If the race is on to breed more  Bettor’s Delight mares to Art Major it might turn into a stampede the way PRINCESS TIFFANY is shaping..

It is the way of the world that as a grand racing mare, Dream About Me, passed into retirement as her close relation Adore Me had done a few years before, All Stars already seem to have a likely replacement in Princess Tiffany the most promising filly in the stable since those two stars -and  that is saying a good deal.

After all Elle Mac is still running NZ record times  and before her Spanish Armada was a truly dominant filly. Tough competition, but when you watch Princess Tiffany come from last to first to win at Menangle while they are running 26.5 off the front and then watch her annihilate her rivals in the Oaks you know you are watching something special   



Princess Tiffany is also giving an enormous boost to the Art Major -Bettors Delight cross that many expect to be a big factor in our breeding but has not had sufficient time to establish that for sure. She would be the first Group One winner for it here.

But although  Bettors Delight and Art Major are in the veteran category as stallions they have had different paths to success in New Zealand (Art Major stands in Australia)  and a lot of the horses bred on this cross have yet to race.

Both slipped in fertility in 2018, Art Major to less than 50 per cent (overall 65 per cent) and Bettor’s Delight to just under 60 per cent compared to a lifetime average here of 71 per cent.

His lowest previous fertility season was ironically enough his first at 65 per cent though this is somewhat misleading for he served only 21 mares with frozen semen and such small numbers  unbalance the true stats.

He posted two amazing years in 2013 and 2014 when serving 330 and 250 mares respectively for fertility rates of 77.5 and 82.5.

Even in his biggest year, 2007, when he served over 340 mares, he topped 76 per cent in fertility, quite a staggering achievement.

Art Major, sometimes maligned for the wrong reasons, is not helped by the fact he has served only half as many mares as Bettor’s Delight, leaving his first foals here three years after the perennial champion (2006) though both hardly got off to flying starts.  

In his first three seasons Art Major, not of course based here, served just 86 mares.

Bettor’s Delight took his time to strike too. In his first four seasons available to local breeders only by frozen semen he left a total of 76 foals. But they did enough for when he arrived in person.

In the next two seasons he left over 500

His ability to leave both fillies and colts of the highest class and plenty of them has been the difference between his record and Art Major’s

One of the first Art Major stars here was Major Mark from the 2007 crop of just 16 foals and  he was fairly sensational at about the same time Sushi Sushi was starring in Australia. Then juvenile stars like Follow the Stars, Sky Major, Fight for Glory, Messini, Isaiah etc- many of them developed by All Stars -followed and most of them went on to  great things at three. But the “wise word” was that Art Majors did not “go on” compared to say, Bettor’s Delights, as older horses.

It has substance but there is more to it than that.



Last season in New Zealand Art Major out performed Bettor’s Delight with two year olds by some measures chiefly a higher percentage of starters to foals and a higher percentage of winners to foals. He left 10 winners from 133 foals and Bettor’s Delight 14 but from 211.

In truth while many might quiver at the suggestion, it can be argued Bettor’s Delight is not the greatest of  sires of two year olds either,here or in the US. Terrific by most standards but not necessarily his own. It may actually be one key to his great success.

Among the list of his highest earners in Breeders literature,  almost all, when coming to their list of major wins start with their deeds as three year olds.

Yes, we all know he has left brilliant juveniles including the unbeaten Dream About Me and plenty of others. But  horses like Adore Me , Beautide, Bit of a Legend, Chicago Bull, Have Faith In Me, Tiger Tara, Gold Ace, Arden Rooney Ohoka Punter  all have their major wins starting in their second season. Some of them did not even race at two.

But they developed  from two to three to four to five where critics claim Art Major’s don’t shine the same way. Statistics back that up but in recent times the old story of the self fulfilling prophecies has been coming to light.

Rather ironically it is All Stars, the driver of so much of Art Major juvenile popularity (Mark rated him the standout stallion in America in an earlier visit there) whose performers cast  doubts about the prevailing thinking.



They took later millionaire Sushi Sushi -dismissed by many as a young hit wonder in spite of him coming over to New Zealand and dealing to New Zealand’s best in the Woodlands Derby -to within a short space of winning a New Zealand Cup and had he had better luck he could easily have done so. He had won the Kaikoura Cup at his previous start. The Addington win  would have changed perception right there.

More recently Titan Banner and Eamon Maguire have shown plenty of resilience as older horses as has Star Galleria to a lesser extent. In Australia of course one of Art Major’s early stars, For A Reason posted 1.58 at two but broke 1.50 as a four year old and won a Victoria Cup and Queensland Pacing Championship as an older horse as well as placing in two Inter Dominion Finals.

In the past year Field Marshall, whose damsire traces to Bettor’s Delight’s grandsire, Cam Fella,  has turned the idea on its head by running the fastest mile ever recorded in Australasia as a six year old. Ouch!.

It is the old story. You breed/buy  a horse to be a two year old probably on type, , train it to be a two year old, and it puts a lot of his/her  resources into that. That can tell against a later career. Modern records show very few horses survive uninterrupted campaigns at the highest level at two, three and four and go on to greater things as aged horses. There are only so many shots in the locker. It took something of the stature of Lazarus to be the exception.

So the  stock of Art Major, whose sire Artsplace had his best season as a four year old (and in his last three races cleaned up the biggest older age races in North America), are expected to “get up and go” and  can be quite happy to oblige.

The other aspect to this  is that both stallions are huge successes in America where performance up until four years old is at a premium. Yes the American Horse of the Year is 7 but it won’t help him when he goes back to stud.

So the combination of the more precocious speed of Art Major with the ability of Bettor’s Delight stock to mature sometimes more slowly but with long term gains looks a marriage made in heaven.

Pedigree wise there are multiple crosses of Albatross and a double up of Artsplace’s sire Abercrombie but it is all looking good, especially as Princess Tiffany’s dam, Dancing Diamonds, herself a winner of the PGG Wrightson 2yo filly feature, was one of the early Bettor’s Delight mares go to stud.

There must be many Bettor’s Delight mare owners pleased with the results so far. And then there is Art Major’s best Down Under son, Vincent, waiting in the wings as well. If ever there was an aged pacing star in the making it was he

Princess Tiffany is the second success from Dancing Diamonds, first foal Rock Diamonds being good  in Perth. Both were bred by Braeden and Caroline Whitelock who bought Dancing Diamonds as a yearling from southern breeders Phil Creighton (who holds a racing share in Princess Tiffany) and Stu Gillan who own Asabella, dam also of Code Red.

Here it is essential to note that this is a rather famous filly family as has been widely publicised. Asabella’s dam Bellisimo, came  through 7 race winner and close to 2.00 mare,Krina Belle.

She was a daughter of Bellajilly a NZ Derby  winner for the Cecil Devine stable for Nick Matyasevic, a colourful Christchurch restaurant owner. Bellajilly was famously brought back to NZ (cheaply) by Jim Dalgety in foal to Most Happy Fella and produced Jovial Jeannie as her first foal for him.

She was the first filly to win the NZ Derby in 21 years and it  took a further 19 for another filly to win, Hilarious Guest in 1982 one of the best age group fillies in our history. There  have been none since. With diverse opportunities few now try.

There was more. Bellajilly’s dam, Malabella, was another  smart if unpredictable filly for Devine her record not fully appreciated  in the days when she competed with males virtually every start.

She still left Van Glory a Cup class mare  up with the very best of the males. She was the granddam of a sensational filly in Under Cover Lover who competed with  the highest class in the US as a youngster in a historic campaign. Another granddaughter produced Bettor Cover Lover.

A “Me Too” equine story then -with bells on !

Van Glory was a tough customer running in 85 races most of them in top company. She won the NI Oaks  and later broke two minutes winning the Standardbred Breeders Stakes. At two she beat brilliant filly Roydon Roux and as an aged mare was twice fourth in the Easter Cup, once to stablemate Robalan. She set two outright NZ records against the boys in her time. She was bred and raced by Nick Matyasevic who died during the latter stages of her career. She was sold to Australia but repurchased by Spreydon Lodge.

Malabella’s dam, Mala, was a brilliant but erratic filly originally trained by Maurice Holmes and later Ken Chapman in the early days of his training career. Her manners proved just too much of a challenge in the long run.

But her dam, a grey of uncertain history  called Krina, owned and trained by then famous horseman,Nelson Price, was an outstanding racemare running 2.13 on the grass at Ashburton when that was one quick race mile.

She left a number of good fillies as well as  a colt, Sprayman, who was the best two year old of his year. But if you have an option with this family you would go with a filly.

Just to show how long the thread of this female family stretches back  the only thing known about Krina was that her sire was the Australian -bred Jewel Chimes who later came to New Zealand.

His dam however, Jewel’s Heiress, a free legged pacer, was imported from the United States and at one stage came over to race at Addington more than a century ago. She started from a long mark in a big field and set an Australasian record for an unhoppled pacing mare.

It was her second start of the day. Two races previously she had taken on the best male pacers in Australasia in the Champion Handicap.

No wonder this family is “Girl Power” in capital letters. Princess Tiffany is here to remind us.



There’s always a keen sense of anticipation when the first crop of a horse like Sweet Lou go to the races.

Sweet Lou was a freakish champion pacer (1.47, no fractions!) and his stud career has started well in North America. In fact he is the first sire in history there to have both a filly and a colt in the 1.50 list as two year olds, even if one is suffering from the name of Warrawee Ubeaut-true though that  name is proving to be. He had 80 starters last year and left 30 in the 1.55 list including two year old of the year. Not surprising perhaps given what a champion he was at 2 himself, but encouraging.

Now it starts here with his two year olds and again there is a strong sense of optimism. Trainers like them-always a very good sign- and Woodlands marketing expert  Stacey Markham tells me he had a very strong full book of mares this year.

That is important because this is the year when a lot of breeders pause and think “Well, I will just see how they go at the races before I go back there” - a challenge for any first season pacing stallion.

Sweet on Me, the daughter of Adore Me, is a lovely filly who makes her debut in Auckland this week  and Virgil, who only came out of the sale ring last May, made a big impression on his debut at Addington and his second up run this week will attract a lot of interest.



So if you were principals of Woodlands Stud and it looked very much like you had scored another pacing sire triumph following Bettor’s Delight and American Ideal  you would be feeling on good terms with yourself.

This is a big deal for Woodlands. It owns a big band of broodmares, many by Bettor’s Delight and American Ideal and finding an outcross of similar class is crucial to its future. 55 of the mares who have produced offspring to Sweet Lou so far are by Bettor’s Delight.

The elephant in the room for a number of breeders with Sweet Lou is his pedigree . But is it any problem really ?

Sure, his sire Yankee Cruiser, who you can breed to in Ohio this season for $US3000, is not a household name or a game changer.

He stood for several years at Hanover Farms but has been  at various Ohio studs in recent years. A number of Kiwi breeders will recall the deeds of his sire Artiscape in this country  with suspicion considering his great success everywhere else-though there were mitigating factors.

And yes, he is from a mare by another unknown quantity in this part of the world in Falcon’s Future -a son of Falcon Seelster-followed by  a mare by Nero , an erratic horse whose stock did not have much success Down Under. Then came quite a successful stallion called Fly Fly Byrd. Hardly  Hall of Fame material you could say.

But there are two sides to every story.

PS I should have noted here that Sweet Future the dam of Sweet Lou was twice Pacing Broodmare of the Year (2011,2012) thru the deeds of Sweet Lou and her Bettor’s Delight son Bettor’s Future a top older horse. I was referring only to fashion (Sweet Lou was a $38,000 yearling) which is not always the same as performance and hence the importance of outcross stallions.

“Outcross” stallions are not new to New Zealand and not new to success. It’s all in the timing and Sweet Lou’s timing looks spot on

New Zealand studs got away with some real doozies in earlier eras  when it came to unfashionable pedigrees. Logan Pointer one of the most successful sires of the 20th century in spite of dying at 9, was by the stud failure Star Pointer who was the first horse to run two minutes but whose controversial (read unfashionable) pedigree meant his fame stopped right there.

