This year’s Welsh Festival of Harness Racing at Tregaron did not disappoint.  The 2 days racing plays host to no less than 7 Group races.  From a breeding perspective it was extremely positive to see the vast majority of races won by British Bred Standardbreds and very encouraging for the smaller breeder who is always at threat of being squeezed out the breeding business.

The featured Group Races of the weekend were the Strata Florida Handicap (Group 2), Junior Welsh Dragoness (Group 1), Junior Welsh Dragon (Group 1), Little Welsh Dragon (Group 1), Little Welsh Dragoness (Group 1), The Welsh Classic (Group 1) and the Electric Mile (GROUP 1),  


All four heats and final of the Strata Florida were won by British Bred horses.  DESERT RANGER won the first heat and subsequently went on to win the Group 2 Final of the Strata Florida Handicap.  At the age of 9, he was somewhat the ‘old man’ of the field.  Desert Ranger is by The Preacher Pan (US) x Stoneriggs Speed/Solitude(US) and the magnificent Monkroyd Mystery is his grand-dam (and she  was also the grand-dam  Stoneriggs Mystery).  Indeed, there are several similarities in the breeding of Desert Ranger and Stoneriggs Mystery.  Both were out of daughters of Monkroyd Mystery, Stoneriggs Speed and Stoneriggs Quality respectively.  Both the dam sires – Todays Man (US) and Solitude (US) were an Abercrombie (US) x Most Happy Fella cross and finally the sires of both Stoneriggs Mystery and Desert Ranger (Village Jasper (US) & The Preacher Pan) were descendants of No Nukes (US).

DESERT RANGERThe Preacher Pan (US)The Panderosa (US)Western Hanover (US)No Nukes (US)
Wendymae Hanover (US)
Daisy Harbour (US)Coal Harbour (US)
J R Daisy (US)
Cathedra (US)Run The Table (US)Landslide (US)
Hustlers Best (US)
Cathedral City (US)Oil Burner (US)
Tobin Tar Heel (US)
Stoneriggs SpeedSolitude (US)Tyler B (US)Most Happy Fella (US)
Tarport Cheer (US)
Private Tears (US)Abercrombie (US)
Ambiguity (US)
Monkroyd MysteryHT Navy (US)Henry T Adios (US)
Poplar Nana (US)
Monkroyd GirlCaliburn (US)
Gay Girl
STONERIGGS MYSTERYVillage Jasper (US)Jate Lobell (US)No Nukes (US)Oil Burner (US)
Gidget Lobell (US)
JR AmyBlaze Pick (US)
Good Time Minnnie (US)
Village Jewel (US)Abercrombie (US)Silent Majority (US)
Bergdorf (US)
Sabella Lobell (US)Most Happy Fella (US)
Scene Stopper (US)
Stoneriggs QualityTodays Man (US)Abercrombie (US)Silent Majority (US)
Bergdorf (US)
Silk Stockings (US)Most Happy Fella (US)
Maryellen Hanover (US)
Monkroyd MysteryHT Navy (US)Henry T Adios (US)
Poplar Nana (US)
Monkroyd GirlCaliburn (US)
Gay Girl

Other horses that won or qualified in their heats for the final were: DOON VALLEY, a 5 year old with only four previous lifetime starts.  By Doonbeg (CAN) x Real Melody (US)/Real Artist(US), and a full brother to previous Welsh Classic Winner, Meldoon.  He was also joined in the final by another Doonbeg (CAN), AMERICAN SNIPER the grey gelding out of American Beauty/Master Scoot US) who finished second to MAHOGANY CHARMER.  MAHOGANY CHARMER just got up on the line to win heat 4, by The Preacher Pan (US) and out of Mahogany Dream/Village Jasper (US).

CHECK ON WILLIAM also won a heat, he’s by Art Professor (US) x Check on Wilma/Check on Jack (US).  This was the only winner of the weekend sire by Art Professor, however he did had a few others placed and included  WASNTEXPECTINGTHT (second in Heat 3) and KEEVA CAMDEN (third Junior Welsh Dragoness, out of Upfront Bethan (US)/Dragon Again(US).  The third heat winner was the mare MEGAN CAMDEN (Yankee Lariat (US) x Second Symphony (US)/Abercrombie.  RHYDS ROULETTE (Hasty Hall (US) x CPs Village Jigsaw (U)S also qualified for the final.


The Group 1 Welsh Dragon Races are always eagerly anticipated.  Bringing the meeting forward to the start of July has been a significant change to the 2 year old races, as the horses are now 2 months younger that they would be at the end of August and so many are an unknown quantity and also entering a Group 1 race as their first start.  There were 18 two year olds entered (11 fillies and 7 colts/geldings) and their dates of birth ranged from 19 March to the 19 June. 

March = 4 (3 females /1 male); April = 4 (3 females /1 male); May = 8 (5 females/3 males) and June = 2 males.    The 3 winners, were born between 18 April and 5 May, so not particularly  ‘early foals’.

