Multidimensional Cross

published: 12 Aug 2014 in Pedigree analysis

WHEN one thinks of the fine art of thoroughbred breeding, the word ‘India’ doesn’t readily come to mind. Yet this emerging economic giant has a well-established racehorse industry, with some intriguing lessons for breeders in other parts of the world.

Racing in India began in 1777 at Chennai (the old Madras) as part of the British colonial influence. Today the sport boasts nine racetracks and an extensive Stud Book, maintaining the integrity of the breed. Unfortunately, classic races are restricted to Indian-bred horses (that is, for the Indian 1000 and 2000 Guineas, the Indian Derby, St Leger and Oaks). A 40% tariff also applies to thoroughbred imports, a protectionist stance which has limited India’s integration into the global racing community. 

As with China, growing industrialisation is creating a huge middle class, for which horse racing is an appealing and affordable activity; but unlike China, betting is permitted in India, a potential revenue source through which the industry can expand. 

If China was to lift its gambling restrictions and India was to embrace free trade in thoroughbreds, it would transform the international breeding industry. Basically, the world’s top breeding nations (such as Australia) would not be able to meet the demand for racehorses in these two countries.

Asian integration of this kind would provide a massive boost to our studs and sales companies. None of this is rocket science. Australia’s long economic boom has ridden on the back of Asian development. Similar gains await the thoroughbred industry, if and when market access becomes available. The scale of opportunity dwarfs anything we have ever seen in the history of Australian breeding.

In recent years, Indian racing has been awestruck by the impact of Multidimensional (IRE) (2003, Danehill (USA)-Sacred Song by Diesis). In his freshman season, this imported Irish-bred stallion covered 63 mares at Usha Stud in 2009, producing 50 foals. So far, eight have been stakes winners (as listed by Arion). 

* ALAINDAIR (2010 ex Gods Grace by Razeen). Six wins from 1400m to 2400m, $804,675, to 2014 in India, Bangalore Colts Championship Stakes-LR, Kingfisher Derby-LR, Hyderabad Indian Turf Invitation Cup-LR, Mumbai Indian Derby-LR, second Mumbai Indian 2000 Guineas-LR.

* KEUKENHOF (2010 ex Secret Garden by Razeen). Four wins from 1200m to 2400m to 2014 in India, Mumbai CN Wadia Gold Cup-LR, third Mumbai Indian Oaks-LR.

* SNOWDRIFT (2010 ex Snow Tiger by Steinbeck from Miss Freeze by Razeen). Three wins from 1200m to 2400m, $288,342, to 2014 in India, Calcutta Gold Cup-LR, Calcutta Derby-LR, second Calcutta Indian Champion Cup-LR, Mumbai Maharaja Sir Harisinghji Trophy-LR, third Calcutta 2000 Guineas-LR, fourth Bangalore Chief Justice’s Cup-LR, Maharaja’s Cup-LR.

* ROSES IN BLOOM (2010 ex Roses in the Snow by Razeen). Five wins from 1400m to 2400m, $120,182, to 2014 in India, Hyderabad Golconda Derby-LR, fourth Hyderabad Golconda 1000 Guineas-LR, Golconda Oaks-LR.

* STRIKING (2010 ex Dazzling Skill by Razeen). Three wins from 1200m to 1600m, $135,775, to 2014 in India, Calcutta 1000 Guineas-LR, Hyderabad Godolphin Barb Million-LR, second Calcutta Oaks-LR, Delhi North India Derby-LR, third Hyderabad Super Mile Cup-LR.

* STARRY EYES (2010 ex Pricewise by Razeen). Three wins at 1400m, 1600m, $221,227, to 2014 in India, Mumbai Breeders’ Juvenile Fillies Championship-LR, second Mumbai Gool S. Poonawalla Million-LR, Breeders’ Multi-Million-LR, Indian Derby-LR, third Mumbai Indian 1000 Guineas-LR, fourth Hyderabad Indian Turf Invitation Cup-LR.

* AMELIA (2010 ex Adamile by Razeen). Six wins from 1000m to 1600m, $181,247, to 2014 in India, Bangalore Fillies Championship Stakes-LR, Hyderabad Deccan Fillies’ Championship Stakes-LR, Super Mile Cup-LR, Mumbai Dr S.C. Jain Sprinters’ Championship-LR.

