Last month I started a new series of articles looking at sires and damsires, writes Dave Renham. To recap, sires are the fathers of the respective horses and can have a significant influence on their offspring; damsires are the maternal grandfathers and can also bestow certain characteristics on their daughter's progeny.
In the first article, we saw that certain sires had strong traits; for example Casamento’s runners are better suited to longer distances with his offspring twice as likely to win at 11 furlongs or further than at sprint trips of five to six furlongs.
In this second article my focus will continue to be sires and I will be sharing some additional insights looking for positive or negative angles. I will also be concentrating on two-year-old races where sire stats can be extremely useful as we have limited, or often no, horse form to go on.
This piece is not completely ‘time sensitive’ because there are some sires who have had runners in ten or more seasons and I want to analyse individuals in more detail if I can.
Record of sires in 2yo races
Below is a table of the top 20 sires of 2yos, in terms of strike rate, between 2016 and 2020 in the UK (minimum 200 runs):
Sharmadal is the only sire in profit and, sadly, he passed away last year. He should have a crop of 2yos for the 2021 season and possibly a small one for 2022. However, the first sire I wish to look at in more depth is Kodiac.
Kodiac, a son of Danehill, was a decent handicapper as a racehorse and went to stud in 2007 with his first runners hitting the racecourse in 2010. He holds the record for the most 2yo wins in one season and his progeny include Campanelle, Best Solution and Hello Youmzain.
I want to share Kodiac's record with juveniles in the UK going back to his first crop in 2010, firstly breaking it down by individual years:
Looking at the yearly strike rates, Kodiac has been relatively consistent with rates ranging from 10% to just over 16%. Losses overall are around 14p in the £ but, using best odds guaranteed or the exchanges would get this loss down to probably about 2-3p in the £. I now want to break the data down by level of experience (2010-2020):
Kodiac’s strike rate with his runners on debut is solid at nearly 13%. The average strike rate (SR%) on debut for all sires stands at just 7.74%, hence Kodiac progeny seem fairly well primed and ready for their first outing on a racecourse.
Horses normally improve considerably between that first career run (debut) and their second start. Kodiac’s runners are no exception, and have won over 17% of races on their second starts as a 2yo and actually made a blind profit, which is unusual. Comparing again with all sires it should be noted that backing all sires blind on their second start would lose you around 26p in the £.
My next port of call was to look at trainer records and compare their 2yo performances with Kodiac-bred runners. I have only included trainers who have had 45 or more runs:
There is a real mix here, ranging from John Gosden's 29.17% to Tim Easterby at just 2.04%. However, Clive Cox is the most interesting one for me – his overall strike rate of 1 win in 4 (25%) is impressive and he has had 16 different 2yos sired by Kodiac, 12 of which won at least once as a 2yo. That equates to 75% of these horses winning a 2yo race. Compare this to Charles Hills who has had 23 different 2yos sired by Kodiac, but only six of those proved successful in their first season (26%). To give you more context, 44.26% of Kodiac 2yos have won at least one race as a 2yo, well above the Hills figure of 26% but well below the 75% Cox figure.
We noted when looking at the yearly breakdowns that Kodiac juveniles are consistent. Indeed this consistency can be seen to best effect when examining performance on different underfoot conditions. The graph below shows the strike rate on specific goings:
The percentages range from 13% to 14.89%. So if you are backing a Kodiac two-year-old, it seems you do not need to worry about whether it will be effective on the going.
I now want to move onto a new sire on the block, Kingman. Kingman was a four-time Group 1 winner when racing, winning seven of his eight career races. His only defeat came in the 2014 2000 Guineas when he finished second. It perhaps comes as no surprise, then, that as a sire he has started with a bit of bang. His stud fee in 2015 was £55,000 and, six years later, that fee has nearly tripled to £150,000.
He tops the 2016 to 2020 2yo strike rates (see first table above) and I want to examine his juvenile progeny data in more detail. While it is still relatively early days, and he does not have the large data set of a Kodiac, there are still some trends that seem to have emerged already.
Let us look first at distance. Kingman 2yos have so far displayed a distance bias to 7f more as the graph shows:
There also seems a bias in terms of male runners outperforming female runners at this early stage: we are working with quite a small data set (164 runs for males and 150 runs for females) which is why I have included each way (win and placed) stats, too, in the graph below.
The win figures correlate extremely well with the each way stats – at least so far.
One area where the male dominance can be seen is when we compare the record of male horses making their 2yo debut compared to females. Males seem much more mature and ready to run from the ‘get go’. There have been 72 colts or geldings sired by Kingman making their debut at two thus far, of which 20 have won (SR 27.78%) showing a profit to SP of £54.94 (ROI +76.31%). In contrast the 65 fillies making their racecourse debut as two-year-olds recorded just six wins (SR 9.23%) for a hefty SP loss of £43.33 (ROI -66.66%). The each way SR%s correlate once again with males winning/placing 64% of the time whereas the percentage for females winning/placing is under 25%.
I now want to move away from individual sires back to general observations.
Comparing 2yo debut run to 2yo second career start
When looking at Kodiac earlier in the piece, I broke his progeny performance data down by career start number. Now I am going to expand this review to all sires that appeared in the initial table by comparing strike rates with their progeny on debuts against their second runs (as a juvenile). For this I have looked at data going back to 2010:
In the final column I have divided the 2nd run strike rate by the debut run strike rate to give us a type of Impact Value. It is not a ‘true’ IV so I’ll call it a Comparison Strike Rate (CSR). The higher this figure the more improvement the runners show on their second run compared to their debut.
As we can see by looking at that final column there is quite a difference in the CSR figures in some of the sires. Frankel’s runners for example have a CSR figure of just 1.10 – of course this is partly due to his exceptional strike rate of over 21% on debut.
The sires of most interest in this table are probably those with CSR figures above 2.00, namely Acclamation, Clodovil, Due Diligence, Gutaifan, Mehmas, Muhaarar, Requinto and Toronado. You can really expect their runners to improve considerably from their juvenile debut run to their next start as a 2yo, an angle which should help in establishing value and potentially throwing up some decent betting opportunities.
Comparing 2yo turf runs with 2yo all weather runs
In the next table I wanted to compare turf strike rate with all weather strike rate. Again I have produced a C.S.R. figure by dividing the turf SR% by the all weather SR%.
A CSR figure of 1.00 indicates the sire is equally effective on both surfaces. Figures well above 1.00 give the edge to turf performance; figures below 1.00 suggest progeny of those sires are more effective on all weather surfaces, purely in terms of juvenile win strike rate.
Looking at either end of the spectrum will isolate differences which are significant enough to be potentially interested in. For example, Frankel’s progeny at two are clearly far better on turf than on the all weather, scoring nearly twice as often on the former. There is a logic here in that such expensive acquisitions will rarely be tried on artificial footing until they have suggested that they fare poorly on grass. Likewise, New Approach seems to be a strong influence for turf over sand. But the reverse is true when we look to the bottom of the table, at Toronado and Sea The Stars: their juvenile offspring are currently showing a clear preference to all weather surfaces.
Finally I wanted to look at some sires you might wish to consider avoiding in terms of 2yos, generally at least. Below is a list of those sires whose strike rate in the last 5 years (2016-2020) has been below 8%. Clearly it is as important to be aware of negative angles as it is of potentially positive ones.
As the first two articles in this series have hopefully shown, sire research can unearth some very useful stats and angles. Geegeez will assist any curious subscriber via both the Profiler and Query Tool.