Day At The Track

Alabar NZ mares-to-stallions up 20%

12:20 AM 08 Jan 2010 NZDT
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Graeme Henley with Real Desire
Graeme Henley with Real Desire
Franklin County News photo

There's just over a month left in the "Down Under' harness racing breeding season and according to the general manager of Alabar Stud - Graeme Henley - that time frame will make the difference between a 'good' season and a 'great' season.

"For both us and the broodmare owners, we are really fortunate with the fertility of our stallions so we generally have a strong finish to the season. Late in the season, breeders turn to the highly fertile stallions like Elsu and Real Desire to give them their best chance of getting a problem mare in foal," Henley said.

He said Alabar Farms was thrilled with the breeding season so far. The numbers of mares to our stallions in New Zealand (Waiau Pa - Franklin) are up about 20% from last season.

"Art Major, Grinfromeartoear, Jereme's Jet and Gotta Go Cullect are all full. We haven't actually put up the "book full and closed" sign on Elsu, but he is enjoying his largest ever book in NZ and will again serve over 300 mares in total between NZ and Australia. This is the fifth consecutive season in which he has served over 300 mares in a season.

"I thought we would have gotten a few more mares to our trotting stallion, Great Success. He's the fastest trotter ever to be available in the Southern Hemisphere, is beautifully bred, a lovely individual and his first foals are outstanding. He is going to serve just on 100 mares (roughly 60 in New Zealand and 40 in Australia) but I thought he would have served more. However, he'll still have enough foals to prove our faith in him is well placed.

"Real Desire is going to serve just on 200 mares in total but more of these are in Australia than New Zealand. I thought he would have gotten a few more in New Zealand - he might have just been announced a bit late. Real Desire has a tremendous first draft of yearlings selling in Australasia this year including half brothers to the likes of Bonavista Bay and Divisive. With Real Desire's ability to leave brilliantly fast juveniles, this first crop should make a huge impact on our tracks next season. It's the people breeding to Real Desire this season that are set to cash in on this impact," Henley said.

He went on to say that most of the Stud's New Zealand based stallions had served about two thirds of their book in this country with the balance in Australia. However, Jereme's Jet and Real Desire are both serving more mares in Australia than here.

"Now more than ever, New Zealand and Australia are big markets for the top-end stallions."

Alabar Farms' conception rates were up on last year. "We are lucky that our current line-up of stallions are very fertile. Gotta Go Cullect is also doing a great job getting his first book of mares in foal."

Henley believed the 20% increase on last year was primarily due to the fact that Art MajorGrinfromeartoear and Elsu are all doing tremendous jobs on the racetrack - and also helped by us having a popular new horse like Gotta Go Cullect.

"We haven't noticed any downturn whatsoever. When we announced Art Major's fee was increasing from $8,500 (plus GST) to $12,500 (plus GST) earlier this year, not one person who had applied for a booking cancelled. Art Major is also already over-subscribed for next season.

"I'm sure most people would agree that Art Major is the most exciting new stallion in our industry. To have four starters in the first heat of the Young Guns (including the winning quinella) when he only has 16 foals from that crop in New Zealand (bred via frozen semen) is unbelievable. He also only has a small number of yearlings (again bred via frozen semen).

"However, he will have commercial numbers bred via fresh semen from this season's foals onwards, so what he will be able to do with these full crops is hugely exciting. We have also been really impressed with the job Elsu's progeny have been doing on the racetrack. It's going to be a lot of fun watchingthe progeny of these two stallions over the next few years," Henley said.

Asked what the most gratifing moment of the breeding season was so far, Henley replied:

"We are delighted that Gotta Go Cullect has attracted a full book of mares. We obviously love the horse as we bought him to stand at stud. With his speed, type and pedigree we see him as a successful stallion waiting to happen. However, you're never quite sure how they're going to be received and you need to get the foals on the ground to be successful.

"With a book of 200 between here and Australia, and with many quality mares amongst them, Gotta Go Cullect will now have every opportunity. We can't wait to see his foals. That's the great thing about the stud business - there's always something exciting to look forward to."


Duane RANGER (editor)

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