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Announcing the All New Key Ancestors Report

Today TrueNicks is pleased to announce the new Key Ancestors Report, a breakthrough report that considers your mare's entire pedigree—all male and female ancestors—and identifies the key ancestors to seek out or avoid in the pedigrees of stallions in prospective matings. TrueNicks' Byron Rogers and Ian Tapp discuss the new report in the video below.

NEW VIDEO: Alan Porter discusses strategies for using the Key Ancestors Report.

Key Ancestors Report $50

While the TrueNicks rating measures the effectiveness of a sire line when crossed with a broodmare sire line, the Key Ancestors Report focuses on how male and female ancestors in sires' pedigrees interact with mares that are closely related to your mare. For any group of related mares, there are ancestors that contribute to success just as there are ancestors that are deleterious to success. This report identifies these positive and negative ancestors so that you can plan matings accordingly. The report includes:

  • TrueNicks Enhanced Report
  • Top 15 starters by best win
  • Top 15 stakes horses by relatedness
  • Top 15 positive ancestors
  • Top 15 negative ancestors

Key Ancestors Report with Analysis $300

The Key Ancestors Report with Analysis is the most comprehensive report available to analyze your mare's pedigree. In addition to the Key Ancestors Report itself, this report adds additional research tools: a catalog-style pedigree for your mare, Key Ancestor Scores and summaries of up to 50 potential stallions, and TrueNicks Enhanced Reports for each hypothetical mating. The report includes:

  • Key Ancestors Report
  • Catalog-style pedigree
  • Top 50 stallions by Key Ancestor Score
  • Coefficient of relatedness of each stallion
  • TrueNicks Enhanced Reports for each hypothetical mating

Have questions about how the report works? Please leave a comment below.

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Why would half sisters be only 25% Related? Shouldn't they be more than that?

lou pritchard 10 Jan 2013 4:04 PM

Hi Lou,

Good question. Half sisters do have one parent in common, but their relatedness (or consanguinity) is only 25% on average.

Similarly, full sisters have both parents in common, but they don't necessarily get the exact same genes from each parent. This is why full sisters are only 50% related on average.

You can click here to read more in depth about the coefficient of relatedness. There's a good table that shows the coefficients of several common relationships.

Ian Tapp 10 Jan 2013 4:12 PM

Was the merit of this methodolgy tested on earlier era broodmares (i.e "numbers" for time period 1 vs "numbers" at much later time)?... Also, your relatedness is restricted to mares only. While there are much fewer related stallions (to those mares relative to other related mares), those stallions which are closely related should offer a far more significant (meaningful?) source of data...It's early, and I'm still trying to absorb it, but without knowing your "weighting" methodology, etc. in the end much has to be accepted on faith.  

sceptre 10 Jan 2013 7:33 PM

Hi Sceptre,

We were hoping you'd chime in. If this report can pass the rigors of Sceptre, we know we're on to a good thing!

First, yes, we tested the concept and report on a large group of mares, concentrating on very old pedigrees (where related mares would have a full lifetime of produce), very young pedigrees (the reverse), and obscure pedigrees. This helped us determine what sample size (number of starters) was required to deliver meaningful results. We found this to be in the 400-500 starters range.

Sires and sire lines are easier to describe in statistics than are mares, simply due to the fact that sires can have more offspring than mares and therefore provide a larger sample size. The group of related mares (and their progeny) is the artificial sample size to describe a mare.

Since relatedness of the mares can range from 100% all the way down to around 10% depending on how obscure your mare's pedigree is, we weight each related mare's starters by her relatedness to the subject mare. This way, the most related mares have the most influence in the calculation.

We also weight ancestors by where they appear in the pedigree. It's too simple just to identify that an ancestor appears in an elite runner or not; it's important to inventory which generations the ancestor occurs in each starter. Closer generations translate to greater influence.

