,102 in lifetime earnings.Included amongst his notable wins was the 1953 ARC Fulham Park Plate ( then the first 2YO race of the season in Australia ), testament to his early maturity.Other notable victories were the SAJC Guineas, the 1956 Goodwood Handicap and back to back Linlithgow Stakes ( more recently recognised as the Salinger Stakes ) in 1956 and 1957.
Matrice was recognised as a great weight carrying horse with a determined "will to win".
He stood at Noonamah Stud, Echunga, South Australia from 1958. Nearing 1980 he had progeny earnings of close to $2.3 million.
Ross du Bourg pays high tribute to Matrice providing a close parallel with Australia's history-making stallion Better Boy by stating that "Both sires had the fundamental attributes of pedigree, performance and conformation using their prepotency to transmit genes to mediocre mares initially resulting in horses of stunning racing class" also noting Matrice was considered the finest and most prepotent Australian bred stallion since Heroic who coincidentally features as Matrice's maternal great grandsire.
We will now explore Matrice's pedigree in just a little more depth to see if we can gain any clues as to what made him tick, especially looking for elements of inbreeding or common patterns or a build up of related family members. And we do not have to look very far to locate our first clue.
Both Matrice's sire Masthead and his dam La Patrice carry the same prepotent Phalaris/Scapa Flow/Swynford/Gondolette/Cyllene presences within their first 5 generations.
Matrice is also inbred to Fairway and his full-sister Fair Isle i.e.4x4 to both Phalaris and to Scapa Flow whilst at his third remove he also carries the 3/4 brothers Schiavoni and Sansovino via a 4x4 double to Swynford.
In today's terminology that sees Matrice carrying a double Rasmussen Factor, 4x4 sex-balanced to Scapa Flow and 5x4 sex-balanced to Gondolette. A clever piece of breeding indeed especially where looking to generate speed.
Sansovino is by Swynford out of Gondolette with Schiavoni being by Swynford out of Serenissima, by the Cyllene horse Minoru from Gondolette.
With a double infusion of Chaucer ( St Simon - Canterbury Pilgrim ) at his 5th generation ( contributed equally from both sides of his pedigree ) this was always going to work well for Matrice with his two prominent presences of Chaucer's 5/8ths brother Swynford because he is by St Simon's grandson John O'Gaunt and out of Canterbury Pilgrim.
This gives Matrice a quadruple cross of the legendary matriarch Canterbury Pilgrim within his first 6 generations at 6x5x5x6. Further beyond Canterbury Pilgrim, we even see her dam Pilgrimage at 7x6x7x6x6x7 and in favourable sex balance not only through daughter Canterbury Pilgrim but also through her son Loved One ( sire of Gondolette ).
We can talk about Matrice here but his pedigree build is more that of a"Matrix!"
And it doesn't end here.
He also carries a five times cross to the Ascot Gold Cup winner Cyllene whilst his maternal great grandsire Heroic carries his own intense inbreeding adding to Matrice's prepotency.
Heroic ( Valais - Chersonese, by the Cyllene horse Cylgad from Chelandry, by Goldfinch from Illuminata ) was an eyecatching chestnut horse who made his own impact on the Australian breeding scene by capturing 7 successive Australian General Sires Premierships from 1932-3 to 1938-9.
Cicero, his paternal grandsire, is a 3/4 brother to Heroic's dam Chersonese. He also carries a duplication of Cyllene in his 3rd generation, a duplication of Illuminata 4x3, four strains of Bend Or at 5x4x5x5 and three strains of Hampton at 5x4x4 to add further to the matrix.
Pedigree matrixes of this order prove potent not only in the breeding barn but also out on the racetrack.
It comes as no surprise that Matrice was well equipped armed with the right genetic arsenal to produce outright champions such as Taj Rossi and Pago Pago in addition to the outstanding sprinter Manihi who carried on to become an outstanding sire of speed.
Generally, it is the prepotent sires who prove their ability time and again to sire precocious fast maturing young horses who win the bulk of the juvenile races in both Australia and New Zealand and first Matrice and then his son Manihi aptly fitted this category.
Without doubt the potent bloodlines of Matrice had a large role to play in giving Manihi ( 1964 ) a leg up in his quest for siring glory.
Manihi was a gleaming red coloured chestnut with a coat that oozed power and somewhat more refined in appearance than his father Matrice.
Bred in South Australia, Manihi rated as one of the purest natural racing machines produced by an Australian Stud since World War II. He was also one of the most intensely inbred stallions since World War II, no doubt a large part of that being attributable to the pedigree fabric of Matrice.
As a racehorse, Manihi only had the 16 starts for 11 wins including the 1968 VRC Newmarket Stakes and as recent as 2017 was inducted into the South Australian Racing Hall Of Fame.
