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NZB Standardbred’s 2020 National Standardbred Yearling Sale is underway at Karaka and will showcase the very best harness racing yearlings New Zealand has to offer over four action-packed days of inspections, parades and selling. The Auckland Sale on Monday 17 February will be broadcast live on Freeview Channel 200 and www.nzbstandardbred.co.nz  from 10.45am with a Preview Show hosted by Greg O'Connor.  Live updates here from 10:45am Please refresh your browser to check for latest additions to the live feed updates  Good start to the sales with Lot 1 Jesse J (American Ideal – Jessies Cullen), Bay Filly going for $45,000 to the bid of Steve Stockman.  Woodlands Stud (NZ) Ltd were the vendors Lot 1 Jesse J Lot 3 Hoppy's Way (Art Major – Joanne's A Delight)Brown Colt, sold for $65,000 to Mr JR & Mrs W Giumelli – Western Australia , Hollis & Robertson Equine Services the vendors. Lot 3 Hoppy's Way   Lot 10 Ebury Delight (Bettor's Delight – Meet Me In Mayfair) Bay Filly sold for $75,000 to Dawe Contracting Ltd – Canterbury, Hollis & Robertson Equine Services the vendors. Lot 10 Ebury Delight    Lot 13 Manchild (Bettor's Delight – O Baby) Bay Colt sold for $100,000 to PI & GJ Kennard Bloodstock Ltd – Canterbury, Breckon Farms Ltd were the vendors Lot 13 Manchild Lot 25 Sweet Spirit (Sweet Lou – Major Spirit), Bay Filly, Sold for $52,000 to Mr RW Todd – Canterbury, Woodlands Stud (NZ) Ltd were the vendors Lot 25 Sweet Spirit    Lot 32 Precious Belle (Bettor's Delight – Precious Rose), Bay Filly sold for $95,000  Old Ridge Services No. 4 Ltd the vendors Lot 32 Precious Belle   Lot 33 Gossip Girl (Bettor's Delight – Our Melody), Brown Filly  sold for $50,000, Woodlands Stud (NZ) Ltd Lot 33 Gossip Girl   Lot 35 Cover Girl (Bettor's Delight – Sossusvlei), Brown Filly sold for $95,000,Breckon Farms Ltd the vendor Lot 35 Cover Girl   Lot 42 Maddys Nino (Art Major – Spanish Armada), Bay Colt sold for $105,000 to Mr JR & Mrs W Giumelli – Western Australia,Hollis & Robertson Equine Services the vendors Lot 42 Maddys Nino   Lot 44 Splice The Mainbrace (Captaintreacherous – Twilight Beauty), Chestnut Colt sold for $55,000, Tardina Stud Ltd the vendor Lot 44 Splice The Mainbrace   Lot 49 Argyle (Bettor's Delight – Royal Gem), Bay Colt  sold for $210,000, Woodlands Stud (NZ) Ltd the vendor Lot 49 Argyle   Lot 63 Next To Me (Bettor's Delight- Splendid Deal ) continues the strong run of Woodlands Stud and sells for $200'000. The family is well known with Maixm and Splendour both group 1 performers.   Lot 71 Casino Action (Bettor's Delight- Super Deal) goes to USA interests for $80'000. That's a good indication of the increased market attention that New Zealand breeds are generating across the globe.  Lot 79 Big Boy Louie (Bettor's Delight- Big Lucy) sells for $60'000 to Phil Kennard. Big Lucy being an 8 time winner. It carries on what has been a busy time for the Kennards as purchases.   Lot 89 Instant Classic (Muscle Hill- Classic Armbro) proves just that and brings a $90'000 bid from G Hope. The colt is a brother to Tailored Elegance.  Lot 102  Bo Duke (Bettor's Delight - Daisy Dundee) sells for $115'000 to Stonewall Stud. The colt is a brother to Jesse Duke and calls upon the Deborah Dundee dam-line.   Lot 112 Whiskey On The Rocks (Art Major-Double Shot) stripped a grand prospect and is hammered down at $65'000. It continues the strong showing by Art Major and is closely followed by Lot 113, Georgias Bettors, a Bettor's Delight colt who threatens to top the action with a bid of $200'000 registered by Jean Feiss who has a strong record for selecting the very best come sales time.  Lot 122  Im Cushty (Captain trecherous- Hi Ho Silver) sets a new high for the sale today with a $250'000 bid from Australian interests. The Captain certainly making an impression at Karaka. That lot is followed by Lot 124 Pasquale (Bettor's Delight - Holly Madison) which makes $110'000 for Breckon Farms.   Lot 122  Im Cushty The last lot of the day is passed in. That's wrap of the day here. Day two sees the action travel down to Christchurch where the trotting bloodlines will be present for sale before pacing blood is offered on Wednesday.    Harnesslink Media