Ian Tapp 10 Jan 2013 9:55 PM

Thanks for your reply, Ian. So many questions come to mind, but for now I'll try to keep it simple...First, let me go back to my second point. On your Key Ancestor's Report-$50-on the third line (continuation of sentence) you state "...interact with MARES that are closely related to your mare." Why doesn't the analysis include and, therefore then this statement read-"...interact with MARES and STALLIONS that are closely related to your mare."?...A separate question: On looking through your analysis for Easter Bunnette, I noticed that all stallions recommended (and ? not recommended-was Lonhro among those not recommended?)-ex. Harlan's Holiday was listed first-, are "name" ("Fasionable-Type") stallions. With all the stallions available in the US, it's difficult to believe that none of the less fashionable stallions out there wouldn't possess a greater number, etc. of Key Ancestors than those you list. What am I missing (I must have overlooked something in your explanation)? None of this is meant as criticism, but rather for tutorial sake.  

sceptre 11 Jan 2013 12:38 AM

Hi Sceptre,

The report is meant to give a profile of how closely related mares to your mare are producing, so it looks at male and female ancestors in the pedigrees of sires that have been bred to related mares. For example, since La Ville Rouge is a related mare to Easter Bunnette, the report looks at the sires that La Ville Rouge was bred to, and the ancestors within the pedigrees of those sires.

For example, La Ville Rouge produced elite runner Barbaro to Dynaformer, so the report quantifies the ancestors in the pedigree of Dynaformer (Dynaformer himself, Roberto, Andover Way, Hail to Reason, Bramalea, His Majesty, On the Trail, etc.) based on which generation they appear. This is done for each sire of the 500+ starters in the report, accounting for the ancestors' generations, elite/non-elite status of the starter, and the relatedness of the starter's dam.

The report does not consider the progeny of sires that are related to your mare. It would be easy to find a related sire to your mare—her own sire! If you have a Storm Cat mare, then Storm Cat is 50% related to her, so you'd look at all his progeny. The problem is, the sire's large amount of data would "take over" the report, and it would cease to be a profile of how related mares produce and instead become a report of Storm Cat's own best ancestors.

Practically speaking, that's not the goal of this report. The report's goal is to find a select group of mares who are bred similarly to your mare, measure the ancestors in the sires that they have been bred to, and identify the positive and negative ancestors so that you can use this information when planning matings.

To your question about Easter Bunnette's sample report: the sample report includes only nine random stallions as a means to illustrate the report's layout. In the actual report, you choose your own list of stallions—fashionable or otherwise. You can select up to 200 stallions, but the report will include the top 50 sorted by Key Ancestor Score. Or, you can choose exactly 50 stallions, and all of those 50 will appear in the report. It's up to you.

Ian Tapp 11 Jan 2013 9:57 AM

Thanks, Ian. It's difficult to know if my questions are useful to the readers, or merely serve to occupy your time and cause a tedious response. So, feel free to ignore and not post.

As a follow-up to your last reply, you likely saw this coming:

Your "tool's" purpose is to increase the odds of producing a better racehorse through the selection of a better mate for the mare (could have been stated more artfully). It's premised on the notion that data analysis of comparative genetic relatedness will uncover the more ideal mates for a mare. The data derived from the progeny of stallions related to the mare in question are, perhaps, as "meaningful" to your goal (purpose) as that derived from the related mares. The fact that this stallion data may overwhelm the mare data isn't, for this reason alone, cause for ignoring it-genetically speaking. From a genetic perspective, one could argue that this stallion data could better refine your results or, instead, serve to illuminate a flaw in the thesis...Re-my point about Easter Brunette: I hadn't realized that it was the mare owner who selects the pool of stallions from which your hierarchy proceeds. Yes, I can see the logic in this, but isn't your tool also capable (reasonably) of offering a hierarchy from all available stallions? Wouldn't this information also be valuable to that mare owner? If practicable, might it not afford other less vogueish stallions more opportunity and, perhaps, widen the gene pool-and, if you're indeed really on to something, create better racehorses?        

sceptre 11 Jan 2013 12:29 PM


Like Byron mentioned at the beginning of the video, the idea came from Alan Porter's Danehill study, where Alan looked at all mares that produced starters by Danehill. He determined which ancestors were positive and negative for Danehill in the pedigrees of mares. The analysis of Danehill was possible only near the end of his career, at which time he had been bred to a large number of mares (which provided a large sample size).