He was saturated in the prepotent genes of Phalaris and Scapa Flow.
A quick glimpse of his 7-generational Tesio Pedigree Chart sees him inbred twice to Fairway, once to Fairway's full-brother Pharos and once to both Fairway and Pharos's full-sister Fair Isle meaning he carried a 5x5x5x5 Rasmussen Factor to Scapa Flow through three different siblings all of whom were full-brothers and sister. Truly amazing!
In support of this, Manihi also carries a close up double of the intensely inbred Heroic at 4x5 favourably sex balanced ( for maximum potential effectiveness ) through the latter's son Ajax ( 3rd damsire of Manihi ) and daughter La Jaconde ( granddam of Matrice ).
Manihi's dam, the Newton Wonder ( from the Fairway sireline same as for Blue Peter ) mare Beauteous, also holds a line of Gondolette via her son Great Sport to add further to Manihi's Sansovino and Serenissima presences via Matrice ) which sees broodmare bluehen Gondolette sex balanced at 6x5x6 through three individual siblings ( Sansovino, Serenissima and Great Sport ).
The strong sex balanced female duplications to Scapa Flow and Gondolette are further supported with those to Canterbury Pilgrim at 7x6x6x7x7x7 ( via sons Chaucer and Swynford ), Pilgrimage at 7x7x7 ( via son Loved One and daughter Canterbury Pilgrim ) and to Waffles at 5x7 ( via daughter Bunworthy and son Manna ).
Federico Tesio would have admired the concentrated nervous energy inherent in Manihi's pedigree which no doubt reflected in his exceptional galloping acumen but at the same time also brought with it occasionally sudden waywardness, on more than one occasion careering off course like in the 1967 VRC Sires Produce Stakes, attributable to a sometimes cranky temperament, often a by-product of inbreeding.
Going into 1980 Manihi had left the winners of over $1.35 million, amongst his leading progeny were the likes of Make Mine Perfume, Man-a-Million, Pouraway, Stackaway, Subarmas, Hi Maralie, Rouge Homme, Ornithos, Matiana, Sepoy ( not the modern day namesake ), Pacific Point, Court Sabre and Mansio.
But there is one name we exclude from this list and he was the greatest of all Manihi's progeny by quite some distance and the primary reason why Manihi carried off both the Australian Leading Juvenile Sire and the combined Australia/New Zealand Juvenile Sires Premiership in the 1977-78 season.
His name, of course, was Manikato ( 1975 ), and like his paternal line of succession before him, with the exception of only Masthead, from Blue Peter through Matrice and onto Manihi, Manikato was also an imposing chestnut of majestic presence.
Bred in Campbelltown, South Australia, Manikato was a muscular , low slung burly chestnut possessing what was described as a "fluent elastic stride".
It was said that he threw to the Roman nose, strong convex head and powerful body of his paternal grandsire Matrice.
Manikato's dam Markato was by Natural Bid, a 5/8ths brother to champion North American stallion Bold Ruler ( damsire of the great Secretariat ), and one of ten stallions to stand in Australia by Nasrullah. Natural Bid's progeny earnings in Australia touched $850,000.
Many pedigree afficienados analysed the construction of Manikato's pedigree and it was generally agreed that he possessed one of the most concentrated line-breeding patterns in Australian turf history ( this comes as no surprise as we have followed the Blue Peter stirp through the likes of Matrice and Manihi ) but it did not escape notice that Manikato was bred on a similar Matrice / Nasrullah cross as was Taj Rossi before him.
Manikato was sex balanced to influential sire of speed Fair Trial at 4x4 and was a close descendant of Nearco through his dam.
He was Australian Champion 2YO in the season 1977-8 with 4 wins from 6 starts including victories in the two major juvenile targets the STC Golden Slipper Stakes and the VATC Blue Diamond Stakes.
As a 3YO Manikato was to capture the VATC Caulfield Guineas ( 1600m ), a race widely acclaimed as a stallion making race, going on to win 29 of his 47 starts and bankrolling over $1,150,000.
He won the William Reid Stakes for 5 successive seasons, a race recently renamed the Manikato Stakes in his honour.
Named the Australian Horse Of The Year in 1979 and inducted into the Australian Racing Hall Of Fame in 2002, Manikato goes down in Australian racing folklore as only the second horse after Kingston Town to win $1 million dollars in racetrack earnings but an even greater feat is that by today's race gradings Manikato would have won the equivalent of 20 Group 1's.
Winning the 1978 Caulfield Guineas would have ordinarily been great for most other horses but for Manikato there was a problem.
He had been gelded as a younger horse so the dream of what might have been had come to the end not only for Manikato but also for the great run of the Blue Peter sireline and a stark reminder that all good things come to an end.
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.