All ge­netic ducks need to line up


AS of now that out­stand­ing equine ath­lete Black Caviar is just another brood mare in a gi­gan­tic ge­netic pool.

As of now, de­spite her un­beaten race record she holds no ad­van­tage what­so­ever over any other brood­mare in that same gi­gan­tic ge­netic pool.

She’s got a mane and a tail and she eats hay, just like all the rest of them.

From its in­cep­tion the breed is lit­tered with ex­am­ples of “un­raced half-sis­ters” prov­ing to be much bet­ter brood­mares than their il­lus­tri­ous blood re­la­tions. Black Caviar is well and truly on her own in that big green field of dreams. How will she stand up? Put sim­ply Black Caviar is a brown mare foaled at Rick Jamieson’s Gil­gai Farm at Nagam­bie on Au­gust 18, 2006. She was by the speed horse Bel Esprit from the un­raced and un­bro­ken mare Helsinge.

She won each of her 25 race starts and the rac­ing world will be watch­ing and pray­ing for her over the next, hope­fully, 15 or more years to see how the genes crum­ble for this fab­u­lous thor­ough­bred in the breed­ing barn.

The genes cer­tainly crum­bled right for her on the race­track.

She con­sis­tently demon­strated she was a freak­ish gal­loper and so there­fore it’s not un­rea­son­able to as­sume that some­thing freak­ish hap­pened when the genes were stacked for the filly which be­came the idol of the race crowds.

Would it be pos­si­ble to ge­net­i­cally pin­point just where all that surg­ing bril­liance came from?

Cer­tainly not. It wouldn’t be pos­si­ble to pin­point where all that bril­liance came from with any def­i­nite ac­cu­racy. For a start we’re told by sci­ence there are 20,000 gene points in the equines. Most of us have a fair bit of trou­ble win­ning Lotto every week; the com­bi­na­tions you can get from just six lit­tle num­bers out of 45 usu­ally proves too much for us, and we don’t win it.

Do we ever stop to con­sider the com­bi­na­tions you can get from 20,000 out of 20,000 with the thor­ough­bred?

But never mind, with our own pe­cu­liar brand of mega­lo­ma­nia, let’s pre­sump­tu­ously look at it any­way.

The pedi­gree of the thor­ough­bred could quite eas­ily be de­scribed as a mil­lion in­ex­pli­ca­ble co­nun­drums rolled into one but let’s look at a few of the ge­netic op­tions which may have made Black Caviar so great.

Why not start with her fifth dam Folk Song.

She was a well bred mare foaled in GB in 1968 who won once from four starts.

She was by the “nerve case” cham­pion miler Tu­dor Melody who was from the Hype­r­ion sire line.

She did in fact hold three lines of Hype­r­ion’s sire the very suc­cess­ful Gains­bor­ough.

Folk Song was culled and sold in foal to a grand­son of Grey Sov­er­eign named War Path and fin­ished up in Den­mark. Yes, of all places Den­mark. That breed­ing back­woods, Den­mark.

(The out­stand­ing Nas­rul­lah stal­lion Grey Sov­er­eign in­ci­den­tally, was bred by an en­tre­pre­neur­ial young book­maker named Wil­liam Hill.)

If you were in Den­mark, a land noted for its fairy­tales more than any- thing, on the morn­ing of May 3, 1976 and some­body said to you “look here I want you to look at my lit­tle grey filly foaled this morn­ing.

“She is by War Path out of Folk Song and I am telling you Sir/Madam she will be a cham­pion.

“She will be a Group 1 win­ner and fur­ther­more within 30 years the fam­ily of this mare culled from Eng­land will pro­duce the great­est sprint­ing mare the breed has seen.”

No doubt you would have thought you were talk­ing to the ghost of Hans Chris­tian An­der­son him­self.

Only he could come up with a fairy­tale of this mag­ni­tude.

That lit­tle grey filly was named Love Song, and she did all of that. Com­ing out of Den­mark she did be­come a Group 1 win­ner and, af­ter be­ing pur­chased by lead­ing Aus­tralian breeder David Hains, she be­came the fourth dam of Black Caviar. Such are the va­garies of the breed. The thor­ough­bred has al­ways been known as the no­blest of an­i­mals.

The thor­ough­bred is the only do­mes­ti­cated an­i­mal bred as an ex­ten­sion of the way the species to which they be­long, fit­ted into the en­vi­ron­ment in the first place. All of them stand up. All of them stand alone un­der race­course pres­sure.

None bet­ter than Black Caviar. And now the great mare is well into the next stage of her life, lovers of the thor­ough­bred through­out the world will be watch­ing her and hop­ing and pray­ing for her.

For as long as Black Caviar lives, every foal she pro­duces, every time one of her sib­lings steps on to the race­track this Nagam­bie bred cham­pion will be head­line news through­out the rac­ing world.

Per­haps, when space per­mits, we could delve deeper into that mys­te­ri­ous ge­netic en­clave which is the pedi­gree of Black Caviar.

We could look at some of the great names which ap­pear in her pedi­gree, some of the com­bi­na­tions and du­pli­ca­tions which may have made her so great. And as her foals step closer to the race­track, car­ry­ing the bur­den of hav­ing her as their mother, per­haps we could look at what sort of a ge­netic pic­ture they present.

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