Lex and Heather Williams of One Over Lodge know a thing or two about breeding quality Standardbreds.
Therefore, it came as no surprise to seem them in the birdcage on a premiere night at Addington, accepting the silverware for their latest farm-reared star.
“Jill Smolenski said when we went up to Nevele R Stud to see him up after foaling, just look for the most outstanding looking colt in the paddock”, said Heather Williams.
That colt was One Muscle Hill, the first New Zealand stakes winning progeny of the hottest trotting stallion currently in the world.
One Muscle Hill was one of only 21 foals born in 2014 by the son of Muscles Yankee.
He is out of the one win Earl mare Landora’s Pearl (2006).
In 2008 Lex Williams had decided he was going to buy into some quality trotting families.
Heather and Lex’s champion mare One Over Kenny had at the time already amassed over half a million in stakes, and the pair wanted a future in breeding champions of their own.
“We bought Landora’s Pearl at the Auckland sale for $38,000 after Lex had sorted out some families he would like to get into. She was our top pick and we got her”, said Heather.
Landora’s Pearl is out of a very well related family most are familiar with. Her second dam Landora’s Pride won a Northern trotting Derby, Rowe Cup and Dominion Handicap amongst her impressive CV. The family is littered with black type winners with the most recent being Eyre I Come.
She won twice at two out of the Paul Nairn barn, once in New Zealand in a Breeders Crown heat and another in Ballarat as a lead-up to the Breeders Crown final where she was to finish seventh.
Like many a Nairn squaregaiter, she went on a West Coast excursion where she picked up her only other victory when saluting at Reefton.
‘Pearl’ was to race with distinction in the New Zealand Derby in 2010 finishing 6th, before galloping away from the mobile in the Oaks and running down the track.
After another Australian assault where she ran second in the South Australian Oaks at Group One level, she was retired to stud at the farm in Broad Gully.
“We had quite a few problems with her first foal Landora’s Girl (2011 The Pres) and she had quite a few trainers but she managed a win at Methven before we sold her to Australia.”
The next foal is now a three-year-old filly by Muscle Mass and after a stint with Colin De Fillipi at Ladbrooks, now does her acing further south out of the Amber Hoffman stable.
“Lassie was at the workouts in Oamaru yesterday and did everything that Amber was asking of her. She raced at two out of Colin’s stable but he suggested she go to the beach as she would be better suited to racing down south instead of Canterbury.
“One Muscle Hill was the most beautiful thing from the day he was born. He was a standout, absolutely. He was easy to teach things too, he was good when he was weaned and educated. Was willing and a quick learner. He had brains right from when he was a foal, a beautiful animal.”
“He was in and out of the boxes that many times on the day. It was a big thing from leaving our farm and straight to Christchurch. He handled it really well.”
The colt was purchased for $57,500 by the American duo of Gordon Banks and Mark Hanover.
He was sent to the Australian stable of Nicole Molander where he won his debut race as a two-year-old, before receiving an ‘Aussie invite’ to the Jewels.
“He was paid up for the Sales and Sires Stakes races here so Mark and Gordon decided to give it a crack”.
The colt appears to be peaking at the right time and his ability to be there at the finish of a toughly run 1950m in the Listed Sires Stakes Two Year Old Trot was testament to the polish of the All Stars Stable.
“He’s not a natural two-year-old really and he lugged in a bit on the corners, but once he straightened up he was much better in his gait and he trotted really well to the line”, said Mark Purdon.
Lex and Heather were on hand to watch the horse they bred do the job and were under instruction from the colts owners to collect any silverware should he deliver on the night.
“We keep in contact with Mark and Gordon and they sent us a text to collect the trophy for us and the phone call came in the pocket congratulating us from Australia.”
“We really like the Muscle Hill’s, we have a couple more at home and they are beautiful animals.”
The couple aren’t the only ones. Muscle Hill progeny are doing the job on the track in North America, Europe and now Australasia from extremely limited books.
The super sire who won 20 of his 21 races when on the track averaged $167,000 from 17 foals at the 2016 Lexington Sales with one of his yearlings fetching $800,000.
With the least number of foals eligible (145) to race Muscle Hill had over $3 million more in progeny earnings (on the all age trotters list) of any of the top ten stallions in North America and remember that he only has four crops racing at the end of 2016.
He was also the first outside stallion to lead the Swedish three year old sires ladder doing this with frozen semen.
This no doubt helped his sales prices here despite having limited track success with only Gunners Coin racing at the top level (albeit briefly) in New Zealand prior to this season.
“His popularity worldwide means we will never be able to get more semen than we currently are” said Peter O’Rourke who has the rights to the stallion’s semen in Australasia through his semen business Stallions Australasia.
Lex and Heather had a great weekend capped off by their now trotting stallion winning first up for Lance Justice in the Skeggs Memorial Trot Cup at Group Three Level.
“We sent him over there five days after the Rowe Cup as the opportunities are far greater. We received a text from lance Justice thanking us for the opportunity to train such a great horse so we were rapt with the run.”
The Majestic Son entire is out of One Over Kenny and has amassed over $325,000 in stakes with his latest victory being his 22nd.
He served 13 mares this season in his first year advertised at stud, having covered two of the farms own mares in 2015, one being a half-brother to One Muscle Hill.
The two colts went through the ring this year at the New Zealand Premiere Yearling sale fetching nice prices. $20,000 for the Anna Castleton colt. And $31,000 for the colt out of ‘Pearl’.
Pearl foaled a nice Angus Hall colt this season and is back in foal to One Over Da Moon this year.
The William’s are confident their little Earl mare will leave another nice type given her current foals have all been of good size and very correct.
“She’s not the biggest mare in the world but she keeps leaving nice big foals. And she’s certainly the bossiest of the bunch in the broodmare paddock. None of the other mares seem to really like her I’ll tell ya!”
‘Pearl’ won’t win any awards for making friends, and that’s fine with the Williams. They don’t count those on her pedigree page anyway!
Should One Muscle Hill win the Jewels at Ashburton, it would be their second two-year-old to win the race at the same venue, and the first Australian-invite winner.