Day At The Track

Smooth Deal - One for the Aussies

09:54 AM 12 Sep 2018 NZST
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Linda Lovegrace
Smooth Deal's full sister Linda Lovegrace who won 14 races

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.


Courtesy of All Stars Website


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