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A Small Dose of Red Anchor

November 8, 2012

During the Spring of 1984, one horse achieved feats that still send chills down my spine.  Every now and again, someone will reply the old races and the mighty Red Anchor toys with his opposition.  Just how good he was we will never know as he retired to a seemingly stellar stud career.  And awaiting him was a bevy of quality mares in the beginning.  Numerous stakes winners and dams of stakes winners lined up for their date with the good-looking son of Sea Anchor.  His female line was very sound, with his dam, Decoy Girl, producing a stakes winning brother and stakes placed sister to Red Anchor.  His siblings have gone on to produce further Group winners in Market Price and Depeche Mode. Red Anchor’s second dam was a full sister to Pipe of Peace, that influential champion English 2yo.  But out of 537 live foals over sixteen seasons, Red Anchor got only five stakes winners, and only two of those at Group level.

What was it that caused Red Anchor’s stud career to fail?  Clearly his family was a quality one even if Sea Anchor did not prove a great sire of sires.  But to blame the influence of Sea Anchor seems a little narrow; after all he has produced a number of sire sons, even if they are not of the highest quality.  Red Anchor is no doubt among the most outstanding racehorses of his generation.

Apart from Sea Anchor’s failings as a sire of sires, there seems to be little in the stallion’s pedigree that gives a hint of his failures.  It features a number of sex-balanced crosses to very good influences including Hyperion 5fx5m, Fair Trial 5mx5f and Hurry On 6fx5m.  There are also some other influential names in Red Anchor’s pedigree such as Ribot and Donatello for example that could easily be bred to from a line-breeding perspective.  Similarly, the lack of Northern Dancer and StarKingdom lines would seem to have placed the stallion so as to represent a perfect outcross for many bloodlines.

The dosages of Red Anchor though give us a better indication of the difficulties he faced.  Red Anchor’s dosage profile reads for 4 generations:

 




CD
DI
Brilliant
Intermediate
Classic
Solid
Professional


-0.67
0.40
2
2
9
8
9



 

And for 5 generations:

 




CD
DI
Brilliant
Intermediate
Classic
Solid
Professional


-0.40
0.58
6
3
10.5
8.5
11



 

Red Anchor’s dosages clearly favour the staying type.  It is no surprise then that Red Anchor won the Victorian Derby and Cox Plate in his three-year-old season.  The evenness of the ratings though is interesting, and explains to some extent how Red Anchor was capable of performing over much shorter distances.  While influencing his own performance, this evenness is the key to his stud career.  As many of Dr Roman’s articles clearly show, many superior stallions contribute speed to the mating, while the mare contributes much of the stamina.  In the case of Red Anchor, his dosages indicate that even though he will be contributing across a range of ratings, his influence will predominantly be through the Classic to Professional areas.

It is no surprise looking at Red Anchor’s progeny that four of his five stakes winners came from damsires who contributed their brilliance to the mating.  Hasty Departure is from a Jungle Boy mare.  Jungle Boy is listed by John Hutchinson as an Australian and NZ Chef-de-race contributing Brilliant/Intermediate ratings.  Orsay is from a Wilkes mare with Wilkes contributing Brilliant ratings.  DubaiDesert is from a Kaoru Star mare, with the damsire again listed as and ANZ Chef with a Brilliant/Intermediate rating.  Highband is from a High Reserve mare, which is a son of Biscay, again a notable speed influence.  Navy Seal, the most notable son of Red Anchor somewhat surprisingly did not quite follow this trend being from a Shifnal mare.  Nevertheless, Shifnal was a StarKingdom line stallion and the pedigree featured an influential triple of speed influence, Fair Trial.

Looking through the list of winners sired by Red Anchor, again it is no surprise to find that he had most success numerically through damsires such as Bletchingly, Luskin Star, Biscay, Habitat and many other brilliant sires.

Alternatively, sires that introduced additional stamina to the matings such as Water Mill, Boucher and Sostenuto produced very average performers.  Even daughters of Crested Wave, who is an Intermediate/Classic Chef, failed to produce any worthwhile progeny when mated with Red Anchor.

It is important to realize though that the presence of speed influences in the matings do not guarantee a dosage profile that is what would be considered a sprinter or even a miler.  In most cases, Red Anchor’s offspring have retained their predominantly staying type profiles and the Dosage Index of most remains nearer to 1 than 2.  What this appears to result in is the offspring being quite unpredictable in their ability.  With the continued evenness in the dosage figures, I would suggest that in many cases it was specific factors in each pedigree contributing to the performance.  As I suggested in the case of Navy Seal, the combination of speed influences within the pedigree prevailed over the dosage figures that were spread relatively evenly over all influences.

Largely though it was this unpredictability that doomed Red Anchor’s stud career.  But there is another side to the story.  Because of the stamina that he contributes to his progeny through his dosages, Red Anchor is a totally different prospect as a broodmare sire.  Already his performances in this regard have far surpassed his performances in the breeding barn.  Daughters of Red Anchor have so far produced offspring such as Align, Hire, Nevet, Lease and Prince Benbara.

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