It’s in the Blood: Fair Hill 3* and 5yo YEH Champs

Yeah I know, two boring breeding nerd posts in a week. Stick with me on this one though, because thoroughbred lovers, there’s fun stuff for you this time too! US events always have more thoroughbreds than European events do, and Fair Hill and YEH are no exception.

Small disclaimer, I did all these stats before we lost a few entrants before/at the first jog, but decided to leave those horses in the stats. They were interesting, and worth looking at, and well-qualified, so I think they’re still relevant to the data.

Image result for fair hill international

First of all, let’s look at the Fair Hill 3* horses.

Originally we had 41 entries, before we lost 3 at the last minute. 44% were bred in the US or Canada, with 51% originally hailing from Europe (the rest of either Unknown or from elsewhere, like Australia).

The most popular breed registry is Irish Sporthorse, with 10 entries, followed quickly by Thoroughbred, with 9.

The average blood percentage is 63%.

One stallion, Chacoa (who is by Contender), has two offspring in the field. Contender himself is also the damsire of 2 others.

Image result for contender stallion

On the thoroughbred side of things, none of them share any parents in common, but there are certain names that show up repeatedly across the nine entrants. Danzig shows up within the first few generations of 4 different horses, with Mr Prospector showing up in 3.


Now that I’ve broken down the breeding on 10 different upper level events (I haven’t shared most of them, maybe eventually I’ll make graphs or something and condense this stuff, as I have more data), the trends in the thoroughbred lines are interesting. You see Danzig a lot (he was the most common among WEG entrants as well, if you remember) which does not surprise me being a Danzig lover myself, but I have been a little surprised at the prevalence of Mr Prospector. He gets a bit of a bum rap, and I myself have even tried to avoid him in the past, but clearly having him in the pedigree is not a detriment. And I think it’s safe to say that he isn’t showing up repeatedly simply because he was so popular that he can’t be avoided. Storm Cat is super popular too but I have yet to come across him in the pedigree of the horses from any of the upper level events I’ve looked at so far (fear not, Storm Cat fans, you’ll feel better after we look at the YEH horses). Of course, Storm Cat is 13 years younger than Mr P, but only 6 years younger than Danzig, so I don’t think the age excuse holds much water either. I’ve also come across a fair bit of the Mr P son Fappiano (especially via Unbridled’s Song, another horse that gets a bum rap), Nijinsky, and Mt Livermore.

Aside from the 9 full TB horses in the field, there are 9 others that have a full TB parent. Of those, 4 horses have a full TB sire, and 5 horses have a full TB dam.

Image result for young event horse usea

Alright, on to the YEH horses! I only did the 5yo’s, because everything is just way too much of a wildcard at 4, but historically the 5yo’s have gone on to see a decent bit of success at the upper levels.Β  Again, I worked my numbers based off of the original entry list. These horses are, generally, a lot harder to track down since they aren’t at FEI level yet and therefore still flying under the radar paperwork-wise. Some of them I couldn’t find much on at all, but I was able to at least figure out the sire. I wish people were more diligent about entering their horse’s breeding completely and correctly, but alas, I digress.

While I wasn’t able to track down breeder information for everyone, I was able to figure out that the majority of the horses are imports. Of the 41 entries, I could only confirm that 12 (29%) are USA bred. Of those, 8 are full thoroughbred.

One of the thoroughbreds is actually by the same sire, Flatter, as one of my trainer’s OTTB project horses, which is probably relevant to no one but me, but hey fun fact.

Totally stealing him once he gets to 1* level, shhhhh tell no one

Among the thoroughbreds, Mr Prospector, AP Indy, and Storm Cat are quite popular within the first four generations. Mr P shows up in 5 horses, AP Indy shows up in 5 horses, and Storm Cat shows up in 3 horses. We also see some of the same names that we saw in the 3* thoroughbreds – Danzig, Unbridled, and Mt Livermore – but with less frequency.

There are some warmblood sires in common between our YEH 5yo’s and the 7yo horses over in Europe at Mondial du Lion, too – Diarado, Shannondale Sarco, and Zambesi in particular have offspring at each.

The showjumping stallion Verdi is the sire of two horses in the YEH 5yo field.

One of Dom Schramm’s rides, Quadrocana, is out of the full sister to Michael Jung’s phenomenal mare FischerRocana. Quadrocana’s sire is Quadrofino.

Fernhill Turbo’s dam, Royalty van de Heernis, also has an offspring competing in the 6yo class at Mondial du Lion with Piggy French.

