Breeders' judgement tips the Scales
Breeders are generally advised to avoid over-mating mares. Yet it can sometimes be exactly the right tactic to take a breeding program to a whole new level.
That’s the experience of Victorian breeders Gerard & Kathy Hammond who found themselves leaping off the couch last Saturday to cheer home their first Group 1 winner Scales Of Justice in the $1 million WATC Railway S. 1600m G1.
“It’s a nice feeling,” says Gerard, who made his first foray into horse breeding during the 1970s when he and his father Brendan bought shares in several stallions. That venture proved unsuccessful and, although he remained a “mad racing fan”, Gerard chose to concentrate instead on his career in corporate finance. He stepped up his breeding interests shortly before his retirement in 2008, eight years after dipping his toe back in the water with a yearling filly by Umatilla bought privately from breeder Thea MacKnamara.
“I got onto the filly via the internet and when I inspected her in the paddock, I fell in love with her straight away. I like horses that are well-balanced, staying types with a bit of length, and I liked the way she moved too.
“I needed a trainer for her, and Thea MacKnamara’s partner Bob Gard, a bit of a character who knew a lot, recommended a young trainer in Stawell named Darren Weir.”
Named Beymatilla, the filly unfortunately broke down before she raced, but Gerard and Kathy decided to breed from her. She left winners to Johann Cruyff, Grass Wonder and Spinning World, and unraced fillies by Good Journey and Al Maher before the Hammonds sent her to Not A Single Doubt in 2011 – the season his fee increased to $24,750 after six years at $13,750.
Gerard explains, “I’d been breeding for several years with Beymatilla and her progeny could all run, but they were very much like her, tall, angular and not a lot of muscle or bone, so they weren’t attractive to the Australian market.
“I was getting more serious about breeding and she needed to go to a stallion with far more substance. I was very keen on Not A Single Doubt, the absolute opposite of Beymatilla on physical type, but I was well aware it was probably over-capitalising the mare.
“However, I knew we’d get a foal with substance that would run, as well as line-breeding through Redoute’s Choice and Umatilla to Best In Show, so I thought the risk was worth it and I was very optimistic about it.”
The resulting colt, born in September 2012, sadly proved to be Beymatilla’s last foal, but he was everything Gerard hoped he’d be: an imposing, powerful, athletic type that presented superbly well at the 2014 Inglis Melbourne Premier Sale. Taken through the ring by Millford Thoroughbreds who agist and prepare the Hammonds’ horses, the colt was knocked down to agent Craig Rounsefell of Boomer Bloodstock for $180,000.
Raced by owners Chris Wells and Bill Andrews, the now 4YO gelding is prepared by leading Western Australian trainer Lindsey Smith who is confident he’ll be equally effective over the 1800 metres of the Kingston Town Classic G1 on 3 December.
Gerard Hammond agrees. “The family’s distance range is 1800 to 2200 metres, and they don’t peak until they’re five or six, so the best is still ahead of him.” Not A Single Doubt’s progeny also train on and he’s already had four Group winners at 1800 metres and beyond: Single Gaze (ATC Storm Queen S. G1), Gypsy Diamond, My Ex Mate and 2011 Champion Older Horse in Singapore, Always Certain.
Gerard acknowledges Smith’s management of his new stable star. “I’ve followed Scales Of Justice very closely and when I saw what he was doing at shorter distances, I thought he might be special. But he’s needed time to relax properly during his races and Lindsey has done a terrific job with him.”
Group 1 success won’t tempt the Hammonds to increase their broodmare band beyond an ideal number of five, but Gerard is planning to ring the changes by selling a couple of mares and bringing in some fresh bloodlines. However, Another Show (by Redoute’s Choice’s three-quarter brother Al Maher from Beymatilla) is definitely not for sale!