The winners were:

MELDOONS STAR  – filly,  Rogue Hall (US) x Meldoon / Doonbeg (CAN) giving a 3×4 Cam Fella (US)

RHYDS LINE DANCER – filly, Betting Line (US) x Twist N Clout (US)/Western Ideal (US) a £15,000 purchase at last year’s York Sale.  The filly is linebred, whereby the top line of the dam bred has been bred to the bottom line of the sire. In this instance it has resulted in a 3×3 Western Hanover, 4x4x4 No Nukes and 4×4 Abercrombie which gives an breeding coefficient greater than 5%.

MONEY HILL – gelding, Tom Hill (US) x Racezapan/Genghis Pan (US), a home bred filly who somewhat unusually has Matt Scooter on both sire and dam lines (4×4)

Given the time of year, and the inexperience of the horses there were some super two year old performances and it is highly likely that several of the others will feature in future breeding notes as the season progresses. The two year old winners (which included 2 divisions for the fillies) were sired by Rogue Hall (US) Betting Line (US) and Tom Hill (US). These were the only winners for these sires during the weekend.  However, Tom Hill (US) is worthy of comment as he did have three others finishing second and a one third, resulting in a very good Tregaron for him given that his oldest crop are only three year olds.


The Little Welsh Dragon & Dragoness for 3 year olds were won by AYR CORLEONE and MATADORA respectively.   AYR CORLEONE – Hasty Hall (US) x Sold Out (US)/Western Ideal (US).  This is a slight deviation from the usual, very successful cross of Hasty Hall (US) bred with mare that is by an Abercrombie (US) line sire.  However, Sold Out (US) herself is a 3×4 Abercrombie (US) which may compensate for the absence of an Abercrombie (US) line sire.  AYR CORLEONE had 3 starts in Ireland in 2022, finishing second on each occasion, he secured a win in Ireland in his run up to Tregaron which set him up for a comfortable Group 1 victory.   

The Dragoness was a closer contest between MATADORA and OAKWOOD DYNASTY (IRE).  Both showed a decisive improvement in form to be captured in a photo finish.  MATADORA got it by a (very) short head, the grey filly is very much a home bred by Matador Hall (US) x Shades of Grey (US) /Cambest (US).  Both sire and dam were successfully raced by owner Claire Fletcher and it proved to be a very emotional win for Claire.


Seven of the eight horses that qualified for the Welsh Classic Final were British bred and several of them homebreds. First up from heat 1 was WELLFIELD ELEGANT, a 5 year old mare by Yankee Landa (US) x Wellfield Posh/Village Connection (US). Both the sire and dam’s sire were owned by and stood at the Wellfield Stud – both stallions have passed away but both were grossly underestimated. Qualifying with her was Tommy Shelby, another home bred, a 4 year old by Eagle Luck (US) x Striking Mambo/Pro Bono Best (US). TOMMY SHELBY has a great maternal line, the dam’s sire is Pro Bono Best (US) who is recognised as a good broodmare sire and the bottom line goes back to Matts Sunshine (US) who has had several of her offspring imported to GB and Ireland – Ma Belle Hall (US), Best Sunshine (US) & Matador Hall (US). She is also the dam of Mambo Hall (US). Whilst Mambo Hall (US) has not been imported to GB, two of her daughters have, 1. Mambo Western (US) – dam of Rocking Mambo (US) and 2. Baby Rosa (US) dam of Vino Rosa both of whom were 1.56 performers in GB.

Yet another pair of home breds qualified in Heat 2, BLUE LA VIDA LOCA and the 7 year old MANHATTAN GANGSTER by Crown Manhattan (US) x Talavary Emily/Splurge Hanover (US). As with winner of the previous heat, Talavary Stud owned and raced both the sire and dam’s sire. The dam’s maternal line is one of the few remaining maternal lines that stems from a New Zealand imported mare Kiwi VI (NZ). The late JS Jones, Saunders Stud was very fond of stating that it was a great cross, the stamina from a New Zealand mare and the speed from an American Stallion.

The next 2 qualifiers were both British Bred but the offspring of two imported parents – NATIONAL TREASURE by Major League Star (US) x Treasure Keeper (US)/ Western Hanover (US). The classic an Artsplace line sire on a Western Hanover mare. Direct Scooter (US) also appears on the bottom line and is always a positive. STATESIDE DEUCE by Armbro Deuce (US) x Bunnys Legacy (US)/Western Hanover (US) which gives a rather close 2×3 Western Hanover, with a 4×4 Abercrombie, 4×4 Cam Fella and 4×4 Albatross. The dam Bunny’s Legacy(US) was out of the legendary Bunny Lake (US), her Hall of Fame biography says it all “2001 Horse of the Year Bunny Lake stands out as one of the grandest of history’s distaff pacers, having earned more than $2.8 million during her racing career and winning 47 out of her 93 starts. She retired as the second-richest pacing mare of all time and eighth leading money winning pacer overall”.

