Last month I started a new series of articles looking at sires and damsires, writes Dave Renham. In the first two articles I looked at sires. You can read those here and here. Sires are the fathers of horses and we have seen in those preceding pieces that they have a significant influence on their offspring. In this third part, we will look for the first time at damsires – the sires (fathers) of the dams (mothers) of the respective horses. Or, if you prefer, the grandfather on the female side – sometimes known as maternal grandsires. I have never studied damsire data before so I will be learning new things as we go along, too!
Logic dictates, I suppose, that the influence of damsires is likely to be slightly less than sires simply because they are one step further back in the pedigree chain.
The data which follows is taken from 1st January 2011 through to 31st December 2020 (ten years) and all profit/loss has been calculated to Industry Starting Price. I have used a longer time frame because certain sires who are coming to the end of their stud career will still be influential as a damsire for several more years to come. The vast majority of the data has been sourced using the Geegeez Query Tool.
Firstly let's look purely at damsire data for this 10 year period using a minimum of runs to qualify. I have ordered by strike rate – these are top 50 in terms of strike rate:
As with sire data from my first report, it is rare - and almost always coincidental - for individuals to make a blind profit. However, nine of the 50 damsires in the above table are in profit, with the most impressive figures having been delivered by Authorized: he has a decent strike rate of over 15% excellent returns of around 62p in the £, and a strong A/E value of 1.17.
In this next table, I will compare a horse's overall strike rate as a sire compared with his overall strike rate as a damsire. I have always assumed these percentages should correlate fairly well (in other words, be very similar). It should be noted that some strong performing sires such as Frankel have yet to produce any runners as a damsire. Hence most of the horses in this comparison will have more runners in the future as a damsire than they will as a sire:
The 'D/S Ratio' columns are the ratio of the strike rate as a dam sire compared to that as a sire.
The strike rates for most of the horses are similar, as expected – although in general they are even closer than I had personally predicted. This will be useful when sires such as Frankel start having runners as a damsire.
Indeed, both the mean and median D/S Ratios are 1.04: we should have a very good idea of how these horses are going to perform over time.
Record of damsires in 2yo races
Using pedigree as an analysis tool can be especially useful in 2yo races where there is little or no form to go on. Below, then, is a table of the top 25 damsires of 2yos in terms of strike rate between 2011 and 2020 in the UK (minimum runs 150):
Once again, only a handful have made a blind profit to SP, and this of course is what one would expect. However, these are the damsires with the best strike rates over time which will still help to guide when analysing individual 2yo races.
For the remainder of the article I would like to drill down into the records of some individual horses in terms of their damsire data.
Authorized as a Damsire
Authorized was mentioned earlier as showing excellent profits on all his runners. Digging a little deeper, it is firstly worth noting that Authorized, when he raced, was a Derby winner in 2007 and was voted the European Champion 3yo Colt in the same year. Hence it should come as no surprise that he has become a successful sire and damsire. There are a few interesting damsire stats to share, starting with a comparison of turf performance compared with the all weather as the graph below indicates:
A difference of around eight percentage points, or nearly 90%. This is also reflected when we look at the respective A/E values, 1.32 vs 0.98:
Further, there is an apparently strong bias to male runners compared with female runners, colts and geldings winning 18.5% of races compared with just 8.7% for females.
Finally, there also appears to be a slight distance bias with runners who have Authorized as their damsire. The longer the distance the better, which is perhaps what should be expected of a Derby winner: once we get to 1m3f or more the win percentage increases fairly significantly (see graph below) to 20% from 14% for shorter trips.
Authorized is undoubtedly a damsire we need to keep an eye on in 2021.
Shamardal as a Damsire
Shamardal was a top notch performer before getting injured in 2005 after which he was retired. At that point he had raced seven times, winning six, of which four were Group 1 events. As a three-year-old he won at a mile and ten furlongs. As a juvenile, he had been voted the Champion European two-year-old.
His stud career has also been a decent one. As a sire, 62% of all his runners won at least one race in their careers – this percentage is very strong when compared with Frankel’s equivalent figure, which stands only marginally better at 64%.
