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Down The Road a dream result for the McClennans

Dreams can come true and the little guy, the hobby breeder just starting out, can with a little bit of luck and a little bit of judgement breed a group winner and become successful.

Down The Road winning the Group 2 ARC Telecom Championship Stakes
Photo: Thoroughbred News
Take Lorraine and Michael McClennan who sent a $500 broodmare to a $6,000 stallion, produced a colt that sold for $36,000 at the Carnival Sale and went on to be Down The Road, (Danroad – Dixies Girl) the winner of the Group Two ARC Telecom Championship Stakes and one of the favourites for the $2.2million Group One Telecom Derby.

"I'm so proud of Down The Road, but it just goes to show, that you can still get into this game on the "ground floor" and with knowledge and a little bit of luck you can make it," said McClennan a member of the Waikato Branch of the NZTBA.

Michael McClennan bought Dixies Girl around six years ago after the Star Way mare he had purchased to start his broodmare band died without leaving a live foal. He liked her bloodlines, and the deeds of her third and fourth dams. She is by Stark South out of the Wild Rampage mare Wild Dixie.

She was a race winner and a half sister to three other winners including Kananaskis who won five and was second in the Hawkes Bay Guineas. Her dam Wild Dixie (Wild Rampage- Dixie Queen) was a sister to Listed Wairarapa Breeders' Stakes winner Rampage Queen.

Her third dam Sugar Fox was a half sister to So Fox the stakes winning mother of Eva Grace and Splendid Speed, and to Dee Bee Lady, the dam of Deebee Belle.

The McClennans, who are based in Ohaupo, selected a local stallion Danske (Danehill) ($7,500) who was standing at Windsor Park to be Dixies Girl's first consort. That foal, a colt, sold for $40,000 at the 2006 Ready To Run sale to Stephen Gray and is a winner in Singapore.

The next mating was to Danroad (Danehill) which produced Down The Road, and that was followed by a visit to Keeper(Danehill) which also produced a colt, currently in work for the McClennans. She has a Golan yearling colt, and this year she finally produced a filly and it's by O'Reilly and she is now in foal to Any Suggestions (by Lionhunter by Danehill).

"I am a bit of a pedigree buff, and I do acknowledge the principals of line breeding, and it makes sense to mate to proven crosses However the individuals have to look the part as well, so I make my final decision once I have seen the physique of the stallion," said Michael.

"In the case of visiting the three Danehill line stallions with Dixies Girl it was a proven cross. Also both Danzig – the sire of Danehill - and Dixieland Band the sire of Stark South are by Northern Dancer out of His Majesty mares.

"The decision to go to O'Reilly was slightly different as we sent two mares to Waikato Stud, that season, and Dixies Girl does leave a really nice foal so we knew it would be a nice individual. The other mare was Pure Intrigue which we bought out of the classifieds in the last edition of the former form weekly the Friday Flash.

"What we liked about this mare was the speed factor. She is by Straight Strike out of a Centaine mare and she puts that speed into her foals. We sold her daughter Pure Strike (Volksraad) at the same Carnival Sale that Down The Road sold at for $62,500. She races out of the James/Mirabelli stable. Last year we sold a Stravinsky colt at the Select Sale for $75,000 and as Perikon he ran sixth in the Blue Diamond Prelude a fortnight ago at Caulfield. That was his third start and he won his first race at Cranbourne."

The third mare in the McClennan band is Zinarush, a daughter of Carnegie and Jennifer Rush, who was originally part owned by Zinzan Brooke. Jennifer Rush won five stakes races and also left Emerald, the winner of the Group One One Thousand Guineas.

"We have kept a promising Stravinsky filly out of Zinarush, and sold a couple of her progeny. We had to turn some over as we probably over invested in stud fees in some of the mares earlier on.

Although looking at the results they have achieved they must be doing something right, it's not all just about luck and a little line breeding knowledge.

The McClennans keep their mares on their 100 acre property in Ohaupo which is also used for dry stock, to clean up after the horses. Michael has a philosophy of feeding lots of good grass and silage for his young stock, and the mares are supplemented in winter with mares' nuts.

"I am not a big fan of feeding lots of grains and rushing young stock, I like them to grow into themselves naturally. If I have a horse that isn't going to make a two-year-old I am quite happy to chuck it out until it's three or four. At least that way you still have a racehorse to go on with. That's not to say I haven't been lucky with what I have produced, but once again it's about breeding nice types to nice types.

"Horses are my hobby, and let's just say that these days my business as an electrician isn't rushing me off my feet. My foals have had a lot of attention this year," he quipped.

Michael and Lorraine's younger son Dean, who has a two acre property adjacent to his parents, helps with the young stock and takes a keen interest in the breeding proceedings, whereas their elder son Steven is only keen when he thinks there may be a positive result at the TAB.

"It was a great thrill when we all watched Down The Road win the other day, and now lets just hope he can do it again in a fortnight's time!"

- Michelle Saba