2014 Plate Winner Lexie Lou: Under the Microscope

A closer look at the Queen's Plate winner's pedigree

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When Dr. Mike Colterjohn was alive, he loved few things as much as a healthy debate over pedigrees. It was a passion he shared with his wife, Dr. Moira Gunn, the other half of Queen’s Plate-winning breeders Paradox Farm Inc. of Caledon East, ON. “Mike followed a lot of the original theories of Tesio,” Gunn said. “I was a huge fan of Margaret Neal. Somebody who was hugely influential to me and therefore in some ways to Mike is Norman Hall. To me, after Tesio, after Margaret Neal, I think Norm Hall has had a real impact in the way we look at pedigrees.

“When you look at Lexie Lou’s pedigree, it follows one of the most basic types of theories, whether you go with Tesio, Margaret Neal or pedigree guru Norman Hall. Sligo Bay is line bred and in-bred to Nearco. His father, Sadlers Wells, is the same. So, what Mike did with Lexie Lou is he continued that line-bred to Nearco and in-bred her and he did it even to a slightly higher level.

“The pedigree on Lexie Lou is a classic that follows all of Mike’s theories…he knew she was the Nearco line. He’s really just taking the way Sligo Ball is in-bred to Nearco and then doubled up with the Camel line. Then you’ve got Sadlers Well to the father. So, you’ve got two patterns there that are showing you how that line wants to be bred. Now he’s come back in with Oneexcessivenite and he’s repeated the pattern.”

Hall lives in Prince Edward Island and is a noted pedigree expert of both thoroughbreds and standardbreds. In an email he wrote, “Sligo Bay is linebred to Nearco through his sire Sadlers Wells and his dam by Halo. He is also inbred to Nearco maternally through Halo’s sire Hail To Reason. Lexie Lou’s dam is also linebred to Nearco, so Lexie Lou, like her sire and, indeed, her grandsire Sadlers Wells, is also linebred to Nearco. In Lexie Lou’s case, she is maternally inbred to both Nearco and Camel since both Angelic Song and In Excess combine these sire lines. This repetition of linebreeding and related inbreeding was a favourite ploy of Tesio, whose approach to pedigrees Marg Neal and I both share.”

Yet, all the pedigree expertise in the world doesn’t guarantee a horse will be a champion. “Only a certain percentage of those animals are going to have the physical and mental capabilities to express their pedigree,” Gunn said. “One thing Mike, myself and Norman could all agree on: if the pedigree on the page isn’t properly put together, your chances of success are remote to none.

“When Mike was alive we had a lot of really, really interesting conversations.”