In the not-yet-that distant times even the best sires covered hardly more than forty mares a year. Then came the time of shuttle-stallions which increased the annual number of partners for these stallions and then, immediately afterwards, the world of the thoroughbred left the former standards and there came a period of rapid growth of the number of mares covered by the most attractive sires, exceeding not just the 100 milestone but sometimes even 200 and as many as 300 with the most attractive NH sires in the British Isles. This has been accompanied by the increase of individual crosses, i.e. connection sire x damsire.
It was this that occurred to me while I was browsing through the weekend results of black-type races across the world, searching for this column’s topic. Why this? Since two of the currently most frequent crosses made another achievements. I assume that the first cross, or we could even say nick, that comes to your mind is Galileo x Danehill. The combination of Galileo with Danehill’s daughters is currently the most important cross in Europe and the easy Sunday winner of the Salsabil Stakes (L), Pretty Perfect, is already the 34th black-type winner of this nick.
On the same day Duccio, nicknamed Turquoise Power in his new home Macau, won the Macau Derby (Gr.1). This was just a day after another son of More Than Ready, out of a dam by Danehill, the two-year-old Prized Icon, took Champagne Stakes (Gr1) at Randwick.
Both these connections belong among the most frequently used crosses at present. According to the Equineline statistics Galileo has already produced 239 foals of racing age with Danehill’s daughters, of which 168 raced; More Than Ready has produced with Danehill’s daughters 212 foals of racing age and 158 runners. The Galileo x Danehill cross belongs not just among the most successful crosses of the present (no need to emphasise the most famous representatives such as Frankel, Intello, Teofilo, Noble Mission or Highland Reel), but judged by the number of black-type winners it is the most successful cross in history. The More Than Ready x Danehill cross performs well too. Let us remember horses such as Dreamaway, Perfectly Ready or Benicio. While Galileo is significantly more successful with the daughters of Danehill than with the daughters of other stallions, the progeny of More Than Ready out of dams by Danehill are statistically just marginally more successful than the overall progeny of More Than Ready.
Danehill as damsire figures in the next very successful combination which can no longer be repeated – the one with Encosta de Lago. This combination was used very often by Australian breeders. According to Equineline data it has produced (there are more to come) 210 foals of racing age of whom 158 are runners.
Are these, however, the most frequent combinations at stud today? They are not. You may find this surprising but even a more numerous cross is to be found in Argentina. The breeding in this country was, for a long time, dominated by Southern Halo, the sire of More Than Ready, and his impact on breeding and broodmares is huge. The connection of his daughters with Luhuk has produced – according to Equineline, 212 foals of racing age, of which 173 were runners and 20 black-type winners. Even more frequently his daughters partners Mutakddim, who died two years ago, with whom they have produced 253 foals of racing age, 197 runners and 29 winners in black-type races. The combination Mutakddim x Southern Halo is not the most numerous cross of the present, although it has something in common with the most numerous ones.
Halo is the common element – an excellent stallion and sire of two exceptionally influential sons. Southern Halo was already mentioned, the second one – but just in the order of this text – is the Kentucky Derby winner Sunday Silence. The thirteen-time champion sire in Japan has topped the broodmare sires list since 2007 and only last year he had 1,306 runners among his daughters’ progeny in Japan, while the second most numerously represented damsire Brian’s Time had just 565. Various stallions were selected for his daughters. French Deputy was selected often – Equineline has records about 206 foals of racing age out of dams by Sunday Silence; French Deputy’s son Kurofune has even 297 progeny with daughters of Sunday Silence. Jungle Pocket with a total of 233 progeny was favoured too. The limit of 300 foals of racing age was broken by Symboli Kris S (309 progeny), but the winner is someone else - King Kamehameha. Kingmambo’s son has produced – according to Equineline – a total of 392 foals of racing age out of dams by Sunday Silence. This cross, whose representatives still grow more and more numerous, is the most often used cross in the history of the thoroughbred.
Although most numerous, the success rate of this connection is not exceptional. It has produced 18 black-type winners, i.e. around 4.5% of all foals of racing age while the whole population of King Kamehameha has a 4% share of black-type winners. They include three Gr.1 winners – the Japan Derby winner Duramente, the Japan Cup winner Rose Kingdom and the Japan Cup Dirt winner Belshazzar, which is a stark contrast to the success rate of the connection between Galileo and Danehill’s daughters which has already produced eleven Gr.1 winners.
Not only the King Kamehameha x Sunday Silence cross shows that the high number of repetition of several connection must not be necessarily caused by the exceptional success-rate of such a cross but by the mere fact that two stallions converged on a particular place with the connection of one with daughters of the other does not bring any added value into the pedigree to turn this connection into a nick but, nevertheless, it is a connection of two compatible individuals.