Pedigrees prove the winning difference

published: 01 Nov 2015 in Pedigree analysis

AS SOMEONE who checks the pedigrees of metropolitan winners in Sydney and Melbourne each weekend, I have long thought there is something special about this time of year. The bloodlines become more interesting. 
  As the nation’s best horses return to the track for the Spring Carnivals, it seems to coincide with greater creativity in pedigree structures and strategies. In many cases, this is the winning difference: clever breeders who have got the genetics right in developing Group-level runners. Writing in the week leading up to the Cox Plate, here are my pedigree notes on some of our star performers.

Lucky Hussler
A PROVEN mating strategy over many years has been to combine the blood of Mr. Prospector (1970, Raise a Native-Gold Digger by Nashua) and Roberto (1969, Hail to Reason-Bramalea by Nashua). Genetically, the affinity between these two important sire influences has been through their dams, with Gold Digger and Bramalea bred on the same Nashua/Bull Dog/Blue Larkspur cross.
  When combined in the first five generations of pedigrees, the Mr. Prospector/Roberto cross has produced an extraordinary 204 Gr.1 winners (among them Zenyatta, Barbaro, Weekend Hussler, Shocking, Shamardal and Lope de Vega), 688 Group winners and 1620 stakes winners (at a ratio of 4.3% SW to runners). The latest Australian Group winner on this cross is the exciting staying prospect Almoonqith (2010, Dynaformer-Bohemian Lady by Carson City), winner of the Geelong Cup-Gr.3, bred 2m Roberto-3m Mr. Prospector.
  The success of the Darren Weir-trained Toorak Handicap-Gr.1 winner Lucky Hussler (2009, Husson-Talaq Dancer by Black Hawk) takes this strategy a step further. Husson is inbred to 2mx4m to Mr. Prospector, while Talaq Dancer is crossed 4mx4m to Roberto, a mating that produces a double dose of the traditional partners, intensifying their impact through inbreeding on both sides of the pedigree. Lucky Hussler is a dual Gr.1 winner (having also won the 2015 William Reid Stakes) and five-time Group winner, an outstanding achievement for a $100,000 Gold Coast Yearling Sale purchase from Monarch Stud (Muswellbrook, NSW). As ever, smart matings are likely to produce smart horses.

Speak Fondly
THIS Gooree-bred sprinter-miler, Sydney’s dominant three year-old filly and the winner of the Flight Stakes-Gr.1, carries a double cross of the blue-hen mare Rolls (1984, Mr Prospector-Grand Luxe by Sir Ivor). Speak Fondly is a daughter of Northern Meteor (by Encosta de Lago, whose second dam is Rolls) out of Blab, a Flying Spur (ex Rolls) mare, hence the 4fx3m Rolls cross.
  For those who believe in line-breeding to well-credentialed female influences, the Rolls cross is an increasingly popular strategy, combining the blood of two leading Australian stallions, Flying Spur and Encosta de Lago. What success can breeders expect from this Rasmussen Factor? Statistics from the Arion database show that 162 runners have carried the Rolls cross within five generations, for a winners/runners ratio of 59.3%. It has produced six Group winners (Speak Fondly, Delago Deluxe, Believe Yourself, Moonovermanhattan, Clifton Red and Sookie), nine stakes winners (5.6% to runners) and 18 stakes-placed horses (at a respectable 11.1% ratio to runners).
  In terms of producing Group-winners, the most successful combination has been runners sired by Sebring (dam sire Flying Spur) out of Encosta de Lago mares. From just 18 starters, this nick has produced two Group winners; Believe Yourself (winner of the 2014 Sweet Embrace Stakes-Gr.2 and then 4th in the Golden Slipper-Gr.1) and Clifton Red (2014 TBV Thoroughbred Breeders Stakes-Gr.3).
  By contrast, 40 runners featuring Encosta de Lago as their grandsire, out of Flying Spur mares have produced two Group winners (Speak Fondly and Moonovermanhattan). Thirty-nine runners sired by Encosta de Lago out of Flying Spur mares have just the one Group winner (Delago Deluxe), while 
11 runners on the reverse cross (sired by Flying Spur out of Encosta mares) are yet to yield a Group or stakes winner.

