Behind the Breeds - whos' catching the eye? #3

by Don Rae

Behind The Breeds is a new series where breeding enthusiast Don Rae takes a deep dive into the pedigree of some of today's trotters and pacers. In today's third edition he casts his eye on the trials in Mid Canterbury.

Among a raft of blueblood qualifiers at the Ashburton trials, there were three standouts from a breeding perspective, all from the trotting ranks.

Matty Williamson's filly Majestic Lady was the first to qualify by running second in the 2YO Mobile Trot. By What The Hill from the Holdonmyheart mare Love Hate Revenge, her grand-dam is the 9 win Gee's Pride and her third dam is the 17 win Gee Du Jour who was in turn the sister of the dam of I Didn't Do It who won 16 races in Australia.

More directly, Majestic Lady is a half sister to Majestic Man who has in Australia alone won two Dullard Trotters Cups, an Australian Trotting Grand Prix (2240m), and the Aquagait Equine Centre Trotters Mile (1609m). In New Zealand he has won three Waikato Flying Stakes [or equivalent race name], a New Zealand 2YO Trotting Championship, and has placed umpteen times in Group races in New Zealand and Australia, having 95 starts, 24 wins, 27 seconds, 13 thirds, and lifetime earnings of $811,470. Another half brother has been Sol Invictus (11 wins).

Could she be another of a seemingly endless string of fine trotters emanating from Oamaru with the Williamson name attached?

Next up was the qualifying trot which saw all three starters qualify, and all of whom are bred in the purple.

Lynn and Justin Smith's 3c Shoemaker, (Father Patrick - Accumulate) who won the trial, is raced in partnership with Ms L M Fallow, and traces directly through Look via Someday to the 1963 Light Brigade mare Passive. So does the Nyhans' 3f Knowing Me (Majestic Son - With Intent), who ran third a nose behind Michael Howard's 2g A Reason To Fight (Father Patrick - Jaw D Nancy). (We'll look into A Reason To Fight's antecedents in the next article.)

The dam of Shoemaker, Accumulate, who was out of Speculate out of Look, was unraced while her mother Speculate (a full sister to Some Direction and a half sister to Total Perception) won nine times and has left two winners to date including the capable Lookslikeatrooper (6 wins).

The dam of Knowing Me, With Intent, who was out of Total Perception (7 wins) out of Look, was a very good mare who won 13 races for Denis Nyhan and has so far left one winner from four foals, the capable mare It's So Easy, who races in the familiar black and white hooped Nyhan colours.

The first common ancestress of both Schoemaker and Knowing Me is the 1983 Gekoj-Someday mare Look, who won nine races for Denis Nyhan. Perhaps just a hair off top-class, Look's best finish in a Major Race was second for driver Colin de Fillipi in the 1986 New Zealand 2YO Trotting Stakes behind Rod Bowker's Felicia. She also ran fourth in the 1987 New Zealand Trotting Derby with Mike de Fillipi driving in behind Kami, Game Nian and Bellam. She was certainly a fine juvenile but her importance is as a wonderful broodmare for breeders Mrs D A Nyhan, Mrs H H Pope and Mrs L A Smith.

From 12 live foals she left 10 winners, 6 of them fillies, who won 66 races between them. Some Direction was the best with 26 victories but Speculate (9), Now Another Look (6), Perfect For Now (5) and Geeky Looking (4) were also among the good contributions to Look's most impressive tally.

Look was by Gekoj out of Someday by Light Brigade out of Passive by U Scott out of Violet Wrack by Wrack.

This is a family from which breeders Denise Nyhan, Helen Pope and Lyn Smith, who are all daughters of the late Bill Doyle, have had tremendous success. (Bill bred and trained a great many winning square-gaiters from his Doyleston base.) The three daughters have collectively bred dozens and dozens of good to brilliant trotters, some of their best being noted in this article, many tracing to Passive, more on whom below, others to the U Scott mare Circlette.

Someday (6 wins) included the Great Evander mare About Now (25 wins, $101,745) among her progeny. At three, About Now ran second in the New Zealand Trotting Derby and third in the Northern Trotting Derby while as an aged horse she secured an Ordeal Trotting Cup, two wins and a third in the Bank's Peninsula Trotting Cup, two wins and a second in the Canterbury Park Trotting Cup, two seconds in the New Zealand Trotting Championship and two thirds in the Dominion Handicap. Among her contemporaries whom she raced against and sometimes beat were such great horses as Stormy Morn, Basil Dean, Sir Castleton, Hano Direct, Pointer Hanover, Alias Armbro, Scotch Tar and Tussle.

Someday also left the unraced entire Some Evander whose 34 winners won 98 races and earned $389,906 in New Zealand. Lady Andelle and Roman Guy both won seven, Boy Castleton and Karina Lee won six while Some Event won five. Some Evander mares left good winners too: Andrew Eyre (14 wins) and Chiola's Dragon (10 wins) top that list.

Another Someday mare was Some Pride who won four times but more importantly was the dam of the Gee Whiz II mare Natural Glow, who won 12 times for Peter Wolfenden's stable. She ran third, fifth and first in successive Northern Trotting Breeders Stakes from 1998 to 2000 and ran second in a Greenlane Cup off 35m behind Bold Kamwood, beaten a neck. She in turn left Extasia (9 wins) and Murcielargo (6 wins from just 20 starts) but sadly this branch of the family peters out from here on.

The U Scott mare Passive won four times and left 8 winners from 10 live foals, all of whom had their share of class, some of whom were top class. When (19 wins, second 1962 Dominion Handicap, first 1962 New Zealand Trotting Free For All, first 1965 Banks Peninsula Trotting Cup, dam of 7 winners) and Asia Minor (15 wins, first 1963 New Zealand Trotting Derby and 1967 New Zealand Trotting Championship, unplaced in Interdominion Trotting Final) were the best of these.

