What is ‘Pedigree’?
The term Pedigree is used in many contexts to refer to the family history of a particular animal, but is most commonly encountered in the world of horse racing. Pedigree essentially refers to all of the horses in a foal’s family tree, i.e. the two parents (the sire and the dam), as well as all of the other relatives on both sides.
In horse racing, the pedigree of the animal is everything; after all, if a horse has a very high pedigree, then it is likely to win races and that means big money for various interested parties. When buying a horse, a trainer or owner can examine the horse’s family tree. This will allow them to identify the parents and grandparents of the horse and to look at the racing track records of all the horses in the family tree. When doing this, something of particular interest will be the Timeform ratings of the foal’s family. If the relatives of a horse do not have Timeform ratings above a certain figure (normally around 80), then it is unlikely that they will be able to win races.
When a top racehorse is retired from the track, that horse will go to a stud farm. Stud farms essentially guide the reproduction process using two horses of a high pedigree, in the hopes that the foal will also be of a high pedigree and will go on to win many races, just like its parents.
Trainers pay hundreds of thousands of pounds to purchase high-pedigree horses and, because of this, the process behind the breeding of horses is incredibly complex and measured; much more than just putting two top horses together in a field. Statistical software is used, together with genetic analysis so as to ensure that the two horses being bred are, in addition to having impeccable racing records, also a genetic match.