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Posts Tagged ‘Safari’

In a previous blog I skated over the tricky territory of “golden crosses” and whether a nick between a sire and a maternal family endures through the sons of that sire.

I opted for: Unlikely but not impossible.

The reason is that although we know more about horse genetics, we still don’t understand fully what influences carried on X and Y chromosomes play the most important role in a progeny’s likelihood of having the attributes for success as a racehorse. (For example, not every tall boy or tall girl is programmed to be a potential basketball player.)

So when I got Lincoln Farms’ latest email newsletter, I was initially “Yes” and then “Really?” as I read it. Why? Because the first part is, in my view, sound. It points out correctly that:

Sir Lincoln is from the family of leading sire Fake Left and with Fake Left mares he will get desirable reverse sex crosses to both Cam Fella and Albatross as well as a double dose of Miss Exceptional.  Fake Left’s 2nd dam Miss Exceptional is a half- sister to the 5th dam of Sir Lincoln. The only NZ live foal out of a Fake Left mare (a filly) was sold for $30,000 to Aus as a 2yo.

It makes sense to me because you are breeding back into “the herd” which is usually defined by the maternal family.

However the next part of the newsletter used the argument that a lot of sire studs do, that this “family nick” should carry through to sons of Fake Left, i.e. they may nick well with mares from that same line:

All standardbreds cross well back to their own blood, so Sir Lincoln will cross well with mares by Fake Left and his sons Safari, Rollon Bigred and Robin Hood. This also gives a reverse sex cross to Cam Fella 4×3 (Fake Left mares) and 4×4 for Safari, Rollon Bigred and Robin Hood mares.

In fact, none of these “sons of” Fake Left come from Fake Left’s maternal line. So in a “herd” comparison, they are not breeding back to their own family. Fake Left’s family is U84 (immediate damsire family is Albatross which is U6). Safari’s maternal family is U308, and immediate damsire family is U18. Rollon Bigred is N7 and immediate damsire family is U19. Robin Hood is N146 and immediate damsire family is U2. I’m not a great analyst of the maternal families, but I do know just by tracing these maternal families that there is a lot of classy breeding coming from the maternal families of these sires and damsires along those bottom lines that a simple “son of Fake Left” doesn’t take into account.

In the wild, sons in a herd would inbreed (if allowed) to females that shared the same immediate maternal family. But often they are pushed away by the dominant stallion (whose maternal family may or may not be the same as his herd’s). They go somewhere else to try their luck, becoming (if they go far enough) outcross sires to another herd. Likewise some cheeky young pups from the house down the road come up and ask your daughters out. Battle with dad. End result, foals on the ground. Nature looks on the surface to be a sexist pig sometimes if you don’t realise how much the females are calling the shots.

I’m putting it crudely, although not as crudely as Donald Trump would have done (can’t stand the man), and with a totally different agenda. But I am trying to show that if we use terms like “cross well back into their own blood” for sires, just be aware that we still don’t understand how this fits together in terms of horse breeding, genetics and breeding for the strongest attributes. No matter how hard you promote the sires and sons of sires, the engine room of breeding is the maternal lines and how mares can or cannot convert a stallion’s input into the much bigger and longer term goal of keeping that family going.

The newsletter finishes with:

Other Stallions with blood from this family include Double Century,It Is I, Major Bronski, and For A Reason. Major Bronski, and For A Reason are out of Fake Left mares. Mares by Double Century  have a reverse sex crosses to both Miss Exceptional and Albatross 6×3 and 5×3 to Sir Lincoln and their daughters would be 6×4 and 5×4. It Is I mares also have a reverse sex cross 6×5 to Miss Exceptional.

In many of these pedigrees the connection is at least along a maternal line, the root family, but often not in a position that we know can be effective.

In summary, we are all finding our way in the dark, trying to work  out if connections matter or not. And generally going with them if they reinforce a preconceived idea or liking we have. That’s just being honest!

But as breeders, I think we do need to be aware that so-called pedigree hints from sire studs are more about selling their product than guiding your mare.

Deciding what might really work? That’s your job – and hers if you listen.

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