Dillon Hall, another famous stallion of last century, had a sire (The Laurel Hall) whom the Americans passed on to Italy  which tells you why Dillon Hall, a 2 minute performer, came to New Zealand. Vance Hanover was a virtual orphan when he arrived in New Zealand unraced, the sons of Albatross being a mixed bag everywhere after a brilliant start and his sire line already fading. Vance Hanover won 9 premierships. There are other examples.

Some leading American breeders regard Somebeachsomewhere and even Albatross as outcross sires largely because of the families they came from (Somebeachsomewhere was from a mare who cost $6000) but wisely point out that whenever the standardbred seems bred into a corner a suitable outcross always comes along. So it has been for about 200 years.

Yankee Cruiser was a champion two year old and a hard hitting three year old whose season was saved by winning the North American Cup a $1m Canadian feature. Beside Sweet Lou he has sired a 1.47.4 pacer, Dancin Yankee,who was still winning good races aged 8.

Yankee Cruiser’s female line were a mixed bag and largely shone in Sires Stakes races. His dam was by Jate Lobell,a great racehorse and very successful sire though only really  influential now through his daughters who did great things. His sons did well in Australia through Safely Kept and Village Jasper, both, incidentally, from Abercrombie mares.

Mares by Abercrombie’s son Artsplace have crossed well with Bettor’s Delight (Border Control; Carabella) and he is of course the sire of Art Major a favourite to combine well with Bettor’s Delight mares in some quarters though it still has work to do.

The very popular Vincent is by Art Major from a a mare by Safely Kept so on a similar if next generation cross to Yankee Cruiser

Artiscape, sire of Yankee Cruiser and who is still available to breeders, has left 40 in 1.50 and 8 millionaires. His dam by the super tough On the Road Again was a world champion fiilly and the best racehorse he left. Also a fine broodmare. On the Road Again won  44 of 61 starts and 18 of 26 at three when Pacer of the year. He was phenomenally tough for that era.

Artiscape’s  New Zealand experience was not as bad as sometimes painted.

He had frozen semen available at a high price ($8500 in 2001!) but had only 13 takers in his first season and then 84 and 77 mares in the next two seasons.

Shuttled for two years from 2005 he left in all only 218 foals here. Only two won more than $100,000 -both, Fight Fire With Fire and Steve McQueen  trained at All Stars-but he did leave 90 winners in all. His foals here tended to be light boned according the the good judges. But he has been a lot better stallion than he showed here.

Artsplace scarcely needs an introduction but his race career is worth consideration because like Sweet Lou he was a champion two year old and also like Sweet Lou while his three year old career was  successful (10 of 15) setbacks affected him in the big ones and dulled his image.

His owners decided to race him again at 4 when he won all 16 starts at the highest level (Breeders Crown, US Pacing Championship) and took his earnings to over $US3m being 1992 Horse of the Year.

His 1.49.4 in the Breeders Crown was the fastest race mile ever run His grandson Art Official (Art Major) ran 1.47 in 2008 (at 3) then the fastest ever for one of his age. The old Adios speed had survived well.

After that sensational year Artsplace   was voted by experts the 10th greatest pacer of all time (the fans voted him 12th,still memorable considering). Sweet Lou’s later career echoed this routine to a remarkable degree. As comparisons go its a nice one to have.

Always B Miki, the other supremely fast American pacer at stud in New Zealand currently, is from an Artsplace mare. He fills the same role with Captain Treacherous, Rock n Roll Heaven, Sunshine Beach and others. Artsplace mares have been especially successful with Somebeachsomewhere and a Abercrombie mare left Mach Three

Artsplace’s biggest achievement though was further restoring the Adios line through Abercrombie.

It is worth knowing about Sweet Lou that Abercrombie , a freakish speed horse, was by a relative failure as a stallion in Silent Majority who was by another mediocre stallion Henry T Adios. As the US experts say something always comes up when breeding options seem to have been cornered.

With that in mind Sweet Lou is on his way to proving there is nothing new under the sun.



I can almost hear the sighs. Oh no, not this again.

Another Masterpiece, champion two year old of 2018, is by Bettor’s Delight from a Christian Cullen mare. Like Lazarus. Like-well nearly every youngster popular at the sales and in big races  these days. Nothing to see here ?

Not  quite.

Because once you get past that oh so fashionable cross ,things get a bit interesting.

Another Masterpiece’s dam Elegant Art is the last Kiwi bred mare in the family. After that it is all USA. Like a surprising number of top buys by All Stars over the years.

And that USA family is not one of ordinary performers. In fact Another Masterpiece’s third dam TOWN PRO was the champion American two year old filly of 1989 and the champion three year old  filly of 1990 as well as being a Canadian Horse of the Year and the first to win back to back Breeder’s Crowns filly finals.

In 2004 she was elected to the Hall of Fame. She lived until 2014.

Town Pro won 12 of her 13 starts at two and 14 of 17 starts at three. Beside her ability she was extraordinarily tough.

How tough ? Well Steve Williams who managed White Birch Farm where Town Pro spent her breeding days after being bought by Joe Parisi when she retired, recalled she had had three serious colic attacks all of which required surgery and in two of of them she was carrying a foal at the time. In both cases she safely delivered the foal. Williams reckoned she just didn’t show pain.Except toward him.

Her outstanding winner was Darlins Delight who won over $US2.9m but she left  12 winners from 17 foals altogether. Some tough.

Williams, and other handlers, also recalled how Town Pro was a “madam” with her immediate custodians, ready to kick bite and be hostile whenever they appeared. They thought it was because she associated them with pain while casual visitors were usually treated with respect. Maybe she just wanted to be left alone like Greta Garbo.

Town Pro had been bought by trainer Stew Firlotte for $US60,000 as a yearling because Firlotte had had considerable success with her dam Programmed.

Programmed developed into the champion aged pacing mare  in Canada and retired the highest earning daughter of the great Bret Hanover, no less.

Town Pro in turn was the richest racehorse by her sire Big Towner.

Big Towner was an outcross horse once hailed as the saviour of the breed. A $5,700 buy as a yearling he was handy at two, good at three and outstanding as an older horse.

Having no Meadow Skipper blood and from the Bert Abbe sireline through Gene Abbe he was hailed as the most likely outcross horse of his generation at a time when Hal Dale blood overkill was starting to worry many breeders.

He was certainly successful though he fell short of the expectations overall, even after topping some broodmare sire lists. Programmed was out of a Meadow Skipper mare.

The family owes a lot to Tallulah Hanover whose influence in New Zealand was extended by her sons, Morris Eden and Good Time Eden both imported by Noel Simpson. She was also the granddam of Columbia George a champion US  racehorse, notably brave under fire, but not of great influence at stud.

Apart from the trotter Dupreez,Good Time Eden did not make a great impression . But Morris Eden, whose stock could be erratic  but had the famous Adios speed, will always be remembered for leaving MOUNT EDEN, a horse of such sensational speed his performances have been, relatively speaking, rarely matched in Australasia.

When horses of much superior racing records are almost forgotten nobody who saw Mount Eden will ever forgot him.

The 1971 Miracle Mile winner caused a sensation at Addington that year when he was the star of the Inter Dominion series -without even making the final !

After doing 1.58.8 for a mile in training at Addington -a time which would have won  any mile race in Australasia at that time -and making some sensational recoveries with phenomenal sectionals from bad starts in the heats, trainer Jack Miles sent him against time, hoping to get an invite to the Miracle Mile.

The attempt was delayed five hours because of a waterlogged track and then the galloping pacemaker was not up to the task. Mount Eden still ran the mile in 1.56.8 on a wet surface, close to Cardigan Bay’s NZ record at the time (1.56.6) and just sensational for a four year old in that era in those conditions.

Even when winning the Miracle Mile he earned the invitation to he lost around 40m at the start and beat stars like Stella Frost pointlessly. His starts were always his problem. Not all Morris Eden’s fault by the way. Mount Eden’s  damline, largely developed by Allan Holmes, were horses of great speed who could also be horses with a mind of their own.

Mount Eden was sold to the US for the then sensational price of $300,000.  In his heyday he could pull a crowd of 5000 in Perth to watch him perform.

Not at the races. At trials !.

Morris Eden stock never shook the reputation for being a little unpredictable though one of his daughters left Final Curtain, a big winner for the Purdon stable.

Another Masterpiece on the other hand is utterly reliable as his record of being only once out of the top four in his life indicates.

Maybe when the chips are down that essential toughness of Town Pro pops up in the genes and is the  factor that makes the difference.

Heredity can be a wonderful thing.



Though not hogging the headlines like some of his stablemates the successful summer of Funatthebeach is significant in a number of ways.

Firstly he has now topped $100,000 in earnings for current owners, Trevor Casey and Peter Hailes. And of course he would have added to a glorious summer for  Neil Pilcher a late owner of Funatthebeach, and of course also of Turn it Up.

Perhaps even more notably Funatthebeach was bred by Braeden and Caroline Whitelock  of Princess Tiffany, O Baby etc fame. Not only that but he descends from the Gamble mare Margaret Gamble whose fortunes became essential to the Whitelock’s great success as breeders and owners- in more ways than one.

Given the age group wins that have underpinned that success what follows is especially interesting.

The tradition stems from Caroline Whitelock’s father,Nelson Dalzell, a Pacific War veteran (wounded) and an All Back in the tradition of the great New Zealand ironman forwards from the country. Farming at Culverden he was also to become a hobby trainer and breeder.-more or less by accident.

He was grazing a 1 win (at Reefton) mare Margaret Gamble, served by Fallacy, for Jim Donnithorne and Noel Foulkes and bought her from them for $10- though Donnithorne came into a partnership with him.

The first foal, Moose (Fallacy), started a trend, rather sensationally  winning the inaugural Rangiora Raceway Stakes for two year olds, first up for trainer Lester Frost at 30/1. As an older mare she became Dalzell’s first training success winning five races in all and placing behind some high quality horses.

Nelson  kept the ball rolling so to speak, retaining her for breeding on his own account while Donnithorne took on  some of the subsequent foals of the tribe. Phillmark (7 wins) was one of the last horses trained by Ron Donald who had once been one of New Zealand’s leading horsemen. Aufleem,trained by Nelson Dalzell to win the Rangiora Handicap in her racing days,was another.

Donnithorne, who died in 1983, raced some notable youngsters from this family even though Margaret Gamble lacked any speed herself.Perhaps it came from Gamble who also features in the Good Chase and Chase Auckland stories.

Kiwi Hostess, a Yankee Express daughter of Aufleem, won the then highly anticipated first two year old feature of the season at the  NZ Cup meeting, the Springtime Stakes. Phillmark won the Golden Slipper Stakes at Waimate; ran second in the Timaru Nursery Stakes and won the Sapling Stakes. At three she won the  Charles Cross Stakes at Addington-all major features in that era. Lomondu Host, a brother to Prime Hostess-both from Kiwi Hostess and both by Noodlum- won the Timaru Nursery Stakes, and Prime Hostess the Golden Slipper, then a highly featured race.

Remarkably Moose’s first raced foal (by Dalzell) , Golden Moose, then became the  leading juvenile of his year winning five races in the 1972-73 season, a rare feat in those days. At three he won the Champion Stakes. Yet Dalzell needed some luck to get him.

Moose had earlier produced Lady Moose to Lordship but she never raced. Then she had twins who died and missed again before producing Golden Moose. She died foaling the following year.

But what Lady Moose missed out on on the racetrack she more than made up for at stud,

Her outstanding list of foals -most by  El Patron-included a filly called Lady El, one of the most brilliant mares of the mid 1980’s whose ability far outshone even her outstanding record.

Trained by Robin Butt she was could be quite erratic at times, and a real handful. At one stage she was banned from even mobile starts. But boy, did she have a motor !

