A rural romance series set around an emerging racehorse stud in Victoria, Australia, and the family desperately trying to make their racing dreams come true.
Four siblings own the farm Merindah Park - John, Shannon, and twins Rachel and Serena. Since the death of their gambling addicted father five years ago, the siblings have worked hard to bring the farm back to prosperity. Each book works as a stand-alone, with the farm tying the series together.
Sign up to my newsletter for more information and more books like this.
Merindah Park: contains immigration issues
Making Her Mark: gambling scam,
Two Hearts Healing: horse and human racing accident (off page) where the horse survives, brain injury, awful parent
Racetrack Royalty: injured horse. autism
blue hen—a broodmare whose descendants are consistently top class; Dahlia (dual European Horse of the Year, and dam of multiple group winners) is one.
colt—male horse three years or younger.
drugs—No drugs are allowed on race day in every country in the world (except USA). Medicinal use for humane reasons is allowed on other days, but the horse must test clear on race day.
filly—female horse three years or younger.
gelding—male horse of any age with testicles removed (makes them easier to work with).
Group One—All races are sorted by class from lower grades up to the top, and the top five per cent of races are internationally recognised, via the Pattern Committee, as ‘stakes races’ or ‘black type’. Of those, the top few races are called Group One (in Australia, this is 72 of 19,300 races). To win one of these is incredibly difficult.
mare—female horse four years or older (broodmare (also dam) is a breeding mare)
names—racehorses names must be 17 characters or less, not named after a business, and not political or rude. Some of the best ones are clever ways to get a rude name past the authorities, like Richard Cranium. Horse names get reused, and the time between uses depends on a bunch of factors, eg date of last start, if the horse went to stud; and individual horses are identified by their name, year of birth and country of birth. In Australia, all foals are DNA-typed, microchipped and branded, however these identifiers aren’t used globally. Horses with the same name can race at the same time in different countries but must be renamed if they are imported into the country of the other one. Some names are internationally protected and can’t be used ever again. The list is kept by the International Stud Book—they include champion breeding stock, classic race winners, and champion racehorses. Some of the names I’ve used are real horses, others I’ve made up (but may be real non-famous horses). Tsuyoi Red (means Strong Red) is a nod to dual Horse of the Year Kitasan Black, and Dark Impact is a reference to Japanese Champion Stallion Deep Impact.
nanny—an older horse, often a retired gelding or broodmare, who lives in a paddock with a herd of young horses.
nanny mare—a broodmare who nurses an orphan foal and is often a mare who has recently lost her own foal. Most mare/foal nanny combinations are organised on an ad-hoc basis as it’s a rare occurrence to have either a mare or a foal die during birth.
pedigree—list of horse’s parents. The convention is ‘by’ sire ‘out of’ dam.
prizemoney—racing prizemoney is funded by betting turnover. On 2013 figures (in Euros), the countries with the highest betting turnover are Japan ($27 billion), Great Britain ($17b), and Australia ($16b). Great Britain’s prizemoney is relatively low compared to Japan and Australia due to comparatively poor taxation rules there. Prizemoney is split between 1st and 5th (60% to 1st, 20% to 2nd, etc) in most races.
shin sore—a very common minor injury in growing racehorses, like growing pains in teenagers. The treatment is a short two to three week rest in a paddock while sore, then returning to light work to encourage bone density. Current science has found that slow work on a hard surface is better for bone density than spelling.
sire prospect—colt or stallion who is still racing and is purchased by a stud farm for stallion duties once retired. The price of a sire prospect in 2018 is up to $60 million. A horse with Tsuyoi Red’s credentials would cost between $3m and $6m depending on how many buyers want him.
sound—opposite of injured, injury prone, or unsound.
spell—paddock rest for a racehorse. A typical racehorse spends six weeks spelling, three months getting fit, and two to three months in racing fitness (with one race a fortnight) before repeating the cycle.
stallion—male horse four years or older (also entire, sire).
strapper—person who looks after the horse in a racing stable, also hot-walker, stable hand, ground staff. The name comes from the noise made by using a towel to massage a horse’s muscles. A track-rider is the person who rides the horse in their daily exercise (in small stables, the track-rider and the strapper is often the same person).
Stud Book—the official record of all matings and the result (eg missed, slipped, live foal, still-born, etc). Every country has their own Stud Book, and all Stud Books adhere to the International Stud Book rules (most countries have additional local rules too). In Australia, there are approximately 800 stallions, 29,000 broodmares, and 13,000 live foals recorded each season.
three-year-old (3yo)—this is the Classic season for horses, and the major races of Guineas, Derby and Oaks are designed to find the best horse of their generation. Once horses are four or older, they race in mixed ages company (and 3yos can race older horses with a weight allowance based on the weight-for-age scale).
two-year-old (2yo)—A two-year-old horse is eligible to begin racing from October (they officially turn two in August in the southern hemisphere) and is similar in maturity to an eighteen-year-old person. They only race against other 2yos, and by the end of the season, they have the maturity of a twenty-five-year-old person. Most horses don’t race as 2yos, instead waiting till three, however racing tends to look favourably on those who do in the same way humans value precocious humans. Research has found horses who race as 2yos have longer careers and are sounder than horses who wait (although this may be a self-fulfilling prophecy—ie they race early as they are already sounder).
yearling—one-year-old horse. The main auction sales are held when yearlings are about 18 months old. They are sold as unbroken (not taught to be ridden) horses so buyers know they are untried.