Brain International | Background
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Here is some backround information about the sytem of scientific pedigree analysis employed by Brain International. The system is explained more fully on the System Explained page and the Links page points to yet more articles.


Despite considerable advances in the field of genetics, geneticists have been unable to identify genes responsible for basic characteristics of the Thoroughbred such as speed or stamina. When you consider that in “time” terms the difference in speed performance between a Derby winner and a poor handicapper is only about 5 to 6%, this is hardly surprising.

In fact experienced students of the extended pedigrees of racehorses have much more chance of understanding which matings work, and what parts of those pedigrees contribute to such success, than does a geneticist. (The pedigree expert can be compared with the chef who understands how to cook the perfect souffle, while the geneticist is no more efffective than the molecular physicist, trying to explain why the souffle tastes so good!)

The Brain system of pedigree analysis

For this reason the Brain system takes into account the entire pedigree of any mating as the only logical approach to pedigree analysis.

The system extends the pedigree of a mare back a number of generations, revealing multiple repetitions of influential ancestors. Summarising these provides a clear picture of the main strengths of the pedigree. We call this numerical summary the “pedigree profile” of the mare. This exercise has been performed for over 3,000 current stallions worldwide, so to determine the most compatible stallions for the breeder’s mare, her “pedigree profile” is matched with all the stallions in the data bank within the geographical and commercial criteria specified by the breeder.

The Brain “Compatibility Rating” explained

The degree of matching between the numerical “profile” of any stallion with a mare is expressed through a compatibility index, ranging from a maximum of 100 to a very low rating of about 600. We like to recommend matings with ratings between about 105 and 180, but preferably higher than 150 – e.g.(105-150). Our research has confirmed that the greatest racehorses, almost without exception, are the products of a high degree of matching between the “profile” of the sire and the “profile” of the dam.

Indeed for any mare, in over 80% of cases, from all her matings, her most successful product will result from a mating which has a pedigree where the “profile” of the stallion has the highest degree of matching with her own “profile”. Therefore we encourage breeders to go to the recmmended stallions wherever possible, but also recommend that breeders combine other non-pedigree criteria with our ratings in making final selections.

We suggest that breeders combine other non-pedigree criteria with our ratings in making final selections.

Fashion and commerciality as factors in the choice of stallions

For short term financial reasons, many breeders’ prime concerns are to arrange for their mares fashionable, commercial matings, as opposed to matings designed with the main objective of producing fast racehorses.

In our observation this is false reasoning, as unless the “fashionable” mating is also by chance one which is genetically compatible, the product more often than not fails to look the part in the sales ring, and has little chance of making the grade on the racetrack. The breeder loses out twice over. (Over 30% of Sadler’s Well’s progeny never see the racecourse, while, to date, 53% of his progeny has never won a race).

The end result is that what was planned as a “fashionable” mating devalues the mare early in her career, a reputation from which most mares rarely recover

Conversely, we can cite many instance where a highly compatible, successful mating with a relatively inexpensive, low profile stallion, has set up the mare as a commercial proposition for the rest of her career. A prime example close to our heart was Petardia, sold for £126,000 as a yearling. We analysed the entire October sales catalogue for a client and our top rated yearling was the Petardia mating (by unfashionable stallion Petong, nomination fee £2,500). Unfortunately he proved too expensive for our client.

The concept of “Intrinsic Potential”

It is important to understand that our compatibility figures do not take into consideration the physical quality of the mare, or her intrinsic capacity to produce high classed progeny.

Thus, one mare of high quality will produce winners from relatively incompatible matings, and may produce a top class performer from a highly compatility mating, while others of lesser quality may never have the capability of producing winners, however compatible the mating.

What we can say, with some confidence, is that whatever the intrinsic potential of the mare (the combination of environmental, conformational, and genetic characteristics), matings achieving the greatest degree of compatibility are the most likely to optimise her potential.