Raced on lease by Butt and Peter Andrews, she was just stunning on Cup Day 1985, when  stablemate Camelot won the big one. Set alight by Robin over 2600m she ran her first mile in a then sensational 2.00.4, causing havoc among the clockers in the Press Box, and  led all the way in n 3.15.2 beating the national all comers record held by Bonnies Chance and Steel Jaw, no less-and in a supporting race !

She was the four year old Mare of the Year and later ran with distinction in the Inter Dominion Championships in Australia against some of the toughest male pacers of the time.

She might have also won a Pan Am Mile given the chance.She only made the Consolation which she won easily by three lengths in 1.58.4. Norton won the Final in 1.58 and by a lot less than three lengths. Her brother, Diamond Moose (two Kaikoura Cups, 2nd Easter Cup, a giant of a horse) was brought down in Camelot’s Cup and Lord Moose (Play Bill) reached the verge of Cup class.

Magic Moose, Lady El’s best race foal, began an  association with the Purdon stable (Mark was her driver) and time trialled in 1.58.3. She  had a lot of bad luck in the breeding field but left Minnie Moose, who didn’t win at two but ran a mighty fourth to Bettor Cover Lover in the Harness Jewels that season. Three years later she would run second to the same horse in the Harness Jewels for 5yo + mares

Unlike some mares Minnie Moose, tough and fast, relished racing against the males and many of the earlier family traits developed by Nelson Dalzell are still with her.

Minnie Moose has a half -brother to Funatthebeach offered through Breckon Farms at the upcoming sales by Art Major. That old Moose two year old magic should shine from that mating,

The Moose tribe has looked like fading into history several times and at one stage Nelson Dalzell tried mating Golden Moose with his close relations without success,  but Nelson’s daughters, Caroline Whitelock,and Jo Higginson have kept it alive in various partnerships over the years, sometimes with little reward but always with determination. That has brought its own reward.

We can add that Funatthebeach is bred on the same Somebeachsomewhere-Bettor’s Delight cross as the first star of such a mating, Waikiki Beach, and that he was also raced in partnership by Trevor Casey and Neil Pilcher. But that is a sidelight to this story.

Like the Whitelock /Higginson sporting triumphs, the story of the enduring Moose family is all about the  DNA-human and equine

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ENHANCE YOU CALM has always been good. Gavin Smith knew he was good when he placed him on the market with a 6 figure tag and Mark Purdon knew he was good when he drove him in a trial and paid it. Since then Enhance Your Calm has had five starts and five wins. And now back from a spell he looks ready for an even more impressive three year old campaign for Danny and Joanne Davitzanos having filled into his frame in outstanding fashion during his spell.

But it wasn’t that long ago Enhance You Calm’s legacy hung by a very slender thread indeed in spite of the best efforts of Roydon Lodge, Dr Gunn and that trotting man of letters, Philip Iggo.

Back in the 1990’s a mare called Rebecca Bret, a rare trotter by Knowing Bret (even though he was bred on a Worthy Boy-Guy Abbey cross that suggested it was on he didn’t leave trotters) ) , was making her mark just below the top level. Her dam, not raced and not bred to trot, was by the unfashionable pacer Blue Morano from a daughter of a mare whose dam had an Australasian pedigree through Globe Derby having been returned to New Zealand. Cross County’s third dam, Auriaga, would be best known as a sister to the outstanding-near great considering his problems-pacer, Young Charles, who excelled as a sire. But not of trotters. Back in the early days there had been top trotters in this family but not recently. Famous Sydney horseman Jack Watts bred from this mare and the Noel Simpson stepped in returning her to Yendarra Stud Otahuhu

Bred from by Dr Gunn. Rebecca Bret’s first foal was her best, being Evander Bret a good winner, but her chances of being an influential producer then took several severe knocks. Her second foal went to the US and her next filly, Sooty, died at three. Then the next, Joffra Girl only had one foal, a colt,who never raced. What price history ?

By this time Phillip Iggo, who stood Gee Whiz at stud, was breeding from Rebecca Bret and he had a change of luck (or expertise).He bred the mare to the Rona and Clive McKay -imported trotting stallion Holdonmyheart a lot better racehorse than his record says. What is more when he went to stud he had the advantage of being by Valley Victory the at times troubled but superb son of Baltic Speed who sired Muscles Yankee. Even this season Holdonmyheart has a respectable place on the broodmare sires list.

The rest of the team were not so lucky. Eight subsequent matings produced no further produce.

Phillip named the foal ,rather colourfully, as Shimmie Shook Shook and it was a predictive title. Ok so 2 wins from 45 didn’t set the world alight but it is what happened next that counted.

After that it switched to Roydon Lodge and Trish Dunell. Roydon Lodge bred five foals from Shimmie Shook Shook. The first , All Shook Up, owned by Dunell, won five races but her produce record has been somewhat disastrous. The second foal died at two, the 4th never bred;the 5th has a close blood relation to Enhance Your Calm in Karolina. Nothing since has raced. The joys of breeding

In between was All Settled Down, maybe not quite as relaxed as her name suggested, but owned and trained by Gavin Smith and a good performer for that astute trainer. His wife Sarah went on record to breed her to Majestic Son ,combining lines of Speedy Scot with some local outcrosses. But there was something different in between.

It was only after a one race career All Settled Down went to the breeding shed, returning to racing in 2016. The resulting foal was Enhance Your Calm like Rebecca Bret and Evander Bret a first foal. So far he is the only foal but as a Sundon mare with so many options that should not last long


It is  not rare   for one human family to be responsible for the making of the reputation of one equine one. There are countless examples of one stud making an entire breed popular for several eras.

But it is when that era ends that things can go pear shaped. Unless another human family comes along with faith in the equine one.

In this story that is Tony and Anne Parker of Auckland, breeders of Chase Auckland(and of course his sire Auckland Reactor) restored an almost forgotten family to the headlines.

Chase Auckland was not only the star three year old last season he was the best horse to race from his family in a long time. A family that was once a household word in New Zealand standardbred breeding . It was run by run by honourable and popular people but they could not prevent it gradually slipping into obscurity.

The equine family concerned was virtually made by the Gamble mare  Rosewood, who never raced and for some time wasn’t even in the Stud Book. Oscar Watson and his sons John and Dennis from Annat were responsible for fixing that.

Oscar bought a mare Peggywood cheaply from Alby Rushton then based at Addington. She was by Parkwood a smart Ribbonwood line horse that came over to Addington from Australia with Peter Riddle in the 1920’s  along with the NZ Cup winner Sheik.

Peggywood’s dam line was  obscure and not qualified for the  Stud Book but there were some very strong stallions in the pedigree notably Wildwood and an old -time popular stallion Viking, also an import from Australia. .  Peggy Wood’s first foal, Lady Ngaio, went well enough to be granted admission to the Stud Book after posting standard time. Unhappily she died in an accident before breeding. So it was all over to her full sister Rosewood to do the right thing.

Her sire was all-American bred,Gamble, a horse so handsome his stable used to  parade him just for inspection as a yearling to satisfy demand even though already sold. He could be a little tricky, but his Hollywood looks took him to a win in the NZ Derby and a NZ Cup placing.He never  quite lived up to the hype on the track ,probably because of soundness issues from an injury. He did very well at stud.

Oscar Watson then cashed in on the U Scott-Light Brigade cross, a key to his success being sticking to certain theories and not being afraid to invest in the best horses.

Rosewood responded by leaving  8 winners from 12 named foals, nine of them fillies, starting with Red Chase (Light Brigade) then Rosy Morn, who left the very good pacer, Bluff, Twig, Spring Chat  etc.

But of her two most famous daughters, Torlesse and Wee Doll, the former never raced and the latter might as well not have bothered. At stud it was a different story altogether

Wee Doll really hit it off with Light Brigade’s son Forward who had no U Scott blood and nothing of Gamble’s sire Jack Potts. Her first foal, topliner Avante, won 12 and the third, Adorato, won 7 when 10 was cup class. Soldato matched that. Others were also good.

However it was another Rosewood daughter, by U Scott, Torlesse,  who topped the family feats by producing Good Chase to Light Brigade ,a three quarter brother to Red Chase and the supreme three year old of his era trained and driven by Dennis Watson for his father. He matched  Gamble’s Derby win against a high class field. A half- brother set a Wrightson Sales record for a colt (a whole $9500) Oscar Watson having refused to take less than $2000 for the handsome black Good Chase himself as a yearling taking him home instead. Good judgement

Good Chase was leased to America at 4 as the boom pacer in the country and over there  he was also up with the very best. Before leaving NZ he served 20 mares and left 11 winners including stars like Hardcraft and Willie Win classic winners both of whom had success as sires. When he returned to Rosewood Stud it seemed another glorious chapter in the relatively short history of that establishment  would be written.

Already the Rosewood tribe, rated 232 among successful families in NZ when the statistics were compiled in the 1940’s had risen to 57 when a similar compilation was made in Australia in the 1970’s.

But it didn’t happen.

There were fewer stars by Good Chase than expected (though still several good ones, Armbro Wings, Kintyre, James Hadley etc) The stud also tried mating Good Chase with mares also from the Rosewood  tribe and it generally didn’t go well.

As a broodmare sire Good Chase claimed Starship, Millies Brother and Unique Blue Chip. Starship had a double cross of U Scott through Lordship and Morano of whom more later. Millie Chase’s dam was bred on the Light Brigade-U Scott cross also.

Even though the stud was still producing track stars like Watbro, Rosewood Dale etc retaining fillies and trying to make things work economically with a stallion when smaller studs were under pressure from  places like Nevele R became a struggle.

A number of smaller studs did not survive the change and Rosewood became one of them.

John (deceased)  and especially Dennis Watson remained close to racing, breeding and administration but no longer in a professional capacity

There were various explanations forthcoming for Good Chase’s anti climactic career some of them critical of  American methods (though nobody could explain why so many similarly trained stallions from there  are wildly successful at stud here ). In reality the oversimplified one was that a breeding era (Volomite over Scotland with Jack Potts and Globe Derby lines as sidelights)  was simply at an end and the industry was headed in new directions. Those directions required the major investment in higher grade imports and big breeding numbers to justify it. Smaller studs were out on a limb and the limb was being chopped off.

In a relatively short time the Rosewood family lapsed almost into obscurity. In 2018 not one horse from the family was offered at the sales- but it didn’t give in so easily.

Appropriately enough it was the potency  the Light Brigade /U Scott cross that had made it  years before which was to play a crucial role in the return of the Rosewood line.

One of Rosewood’s filly foals, Suntrap (Light Brigade), a good winner, was sold by the stud to Sir Roy McKenzie for $3000, a considerable sum in those days even though it was before Good Chase raced.  She was in foal to the brilliant if erratic U Scott horse Morano. Sir Roy was unimpressed with the foal and virtually gave it away.

Some years later, as Sunshine Boy, he became a sensation winning nine races in his first 12 starts. Roydon Lodge bred one other foal from Suntrap, who was a shy breeder, called Floral Barmin also by Morano by U Scott . Roydon Lodge then called time on  the Rosewood breed.

From there the Chase Auckland trail comes very much through the efforts of the Parkers. Floral Barmin went first to Puketutu Island stud but the Scotland line (it stood a grandson, Royal Scotchman) was fading rapidly. However  the Parkers took her over and found a way back.

They bred Floral Barmin to Tay Bridge. Talk about U Scott. Tay Bridge was by Lordship (who was from a U Scott mare) and from ace broodmare Black Watch who was by the U Scott horse Scottish Command -added to another U Scott strain in  Morano through Floral Barmin of course. Who said you could have too much of a good thing ?

From a New York Motoring mating the resulting foal, Border Coral, left  Danse de Feu who won four and was the dam of Dreaming Spires who was to play a more important role in the Rosewood comeback.

She is the dam of Hug the Wind a high class performer for All Stars and no doubt a good reason for Mark and Natalie to be encouraged to look at the yearling by the Parker-bred Auckland Reactor out of Hug the Wind’s half-sister Delica.

