It’s in the Blood: Burghley 2019

Yeah I know, I’m slacking a bit on this one seeing as Burghley was 2 weeks ago. I fully intended to post this before we left but I had only gotten about 3/4 of the way through my spreadsheet by that point. And now I’m kind of glad, because I broke things down a little bit differently this time considering the heavy influence that cross country had, and looking back at the XC finishers and the top 12.

Image result for burghley horse trials logo

There was nothing particularly unusual in most of the statistics. By now, after doing these breakdowns on a lot of the big events, they are generally pretty consistent across the board. The average blood percentage (how much TB or arabian blood a horse carries in it’s bloodlines) of the starters – 62% – was a bit higher than we’ve seen at some of the European “majors” before (that tend to average around 57-59%) but a tad lower than we saw at Kentucky (65%). This is probably because with that big contingent of Americans we brought 6 fullblooded horses with us.  Fun fact: all 4 of the fullblooded horses that completed cross country were American (Vermiculus, Indy 500, Tight Lines, Unmarked Bills). Leamore Master Plan, who had the fastest clear round from an American, is 80% blood by full TB stallion Master Imp xx.

Leamore Master Plan

More interestingly, the average blood percentage of the top 12 was 73%… higher than the field average of 62%. However, if you look at the average blood percentage of the horses that showjumped clear, that dips to 57%.

The usual disclaimer about the facts and figures in this post applies: several horses, especially those of Irish descent, don’t have complete pedigree information. In those cases I have to exclude them from any datasets where I can’t verify the numbers or the parts of the pedigree I need. The record keeping (or lack thereof) around the Irish pedigrees is incredibly frustrating. Every breeder in Ireland will soon know that I’m a complete psychopath, because if I can find out who the breeder is I will definitely message them and ask if they know more about the pedigree. But hey it did benefit me this time when I saw that the winner was listed as being out of an “unknown” dam. I messaged and was told that they were fairly certain it was a full TB dam, but the ISH board was working to confirm that.

About 25% of the field had a full TB sire, where 40% had a full TB damsire. Sky Boy xx, Mr Prospector xx, Hoist the Flag xx, and Danzig xx all made multiple appearances, but the most common sire to show up in the first 5 generations was Nijinsky II xx, present in 5 horses. Lots of Northern Dancer (and Native Dancer).

Captain Jack, who carries Danzig and Nijinsky

While stallions are mentioned the most due to the fact that they produce way more offspring and therefore show up way more often, any breeder will tell you that mares tend to be more influential to the offspring. So it’s definitely worth mentioning that one mare had TWO offspring in this year’s Burghley field. Faerie Dazzler, who competed through 4* before becoming a broodmare, is the sire of Xavier Faer (by Catherston Liberator) and Faerie Dianimo (by Dimaggio). Faerie Dazzler’s dam, Mudlark (a full TB by Ben Faerie xx), produced two advanced level event horses herself. Great mareline!

Fairie Dazzler

As usual we have some stallions showing up more than once within the first few generations: Courage II is the sire of 3 horses (2 finished top 15, one DNF), OBOS Quality is the sire of 2 (the winner and one DNF), Fleetwater Opposition is the sire of 2 (both DNF), Mill Law is the sire of 2 (one top 20, one DNF), Cavalier Royale is the damsire of two and the sire’s sire of two (2 top 10, one top 20, one DNF), Marlon is the sire of 1 and the damsire of 1 (top 20 and DNF), Cruising is the sire of 1 and the damsire of 1 (one top 25, one DNF), Chellano Z is the sire’s sire of 2 (2nd place and DNF), and Master Imp xx is the sire of 1 and the sire’s sire of 1 (one top 10, one DNF). We’ve seen most of those names before.

This time I did a little more digging, looking further back in the pedigrees to pull out more sire lines. This was a little interesting. Galoubet shows up in 4 horses, Landgraf in 4, Capitol in 5, Ramiro in 6, Clover Hill in 9 (by far the most represented Irish horse), and Cor de la Bryere in a remarkable 13 horses. Five of those 13 are via his grandson Contender, who was by Calypso II out of a Ramiro mare. Even more incredibly, 6 of the top 12 horses – HALF – have Cor de la Bryere in their pedigree at least once.

Corde was a prolific showjumping sire, becoming a legend in the Holsteiner breeding history books. He’s pretty common in jumping pedigrees these days. And while he found much success being crossed with the Holsteiner mare base, if you look at his pedigree he is actually Selle Francais – and 2/3 TB at that. He is by TB stallion Rantzau xx. His jumping prowess combined with a good bit of blood seems to help make him a prevalent ancestor of event horses.

