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PostPosted: Sun Aug 03, 2014 10:33 am 
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I am curious what breeders prefer to look at when considering stallions -- a nicking report or a pedigree analysis write up. I notice some stallion websites have both, some just nicking.

I must confess that I find nicking somewhat limiting but perhaps I am underestimating its usefulness.

Thanks,
Anna


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PostPosted: Sat Aug 09, 2014 12:26 pm 
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Anna,
While I am no expert on either approach to breeding, I tend to think a full analysis of the pedigree reveals a bigger picture than just a nick. I no longer own horses myself. What is your goal for breeding?

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PostPosted: Sun Aug 10, 2014 3:37 pm 
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Nicking approaches vary, but the general idea is evaluating a sire/broodmare sire cross by comparison to the sire's foals from mares sired by all other broodmare sires, possibly extended to the sire line over a broodmare sire line. This can provide some basic information but leaves out a great deal more, especially concerning the female family, and often isn't specific enough to be useful. I've seen cases where a mare from a popular sire line had positive nicks with every stallion in a given stud farm's barn -- not very helpful in narrowing down choices. Nicks can also be quite deceptive if based on small sample sizes (a single good runner can really skew a "nick" based on a handful of foals, yet may be no more than a chance result) or on too broad a perspective. A statement such as "Mr. Prospector over Northern Dancer is a good nick" is too broad to be very useful without specifying which branches of Mr. Prospector work best with which branches of Northern Dancer. At best, a nick rating can be a starting point but isn't enough information on which to base a mating decision.

There's a reason why serious pedigree analysts charge $250-$400 to analyze a mare's pedigree and make recommendations; it can easily take 10 to 20 hours to study a pedigree and look for stallions that complement multiple aspects of the mare's bloodlines and not just her sire line. Most of the good ones in the business also have a sound working knowledge of conformation and take that into account when recommending matings. But fair warning: there are no licensing requirements for pedigree analysts, so ask around before hiring one.

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PostPosted: Wed Aug 27, 2014 7:25 pm 
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I would add that some insights offered free on this forum (like Mahubah and Bill from Wa) are worth as much or more than what the experts are getting paid for them. The problem is not all such opinions are of value and the challenge is figuring out which is which. That said, I've read through a lot of Bloodhorse graded stakes results just looking at the True Nick ratings and by far they are way above the average so it would be foolish to at least not consider it. But the discussion in another thread on great broodmares shows how a kind of potency can remain in a broodmares extended family too - it's not just the sires. Finally, it depends upon your orientation. If you breed commercially because so many rely on nicks, you can't afford to swim against that current. On the other hand if you race - then roll the dice on the unusual combinations that don't follow the normal patterns and try to get lucky. Most go broke before that and even if they do succeed they are considered 'flukes'. If I had the budget for it, there's a lot of stuff I would be trying...

jm

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PostPosted: Thu Aug 28, 2014 1:50 am 
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A nick can only give you 75% of the picture.

The sire gives 50% and mare sire's 25% of the genetic material.

Nicks are real time analysis of what is happening on the racetrack - anyone who doesn't believe in nicks doesn't believe in the results at the racetrack.

Nicks are produced from results.

Take a look at Bernardini with a Carson City mare or Lemon Drop Kid with Tale of the Cat mare.

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PostPosted: Thu Aug 28, 2014 10:51 am 
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Whoa there Dub - your percentages are all outa whack as are a few of your assumptions.

Nicking considers only the males in the pedigree, so theoretically at best it considers only 50% of the genetic material in the pedigree. In reality, most nicks consider the sire's sire (Grandsire) and his results with the sire or grandsire of the mare, or 25% or less of the genetic material in the pedigree.

Why is nicking popular? Because it is easy to understand and offers an easily understood "A, B, C" grading system.

Why does every stud farm offer free nicking to their stallions? Because they are in the business of selling seasons.

Is nicking "real time analysis" of what is happening on the racetrack? My gut reaction is "no" because of the points above regarding the infrequency of immediate sires being used "to grade the nick" and the lack of any weight given to the females....but will have to consider this statement a bit longer.

Finally consider that the "nick" most often used to "sell nicking" is that of Seattle Slew with Mr. Prospector - do the nick people ever mention the pairing of these sires is actually linebreeding to Myrtlewood, the tail female ancestor of both sires?

By the way linebreeding to Myrtlewood is also a significant part of any Bernardini/Carson City pairing; and both the Bernardini/Carson City and Lemon Drop Kid/Tale of The Cat "nicks" are quite obviously linebreeding to Mr. Prospector (and Northern Dancer in the LDK/TOTC "nick".

The late, great Olin Gentry said "return the best blood of the mare to the mare" when asked how to mate mares. When asked how to make a stallion he said "return the best blood of the stallion to the stallion" - sounds like a linebreeder to me. Hard to argue with his success with Col. E.R. Bradley's Idle Hour and John Galbreath's Darby Dan.

Nicking may be a tool for breeders, but I believe there are better tools to use when mating mares.

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PostPosted: Thu Aug 28, 2014 11:06 am 
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While I agree with almost everything Joltman has said, I must take issue with the statement "if you breed commercially because so many rely on nicks".

As a purchasing agent I can tell you that the "nick" is never a factor I consider. I think you would be hard pressed to find a professional agent that considers the "nick" when purchasing weanlings, yearlings, 2 year olds or in foal broodmares.