And so Chase Auckland came to Rolleston-and the Rosewood breed came home to the top rung of three year olds where Good Chase had ruled so long ago. And if Chase Auckland can equal his ancestor as a four year old there is a lot more to come.

The breeding maxim “never knock a horse until it is dead-and even then quietly ” never rang so true.



Setting up matings for pacers these days seems a cinch. Either breed something to Bettor’s Delight or Art Major or select from the short list of top credentialled newcomers. With trotting matings ?- not so easy.

There are at times an almost bewildering list of horses to choose from, many of the top ones by frozen semen only and therefore expensive and to the casual observer trotting stallions seem to go in and out of fashion (and back in) rapidly. Most of them are from the USA; have pedigrees full of familiar names but such a host of “crosses” remembering them all is not easy.

Since  they all trace to  Volomite or Scotland way back when, the easiest way to appear an expert is to refer to the value of this ancient cross - and hope nobody starts asking questions!

There  used to be a lot of “Axworthy’s” in the mix but not now as a male line.

Developing top trotting breeding lines is a long and patient task -take a random look at the stud book matings and you will see what we mean- and finding the right formula tricky, especially now the days of Sundon have passed.

All the more remarkable then that the able Sundon mare Pocaro should leave three winners for breeder Trevor Casey in virtually two weeks-all by different sires.

Missandei, outstanding as a young trotter (Harness Jewels) , is by Angus Hall; Westeros. a later developer but with potential, by  Muscles Yankee; and Kings Landing, potentially the best of all, by the latter’s son Muscle Hill.

The unusual treble caps off  a great decade for what was once a fairly weak branch of a very strong  family.

It was  restored first by Dr Cliff Irvine and his then wife Faye, who tried a daring breeding cross and came up trumps ; and latterly Casey, with  long time breeding partner, Gary Allan, have given the family a big kick along with their many partnerships.

The family had produced the odd nice trotter over many years without beating drums before the Irvines went for a close up double cross  (always a tad risky temperament wise) putting the speedy but highly erratic U Scott mare, Ailsa Craig, whose raceday antics riled many a punter; to Cliff’s own Cup class horse Light Mood who was from the high class  U Scott mare, In the Mood, ironically a Billy Doyle- trained pacer.

The result, Kimmer, was the dam of Tussle, who after a slow start dominated the trotting of her era. Another of Kimmer’s foals, Sure Thing, was Gary Allan’s starting point in the family with a host of well performed “Galleons” to follow.

But Kimmer was also  a half-sister to Flying Ailsa a smart pacing mare who, mated to the Australian pacing star, Bay Foyle, left Flying Bay. Unraced like her daughter Game Flyer, the latter produced Trevor Casey’s first headline horse Africa, winner of nearly $250,000 trotting.Bay Foyle, incidentally, also  left the freakish NZ Trotting Stakes winner, Kotare Gunner from a pacing bred mare but as he was a Volomite line horse the blood was there.

Fortunately Trevor had taken the precaution of buying a lightly raced sister to Africa from breeders Ernie and Jenny Knight in Niamey. “Lightly raced” is an euphemism for a short and disastrous mid-winter campaign at Addington as a five year old. But Trevor’s thinking was  spot on in the breeding department and along with Ken Barron (who later opted out of the breeding side) and Allan set about proving the point.

Just as well. Africa never left a foal.

But Niamey has left star trotter Pocaro (bred on the same cross as Allegro Agitato, Martina H, Sundofthedon, Waterloo Sunset etc and raced by Trevor in partnership) as her second foal. Pocaro added to the family Harness Jewels record winning as a three year old.

Multi  Jewels placegetter and multiple G1 placed Springbank Sam was next; then  Australian soldier Sun of Anarchy, and Daenerys Targaryen, a three quarter sister to Missandei  who won the Redwood Classic for Trevor.More recently Sam Galleon has done well.

Now Pocaro in turn has a 100 per cent strike rate as a broodmare. Good business. Since Kings Landing she has had two fillies, Mercandante (Majestic Son) whose trials last season (3yo) were not encouraging to be fair, and Mexicali a yearling by Muscle Mass.

Tussle left some smart trotters but only one filly, who was the dam of De Gaulle. Horses like Heyzeal, The Widowmaker etc have come along in later generations but it has been hard work.

The family is distantly connected to that of  Trevor’s other current star, Winterfell, who is from Una Bromac. A first foal and only trotter from her dam there was no trotter  in 4 generations of her pedigree but she has left six of them herself so far including the brilliant Escapee.

She appeared to be the first tried trotter in her immediate family since Billy Bunter an Out to Win  duffer of 1976 who was tried trotting in poor company and never placed in 9 appearances. This branch of the NO 1 family was made famous by pacers like Christian Cullen. We doubt even Trevor or Gary could have got him to trot.

But you see what we mean about trotting’s mysterious ways. At the moment Trevor Casey seems the Pied Piper -but many including he will tell you -it is a difficult role.

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Ultimate Machete and Ultimate Sniper being full brothers as Sires Stakes (G1) winners raises the usual talking points about full brothers, or brothers/sisters as racehorses.

The more cynical reaction goes back to the old sporting line about full brothers in any field of sport made famous by the 1930’s line “(Olympic champion) Johnny Weismuller’s brother couldn’t swim” in relation to the man who later played Tarzan in the movies. It was also once fashionable to pour scorn on the several brothers to Phar Lap all of moderate quality. One media wit claimed one of them, called Friday Night, could win this weekend -if he started at that time

Generally speaking people are wary of full brothers in racing. But they do work.

Mark does not often select yearlings who have been full brothers of his stars but he will make an exception if he is impressed with the horse as a type. That has paid off with Ultimate Sniper.

However as many would realise it is nothing new for All Stars.

It’s most famous example is the HAVE FAITH IN ME and ADORE ME duo at one stage the two fastest milers New Zealand had ever seen and homebred at Woodlands. That followed another “dream” combination of CHRISTEN ME and DREAM ABOUT ME both outstanding G1 winners an honour shared with HANDS CHRISTIAN (Easter Cup) to produce a trio whose feats would be hard to pass for any sire and broodmare. All the more remarkably their dam was a a daughter of Scuse Me the dam of the earlier two.

It was however first achieved away back in the late 1920’s when the regular matings of Wrack and NZ Cup winner Trix Pointer produced Wracker (NZ Derby, NZ Cup, Dominion Handicap) Arethusa (NZ Oaks) and Aldershot (NZ Derby)

The most notable track performing full brothers in the earlier days of racing here were Peter Bingen and Great Bingen. Peter Bingen won two NZ Cups and while Great Bingen never did it was generally put down to the cruel handicaps he had to suffer in that era.

Great Bingen was a superstar in the Lazarus /Johnny Globe/Christian Cullen tradition and his stake earnings record lasted for nearly two decades.

Later in the 1930’s came the classic winners and Cup class pacers Horse Power and Pacing Power both trained by Roy Berry and among the stars of the 1940’s were champion pacer Highland Fling and Dominion Trotting Handicap winner, Highland Kilt his full brother

Three American trotting brothers Angus Hall, Andover Hall and Conway Hall were all champions on the track (as well as off it) also set a high stand for full relations and American racing has a number of at least dual G1 equivalent winners.

In the 1970’s here, another great broodmare, Adio Star, produced multiple G1 winners including brothers Main Star and Bachelor Star who both won the NZ Derby. In the last decade of course this has become rather more common.

The probable reason is the dominance of Bettor’s Delight as a sire. He produces the best so the best mares are more likely to return to a dominating stallion where in other eras there was more variety of appeal. Dominating stallions account for most of the most successful full siblings and Bettor’s Delight leaving fillies as good as his colts is another huge plus.

A very interesting study into full brothers was conducted by the thoroughbred publication Bloodhorse some time ago. It studied 60 modern champion gallopers in the US. 16 had no full brothers/sisters, and the other 44 had 120 full siblings (fillies and colts) and, in total, 434 half siblings. The conclusions from the racing results of these were interesting.

For a start a higher percentage of full siblings won races compared to half siblings. 65.8 per cent won and included a remarkable stat - 23.8 per cent were stakes races.

The half siblings won just 60 per cent and only 13 per cent were stakes races. So full brothers and sisters were clear winners

The study noted that on average full brothers might actually share only 50 per cent of common genes- a conclusion many may find interesting.

There are of course a huge number of full brothers who have been poles apart on the racecourse and that is to be expected. But the US study did produce some very interesting talking point.

Don’t know what Johnny Weissmuller would have thought


Last week we looked at Bettors Delight stars from a mare that was not from the fashionable “golden cross” of Bettor’s Delight-Direct Scooter line mares and SPANKEM, a likely star of the upcoming Cup week is from another less well known cross.

By Bettor’s Delight he is from the Holmes Hanover mare Crushem,from a Lordship mare Elizabeth Denover who, along with her dam, Miss Denover, can take a lot of the credit for reviving this branch of a once famous family.

It is a family which has hung by a thread yet at least one mare in each generation has always managed to save the day. Not really surprising. On raceday at one stage the females in the family easily outstarred the boys.

The first was Lady Antrim who battled around the smalls for a lot of her career though she had ability. Her dam was unknown and unregistered but by the influential Wildwood. Before that is all mystery. But at stud she left some useful sorts the best known being the NZ Derby winner, Croughton. He was known to be a horse of moods and had little success at stud though his daughters left good sorts like Swartz Pete and Terri Lee

It was her daughter Lady Milne, a first foal, who set the tone. She was astutely placed at times often running in and winning saddle trots for her various trainers, the last and most successful being Howie Smith then based at Addington. Yet she beat the American horse Josedale Grattan one day at Addington and Josedale Grattan would soon wipe the floor with the best Kiwis in the New Zealand Cup in genuine world record time

Lady Milne’s first foal, Trixie Milne, and two other high class pacers for the day in Bobby Brigade and Black Douglas who starred at several Addington carnivals, set the standard and on the female side it was Trixie Milne, winner of 7 who kept things going for a small family. She was even better when she went to stud leaving several good class pacers. But her best known was another filly, Ar Miss, who won the 1972 NZ Oaks with Jack Carmichael in the cart and 8 of 35 for Howie Smith, training her then for his brother Vic. Another brother, Ossie Smith, bred her.

Her most famous foal was also a filly, named Armalight, one of the greatest mares to have raced in New Zealand. She had been bred by Vic Smith but raced for his son Brent, and trained by him to win and unforgettable NZ Cup and a legendary NZ FFA. She was a star for the Good Time stallion Timely Knight while Ar Miss was by the less brilliant Armbro Del bred on the Tar Heel -Adios cross- then the dream US combination but not known as outright speed horses

At stud Armalight was not a prolific breeder early in her natural breeding career, not producing a live foal in four of her first 6 years of breeding.Having reached such a huge standard of course it was not likely she would be able to produce one as good as herself as her forebears always did. The family gradually eased out of the limelight as the filly race record wilted. The offspring were often solid just none had the Armalight touch breeders were looking for.

However her first foal, a dream mating with the champion pacer and sire Lordship, while not immediately successful, was in the long run. The filly foal, Chrisarma, was the granddam of Millwood Minisota, bred on owner Dave Carville’s favourite cross of Christian Cullen over Falcon Seelster. Her first foal was the Bettor’s Delight colt Ohoka Punter a genuine topliner who might have been much more but for having to come back from two tendon operations which he did to win Group One races in Australia, one of them for young Nathan Purdon. Horses very rarely come back from such adversity to prove themselves at the elite level like the Tony Herlihy- trained ( for Katie Carville ) Ohoka Punter,

Yet it was another of Ar Miss’s foals, Miss Denover (Boyden Hanover) who has kicked a goal with the Spankem line.

It didn’t look like it for quite a while. Her first three foals were unraced. But she left 12 in all and one of them, Elizabeth Denover, seemed to hit it off with Holmes Hanover the tough Albatross horse who won several stallion and broodmare sire championships and was the sheet anchor for Nevele R for years.

Among her foals was Bruzem who won the Superstars; there was Cruzem, Crushem and Lilly Laingtree up there with the best fillies of her time. But it was Crushem who was the factor in the breeding barn.

