POKE THE BEAR
WHEN legend Fernando Bale retired to stud after a 35-win race career which earned him $1.3 million, almost every client of Pedigrees By Design asked if their bitch suited a potential mating to the son of Kelsos Fusileer-Chloe Allen.
Most just went ahead and mated to him even if the resultant pedigree was, in my mind, not as good as could be designed by utilising other stud dogs.
Greyhound breeders in Australia have ALWAYS embraced the hot young dog coming off the racetrack.
Similar themes are seen all the time in the thoroughbred industry with breeders only worried about what the boom young stud's progeny will bring at yearling sales for the next few years.
This will give them an inflated return on their yearlings until, usually, that hot young stud is proved a failure. They will drop him like a hot spud instantly. Surely the only real test of the worth of a stallion (or stud dog) is on the racetrack.
With Fernando Bale, he went to stud the highest stakes earner of all time and his seven Group 1s were testament to his greatness.
But at stud he faced an entirely new ball game and one that was going to be difficult to win despite what would certainly be immense popularity with breeders.
Fernando's pedigree was always going to be what would define him as a successful sire and NOT the fact he was a superstar on the racetrack. Plenty of superstars have gone to stud and failed despite mating the cream of broodbitches ... in thoroughbred, harness and greyhound racing.
There has always been a train of thought among greyhound breeders that the Wheeler family has failed to produce successful stud dogs despite being a dominant breeding and racing enterprise for many decades.
This has been true until Barcia Bale came along and even before his first runners hit the racetrack I was confident he would be a successful sire.
Why, you will ask, when he would have to buck a trend of relative Wheeler stud dog failure over decades.
Because Barcia Bale was NOT typical of Wheeler-bred racetrack stars who went to stud. He was dominant for Aussie bloodlines, his sire Go Wild Teddy was all Aussie, his damsire Hallucinate was all Aussie, and his damline, the Wheeler damline, was FULL of Aussie blood.
So, Barcia Bale was ripe and ready to be mated mostly to broodbitches who complimented his own bloodlines, brought in a great degree of linebreeding, or in-breeding (look at how many of his city winners carry the litter brothers Hallucinate and Where's Pedro), and the degree of in-breeding to similarly bred Gail's Beauty and Namor Star in his granddam, would allow for further strong crosses.
Fernando Bale, on the other hand, is by a relatively moderate US stud dog in Kelsos Fusileer whose pedigree is hugely outcrossed. The Aussie blood in Fernando's damline also includes lots more Irish bloodlines.
Thus, Fernando is just like the many Wheeler racetrack superstars who have gone before him ... hugely outcrossed and thus unlikely to sire with a consistency broodbitch owners are hoping for.
Which finally brings me to the subject of this column.
Recently, Fernando Bale's first starter Poke The Bear ran 30.10 leading throughout to win a maiden heat at The Meadows. He is by Fernando Bale and from Nicki Fields (Knocka Norris-Misty Fields). Four of this litter have been named and all have won including Fully Loaded who is unbeaten in five starts.
It has always been my belief that for Fernando Bale to be a success at stud, he will need to produce offspring that are incredibly in-bred, carry a degree of US bloodlines, or more of the Wheeler's famous Gail's Beauty and Namor Star.
Check out the pedigree of Poke The Bear and you will be amazed at just how in-bred he and his littermates are.
First there is a 3x3 cross of Primo Uno (damsire of Fernando) and Barbie's Shiraz (third dam of Poke The Bear). They are virtual brother and sister both being by Black Shiraz and their dams are from the famed "Portrait" family.
Superstars Kayda Shae and Shimaguni are bred this way. Group 1 winner Shima Bar is by Barcia Bale from Shimaguni.
But, the intensity in Poke The Bear's pedigree does not end there.
There is a 4x5 cross of Awesome Assassin and his sister Goddess Of Fire picked up in the pedigree as well.
So, Poke The Bear is hugely in-bred. Such saturation of dominant lines has impacted to produce a very promising young litter. This, I have always believed, would be the route to success with Fernando Bale.
To date, Fernando Bale's stats are good. He is running at a very good 20.2% winners to runners percentage. By comparison, leading stud dog Barcia Bale is producing winners at a rate of 16.5% for every starter. Normally, after a few years at stud, sires' winners to runners stats level out between 10 and 14 percent. Barcia's figure is good.
In three full years at stud, Barcia Bale's progeny have earned almost $17 million. Fernando's progeny have earned $310,000 this year.
Interestingly, Fernando is getting many more winners in the 500m and beyond range than he is below the 500m distance.
When you consider his dam Chloe Allen is a half sister to champion stayer Jarvis Bale it probably was always going to happen. His father Kelsos Fusileer got 600m and some of his best US progeny did the same.
A couple of Fernando's littermates got a distance quite successfully.
Darren Puleio and his syndicate members who race Poke The Bear and bred him, have a very promising youngster. The pedigree Darren and his partners designed is absolutely superb. It was exactly what Fernando needed.
It will be very interesting to see if Fernando's results from progeny with far less in-breeding or linebreeding, or none at all, will be as successful, even considering he has mated some of the best race bitches and producers this country has ever produced.
I always believed Paul Wheeler would be the one to breed Fernando's racetrack stars. Already many of the winning Fernando progeny are coming from Wheeler bitches. This, naturally, is in-breeding or linebreeding shining through, reinforcing Fernando's own damline.