Sires in Form- Mere Coincidence?

There is a popular thread on the betfair breeding forum regarding ‘sires in form’.  Forumites diligently monitor and report upon those sires who are having the most winners in a particular month. Thus far in July Royal Applause has had 18 winners, ahead of Bahamian Bounty and Kheleyf. Every month seems to see different sires go through hot streaks and then revert back to normality. So is there an explanation for these streaks, can they be predicted and can punters profit from them?

Possible Explanations:

1.The most likely explanation for these winning streaks is simply that they are random events. If you toss a coin thousands of times you would expect to regularly get sequences of successive heads or tails. Clusters are to be expected in any random pattern. Sires suddenly producing lots of winners is just a random clustering event that cannot be predicted.

2. Ground Conditions. Many stallions produce offspring with definite going preferences. If we have an unusually wet summer and the ground is heavy then it would be no surprise to see a sire like Efisio sire lots of winners. Similar logic would apply to firm ground stallions. Interestingly if ground conditions were the explanation then we would expect to see fewer such ‘hot streaks’ on the all-weather where ground is not as variable.

3. Linked to trainer form. Many trainers have favourite stallions and will have a disproportionate number of the offspring of those horses in their stables. Aidan O’Briens stable is full of Montjeu’s Galileo’s and Danehill Dancers. When Ballydoyle goes through a purple patch then Montjeu, Galileo and  Danehill Dancer have lots of winners. Michael Stoute trains for Cheveley Park and he would have lots of Pivotals and Mediceans and other trainers also have there favourites usually dictated by budget. When the stable is in form then the sires popular with that trainer would be also expected to have plenty of winners.

4. Linked to opportunity. If a sire happens to do well with stayers and there are lots of staying races during a period then it is logical he will do better during that time. Similarly a sire whose two year olds need at least a mile to be seen to best effect won’t get many two year old winners before the Autumn. What appears to be a sire going through a ‘hot streak’ is in fact simply that his offspring are finally getting an opportunity to run at their optimum trips.

5. Trainer perceptions. One Cool Cat had a great start with his two year olds from March-June. Trainers expected his offspring to be precocious and accordingly had them ready to run early in the season. Conversely few trainers had their Sulamani two year olds ready to go early in the season because naturally trainers would have viewed them more as needing time. The trainers perceptions determined the training of the horses. These perceptions meant that One Cool Cats offspring were ready to run and mop up the early season two year old races which are typically somewhat easier to win.

6. Time of Year. It was famously said of the offspring of Ribot that they were better with ‘the sun on their backs’ and it is likely that due to maturation issues some sires have offspring that are better earlier or later in the year. Springtime could see winning streaks for sires who sire precocious two year olds and conversely for sires whose offspring improve with age. The logic here is that the horses would be having their first runs of the new season but they would still be running off ratings achieved when they were too immature to show their full potential.


It is impossible to be definitive as to the reasons why sires seem to undergo sudden hot streaks. I think there is some truth in all of the above explanations. Accordingly I propose a new all-embracing theory that I modestly call Sheahan’s Theory.

6. All of the above-cycles and the handicapper. In statistics it is believed that over time everything regresses to the mean. A typical stallions offspring might win 15% of the races in which they run. If that sire goes through a ‘hot streak’ in which his offspring win 25% of their races in a month, it is still likely that the average at the end of the year or period under review will be close to the long term average.  However within racing there is another factor which quickly ends winning streaks namely the work of the handicapper and of fixed penalties. If a horse wins he will be penalised by the handicapper and will have to improve to win again. If lots of two year olds are winning maidens, next time out they will find themselves competing in higher class conditions or stakes races or alternatively carrying a lot of weight in nurseries. Unless the horse has improved they will not win next time out and indeed they will probably need a few unsuccessful runs before dropped by the handicapper back to a winnable mark.  A random cluster of wins by the offspring of a stallion could be followed by a lull when all of these horses ran next time out under penalties  until the horses were dropped by the handicapper. It is then possible for them all to come good again in a cluster later in the year. These factors would be reinforced by ground/trainer or opportunity issues. For example imagine the offspring of stallion X are best as three year olds with firm ground over trips in excess of 12 furlongs. When they ran early in their three year old days they would probably be competing over 8-10 furlongs. When stepped up in trip we would expect more of them to win and this could be amplified by suitable ground. This period might be their hot winning streak. If it was a wet summer they would be inconvenienced and they would also be running under penalties after the hot streak. We could expect many to struggle to win over their next few runs and the handicapper would drop them again. Come late August the combined effect of the drop by the handicapper and perhaps an improvement in going could see another hot streak. In racing nothing is as random as it seems….