She left as her first foal (that trend with the family again), Thumpem, an outstanding performer and Sluggem, a smart if not brilliant former All Stars runner by Christian Cullen before Spankem made his entrance.

Two things of significance. Spankem is the first foal from a Bettor’s Delight mating with Crushem. Secondly, while there are good reasons, the Bettor’s Delight /Holmes Hanover cross has not set the breeding world alight like the Direct Scooter line mares did for him.

Maybe it was opportunity, a generational thing. Holmes Hanover and Bettor’s Delight are from different eras and Holmes Hanover’s best daughter Kate’s First was only able to access Bettor’s Delight later in her career and earlier in his. One of the results of the cross in Maverick was a smart performer.Still for all that the eldest Delights are now 16 and considering the titles won by the Albatross stallion and the number of mares he had at stud his mare’s impact with Bettor’s Delight has not matched that of the Direct Scooter line stallions (In the Pocket, Christian Cullen etc) even if the numbers were not a match.

Which just goes to show that breeding theories are fascinating but just that. Theories.

Spankem has all the skills to win a major race in the next 12 months. Nobody will really care when he does who sired his dam, but fans and connections of the Lady Antrim family which relies on slim lines for its greatest successes will know it has been a feat of note

Read more pedigrees below or Back to News

3x3 Equals a 10 for brothers Ultimate Machete and Sniper

The first surprise you get in the pedigree of these two stars is that they are Bettor’s Delight’s but not from Christian Cullen or In the Pocket mares, the so called “golden cross” In fact it would not be unfair to say that their damsire Armbro Operative wouldn’t increase the pace of many pulses on the pedigree page.

In fact as was pointed out when he died in Australia, he left 7 individual Oaks winners and it should not be forgotten that included Kept for Pleasure dam of the near champion Vincent.

In fact Armbro Operative is one of two surprising influences in the pedigree of these brothers, because Armbro Operative was from a mare by B G’s Bunny,a stallion written off when he was alive who is now recognised as a stallion of influence. These two stallions have helped restore the family of Rustic Maid once untouched as the most famous in New Zealand but lately-not so much.

In fact unlikely sources play crucial roles in these pedigrees.

A reminder that B G’s Bunny is the sire of the current broodmare legend, Scuse Me. He was a sensational performer in the Meadowlands Pace of his year winning his heat in a world record 1.54. Unfortunately he broke down irretrievably in that race. At stud he did ok by American standards (Precious Bunny) but when he came to NZ he was swamped by breeders serving a huge book of mares. It took its toll. He died in the off season and that was that. And it was not that good, to be fair. Scuse Me was a star but most of the rest of those foals were relative failures. But as we so often find, blood can move in mysterious ways. B G’s Bunny has had indelible presence in this country as the sire of the dam of Cam’s Card Shark the Cam Fella sire of Bettor’s Delight

Unusually perhaps these days Sniper/Machete are bred 3x3 to Cam’s Fella, grandsire of Bettor’s Delight and sire of Armbro Operative (who won the Little Brown Jug and, unusually, both the 3yo and all aged Breeder’s Crowns).

What is more unusual perhaps is that Cam Fella was himself bred 3x3 (to Most Happy Fella) and Most Happy Fella was also 3x3 -to Dale Frost the rough going but tough sire of Meadow Skipper whose damsire was the double gaited Raider at one stage the most expensive stallion ever imported to Australasia and a very successful one.

This is known as line breeding to many (though it used to be labelled in-breeding to critics of the practice) and was widely practiced in the earlier days of standardbred breeding when standardbreds weren’t exactly roaming the planet.

But it is the restoration of the Rustic Maid line that is a standout in this pedigree. She was a sensational broodmare leaving 17 foals 15 of them winners and at least six of them what would now be known as G1 winners. The best known was Chamfer winner of the 1950 NZ Cup but before then came three year old stars like Highland Scott (as mad as a hatter but the first foal left by U Scott and the best two year old of his year), Free Fight, Gallant Maid (dam of top pacer Crimea and Reality 5th dam of these two subjects); Free Fight and Slavonic, both top juveniles, Yare and Congruent. This family was hugely popular with Australian studs. Chamfer was Australia’s champion sire seven times and damsire of Stanley Rio. Free Fight, Yare, Highland Scott and Slavonic all stood there. As a result the male side of the pedigree declined in this country. A daughter of Rustic Maid left the Derby winner, Student Prince also a successul sire in Australia. The family was prolific over three decades.

Rustic Maid was bred in the purple being a daughter of the NZ Cup winner, Country Belle, a lovely pacing mare who also left the champion trotter Escapade, the granddam of a fair horse called Fallacy.

The family then did not lose its way but lost its lustre. That has now been restored by another unlikely factor, a mare called Mains Lady who ran nearly last in the NZ Oaks apparently on debut and never actually won a race her total earnings from 33 starts being $70. But she was by Light Brigade and managed to leave in Tuapeka Dream a very good winning mare by Lumber Dream who, like her dam trained by Ali Malcolmson reached the top intermediate rankings at Addington. She went one better at stud leaving Tuapeka Knight who wasn’t a bad sort, and Maureen’s Dream an unruly but sensationally fast mare by Lordship who was bred 3x4 to the great U Scott, a popular double up at the time.

Trained by Dan Cummings she nearly caused an upset in the Triple Crown Fillies Final in her debut at Addington and on Show Day 1985 in her debut for Richard Brosnan she was given her head and ran a then sensational 2.27.7 for 2000m in a supporting race less than 2 seconds slower than Preux Chevalier clocked in his great NZFFA win some hours later. It was the talk of the day until then.

Reality Check, the dam of the Ultimates, was her 10th named foal and a notable filly for Geoff Small. Though she won only four one was the Delightful Lady Classic, and two of the others PGG Wrightson Sales filly finals.

The only other branch of the Rustic Maid family present in the latest sale catalogues is that represented by former top filly Collectable. Once they would have been a dominant presence. It is good to see the old blood back in the winning frame.

courage Under Fire and Neil Pilcher-Turn It Up’s Last Tribute

Courage Under Fire is probably mostly well remembered for three things. A great two and three year old race career-maybe  the best ever in southern hemisphere- Smolda; and Australia’s only official white foal - which unfortunately died of colic not long after landing.

Now some time  after his own death he has Turn It Up, proving if If you want a super talented Courage Under Fire, to buy or train, Mark Purdon is your man.

He is already on record as buying the richest stake winner left by the “Mighty Mouse” -n Smolda of recent renown.

He  had too  a lot of success with Courage Under Fire’s close relation , Advance Attack. Then also Mark  trained arguably the sire’s two best fillies in New Zealand, Lancome and Secret Potion. And he  produced Sleepy Tripp to win a NZ Derby and an Easter Cup. Eric’s Legend was another, somewhat underrated, graduate from All Stars in recent years and the late Neil Pilcher sold several out of the stable at a profit. One of his, Alta Orlando, raced with Jim and Ann Gibbs, was a rather unruly customer as a young horse, but a  Sales Series Final winner for All Stars before going amiss.

While Courage himself was a lovely horse to handle, some of his stock, tough as they were one once on the track, could also be “hard cases”  to educate about the right things to do on the way there.

Before and after Smolda, Courage Under Fire stock in the Australian sale ring (Smolda was bought after being passed in) were more about courage than fire  This was partly because his early crops in Australia were small. Smolda, at present the richest APG sale graduate ever (heading Shakamaker who famously went down to Courage Under Fire vying for Australasian three year old honours) , was one of the more expensive Courage Under Fire’s  (he didn’t have a $50,000 auction bid for one of his stock in Australia until 2016) and a number of the higher priced ones were not successful. Carlas Pixel was one success story going for $20,000 and winning over $300,000 and Bulldozer was, beside Smolda,one of the few to earn more than $100,000 so far. There were a lot more to do it in New Zealand of course.

Turn It Up, promising enough to be nominated for the Inter Dominions and another Mark  bought for his old mate Pilcher who always liked to race with partners.

Turn It Up may well be the only foal from an imported American mare Courage Under Fire got to sire.

O Narutac Bella, a hard hitting, Meadowlands -performed  daughter of Western Ideal , was imported by Bruce Edward of Durham Lodge Victoria and his wife Vicki.  Tragedy struck Durham Park just before Turn It Up’s appearance at the 2016 Melbourne sale, many of the essential buildings being destroyed by fire which Bruce committed to rebuild.

Amazingly none of the horses were injured and all made the sale ring thanks to great assistance from  the harness community especially Alabar Farms

Another Durham Lodge product, Slingshot, was also purchased by Mark and races/raced at Addington on Thursday.

The Edwards have specialised in importing mares from America and Mark and Natalie have had success buying the progeny of American -bred mares in Australia among them  Border Control and Follow the Stars.

O Narutac Bella took a 1.51.4 time at the Meadowlands and earned over $200,000, An earlier foal, Perfect Sense won over $150,000 in Australia though to be fair nearly half was in one hit, a second in the APG final  as a juvenile filly.

Neither of O Narutac Bella’s first two dams were stars  but by Life Sign and Direct Scooter respectively, Courage Under Fire being a grandson of Direct Scooter also. The 3rd dam, Adored Yankee (Nero) was a smart performer The next two dams were unraced but then came the successful broodmare Gardenia Hanover. The family has left its share of top horses  and a lot of good ones. What is more it has high- powered stallion names right through the pedigree.

Courage Under Fire’s story was, for much of its span, a fairy tale. He won his first 24 races and with six Derby’s to his credit. While there were outstanding performers in his pedigree it was not fashionable and he had a much harder row to hoe than say, Christian Cullen, even if becoming the first New Zealand bred stallion to commence his career at the famed Nevele R stud. Any progress Courage made at stud after its initial burst of enthusiasm (600 mares in first four seasons) was of his own doing.

Nobody had taken much notice of  his family until the advent of a mare called Queen Wrack in the  mid 1930’s. She left the tough, talented mare Democrat who could post up to 30 starts in any one season and when mares had to race the boys on even terms went close to Cup class.

Her younger half-brother was Vedette the 1951 Inter Dominion champion at Addington. By Light Brigade  he was a reluctant pacer being driven regularly on the nearby roads to learn the gait and he also took a long time to reach his peak. He was noted for a sensational final sprint and with trainer  Maurice Holmes in the cart he often landed such a finish. Another foal, Scott Wrack, was also a high class performer and Queen Wrack would have been a strong hope to be a Broodmare of the Year had such a thing then existed.

Then Allan Holmes, owner of the brilliant but erratic Aksarben, a half-brother to yearling pacing sensation, Blue,  bred a half sister to Vedette, Venus,by another of his stallions, Gold Bar, to Aksarben and the first foal, Loving, became the dam of  Deborah Dundee.

Aksarben had an odd stud career being lightly patronised and of little overall account but siring the dams of  the champions Bonnie’s Chance and Mount Eden from small foal crops. Not bad.

A talented racemare who would have won the initial West Coast bonus but for the presence of a then unknown Our Mana, she was Loving’s only successful breeder and by Dundee Adios a little horse by Adios Vic from New Zealand champion, Robin Dundee, who had chased Cardigan Bay around New Zealand, Australia and the US, being in the race where he topped the million.

Deborah Dundee was a star at stud leaving exceptional two year old Adios Dream, whose grandson, Jesse Duke, a resident at All Stars, was the top priced sale colt of  his year. Another of her foals was Advance Debra who after only winning one race -but it was a $70,000 Sires Stakes feature- left Advance Attack, an outstanding two year old for All Stars and a durable campaigner in Australia. She finally achieved the Broodmare of the Year status for the family Queen Wrack might have made in her time.

Courage Under Fire did a fine job at stud considering regular shifts around Australia in his later years. In New Zealand, horses like Pembrook Benny, Choise Achiever, Franco Jamar, Flem n Em and Itz Cherry Ripe are just some of the horses who have pushed his lifetime earnings close to $100m from about 800 winners.