By Garrick Knight    Today’s Karaka yearling sale is being keenly anticipated by those connected with rookie sire, Always B Miki. The former champion American racehorse has his first New Zealand crop going through the ring this week and if results from his homeland are taken as a guide, he’s in for a good showing here. “His first crop of yearlings sold for huge money in North America,” said Graeme Henley, head of Alabar Stud, which stands the shuttle stallion. “He was third overall on average behind Somebeachsomewhere and Captaintreacherous and I think had at least 11 lots sell for over US$100,000. “Then at the first APG sale in Brisbane, he broke the record there for the highest-priced colt and he sold solidly in Melbourne.” Henley says the biggest sign that buyers and breeders like Always B Miki is that in this most recent breeding season, his third, he defied the usual ‘third year slump’. That is the season where he is yet to have a yearling in the sales, but is no longer the exciting new stallion, so numbers would inevitably take a hit. It’s been that way since Moses wore short pants. “But this year he served his biggest book ever. “It means people are liking what they see and they’ve seen the results in North America.” Henley sees Always B Miki, in time, as the Stud’s replacement flagship stallion for the great Art Major, who is now 21 and starting to struggle a bit with fertility. “He’s just so well lined up to succeed down here and will certainly have his opportunity.” There are 12 of his stock that will go through the Karaka ring today, and the standout on paper is the half-brother to star mare Princess Tiffany, named Miki Diamonds. Nigel Fahy is the new studmaster at Breckon Farms, and he’s handled six of the 12 Always B Miki yearlings for the sale. He says buyers are showing immense interest in all of them. “A lot of people who turned up at the farm, including a few major clients, all said the same thing. “We want to see the Bettor’s Delights, the Art Majors and the Always B Mikis. “That’s what you want – a lot of the good judges, and those that buy at the top end of the market, looking at them.” Fahy says Miki Diamonds has had his fair share of interest and he has no doubts he will sell well. “He’s a big strapping colt and the type of horse the high end buyers will be after. “He is really big though and that may just prevent him from being in the top few lots.” Another sure to get the attention of buyers is Cos I Can, a half-sister to juvenile filly Town Echo, who has turned heads with some scintillating trials performances recently. Connections confirmed over the weekend that a $300,000 offer had been declined for the Matt Anderson-trained filly, so her Always B Miki half-brother will surely generate plenty of interest. The first to go throw the ring will be Thug Rose, a half-sister to Eamon Maguire offered by Henley’s son, Tate. “It’s a bit of a shame she has to go through so early as lot 6, but she’s a really nice filly and I’m sure will sell well,” said Henley. Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

Many harness racing fans will remember an incredibly successful North Island family of horses from the eighties and nineties that trace back to the broodmare Birdie. Birdie, of course, earned fame as the dam of Dillon Dean and Dillon Dale, who, between them, won 37 races and were placed 31 times, she also left My Double Birdie (1:57.4) who left Two Under (1:53.2 in USA) Dillon Dean's main wins included the NZ Messenger and Derby titles alongside the NZ Free For All. Dillon Dale also won the NZ Free For All, the NZ Juvenile Championship and Thames Cup. Birdie's Belle, a Berry Hanover daughter of Birdie, produced the outstanding pacer Elmer Gantry, winner of 18 races and 29 times placed. The dam of Lot 31 at the 2020 National Standardbred Yearling Sale is out of a half sister to Elmer Gantry giving buyers a chance to buy in to a family that has left an indelible mark in harness racing annuals. Lot 31 Simply Sam is by outstanding sire American Ideal out of Simply Stunning and is being offered on behalf of Breckon Farms. American Ideal served a full book of 220 mares this past season in Australia standing at a stud fee of A$10,000. American Ideal is the sire of over $105,000,000 in progeny earnings in North America including 12 millionaires. His progeny has average earnings of over $123,191 per starter. In New Zealand, American Ideal has bred 298 winners and his progeny earnings are over $9,000,000 including the likes of The Orange Agent $516,972), Ideal Scott ($388,689), Besotted ($255,744) and recent top three-year-old Copy That ($107,334)   In Australia, American Ideal has 189 Australian bred winners of $12,509,442 to date. He has amazing per starter average earnings of $50,239 per starter. These winners include the super stars Bling It On ($1,830,597) and Soho Tribeca ($1,103,854). Top two-year-old in Australia last season was Pelosi 1:52.6 ($254,236) another daughter of American Ideal. A simple stunning story so far and a compelling future ahead for American Ideal and Simply Sam!  Harnesslink Media

Always B Miki has the heart of a harness racing champion. He has proven this time and time again, whether it be setting a world record during the Allerage Pace, or in his fierce showdown in the 2016 Breeders Crown to capture his second consecutive Breeders Crown title. His fierce determination has led to his success on the track, even after suffering a potentially career-ending injury his 3-year-old year, Always B Miki would not be stopped. He recovered and came back even stronger, with wins in the Breeders Crown, the Haughton Memorial, the Gold Cup, and the Ben Franklin, among many others, landing on the board an impressive 45 times. His grit and speed are second to none, and he will surely be a force to be reckoned with in the stud barn. Always B Miki  Click here for Always B Miki on Wikipedia 2011 Bay Stallion by Always A Virgin out of Artstopper Earnings of $2,715,368 2016 Horse of The Year Always B Miki set the WORLD RECORD during the Allerage Pace, winning in an outstanding 1:46 Two time Breeders Crown champion, winning both in 2015 and then again the consecutive year in 2016, in a thrilling battle against Wiggle It Jiggleit Only horse to win 4 races in 1:47 or faster Multiple other victories in prestigious races such as the Ben Franklin, Haughton Memorial and the Ewart Memorial Always B Miki record Year Age Starts Win Place Show Earnings Speed Record Ref 2013 2 12 2 4 3 $135,384 1:53.1 [8] 2014 3 19 12 4 – $791,482 1:47.4 [29] 2015 4 4 4 – – $301,210 1:48.1 [30] 2016 5 18 12 5 – $1,487,292 1:46.0[a] [31] Overall 53 30 13 3 $2,719,368 1:46.0   ^ World record[28] Always B Miki is featured with 26 yearlings at the 2020 National Standardbred Yearling Sale, New Zealand this coming week. He has 12 yearlings in the Northern Sale at Karaka on Monday and he has 14 in the Southern Sale on Tuesday and Wednesday. Breckon Farms have six yearlings entered by Always B Miki in the Northern Sale at Karaka.  One of those yearlings is Lot 9 Money Motives,out of the race winning Bettor's Delight mare Moving Money selling on behalf of Breckon Farms.. Moving Money's dam is the very good race mare Angela's Dream winner of $118,244. Lot 9 - Money Motives Other yearlings by Always B Miki from the Breckon Farms draft are Lot 43, Lot 76, Lot 93, Lot 103 and Lot 106 Harnesslink Media.

