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    Breeding Ground – The Hutton Way
Breeding Ground – The Hutton Way
Magical Bale. Source: greyhoundstar.co.uk

Breeding Ground – The Hutton Way

The recent announcement that Magical Bale has retired from active stud duties and is now enjoying life in a dog-loving family home in Wales might surprise some. Typically, ageing or underperforming stud dogs are quietly retired, often fading into obscurity. But Magical Bale, who turned eight in January, is far from a failed stud dog.

Enjoying a Welsh Retirement

During his breeding career, Magical Bale sired an English Derby winner and his brilliant litter sister, Romeo Magico and Fabulous Azurra. He fathered one of the greatest British litters of the last decade, bred by Kevin Hutton himself. This litter included 'Signet' brothers Denver, Goofy, and Otis, and their talented sisters Moments Of Magic, Sleek By Design, and Westwell Emer. Five of these littermates contested the 2022 Produce Stakes Final.

Other notable progeny include Candolim Monsoon, Farneys Trend, Havana Bale Out, and Starshinestunner. He finished fifth on the UK open race sires table last year, ahead of many more favored sires by Irish breeders.

Despite his retirement, there are still dozens of straws of his semen stored in liquid nitrogen and available for breeders. Kevin Hutton, the dog’s trainer and joint owner, emphasized, "That was always the plan. The dogs are well looked after when racing and during their stud careers, but I've always wanted them to have a retirement in a home."

Magical Bale now lives with co-owner David Anderson in Wales, enjoying a comfortable retirement.

A New Perspective on Canine Insemination

Canine insemination in greyhound racing, pioneered over 30 years ago by American breeders Richard and Sharon Konole, aimed to reduce travel costs and improve welfare for breeding stock. Australian breeders quickly saw similar benefits. Initially met with caution in the UK and Ireland due to travel concerns and poor conception rates, the practice gradually improved with better progesterone testing.

The rise of AI (artificial insemination) has also provided a welfare angle, preventing dogs from being exported to places with poor welfare standards. Kevin Hutton shared, "We had several massive offers, the biggest being £150,000 for Derby winner Dorotas Wildcat, but it was never considered."

Kevin's approach ensures that once dogs like Dorotas Wildcat complete their stud careers, they are neutered and retired, making them of no commercial value for export.

Successful Stud Careers and Retirement Plans

Both Magical Bale and Dorotas Wildcat have had successful stud careers. Wildcat's breeding record includes English Derby winners and runners-up like Thorn Falcon and Romeo Command, as well as other notable greyhounds. Like Bale, Wildcat is a top ten sire.

Kevin said, "The plans for Wildcat are the same as Bale. We’ve been collecting semen, knowing he’ll soon come home."

Kevin also applies this principle to his breeding females. Forest Natalee, a successful breeder, had five litters and is now retired and spayed, living at home with Kevin.

Trusted Network for Breeding and Rearing

Kevin relies on a small network of trusted individuals to rear and sometimes breed his litters. Chantelle McNicholas and Kevin Bailey from Darlington handle some of the whelping, while Claire Conley rears and schools young pups.

Owner and friend Gilbert Anderson has also contributed to the kennel’s success, including breeding BGBF British Bred Maiden Derby winner, Rioja Bungle.

The Breeding Lottery

Kevin acknowledges that breeding can be unpredictable. Forest Natalee’s litters varied in success, demonstrating that even experienced breeders can be surprised by the outcomes.

Kevin concluded, "It just goes to show that no matter how much you think you understand breeding, it can always catch you out."

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