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Galileo/Danehill Revisited

A little over two years ago, we looked at the cross of Galileo with mares by Danehill. This was fast becoming a European mega nick, having—in the space of three weeks—been represented by Frankel, who had just taken the Two Thousand Guineas (Eng-I) in breathtaking style; Golden Lilac, successful in the French One Thousand Guineas (Fr-I); and Roderic O'Connor, who took the Irish Two Thousand Guineas (Ire-I).

We've seen some examples of tremendously successful crosses begin to return to the statistical norm when used with increased frequency. Often, we suspect, this occurs because the sire begins to be used as a default option with less care taken in considering both the sire and dam as individuals compared to earlier matings, and sometimes because the population of mares by a broodmare sire is either aging or represents a different demographic to those used for earlier attempts. With that in mind, we though that it might be interesting to see how the Galileo/Danehill nick is faring.

At the time (late May 2011) there had been 10 stakes winners from 62 starters by Galileo out of Danehill mares, which is 16% stakes winners to starters, and a TrueNicks rating of A+. So, what do we find a little over 25 months later? Well, the score now stands at 17 stakes winners from 105 starters, which is ... 16% stakes winners to starters, and a TrueNicks rating of A+ (view report). So, as the expression goes, "no change there."

Given just how good a sire Galileo (IRE) (TrueNicks) is, and that the quality of mares that has visited him would have been on the upgrade, improving to this degree on that level of quality is a considerable endorsement of the cross. Two of the new stakes winners are group I winners: Maybe, who took the Moyglare Stud Stakes (Ire-I), and this year's French Derby (Fr-I) hero Intello. A variation on a theme that has improved is that of Galileo with mares by sons of Danehill, which had just one stakes winner from 27 starters but is now up to a far more healthy four stakes winners from 41 starters. The quartet are all group or graded scorers, and include Magician, who took this year's Irish Two Thousand Guineas (Ire-I).

Five of the 17 stakes winners out of Danehill mares go back to Bruce Lowe's #1 family (admittedly, this represents the most populous mitochondrial haplotype in the breed, but Galileo's success with members of the female line is significantly disproportionate to opportunity). Three of them descend from the #9 family through one of the Hermit/Maid of Masham tribe, as does Galileo himself.

Teofilo (IRE) (TrueNicks), the first major Galileo/Danehill cross, now has first crop 4-year-olds. He's an interesting litmus test for Frankel (some concerns about Frankel's opportunities have been expressed on the basis that a high proportion of the best European mares might be "off limits" to him if breeders wanted to avoid inbreeding to Sadler's Wells, Danehill, or Danzig).

The good news on that front is that Teofilo is leading European third crop sire of 2013 and has 16 stakes winners in his first two crops, four group I, including Trading Leather and Havana Gold, who on the same weekend at the end of June took the Irish Derby (Ire-I, video below) and Prix Jean Prat (Fr-I). Six of Teofilo's stakes winners, including Trading Leather and Havana Gold, are out of Danzig line mares, and he even has a stakes winner inbred 3x2 to Danehill. He also has two stakes winners with inbreeding to Sadler's Wells, including group I scorer Parish Hall from a mare by Sadler's Wells' son Montjeu.

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If you take out the Australian bred horses bred on the Galileo/Danehill cross what are the percentages or has that already been done ?

djebel 18 Jul 2013 1:39 AM

Alan... There are more mares at stud in the world, from families TWO and FOUR.. than family ONE.

Although more classic race winners continue to be produced by family ONE... something I can't understand.. perhaps it is because it is the only female line that goes back to a daughter of the Darley Arabian out of a Byerley Turk mare..

Hal Dane. 18 Jul 2013 6:23 AM

It really doesn't surprise me to see a 3 x 2 breeding work with the right ones. Am I wrong in believing that closer inbreeding is more common in Europe, and was far more common 100 years and further back?

Joltman 18 Jul 2013 8:04 AM

Djebel: Good question. I make it 68 Northern Hemisphere starters on the cross for 14 stakes winners (20% stakes winners to starters). In Australia it is 3 stakes winners from 37 starters as far as I can tell, a far more mortal 8%. Basically, it tends to reflect that in reality, Galileo/Danehill is even stronger than the worldwide figure makes it look, as his offspring were far less suited to racing in Australia.

Hal: that's interesting if true. When Phil Bull of Timeform did his famous study to debunk Lowe, he took horses that finished last in selling plates (claiming level in U.S. terms), and the #1 was the most populous in England at that time. I would guess the #4 at least would be very strongly represented in the U.S.

Joltman: in general terms inbreeding to a single ancestor tends to appear pretty much in proportion with regards to stakes winners and incidence in a commercially equivalent population. I think it did tend to be more common in the early days of the breed in England (smaller base population,   tendency to breed in a small geographic region). Marcel Boussac used it with great success in the mid-1900s, including a Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe winner, Coronation V, who was 2x2 to Tourbillon. I think these days with a high proportion of the population being bred for the market, breeders don't want to deal with what are perceived risks involved in close inbreeding.

Alan Porter 18 Jul 2013 9:48 AM


I have always found the percentage of stakes winners statistic somewhat deceptive.

Here is the reason. Let us say there are 20 graded stakes run. Of the starters 50 are from sireline X.

The maximum possible winning percentage for sireline X is 20/50--40%.

Overtime the descendants of sireline X rise to 100.

The maximum possible winning percentage of sireline X falls to 20/100--20%.

Of course this occurs because the number of participants have increased but the number of possible winners remains fixed.

This is bound to happen to the Galileo sireline. In some races they make up more than half of the field but there will be only one winner. The descendants compete against each other.

A more interesting statistic would be the percentage of all graded stakes run that are won each year by the descendants of the sireline (inbreeding or outcrossing).

Jerseyboy 18 Jul 2013 2:14 PM

Dazzling who is a full-sister to Roderic O'Connor won a mile maiden at The Curragh today in fine fashion on her debut. A big strong powerful looking type of filly she should have no trouble with 12 furlongs and she looks like one to keep in mind for the classics next season.

John T 01 Sep 2013 9:12 PM

I was hoping Ouija Board would produce a foal to be very proud of and it certainly looks that way when Austrlia, by Galileo, won a group 3 mile race at Leopardstown in very impressive fashion today.

John T 07 Sep 2013 10:13 PM

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