To flip the concept around for a mare, we use the group of similarly bred mares to simulate a single mare and give her the sample size like Danehill.

You have an interesting idea to also incorporate related stallions' progeny, as I'm sure there would be certain across-the-board genetic affinities there. But, then again, to use the Danehill example, I wouldn't say Danehill breeds identically to Danehill mares. We've all observed that some stallions are better sires than they are broodmare sires, and vice versa. Alan, do you have any thoughts on this?

Regarding the pool of stallions—you can choose any 200 horses and the report will return the top 50 by Key Ancestor Score (no preference given to vogueish stallions!).

Ian Tapp 11 Jan 2013 3:45 PM

Sounds like alchemy to me.  There's no secret or hidden mystery as to who the best thoroughbreds were and are so they are going to show up but that still doesn't mean you can make a silk purse out of a sow's ear.  Don't forget Tesio wanted to send Nogara to Fairway but couldn't get to him so he went to Pharos and out came Nearco.  Ponder that.

jim of G 11 Jan 2013 3:46 PM

jim of G,

After seeing hundreds of these reports, I can tell you that not all "best thoroughbreds" will show up as positive ancestors for each mare.

Actually, just about all ancestors that appear enough to be identified as either positive or negative are influential ancestors to the breed. You will see horses like Hyperion, Lalun, Cosmah, Danzig, Mr. Prospector, Lady Angela, etc. showing up as positive for some mares, neutral for others, and negative for others.

Ian Tapp 11 Jan 2013 3:56 PM

Re: the subject of using a stallion themselves to establish potential Key Ancestors for their daughters (and other descendents).

I think to a degree a study of a stallion may yield data about some individuals that that might be positive or negative for his daughters, but I think integrating this with the data from mares carrying the stallion would be difficult, and I certainly wouldn't like to use the stallion instead of the mare.

Another point to remember is that we are not just taking individual components of the pedigree of the mare, and sometimes combinations are important. For example, some while ago it was noticed that while Anabaa did poorly with mares by Blushing Groom and his sons in general, he did well with Groom Dancer, a Blushing Groom/Lyphard cross. Consequently, bred to mares that were products of a Blushing Groom/Lyphard cross, he came up with multiple champion Goldikova and group one winner Plumania (and subsequently, stakes winner Baahama, out of Blushing Groom line mare from the family of Plumania). To this day, of his six stakes winners out of mares carrying Blushing Groom, five are out mares that have a Blushing Groom/Lyphard cross.

The way the Key Ancestor program works, it gives priority to mares most similarly-bred to the subject mare. So, if we were doing a study for a mare (say) by a son of Blushing Groom out of a Lyphard mare, the Groom Dancer daughters, and the dams of Goldikova and Plumania, would have far more influence on the report than a granddaughter of Blushing Groom with no strains in common with the subject mare (in fact she would probably not even make the "likebred" group).

There are no doubt a number of approaches that might be taken in terms of being able to analyze a whole pedigree from the the standpoint of the mare, I think we have arrived at a very good solution.

Alan Porter 11 Jan 2013 9:21 PM

Allow me to raise another point. I think it rather unlikely that many of the listed "negative" influences-for a proposed broodmare candidate-are, in reality, "negative", and to be avoided. Again, this method of communication has its limitations, but I'll try to be clear. For instance, Special has popped up as a "negative" in some of your examples-suggesting that for the mare in question Special should, perhaps, be avoided in prospective stallions' pedigrees. Well, Special is rather far back now in most stallion's ( and mare) pedigrees, so I doubt that potential negative inbreeding effects were the cause for her negative designation for the mare in question. No, it was very likely due to something else, and the CAUSE likely related to Saddler's Wells or, perhaps, Nureyev, etc. or, more likely one or more of their sons or grandsons. Yes, I realize that you can only do but so much with your analyses before it becomes too cumbersome and unmanageable. But, there is overwhelming data to suggest that Special is GENERALLY a positive influence on the breed. That said, it is no doubt true that many decendants of Special fail to possess many if not most of her relatively positive genetic "material". It's also true that what is in reality positive genetic material for some (genotypes) may not be as positive, and possibly a net negative for other (genotypes). In addition, one sire line, etc., for example, may (would) tend to "carry" a somewhat (to one degree or another) different "brand" (composition) of Special genes than another. It doesn't appear (correct me if I'm mistaken) that your "formula" incorporates to any extent this nuance. Should it not, what may seem as mere nuance could be something of greater significance, i.e. classifying something as negative that may instead, in reality, be a positive-for the given mare.          