When left 7 winners including Now (8 wins) and Now Charles (6 wins), with Now going on to leave champion trotter and handy stallion Call Me Now (24 wins, $423,685, including two New Zealand Trotting Free For Alls, an Interdominion, a Dominion, an Ashburton Flying Mile, an ATC National Trot and a Cambridge Trotters Flying Mile).

There are literally scores of winners featuring Passive in their pedigree and no doubt there are many more in store as her descendants breed on.

Going further back, Passive's dam Violet Wrack won six and left just three foals including Passive and another filly in Kowhai. As outlined, Passive was a champion broodmare but Kowhai didn't do too badly either. She won four and from six live foals left four winners including Grand Charge (8 wins) and Johnny Kowhai (6 wins). Springfield Yankee (10 wins) was among Kowhai's descendants.

Returning to Some Direction, she won the 2006 Canterbury Park Trotting Cup and the 2007 Ordeal Cup for Lynn and Justin Smith while being placed a further six times in major races, always with Justin Smith in the bike. She was known as a particularly brave mare and it's a treat to use HRNZ's Infohorse facility to search Some Direction and use the Race Starts feature to drill down to her videos. My favourite is the 2007 Canterbury Park Trotting Cup where she works up three wide from back in the field and grabs the lead with a round to go only to be nabbed in the shadows of the post by Whatsundermykilt after fighting back when headed at the 100m. That run was a particularly brave performance which I'm sure the connections and some punters remember well albeit for different reasons.

Interestingly, the stats show she did well in both spring and autumn, unlike some mares who wait until summer and autumn to show their best. Some of the family have followed that preference. Of course, several mares have been good enough in spring in November to win the Cup; Adore Me, Mainland Banner, Blossom Lady, Bonnie's Chance, Armalight and so on... meaning one can interpret stats in many ways.

Some Direction has at stud often been a shy breeder but she has managed to leave 5 winners from 8 live foals. Unfortunately, none have managed to match her class but perhaps her fillies and mares that are still racing may yet reverse that trend.

Her full sister Speculate certainly did well however. She won a decent 9 races and $136,673 in stakes and counted the 2009 New Zealand Trotting Free For All among her wins. In a terrific spring of 2009, she also recorded second placings in the Ordeal Cup, the Canterbury Park Trotting Cup and the Ashburton Flying Mile. Watching the replays of these three races is like watching replays of her sister Some Direction; in the Flying Mile, she is just pipped at the post by Springbank Richard after trying to lead from go to whoa, while in the 3200m Canterbury Park Trotting Cup she takes the lead with a round to go, is headed by a horse with the better run at the 100m but fights back to go down by the barest margin on the line. In both cases she fights back when headed and cuts the margin to a whisker. Let's hope Schoemaker is just as brave.

To finish, there's a story behind Gekoj too; in the late 1970s and early 1980s the Norwegian Captain Odbar Andersen brought out four French stallions to stand at stud: Beau Nonantais, Gekoj, Iguassou and Jet d'Emeraude as well as the Norwegian horse Inter Du Pas.

Jet d'Emeraude left only 2 winners from 54 live foals, and only 4 winners were derived from his broodmares yet one of these, Paul Corkran's superlative broodmare Nakura, became the ancestress of all the 'Moment' trotters, (as well as Stig - more on him below) and left the great Take A Moment (39 wins, $1,164,356).

Iguassou left 15 winners including the capable Le Duc (15 wins, $86,350) who in 1988 won the New Zealand Trotting Derby and Hambletonian Classic while Beau Nonantais' singular achievement apart from siring 8 winners seems to be leaving La Finale, who left 5 winners for the Burgesses of Leeston. Inter du Pas left one good horse, Ricky Allen's Rua Kenana (12 wins, $100,158, including 1989 New Zealand Trotting Championship and second in 1988 Northern Trotting Derby) but unfortunately his mares didn't amount to anything.

Gekoj was the best of these European imported stallions; he stood at stud for just four seasons and left 17 winners from 83 live foals. The giant trotter David Moss was the best of these; he won $490,275 from 89 starts, 31 wins, 9 seconds, and 4 thirds. David Moss managed to win two Dominions (1993, 1994), two New Zealand Trotting Championships (1993, 1994) and the 1993 ATC Rowe Cup while also winning in Australia the Australasian Trotters Championship Final and the V.L.Dullard Cup both at Moonee Valley. Gekoj also sired Drott Moss (13 wins, $111,685) who won the 1990 Cambridge Trotters Flying Mile, placed second in the 1989 New Zealand Trotting Free-For-All and third in the 1990 Rowe Cup.

Gekoj's mares have left 27 winners of 146 races in total who have earned $1,804,035 in stakes in New Zealand alone. Among their offspring have been the marvelous Stig (22 New Zealand wins, T1:55.2 Trotting free-for-all, Dominion Handicap, National Trot, Rowe Cup/one AUS win, T1:57.2, heat Great Southern Star) and the classy Sundon mare Some Direction (26 wins, $307,804), before mentioned..

Gekoj remains at times a potent outcross presence four or five generations back in the pedigrees of a growing number of trotting horses. It will be very interesting to see how this continues to evolve in future.

French blood has certainly become much more common in recent years, most notably through champion sire Love You but also through the numerous other imports secured through Haras de Trotteurs. It's important that New Zealand breeders keep being able to access new outcrosses that are needed to continue to keep our bloodstock fresh and competitive.

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