It’s often hard to line up 2yr old form with any confidence. A smart, well bred performer might look a million bucks one week and perform like it’s worth two bucks-fifty the next. Couple that with the All Stars Stables dominance of juvenile racing in New Zealand over the past few years and you have an argument that might say “she’s a nice one for next season” or “she’ll be better placed once the good fillies are out of the way” I’m not entirely sure that argument would hold up for a certain trial and workout performer lately… Credentials are as follows Trainer: M Anderson Horse: Town Echo The Art Major filly, out of a Bettor’s Delight two-win mare in Cordelia, has impressed in her two trials and does genuinely look like a horse that can have punters sitting up and slinging their hard-earned on at short notice. Her eight length blitzing of a field yesterday at Rangiora trials (in a time of 2.35.7 over the 2000m mobile) comes after a bullish trial performance some three months ago at Addington when accounting for the Cran Dalgety trained Karmic Delight. On that occasion Town Echo found the line like a horse in a hurry completing the last quarter in a little over 27 seconds from the trail to win by a comfortable two length margin. Yes it’s early days but there are fair wins and there are nice wins, the efforts of Town Echo certainly belonging in the latter of those two descriptions. A further investigation in to the prospective quality of the filly is supported by a brief look at its closely-related performers. Aqua Sancta (2 wins from just 7 starts on NZ soil) Zinny Mach (now multiple winner in the USA) and the well travelled Our Bagger Vance (8 wins) all have blood ties to the Anderson runner. When you couple those family-ties effort with the sound UDR of the young trainer / driver then you have a compelling argument towards Town Echo being more than your average run-of-the-mill qualifier.     So while the two year-old riches generally go to the stable racing in blue with a few stars on their chests if would pay to follow the Anderson trained runner in the months ahead. There’s a strong chance you’ll witness a nice horse, in full flight, winning races.    If Town Echo is the horse her recent efforts suggest then Lot 35 at the upcoming 2020 National Standardbred Yearling Sale is well worth a look. “Cover Girl” is a Bettor’s Delight filly offered by Breckon Farms and is closely related via her dam (Sossusvlei) being a half sister to Cordelia. “Cover Girl” is only the second foal out of Sossuvlei and a full sister to the forementioned Aqua Sancta. Pedigree updates; Aqua Sancta 2016 (Bettor's Delight-Sossusvlei, by Art Major - Corbie) 29/11/2019 2nd NZMTC NZ Sires Stks 3yo Silver 1-58.3 Cash N Flow 2012 (Mach Three-Karen Donna, by In The Pocket - Megaera) 09/11/2019 2nd Nswhrc at Tabcorp Pk Menangle NSW Kevin Robinson ffa Gr.3 16/11/2019 1st Nswhrc at Tabcorp Pk Menangle NSW Sue Kelly ffa 1-49.9 Gr.3 30/11/2019 2nd Nswhrc at Tabcorp Pk Menangle NSW Lazarus At Yirribee ffa Gr.3 06/01/2020 1st Tabcorp Pk Menangle Ainsworth Game Technology Pace 1-52.0 25/01/2020 2nd Tabcorp Park Melton Vic Casey Classic Gr.2 Perfect Stride 2016 (Bettor's Delight-Chicago Blues, by Christian Cullen - Bluejeanbabyqueen) 26/11/2019 1st Nswhrc at Tabcorp Pk Menangle Garrards Horse And Hound Pace 1-53.1 25/01/2020 3rd Tabcorp Park Melton Vic Derby Gr.1 Ben McMillan

If you were to look down the list of NZ Standardbred Breeders Stakes winners you’d be looking at a list of some of finest harness racing mares to run on New Zealand soil. It’s a race that invariably attracts a strong field with plenty of depth.   Tellingly, the running of the race also generally results in the in-form mare of the time prevailing. The storied history of the race includes the three-time winners in (Blossom Lady (1991,1992,1993) and Bonnie’s Chance (whose last title came at the end of 1983 after winning the same title on the 1st of January of the same year) Kym’s Girl, Shortys Girl and Lento all captured the title twice. The Robbie Holmes trained Kiwi Ingenuity won in 2009 while Bettor Cover Lover (2013) Adore Me (2014)and The Orange Agent (2017) are all recent winners of the Group 1. An impressive roll of honour indeed. This years edition of the New Zealand Breeders Stakes, to be run on the Friday night, is shaping up to be another competitive affair . Conversations regarding the favoured runners are dominated, and rightfully so, by the All Stars trained Princess Tiffany who opened her account this time in on the 31st of January with a front running win in the Group 2 Garrards Premier Mares Championship. You’d have to think that Princes Tiffany would only improve off the back of that first-up effort but so will others… The Bagrie trained Bettor’s Heart continues to run strong races and does pose a genuine threat if able to receive a decent mid-race position, while the Steve Telfer pair of Step up (second in the race last year) and Ivana Flybye ,who has drawn the #1 barrier, both put in sound performances in the Mares Championship and should also be respected. Other prospects come in the form of the Barry Purdon trained Wainui Creek, the much-improved Enchantee, who can find the line better than most from a sit behind genuine speed, and the Steve McRae trained Nemera Franco, a mare whose risen through the ranks in recent times and has shown a genuine ability to find the line. All-in-all a competitive looking field once you get past the All Stars runner.   Apart from its obvious riches the NZ Standardbred Breeders Stakes plays an important part in any broodmare career that race participants may go on to have with the black type and group title garnered from a victory in the race acting as a powerful endorsement of a mares quality on the track and continued worth when heading to the paddock for mothering duties. It’s a common belief that the best of a generation can, and often do, leave the best of the next. With that in mind it comes as no surprise to see a number of past NZ Standardard Breeders Stakes victors and performers represented at this years 2020 National Standardbred Yearling Sale to be held at both Karaka and the Canterbury Agricultural Park.    These include: Willow, the runner-up to Venus Serena in 2015 when trained by Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen, is represented with Lot 69. Offered by Breckon Farms “Willow Bay” is by Art Major, the colt will look to carry on a strong family history that includes early-going types in Go West U Terror (Pearl Classic winner and 2100 Golden Slipper runner-up) and Tricky Styx (2yr old diamond classic winner and WA Derby runner-up) both are the progeny of a sister to second dam Listen To The Rhythm. Luisanabelle Midfrew, the 2016 winner of the Breeders when trained by Nigel Mcgrath, brings her first foal to the sales in the form of Lot 201. A Somebeachsomewhere colt named “Midfrew Laguna Bay” The family has found success lately with Letsgotothehop (8 wins) being a notable Australian performer last year. Nearea Franco, who placed in behind the Robbie Holmes trained Kiwi ingenuity in 2009 has a Bettor’s Delight filly in. Lot 224, Nirvana Franco, will want to repeat the racetrack success of Nike Franco (multiple Group 1 winner and career earnings of almost $1’000’000) The wider family went very close to a maiden victory at Alexandra Park on the 7th of February when Franco Nandor (the first foal out of Nicaea Franco) was narrowly beaten by the Steven Reid trained Mr Fantastic. And Lot 352, Aliberto, a Somebeachsomewhere colt is the fifth foal out of the 2012 winner of the race in Carabella, a champion mare who has already produced Olivia Rachel (2 wins, 7 places). A close relation, a 2yr old Bettor’s Delight filly, Girls Need Pearlz (out of Andress Blue Chip) has been seen at trials and workouts as recently as last week. Ben McMillan

