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The Mega Nicks

Last week on Twitter we were interested to see if there were any thoughts on the most popular nick ratings.

TrueNicks Twitter

After getting the seeds of some ideas for what constituted a the most tried/successful nicks, we decided to gather the data, as one should, to see what story was told. In order to make it fair we stuck to the following:

  1. Direct Sire/Broodmare Sire Nicks
  2. At least 75 foals of racing age
  3. At least 50 runners/starters

So it turns out, unsurprisingly, that we were wrong in our initial tweet - Galileo/Danehill is in fact not the most tried, nor the most successful. The most tried is in fact between two Japanese sires - King Kamehameha and Sunday Silence, with the union of these two stallions resulting in a whopping 423 runners, with 27 stakes winners. The best nick, in terms of success is the Claiborne farm duo of Danzig with mares by Mr Prospector. This resulted in 53 runners hitting the track with 16 of them, or 30.2% becoming stakes winners.

The list of nicks that qualify based on the parameters above amount to 178 Sire/Broodmare Sire combinations. There are quite a few stallions that have more than one nick that has qualified on the list and there are, somewhat more surprisingly, a number of nicks that resulted in more than 50 runners on the track, but never had any success at all. The most popular unsuccessful nick was the combination of Dance in the Dark with mares by Northern Taste. This resulted in 107 runners without a stakes winner. In fairness to Dance in the Dark, who was just a moderate sire, the Northern Taste mares that he would have received at the time would have been aged mares, most likely ones that had some success with Dance in the Dark's sire Sunday Silence, but the lack of success can also speak to the fact that sometimes sons of a successful sire act differently to their own sire.

To examine the ratings further we can begin by applying a Z-Score or Standard Score on all the ratings based on their SW/Rns percentage. The Z-Score finds the average of all 178 nick ratings and the standard deviation away from this average, creating a normal distribution of the values. In our case, the average SW/Rns for all 178 nick ratings is 8.53% with a standard deviation of 6.39%.

Standard Deviation

Generally speaking on a standard deviation without skewness (our population has a slight skew as there are multiple nicks with 0% SW/Rns), 15.8% of the population will fall a one standard deviation or more above the average and 13.4% will be 1.5 or more above the average. In our case, 24 of the 178 nicks are 1 SD above the average (13.5%) and 16 (9%) are 1.5 standard deviations above the average. This group of 16, really represent the "mega nicks", a set of nicks that are outliers in terms of their performance. A list of these nicks: :

SireBroodmare SireRnsSWSW/Rns%
DanzigMr Prospector531630.2
Sadlers WellsHabitat621625.8
Fastnet RockGalileo621625.8
Southern HaloSalt Marsh641625.0
Mr ProspectorNorthern Dancer601525.0
Sadlers WellsShirley Heights942223.4
Southern HaloLogical1262923.0
GalileoDanehill Dancer761722.4
Sadlers WellsDarshaan1312821.4
A.P IndyMr Prospector1032221.4
Sir TristramSovereign Edition811721.0
GalileoDanehill2264620.4
MultidimensionalRazeen1132320.4
Storm CatMr Prospector901820.0
HussonetWorldwatch871719.5
DanehillSir Tristram911718.7

Not a bad table of stallions! Obviously the likes of Sadlers Wells has benefited from the fact that he was one of the first stallions, in Europe at least to have both a long career and serve plenty of mares, but he had to be a leading sire to do that so it is also unsurprising that he appears on this list. He has three entries and his Champion sire son Galileo (TrueNicks) has two. It is interesting to note that Sadlers Wells had success with both Shirley Heights and Darshaan while his son Galileo has his own nick with Darshaan mares just outside this list at 17.9% SW/Rns. There is of course a lot of nicks that are very successful, but have not been tried enough times to make this list.

As with all things, the list also raises a number of questions. Why was Danzig and Mr Prospector so successful? 37 of the 53 horses failed to become stakes winners, Why? Given that the sire and broodmare sire are fixed, was it something to do with the racing quality of the dam? Or, the foal rank of the foal itself? Or, what pedigree structure in the granddam, the only variation in pedigree terms in the 53 runners, was different and did that have an influence on the outcomes? All questions to be answered another day....

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