sceptre 12 Jan 2013 10:55 AM


Absolutely, I'm sure Special is generally a positive influence on the breed. In fact, she shows up quite often as a positive ancestor for other mares. But regardless of how you analyze a pedigree, all ancestors are measured by their influence through their descendants.

The Key Ancestors Report actually does account for the net effect of ancestors. For example, if Nureyev appears enough in the sires bred to related mares, then he will get his own ancestor score and Special, his dam, won't be counted separately. But if Special appears through another descendant that cannot be quantified, then Special would be counted separately. The same goes for Thong and Rough Shod II.

We've seen many cases where a particular ancestor is positive, but the ancestor's sire or dam is negative when occurring independently.

Ian Tapp 12 Jan 2013 11:16 AM

Very helpful explanation, Ian. The more I learn about the Key Ancestor's Report, the better I like it...Explain, if you would, how this report would serve to compliment your TrueNicks Ratings vs as used as a stand alone to determine the best mate for one's mare.  

sceptre 12 Jan 2013 3:59 PM

Thanks, Sceptre. The TrueNicks rating (and nicking theory in general) is sire/broodmare sire line specific, so position in the pedigree is important. The Key Ancestors Report takes into account all positions.

All else being equal, you want to send your mare to a sire line that has worked well with the broodmare sire line (TrueNicks B+ or better are recommended). You also want to maximize the positive ancestors in the mating and minimize the negative ones. In the Key Ancestors Report with Analysis, these are stallions with net positive Key Ancestor Scores, preferably having 4 or 5 positive ancestors in the top 5.

Ian Tapp 12 Jan 2013 7:09 PM

Hi Ian,

With your help, I've had the chance to better appreciate the benefits of your new Report. There will be more still to discover, but the most recent revelation deals with the potential risk vs reward of inbreeding to various influences, for the subject mare in question. For example, should the given mare's (mare to be mated) pedigee contain a Seattle Slew (for example) and should Seattle Slew also receive a relatively high "score" (from the mares similarly bred category) then, all else equal, an inbreeding/linebreeding (if otherwise deemed potentially reasonable) to Seattle Slew would likely yield a greater "reward" (add more weight to the reward side of the risk/reward equation) than would be perceived without this information...I'm sure Ian's response-and his superior writing skills-will better explain this (should he agree with my observation).    

sceptre 13 Jan 2013 1:50 PM

I've now had the opportunity to take a more thorough look at this Report, and what it can provide to breeders. I have to say that much of my initial skepticism has been replaced with admiration for those that contributed to this project and eventual Report. It takes some time to fully appreciate what has been offered to us by this tool, but it's rather apparent to me that it will prove very useful in my matings-it appears to illuminate areas where even those most skilled and intense would often miss...A few more questions:

It appears that the Key Ancestor Score (for each selected stallion) is derived solely from the Top Five Ancestor's (by occurrance). I grant that this is a most valuable piece of information and should continue to be supplied. In addition, you also offer us tables for both the most positive and negative ancestors found in the produce of those most closely related mares (do I have that right?). Well, it occurs that there might be benefit in knowing what is the TOTAL Ancestor Score (derived from all ancestors in each selected stallion's pedigree). Would this not better illuminate the relative "value" of each stallion chosen for the mare in question?

I also see benefit to supplying, in a separate report, all data derived after ELIMINATION of the subject mare's produce, should there be any. While the data from her produce is vital in forming "predictions" (making selections) relative to future potential mates it presents two areas of concern:

  1. Without the inclusion of her produce data, one might more easily ascertain whether or not she was appropriately mated in the past.

  2. The subject mare's produce data could, in some instances, overly skew much of what is provided in the Report. Take, for example, a mare that had produced one $1M earner (by a particular stallion) and little else. (I assume amount of earnings factors into your "calculations" ?).          

sceptre 13 Jan 2013 7:36 PM

Sceptre, thanks for the supportive words about the report.

