This is the time of year in which studs announce their 2016 fees. In the coming weeks, I will consider the prices announced by the major operators and whether they match my idea of value. In the words of Warren Buffett “Price is what you pay. Value is what you get”. I will begin with Europe’s dominant player, Coolmore.
Stallion 2016 fee (2015 fee)
Australia €50,000 (€50,000)- (2011 by Galileo ex Ouija Board by Cape Cross)
Verdict: I thought that there might have been a slight reduction in his second year but obviously they are confident demand will remain strong. Australia has everything you would want in a prospective stallion being a superior Derby winner out of an outstanding Oaks winner so difficult to really quibble with his fee.
Camelot €25,000 (€25,000)- (2009 by Montjeu ex Tarfah by Kingmambo)
Verdict: His reputation when he went to stud was a long way removed from what it was for most of his racing career. He was narrowly denied the honour of being the first triple crown winner since Nijinsky by Encke a horse who was subsequently caught up in the Mahmood Al Zarooni steroid scandal. On that basis you could argue that he represents good value, however to date Montjeu’s sons are more miss than hit, and he seems fully priced.
Canford Cliffs €17,500 (€12,500) (2007- Tagula ex Mrs Marsh by Marju)
Verdict: A good season with his first two years olds has seen him deliver plenty of winners (30 to date) and a good sprinkling of quality as well with two group winners in Painted Cliffs and Most Beautiful and a Listed winner in Aktoria. His sales results were unexceptional to date and I’m not sure his runners have done enough on the track to justify the increase.
Excelebration €15,000 (€17,500): (2008 Exceed and Excel ex Sun Shower by Indian Ridge)
Verdict: . A superb miler who was unfortunate to live in the era of Frankel. Excelebration’s fee has dropped slightly each year and his sales medians are unremarkable. Will have his first runners in 2016 so using him involves a punt on their likely performance.
Fastnet Rock Private (did not shuttle) (2001 Danehill ex Piccadilly Circus by Royal Academy)
Verdict: Had a good season with three Group 1 winners in Qualify, Fascinating Rock and Diamondsandrubies and a promising two year old in Turret Rocks. To me his overall European record is still modest given the quality of mares he covered in his first few seasons His last reported European fee was €30000 in 2011 and despite his recovery this season I wouldn’t pay more than half that for him and I doubt very much Coolmore would trade at anything like that price.
Footstepsinthesand €10,000 (€10,000) (2002 Giant’s Causeway ex Glatisant by Rainbow Quest)
Verdict: Has stood at this level for a number of years. Commercially is facing a decline in popularity as new kids arrive on the block. A reasonable stallion but wouldn’t be high on a wish list of stallions at that price.
Galileo Private Private (1998 Sadler’s Wells ex Urban Sea by Miswaki)
Verdict: For much of the season it seemed he was going to be usurped by Dubawi in the race for the title of European champion sire. However in the end it proved another remarkable year for Galileo who sired an incredible 10 Group or Grade 1 winners. His fee is rumoured to be around the 300k mark and although you could never say that such a fee represents a bargain it can certainly be justified.
Gleneagles €60,000 NEW (2012 Galileo ex You’resothrilling by Storm Cat).
Verdict: A dual guineas winner, first past the post in 5 Group 1′s and out of a full sister to Giant’s Causeway- what is there not to like? Well firstly his career ended in two underwhelming performances in the QE2 at Ascot and in an overly optimistic attempt at the Breeders Cup Classic. In addition the failure to run him from June to October using the ground as an excuse gave rise to a suspicion that he wasn’t quite the superstar his connections had described him as being. To me his fee is too rich and I would have expected at most a 45k fee. Given the choice of unproven stallion sons of Galileo, I’d opt for Australia over Gleneagles at their respective prices.
Henrythenavigator €7,500 (€15,000) (2005 Kingmambo ex Sequoyah by Sadler’s Wells)
Verdict: A better horse than Gleneagles but his fee has come down from an initial $65000 (when he stood at Ashford) to next year’s €7,500. The reason for the decline is simply the lack of sufficient quality offspring (c. 1% stakes winners!). His two year olds of 2016 will have been conceived from a 30k covering fee so he might show a small rebound but all aspects of his career to date show him to be a poor stallion that you could not recommend.
Holy Roman Emperor €17,500 (€20,000) (2004 Danehill ex L’On Vite by Secretariat)
Verdict: Had a very quiet year on the track in Europe and is proving to be an inconsistent sire. His fee deserved a bigger reduction than the one he received. His yearling averages held up well in 2015 but the market may not be so forgiving if 2016 does not prove more rewarding on the track.