Bastille Day- Mon Dieu it’s Montjeu again…..

Bastille Day is a France’s national day. It is very appropriate that the winner of the Grand Prix de Paris was called after Montmartre, a famous district in Paris and represents some of the best of French breeding endeavours. Montmartre races in the colours of the Aga Khan and is part of the Jean-Luc Lagardère package that he purchased on the death of the former French racing supremo. Inevitably whenever one talks about Jean-Luc Lagardère one name dominates that of Linamix and he is the broodmare sire of Montmartre. Montmartre’s dam Artistique was lightly raced, but she become one of the almost 40 Group winners sired by the dominant grey when she finished her career with a win in the Group 3 Prix Berteux at Chantilly over 15 furlongs. Montmartre is her fourth foal and her third winner.  Montmartre’s grand-dam Armarama was a high class filly who gained her finest hour winning a substandard renewal of the Ribbesdale Stakes.  There is further quality in the pedigree as she was a half sister to a superstar in Kalaglow who won a King George and Eclipse.

As for Montjeu, his season has sparked to life in the last few weeks with two new Group One winners in the past two weeks in the shape of Irish Derby winner Frozen Fire and now Montmartre.  Montmartre becomes his second winner of the Grand Prix de Paris as Scorpion also triumphed in the 2005 renewal. Montmartre looked very impressive and it isn’t hard to see him involved in the finish of this years Prix de l’Arc for which he has been installed as the new favourite.


MONTMARTRE (FR) 2005 c gr

(IRE) 1996
Wells (USA) 1981
Dancer (CAN) 1961
(USA) 1954
(USA) 1957
Bridge (USA) 1975
Reason (USA) 1968
(USA) 1969
(FR) 1985
Ville (IRE) 1976
Top (IRE) 1969
Ville (USA) 1968
Cy (FR) 1979
(FR) 1955
Toumignon (IRE) 1971
(IRE) 1996
(FR) 1987
(FR) 1981
(IRE) 1976
Carina (FR) 1975
(FR) 1972
(GB) 1967
(GB) 1966
(GB) 1989
Bold (IRE) 1975
Lad (IRE) 1964
(GB) 1968
(GB) 1970
Mall (GB) 1948
(GB) 1965


Sunday with a difference

Sunday saw the running of the Irish Oaks and the Prix Jean Prat. The results credited two stallions with Group One winners from their first crops and refreshingly both stallions are free from Northern Dancer. Moonstone was still a maiden going into the Irish Oaks, but after finishing runner-up in the Epsom Oaks she was probably the highest rated maiden in training.  She had cost 700000 guineas at Tattersalls so it is no surprise that her pedigree lacks nothing. The most obvious credential is that she is a three part sister to L’Ancresse who was trained by Roger Charlton at two but ended up with Aidan O’Brien at three. L’Ancresse ran 9 times as a three year old. She won just once in a Listed race, but she had some impressive placings including when she finished second to Vintage Tipple in the Irish Oaks and her final run when she finished second to Islington in the Breeders Cup. That run saw her rated champion three year old filly. Moonstone’s third dam Arctique Royale was also a classic winner at the Curragh when she won the 1981 Irish 1000 Guineas for Kevin Prendergast. Further back this is a family that provided success to Coomore through Scorpion who shares a fourth dam with Moonstone in Arctic Melody a winner of the Musidora stakes and the Athasi Stakes. This is also the family of Ardross.  It was a good Oaks for Dalakhani who also sired the fourth home in Chinese White. His fillies have proved popular at the sales as owners see him as ready made replacement for his sire Darshaan who has compiled a very impressive reputation as a broodmare sire and one who nicked very well with Sadler’s Wells and his sons. It is probably an odds-on shot that Moonstone will be sent to either Galileo or Montjeu when she retires to the paddocks.