On the other hand some of his percentage returns were not up to the standard of the leading stallions of the time and his fortunes in terms of  getting the best mares tended to fluctuate which probably explains those percentages.

To show how stats can mislead, as his foal numbers dropped his percentages rose accordingly as he continued to leave good horses.

Neil Pilcher,the stallions greatest fan, raced Courage Under Fire’s greatest son. Who’s to say he won’t be looking down cheering on with Mark, Lee Pilcher and Jim and Ann Gibbs, while another one possibly again hits the high spots ?

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When Cruz Bromac was foaled in November 2011 his sire Falcon Seelster was already dead at the ripe old age of 30. And Cruz Bromac was not from his last crop by any means. Frozen semen from Falcon Seelster is still available from Bromac Lodge seven years later. What is even more amazing is that while his total of services is now down to less than a dozen, at one stage several years after his passing his semen was applied to more than 50 mares in a season. Shows what reputation and having Bob McArdle as the enthusastic-some would say relentless-sales “team” can do. But Cruz Bromac will probably rate as his last Group One winner having taken out the Len Smith Mile at odds this year in 1.50.5.

That, and at least one other reason, had All Stars patron Danny Zavitsanos, a co-owner now of Cruz Bromac, eyeing the rich New Zealand Cup. If he wins that seven years after his sire died it will be a record of amazing proportions not having occurred for decades.

Falcon Seelster was able to come to Nevele R Stud in 1995 because of the closure of the famous Castleton Farm. A world record holding three year old himself (1.51 on a half mile track,away back in 1986, going faster on the same day than Nihilator did in the Little Brown Jug !) and winner of over $1m he had done ok in the US but had not set the world alight, hence his availability.

Partly that might have been because he was from the then rather unfashionable Adios line looking for a superstar stallion to rejuvenate it (which came in the form of Abercrombie) and also because his own sire Warm Breeze the fastest race miler in standardbred history (as a four year old in 1.53.2) did not have much success at stud even though he was syndicated by Hanover Shoe Farms.

Perhaps in turn that was because while his world record was a genuine effort it was set in California whose very fast mile times relied strongly on climatic conditions and were not rated as highly in the East in much the same way as Perth times used to be regarded in Sydney and Melbourne-or NZ come to that

It was no help that his time was set not in a top line race but in a $US15,000 FFA. He was raced by a colourful American, Lloyd Arnold who gave a then huge $US72,000 for him as a yearling for no reason apparent to anyone else. Arnold, a story in himself, ran big farms, owned race tracks in California, ran a big private stable and also had the world’s fastest racemare, Tender Loving Care in his barn at the same time as Warm Breeze. Horses were for racing for Lloyd.

Falcon Seelster came from a weaker line of a great family (Jessie Pepper); his first 3 dams were moderate performers by good sires (dam by Overtrick) and he was a grumpy customer at any time reportedly treated as “potentially dangerous” at Nevele R where there were incidents. A stud associate once recalled that when Wayne Francis inspected the stallion in America, he was knocked to the ground. Wayne must have taken that as an encouraging sign and certainly subsequent events backed his judgement. Not many Nevele R stallions were more successful than Falcon Seelster. Very few in fact.

He shuttled to the US until an EVA condition kept him here for four years before resuming a shuttle in 2003.His statistics look a lot better than his American reputation which was mixed, his stock overall still winning over $120m. However 8 in 1.50 and five millionaires were less impressive by his own standards. He was a hard hitting racehorse winning 36 of 51 starts and unplaced only three times. As with many of top American colts he was a busy 3yo having over 30 starts at that age.

He was outstanding in this country for three major reasons. He left champion pacers like Elsu ($2m) and Falcon Strike (a Perth-based Australian millionaire and Grand Circuit champion) and a host of other top winners being the leading sire in 2003. His daughters such as AllStar Blue Jean, (1.48.8 in the US some years ago), De Lovely etc. were very quick and his stock were outstanding over the mile as he had been He also sired horses especially suited to American racing, three of his 10 fastest horses being foaled in New Zealand. His best son, McArdle, named after Bob, has left some top performers in both America (McWicked) and New Zealand but the line is struggling to hang on. A son, Tintin In America, is the sire of New Zealand export mare sensation,Shartin, for much of the year to date the leading stake earner in America.

His other claim to breeding fame perhaps was Falcon Seelster mares nick with Christian Cullen that produced a long list of outstanding horses (Franco Nelson and Lauraella were notables). The fact that his frozen semen fee is still $2500 so long after he passed on shows how his blood was prized as an outcross. Bob McArdle’s daughter Lisa Fabri would still be pleased to hear from you !

Cruz Bromac’s maternal line is all about the arrival in New Zealand of the Albatross mare, Oh Please in foal to Camluck, the resulting filly being the cleverly named Classic Blue Jeans. Imported by Steve Jones she later passed into a partnership of Bob McCardle and Malcolm Shinn and her first foal (1999) Attorney General underlined the Falcon Seelster ability to generate mile speed.He became for some time the fastest pacer ever bred in New Zealand running 1.48.4 in the US. Here he had been a Franklin Cup winner but like so many of the breed, thrived on US mile racing. He later came back to NZ to stand at stud. Oh Please also left Falcon’s Blue Jean which broke 1.52 in the States.

Classic Blue Jeans ,not mated to Falcon Seelster for five years after Attorney General, left a number of successful offspring and her 2009 foal, Casanova Bromac (renamed Mink Stride) was the top colt at the 2011 National sale at $135,000. Unhappily it took him over 60 starts to win $25,000 in Australia. A full brother Cullen Bromac, after winning five on the trot in Australia was brought over to Addington for the PGG Wrightson Sales final in 2010 though he struggled in that company. Another, Crown Bromac, was G1 placed in Perth.

Classic Blue Jeans had an Adios strain through Camluck’s damsire, Striking Image, the first 1.55 two year old pacer in history and Shinn and McArdle added another when they sent her daughter Crown Defender to Life Sign to add some Abercrombie blood to the line. Life Sign set world heat and final records winning the 1993 Little Brown Jug and was most successful in Australia as an older horse. He added another Albatross cross to the breed. Crown Defender, sold to Australia in later years, had a mixed stud record but Cruz Bromac her 5th foal was very much her best.

The Bromac title was the Bob McArdle version (brothers McArdle) of partner Wayne Francis (Franco) in continuing an American modern tradition of including stud names -Hanover, Armbro (Armstrong brothers) for example- in horse titles. The tradition, at times confusing, seems to be fading as a brand name. “Maguire” and “Arden” are just two currently popular however if on a smaller scale.

Cruz Bromac was a surprise winner of the Len Smith Mile and it may well turn out he is not a true 3200m stayer (he has yet to be tried past 2700m) in a race whose distance proved somewhat frustrating for his sire even though Elsu nearly won the race. Perhaps the less testing Auckland Cup could be his best target. But how he adapts to NZ racing and how the All Stars magic wand waves over him makes for a very interesting spring.

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It could be seen as most appropriate that the top lot of the 2018 Yearling sales at $230,000 went to Australian owner, Jean Feiss.

Australians were responsible for the establishment of the foundation of Smooth Deal’s family long ago and it can safely be bet that he is the only standardbred sale topper with a Melbourne Cup winner in his pedigree. And of course, his co-trainer also hails from across the sea.

Smooth Deal traces to Verity rated the last time such an exercise was undertaken as the third most successful family founder in Australasia (up from no 20 when the NZ figures were first compiled). Verity was from an unregistered mare by the Melbourne Cup dual winner, The Barb, and was brought to New Zealand by her breeder John Buckland at the turn of the 20th century.

She was the result of the worst decision probably in the history of New Zealand breeding and made by none other than Robert Wilkin the founder of harness breeding here with his imports from America.

He brought three stallions in the early 1880’s but leased one out to Australia and later sold him. That horse, Vancleve, was easily the greatest sire of the three and Buckland, who had purchased him some years before, became the only Australian ever to be the leading owner in New Zealand- through the stock of Vancleve belting Kiwi horse’s heads in during spring raids on this country.

Fortunately he sold Verity to Harry Nicoll of Ashburton then just expanding his trotting interests. From the same owner Nicoll bought Durbar who won the 1908 NZ Cup for him.

According to the late Ted Lowe, a mine of information on early trotting in Canterbury, Verity was an outstanding racemare but a renowned road horse, who could go from Ashburton to Mt Somers faster than any other of the era and also travel longer distances to Peel Forest at consistently high road speeds.

At stud she founded a family too successful to go into detail here but by her death in 1921 it was already established and through the next two decades in particular would almost dominate many of the best age group races. One of the more recent of the top level pacers was Sapling,

The Smooth Deal branch reflects a recent resurgence in his part of the tree. Most would have expected a Bettor’s Delight sale topper to be from a Christian Cullen mare but Jean Feiss’s youngster goes one step back in being from a mare by CC’s sire In the Pocket who kick started a resurgence in track speed among New Zealand pacers in the 1990’s.

His dam, Linda Grace, has already left serious speed fillies, Linda Lovegrace and Gina Grace and her dam, Jessie Grace by the many times champion sire Vance Hanover, whose mares were not quite so successful at stud, has bucked the trend leaving Pacing Grace (8 wins and a sister to Linda Grace) whose son Pacing Major did a great job for All Stars as a two and three year old before being sold to America where he is racing well.

Pacing Grace has also left All U Need is Faith (like Pacing Major by Art Major) a hard hitter for All Stars now ready to trial and Grace Way the dam of Three Ways and Forgotten Highway, Three Ways now racing well in Australia. There are numerous other smart winners tracking to Jessie Grace in recent times when the family has been nurtured by Woodlands Stud, her owner.

Until then this was one of the lesser known branches of the Verity tribe but Jessie Grace’s dam, Ollies Chance, made her mark even if it was far from the lush fields of Woodlands.

She was raced and trained by Barney Tisdall of Dunback (no we haven’t been there either), often driven by Stu Allcock. Her best effort in a 7 win career was her third to standouts Gina Rosa and Michele Bromac in the DB (now Nevele R) Filly final.The genial Barney also trained the high class mare Idolmite.

Ollies Chance was by Colonel Kenton a 3x3 Volomite full brother to champion filly Golden Oriole, sold for then mouth watering “set you up for life” money by Murray Butt to America in the early 1960’s. A full sister, Mia Mocca, established a successful breed for another All Stars owner, Phil Creighton and his wife Margaret.

Ollie’s Chance’s untried dam Take a Chance, and her untried dam and moderate stud performer, Glen Russ, had the family fading but Glen Russ was from Sahara Queen a high class racemare for Charlie Isaccson and Mary Bourner at Addington in the days when there were no races for fillies and mares and they had to compete with the boys. Further back in the pedigree is Verity’s granddaugher Childe Pointer who beat the boys in the Sapling Stakes and then beat them again in the NZ Derby, so the age group potential has always been hovering.

What the future holds for Smooth Deal we are yet to know but if strains of “Aussie Aussie Aussie oi ! oi! oi!” are heard after he wins a big race it will be no surprise

**More breeding profiles below

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When the Kennards wrote their name down for Thefixer as a yearling they weren't going just by what was in front of them. They had already had race and sales success with Sir Tosti Mach, his half brother by Mach Three. Sir Tosti Mach ran second to Alta Christiano  in a Sales Graduate race and ran 4th in a very strong final that year. He later was a durable racehorse in Australia. So a version by Bettor's Delight was certainly no option from hell

Seven wins from 12 starts later-plus a lot of patience as Mark and Natalie told them "Tosti" was a good horse in the making but needing time-showed that the trainers knew what they were talking about. Surprise, surprise.

But what might be termed a surprise is not that Thefixer is good but that he is male.

This is a family that has left useful colts and geldings and the odd case even better than that. But it is a filly family by any measure.

