Charlie and Ailsa Smaill have spent most of their adult life involved in harness racing. Both have been involved in administration of the industry with Ailsa being on the board of HRNZ for twelve years and Charlie serving as a director of Nevele R since 2009.
They’ve owned and bred hundreds of horses. In fact an amazing 537 horses have their registered name ‘Jaccka’ as a prefix (colts and geldings) or as a suffix (fillies and mares) – 285 boys ranging from Jaccka Adobe to Jaccka Wizard and 252 girls from Alexandra Jaccka to Worthy Jaccka.
Interestingly enough there is no Jaccka Charlie or Ailsa Jaccka!!!
And right in the middle of the girl’s list is a mare that’s proved to be the best Jaccka of them all – Janine Jaccka.
As a broodmare she’s produced a host of quality square gaiters and provided the Smaills with undoubtedly one of their many career highlights as owners – Jaccka Justy one of her sons winning the Dominion Handicap.
But the story begins without a Jaccka in sight and a horse called Account.
He was the first horse Charlie raced in partnership with his father Charlie H Smaill and trainer Phil Cross from Pyramid near Gore.
He was by Majestic Chance out of Complete and was bred by Ascot Stud. He won his first start as a four year old at Gore in December 1983, driven by Robin Swain.
In 1987 young Charlie bought with friend Archie Affleck, a filly called Keyali off Northern Southland breeder Neil Timms. She was by Gaines Minbar out of Keyanau who was by Key Club out of Lucky Surprise. Lucky Surprise left a handful of good mares – Orange Queen (Bachelor Hanover) who was the second dam of Lord Hillas, Queen’s Advocate, Carefree Princess and Noble Fella. Lucky Surprise also left Mini Clare who was the dam of Remote.
The purchase of Keyali proved to be a masterstroke for the partnership. She not only won her first start for them and trainer Hori Lee but went on to win a total of seven races.
“She’d run some pretty good quarters before we bought her. Archie had never been involved in horses at all. She started him off in the horse business. We had many a good day with her and a bit of fun,” said Charlie Smaill.
As a broodmare Keyali’s first foal was Kute Jaccka which was by Holmes Hanover. She won four races.
Smaill and Affleck raced Kute Jaccka early in her career but when she retired Affleck owned her outright and started to breed from the mare. Her first foal by In The Pocket was Mossdale Kara which is the dam of Mossdale Connor the winner of thirteen races.
In the early days Smaill also raced Popsicle (Surmo Hanover – Classic Artist) which won ten races. He was good enough to finish second behind Honkin Vision in the 1989 New Zealand Kindergarten Stakes. At three he ran third in the New Zealand Derby. His best season was as a four year old when he won six races. He was also trained by Hori Lee at Wyndham.
“Sometimes I wonder why I let him go. We had a lot of fun with him and he was such a nice horse to have around. He ended up in Canada in one of those heated barns. He was winning races right up until he was fourteen.”
Popsicle ended up winning fifty five races overseas and with career earnings of $360, 806.
His dam Classic Artist was by Knowing Bret out of Creation and was bred by Craig Legat. Popsicle was her first foal. She didn’t leave anything else of note although one of her last foals Champaign Jaccka bred by Smaill did leave the evergreen pacer Our Southern Man.
Charlie did breed from one of Classic Artist’s daughters Cabsav Jaccka which left Tinted Cloud gelding Jaccka Clive which won thirty one races in Australia and $493,178.
“It was a great family but it was boys only. You hardly ever saw a filly win a race. That was one of the reasons why I didn’t carry on breeding from that family.”
Smaill has been a farmer most of his life, spending eight years at Clydevale from 1968 before moving to Glenlapa (in Northern Southland) in 1976 where he bred and reared sheep and cattle. From the early days he enjoyed being hands on.
“Up at Glenlapa we put a track in and I was pre-training the odd one.”
It was while they were at Glenlapa that they started to get a bit more serious about breeding.