Harness racing's greatest breeding cross - Bettor's Delight over a Christian Cullen mare - has proven time and time again that it is the most potent cross in the harness racing breeding world today. Lazarus heads the charge with over $4 million in the bank. His dam is Bethany by Christian Cullen. Next on the list is Chicago Bull ($1,744,430), his dam is Chicago Blues by Christian Cullen. Then there is Ohoka Punter ($1,177,323) his dam is Millwood Minisota by Christian Cullen. The list goes on and on with the likes of Highview Tommy ($990,015), The Fixer ($978,500), Spanish Armada ($787,470), Belle Of Montana ($587,501), Self Assured, None Bettor, Wrappers Delight, Elle Mac, Amazing Dream, Better B Amazed, No Doctor Needed, Seaswift Joy, Another Masterpiece, Heisenberg, Ashley Locaz and Chase The Dream. This cross Bettor's Delight over a Christian Cullen mare has resulted in over $20 million in progeny earnings world wide to date. The five-win Christian Cullen mare Holly Madison has an outstanding Bettor's Delight colt in this years National Standardbred Yearling Sale on behalf of Breckon Farms called Pasquale. It is Lot 124 in the catalogue. Lot 124 Pasquale Harnesslink Media  

It almost seems fitting for the harness racing mare Affairs Of State to leave a nice horse at the moment, what with Impeachment proceedings, State of the Nation speeches and Iowa vote-counting mess-ups.. Politics aside (and there’s a fair bit of politics in harness racing too at the moment with RITA and the Messara report to wrangle with) the Brian and Gareth Hughes team did achieve a vote-garnering effort at the trials and workouts on Saturday with two fillies from the barn, named Giddy Heights and Oranje, producing the quinella in heat five of the day at Pukekohe. Giddy Heights (out of Affairs Of State) looks a decent prospect and should carry some strong support from constituents in her debut when she hits the track on Sunday at Cambridge. The three year old filly by Somebeachsomewhere has shown solid trial and workout form with her Pukekohe run (she ran home in 27.3 over her last 400m untouched) supported by workout efforts behind both Russley Rush (now a winner from limited starts) and the Tony Herlihy trained runner in Mailman (whose sure to attract interest on Friday night when he steps out for the first run of his career at Alexandra Park due to the fact that he’s out of a good race mare in The Fascinator). The only question mark surrounding the debut of Giddy Heights on Sunday being an inside second-row draw although she is the only horse on the second line. Punters should also follow the stablemate (and second placed runner from the trials) American Ideal filly Oranje. Her workouts have shown that the 3yr old filly also has some ability not to mention some very good blood with the Hughes stables flagship performer in The Orange Agent being a close relation.   The Orange Agent - 23 wins from 33 starts for $746,423 in earnings The Hughes stable has had limited starters this season and currently sits on three wins with I’m A Denny Two accounting for two of these wins and Hughie Junior the other. You do get the feeling that additional wins are pending with the two fillies mentioned here both likely to impress at short notice.    Keen buyers can search out their own nominee for higher honors soon with the family of Giddy Heights represented at the 2020 National Standardbred Yearling Sales by Lot 47. The well named “The Iron Lady” is out of Stateofthenation (the 2nd foal out of Affairs Of State) and is poised to bring her own no-nonsense approach to the racetrack. The filly, by Somebeachsomewhere, is a half sister to Heza Head Honcho, a horse that competed in both the 2yr old Golden Slipper and WA Derby, his consistent record standing at 5 wins and 10 placings from 32 career starts. The wider maternal family is well known in Australasian winners circles with half sisters to Stateofthenation producing the likes of Just Stopandstare (4wins) and the recently successful Bita Banta who brought up his 4th and 5th wins on Australian soil over the last fortnight at Leeton and Riverina Paceway. Under Cover Lover (3rd dam) provides the matriarchal success story. Her race record and success being of a global nature with celebrated victories across Australasia and North America.     Ben McMillan

