By Christopher Hector and Gemma Alexander
Photography: FEI/Martin Dokoupil
Around about this time (actually it is usually earlier, but there seems to have been a delay this year) the WBFSH stallion rankings appear, and with them the perennial complaint that they do not take into account the number of mares covered in evaluating the success of the stallion. It is a pity that we do not have a universal disclosure of how many foals each stallion produced, each season, and over the lifetime of their career, so that we could meaningfully calculate the success rate as a percentage of the foals born across all the studbooks.
There are partial disclosures, and some studbooks are more upfront than others. For example, the KWPN, last month, released a very valuable analysis of their stallions. It showed that of the 552 licensed dressage stallions with approximately 12,000 KWPN offspring competing at Z1-level or higher, the one with the highest success rate was – surprise, surprise – Jazz, with 666 offspring at Z1 or higher. The next most prolific was Gribaldi with 477, followed by Flemmingh with 378.
Using KWPN as a statistical example
The percentage that went on to Grand Prix would indicate that GP success is a tricky business, perhaps even the realm where rider/trainer skill outweighs genetics? Jazz is recorded with 131 Grand Prix offspring, that is just 4.2%, and he is the most successful of them all – although it might be noted that of the 666 offspring that made it to Z1, 19.669% went on to Grand Prix. Contango despite only spending a couple of seasons in the Netherlands before he was exported to the USA (and his semen did not freeze, so it was those first couple of seasons that counted), produced 24 GP horses at 3.8%.
The list then goes: Painted Black (21 GP offspring, 3.6%), El Corona (10, 3.5%), Welt Hit II (21, 3.2%), Aktion (11, 2.9%) Gribaldi (82, 2.7%), Krack C (39, 2.5%), Cocktail (13, 2.5%) and Chronos (13, 2.5%).
However we can push a little further and then we come up with a somewhat startling result. If we consider the number of progeny and the number that reached Z1 level or higher, THE MOST successful stallion is Sir Sinclair (by Lord Sinclair out of a Flemmingh x Le Mexico mare) with 21.9% of his progeny ranking at Z1 or higher – though scrolling through the names of the 48 horses by Sir Sinclair that have made it onto the Hippomundo database, I doubt there is one single name you would recognize.
The second best producer is Cocktail with 21.4%, followed by Jazz who is tied with Ziesto on 21.2%.
Ziesto (Lancet x Clavecimbel) is described on several databases as a Grand Prix competitor, if that is the case, someone neglected to inform the official FEI database, which records a couple of Inter I wins with Hans Peter Minderhoud, as the highlights of the stallion’s international career. Still he produced 104 offspring in the Dutch book, with 22 of them as Z1 or higher.
El Corona is at 18.3%, Welt Hit II, 18.1%, Painted Black, 18%, Krack C, 17.5%, Olivi, 17.4% and Cabochon on 17.2%.
It is harder to get a handle on the percentages for the German horses because while the German FN obviously has the numbers, the various studbooks will not let the FN make the numbers public....
We can get a good indicator by using the Hanoverian publication, Jahrbuch Hengste 2018. Thus as we look to De Niro’s entry we find he has produced 1,195 competitors (these are FN figures, so for horses from all the German studbooks, not just the Hanoverians) of whom 220 have competed at S level, that’s 18.41%, and we might note in passing that as you glance through the 34 De Niro’s who have won €10,000 euros or more, you do recognize a galaxy of international stars...