About the inbreeding—yes, that's an interesting aspect of the report. If the subject mare carries Seattle Slew, and the report finds that related mares did very well with sires carrying Seattle Slew, then the report has no issue with suggesting inbreeding to Seattle Slew. The acceptable level of inbreeding is of course up to the breeder, but if you're going to try an inbred mating, there should be some supportive reasoning behind doing it (not just because it looks cool on the five-cross).

Re: the Key Ancestor Score – this is in fact the net total of ALL ancestor scores (positives and negatives) in the sire's pedigree, not just the top 5 shown. The top 5 ancestors shown in the stallion summary tables are sorted by absolute value of their scores, giving weight to ancestors found in closer generations.

To your point about eliminating the subject mare's own produce from the scores: While it would be interesting for the reasons you mentioned, after all we are trying to find the best stallion choices for the subject mare, and, as you say, what better data to influence this than her own produce history.

One note—elite runners are not determined by earnings, which is generally not a reliable tool especially when you consider international runners (Japanese earnings, for example). Elite runners in this report are stakes winners and graded/group stakes-placed horses. While no threshold is perfect, the black type system is close.

Ian Tapp 13 Jan 2013 10:34 PM

Hi Ian,

Thanks for those clarifications, and I apologize for my sloppiness in not better reading the Report's instructions, and not analyzing more more carefully the math in the tables. It did, however, cause me to go back to the "drawing board"-re-read the Report's instructions, and review all charts and data contained in the Report. So, a few more questions and comments:

For a proposed mare, I notice the following Ancestor Scores: Fappiano +407.20; Caro +41.96. Going down now to the Hypothetical Mating Impact (for a selected stallion for the proposed mare) Fappiano (occurring solely in the 3rd generation) has a score of +20, while Caro (also occurring solely in the 3rd generation) has a score of +10.49. I'm sure there's a well thought out/reasonable and, no doubt, proprietary explanation for this-on the surface-mathematically comparative disparity, but I was wondering if you're able to shed any light?...On a somewhat separate note, I continue to be troubled (I suppose that's a fair description) by the possibility that one (single) close-up Stakes Winner could so distort the "numbers" as to drastically alter the "validity" (reality) of the Report for one or more influences (within that "line"). Since I'm sure you catch my drift, I'll jump far forward to some of my reasoning behind this thought: It is not uncommon for a stakes producing mating to be repeated. Somewhere in "data land" all such repeats, and their results (race record-wise) are documented and, therefore, likely can be subjected to mathematical analysis. Might not the end product of such analysis alter the "formula" you employ in your "weighting"?    

sceptre 14 Jan 2013 12:21 AM


We assigned maximum and minimum values (+80.00, -80.00) to what an ancestor can contribute to a hypothetical mating in the Key Ancestors with Analysis. After running hundreds of reports and plotting the ancestor scores, we were able to determine these limits. Essentially these limits allow that any ancestor can be only so good or so bad.

Note that ancestor scores in the Key Ancestors Report with Analysis are weighted for their generational distance. If an ancestor has a score of +10.00, then he would be valued at +10.00 as the sire of the hypothetical mating, +5.00 in the 2nd generation, +2.50 in the 3rd generation, etc.

In some reports, there are certain ancestors that have not appeared in any elite runners despite the required opportunity to do so; these ancestors show up on reports as -Infinity (negative infinity). If there was no limit, any -Infinity ancestor would automatically disqualify any stallion carrying that ancestor, regardless of how distant the generation, which would be unrealistic.

To your 2nd point, this is a clever idea and something everyone would like to know: how repeatable are successful matings? This question comes down to probability, but due to environmental factors, the true probability of success is difficult to determine (You may have bred the next Man O'War, but he is struck by lightning in the middle of his first race). Also, the probability would change given the genetic material involved in each mating. I think Byron would be the person to talk more on this.

However, we have used a similar value in our Key Ancestors formula for how ancestors are evaluated. This is a proprietary value of the population rate of elite runners from starters (i.e. if ancestors are randomly distributed, what percentage of the ancestor's blood will appear in elite runners?).

