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When is a Nick not a Nick?

Nicks can be an important tool, but in most cases, their usage is proactive rather than reactive.  Let me explain.  Recently there was some talk of the apparently exceptional Redoute’s Choice x Last Tycoon nick.  According to figures published by RISA who I believe use the True Nicks system, this nick represents a sensational result of some 22% stakes winners to foals.  This is true, and simplistically put, it is a strong case for anyone lucky enough to have a Last Tycoon mare to send her to Redoute’s Choice.  There have been 24 Last Tycoon mares bred to Redoute’s Choice.  These have resulted in 45 foals, of which 34 have raced.  Of these 34 to race, 30 have been winners with 10 being black type winners.

Obviously they are wonderful statistics, but really what do they tell us?  The inference is that if we breed a Last Tycoon mare to Redoute’s Choice we will have a high chance of breeding a stakes winner.  Let us have a look at these stakes winners to see if Redoute’s Choice was really such a wonderful option.

Of the ten stakes winners, there were 2 Group 1 winners, one Group 2 winner, two Group 3 winners and five Listed winners.  Two of these Listed winners, by the way were out of the same mare, so we have only nine of these 24 mares that have produced stakes winners to Redoute’s Choice.  We will consider them all one by one.  For the record, these nine mares have twenty foals by Redoute’s Choice in total. 

Dariana is a Group 1 winner of the 2010 Qld Derby, and the Group 3 Frank Packer Plate.  She is out of a Last Tycoon mare called Beldarian who was actually bred in Ireland.  Beldarian was herself stakes placed and a half-sister to five stakes winners.  Her sisters have produced Group 1 winners and the family is that of international Group 1 winners like Beat Hollow, Reefscape, Oasis Dream and Zenda.  Dariana has also produced a stakes placed horse in the US called Macduff by Machiavellian.

Master of Design is the other Group 1 winner by Redoute’s Choice out of a Last Tycoon mare.  He won the Group 1 TJ Smith.  The dam is Urge To Merge who has had a further four foals by Redoute’s Choice, none of which have earned black type.  She is however the dam of Suntagonal, by Octagonal who was a Group 1 winner in South Africa.  Urge To Merge is a full sister to two stakes winners in Towkay and Tracy’s Element who went on to produce Typhoon Tracy and Red Element, and a half-sister to a further three stakes winners including the Group 1 winning Danasinga.  Urge To Merge is out of a mare called Princess Tracy, herself a Group 3 winner.


Drumbeats is the Group 2 winner of the Shannon Stakes.  His dam, Delicate Choice had only four named foals, with only two winners, so Drumbeats is clearly the standout foal of the mare.  Delicate Choice is the half-sister to a Group 2 winning, and multiple Group 1 placed horse called Delta Form by Marscay who raced in the US.  The dam of Delicate Choice is the multiple Group 1 winning mare, Arborea. 

Bonaria won three Group 3 races in Melbourne including the Mannerism Stakes.  Her dam is Decidity who was a winner on the track and a half-sister to the Group 2 winning Classy Fella.  Decidity has had eight named foals to date and has produced two other Group 3 winners in Legally Bay by Snippets and Time Out by Rory’s Jester.

Shaaheq is the winner of the Group 3 Victorian Thoroughbred Breeders’ Plate.  Her dam, Damaschino won twice at Group 3 level, once at Listed level and was Group 1 placed.  She has only had three named foals, another by Redoute’s Choice that has won 4 races, and a dual winner in Japan by Red Ransom.   Damaschino was out of the stakes placed mare, Princess Jocinda who also produced the Group 1 winner, Bawalaksana.

Chiaramonte is a Listed winner out of a mare called Chiara.  Chiara has produced three other stakes winners in Chinchilla Rose, a dual Group 2 winner, Ferocity, a Group 2 winner, and Leone Chiara who won at Group 3 level.  All three were by Lion Hunter.  Leone Chiara is now the dam of Star Witness, a Champion 3yo male by Starcraft.  The dam of Chiara was the Group 3 winning mare, Etoile D’Or. 

Estee is another Listed winner of the SA Guineas.  She was Group 1 placed in the SA Oaks, and also placed in the Group 2 Wakeful.  Estee is a half-sister to Empress Lily by Zabeel who was placed in the VRC Oaks.   Her dam was the Champion race mare, Tycoon Lil who had a total of three foals by Redoute’s Choice.  Of the other two, one did not win a race, while the other was sent to Japan.

Lucky Unicorn and Provence are full siblings.  They are out of the mare, La Bamba who has had a total of ten named foals to date.  She has also produced the Group 1 winning Inspiration by Flying Spur.  La Bamba has produced a further three named foals by Redoute’s Choice, two of which won races, and one that was sent to Thailand. 

Our final stakes winner is Metallurgical who won the Listed Hinkler Handicap in Brisbane.  He is out of the stakes placed mare, Lady Capel who is a full sister to stakes winners Palia and Just Awesome.  Lady Capel has produced four stakes winners in the Group 1 winning Casino Prince by Flying Spur, Group 3 winner Tagus by Encosta De Lago, and the Listed winner Lord of the Land by Timber Country.

I have little doubt that viable arguments could be made that these mares were among the best bred in Australia, and that perhaps we should have expected better results than those achieved by Redoute’s Choice.  In fact, in a number of cases, we can clearly see that the stakes winner by Redoute’s Choice was not the best progeny of the mare.  We also know that in the case of these 10 stakes winners, they have an equal number of full siblings that did not earn black type.

We have two choices.  We could believe some statistics that are clearly misleading, or we could actually research and analyse matings.  The simple way may sometimes be the best, but in the case of the thoroughbred, as is clearly shown by the successful progeny of a Redoute’s Choice x Last Tycoon nick, the simple way is not the best way. 

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