WITH the death of the immortal Zabeel (Sir Tristram-Lady Giselle by Nureyev), his blood will be carried forward by a relatively small number of sire sons in Australasia (such as Reset and Savabeel) and a much larger band of broodmares. In winning the Stocks Stakes-Gr.2 at Mooney Valley, Fenway (2011, High Chaparral-Deedra by Zabeel) reminded us of Zabeel’s growing importance as a dam sire. I’ve noted six other stakes winners this spring out of Zabeel mares: Keen Array (2012, Bel Espirit-Moorea), winner of the Blue Sapphire Stakes-LR, Vashka (2010, Exceed and Excel-Zaroyale), winner of the Shannon Stakes-Gr.2 and Moonga Stakes-Gr.3, Amelie’s Star (2011, Testa Rossa-Zazita), winner of the Colin Stephen Quality-Gr.3, Dawnie Perfect (2012, Big Brown-Zagalia), winner of the Ethereal Stakes-Gr.3, Mahuta (2012, Flying Spur-Vahine), winner of the Gothic Stakes-LR, and Exclusive Lass (2011, Nicconi-World Exclusive), winner of the Rosemont Stud Stakes-LR at Geelong.
  As a broodmare sire, Zabeel is producing new stakes winners faster than Australia is changing prime ministers. And he’s just as versatile as the seven stakes winners listed above are by seven different sires. Overall, what crosses are working best with daughters of the mighty son of Sir Tristram? For sires with more than 20 runners out of Zabeel mares, the best performers are High Chaparral (20% stakes winners/runners), Testa Rossa (15%), Stravinsky (14%), Redoute’s Choice (12%), More Than Ready (11%) and Pentire (11%).
  Significantly, the High Chaparral (by Sadler’s Wells) and Testa Rossa (by Sadler’s Wells’ three-quarter brother Perugino) crosses produce a duplication of the blue-hen mare Special, the dam of Zabeel’s dam sire Nureyev. Mating Zabeel mares to Stravinsky (by Nureyev, a three-quarter brother to Sadler’s Wells) produces line-breeding to a son and daughter of Nureyev. It is, therefore, more than coincidence that the three most successful sires bred to daughters of Zabeel carry the blood of the sire-making Special (1969, Forli-Thong by Nantallah) family. What of under-performing sires crossed into Zabeel broodmares? Again, for more than 20 runners, we can place Snitzel (5% stakes winners/runners), Encosta de Lago (6%), Exceed and Excel (6%) and Stratum (7%) in this category.

ENCOSTA de Lago is performing much better when mated into the blood of his sire list rival Redoute’s Choice. The Ron Quinton trained mare Peeping (2011, Redoute’s Choice-Miss Marielle by Encosta de Lago), winner of the ATC Golden Pendant-Gr.2, is the latest example of this emerging nick.
  From just 26 runners, the progeny of Redoute’s Choice out of Encosta de Lago mares has yielded three Group winners (Musir, Beneteau and Peeping) and a further two stakes winners (19.2% SW/runners). 
The ongoing sire success of the ill-fated Beneteau (his second and last crop are now racing as two year-olds) is another reminder of the potency of the Redoute’s/Encosta mix.