Ian Tapp 14 Jan 2013 11:29 AM

That is interesting. So you are using an inbreeding co-efficient of related mares and their produce and applying a possible success figure (elite group) to a potential sire?  When you use the co-efficient are figures applied to the % of inbreeding co-efficient to various ancestors of the resulting foal? For example, how many times does Eclipse appear in a 16 cross peidgree and what % is that in the resulting foals genetic make-up? And would each of those ancestors have an equal genetic makeup figure based on it's place in the pedigree or would the results be weighted to the characteristics of an applied "elite" standard?

Paul 14 Jan 2013 11:41 PM

As you folks know, I trained as a statistician (MS, PhD) so I am very aware that what is usual for a population as a whole and what is true for a particular member of that population may be quite different things. Storm Cat may have been the best stallion in the country at the time, but for Cee's Song (dam of Tiznow, Budroyale, etc.), Cee's Tizzy was a better match (check her produce record).

"Go with what works" is my first breeding maxim. If you find a mating that works for your particular mare, one that produces an outstanding individual, ignoring that datum is self-defeating.

Pedigree Ann 15 Jan 2013 10:45 AM

Hi Paul,

Related mares and their produce (the ancestors in the pedigrees of sires bred to related mares) are weighted only by their relatedness to the subject mare. There are no assumptions or measurements made specifically about inbreeding, since there won't be enough instances of each case of inbreeding to quantify it.

However, once we have the full list of ancestors and can divide them into elite and non-elite groups, we use a probability formula based on the population rate of elite runners, each ancestor's number of occurrences, and each ancestor's generational distance to determine which ancestors can be quantified within our confidence level. These are the ancestors whose names make it into the positive/negative ancestor tables in the Key Ancestors Report and are then evaluated per stallion in the Key Ancestors with Analysis.

In your Eclipse example, each occurrence of would count equally, weighted for its generation, but would not be counted if the occurrence is behind another quantified ancestor.

While we can't quantify the ideal level of inbreeding (at least not in this report), my opinion is that if you are going to mate your mare to create inbreeding to a particular ancestor, it would make sense to inbreed to a positive ancestor rather than a negative one.

Ian Tapp 15 Jan 2013 11:41 AM

Thanks, Ian; another very clear explanation.

Here's another question that may help clarify things:

Is it correct that an ancestor will receive no "value" (be accorded no weight) unless it meets a certain theshold number (of occurrances)? If that is correct, then should a "selected" stallion (proposed mate for the mare in question) have also sired offspring from the group of most similarly bred mares, this stallion, himself, would receive no "weight" (value) unless he occurred in a "sufficient" number of their offspring. What if this same stallion had also (for example) sired some of the most similarly bred mares?  

sceptre 15 Jan 2013 11:43 AM


Yes, all ancestors must meet a threshold of number of occurrences to receive an ancestor score. For a selected stallion (Bernardini, for example) to receive his own ancestor score, he must meet the same threshold (Bernardini would need to have been bred to enough of the related mares).

If Bernardini doesn't meet the threshold, then he would be quantified by the ancestor influences in his pedigree.

It doesn't matter if Bernardini happens to be the sire of a related mare, unless the related mare was a starter and her dam was also a related mare in the report.

Ian Tapp 15 Jan 2013 12:07 PM

Pedigree Ann:

Yes, but there are populations, and then there are more "defined" populations-which is precisely the subject matter of this Report. For that matter, your example of Storm Cat vs Cee's Tizzy for Cee's Song is what this report strives to uncover...And what if you haven't yet found (for your mare) a mating that "works" (and even here there are degrees)? This Report might just aid in your process of discovering what "works".  

sceptre 15 Jan 2013 1:32 PM

For a prospective foal one should only look at the parent's physical and grand parents and thier race records.  After that the genes are so mixed up it becomes meaningless.