I guess the reason I do all this is that for a long time people believed that you just couldn’t breed event horses. That, much like hunters, they were simply the castoffs from other sports, more like accidents that happened purely by chance. It’s obvious to most breeders by now (especially those crafty Irish and French), that this clearly isn’t true. It is entirely possible to breed eventers, it’s just not tracked and studied and logged the way that it has been with showjumpers and dressage horses for so many decades. Not to mention that our sport has changed a lot in the past 20 years, and the type of horse needed at the upper levels has changed right along with it. I find the whole thing really fascinating, and I’m striving to better my own understanding, because I think it’s really important – not just for breeding, but also for sport. Thanks for hanging in there on a subject matter that I’m sure bores most of you to tears. Fear not, I think y’all are probably off the hook for more of these posts until LRK3DE.

17 thoughts on “It’s in the Blood: Fair Hill 3* and 5yo YEH Champs

  1. it is amazing how even I know some of those thoroughbred bloodline names. Maybe you are rubbing off me a bit πŸ™‚ HA…and by saying we don’t get one of these posts until NotRolex does that mean you and I are going to meet up at NotRolex next year??

    Will have to see who comes out on top on the YEH. It was so much fun last year watching all three phases with the young horses!!

    Again so over my head but I love to read all about the horses competing like this.

    PS you think your trainer doesnt know you have eyes on her boy? HA


    1. Historically it doesn’t really matter that much (for the future, anyway) who comes out on top at YEH lol. The top half, maybe. But really we’ve had successful horses even from the lower placings.

      Yes, Trainer knows that Flat is mine. I called Dibs at Chatt.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. cool…cause you need something in between watiing for Presto to grow up. HA HA NOT you have Henry πŸ™‚ I just love that YEH program for nothing else but to watch the babies go πŸ™‚


  2. So cool! I think you are spot on. Breeding DEFINITELY makes an impact on event horses. I’m glad that FEH and YEH programs are helping create interest on young horses for the sport, and I hope that these program continue to encourage breeders to breed actual event horses. (Also, purpose-bred, ammie-friendly event horses would be fantastic hahaha)


      1. Whole-heartedly agree! And I think the old notion that “a crazy horse makes a good eventer” is dying too. I mean, I don’t think anyone has ever looked at Sam and Michael going around a 4* course and thought “That horse looks too hot for me to dare to ride”… At least, no one I know!


  3. It’d be pretty difficult to avoid Mr. Prospector in an ottb’s pedigree. It can be done, obviously, but he was a very prolific sire for over 2 decades, from 1975 going well into the 90s. And Storm Cat’s progeny really picked up in the 90s, too. Their influence is nuts.


    1. I’ve managed to avoid it with every single TB I’ve ever owned. No Mr P here! lol. But I guess I can lighten up about it. He even shows up in a lot of these pedigrees twice.


  4. I’m super impressed with your dedication to this topic. Although breeding/bloodlines isn’t exactly my cup of tea, and I am not in the eventing world, I think it’s crazy awesome that you are tracking such things, and doing it in a scientific and organized fashion. Props to you!!!


  5. I think Mr. Prospector gets a bad rap, too. I think paying attention to soundness in lines is important, but … honestly I the quantity of horses out of that line is staggering, and the number of those with soundness issues is … not holding up. But, also in a lot of American breeding it was hard to find lines without him. Things seem to have diversified in the US finally, though. Or maybe I just moved to a different area with different available horses. πŸ˜‰


    1. Yeah, Danzig had a bad rap for knee issues, but that hasn’t really seemed to pan out either LOL. What I definitely have seen is their propensity for kissing spines, but also it hasn’t seemed to stop them from being successful.


  6. I’m curious if you have an opinion on Alydar, I know he’s sired a lot of foals and he is my mares(Alyrunj) grand-sire. I dont know a ton about bloodlines so very interested to hear the opinion from someone who’s done so much research.

    My gelding (corslew bebe) has Seattle slew as a grandsire, which I’ve heard is great, but beyond that I’m hopeless lol.


  7. I love these posts and would happily read a blog of nothing but these, but like I said yesterday, pedigree nerd. I just think it’s interesting to be able to compare data for what a horse (or dog!) ought to be capable of and then how he actually turns out, and horse events give so many great metrics to measure strengths and weaknesses on. I keep thinking it’d be fun to do an EBV project with that data, somehow.


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