“Oscar, don’t sell your seed corn.”
Sage and well-meant advice from Bjorn Nielsen.While the phrasing may appear folksy, its directness delivers a message that’s hard to evade.
In fairness, the majority of the mares at Normandy Stud trace to foundation mares that my parents purchased between 30 and 50 years ago, so a certain amount of ‘seed corn’ has been retained over the decades.
The thing is that the theoretical 50-50 gender split doesn’t seem to apply to us.
In recent years, some of our crops have produced fewer than 30% colts. It’s been going on for years (maybe there’s something in our water?).
So, no matter how much I believe in Bjorn’s guidance, basic practicalities dictate that some of our fillies also have to be entered for auctions.
Our six-strong draft for the Cape Racing Sales Premier Yearling Sale on 25 January includes five fillies, which puts us fully in contravention of what we should be doing. Let’s just say the seed corn phrase was echoing through my brain as I was doing sales entries.
Headlining the five is Arctic Breeze’s final foal (lot 115), a full-sister to Rio Querari.
If ever there was a filly we should keep, it would be the one out of a Champion-producing mare we no longer have, not so?
Read this piece (https://www.sportingpost.co.za/normandy-stud-the-nordic-story/) from a few years ago to see why we hardly ever offer fillies from the Nordic Vine family.
Since then, the family’s record has grown. Now, more than ever, is a reason for us to hold onto all the fillies we can.
In fairness, when other breeders have representatives of our families, it’s also an opportunity for the family to be developed by exposure to different stallions.
There are some stallions we just can’t get access to, and perhaps someone will use a stallion we hadn’t thought of. Ultimately, it’s to our benefit for these mares to be in other breeders’ hands.
A prime example of this is the Mother Russia branch of our Terpsichore family, which has produced top fillies for both Wilgerbosdrift and Mauritzfontein. It is to this family that we look next for further examples of seed corn that we should be keeping.
Lot 7 is a filly by The United States out of Ekaterina, who is also in the process of developing her own branch of the Terpsichore family, although on a scale that at present is less exalted than Mother Russia and her daughter Nother Russia. Ekaterina is both dam and grandam of stakes-placed runners, with future foals in the pipeline. We were not able to sell Ekaterina due to injury. An injury also resulted in us keeping her daughter, Yekaterina. Sometimes we’re saved from decisions about selling seed corn.
Lot 98 is also a filly by The United States, and her dam is a half-sister to Mother Russia. She’s tall and scopey, the type of filly that will relish 2000m at a galloping track. And, looking ahead to her breeding career, she’ll fill out into a lovely broodmare.
In order to breed lot 99, a Querari filly out of Two Hearts, we had to buy Normandy-bred Joshua’s Princess back at a broodmare auction.
She’s from our Princess Daisy family, but little did we know when we sold Joshua’s Princess as a yearling, that we would later lose all the mares we had from the family. We’re excited by the foals that Two Hearts has given us. Through her, perhaps the family can, once again, be good for us. In the interim, it’s Big Sky Ranch’s mare Princess Nicky that is keeping the family alive.
Lot 95, a Legislate filly from a top Lammerskraal family, fell into our laps when we bought her dam at auction with her in utero. Her dam has subsequently produced another filly, so we have our seed corn in place.
From Normandy-bred mares or their daughters, our fellow breeders have bred Grade One winners of the ilk of Nother Russia, Consensual, Via Africa and Model School.
Which of our five fillies on the Cape Premier Yearling Sale will have Grade One futures?