* WINGED FOOT (2010 ex Real Excellence, by Steinbeck from Allaire by Razeen). Two wins at 1800m, 2400m to 2014 in India, Bangalore Oaks-LR. Steinbeck (Mr. Prospector-Femme Elite by Northjet), a Gr.3 winner in France and Gr.2 second in the UK, who is damsire of two of these stakes horses (second dams by Razeen), also stood at Usha Stud.

Multidimensional was trained by the late Sir Henry Cecil and was unraced at two. He won during each of the next three racing seasons. His five victories included the Prix Guillaume d’Ornono-Haras d’Etreham-Gr.2 and Toteswinger Rose of Lancaster Stakes-Gr.3. His other notable performance was to run fourth in the Tattersalls Millions Irish Champion Stakes-Gr.1, two lengths behind the winner, New Approach. As a son of Danehill and coming from the female family of Mr. Prospector (Multidimensional’s fifth dam is Gold Digger, the dam of Mr. Prospector), he has genetic attributes well suited to a stud career.

As can be seen from the above list, a feature of Multidimensional’s early success has been his affinity with another Usha Stud stallion, Razeen (USA, 1987, Northern Dancer-Secret Asset by Graustark). In racing history, it is not uncommon for ‘barn buddies’ to establish breeding nicks. The best known of these is the Nasrullah/Princequillo affinity from their time together at Claiborne Farm in the United States in the 1950s (producing champions such as Secretariat and Mill Reef, both sired by sons of Nasrullah, out of Princequillo mares).

So far, Multidimensional has sired 44 runners out of Razeen mares, producing 31 winners (70.5% winners/runners), and more impressively: seven stakes-winners (15.9% SW/runners) and a further six stakes-placed (29.5% stakes-horses/runners). In the first five generations of horses on the Arion database, Multidimensional and Razeen feature in the pedigrees of 55 runners, for nine stakes winners (16.4% SW/runners) and eight further stakes placed (30.9% stakes horses/runners).

These are highly impressive statistics, albeit in the early stages of the nick. What explanations are available in understanding the Multidimensional/Razeen affinity? As the five generation pedigree chart of Alaindair (printed with this article) makes clear, a powerful genetic relationship is central to these matings, what Alan Porter has described as a ‘Parallel Pattern’.

In short, Danehill and Razeen are close genetic cousins, represented 2x2 in Alaindair’s pedigree (and any other horse sired by Multidimensional out of a Razeen mare).

Northern Dancer is the grandsire of Danehill and the sire of Razeen (with Danehill also carrying, via his third dam, a female strain of Northern Dancer’s dam Natalma). Danehill’s damsire is His Majesty, a brother to Graustark, the damsire of Razeen. Danehill and Razeen have the great Buckpasser as the sire of their second dam. Thus the dam of Danehill (Razyana) and Razeen (Secret Asset) are bred on the same Ribot/Flower Bowl/Buckpasser cross.

Numbered Account (Razeen’s second dam) adds to the pattern via her third dam Striking (1947, War Admiral-Baby League by Bubbling Over from La Troienne by Teddy), a three-quarter sister to Busanda (1947, War Admiral-Businesslike by Blue Larkspur from La Troienne), the dam of Buckpasser. Busanda and Striking are crossed 2x3 in Numbered Account’s pedigree. Another affinity can be found via Razeen’s third damsire Swaps (1952), who is bred on the same Hyperion/Beau Pere cross as Flower Bowl (1952), the dam of His Majesty and Graustark.

In total, nearly all the blood of Razeen (I’ve calculated 97% within six generations) can be found in Danehill, while around 80% of Danehill’s blood can be found in Razeen. These similarities, mixed into different genetic combinations, appear to have had a positive impact on racetrack performance. Porter swears by the potency of Parallel Patterns, with good reason in the case of India’s leading nick.

The Multidimensional/Razeen affinity points to three conclusions for prospective breeders:

1: Planned matings of this kind work better than random chance;

2: Porter’s Parallel Patterns are an effective starting point for matings, a more sophisticated and targeted approach than ‘scattergun’ line-breeding; and

3: The genetic ‘density’ of matings in the fourth and fifth generations appears to have a positive impact on quality. Inbreeding via the second and third removes can be too close, while so-called ‘deep line-breeding’ (duplications in the sixth remove and further back) tends to dilute the genetic impact of desired crosses.