I have been puzzled for a long time about the blood-line ingredients of Southern Hemisphere champion filly, IGUGU and Northern Hemisphere champion colt, FRANKEL the former was foaled in Australia in 2007, the latter in England a year later. Both are bay and they won 23 races between them, Igugu (Zulu - prized object.) was beaten twice into 2nd place.
What first caught my eye is the fact that both are sired by GALILEO, a Champion stallion standing in Ireland. When I looked further into Igugu’s pedigree, I saw uncanny similarities. For about 300 years, owners have been breeding mares to stallions in the quest to produce something as good or better than what they have at the end of a leading rein. The prime attributes of performance, confirmation and pedigree have prevailed, yet horses rarely break track records, and when they do it may be attributable to the going or other environmental factors. The improvement in tracks is the greater contributor to improving race times. 5f. /1000m remains accomplished in a minute and 12f./ 2400m in 2min.34sec. The greatest change in three centuries is in jockey style.
Since the paternal side of these champion’s pedigrees is identical, it is important to look at the distaff side. The Polymelus / Phalaris / Pharos influence (what I call the ‘P’ factor) is in the vanguard and Nearco is just one of their offspring. Thus one might conclude that any inbreeding to the Nearco line must produce a champion, just as it seemed when I first studied pedigrees seriously at the French National Stud in Normandy; inbreeding to the P’s led to success on the track and frequently at stud. Stud owners the world over have thumbed through their split pedigree books researching possibilities. First past the post in the Epsom Derby mattered most. With new modes of swift and safe transport and easier compliance with quarantine regulations, champions in their homeland are foraging internationally and bringing home the Yankee Dollar in many cases.
On Igugu’s distaff side one finds Neartic who is inbred to Chaucer, son of St. Simon, one of the most influential of C.19th stallions. Frankel is inbred to Neartic’s son Northern Dancer. Who in the arts world of ballet was his greatest son but Nijinsky, one of the first five greatest Lester Piggott rode. All that anyone desirous of owning a top class horse had to do was go to the yearling sales and buy something bred like Nijinsky, if they could afford it!
Bearing in mind that one is studying such closely related equines, it seemed there might be something to be learned from going to the 10th generation instead of the usual five. Allocating a point for each mention in the extended pedigree, I found that the ‘P’ line prevailed above all others. It is a case of Polymelus (8), Phalaris (11) and Pharos (4) winning by a distance. They are followed by three horses on 8 points, Ajax, Rondeau and Scapa Flow. Gainsborough takes 3rd place with 7 points followed by Bromus and Canterbury Pilgrim (6). On 5 points stand Mumtaz Mahal, Spearmint and Teddy leading the ‘unplaced’. St Simon, Man O War, Swynford, John o’Gaunt, Black Toney, Chaucer, Selene and Serenissima bring up the rear of the field where 1024 points were possible. Thus at the 10th generation the ‘P’ dynasty accounts for just 2¼ per cent of influence in the bloodlines of these champions.
When one closes in on IGUGU’s 5th generation, 62½ per cent of male bloodline is attributable to the ‘P’ group. 12.5% goes to Teddy and half that amount to Bay Ronald, Swinford, Sickle and Bruleur.
In FRANKEL’S case, 50% goes to the ‘P’ group, the same 12.5% to Teddy and 6.25% to Swynford, Dark Ronald, Rabelais, Persimmon and Fair Play.
I studied many years ago Denis Craig’s ‘BREEDING RACEHORSES FROM STAR AND CLUSTER MARES’. Facinating, and this is where sex comes into it. Scapa Flow is the undoubted queen of the long pedigree and Mumtaz Mahal of the shorter version. There is mention of that English favourite, Pretty Polly, and it is not lost on me that Petite Etoile is Igugu’s 5th dam. Allegretta, from Germany, has been most influential as grand-dam of Galileo through Arc de Triomphe winning filly, Urban Sea. Whilst I understand Craig’s idea about star and cluster mares breeding classic winners within a number of generations, I have come to the conclusion that studying the influence of stallions is more important, but not to the point of ignoring influential distaff lines.
Moral to the story: If you want to own a champion, there is greater potential to do so if 50% of your horse traces to the ‘P’ group, 12.5% traces to Teddy (Ajax - Rondeau), and not less than 5% traces to a ‘Ronald’ or Swynford.