In The Pocket, the stallion bred by Brittany Farms in the USA who came to New Zealand in 1993 and revolutionised our harness racing breed has died. The outstanding son of Direct Scooter and Black Jade who won $1,537,473 on the race track in the US pacing 1.53.8 as a two-year-old, was put down at Wai Eyre Farm in North Canterbury and is buried there.
In The Pocket (23) leaves behind an outstanding number of top horses to carry on his legacy in New Zealand including siring sensations Christian Cullen, who set four New Zealand records and won 22 races including the the New Zealand Cup, and the pocket rocket, Courage Under Fire, who won 34 races including 6 Derbys.
But it doesn't stop there. In The Pocket is also the sire of many, many more standouts including Changeover, Winforu, Tribute, Bella's Boy, Light And Sound, London Legend, and London Pride, aswell as the speed queens Tupelo Rose and Under Cover Lover.
He is the sire of more than 600 winners in New Zealand and Australia with combined total earnings of more than $26,500,000. While in North America he has also been and an outstanding siring success with such standouts as Sanabelle Island (1.50.8 $1,660,526 57 US wins) and Crew Cut Zach (p4 1.51.4f $1,006,055, 53 US wins) sired by him.
Voted stallion of the Year in 1998/99 and 2003/2004 In The Pocket, stood at Woodlands Stud, near Clevedon in Auckland, for many years before being purchased by Ian Dobson in September 2005 to stand alongside his most famous son Christian Cullen at Wai Eyre.
The In The Pocket Syndicate was formed with Darryl Brown, of Wai Eyre Farm, and another prominent Canterbury owner, Noel Kennard, joining Dobson in the ownership of In The Pocket .
Brown said he had a small share in the stallion. It was a sad day for the stud to have to put In The Pocket down. The stallion was 23 and had left a very strong legacy of horses.
Noel Kennard said it was "incredible to be involved with such a fantastic individual."
"He has revolutionised our breed. If it wasn't for him we wouldn't have Christian Cullen, or Courage Under Fire, or any of Cullen's many outstanding sons. In The Pocket was a stunning individual," Kennard said.
Frank Marrion writing in HRWeekly 8Sep2010
In The Pocket may have passed away early last month, but his legacy is going to be inestimable.
The best sire New Zealand has seen in modern times since Smooth Fella and Vance Hanover, and only to be surpassed by the success of a son, In The Pocket will live long as a sire of commercially successful sires in Christian Cullen and Courage Under Fire and now quite possibly Changeover. But his influence and contribution to the New Zealand breeding industry is going to extend well beyond that.
The first shuttle sire to step foot in this part of the world when he arrived in 1993, In The Pocket brought refinement, gait and speed to a broodmare population which in many ways was still old fashioned and often course insofar as types. New Zealand's broodmare population was brought up to speed so to speak by a class horse, but even more important was the outcross factor that In The Pocket brought to the table.
At the time when the pacing population around the world was becoming saturated with Hal Dale and Meadow Skipper blood, as a son of Direct Scooter and a Tar Heel mare, In The Pocket proved the perfect foil - he could be said to be the right horse in the right place at the right time for New Zealand. Now New Zealand has a significant proportion of broodmares by In The Pocket, Christian Cullen and Courage Under Fire among others - a much higher percentage than anywhere else in the world anyway - and is brilliantly set up to take advantage of the next round or stage of leading sires or high-profile pacng prospects straight off the track.
The value of outcross blood in a broodmare population cannot be underestimated, so thanks to In The Pocket, New Zealand breeders both individually and collectively have a lot to thank him for. The best present example of this can be observed in Bettor's Delight, a sire with no less than 16 crosses to Hal Dale who was crying out for outcross blood in his mares, and sure enough he has crossed brilliantly with In The Pocket and Christian Cullen mares. It is the speed factor of the Direct Scooter and In The Pocket sire line which is proving so effective and complimentary to the toughness that a sire such as Bettor's Delight from the Cam Fella line can offer.
There was nothing fashionable about In The Pocket's pedigree when he hit the ground in February of 1987, but he was a top class juvenile who won over $1.5m by the end of his 3-year-old season, being second only in performance that year to Horse of the Year Beach Towel. Lou Guida was involved in his ownership then, before George Shaw bought him for stud duties in America. In The Pocket initially stood for two years at Walnut Hall in New York before moving to Winbak Farm in Maryland, a State which allowed him to shuttle, while later he also stood in Ohio.
Before settling into a more permanent home at Woodlands Stud and then at Wai-Eyre in his twilight years, In The Pocket also stood at Vance Lodge in Auckland, at Lantana Lodge and the Stallion Station at West Melton, while also doing a stint at Alabar in Victoria. We can therefore count nine individual farms he frequented during his stud career which spanned two decades, with eight of those years spent doing time in both hemispheres. In The Pocket didn't always get a lot of favours in his life, but it would be fair to say that he has been good - and he was always a lovely horse to be around - to all those who came into contact with him in some form or another.
While he didn't make it as a sire in America without the support of a big stud or syndication after being placed outside of the major breeding States, In The Pocket was an immediate success in New Zealand. Christian Cullen and Under Cover Lover came from his first crop, and they were quickly followed up by Courage Under Fire, Classy Filly and Tupelo Rose among others. Star youngsters such as Light And Sound, Bella's Boy, Lennon, Advance Attack and Tribute would follow before Changeover would prove a crowning glory. The success of Christian Cullen and Courage Under Fire as racehorses and as sires is entirely another story.
In The Pocket's record presently shows about 660 New Zealand-bred winners from 1300-odd foals for a winner-to-foals percentage above 50, when 40 percent is an accepted success rate, while he has another 27 Australian-bred winners from the handful of foals he produced each year there. And his North American stats show 537 winners of over $50m, with 169 six-figure winners headed by the super mare Sanabelle Island ($1.6m). In New Zealand, he was a two-time winner of the Sires' Premiership and among the leading sires every year for the 12 consecutive seasons between his first crop racing as 2-year-olds and last season, when declining foal numbers saw him dip out of the Top 10 for the first time. As a broodmare sire he already has well over 200 New-Zealand-bred winners, headed by Bettor's Strike and Tintin In America
It was five years ago now that Ian Dobson along with Noel Kennard and Wai-Eyre studmaster Daryl Brown purchased In The Pocket for what was then a record price, and he settled into a peaceful semi-retirement in North Canterbury alongside his super sire son. There was always a question mark over In The Pocket's fertility, which was probably not all that surprising in his latter years after what he had been through as a shuttle horse, but his last crop will be five yearlings from a book of 29 mares. He has three fillies entered for next year's Sales, but no further foals after four mares came up empty last season.
Brown says the decision to put In The Pocket down a month ago was not a difficult one when he suffered "quite a bad bout of colic. We could have operated to save him, but he was already retired and had had a good innings."
Thus when most sires are looking forward to a new season at stud, In The Pocket has gone to the great breeding barn in the sky, safe in the knowledge that he will be remembered for a very, very long time.
Credit: Shelley Caldwell writing in Harnesslink