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Case in Point: Kingmambo and Sadler's Wells

In his first crop, Kingmambo sired El Condor Pasa - a champion in Japan and France - out of a mare by Sadler's Wells. Kingmambo has gone on to sire seven other stakes winners out of Sadler's Wells mares, including classic winners Divine Proportions and Virginia Waters and current European juvenile standouts Henrythenavigator and Thewayyouare. Obviously, a great cross. Right?

Not necessarily.

One proprietary system (one that measures hypothetical opportunity) certainly reflects this premise, awarding it the very highest rating-a very misleading conclusion.

First, Kingmambo has been bred to many, many Sadler's Wells mares. In fact, more than 10% of his starters are out of Sadler's Wells mares, meaning that he has covered a far higher proportion of Sadler's Wells mares than hypothetical opportunity would lead one to expect.

Then there is the class factor: as one of the world's best sires, Kingmambo will, in general terms, tend to impart more class to his offspring than the average sire, even in a universe consisting solely of sires of stakes winners. The same goes for Sadler's Wells mares: Sadler's Wells is a very good broodmare sire, and his daughters are an extremely well-credentialed bunch. Kingmambo's commercial standing would dictate that the Sadler's Wells mares bred to him were particularly outstanding members of that clan.

When we were first testing TrueNicks we were rather surprised to see the Kingmambo/Sadler's Wells nick earn a "C" with a variant score (i.e., stakes winner-to-expectation figure) of very slightly less than 1.0, indicating that the cross was underachieving. Further research revealed that this really was an accurate reporting of the picture at the time.

Kingmambo had done a little better, in terms of stakes winners to starters, with mares by Sadler's Wells than he had with with mares by all other stallions. Conversely, that group of Sadler's Wells mares had done poorer with Kingmambo than with all other stallions to which they had been bred.

Thus-while not a disaster, and certainly a match worth considering given the quality of the individuals both involved and produced-the statistics confirmed that Kingmambo wasn't necessarily the optimal cross for a Sadler's Wells mare. (Incidentally, with two new group winners bred on the cross from his current 2-year-old crop, the rating has improved to a TrueNicks score of 1.56, which translates to a "B.")

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