In terms of quality there isn’t a lot to choose between the rosters at Dalham and Kildangan. Dubawi is the key difference between the sides and Dalham currently has more elite stallions (Dubawi, Golden Horn and New Approach) than Kildangan. However the Irish operation probably has more strength in depth at the mid-upper market range. The fees at Kildangan for 2016 are almost unchanged from 2015 with only two changes. The weakness of the Euro should enhance the attractiveness of the stallions to UK breeders. Cape Cross appears to me as the best value proposition standing there.
Kildangan Stud 2016 fee (2015 fee)
Shamardal Private (€70,000) (2002 Giant’s Causeway ex Helsinki by Machiavellian).
The star of the Kildangan operation. A seriously good racehorse who won all of his 6 starts on turf including a Dewhurst, a French Guineas, a French Derby (over 10 furlongs) and a St James Palace Stakes. He is a consistent stallion who gets classy types across a range of distances and is currently showing a very creditable 8% stakes winners to foals of racing age . Had another good year in 2015 with 28 stakes winners in total . His older horses were best represented by two stars in Hong Kong in Able Friend and Dan Excel aka Dunboyne Express. His three year olds were headed by classic placed Lucida, Group 2 winners Balios and Dariyan. Best of all he sired two impressive two year olds in Cheveley Park winner Iluminate and the Champagne Stakes winner Emotionless who had looked awesome prior to his listless run in the Dewhurst. His strength in depth, the potential of his two year olds and his claim to be a sire of sires since the emergence of Lope de Vega are all justifications for a fee increase. The question however is how much of an increase and we are obviously entering the realms of speculation given the ‘private’ nature of his 2016 fee. So let’s speculate..:)
Looking around Darley are probably comparing Shamardal with Sea the Stars (2016 fee €125,000) and Invincible Spirit (2016 fee €120,000). However I think they should resist the temptation to match those fees. At first glance his yearling sales returns look impressive with an average of 215000 guineas in 2015 but surprisingly this is a reduction on his 2014 average of 237,000 guineas and his medians are a more modest 115000 guineas in 2015 and 140000 guineas in 2014. To me this restricts the scope for dramatic increases in his fee. In my view €85,000 would be a justifiable price, €100,000 would be steep and above that walk away. He is a fine stallion but not at any price.
Note that since I posted this piece I’ve been informed that Darley is operating a restricted book for Shamardal due to an injury he received last year so he is unlikely to be open to any outside mares (thanks to Donal McKenna for that update).
Teofilo €50,000 (€50,000) (2004 Galileo ex Speirbhean by Danehill)
An unbeaten champion two year old who was being talked about by Jim Bolger as a potential triple crown winner. In fact he never made the track at three. He has compiled a solid stud record with 6% stakes winners. Many of his best runners have been handled by Jim Bolger who still has a significant stake in the stallion. Teofilo had a good year in 2015 headlined by Irish 1000 Guineas and Yorkshire Oaks winner Pleascach and Group 2 winner and Sussex Stakes runner-up Arod. Had some nice two year olds as well with Group winner First Victory and a Dewhurst second and third in Massatt and Sanus Per Aquam. I thought he was pricey last year but I think his results this year justify his fee although commercially his yearling median of 66000 guineas doesn’t allow much of a margin of error for commercial breeders.
Exceed And Excel €40,000 (€40,000) (2000 Danehill ex Patrona by Lomond)
A successful stallion in two hemispheres a real two year old sire and commercially popular with a median of over 80,000 guineas in 2015. His best runners in 2015 were Coventry winner Buratino supported by other group winners Aboulie and Rouleau. However his total of European Group 1 winners is still a very modest three (Excelebration, Margot Did and Asi Siempre). His European fee started out at a modest €10,000 and I blame his success for all of the other reverse shuttlers that we don’t need 🙂 The market isn’t going to lose its preference for two year old sires any time soon, so commercially his fee is probably justifiable but at that price there are better sires of racehorses out there.
Dawn Approach €35,000 (€35,000) (2010 New Approach ex Hymn of Dawn by Phone Trick)
A champion two year old, a Guineas winner who won 8 of his twelve starts including four group 1’s. He was unbeaten in his first 7 runs until the sequence ended when failing completely to stay the Derby trip. His reputation was sky high entering the Derby, he rebounded to win the St James Palace Stakes only 17 days after the Derby, but his reputation dimmed with defeats on his final three runs. He was part of the superb first crop of New Approach and his dam is from a reasonable but not remarkable US family. New Approach has gone a little quiet after his first crop and I would have thought that Dawn Approach’s fee would have dipped because of this and as newer sires came to the market.
Night Of Thunder €30,000 (NEW) (2011 Dubawi ex Forest Storm by Galileo)
Somehow defeated Kingman in a quality renewal of the 2000 Guineas and among his other vanquished that day were Australia, Charm Spirit, Toormore, Kingston Hill and War Command. Ran well but unsuccessfully in a number of mile races in 2014 but returned to winning ways in the 2015 Lockinge Stakes. He failed to build on that success in two more moderate runs behind Solow before retirement. He cost only 32000 guineas as a yearling which was well below the average for Dubawi that year and surprising as his dam was stakes placed and from the family of Forest Flower. He is the first big winner to emerge from the combination of Dubawi and Galileo and this combination of the two best sires in Europe is likely to be replicated many more times. Night of Thunder is the best son of Dubawi to stand in Ireland which should help his popularity but overall I think he is fully priced.