Since a horse is made up of a random series of genes that mix every mating, the further you go back the greater the mix.  This is like taking a bunch of lottery balls and letting them fall 50% from each parent.  Then taking half of those and mixing them with another 50% in the next mating and so on.  The probability that the ball or genes will resemble anything from further generations is so great that it is meaningless.  Sorry to say your program does not over come the mixing of the genes to out weigh the benefit of matching physical horses in the first two generations to be of any value. If it does can I adapt it to win the powerball jack pot

John from Baltimore 15 Jan 2013 6:23 PM

Hi John from Baltimore,

Interesting analogy, but slightly too much hyperbole.

Breeders should absolutely consider the physical and aptitude of sire and dam in matings—overlooking such vital information would be irresponsible. The data in this report is not intended to replace essential horsemanship, but rather to supplement it.

You are correct that each successive generation loses more and more genetic impact; this is accounted for in the Key Ancestors Report. Two mares with only one 3rd-generation ancestor in common share just 1.56% relatedness. However, this report finds related mares that are 15-50% related to your mare (depending on your mare). This subset shares more genetic similarity than any other group of mares, and their combined produce records will describe any trends and affinities that the mares have established.

To steal your lottery analogy, we don't expect this report to guarantee you the Powerball jackpot, but it may reveal a few of the numbers.

Ian Tapp 15 Jan 2013 6:50 PM

Please enlighten on how many genes there are in the horse's genome and how the sequencing fom generation to generation is not so random that your program can pick winners and losers from the third generation and beyond. All one has to do is look at full brothers and sisters and see how different they can be because the genes don't fall in the same order. Yet, you want me to believe you can predict which genes good or bad a relative is going to recieve.

John from Baltimore 15 Jan 2013 10:02 PM

John from Baltimore,

For as many genes as there are in the genome, there's a relatively small subset of genes linked to racehorse performance. But when mapping your mare's genome and knowing the complete genetic and phenotypic profile of sire and dam is not possible, we use statistics to describe trends in matings.

While the Key Ancestors Report doesn't include a guarantee of success, it does provide real data of how closely related mares have produced so that you can develop mating strategies for your mare.

A pedigree isn't about any one particular ancestor; it's about the sum of the parts. It's also about probability, which you referenced in your last sentence about inheriting good or bad genes. The idea of this report is that you can maximize your probability of a good mating by maximizing the collective influence of ancestors present in successful matings of related mares.

Just as the horse with the highest Beyer Speed Figure doesn't always win the race, our report isn't a silver bullet, but is a research tool for breeders to educate themselves and make better decisions.

Ian Tapp 15 Jan 2013 11:47 PM

John from Baltimore,

I wouldn't make any claim to predict which genes are going to come forward, and from where. However, there are two factors that make things a lot less random than you might think.

Firstly, as Ian says, there is a very small percentage of the genome that contributes to racing performance. Secondly, in the thoroughbred horse blocks of genes are passed on together very consistently (look up "linkage disequilibrium ") which tends to mean that if you get A, you are also very likely to get B and C as well.

It's probably because of this that you do get ancestors, even those someway back in the pedigree, that can be shown to have a statistically significant effect. It is not so much of a question of genes necessarily being transmitted by this one ancestor (although they can be - look at grey coat color), but that when you have good descendants of an ancestor, other things in the pedigree tend to either reinforce or complement the gene variants that significantly impact racing performance. So the distant ancestor may not exert a direct influence, but more acts as a signpost.

It is not just the TrueNicks Key Ancestors report - which uniquely gathers a group of similarly-bred mares - but studies involving stallions (both by myself and others) that have found the same thing. That even if you take a horse with 1000+ runners, there will often be ancestors as far back as the fifth or sixth generation that independently (that is not through multiple channels) have a statistically significant positive or negative impact on a stallion (I would express this as being strongly associated with, rather than causal, but it's there all the same).

The TrueNicks rating and the Key Ancestors report may not be perfect - no rule based system can be - but looking at it from the personal standpoint of having studied pedigrees for about 40 years, and planned matings for close to 30 years, I can tell you that I would much rather have the data these programs provide than work without it.

Alan Porter 16 Jan 2013 10:33 AM

The fact ic your never going to convince me.  However, let's assume there are people out there who are convinced and are willing to spend thier money to buy your report.  What percentage of performace improvement can they expect to see from using this program and please explain in quantitative detail how you arrived at this number.

