Breeder of the Month
Peter "Group 1" Gleeson
Story by Peter Wharton
A belief in well-worn theories about breeding have seen Carisbrook (Victoria) enthusiast Peter ‘Group 1’ Gleeson remain at the top of the standardbred breeding game for far longer than most.
“I’ve always maintained that a mare’s conformation is very important,” Peter said. “They have to have brains, too.”
“I prefer to breed from young mares. If they don’t do anything with their first four foals, then you’ve got to move them on.”
Gleeson, the 2017/18 Victorian Breeder of the Year, says there is always an exception to the rule.
“The Good Times was the 16th foal out of Larrakeyah Lady. I don’t normally breed that number of foals from a mare but Larrakeyah Lady was the exception,” Peter said. “She was a super broodmare.”
Gleeson also subscribes to the theory of breeding to stallions which were among the best three-year-old colts of their year in America.
“The female side of a stallion’s pedigree is not so important,” he states.
Gleeson has been breeding pacers and trotters successfully since 1970.
He has bred no less than 10 individual Group 1 winners.
“The first broodmare I owned was the Lawn Raider mare Lawnesa, who I bought off Frank Dove, Don’s brother,” he said.
Sent to the court of Tarport King, Lawnesa produced Somebody’s Image, a lightly raced mare who became the dam of Summer Nights, a winner of 10 races at the lateral gait. Summer Nights, in turn, left the brilliant trotting mare Crystal Sunset, a dual Group 1 winner of $97,000 in stakes and the dam of the Vicbred champion and cup class trotter Just Glorious.
Crystal Sunset was not Gleeson’s first standout performer, however. That honour belongs to the flying Hilarious Way chestnut gelding Copper Way, who hoisted an Australian mile record of 1:55.4 winning the Smile Mile time trial series at Moonee Valley in January 1982.
A month later Copper Way added the second Smile Mile (in 1:56.1) to his list of major successes which also included the Italian, Bendigo and Lady Brooks Cups.
The Windshield Wiper mare Larrakeyah Lady has been the source of the majority of Gleeson’s classic success over three decades.
A Victoria Sires Stakes champion herself, Larrakeyah Lady threw nine winners headed up by the mighty Safe And Sound, the winner of 33 races – five at Group 1 level – and $995,606 in stakes.
Larrakeyah Lady, who was bred from by Gleeson in partnership with Bruce and Craig Cameron, figured as the third dam of the Victoria Oaks winner Beauty Secret, Major Secret, winner of the Vicbred 2YO Final and NSW Derby, Ride High (Breeders Crown 3YO) and Rocknroll Magic (Vicbred 3YO and Breeders Crown 3YO) and the fourth dam of the Vicbred 3YO champion Out To Play.
The 2002 Australian Broodmare of the Year, Larrakeyah Lady also produced top pacers such as Gold Rocket, Massarua and The Good Times and is the ancestress of Exciteusinthecity, Starburst Girl, Major Times, and so on.
A pair of Vicbred 3YO Final winners bred by Gleeson from ‘other’ families were Gigi (1995) and Mindful (2002).
Gleeson also holds the distinction of having bred seven SA Southern Cross Series winners, all descendants of Larrakeyah Lady. Beauty Secret, Rocknroll Magic and Thats Perfect each won two finals, while Lovelist, Our Celebrity, Perfect Look and Punch Line won one apiece.
He rates Safe And Sound as the best horse he’s ever bred, but believes that emerging star Ride High has the ability to at least match his close relative.