As a damsire, Shamardal's record has been similar to his record as a sire. Although he died in 2020, as a damsire he will continue to have runners for many years to come. Indeed, in 2020, there were over 650 runs from horses of which he was the damsire.
After delving deeper into Shamardal’s record as a damsire, it is clear that he has been extremely consistent. One area where there may be a slight bias is when we look at the results by age of horse. He topped the 2yo figures earlier, and the graph below breaks this age data down:
As can be seen, juveniles of which he has sired the mother have comfortably the best record in terms of strike rate and below is a little more detail on this record, starting with 2yo data down by year:
Overall, Sharmadal’s damsire record in relation to two-year-olds has been highly consistent. He also boasts excellent A/E values in this context with seven of the eight years seeing a value of 1.00 or more. As a note of caution, 2019 was a poor year showing a fairly steep level stakes loss, for all that the strike rate remained around the average. Now let us split the 2yo data up to see if any patterns emerge in terms of distance:
His grandchildren have recorded slightly better strikes rate over 5f (21.5%) compared to six (19.3%) and seven (18.8%) but all three are very good; A/E values of 1.16, 1.17 and 1.08 back these up. His grand-progeny have been notably less effective at a mile or more (13.7%) – this seems to stretch the stamina of the 2yos in question.
Moving away from 2yo data and looking at his damsire data as a whole, the runners have a great record from the front. This may not come as a surprise as, when Shamardal was racing, he was a habitual front runner – of his seven career starts he made the running in ALL of them. As a damsire his runners have led in 365 races winning 98 of them – this equates to a strike rate of nearly 27% (roughly 9% above the norm). Indeed, in sprint races of 5 to 6f, the front running strike rate increases to nearly 33%.
Galileo as a Damsire
As a racehorse, Galileo won the Derby, the Irish Derby and the King George and Queen Elizabeth Diamond Stakes in the same year (2001) and, overall, won six of his eight career starts. He has a similar record as a sire and a damsire, though slightly more influential in win strike rate terms as the first generation producer.
The first chart below shows performance of his grand-progeny by distance. As can be seen, the record improves as the distance increases:
His damsire record over five and six furlongs is poor with older aged runners – horses aged six or more - having won just three races from 69 over these sprint trips, equating to a loss of nearly 48p in every £1 bet. In fact age does seem a factor across the board. As a damsire his runners perform well at two and three; their strike rate dips at four and five, while aged six or older their performance really starts to drop off:
My last Galileo as damsire note relates to horses coming back from a long break, which have an excellent record. Horses returning off a break of six months or more have produced 68 winners from 369 runners (SR 18.48%) for a healthy profit to SP of £211.93 (ROI +57.59%).
Intikhab as a Damsire
The final sire I want to look at is Intikhab. On the track back in the late 1990s, Intikhab won eight of his 13 starts including the then Group 2 Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot in 1998. As a sire he has been extremely successful, with Snow Fairy the ‘star’ turn: she netted just £4million in prize money from her global exploits.
As a damsire also, Intikhab has some trends worth sharing. First, let's review his annual strike rates. It is important to appreciate that yearly stats can fluctuate:
Five of the ten years have seen strike rates around the 16% mark, whereas 2018 and 2019 were more modest at 10.1% and 11.3% respectively. Overall, though, it is a fairly consistent picture.
In terms of male runners versus female runners, the males have outperformed the females:
The A/E values correlate too as the graph below shows:
Focusing on when his grand-offspring were near the head of the market, we can see they were worth following: horses that started in the top three in the betting over the past 10 seasons produced 138 winners from 498 runners (SR 27.71%) for a profit at SP of £95.43 (ROI +19.16%). This is an excellent profit considering they could have boosted further by early prices, BOG or by using the exchanges. Whether this is a robust angle, I'm not so sure, however.
Finally, Intikhab’s runners have performed slightly better on the all weather compared to the turf – on the sand his damsire strike rate has been 16.93% while on the turf it has been notably lower at 12.53%.
I have enjoyed this inaugural dig into damsire data and, hopefully, you've noted a few wagering nuggets to take forward. Plenty more research can be undertaken in this area - readers may use Query Tool's 'Damsire' parameter to perform your own analyses - and I look forward to sharing my further findings in the future.