“When we were there we’d bought a property down the valley just next door to us. I met Bob McArdle when he bought Popsicle off us. He kept leaning on us to set up an AI centre. I had fifteen kilometres of deer fencing material on site. It was back in the days when you looked at diversifying your property the best you could. I sat down one day and looked into the economics of it and we decided to change direction. We set up an AI centre.”
So Glenlapa became the first Jaccka Lodge in 1995.
In 2002 Charlie and Ailsa leased Glenlapa to their son Charles and bought 600 acres, setting up the second home of Jaccka Lodge.
So where did the Jaccka name originate from?
“Once we started to breed a few we found it difficult to name them. It was an annual frustration. Ailsa and I put a prefix together using the initials of our names and our four kids – Kristine, Charles, Janine and Amanda.”
After six years at Jaccka Lodge they decided to sell up and downscale. Brent and Sheree McIntyre bought the property in 2008 renaming it Macca Lodge.
“It had become a seven day a week business. It really wasn’t the semi-retirement that it was set out to be and we’re very pleased that Brent and Sheree took it over.”
They now have a 250 acre farm at Riversdale in Northern Southland.
“We breed about six to seven foals a year, we also fatten our son’s lambs.”
Although they continue to breed pacers from a small number of mares their main focus is on trotters – particularly the stock of Sundon mare Janine Jaccka which Charlie bought as a weanling in 2002.
“In those days we used to take a truck load of weanlings up to Christchurch. I was always on the lookout for a trotting mare. This filly walked into the ring as a weanling. I looked at her pedigree and it was pure trotting as far as you can see. There wasn’t a dual gaited sire in sight.”
This unnamed weanling became Janine Jaccka. She was out of Spiritual Power a Pernod Eden mare out of an American bred mare Super Brenda (by Super Bowl). Super Brenda did a good job at stud leaving Real Force (Florida Pro) 11 wins, Chiola’s Luck (Chiola Hanover) 4 wins and Our Super Force (Pernod Eden) 10 wins.
As the family is steeped in trotting blood Smaill is surprised the breed hasn’t been more successful in other branches.
“I keep shaking my head and wondering why. I guess it’s the old adage – there are no rules in breeding. Everything we’ve had out of our mare has done well for us.”
For the first three seasons Janine Jaccka was sent to Continentalman.
“He was sent down as a bit of a promotion when we first opened what is now Macca Lodge. I just liked the horse. He was lovely to handle. We had him around for a couple of weeks before he went back. Alex Milne broke the mother (Janine Jaccka) in and her foals. He said she was a bit slow. She was also a huge mare. We put her in foal as a two year old and got Jaccka Jack. No one was more surprised than Alex when Murray Gray turned up at the trial with Jack as a two year old. The breed’s a bit like that. Once you get them settled down and do a lot of ks with them, away they go. ”
Smaill says most of Janine Jaccka’s foals have shown the same fiery trait.
“I remember Jack, Justy and Jess – they were all wild foals. I can remember them squealing – they were difficult and weren’t easy.”
But it’s a gait that he’s enjoyed the challenges of.
“It’s something that has always interested me. It’s a different skill set to get them going. She’s (Janine Jaccka) not a friendly mare. The only time you can get near her is when she’s pregnant. They’ve all got that streak in them where they’ve been difficult to catch in the paddock.”
Janine Jaccka is only fourteen and is still producing winners and good quality foals.
“We’ve got an Andover Hall gelding. He’s been broken in and a bit like the first few. He wasn’t a real natural as a youngster but Alex keeps telling me that he (Jaccka Jeorge) will be a young horse. He’s just built like one. He’s the oldest of the Andover Halls and I’m looking forward to getting my hands on him.”
Because she’s such a big mare breeding from Janine Jaccka hasn’t always been based on the right sized stallion match.
“I would have gone to Love You but his foals are on the big side so I thought it wasn’t probably the right thing to do. I’ve never measured Janine Jaccka but the vet has to get up on a box to palpitate her.”