Cape Cross €20,000 (€20,000) (1994 Cape Cross ex Park Appeal by Ahonoora)
The best value sire on the Darley roster. In 2015 he had another superstar in Golden Horn to rank alongside Sea the Stars and Ouija Board and yet his fee is unchanged. He had a total of 12 stakes winners this year and his overall stats now show 102 stakes winners from 1954 foals of racing age which is a credible 5%. In 2015 he also sired Karpino who was an unbeaten and impressive winner of the German guineas but unfortunately was not seen out again after May. Better still he has a live prospect of siring a third Derby winner in the Jim Bolger trained Moonlight Magic (Cape Cross ex Melikah by Lammtarra). Moonlight Magic was unbeaten in his two races including a listed race and is certainly bred for the job as Melikah (who was placed in the Oaks) is a daughter of Urban Sea so Moonlight Magic is a three parts brother to Sea the Stars. Age is no barrier to a stallion siring successful offspring and breeders should take advantage of Cape Cross at his bargain fee before he is retired.
Slade Power €20,000 (€20,000) (2009 Dutch Art ex Girl Power by Key of Luck)
Won 10 of his 20 races and his career peaked as a five year old when he notched a group 1 double in the July Cup and the Diamond Jubilee. He was a Group 2 winner as four year old in the British Champions Sprint a race in which he had broken his pelvis as a three year old. He was rated 130 by Timeform but his pedigree is very ordinary as evidenced by his price of 5,000 guineas as a yearling. Admittedly at the time his sire Dutch Art was available for only 6000 guineas but after a good start to his career he is now standing at a hefty 40000 guineas. I wouldn’t be rushing to spend 20k on an unproven sire from a modest female line, who cost 5k as yearling and who was at his best as a five year old over 6 furlongs.
Raven’s Pass €15,000 (€20,000) (2005 Elusive Quality ex Ascutney by Lord at War)
A good two year old who looked special in the Solario Stakes before coming back to earth with a third place in the Dewhurst behind New Approach. He took a while to get things together at three being beaten in his first four starts including in the Guineas, St James Palace and Sussex Stakes behind Henrythenavigator. However he finished his season with a trio of victories including defeats of Henrythenavigator in the QEII and in the Breeders Cup Classic run on a pro-ride surface at Santa Anita. He retired at a fee of €40000 and the fall to €15000 tells its own story. On the face of it his percentages aren’t bad with 5% stakes winners (13 from 244 foals of racing age) but there has been a real lack of high quality performers. His highest rated performer by the Racing Post is the very forgettable Steeler who won a Royal Lodge. Incidentally his sales averages were distorted by the insane 2 million euros that Moyglare paid for a filly (ex Spirit of Tara) from a quality Kilcarn Stud family at Goffs in September. Moyglare were clearly attracted to the dam of the filly and obviously weren’t bothered by her age (21 years old). Returning to Raven’s Pass, it’s difficult to see him resurrecting his reputation and getting improved results from cheaper books of mares so a definite avoid recommendation.
Epaulette €7,000 (£7,000) (2009 Commands ex Accessories by Singspiel)
A dual group 1 winner at 5 furlongs and 7 furlongs and a three parts brother to another Darley sire in Helmet. A grandson of Danehill and from a European family his pedigree should seem familiar to European breeders . Not too expensive but I’d still be very reluctant to use these unproven Aussies- he might be the next Exceed and Excel but more likely he will be just another failed reverse shuttler.
Hallowed Crown €7,000 (NEW) (2011 Street Sense ex Crowned Glory by Danehill)
Another dual group 1 winner who won 6 of his 9 starts. Its easy to see why Aussies would like this fellows pedigree- his dam was runner up in a Golden Slipper and his third dam Lady Giselle is the dam of Zabeel. The same comment that I made about Epaulette applies in this case i.e. he might be the next Exceed and Excel but more likely he will be just another failed reverse shuttler.
Shooting To Win €7,000 (NEW) (2011 Northern Meteor ex Listen Here by Elusive Quality)
Won a Caulfield Guineas. His sire Northern Meteor died as an 8 year old after a very promising start to his stud career. Northern Meteor is a son of Encasto de Lago so it is interesting that the Fairy King sire line might find a way to reestablish itself in Europe. Again the same comment about unproven shuttlers that I have previously made applies in this instance.
French Navy €4,000 (NEW – Darley Club) (2008 Shamardal ex First Fleet by Woodman)
Managed 22 runs and 11 wins in a career that saw him run every season between the ages of 2-7. Consistent at his own level but that level never went about that of a Group 3 winner. His pedigree is sprinkled with a few decent names and he is by a very good stallion in Shamardal who has already got a very good stallion son in Lope de Vega. Having him in the ‘Darley Club’ allows breeders a free return in years two and three and a lifetime breeding right thereafter which make him seem much more attractive for breeders on a tight budget. However before breeders get swayed by this marketing offer they have to ask themselves why, if they were unwilling to use a stallion for one year they would instead commit to using him repeatedly because he is part of a special offer?! Its a bit like saying you wouldn’t consider going someplace on holidays for a weekend but if the price is right you will commit to going there on holidays every year for the next decade!
Fulbright €4,000 (NEW – Darley Club) (2009 Exceed and Excel ex Lindfield Belle by Fairy King)
Won the Listed Woodcote Stakes and 2 and the Challenge Stakes at 3 for Mark Johnston before being transferred to Godolphin. He raced primarily in Meydan at 4 and 5 but without notable success. He is a half brother to two group winners in Baltic King and Domingues (both by Danetime) and Baltic King has compiled an undistinguished record at stud. Another very difficult sell to breeders and hence the use of the carrot of the Darley Club.