Southland husband & wife Charlie & Ailsa Smaill have had a big influence on New Zealand harness racing over the years.
The couple ran “Jaccka Lodge” (now Macca Lodge) before selling to Brent & Sheree Macintyre in 2008 having started the operation in 1996.
More recently Ailsa has been involved in administration having served on the HRNZ Board for 12 years.
Recently however it has been one of their broodmares leaving a significant mark with Janine Jaccka (2002 14 B m Sundon - Spiritual Powers) notching her 40th win as a broodmare.
The feat is quite incredible given she has only had 6 foals of racing age. All have raced, and all have won with her most recent to reach the track, Jaccka Josh picking up his first and win number 40 for his mum on Saturday at Wairiro mile day.
“We’ve struck a nice family with a bit of luck. I look out their sometimes and wonder why it’s happened. Janine has got some sisters around that have won a couple but nothing really of note outside of Gimli and another couple of quite nice trotters, but they never really reached the level ours have gotten too and I shake my head and wonder why?!” said Charlie.
The purchase of the now 14 year old broodmare was a credit to the eye of the talented horseman, Charlie.
“In those days I use to take a truck load of weanlings through to the Christchurch sales and I always had in the back of my mind to keep an eye out for a trotter and this one walked in.
“If you looked at her family she had Our Super Force (1990 Pernod Eden - Super Brenda| 2YO Trotter of Year) & Real Force (1985 Florida Pro - Super Brenda | Interdom Trotting Final & 4YO Trotter of Year) who were very nice trotters not far away in the pedigree.
“I think I paid about $7000 for her from memory, which wasn’t cheap back for a weanling back then.
“I took her to Alex (Milne) to be broken in and he worked her up and told me she was a bit slow, and then she kept growing and growing and I thought well I can’t race a big thing like that. She’s a gigantic mare.”
To put that in perspective, while Charlie isn’t sure just how big she is, he tells me the vet needs to stand on a crate when he palpates her in the breeding season!
“Fortunately, none of her progeny have become as big as her! But they’re all a bit like her in that they don’t show a great deal early until they have a few miles under the belt. No one was more surprised to see Jaccka Jack (first foal, by Continentalman) qualify as a two-year-old than Alex Milne.”
Jaccka Jack would get Janine off to a great start as broodmare winning 14 races and placing on a further 20 occasions for $138,746 in stakes. His crowning achievement being a second in the Group 1 NZ Trotting Championship behind the freak I Can Doosit as the near outsider in the field back in 2012.
His full-brother showed a similar amount of ability but took a little while longer to come too it. Jaccka Justy added a further 13 wins to the tally of Janine Jaccka and eight placings none the less. His $235,467 in stakes was aided with a win in the Group 3 DG Jones Memorial at Motukarara in 2013. However, it was significantly boosted with an unexpected win on Show Day in 2014.
“That was a huge surprise and an even bigger thrill to win the Dominion Handicap. To go to the races and win a race like that which was completely unexpected!” said Ailsa. (Ailsa can be seen post-race clasping her hand over her mouth in disbelief with Justy at least 200m past the winning post!)
“One of the bigger thrills was getting Justy back to the races and winning first up. We persevered for five months almost giving up a couple of times.
“He was an expert at reversing at the start but once we got past that we won a couple of workouts and trials and several races.
“I will always remember asking Jonny Cox in the birdcage after winning first up for us “What have we got here“ and Jonny replying “ I don’t know but it is bloody good”.
“It wasn’t until he had a wind operation and we sent him to Jonny Cox and Amber Hoffman to be trained on the beach that he really started to show his real ability”, said Charlie.
The next two foals were fillies who are in turn now broodmares for the Smaills.
“We’ve just started breeding from her daughters Jess & Jocy Jaccka. We’ve got two Muscle Hill fillies off them this year and I like what I see.”
The first two daughters of Janine Jaccka were no slouches themselves with the eldest Jess Jackka (2009) a full to her older brothers being by Continentalman again.
The cross with a Sundon mare produced well over half of Continentalman’s winners (131) and the two Jaccka boys were easily the best of his NZ progeny when it was all said and done.
Jess won five races and placed 11 times for $35,853 in stakes to bring the mare’s tally to a tidy 32 wins from her first three foals.
Given her 100% strike rate as a broodmare, the figure may well have been larger by now if not for one of Charlie’s breeding philosophies that appears to be paying dividends.
“I saw some stats several years ago that showed once a mare has had three or four foals, it’s better if she doesn’t have them year about. I picked up some data in the USA when I visited there and it suggested the same thing. So it’s just one of the breeding philosophies that I like to follow.
Jocy (Jaccka) was a result of that principle and was born in 2009 being sired by Majestic Son. One thing you notice about her is that with three wins and two placings from only 11 starts, there may have been a bit of untapped ability and disappointment along the way?
“You’ve got it dead right actually. She had a problem in the pastern area which could also curtail her breeding career as well. She had a lot of potential and beat Queen Kenny early in her career.
“There were two other Williamson horses out in front with Queen Kenny and she came out wide and ran past the lot of them that day and they were some pretty good horses. We thought she would just go through the grades and when she didn’t we knew something was amiss, and it’s fair to say she’s been one of our biggest disappointments in racing.”
Of her current racing crop, her next foal Jen Jackka (2011 CR Commando) showed enough early at three to warrant a trip north to the big smoke to compete in the 2015 Trotting Oaks.
She drew 14 and was luckless spending more time closer to the outside fence than the running rail in a race that included Habibti Ivy (winner), Sunny Ruby, Arya, Wanna Play, Yagunnakissmeornot and Petite One.
She went on to win four races before going amiss early in 2016.
“Jen is back again and not far off going to the workouts. She had a minor problem with her knee that we had to operate on and we’re just getting her back.
Her injury layoff left Janine Jackka stranded on 39 wins since 29th December 2015. A long time between drinks for a mare that must be putting her hand up for some broodmare awards in the near future.
Second youngest to the rescue.
Josh Jackka was beaten only once in five preps at the workouts and trials suggesting he had some of the family ability.
He’s carried that form onto the race track, placing in his first three starts and going some pretty smart times in the process before Saturday’s win at Wairiro.
“We’ve actually nominated him for the Derby at this stage as he has the speed to mix it, but probably just lacks the stamina to foot it with the best at this stage. I had him at home up until a couple of months before he went to the races and you could tell he had the speed”, said Charlie.
Looking at some of the stallions the Smaill’s have bred the family too recently, Southland racetracks could be in for some more of the Jaccka treatment for a while yet.
“I was just delivering Janine’s latest Andover Hall colt off to Alex Milne when you called!
It’s amazing what’s available and the fact the family we have got has done a marvelous job and been better than average, I feel like if I can go to the best I can, with a bit of luck I’ll get a result.
Muscle Hill, Father Patrick and Andover Hall for the trotting mares this season. All frozen semen stallions and something the ex-farmer isn’t afraid of when it comes to getting his mares in foal.
“I certainly don’t have any hang up with frozen at all as it gives us access to some of the world’s best sires. When we used to operate the stud, we did an analysis of a couple of seasons and the number of palpates we were doing with frozen vs fresh and it was so similar you couldn’t say it was any worse. The success rates were relatively the same. Some mares just don’t catch with certain stallions and for whatever reason that is? It happens with fresh/chilled semen too and as soon as you change they catch.”
For the Smaill’s it sounds as though if it will be a lot easier to catch a mare to frozen then it will be to their 40-win broodmare, Janine Jaccka!
This article is from the Breeders Weekly online publication distributed directly to your inbox.