John from Baltimore 16 Jan 2013 1:19 PM

Greetings guys, this sounds like some of the things we chatted about last summer. To me, it offers a great second tool to the sire line nicks, with a lot of potential to drill down further. For example, I would be interested in seeing occasions of 'deal killers' in a pedigree, where perhaps a dam showing up in the pedigree creates a truly negative outcome, even when her daughters and granddaughters bred to the best stallions.  I'm sure there are other things that could be unearthed, like your observation on Groom Dancer above.  I don't know that an individual report for a single mare would necessarily allow such an analysis though.

Jman 17 Jan 2013 5:21 PM

Hey Guys,

My mare is already a A+++ with a particular stallion --- it was free and easy. It took 30-seconds to plan my mating. If the TrueNick rating is based on genetics, correlated and statistically significant; why would I want to actually pay money and spend time on a Key Ancestors Report when I already know the stallion I have picked out for my mare is already AWESOME and off the charts? - Tom

Tom Rolfe 21 Jan 2013 2:16 PM

Hi "Tom",

Your sarcasm is well taken—obviously there is a lot more to planning matings than simply checking a rating. The nick rating has been used for a long time in the industry and is very popular, but it's just one research tool to consider. The TrueNicks rating gives you the general success rate for the sire line/broodmare sire line combination. The Key Ancestors Report considers the mare's entire pedigree (not just the broodmare sire line) to find even more specific data to help plan matings. It can help differentiate between a group of stallions with equally high nick ratings, or it may find stallions whose nick ratings are only average but carry ancestors that are positive for your mare.

In addition to pedigree data, there are many other important considerations… physical/type, aptitude, commercial, etc. when planning a mating.

Ian Tapp 22 Jan 2013 5:43 PM


Based on your respose:

"The Key Ancestors Report considers the mare's entire pedigree (not just the broodmare sire line) to find even more specific data to help plan matings."

OMG! You're telling me that the TrueNicks rating is ONLY LOOKING AT THE BROODMARE SIRE LINE of my mare --- that's it? That means that all the genes are coming from my mare's sire-line? Although I'm not a genetisist, but wouldn't there be genes coming from my mare's dam --- like 50% of her genetic makeup? How could a system create an accurate rating without analysing 50% of my mare's pedigree? I have been relying on these nick ratings for years, and had no idea. I even fired my pedigree/bloodstock advisor, and have my in-house accountant do all my matings using TrueNicks!!!

How are you all going to educate all thoses breeders like me that have relied entirely on the TrueNicks Ratings?


Tom Rolfe

Tom Rolfe 23 Jan 2013 9:44 AM

How would these reports help me if I have a share in a stallion and am looking to buy or lease mares that would complement his ancestry?

In that case, I would be interested in a package rate that would allow me to experiment with multiple mares.  Would you consider doing that?  Or, since I assume that you can access these reports internally at a small cost, would you consider offering consulting on these types of questions?

Jay Ardee 23 Jan 2013 3:25 PM

Hi Ian,

From the dropdown-box I note you can request the Key Ancestors Report by way of location which is an excellent facility when reviewing commercial considerations. For myself, I am interested in a report for stallions standing in England AND Ireland. Would this mean I have to pay for two separate reports or is there a facility for comparing stallions from two different regions in one report?

Al Ross (UK) 30 Jan 2013 4:50 PM

Hi Al,

You can add stallions from both England and Ireland to your group of potential stallions. No need to run a second report. Just search first for stallions in England (with your desired stud fee range), and then do the same in Ireland. You can also add or delete individual stallions.

Email me at ian@truenicks.com if you have any trouble doing this, and I'll run the report for you.

Ian Tapp 30 Jan 2013 4:58 PM

Can potential stallions be tailored to stallions standing in Australia only?

Mary 14 Jul 2013 1:23 AM

Hi Mary,

Yes, absolutely. In the Key Ancestors Report with Analysis you are able to select only Australian stallions, or any mix of potential stallions that you want. You can search stallions by location or stud fee range, and then add/delete as you'd like.

Ian Tapp 15 Jul 2013 10:42 AM

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