Grand harness racing campaigner and Group 1 winner Texican is likely to join the illustrious 1-million dollar earner club in quick time with the Bettor’s Delight gelding currently only $20,000 away from reaching the milestone. The USA based pacer, who is now the ripe old age of 12, continues to be a factor on the track winning as recently as last week at Freehold Raceway in New Jersey. The win continues what has been a true success story for the Australasian export market and continues to advocate for how the North American racing scene can benefit from tapping into proven down-under performers. Texican started his career racing out of the Cran Dalgety stables in Canterbury, New Zealand and quickly made an impression achieving a maiden victory in just his second start while racing at Addington raceway on the 8th of April 2011. This was quickly followed by a slashing runner-up performance as a 2yr old in the NZ Yearling Sales Series Final at listed level in behind the Mark Purdon and Grant Payne trained Western Cullen. After a spell away from the track Texican returned later that year and spent little time before returning to top form, form that culminated in what was most probably his crowning glory on New Zealand soil with a 1/2 length victory in the Sires Stakes 3yo Final of 2011 at Addington when driven by Dexter Dunn (another New-Zealand export who has found the North American racing scene to his liking). To watch the replay of this win click on this link. Other New Zealand based successes followed in his next two seasons with a Group 3 placing in the Vero Flying Stakes and a Group 2 victory in the Alabar Southern Supremacy Final of 2012. His overall NZ race record standing at 13 wins from 31 starts and more than $280’000 in earnings. Upon export to North America Texican has become a proven big-race performer. His North American highlight-reel includes a number of notable Open Handicap wins. Under the guidance of trainer Peter Tritton Texican raced in the famous Levy Series at Yonkers Raceway for three concecutive years 2014, 2015 and 2015 with his most notable performance running third in the 2016 Final worth $609, 000 to stablemate Bit Of A legend. Here is that race; Behind Texican that day were P H Supercam ($1,731,000), Take It Back Terry ($1,539,828), Lucan Hanover ($1,263,289) and Mach It So ($2,921,549). A bit of “Texican magic” is available at the upcoming 2020 National Standardbred Yearling Sale to be held at Karaka on the 16th and 17th of February. Lot 51, an American Ideal filly named Debbie Do, is out of  Toast To Cullen. Lot 51 - Debbie Do Toast To Cullen has herself left a noted globe-trotting pacer in the form of Kenrick who had 4 wins while racing in New Zealand, a listed classic win to his name in Australia and a plethora of wins (not to mention a 1.50.1-best time over the mile distance) state-side with his overall earnings topping the $220’000 mark. Toast To Cullen can be connected to Texican through her dam Toast Of New York ,who herself is the grand-dam of the soon to be (fingers crossed ) millionaire. A toast to Texican awaits!!!  Ben McMillan

It might be the heat? Maybe it’s the people? Could it be the food? Whatever it is the harness racing progeny of the New Zealand based Van Seraa can’t seem to get enough of Australia. That fact has been hammered home with multiple wins by her progeny in the last few weeks with the latest being the February 1st victory of Laceys Lad at Newcastle. To watch the video replay of this race click here. The Newcastle win (Lacey Lads 8th around the track) came just a handful of runs after another victory at Newcastle in early December and extended his overall record to 8 wins and 10 minor placings from just 36 starts. He’s not the only current member of the “Van Seraa crew” to be doing good things at the moment with Van Mara proving competitive in the Group 2 Mercury80 Final at Melton in late January when running 4th to Always Fast. His consistent race-day efforts have seen him notch an impressive 15 wins and $150’000 from 77 starts. Prior broodmare offerings by Van Seraa have included both the 4-win Lis Mara mare Georgia’s Jury (who ran Adore Me to under four lengths at big odds in the 2012 Sires Stakes Fillies Championship Final) and the successful Elsu-sired Raesawinner who seemingly kicked off the love affair of Australian shores by winning no less than 16 times around several Australian states and amassing over $150’000 in career earnings.    All-in-all it means that Van Seraa has now left five foals to race for five winners (with her 4th foal Mcleod’s Daughter winning on Kiwi soil before being retired to broodmare duties herself)            More recently “Good Faith” has kept the family ties in the spotlight (Good Faith being the first foal out of Georgia’s Jury) with an almost arrogant start to her racing career with three emphatic wins (the first two being at Ballarat) being followed by a 3rd in a Victorian Oaks heat on the 19th of January. The Oaks Final, a torrid-paced affair over a staying test of 2760m, proved a bridge too far although connections must be buoyed by the early ability shown by the filly by Bettor’s Delight. If Australian buyers are keen on having the next of Van Seraa’s progeny in their barn and on Australian shores then they can make their way to Karaka for the 2020 National Standardbred Yearling Sale and start putting their finger in the air. Lot 55, “Robbity Bob” is an American Ideal filly offered by Breckon Farms and is the sixth foal out of the mare… it’s most probably going to be the sixth winner from the mare too if history is anything to go by. Ben McMillan

A change of harness racing trainer and a scenic trip across the Cook Straight has proven decisive in the recent turnaround in form of the royally bred Rockahula Joe. The son of Roll With Joe, currently placed with the Michael House team, proved too strong from the van at Manuwatu on the 31st of January when accounting for a fair field over the 2500m mobile trip, his final 400m impressive as the now 4yr old scored by a margin of 3 1/2 lengths over the Peter Ferguson trained Final Delight. Rockahula Joe then backed up on Sunday at Otaki but was on the receiving end of a gut-busting parked-out to lead run on the sodden surface and weakened out of things. Despite the latest run punters would be prudent to label Rockahula Joe a “follow with interest” horse in weeks to come as a resurgent form-line may not be too far away.   Initially trained by Mark Jones, Rockahula Joe notched up a win at Wairio and five minor placings before his recent departure to the House stable with his last dividend-bearing effort before his Manuwatu victory coming at Banks Peninusla on the 29th of December when running third in behind the improved Ben Waldron trained Georgie Zukov and the Nigel McGrath trained Cloud Nine who has shown real ability himself greeting the judge as recently as Friday night at Addington.  Rockahula Joe The recent win of Rockahula Joe shouldn’t really come as a surprise as the gelding, while arguably an under-performer on the track so far, has some serious horsepower behind him being directly linked to the famed Rich N Elegant. Rich N Elegant, a mare that seemingly bred champions for breakfast and world champions for afternoon tea, managed to leave a number of households names . A quick look at her progeny reveals multiple millionaires and sires in their own right with Rocknroll Hanover (Breeders Crown, Meadowlands Pace victor with 2.7 million in the bank), Royalflush Hanover (2.7 mllion) Red River Hanover (1.3 million) , Rustler Hanover and Richess Hanover all being out of the mare. It’s a broodmare record you’d be hard pushed to best in any sales catalogue around the world.    A close relation to Rockahula Joe is being offered by Breckon Farms at the 2020 National Standardbred Yearling Sale. Lot 127 named “Break Thru” is an Art Major colt out of unraced Bettor’s Delight mare Hulabaloo Baby.  While this is her first foal prospective buyers do have Abercrombie sire-lines to compare notes on with Rockin N Roll Lad (9 wins) being by Artsplace. The multiple time Group 3 winning Blazin N Cullen (27 wins , $572’000) is also a close relative.    Ben McMillan

