By Frank Marrion - HarnessXpress
John Stiven is renowned as one of our most successful commercial breeders of pacers stretching back over 40 years. It all began when his parents Doug and Noreen acquired an unraced Lordship mare in Evasion and the first Arden they bred from her was a good one in Arden Meadow, who would win a WA Derby. There’s been a steady succession of top performers and high priced yearlings since, including New Zealand Cup winner Arden Rooney and more recently, Jewels winner South Coast Arden. And now Stiven has made a flying start to breeding trotters with his first in that respect being Celtic Arden, who won the $17,298 final of the Anne Thompson Memorial at Rangiora last Sunday. The What The Hill filly got things wrong for a few starts when she resumed this season, but she has rounded into shape just brilliantly with two wins and two seconds in her last four starts. Her manners have been impeccable and she was again faultless on Sunday, beginning the best to lead from a wide draw before taking a trail home on Te Rapa. That proved the winning of the race after Celtic Arden was run down by Te Rapa in a heat of the series after leading up.
“I decided to give the trotters a go when they made the separate sale for them,” said Stiven. “I was there all day for it but didn’t have a horse to sell. “Then I saw Surfin Sunsation advertised for sale by Terry and Adrian Taylor and I knew them from when they raced Sleepy Tripp, a stablemate of Arden’s Darlin. “They were just getting on a bit and were looking to cut back. “It was a brilliant family through Chiola’s Lass and just lately it’s been making a comeback through Midnight Dash and Con Grazia Love.” Surfin Sunsation was the only foal produced in New Zealand by Minuetto, an unraced Armbro Invasion mare from Chiola’s Lass. Surfin Sunsation was thus a three-quarter sister to Allegro Agitato, but Jeremy Douglas had tried for seven seasons to get foals from Minuetto and finally got the stitch. Minuetto would produce a colt foal after being sold to Australia, but then went another seven seasons of either missing, slipping or losing foals.
Surfin Sunsation had produced a couple of foals for the Taylors although one by Monkey Bones was lost. The first in the Love You filly She Aint No Angel won a couple of races for the Taylors and is now being from by Jonny Cox’s parents, producing a colt by What The Hill.
Stiven’s start with Surfin Sunsation didn’t go that well however. She first missed to Love You and then to Creatine in his first season at stud, before producing Celtic Arden, a $22,500 yearling in Christchurch. Stiven then had the misfortune to lose a filly by Father Patrick as a yearling, although Stiven notes “that’s the year they didn’t want them anyway”. But he has since bred colts by En Solitaire and Father Patrick and Surfin Sunsation is back in foal to Zenith Stride. The En Solitaire was sold for $19,000 at the sales this year to Amber Lethaby and owner Leo Curtin. “When there was no more Love You around, I went to his only son that was available at the time. “En Solitaire was also from a mare by Ready Cash and wasn’t a dear stallion.
“I was at Macca Lodge one day and said ‘what am I going to do with that trotting mare. “Brent said come and have a look at some foals and that did it for me. “Another reason I decided to get into the trotters was from going to America and seeing Muscle Hill in the flesh. “He was just gorgeous and I was keen to get some of that. “That’s why I bred to What The Hill and now Zenith Stride.” After the resurgence of Father Patrick from last year, Stiven thinks he may be in business with his trotting colt for next year, given how nicely Celtic Arden is now shaping. While Stiven sold a Captaintreacherous colt from Arden’s Choice for $140,000 this year, having only four yearlings to sell was well down on his normal numbers. Last year he offered nine yearlings and there were 12 the year before in what were strong sales.
“Then one year I put 19 mares to stud and from 13 positives, I lost seven of them for seven different reasons. “It made you wonder what you were doing wrong, but it was just a year from hell and best to turn the page. “Sure enough this season I sent 15 mares away and have 15 positives.” Stiven has 10 weanlings for next year’s sales although he is holding back three fillies. They include fillies by Tall Dark Stranger from Venus Serena and Arden’s Rose, the latter by Somebeachsomewhere from Garden Rose, by Artsplace from Winter Rose. The colts include two by Tall Dark Stranger from Arden’s Choice and Rocknroll Arden however, and with the son of Bettor’s Delight having only 15 known foals for the moment, from 25 mares covered, they can be expected to sell like hotcakes.
Celtic Arden has turned the tables on Te Rapa in the final of the Anne Thompson Memorial at Rangiora. To see the race click here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Aqi3VGy1D6k