Serene Miki - the Arabian Standardbred
A recent workout winner in Canterbury, Serene Miki is no ordinary standardbred.
In fact she’s only part standardbred. She’s out of a part-Arabian mare, Sophie Serene, and is potentially the first horse with Arab bloodlines to be registered with Harness Racing New Zealand for around 70 years.
Putting a non-standardbred mare to such an established sire as Always B Miki is hardly conventional behaviour, but then again veteran trainer Jim Dalgety likes to think outside the square.
“The Arabs have tremendous stamina, they just keep going,” Dalgety said, “so knowing they are so precocious I thought I’d experiment a bit.”
The 88 year old, who’s had a lifetime in harness racing as a breeder, owner, trainer, driver and stud master, has tried mixing standardbreds and thoroughbreds before.
Among his attempts were breeding thoroughbred mares Carron and Valoyda to his champion sire Bachelor Hanover in the mid 1960s. The resulting progeny, Cyrenian and Mendocity, were both unraced.
Other standardbreds with thoroughbred blood have been more successful. Kata Hoiho won seven from 20 for trainer Peter Yeatman in the early 1980s. His dam Our Helen was by a thoroughbred, Prince Bobby as was Angelo Dundee’s dam Dounreay (Dean). Angelo Dundee won eight races for trainer Brian Saunders from 1979-83.
The Arabian - standardbred combo is unusual. In the early 1900s it was commonplace, but numbers dwindled.
It’s believed the last “Arabian” horse to be registered in this country was Wedgewood in July 1946.
Serene Miki is the third generation of Dalgety’s experiment.
He acquired Taralea Serene, a pureblood Arabian from North Canterbury, and she was served by Live Or Die.
The resulting progeny Sophie Serene then had two fillies, Serene Arab (He’s Watching) and then Serene Miki (Always B Miki).
“The He’s Watching was just against us and threw too dominantly towards the Arab blood ,” says Cran Dalgety, who’s training Serene Miki for his dad, “whereas with Always B Miki being a more sedate sire, I think we found some middle ground.”
But she hasn’t been easy.
“The Arabians are highly intelligent and very stubborn – they don’t like doing anything outside their comfort zone,” says Cran Dalgety.
“And with Serene Miki all the time she thinks it’s playtime.”
Despite her unorthodox breeding she was able to be registered under the rules of New Zealand harness racing.
At his first public outing she won her workout at Rangiora by a head, rating 58.7 for the last 800, the final quarter in 29.6.”
“Cran said she won nicely,” says Jim, “we are hopeful she will win a race or two, she’s got some speed all right.”
Soon Serene Miki will try to qualify – a race day debut could be just weeks away.
“I’m not getting too carried away,” Jim Dalgety said,” but it would be great if this was the start of a new breed.”