Vanir Kamira – winner at Badminton, second at Burghley – carries Corde two times via Chellano Z

The other more interesting thing (to me) that showed up was the representation of particular registries. For instance, 38% of the field had one full TB parent. When you look at just XC finishers, that number drops slightly to 37%. However, if you look at just the top 12 final placings, 50% of those horses could be verified as having at least one full TB parent.

We saw a  similar trend when it came to Selle Francais, traditional Irish Sporthorse (ie contains Irish Draught), and Holsteiner bloodlines. The percentage of horses in the field that carried Selle Francais bloodlines in the first 4 generations was 29%. For XC finishers that figure rose to 35%, and for top 12 horses it rose a little more to 46%. Same story for traditional ISH. The percentage of horses in the field that carried traditional Irish bloodlines in the first 4 generations was 19%. For XC finishers that figure more than doubled to 41%, and for top 12 horses it rose even more to 55%.  Holsteiner blood was also largely represented. The percentage of horses in the field that carried Holsteiner bloodlines in the first 4 generations was 49%. For XC finishers that rose to 55%, and for top 12 horse it went up to a whopping 73%. To lend some comparison, 17% of the top 12 carried Hanoverian bloodlines, and 0% of the top 12 carried Trakehner.

Santiago Bay and Gemma Tattersall

So when compared to the overall starting numbers, TB, Holsteiner, Selle Francais, and traditional Irish blood have a higher amount of representation in the top 12 horses.

But once again, even amid all of the more predictable pedigrees, eventing also showed some diversity, with an Arabian x TB cross (Vermiculus), a Connemara x TB cross (Feldale Mouse), and a Clydesdale x TB cross (Harelaw Wizard). Cross it with a TB and it still has a chance.

Wizard is hard to miss, there is a lot of him!

Next up on the In the Blood series we’ll be keeping an eye on all the Young Horse Championships that are happening in the next month or so, both here in the US and in Europe! Hope I haven’t bored everyone to death yet.

16 thoughts on “It’s in the Blood: Burghley 2019

  1. Vermiculus was bred by my good friend’s mom in southern Indiana. I wouldn’t quite call her a backyard breeder, but she’s not exactly a Breeder with a capital B either. Pretty cool to see that horse go so far.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Is “Nijinsky xx” actually Nijinsky II? Assuming so, I’d be curious to know what other Northern Dancer line stallions were represented beyond his sons Danzig and Nijinsky II.


    1. yes. There is a lot of ND if you keep going further and further back on a lot of these lines. I had to stop at some point (5 gens) lest it get too convoluted.

      It’s kind of funny because there was a lot of talk in europe a while back about ND not being the type of TB they wanted for sporthorse breeding (too QH-y).


  3. I would love to calculate the percentage of blood that my horse has, but I don’t have the slightest idea on how to go about doing that. I know current TB pedigrees like the back of my hand, but I’m extremely ignorant on reading WB registries/bloodlines. If you are interested in educating a newbie, I would love to learn!


      1. Would you check mine? I Think my horse Over The Moon , by Catherston Liberator is at least 67.26% TB, possibly more but I can’t track her dams dam’s dam. Poolmoor Dark Star, Irish Ballad, ???. I have all the others for this generation.


  4. Jampy was from the Cor De La Bryere line. And Rio too, but further back. I think Rio does have a similar look to Corde though.
    Also my takeaway here is that Trakehners aren’t any more useful as eventers… They sure are pretty though.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I believe that to be a Traditional ISH they can only be of Draught and TB ancestry, right? There’s a lot of internet chatter about how they’re being “ruined” with continental blood, although it seems to me as an armchair pedigree analyst if you kept up the Draught percentage a bit of Holsteiner or even some Belgian warmblood wouldn’t hurt.


    1. Yes traditional means no warmblood. You’re right it’s a big controversy, but the overwhelming majority of ISH at the top levels have some kind of continental warmblood (or are all continental wb with no Irish draught). I can see both sides. Adding some wb seems to create a REALLY good sport horse, some of the best in the world especially for eventing. But there’s also validity (IMO) of wanting to preserve the traditional breed.


  6. By Holsteiner, do you mean European or American type? No expert here, but my understanding is that in the U.S., many horses were allowed into the Holsteiner classification that might not have made it in Europe. Don’t know that was strictly true, though.


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