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In the Beginning

by Alan Porter

The launch of TrueNicks represents the completion of a full circle regarding my involvement in the Thoroughbred industry.

By age 19 I had completed three years of “hands on” experience working at an English stud farm. Around that time, the English magazine Stud & Stable published an article with a grid showing sire line crosses and the percentage of stakes winners each cross had produced that year. As a student of statistics, it struck me that the calculations of these figures made no allowances for opportunity. In those days it would have been nearly impossible to track down all the foals that made up the population, so I did what seemed to be the next best thing. I dug out a copy of The Register of Thoroughbred Stallions – at that stage it would have included just about every sire of consequence in England and Ireland – and counted up how many stallions were recorded and from there calculated the likely percentage of the population represented by each sire line, taking into account hypothetical opportunity.

Young and brazen, I mailed off my conclusions to the magazine along with a "corrected" version of their grid. Fortunately for me, the criticism was generously received and the letter led to a nine-year job and an association with the company that has continued on to the present day.

Male line crosses or “nicks” have since become a big business, but it has always been in my mind that they have never really been done as they should. Nicks that are based on hypothetical opportunity never accurately reflect what has taken place in reality. Unfortunately, to create nicks that truly reflect opportunity requires knowing all the horses bred on the cross, and for that a comprehensive--and very large--database is required.

In association with Byron Rogers, and partnering with The Blood-Horse magazine, my life's project started to get off the ground. Making use of the historical records of The Jockey Club, the TrueNicks system was born during three years of intensive testing and development. Having waited 30 years, it is immensely satisfying to have been involved in the creation of what I feel is destined to become the new industry standard for measuring nicks and sire line crosses. And of course, with The Jockey Club and The Blood-Horse--the official publication of the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association--involved, TrueNicks is very much the industry’s nicking system.

While the TrueNicks rating completes a personal journey, it will also become the departure point for new expeditions, as the next months and years see the introduction of a complete suite of exciting new products.

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