The fascination of pedigrees

November 12, 2017

Pedigrees and their influence on racing performance have fascinated me ever since spending a summer with Francois Doumen, the recently retired French master is best known in the UK for his exploits over jumps with his bold raids for the top prizes, but he was an equally adept trainer of flat horses and was often responsible for breeding many of his runners. With time split between his stud and his racing yard, one was able to become acquainted with whole families.

Working with a mare and foal one afternoon, the next morning could be spent riding out the mare’s three year old and maybe watching the five year old run that afternoon. Its a fairly unique set up and not many places in the world offer that opportunity. Kasbah Bliss was a two year old at the time and on my first meeting with Monsieur Doumen, he walked me around his two year old barn and told me with no hesitation that this would be the best horse from that group. I don’t think he’d had a single two year old runner yet that year. As a nine year old Kasbah Bliss won the Group One Prix du Cadran, having had a hugely successful career jumping before reverting back to the flat. Out of Marital Bliss he was sired by Kahyasi.  His mother was not a particularly special racehorse but was a full sister to two stakes horses so deserved a chance at stud. Nearly all of his close relatives were trained by Francois, that insight into the families gave him an edge when it came to training them.

Kasbah Bliss winning Prix Du Cadran

Moving forward in my career, three years with Roger Charlton afforded the opportunity to work with the incredible Juddmonte bloodstock and their amazing families, again Roger having been assistant to Jeremy Tree knew these families intimately and would offer little insights into families going back generations that had all been trained at Beckhampton, in some cases even before they became part of the Juddmonte founding stock. During my time there the three stars were the half siblings, Scuffle, Cityscape and Bated Breath. All three are at stud with Daylami mare Scuffle holding her own against the sons of Selkirk and Dansili as a producer of good horses.

It is often a criticism of flat racing that the stars don’t race for several seasons but to me that misses one of the great beauties of the sport, the racing career is just part of a horses body of work. The racecourse is the proving ground. The art and science of the trainer to deliver the best of the genetic bundle that produces the horse in front of him. To understand the potential of each horse and then prove it by achieving the best performances possible. We’ll all have a lot fun along the way, cheering them home, maybe backing them too. But these performances are just part of the test of the thoroughbred, the horse then tested on the track returns to the breeders to try and use the information gleaned on the course to produce a better racehorse in the next generation. One of the great fascinations of flat racing is to follow the development of the sons and daughters of our favourites performers.

To give an example of how the generations come back and the names matter:

Hasili a daughter of Kahyasi (just like Kasbah Bliss) was a good racehorse, a well bred mare who retired to join the Juddmonte’s illustrious broodmare band as a winner and with a couple of placings in listed races. In such a broodmare band she deserved her place but was no obvious standout. It is her progeny that have elevated her status, she has to be one of the greatest broodmares of all time, becoming the first mare in the northern hemisphere to produce 5 Group One or Grade One winners. However, perhaps her masterpiece was Dansili, runner up in three Group Ones. Although the ultimate prize eluded him on a racecourse as a sire he has a body of work that few have matched. One of the beauties of the Hasili story is she was repeatedly covered by Danehill, meaning that one can get big sample sizes by not just looking at Dansili’s achievements at stud but those of his full brothers Cacique and Champs Elsysees who both did win Group Ones. So just as Kasbah Bliss gave some insight into Kahyasi and his influence so do the sons of Hasili now at stud.

When selecting yearlings Claire and I always start with physical inspection, it has to look like a racehorse to be a racehorse. Once we’ve both agreed we like a particular individual we’ll drill through pedigree in more detail, trying to understand the genetic potential of each horse. There are lots of things that we liked about the pedigrees of all the yearlings we purchased this autumn, something we focused on giving more weight in deciding whether to buy a particular horse or not than we have done. To focus momentarily on one horse, the Cacique filly out of Tibouchina illustrates how following the generations offers insights into the potential of each horse.

The first attraction in the pedigree is that the mare has already produced a very good horse in the form of Italian Derby runner up Wish Come True. Next Cacique is a sire with a great record from limited runners due to low fertility, and being by Danehill he is paternal half brother to Aussie Rules the sire of the best horse to date out of Tibouchina. Therefore genetically the potential is very similar.

The third facet of the pedigree that really caught our attention was the broodmare sire, Daylami. Scuffle mentioned earlier also by Daylami had produced two very good daughters by Dansili and Champs Elysees so full brother Cacique must have the potential to cross well with daughters of Daylami too. Looking in more depth at the record of the sons of Hasili crossing with Daylami mares the record is exceptional so all in all we are very excited by the prospects of the gorgeous grey filly. For more information

Suffused, Triple Grade 3 winner and Grade 1 runner up by Champs Elysees out out Scuffle (Daylami).