YERKES HANOVER (US) Artspeak (US) x Yankee Lover (US)/ Art Major (US) proved to be only American imported winner of the weekend. Yankee Lover (US) is well connected as she is the sister of Word Power (1.48.3 $506,224); Talk Show (1.50 $387,022) and Camden Stud’s stallion Yankee Lariat (US) (1.50.3 $480,024). However, despite a strong family, Ceredigion bred and stable mate BE LIKE ME gave quite a battle and only a nose kept the Mahogany Import (US)/Ysig Flame/Make A Deal (US) gelding out of the winners enclosure.

Therefore 8 horses lined up for the Welsh Classic Final, 8 horses (6 male & 2 females) by 8 different sires. But it was the mare BLUE LA VIDA LOCA that lived up to her name La vida loca, “someone who is cool, fearless and can do whatever they want”

BLUE LA VIDA LOCA – a 7 year old mare and another homebred for Hughie & Stacey Burton.  Some might say that she might have come in under the radar – but she’s been very much knocking at the door, as she won the Lampeter heat and final last year and finished second (to National Treasure and Yerkes Hanover respectively) in both the heat & Group 1 Final at Appleby in May.  She was See and Ski (US)’s only winner of the weekend and is the first foal out of Blue Bop A Loola.  Blue Bop A Loola was a decent race mare, and she comes from a ‘Blue’ breeding line and is out of the mare Blue Moon.  Like the winner of the Strata Florida on the previous day, the breeding could be considered old fashioned in today’s terms, but old fashioned or not, it is a breeding that is littered with consistent racehorses and good winners.  Blue Moon (grand dam of Blue La Vida Loca) was born in 1992, by Armbro Mystic (US) x Iron Lass.  Iron Lass’s breeding is heavily influenced by German Trotting horses.  Blue Moon had 15 foals and so many of them proved to be very good racehorses such as Blue Russian, Blue Incredible, Blue Top Gun etc.  She was also the dam of Blue Kryptonite, whose first foal ULTRA VIOLET (by Doonbeg) was also a run away winner of a maiden race earlier in the day.

BLUE LA VIDA LOCASee and Ski (US)Somebeachsomewhere (US)Mach Three (CAN)Matts Scooter (US)
All Included (US)
Where’s The Beach (US)Beach Towel (US)
Wheres Sarah (US)
Must See (US)Artsplace (US)Abercrombie (US)
Miss Elvira (US)
Grand Lady (US)Matts Scooter (US)
Grand Vitesse (US)
Blue Bop A LoolaTodays Man (US)Abercrombie (US)Silent Majority (US)
Bergdorf (US)
Silk Stockings (US)Most Happy Fella (US)
Maryellen Hanover (US)
Blue MoonArmbro Mystic (US)Overtrick (US)
Armbro Fancy (US)
Iron LassNandina Will
Miss Universe

Blue La Vida Loca is line bred with 3×4 Abercrombie and a 4×4 to Matts Scooter but that directly attributed to See and Ski. 

With the passing of Hasty Hall (US), See and Ski (US) is now the main manat Rhyds Stud.  And intentionally or not, from a breeding theory perspective he may well be in a position to replicate some of Hasty Hall’s success, as both stallions are out of Abercrombie line sires.


The Electric Mile winner MERRINGTON MOVINUP, a complete out-cross and proved to be another winner for The Preacher Pan (US). 

As a sire The Preacher Pan had 3 winners at the festival – Merrington Movinup, Desert Ranger (Ht & Final) and Mahogany Charmer, making him the most successful sire of the weekend by number of winners.  Coalford Laag had 2 winners (Coalford Wiggle and Coalford Promise), the other sires had one winner each.

With regard to the dams, several dams had more than one offspring racing but a special mention must go to JUDY HALL (CAN).  She had 3 runners over the weekend and all three were very much in the running.  WASNTEXPECTINGTHAT (by Arts Professor second in both heat and the Group 2 Strata Florida Final;  CHASINGTHESTARS by Tom Hill (US) was only just narrowly beaten in the Group 1 Junior Welsh Dragoness and FOLLOWTHESTARS  (The Preacher Pan (US) finished third in a Ratings Race.  Quite an achievement at a Festival which such good racing

There were 27 races – all 4 trotting winners were bred in France and imported to GB, a report on their breeding will feature later.  Then of the 23 pacing races – 20 of the winners were sired by stallions standing in GB one conceived by frozen semen, one imported in utero and one imported from US.  Of the winning dams – eight of the dams were imported to GB/Ireland and the remaining 15 were GB Bred.

Congratulations to all the connections of all the horses, to their owners, trainers and drivers well done.  But it all starts off with the breeding, so well done breeders you did a great job! 

Full results of the Welsh Festival of Harness Racing at Tregaron – Saturday 8 July and Sunday 9 July can be found on the BHRC website.

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