AS STALLIONS gain a reputation for excellence, it is only natural that their bloodlines are combined in the next generation of leading sires. This is what happened to Northern Dancer (1961) and Sir Ivor (1965) in the 1980s: featuring close up in the pedigrees of Zabeel (1986), Green Desert (1983), El Prado (1989), Bluebird (1984), Shareef Dancer (1980) and Alzao (1980).
  The Northern Dancer/Sir Ivor cross is also a characteristic of some of our best sire-making female families, most notably through Dancing Show (1983), the second dam of Redoute’s Choice, Al Maher and Manhattan Rain, and Grand Luxe (1974), the second dam of Flying Spur and third dam of Encosta de Lago.
  Not surprisingly, in growing numbers, these ancestors are now combining in the pedigrees of good horses. I’ve noted four Spring Carnival winners carrying a double of the Northern Dancer/Sir Ivor cross within five generations. These are:
•     Preferment (2011, Zabeel-Better Alternative by Flying Spur), winner of the Hill Stakes-Gr.2 and Turnbull Stakes-Gr.1;
•     Mahuta (2012, Flying Spur-Vahine by Zabeel), as mentioned above;
•     Ruling Dynasty (2011, Medaglia d’Oro by El Prado-Makarova by Thunder Gulch ex Dancing Show), the Gooree bred winner of the Tattersall’s Club Cup at Randwick; and
•     Bassett (2012, Savabeel by Zabeel-Fledgling by Captain Rio, with Bluebird as her dam sire), a promising young horse, with two wins from four starts and a commendable sixth in the Caulfield Guineas-Gr.1.
  This kind of pedigree structure is indicative of what Alan Porter has labelled “Parallel Patterns”, immediate ancestors in the sire and dam bred along similar bloodlines. In Porter’s extensive research this 
is an important factor in consistently producing top quality runners. Look out for more double Northern Dancer/Sir Ivor crosses as the Victorian Spring Carnival unfolds. It’s got a lot going for it, a reality reinforced 
by the pedigrees of recent Australian Gr.1 performers such as All Too Hard (2009), Ocean Park (2008) and Lights of Heaven (2007).

Fast ‘N’ Rocking
ANOTHER obvious test of Porter’s theory of Parallel Patterns is in the genetic similarity between Royal Academy (1987, Nijinsky-Crimson Saint by Crimson Satan) and Storm Cat (1983, Storm Bird – Terlingua by Secretariat ex Crimson Saint). Nijinsky (1967) and Storm Bird (1978) are both sons of Northern Dancer out of mares bred on a cross between Bull Page (1947) and the brothers Omaha (Nijinsky’s third dam sire) and Flares (the grandsire of Storm Bird’s second dam sire).
  Thus Royal Academy and Storm Cat are close genetic cousins, bred on the same Northern Dancer/Bull Page/Flares-Omaha/Crimson Saint cross. Overall in the first five generations of pedigrees, they have featured in the blood of 578 runners, for nine Group winners, 20 stakes winners (3.5% SW/runners) and 51 stakes-horses, an unexceptional result.
  Yet at this point, it would be premature to dismiss Porter’s theory. One of our leading sires Fastnet Rock (2001, Danehill-Piccadilly Circus) has Royal Academy as his dam sire. How has Fastnet Rock fared when mated with mares carrying Storm Cat? Tested within five generations, this strategy has produced 65 runners with four Groupwinners, six stakes winners (9.2% SW/runners) and 10 stakes horses, a result marginally superior to Fastnet Rock’s overall stakes winner strike rate of 8%.
  Intriguingly, the results spike upwards when Storm Cat appears in a certain position in the dam’s pedigree. I was reminded of this phenomenon when Fast ‘N’ Rocking (2010, Fastnet Rock-For The Good Times by Hennessy) won a Listed sprint race at Caulfield on October 14. He’s out of a Hennessy (by Storm Cat) mare, thus positioning Storm Cat in the third remove of Fast ‘N’ Rocking’s pedigree.
  In devising mating plans, the noted American breeder Olin Gentry always told his protégés “It’s very important to get the common ancestor in the same generation”. He would, therefore, appreciate the structure of Fast ‘N’ Rocking’s bloodlines, crossed 3fx3m to the genetic relatives Royal Academy and Storm Cat.
  Fastnet Rock has had 36 runners out of mares by sons of Storm Cat (thereby replicating the 3f Royal Academyx3m Storm Cat pattern). These have produced each of the four Group winners (Foxwedge, Irish Lights, Zululand and Fast ‘N’ Rocking) and six stakes winners (16.7% SW/runners) bred on the overall Fastnet Rock/Storm Cat cross, a confirmation of the Gentry approach, plus some belated solace for Alan Porter and his theory. 
Note: The author wishes to thank and acknowledge Arion Pedigrees ( for use of its database in compiling the statistics in this report. n