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The Sadler's Wells/Mill Reef Nick

Readers: I'm curious to get your analysis of the Sadler's Wells/Mill Reef nick. Why do you think this nick works?

Avalyn Hunter ends her Mahubah's Corner column this week with a look at the combination of Sadler's Wells/Mill Reef:

"…Irish Derby runner-up Midas Touch stayed on very well through the stretch and according to jockey Colm O’Donoghue may be a live prospect for the St. Leger. By Galileo out of Approach, by Darshaan, his pedigree is an example of a cross that has worked very well for Sadler’s Wells, that of Sadler’s Wells over mares carrying Mill Reef. A cross that automatically doubles up on 1955 Kentucky Oaks winner Lalun, dam of Bold Reason (damsire of Sadler’s Wells) and Never Bend (sire of Mill Reef), it has accounted for more than 100 graded/group winners sired by Sadler’s Wells and his sons, headed by champions and highweights High Chaparral, Universal Prince, Beat Hollow, In the Wings, and Islington."

But how much should we credit the doubling of Lalun? Scot Gillies of Blood-Horse Publications, and author of The Five-Cross Files, has this to say on the subject:

"Way too much credit (and blame) is assigned to single-ancestor inbreeding in general. At anything beyond 3 x 3 or possibly 3 x 4, I'm going to consider a duplication of one sire or dam to be a moderate influence at best.

"I don't hear anyone shouting about the Lady Josephine angle, yet her 9-c family is all over the Sadler's Wells/Mill Reef cross. Or Nasrullah, for that matter, who appears about as close as Lalun.

"If Sadler's Wells progeny from mares that had an instance of Lalun were hitting at 18 or 20% [stakes winners to foals], I'd be looking closely for what else was present in those crosses.

"Here's what I think is going on: Sadler's Wells and Mill Reef clicked with the same kinds of mares – they threw similar builds and lots of stamina. But they were separated by a generation, so Mill Reef daughters not only were out of mares that Sadler's Wells would've done well with (and were even moved one step closer conformationally and aptitudinally to Sadler's Wells because of Mill Reef), but they also were the right age to be booked to Sadler's Wells. Sending like to like – at the highest class, when the individuals are already top-notch runners from top-notch families – is the best Brit breeding strategy of the last 150+ years.

"Insert A.P. Indy or Street Cry into the equation and put Sadler's Wells below; they don't match up quite as well physically, but the results look promising internationally, with Music Note, Whobegotyou, and Arranca El Sol [Chilean champion 2-year-old colt]."

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