Thefixer's dam Tosti Girl was a high bar perfomer earning nearly $200,000 in age group events. And her dam, Delightful Paula by the brilliant track performer but disappointing stallion, Jaguar Spur-once so fashionable he  had a yearing passed in at $100,000 at Christchurch when the average was less than $20,000-connected spectacularly with Christian Cullen to produce another outstanding filly, Delightful Christian, who won over $200,000 and ran 1.52. Her record would have been even better had she not returned a controversial positive to arsenic after winning a Harness Jewels 2yo Filly and being disqualified-a penalty legal action could not shake.

Not only that but the next dam, Aristocratic, left another high class filly Paula Michelle who won the filly version of the Sires Stakes both at two and three. Colts anyone ? Why?

At that stage this branch of the family, nurtured for many years by the Harrison family of Methven, had moved north after Central Standardbreds bought Patrician from Tom Harrison. Brian Hughes and John Green had considerable success breeding most of the above stars from her descendants. 

We need hardly add that Patrician's dam, Undaunted, bred on the Light Brigade-U Scott cross more fashionable then than even the Bettor's Delight-Christian Cullen one today, left a very smart mare in the days before so many rich filly races in Ulight who won seven and granddam also of Local View. She did also leave a smart male pacer in Onassis.


Just to balance the books also,so to speak, Ulight left a top male pacer for the time in Deeside who went to Cup class ;and Local View left In to View one of the best pacers Tom Harrison bred who easily could have done.

The War Maid tribe this family belongs to is also responsible in another branch for smart  maies Walk Alone Stroll Away and Royal Walk and to her family also belongs the tough stayer Enterprise (23 wins;Auckland Cup) a grandson of Loyal Nurse. 

But it doesn't add up to a long list of outstanding colts over a long period. It certainly adds up to  a long list of outstanding fillies- and that may not be surprising.

Undaunted was a daughter of Loyal Nurse the last mare to win a New Zealand Cup (in 1949) until Armalight in 1982 up to and including which time you could always get good odds on a mare in the race. Every year Loyal Nurse got a mention from the pundits to underline how long it was since a mare had won and how little the chances of it being repeated.

Loyal Nurse was bred and raced by "old" Tom Harrison and was leased in her earlier career to Clarrie May while the Harrison boys were away at the war. Clarrie won an Auckland Cup and many other good races with her.

After his lease expired Harrison made the bold move to hand her to Colin Berkett to set for the NZ Cup. She had had 16 starts the previous season for May  without paying a dividend and Berkett was reluctant. Perhaps the rather bland Cup lineup without Highland Fling encouraged him.

He outdid All Stars in his Cup preparation giving Loyal Nurse, who had gained a reputation for not always giving of her best in a race, just one start before the Cup a dead-heat for fourth in the Hannon Memorial at Labour weekend that perked up his confidence considerably. He had tried to vary her work as much as possible and it seemed to work. Few could set a horse for a staying race better than Colin. On Cup day she was three wide for much of the way but beat Captain Sandy in a world record time for a mare at the distance and at 22/1. She was last in the Ollivier on the second day and never won again.

Her toughness came on both sides of her pedigree. Her sire Grattan Loyal produced  horses of legendary durability, even for the era, while her damsire Man O War was also the stuff of legend. It was from him that Loyal Nurse inherited her black colouring.

Bought out of Australia as an aged horse he won two Auckland Cups and numerous other races for Methven's Tom McGirr. A noted mudlark he left some outstanding pacing males (War Buoy; Marsceres etc) but as a broodmare sire he was prolific and actually topped the Broodmare sires list one season against the likes of Jack Potts etc having left only a fraction of the foals of his main rivals. Our first two minute racehorse, Tactician, was from one of his mares as were a number of stars of the era like Soangetaha, Trixie Milne the ancestress of Armalight etc etc. His offspring  had a particular liking for the Auckland Cup winning on several occasions.

Now it seems it is back to the boys to maintain the family profile. But they have a job in front of them to equal the feats of the girls.

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A promising young trotter at All Stars currently is Tailored Elegance the first filly foal of Classic Armbro, an Armbro Invasion mare,by Muscle Hill one of the world's best sires of trotters.  And Classic Armbro of course is a daughter of the outstanding trotting mare Merinai. And therein lies a story.

In very few families does one horse define an era  but in this case it comes very close. When Merinai came along nobody thought of her immediate family as trotters. With good reason.

But Merinai, winner of 19 races from various stables (the last with Mark) changed all that. Included in her wins were the Rowe Memorial Gold Cup and the Dominion Handicap that made her the Horse of the Year in 1998 a rare feat for a trotter with only names like No Response and Sir Castleton before her. Once she was established her reputation there was a rush to mate her dam and her descendants to trotting sires and the result has been an ongoing succession of smart trotters (Miss Pegasus. Sunny Elegant, Wingsonhai etc)  from a  family pre-Merinai which was considered a pacing line- at least in this country.

Merinai was by Tuff Choice a pacing stallion by Windshield Wiper from a Bret Hanover mare -not a cross with much trotting interest. However further back there was a a lot of Volomite blood around and pacing sires from the family who  came to New Zealand-notably Flying Song-left high class trotting horses. Tuff Choice left several other other trotters in what was basically a lacklustre  stud career and after Merinai's success her dam Meriden, Blossom Lady's sire Farm Timer,  was mated with trotting stallions like Sundon and Chiola Hanover.

Meriden's dam Merinda was by the pacing star Lochgair who traced to the Ted Lowe family of Jesse B. It was  prized by her breeders because she was a pacer by a pacing stallion something very rare back in the 1880's. Merinda's  dam Thunderina, a useful pacing mare (7 wins), was never bred to a trotting sire (10 foals) by the Johnson family of Doyleston and was closely related to a pacing star in Single Direct and Inter Dominion champion. 

However there were a few trotting clues around the in the pedigree. Thunderina's sire, Thunder On, a thundering failure at stud here in spite of (or perhaps because of) being by U Scott's sire from the dam of Light Brigade whose daughters dominated the era. However Thunder On did leave a record breaking young trotter in Spark Gap and Thunderina's dam was by Medoro, a converted trotter imported by Noel Simpson from Italy to circumvent the then tough international finance rules applying to buying horses in America (basically you couldn't). Medoro sired  Single Medoro-a brother to Thunderina's dam, Singlena, a smart pacing mare - who dead heated in the NZ Derby so the emphasis on breeding pacers was understandable.

Medoro, whose dam, Alma Lee, was once a world record holding trotter over a mile (the first trotter driven by a female driver in 2.00) was a successful sire of broodmares too and some including Paulette and Princess Pat became valuable breeders. He was by the same sire as Dillon Hall a highly successful pacing stallion in this country.

The trotting seeds were there it could be said. But it took a long while for the crop to ripen!


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SHEZ ALL ROCK-A freak on and off the track

We don't see many fillies more brilliant than Shez All Rock but there are some cautionary tales for breeding theorists in her emergence as a racehorse of special abilities.

The first is for those who delve deep into pedigrees to explain a superstar performer. You don't want to delve too deeply into this filly's background. About two generations looks far enough. 

After all of her first three dams one (her dam Irish Loch) was unraced; the second,Lady Loch, had one start and finished 13th in a poor  maiden race and her third dam, Heather Lady did not win, her connections giving up after  8 starts. Her fourth dam, Heatherloch, did win 6 of 57 races but didn't win the first until she was a four year old and though under the expert guidance of George Noble, won most of her races at places like Kurow and Hutt Park -though she posted one win each at Addington and Alexandra Park.

Certainly the Heatherloch  family had its moments, one winning the Sapling Stakes (Black Loch) though he was not a factor in following seasons. The best known of her foals, Yankee Loch, was a trotter and therein lies another tale. She also left stout staying horses like Scottish Loch but brilliance was never something the family sought or was famous for. For more than 60 years-until now-nearly all the stars of the branch of this family were strong staying  trotters. 

Heatherloch was one of the few odd ones out and that is no surprise. Her dam Cloudy Horizon, a dual gaited performer, spent the first 11 years of her breeding career visiting owner Bill Lochhead's own stallion Super Note,  a trotting bred winner of two races. Bill, who also stood Super Note's damsire Sonoma Harvester at Mt Somers before shifting to Ashburton, had a strong input into this pedigree.

There were some sharp performers from this cross, which produced a foal every year for a decade. Almost all were  trotters, including the high class Supervise. But when Super Note's time had come Cloudy Horizon was sent to free legged pacer, Lumber Dream, and Heatherloch, a 12th and last  foal, was the result.

Cloudy Horizon was by Black Globe, a Globe Derby horse standing at Mataura Island  in Southland  whose career as a stallion was ill starred after a promising start. But, quite remarkably in view of that, he not only appears in the pedigree of Shez All Rock but also as the damsire of the famous Black Watch, whose family just keeps on keeping on.

There have always been solid performers from this breed but one with the brilliance of Shez All Rock is a novelty. It can be explained in two names, sire Rock n Roll Heaven and damsire Mach Three. The evidence is overwhelming  they have played the chief role in this production.

Shez All Rock is finely made, almost a thoroughbred in appearance In fact Paul Kenny   co-owner of Adore Me etc made the observation one night at Addington that he has bred thoroughbreds not as fine as this filly.

Rock n Roll Heaven was a sensational three year old in the United States being at that age the first horse in history to pace two sub 1.50 miles on the same day as he did to win the Little Brown Jug. He paced 11 sub 1.50 miles that year winning 16 of his 21 starts and was the Horse of the Year.

His stud career has not been as spectacular but there are good reasons.

Firstly, and this is relevant to this story, his best produce  have been fillies and his inability to so far leave a star colt has affected his reputation in the US. Secondly his connections, having established him in New York (originally Blue Chip Farms) , shifted him to New Jersey for the  2016 breeding season  for good reasons but poor results. He is now back in New York. In New Zealand horses like Heaven Rocks and Let It Ride have done well but his fillies are still strongest in demand. They also seem to have a more relaxed attitude than the males though  temperament is not perhaps always their strong point and the sire himself had some issues in that regard. Shez All Rock appears to have missed that gene.

Rock n Roll Heaven is not a majestic stallion in looks and in fact his owner recalls when he was shown him in his box as a yearling thought he did not compare in appearance with a second horse he was buying much more cheaply that did not amount to much. However Rock n Roll Heaven has enjoyed a stellar season especially in Australia. 

It would be fair to say some of his stock have not developed as well as  early promise indicated. Benecio (bred on the same cross as Shez All Rock) was one who showed early  though he has taken a 1.54 mile mark ;and another All Stars performer, MacKenzie an impressive two year old filly didn't quite live up to  expectations later though she has done well in America in winter racing winning major stakes.  Heaven Rocks and Let it Ride were both males who were later developers and that may be the key to his male stock. 

The speed of the stallion and the speed potency of Mach Three (sire of Somebeachsomewhere lest we forget) has certainly been a lethal combination to produce an amazing filly like this one. She has a well balanced pedigree internationally The earlier ancestors ? not so much.

Perhaps the speed aspect is best summed up by Mark when asked to compare Shez All Rock with Adore Me, comparing horses not being Mark's favourite thing.

"Both obviously terrific fillies. If there is a difference it might be you could train Adore Me up for any distance as her record shows. Once Shez All Rock got up to the longer distances I think she would be more vulnerable. But still very special"

Special indeed. And as far as this stamina favouring family is concerned, one out of the box.

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Sweet on Me is a strikingly handsome filly of size and substance. Just as well. She carries the hopes of many for the future on her young shoulders.

By a champion racehorse, Sweet Lou from a champion mare Adore Me the critics will be expecting something special from this mating and  the principals of Woodlands Stud where Sweet Lou has kicked off his stud career with highly positive reviews will be as anxious as anybody.

Sweet on Me is likely to be one of the first performers by the new stallion from a Bettor's Delight mare. Given the number of Bettor's Delight mares there are in the country an early successful cross with Sweet Lou could be crucial. On paper and in theory it looks an ideal cross but as always in breeding the proof of the pudding is in the eating.