Tamayuz already had three victories to his name including a Group 3, however he was on something of a redemption mission having disappointed in the French Guineas. And he certainly redeemed himself. This year saw the best field assembled in the Prix Jean Prat for many a year and Tamayuz was impressive in beating the held up Ravens Pass and Rio de Le Plata. The winning distance was one and a half lengths which interestingly was double the distance by which Henrythenavigator defeated Ravens Pass. It will be interesting to see him take on Henrythenavigator. Tamayuz never passed through the sales ring but he certainly would have been demand as his dams side is dripping under the weight of black type. His own dam Al Ishq cost 280000 Ir guineas but won only one minor race. However her second dam Allez les trois is dam of a French Derby winner in Anabaa Blue, whereas third dam Allegretta is the dam of an Arc winner in Urban Sea who is now almost more famous as dam of Galileo. For good measure she is also dam of other Group 1 winers in  Black Sam Bellamy and My Typhoon as well as group winners in All too beautiful and Urban Ocean. Incidentally her two year old colt by Green Desert Sea the Stars was a promising fourth in the first race maiden at the Curragh.  Allegretta is also dam of Guineas winner Kings Best and this family is amongst the most succesful in the modern era. Nayef came close to a classic success earlier in the year when Spacious finished runner up in the 1000 Guineas and Shadwell will have no trouble in filling his book at a bargain fee of £10000.

With breeders so fickle and with the demand for immediate success these Group One successes will be warmly welcomed by the Aga Khan and by Shadwell.  Both can now point to promising young stallions capable of delivering quality horses and almost just as importantly they are stallions free from Northern Dancer who have delivered success with mares from his line. European breeding needs these stallions.

TAMAYUZ (GB) 2005 c ch

(USA) 1998
(USA) 1984
Prospector (USA) 1970
A Native (USA) 1961
Digger (USA) 1962
(USA) 1976
(USA) 1960
Mary (USA) 1969
Of Fashion (FR) 1979
(GB) 1971
(GB) 1963
Yard (GB) 1963
(GB) 1971
Hussar (GB) 1960
(GB) 1958
Ishq (FR) 1997
(USA) 1977
Dancer (CAN) 1961
(USA) 1954
(USA) 1957
(USA) 1969
(ARG) 1963
(USA) 1964
Les Trois (USA) 1991
(USA) 1969
Bend (USA) 1960
Lady (USA) 1963
(GB) 1978
(GER) 1967
(GER) 1969


MOONSTONE (GB) 2005 f b

(IRE) 2000
(GB) 1981
Heights (GB) 1975
Reef (USA) 1968
(GB) 1969
(FR) 1972
(FR) 1959
(FR) 1965
(IRE) 1989
(USA) 1978
Prospector (USA) 1970
(USA) 1971
(FR) 1981
Palace (FR) 1974
(FR) 1973
De Lune (IRE) 1990
Society (USA) 1982
(USA) 1974
The Flag (USA) 1968
Pout (USA) 1966
Bikini (USA) 1969
(USA) 1963
(USA) 1960
Special (IRE) 1985
(USA) 1980
(CAN) 1967
(USA) 1969
Royale (IRE) 1978
And Regal (USA) 1970
Melody (GB) 1962