A.P. Arrow filly from a Rambo Dancer mare
(Photo : Leigh Willson)
“THE MODERN THOROUGHBRED”
Observation of trends in the sporting world reveals an ever increasing inclination towards size, as in”bigger is better”. In racing parlance, this translates into the old adage that a good big “un” will always beat a good little “un”, though we know there are exceptions to this rule, for sure.
However, looking at the worlds of sport and conflict, it is so that the scales have tipped in favour of larger athletes. Revisit the composition of Danie Craven’s 1937 Springboks to New Zealand, and you’ll find that just a handful of them (including tighthead prop, “Boy” Louw) tipped the scales at over 100 kgs. Yet if you look at modern day Springbok teams, you find that there are only a handful below this mark, and that doesn’t always include the scrumhalf. In the world of conflict, its said that the “Tommy” soldiers that made up the 22nd Regiment of Foot at the Battle of Isandlwana in 1879, were no more than an average height of 5’4 , yet when England won the 2003 Rugby World Cup, their forwards were as big and bulky as any on show.
Translated into equine terms, a study of Australian, American and Japanese racing in particular reveals a similar trend. In the former two countries, you seldom see a stallion advertised at under 16,1 hands, while in Japan, they are tending towards 17 hands. While America has been a bastion of thoroughbred excellence for years now, the emergence of Australia and Japan as major forces might well have a correlation in the size of the athletes they’re producing.
Our own travels tell us that if there’s to be another increment in South Africa’s international competiveness in the racing world, it might well come from the supplementary benefits of achieving greater size through genetic enhancement.
We all know the Microsoft Playbook : when others log onto your tail lights, you veer off in a new direction, and all of Kahal, Solskjaer, Mullins Bay, Admire Main, Brave Tin Soldier and A.P. Arrow are part of a new plan. At 16.2 hands, A.P. Arrow is a powerful manifestation of the attributes of the modern thoroughbred, yet until you see his offspring on the ground, you slumber in darkness waiting for the day of the first arrivals to dawn.
That day has at last arrived, and when you’re home to some of the best blood of the Northern Dancer strain in the country, you’re always relieved when you think you’ve found the perfect foil. Above is what an A.P. Arrow filly from a Rambo Dancer mare looks like.