I was given my first sales catalogue by an astute harness racing industry participant (who generally knows pedigrees like the back of his hand) a while back on the premise that he thought it would make interesting reading. A few brief looks at its pages later, and with the penny dropping as to how to read the information within, and I found myself increasingly absorbed by the books apparent promise. Like anyone who has gone in search of the next harness racing star the fun of it all started with the sales catalogue… One of the first things I noticed was the presence of a mare called Black Watch and just how much of an impact her progeny had made both as racehorses, and in the case of her fillies, as successful broodmares. A history of the family in full would run into volumes and put simply I couldn’t do it justice, a more succinct effort I’ll attempt…   Black Watch (foaled in 1966 out of Black Globe mare Rosehaven) established herself as a leading miler when driven by Peter Wolfenden in the late 1960’s, the mare by Scottish Command powered through a career of racing in the North Island to amass 14 wins from 75 starts with 16 minor placings, most of her victories coming in her younger years with an impressive run of consecutive wins to start her racing career. It’s also worth noting that, while Black Watch has gone on to do great things for the breeding game, both Nancy Iola (think Burgundy Lass and Star Of Venus) and Tata Matapo are daughters of Rosehaven also.     Lordship The broodmare career of Black Watch started with a trip to two-time NZ Cup winner Lordship, the coupling produced the 9 time winner Tay Bridge and was soon followed by the flying Remarkable (by Mark Lobell) who captured a Group 2 title in the form of The Golden Mile when driven by Owen Purdon, A subsequent jaunt to North America saw the animal break 1.54. The real guts of this story starts in the late 1970’s and beyond when Black Watch produced a number of daughters that would all prove magnificent broodmares. Of these daughters three that stand out to me in the form of Aberfeldy (1978) Significant (1979) and Corbie (1990) although 3 race winner Espirit Noir, a Vance Hanover mare foaled in 1986, also deserves mention as her progeny includes, among others, Star Fleet (mother of Star Of The Ball) Aberfeldy proved a tremendous success leaving five time winner (and the mother of Sovereign Hill, Tarena Jay and sub 1.52 pacer Black Reef) Jayvee as her first foal. The 17 time winner, multiple Group 1-placed (including a 2nd in the Easter Cup) Reba Lord followed two years later. Ken Breckon with 31-year-old - Aberfeldy Daughters out of Aberfeldy include the Breckon Farms matriarch mare Megeara ($250’000), the mother of The Reckoning in Tosti and Marysia, whose most notable success as a broodmare came in the form of 11 race winner Mr Bojangles. Mhairi and Medea, both daughters of Marysia have continued their mothers’ story of success with Our Pacquiao (17 wins,$165’0000) being out of Medea. The success of Aberfeldy as a broodmare has been equalled if not surpassed by “Significant”, a mare by Out To Win. Significant showed a real ability to leave genuine speed in her offspring with her first two colts being National Image (13 wins, $115’000) and the Group 1 placed The Unicorn who scored 29 times and won a pinch less than half a million dollars in career earnings. To best these performers Significant then went on to leave sub-1.52 mare Pacific Flight (47 lifetime wins) with Pacific Flights progeny including the mother of Timeless Perfection, Red Moon Rising and current Dunn trained prospect Down To The Bone. Pacific Flight N - 47 first place finishers and purse earnings of $508,454 in North America Chicago Bull, who has written plenty of harness racing history himself winning the WA Derby, Fremantle Pacing Cup and Western Australian Pacing Cup can also call upon the “Significant speed factor”. Not wanting to conclude her winning broodmare ways there Significant then left a full sister to Pacific Flight by the name of Gliding Flight. Foaled in 1992 Gliding Flight quickly notched up 8 wins from just 18 starts for Mark Purdon. A subsequent broodmare career of her own saw Raptorial (1.50.2 pacer) Seaward (K Barron trained winner of 9) and the mother of NSW Derby runner-up Malcolms Rhythm in Shes Got It All. Rounding off “the big three” from Black Watch is Corbie. Her broodmare career most probably the richest and most successful within the Black Watch narrative. Colts left by Corbie include the Group 2 placed Agios Nikolaos and the 17 time winner Vingt Coeur while Our Bagger Vance,a later colt by Falcon Seelster, won 8 times. For all the success achieved by her colts it’s in her fillies and their subsequent broodmare careers that Corbie has succeeded beyond measure.      Most of her daughters have become either stars of the track or stars within the confines of their  broodmare paddocks. Almost all have left well performing racehorses. Her first filly “Black Maire” left champion race-mare Lauraella ($650’000), Group 1 runner-up The Muskeg Express and sub 1.55 pacers in Estilo and The Pacman while Kruizr, trained by Michael House, has already won 5 times from just 18 starts around the Canterbury region. Black Maire was closely followed by Macy Gray, an In The Pocket filly whose first 5 fillies all won and have left the likes of Macy Blue Chip (1.54.1) Macy Supreme (12 wins, $87’000) and the exciting Major Express who in currently active winning as recently as the 20th of January when racing at Bunbury. Lauraella A full sister to Macy Gray “Soleil D’or had limited races and has now left the Steve Baucke trained Delight My Soul (7 wins, k85’000) and I’mallaboutthebase (5 wins, $79’000). A slightly more recent Christian Cullen filly out of Corbie “L’Oiseau De Nuit” has become a proven producer leaving Billy Jack and Someardensomwhere (7 wins, $65’000) while Zingara (a full sister to L O’iseau De Nuit) just might be one of the most successful daughters of Corbie yet winning 5 races herself and leaving Laredo Torpedo (12 wins, $108’000) and the now USA based Zinny Mach who has been racking up wins at regular intervals since being exported. Racehorses out of the Corbie dam-line continue to flood racetracks across Australasia with Aqua Sancta (2 wins, $22’000 from limited starts) and My Agera (6 placings from 7 starts) being current flag-bearers.      The story of Black Watch will continue at this years 2020 National Standardbred Yearling Sale. It’s good to see Breckon Farms strongly representing a breed they’ve been closely associated with for some time now . The maternal lineage of Black Watch can be sighted in many lots during the sale. Lots 124, 197, 264 and 278 all can be easily traced back while a link to a harnesslink article regarding Lots 101 and 106 can be found HERE  Another lot to be offered by Breckon Farms out of the family is: Lot 93. “Cos I Can” is a colt by Always B Miki and is out of a daughter of Corbie in Cordelia (2 wins when trained by Geoff Small) Cos I Can has a trial-winning two year old 1/2 sister “Town Echo” who is in work with Matt Anderson. Lot 93 - Cos I Can Ben McMillan