Ivawood €9,000 NEW (2012 Zebedee ex Keenes Royale by Red Ransom)
Verdict: Really! Zebedee has had his fee reduced to €8000 and although this guy was classic placed and was the most expensive Zebedee yearling, his overall record shows that he never won after July of his two year old days and was beaten in his final 7 runs. His fellow Coolmore stallions should be insulted by his presence on the roster
Kingston Hill €6,000 NEW (2011 Mastercraftsman ex Audacieuse by Rainbow Quest)
Verdict: Unfortunate in that injury kept him off the track in 2015. Winner of the Racingpost Trophy at two, runner up to Australia in the Derby, winner of the St Leger and a close up fourth to Treve in the Arc. Ironically if he hadn’t won the St Leger his fee would probably be higher. His overall pedigree is unexceptional but given his quality as a racehorse I wouldn’t quibble with his fee.
Mastercraftsman €35,000 (€40,000) (2006 Danehill Dancer ex Starlight Dreams by Black Tie Affair)
Verdict: A stellar first crop saw him provide two classic winners in 2015 in Kingston Hill and The Grey Gatsby. Amazing Maria become the third Group 1 winner to emerge from that crop when she notched a Group 1 double in 2016. Nothing comparable emerged from his subsequent crops to reach the track which explains the reduction in fee. Still has a few crops conceived at much lower fees to work their way through the system so might be quiet for a period, before his better bred crops emerge.
Most Improved €4,000 (€5,000) (2009 Lawman ex Tonnara by Linamix)
Verdict: Although he won a St James Palace Stakes this guy must be a hard sell even for the Coolmore marketing team. A modest fee for a modest performer.
No Nay Never €17,500 (€20,000) (2011 Scat Daddy ex Cat’s Eye Witness by Elusive Quality)
Verdict: A big powerful precocious two year old who dominated his contemporaries in the Norfolk Stakes and the Prix Morny. To be fair he also showed useful form at three including when runner up in a Breeders Cup Sprint Turf. His sire Scat Daddy had a very good year in 2015 and his fee has been hiked from $35000 to $100000. Regardless its a no nay never from me at the quoted fee.
Pour Moi €10,000 (€12,500) (2008 Montjeu ex Gwynn by Darshaan)
Verdict: Interesting at the price but still not quite cheap enough to represent value. The expectation was that he was not going to sire two year olds so it was a bonus that he sired a nice Listed winner in Only Mine, however it is a decision for the brave to invest for next year.
Power €8,000 (€8,000) (2009 Oasis Dream ex Frappe by Inchinor)
Attractively priced for a Group 1 winning two year old who went on to win an Irish 2000 Guineas and comes from a strong family. I’d certainly use him over Ivawood.
Requinto €5,000 (€4,000) (Dansili ex Damson by Entrepreneur)
Verdict: Was an unusual Dansili in being so speedy and precocious (just like his dam). I have a prejudice against atypical sons of stallions so that puts me off him and I’m not sure what he did to justify an increase in fee for his fourth season
.Rip Van Winkle €12,500 (€25,000) (2006 Galileo ex Looking Brill by Stravinsky)
Verdict: Interestingly he remains the second highest rated son of Galileo after Frankel. Had a Group 1 winner in his first crop with Dick Whittington but had a very quiet year in 2015. Seems destined for export unless things change quickly in 2016.
Rock Of Gibraltar €10,000 (€12,500) (1999 Danehill ex Offshore Boom by Be My Guest)
Verdict: Overall record is modest given the opportunities he received. Has had his moments as a sire but not enough to still warrant a 10k fee.
Ruler Of The World €10,000 (€15,000) (2010 Galileo ex Love Me True by Kingmambo)
Verdict: A beautifully bred Derby winner who finished close up in a Champion Stakes. Being a half brother to the now South African based Duke of Marmalade is also starting to look like a positive after Duke of Marmalade had a good season in Europe. Obviously his merit is still unknown but he is competitively priced given his pedigree and performance.
So You Think €12,500 (€12,500) (High Chapparal ex Triassic by Tights)
Verdict: A big beast of a horse but hard to argue with 10 Group 1′s between Europe and Australia. I didn’t think much of High Chaparral as a sire and the Australian side of his pedigree will be unfamiliar to many here but did enough as a racehorse to justify his fee at least until his runners hit the track.
Starspangledbanner €15,000 (25,000) (2006 Choisir ex Gold Anthem by Made of Gold
Verdict: A quality sprinter on two continents and a very good first crop of two year olds. Didn’t have a similar impact with his current two year olds and some of the initial fanfare has faded. Also suffers from fertility issues so that will dissuade some mare owners but his fee probably reflects the additional risks.
War Command €15,000 (€15,000) (War Front ex Wandering Star by Red Ransom)
Verdict: An impressive Coventry winner and subsequent Dewhurst winner but one who disappointed at three. The War Front bandwagon rolls on, so commercially you can see how he would appeal.
Zoffany €45,000 (€12,500) (2008 Dansili ex Tyranny by Machiavellian)
Verdict: Probably surprised even his biggest supporters at Coolmore when he landed a Royal Ascot treble with Waterloo Bridge, Washington DC and Illuminate. Champion first season sire and plenty of runners who look like they will train on including Royal Lodge winner Foundation . Its a huge fee increase but you can’t say he didn’t deserve it.