Sweet Lou has, to the casual New Zealand breeding fan, a collection of no names in his pedigree. The total ability of those names produced one of the greats, a horse who won it all from two year old Breeder's Crown (world record of 1.49 that still stands) to a sensational older horse career which at one stage featured 10 successive wins all around  his career best 1.47. Wow !

Adore Me, first second or third in 33 of her 36 starts and the last mare raced in this country who could beat the males at any distance from one mile to 3200m was clearly a superstar member of a superstar family.

She did not race at two but Sweet Lou has already shown he can throw early speed so that should not be a concern. Most discussion will be around the Sweet Lou pedigree: the survival of the Adios sireline  and the ability of champion racemares to leave superstar pacers especially with a first foal.

Sweet Lou's sire Yankee Cruiser was what is called a "hard hitter" who won over $US$1m and was the son and grandson of two stars of the Abercrombie line, Artsplace and Artiscape . He was from a Jate Lobell mare. Jate Lobell, the 2yo and 3yo champion of his era and syndicated for a then remarkable $US12m was a successful sire but not a breed shaper. However as a sire of brood mares the son of No Nukes has been a huge success.

Sweet Lou is a big hope for the Adios line of sires which has hung by slight threads for years. Adios, not an especially well bred horse, was just a sensation as a sire notably of fillies and especially as his books of mares were tiny compared to modern times. However each generation continues to produce one Adios line horse to carry on the breed. The most potent, Abercrombie, was by a top racehorse but major siring disappointment in Silent Majority whose own sire Henry T Adios was rather scorned at stud partly because of his lack of scope -yet Abercrombie rejuvenated the line.

Sweet Lou traces to Adios in both paternal and maternal line. The maternal line is carried through Falcon's Future sire of his dam. A world champion two year old by time and performance, he was regarded as a disappointment at stud and the next sire in the pedigree, Nero, had his critics too. He could however produce juvenile speed (as his sons like  Clever Innocence could in NZ) and his less desirable traits, mainly around racing manners, certainly didn't appear with Sweet Lou. 

Adore Me's most potent Adios influence is through Bret Hanover the sire of B G's Bunny the sire of her dam Scuse Me, though she gets  lesser strains also through Bettor's Delight. His sire Cam's Card Shark was from B G's Bunny mare and Bettor's Delight's dam is by a son of Abercrombie.

It is all a complicated mixture and so far it is showing signs of paying big dividends. Lancewood Lizzie is one of the several top Bettor's Delight mares to visit Sweet Lou and Adore me returned to him and produced another filly. She has since been to Somebeachsomewhere.





One of the last purchases for the late Neil Pilcher at the 2018 Yearling Sales, Dina Bolt has a long way to go to match some of Pilch's super buys but he is shaping well enough at this stage at All Stars.

He is now raced by Mark and Natalie with Peter Baken as a new partner. He is having little trouble matching the mile times being asked of the youngsters at this stage.

One of Pilch's contributions to the stable was that he was not bound by fashion and bought several good performers without notably commercial appeal to match some of the glamour buys for the stable.

Dina Bolt, while by sire of the decade Bettor's Delight, comes somewhat into that category at least on pedigree.

But his dam, Pullover Brown, was a great racetrack performer for Geoff Small and usually driven by Anthony Butt,  winning the New Zealand Oaks, the Victoria Oaks and the Moonee Valley Australian Oaks also a G1 race, as well as a Sires Stakes Final here.  Her brother Montecito was also successful and took a 1.49.4 time in the United States.

However Pullover Brown  has been somewhat disappointing at stud in more ways than one. She missed in three of her first five years and her best performer, Runaway Brown, while he has posted a fast time in Australia has been only a fair performer there before moving on to the US where he has gone 1.52.6.

She was largely kept to Volomite line stallions such as Christian Cullen, Mach Three and Elsu and Dina Bolt is only her second foal by Bettor's Delight.

That makes him line bred to Cam Fella, the grandsire of Bettor's Delight and sire of Armbro Operative the sire of Pullover Brown.   Both Armbro Operative and Cam's Card Shark were bred on a Cam Fella-B G Bunny cross.

Cam Fella is the greatest stallion descendant of Most Happy Fella  and twice the US champion stallion as well as twice Horse of the Year. His son Cam's Card Shark (sire of Bettor's Delight)   was also very successful. 

Cam Fella's success was a reminder that statistics can be misleading. He came from a weak branch of a top family which had left only 3 classic winners in 80 years yet triumphed above all that on his own ability and the potency of Most Happy Fella.   His son Cambest has a time trial of 1.46.2  which has been the world's fastest time for 20 years.

He was closely bred to Dale Frost the sire of Meadow Skipper and the line (Most Happy Fella one) has a strong presence in  Dina Bolt's pedigree. However he has a double cross of the Adios line stallion Abercrombie, sire of Art Major, and a strong influence for size and speed.

Armbro Operative was a Little Brown Jug winner who left over 1000 winners. He left a $1m winner Fleur De Lil in Australia but his best here was Awesome Armbro who later posted a fast time in America. But notably he is also the damsire of Ultimate Machete and bred on the same cross . 

Two interesting stallions closer to home in Dina Bolt's pedigree are Fitch II and Mercedes.  Fitch II was by Abercrombie  and a smart racehorse tho he had a mixed career here at a time when the country was flooded with American stallions.  His best son was Giovonetto a real star in his younger days in particular. Fitch II sired Dinavinetto ( 1 win from 43 starts but the dam of Pullover Brown and Montecito )

Her dam Precious Dina was by the Meadow Skipper stallion Mercedes and raced by Ted and Richard Hooper who stood that stallion at the former Nandina Stud in Auckland. Mercedes was a horse of most uncertain temperament whose stock were not highly regarded in some quarters but then he produced some topliners notably Luxury Liner the best stayer Roy and Barry Purdon trained and a super durable horse of the outstanding late 1980's era of  stars. Roy Purdon recalls that Luxury Liner in most situations was a sensible horse even though his sire could strike fear in the uninitiated even from behind stout fencing

Bettor's Delight has not been matched with many Armbro Operative mares but one, Bettor Be Gold raced out of All Stars. The best one out of the stable however has been Ultimate Machete and there is no greateer recommendation for this youngster than his record to date











Pur Dan might seem at first glance an unusual name for a younger pacer but on closer inspection it is not hard to agree that the yearling sold for $62,500 at the last PGG sale as Big Art has quite an appropriate moniker.

Mark purchased him for Victorian owner, Danny Zavitsanos nearly all of whose horses have Dan in their name War Dan Delight being another example at All Stars.

Given the success Danny and Mark/Natalie have enjoyed  in recent times the name seems most appropriate.

There is another reason.  Pur Dan is the first live foal of the Mach Three mare  Collectable, a Group Three winner for All Stars in 2010 notable for the driving success of Nicole Molander who won the Delightful Lady Classic with her.  All Stars having its usual bevy of female stars that season and many drivers were rostered.

Pur Dan

Pur Dan

Oddly, though Collectable won her first three starts,she did not win again. However she ran some grand races including a 4th in the Caduceus Classic and 4th again in the Nevele R Fillies Final at three, the year of Carabella when everyone else was struggling to compete. That filly won 10 of her 11 starts and was second in the other to completely dominate the season.

Pur Dan is her first live foal after two dead foals and failing to get in foal at her other service

Her sire Mach Three has not struck up any special relationship to Art Major as yet though there is time for that to develop and the cross has produced some useful types. Collectable was the only foal from her dam Stage Talent by Mach Three, who has had a notable contribution to New Zealand breeding, especially with his ability to leave early speed and notably with fillies. Ironically his best in New Zealand, Auckland Reactor, did not race at two but he more than made up for it at three. 

Mach Three was among the notable descendants of the Direct Scooter (Volomite) pacing line to carry everything before it in New Zealand for a decade beginning with the importation of In the Pocket who left A string of top horses and whose great son Christian Cullen reshaped the breed before the Abbedale line was restored at the top by Bettor's Delight. 

The Direct Scooter line emerged from virtually nowhere his sire and grandsire not being memorable racehorses and the Volomite pacing line going out of fashion but the speed element of the line crossed nicely with the tougher but rougher Meadow Skipper paces

Mach Threes sire Matt's Scooter, a $US17,000 yearling purchase, was an extremely fast son of Direct Scooter who overcame some handicaps to establish his reputation. He was hard to handle at two but at three, though ineligible for both the Little Brown Jug and the Cane Pace he won over $2m including the Meadowlands Pace and the Messenger. He wasn't spared, running in 20 races and he had more at four winning 23 of his 30 starts. He was Harness Horse of the Year at 3 and Pacer of the Year at 4. Mach Three (1.49.2) was one of his fastest his fastest sons though Royal Mattjesty who also came Down Under, ran 1.48 and  change was faster. Mach Three's brother  Extreme Three also came to New Zealand while Matt's Scooter's son Mattuity, a smart pacer, did as well though he failed to build on the early promise of Ken Barron's smart youngster Mattnamara's Band.

The Bonnie Barbara branch of Collectable's family has left some very good sorts on the track though not many standouts in recent times. Her dam, Stage Talent was by Soky;s Atom from the Stampede mare Stage Queen.

This where the most notable performer of recent times comes into the picture as Stage Queen was a sister to the outstanding pacer, Defoe who won the Superstars Final (a bigger race then than now) and the Lion Red Mile at Alexandra Park for the Robert Dunn stable. He was from the Lumber Dream mare Secure Bel.

Pur Dan's family has several genuine speed influences over a tough old Kiwi source and with the speed capability of Art Major youngsters he could be a formidable performer-whatever his name is.



Major Coo is raced by a tried and true Kennard syndicate who also race Tennyson Bromac and as his name suggests he tracks back to the prolific mare Coo Doo the dam of Palestine, Stereo Light and Barbara Del (dam of Ruthless) and 11 winners in all. Another of her foals, Anna Pavlova (unraced) left the young flier Derby who set a record for the time by qualifying for the NZ Cup after just 12 starts

This has been a very successful family over a long period but it has bred in large numbers and getting the right end of the strike rate is not a simple task. Some of the fillies have been indifferent breeders in terms of racing success. Major Coo looks to be one of the many  exceptions.

The reason there are so many foals from the breed is not hard to trace. Coo Doo (1960) who did not race, had a live foal every year from 1967 until 1984 and was nearly 25 years oid when she first missed. Eight of them were fillies.

Coo Doo was by Morano who brought two gifts to an old Mid Canterbury family. The first was the high speed which was reflected in his own career especially as a younger horse. The second was the influence by the great U Scott which was not quite so welcome. Some of his offspring among the colts could be temperamental if not downright difficult just as he was. Some of the Coo Doo tribe were somewhat problematical to handle especially among the colts as the late Jack Smolenski would have been able to testify. But Morano brought a lot more good than bad.

Major Coo traces to Entrancing (Mark Lobell) one of Coo Doo's least successful daughters. She had 46 starts for John Noble and never won a race. Her first foal (1986) by Holmes Hanover won four minor races and so did her last to race but the rest were unsuccessful including the Soky's Atom filly Infante Elana. Her sister, Conchita, also unraced, later left the smart pacer Tennis Ball, but the rest of her breeding career was ill fated.

Infante Elana has left Nonno Stride winner of $117,000 so far from 116 starts in Australia almost all in moderate company. Ruato Bay has had a similar career there with $94,000 won from 116 starts his biggest winning stake being $5000. However both horses have the innate toughness in their makeup which has made the Coo Doo breed so long lasting in the industry. Ruato Bay is a three parts brother to Major Coo.

Long Live Lana (In the Pocket)was the only filly from Infante Elana to win a race, winning twice at three for John McKenzie trained by Phil Burrows wining at Blenheim and Addington.

The influence of In the Pocket was a bonus for the filly and she got another boost when she was mated with Bettor's Delight for her first foal the smart Delightful Lana (1.55.9) who won 7 races from 15 starts in New Zealand. She was Group One placed from Cran Dalgety's stable when she beat all but Fight for Glory in the PGG Wrightons sales series for 3yo fillies.