While some may use the nick when mating mares, once the horses get to the sales ring professional buyers select based upon physical conformation, with pedigree determining how much one is willing to pay for the horse. As is the case with all such "blanket statements", there are a few exceptions and special cases. However I have never heard an agent discuss the "nick" of a sales horse - comments generally regard physical features (i.e. balance, hip, walk, etc) with occasional reference to a similarity with a related significant racehorse.

In other words, I don't think "nicks" help a horse to be more commercial because the vast majority of buyers do not consider them at all.

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PostPosted: Thu Aug 28, 2014 1:10 pm 
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Further comment regarding the Lemon Drop Kid/Tale of The Cat "nick" - not only id it linebreeding to Mr. Prospector & Northern Dancer, it is also linebreeding to Round Table and his full sister Monarchy.

Mahubah said it nicely, nicking is only the tip of the iceberg, pedigree analysis is a much more thorough and effective mating tool. Often what makes the "nick" work in specific cases is not there in all cases of a sire with a sire.

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PostPosted: Fri Aug 29, 2014 6:47 am 
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da hossman wrote:
Is nicking "real time analysis" of what is happening on the racetrack? My gut reaction is "no" because of the points above regarding the infrequency of immediate sires being used "to grade the nick" and the lack of any weight given to the females....but will have to consider this statement a bit longer.



If the anwser is no - where else do the results come from?
From what I am led to believe thoroghbred racehorses do actually "race".

A nick is successful because of results at the racetrack or unsuccesful because of results at the racetrack.

When you eventually realise this we can discuss basic math and percentages used in nicking and pedigree and then sirelines (3 of them only) the female families (43).

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PostPosted: Tue Sep 02, 2014 4:27 am 
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There is no doubt that nick ratings are based on the pedigrees of horses who won races. But the nick is very often based on some slim findings in those pedigrees ie: this sireline over that sireline, not this sire over that damsire. Nicks are extremely simplistic statistics that I put in the "nice to know" category when planning a mating. IE: It is nice to know that a few mares from that sire line, bred to this sire line, produced a few graded stakes winners. Nicks do not, however, take into account the number of times the cross was tried. The whole pedigree of both the stallion and the mare produce a better picture for me.

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PostPosted: Thu Sep 04, 2014 6:33 am 
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David Dinks, who takes great delight in puncturing breeding theories with mathematical logic and then publishing the results on his blog, Boojum's Bonanza, is finally turning his attention to Nicks. Stay tuned.

http://ddink55.wordpress.com/2014/09/03 ... -of-worms/

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PostPosted: Thu Sep 04, 2014 9:57 am 
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A nick is a statistical evaluation. It tells you that X stallion crossed over mares of Y broodmare sire (or some variant thereof) has a very high rate of success, aka the foals run fast and win stakes. It doesn't tell you WHAT in that particular pedigree makes it so, and it doesn't tell you anything about the individual strengths and weaknesses of the actual horses involved.

Case in point: Lonhro and Night Shift. Lonhro has 8 winners out of 9 foals of racing age in this database alone out of Night Shift mares, including Gr-1 winners Beaded and Mental, Gr-2 winner Parables, Gr-3 winner Trim, Listed winner Dysphonia, and gallant handicapper Tahitian Black, who has run out about AUS$250,000 in a 41-race career. That's an astounding strike rate, even considering the mares he received.

So is it Northern Dancer-line mares? No....he saw plenty of Danehill and Danzig and Royal Academy. It turns out that it's the Ciboulette line.

The nick tells you there's something to look at. It's the research that tells you what it is.


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PostPosted: Thu Sep 04, 2014 12:22 pm 
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kimberley mine wrote:
A nick is a statistical evaluation.
It tells you that X stallion crossed over mares of Y broodmare sire (or some variant thereof) has a very high rate of success, aka the foals run fast and win stakes.

Case in point: Lonhro and Night Shift.


Thats it no need to mention anything else you summed up a nick perfectly no need to mention anything else.

By bringing in other variants of sirelines like Danehill and Danzig etc is a pointless exercise remember the mare is by Night Shift.

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PostPosted: Thu Sep 04, 2014 4:25 pm 
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da hossman wrote:
While I agree with almost everything Joltman has said, I must take issue with the statement "if you breed commercially because so many rely on nicks".

As a purchasing agent I can tell you that the "nick" is never a factor I consider. I think you would be hard pressed to find a professional agent that considers the "nick" when purchasing weanlings, yearlings, 2 year olds or in foal broodmares.

While some may use the nick when mating mares, once the horses get to the sales ring professional buyers select based upon physical conformation, with pedigree determining how much one is willing to pay for the horse. As is the case with all such "blanket statements", there are a few exceptions and special cases. However I have never heard an agent discuss the "nick" of a sales horse - comments generally regard physical features (i.e. balance, hip, walk, etc) with occasional reference to a similarity with a related significant racehorse.

In other words, I don't think "nicks" help a horse to be more commercial because the vast majority of buyers do not consider them at all.


I concur that the physical, at the sale , is everything - but I've just heard from people I know that they are looking for certain sire lines, and with those lines there are bm sire lines that are believed to be advantageous and I think that biases somewhat what some may look at when purchasing. They Nicks guys are making money in part because there are people that use them in buying, and that influences what sires the breeders breed to. But I think you're right, that they're not running around talking about Nicks at the sale.

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PostPosted: Fri Sep 05, 2014 10:10 pm 
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Quote:
They Nicks guys are making money in part because there are people that use them in buying, and that influences what sires the breeders breed to.


That, and nicks are a simple metric to evaluate success. With thousands of broodmares and hundreds of stallions, having a method to quickly sort what has worked in the past vs. untried/not working is a useful thing.


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