Breckon Farms bred harness racing stock have a great chance of nabbing another group one race this week, with four of the runners in this Saturday's $500,000 Hunter Cup at Tabcorp Park Melton having been bred at Breckon Farms. Cash N Flow, Triple Eight, My Kiwi Mate and the emergency for the race King of Swing, were all born on the Breckon Farms property and all have their chance in what is an even line up for the 2750 mobile start Group 1 event. Cash N Flow coming off the back of a strong second last week in a quickly run (1-52.7 Mile Rate) Group 2 race is arguably the best chance of the Breckon bred runners. To watch this race click on this link. He has the gate speed to possibly head for the lead and dominate from the front from his barrier draw of five. The Mach Three - Karen Donna gelding has had 19 wins from 51 starts in his race career so far with winning stakes of $348,541. Lots 101 and 106 from the Breckon draft at the 2020 National Standardbred Yearling Sale  at Karaka on the 16th and 17th of February 2020 present an opportunity to purchase a closely related yearling to Cash N Flow. Lot 101 - Dale's Delight Lot 106 - Illavabubbles            

The charmed run of progeny of Muscle Hill continues unabated across Australasian racetracks with the stallion continuing to flex his siring power with victories coming in bunches over the last fortnight and potential riches on the horizon for those he’s sired at upcoming harness racing features.   Recent New Zealand based winners by Muscle Hill have included the royally-bred John and Joshua Dickie trained Daisy Hill who scored by 4 1/2 lengths at Alexandra Park on the 24th of January, Bolt For Brilliance (Harness Jewels winner last season) who extended his record to two wins from just six starts with a win on the 17th of January, and two runners from the Nigel Mcgrath stable who won at different tracks last week with Chloe Rose being too strong at Banks Peninsula on Sunday while One Over Da Son outstayed a nice field to take victory a couple of days prior at Addington Raceway. One Over Da Son will look to continue putting palings on his growing picket-fence form-line (he’s won his last two) at Addington on Friday night.     Recent Australian victories by progeny of Muscle Hill have been spearheaded by arguably the sires Australasian headline-act in Dance Craze. The 6yr old Anton Golino-trained mare accounted for both Tornado Valley and Wobelee in the E B Cochran Trotters Cup at Group 2 level on the 18th of January at Ballarat. To watch Dance Craze win the 2020 E B Cochran Trotters Cup click on this link. To watch Dance Craze win the 2019 "What The Hill" Great Southern Star click on this link. Dance Craze will attempt to defend her Great Southern Star title, a title she won last year by beating out Temporale, on Saturday night at Melton where the mare has drawn the inside of the second row and will follow out Red Hot Tooth. A repeat been-there-done-that performance of last years victory would be some feat indeed with this years field being one of both outstanding depth and quality. All things said and done this latest spate of victories continues to outline just what a magnificent addition Muscle Hill has been to breeding stocks and operations around the world from the time of his racetrack retirement right up until the current day. His progeny winning in excess of $65 million (including ten millionaires) in North America alone so far!  Average earnings per starter is just over $140,000. Muscle Hill will once again be strongly represented at this years 2020 National Standardbred Yearling Sale with the sire still attracting top-line mares despite only having limited lots in the sale. The three Muscle Hill lots to be offered at Karaka are all offered by Breckon Farms and include- Lot 115, a bay filly ,“My Fear Lady” who is out of former 2yr trotting filly of the year Fear Factor. The yearling looks likely to produce a bit of fear factor herself if her illustrious lineage plays any part in affairs.   Lot 115 - My Fear Lady This well known trotting family has shown a genuine knack for early success on the race track with both Prince Fearless (8 wins including the 2yr old NZ Yearling Sales Series at listed level) and Group 1 Victorian Trotters Derby winner Stress Factor showing that the breed is a genuine threat to all when first hitting the track. That go-early-win-early trend has been marvelously carried on by the Tony Herlihy trained Cheeky Babe (again by Muscle Hill) who went 100% through her first four race day appearances before running a 3rd (first filly home) in the NZ Yearling Sales Open Trot Final behind the Nathan Williamson driven Ultimate Stride. Cheeky Babe is out of a 1/2 sister to My Fear Lady. Lot 64 - Hill Of Grace Another potential star square gaiter by Muscle Hill is found in lot 64 “Hill Of Grace” The filly is out of (Im) Whitney who managed to win 8 times during her career including a win in the Group 3 Northern Trotting Breeders Stakes (when beating out Pretty Sunday) (Im) Whitney also placed in two Group 2 races behind Queen Kenny and All Royal Gal (14 wins, $172’000) Hill Of Grace is the first foal out of Whitney and is sure to carry interest with those interested in an entry into proven trotting bloodlines. Ben McMillan              