As well as providing the Smaills with their biggest win in the industry, Jaccka Justy has also given Charlie as a small time trainer, his most satisfying moment.
After being trained by Nathan Williamson for whom he won his first start in December 2010 Jaccka Justy then ran thirteenth in his next start. Smaill took him home to Riverdale and with plenty of patience and individual care he returned wearing his colours to Ascot Park in May 2011 where he provided Smaill with his first winner as a trainer.
“It took me five months to get him back to the races. We just kept working away at him and tried to understand him a bit more. I’d been to a couple of workouts. If I’d have to pick a highlight in racing it’d be coming here (Ascot Park) and him winning his first start for me. It was Murray Gray that suggested that I keep him. I was actually looking for someone to give him to but Murray said why wouldn’t you keep going with him, and we did. He bolted in (that day) and I was staggered. I play that race so many times. Somehow we just clicked. It had a bit to do with the wind operation as well as it helped him relax.”
Jaccka Justy was to win six more races under Smaill’s guidance. He ended up winning thirteen races and $235,467. His biggest win was in the 2014 Group One Hellers Dominion Handicap. He was driven by Jonny Cox and trained by him and Amber Hoffman.
Of the six foals that have raced by Janine Jaccka – all have been winners. Jaccka Justy (13), Jaccka Jack (14), Jess Jaccka (5), Jocy Jaccka (3), Jen Jaccka (5) and Josh Jaccka (1). In all, her progeny have won forty one races and $462,322.
Janine Jaccka from her seven named foals has left three fillies – two of which the Smaills are now breeding from – Jess Jaccka and Jocy Jaccka.
“With Jess’s first foal (Jina Jaccka) we’ve had a frustrating time. Every time we’ve brought her in she’s been sore. We can’t seem to find out what it is.”
And of all the Jacckas running around at the moment Smaill is most enthused about Jen Jaccka.
“She’s starting to show that she may be competitive among the better grade horses.”
Outside of Janine Jaccka he’s also breeding (on lease) from What Rose Trot the winner of five races for Graham Chalmers. She’s only left two named foals including the promising Pegarose which has won two of her three starts for Nathan Williamson.
“Kevin Campbell our farrier was really keen on her. She’s in foal to Muscle Mass.”
Although the Smaills have scaled down the number of pacing mares they are breeding from they still have some nicely bred mares to send to the breeding barn.
Odette Jaccka, which won five, is in foal to A Rocknroll Dance and they’re also breeding from Badlands Hanover mare Expresso Jaccka. She’s left the promising Erin Jaccka the winner of two races and a former Winton track record holder for a mile in 1-53.9.
“We’ve given her (Erin Jaccka) a spell and we’re starting to do a bit of jogging with her now. Something went wrong with her, we just couldn’t put our finger on it. We’re just going to have a bit of a play with her ourselves and see where we end up.”
Over the years, Charlie’s been looking to replicate in pacing what he’s achieved with trotting. And he did follow a line of success early on.
“I’ve been looking for a pacing family like we have with the trotters but haven’t quite struck it yet. We did have a good one which we had a bit of luck with – a mare called The Other Woman (Falcon Seelster –Heirloom Hanover) but for some reason we’ve lost the family.”
The Other Woman left a handful of foals including Jaccka Tana (Badlands Hanover) which won three races here and another nine in Australia and Jaccka Twain (Artsplace) which won three for trainers Geoff and Jude Knight and a further thirteen races in Australia.
However Charlie says he given up that line of thought now.
And after starting with pacers and breeding plenty of them, Charlie and Ailsa Smaill are now enjoying what Janine Jaccka is giving them and looking forward to racing the next generation of trotters from her daughters.
“If this family goes into the next generation we’ll probably end up with predominantly this family. It wouldn’t worry me (just having trotters) because it’s the trotting side of it (the industry) that’s growing. The standards just got so much better and it’s great to be part of that.”