Somewhere in Tony Herlihy’s harness racing stable there’s a calendar with a big red circle around the months of December and January and the words “Dina Brown” scribbled all over it. There has to be! The daughter of Bettor’s Delight has made the summer months her own in recent weeks bringing up two wins and three minor placings in her last six starts. This strong run of form started on the 13th of December with a mile-distance second to The Paua Diver at Alexandra Park and was quickly followed by a gallant second to Fabrizio when gearing up to celebrate the end of the year on the 31st of December. Her form obviously wasn’t effected by any 2020 celebratory hangover with a comfortable win accomplished at Cambridge on the 5th of January when driven by junior driver Taitlyn Hanara.    Her latest trip into the birdcage for photos being an emphatic four length romp at Alexandra Park on the 24th of January when setting a sound pace and running away from race rivals at the top of the straight. The overall time of 2.41.4 over the 2200m mobile completed without the use of the persuader. This run of consistent winning form mimics an initial 3yr old campaign which saw Dina Brown win or place in three from her four starts over the same December-January period. While the mare does seem to have penchant for sun-god worship it’s also worth remembering that she’s been able to foot it in all conditions with a third placing in the 3yo Diamond at last seasons Harness Jewels behind none other than Princess Tiffany and race winner Belle Of Montana. The performance, albeit aided by the inside draw, came on an easy Addington track that had been the victim of heavy rains the night before. The recent race record of Dina Brown is starting to deliver on a strong family tradition, that of winning. Her dam Pullover Brown (12 wins, $333,000) left fields in her wake during the early 2000’s with notable victories coming in the form of an NZ Oaks title alongside a truly successful Australian campaign that included wins in the Victorian Oaks, Australian Oaks (5 length winner over the Maurice Mckendry driven Classical) and a Breeders Crown 3yr old Fillies Final title captured at Bendigo. Pullover Brown, herself a full sister to the sub-1.50 pacer Montecito, has also been able to add a well coiled broodmare-string to her bow leaving serial Australian winner In Runaway Bay (39 wins, $279’000) and Dina Bolt, who placed in the Group 2 2yo Classic behind Virgil at Invercargill in April of last year and currently has two wins from just eight race-day starts.   The next “Pullover-production” is due to to be offered at the 2020 National Standardbred Yearling Sale at Karaka on the 16th of February. Coming out of the Breckon Farms draft Lot 19, a son of American Ideal, carries the name American Conqueror and will no doubt have his fair share of ability. Lot 19 - American Conqueror His favourite time of year is yet to be determined…           Ben McMillan

Mention the name Mark Dennis to New Zealand based harness racing fans and they might vaguely remember a young Purdon / Payne trained runner with a fair bit of ability. Mention the same name to Australian followers of the game and you’ll be quickly made aware that the horse is still winning! That’s right, the now 11 year old ex-kiwi brought up his 45th win just last week at Menangle clocking an impressive 1:52.9 for the mile in the hands of Lauren Tritton.    Mark Dennis started his career in victorious style in late mid October of 2011 at Addington Raceway with a victory over the likes of All Star Man (8 subsequent wins) and the Cran Dalgety trained speed-machine Texican. His last start on New Zealand soil came just three weeks later in the Sires Stakes 3yr Old Final and saw the gelding by Bettor’s Delight produce a fighting 5th behind Texican after having to work around the field mid-race, his late charge up the passing lane peaking a little too soon to see him victorious.   The horse was almost immediately exported to Australia where he’s excelled ever since.   His racing career on the track in Australia has seen it’s fair share of highlights and close calls. A Group 3 victory in the ‘Temprid Insecticide Pace” eradicated any notion that the horse couldn’t compete for Group honors. That effort was quickly followed by a slew of group racing appearances with a 3rd in the Group 1 Cordina Sprint of 2014 behind Suave Stuey Lombo most probably representing the zenith of his career. A long stint in South Australia from 2014-2018 saw consistent results particularly around the Globe Derby track with both Mark Billinger and Ryan Hryhorec enjoying success when partnered with the bay. Mark Dennis The well travelled horse, whose career now spans a total of 249 starts, has won races at tracks throughout Australia with victories at Mildura, Melton, Albion Park, Kapunda and Cranbourne to go alongside his most winning ways around Menangle and the fore-mentioned Globe Derby. His most recent turning-back-the-clock performance a reminder to all that  writing off  Mark Dennis due to his advancing years is a very risky proposition indeed. The racing success of Mark Dennis can, at least partly, be attributed to his impeccable breeding as the son of Bettor’s Delight is out of the proven broodmare Twice As Good. Along with Mark Dennis the Butler B G mare has foaled Fight Fire With Fire (7 wins, $150,000) the Group 1 Queen Of Hearts winner Waitfornoone and the consistent St Barts who ran Monkey King to a nose at Addington in the Winter Cup of 2009.  He’d go on to notch up 14 wins and over $150,000 in earnings across both New Zealand and Australia. A number of yearlings from this strong family are to be offered at the 2020 National Standardbred Yearling Sale. Two of which both come from the Breckon Farms draft. Lot 118, a brown filly by A Rocknroll Dance, is out of Fellamongstabeauty (1 win from 2 starts) who is a 1/2 sister to the mother of the dominate 4yr old Pacing Mare Of The Year Elle Mac. Elle Mac claimed numerous Group 1 titles including, but not limited to, the Northern Oaks, Sires Stakes 3yr Old Fillies Championship, Caduceus Club 2yr old Fillies and Harness Jewels. The A Rocknroll Dance sire choice makes sense when you consider that the now Australian based Miss Streisand, who placed 4th in the Victorian Oaks, is also by the sire and raced with distinction in New Zealand prior to being exported. Lot 118 - Dancing Desire Lot 121 is another yearling with close ties to Mark Dennis. “In The Spotlight” a Bettor’s Delight filly is out of the early-going Goodlookingbabe who was impressive on the track with 3 wins from just 14 starts when racing out of the Geoff Small stable. “In The Spotlight” is only the second foal out of the mare with her first foal being sold for $35’000 at the 2019 sales. Lot 121 - In The Spotlight Ben McMillan  

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