NoNoNorthern Dancer and Charles Darwin

It is a pity that Charles Darwin was not a horse-racing enthusiast as he would have had no need to travel to the Galapagos islands to perfect his theories. His Origin of the Species did of course discuss ‘selective breeding’ as opposed to natural selection and he once wrote that “Some dogs and horses are ill-tempered and easily turn sulky; others are good-tempered; and these qualities are certainly inherited”. You could point to Nasrullah, Roberto and Alleged as evidence of his prescience regarding ill-tempered stallions:) Although not a racing man Darwin’s interests weren’t always scholarly and his father once admonished young Charles for caring for ‘nothing but shooting, dogs and rat-catching and you will be a disgrace to yourself and all your family’!

In the thoroughbred population it is easy to see the heritability of desirable traits.  It is perhaps difficult to think of a better example of the efficacy of the spread of desirable genes through a population than the preponderance of Northern Dancer in the worldwide thoroughbred population. For a stallion who  sired ‘only’ 635 foals and was still covering in 1987 that is a rapid dissemination of genes. The effect is much more rapid than in previous ages due to our larger stallion book sizes  and the increasingly global nature of the stallion business.  Where once we could talk about French breds or German breds, as if they were quite distinctive, this is no longer the case. There are no distinctive ‘island’ effects anymore, with thoroughbred populations developing in isolation from the rest of Europe and the world, rather we have a homogenised European thoroughbred population.

It is interesting to consider those stallions that are available to European breeders that are entirely free from the Canadian super stud. There is nothing intrinsically superior about these stallions but what is apparent is their scarcity and modest stud fees. The passing of Monsun , the retirement of Dalakhani and the decline of the Ahonoora , Forli and Sharpen Up lines has seen the ending of our best ‘free from ND’ options. The best of the few remaining options are as follows (in no particular order):

  1. Nayef- 2016 fee £5000 (Gulch ex Height of Fashion by Bustino). As a four time Group 1 winner and a half brother to Nashwan and Unfuwain , there is much to like about Nayef. His stud career has been somewhat underwhelming but he had his moments. Tamayuz was a cracking miler and now has a promising commercial sire son in Sir Prancelot, . Gulch was a versatile son of Mr Prospector and Mr P will no doubt in time also become ubiquitous in US pedigrees.
  2. Rio de La Plata- 2016 fee €5500 (2005 Rahy ex Express Way by Ahmad) Rated champion French two year old after a win in the Grand Criterium he was second to New Approach in the National Stakes. He was second in the French Guineas and he picked up two Group 1’s as a five year old having ran 30 times during his career. Rahy is a son of Blushing Groom who sired the likes of Fantastic Light, Noverre, Serena’s Song and Mariah’s Storm. His dam was Argentinian bred and raced. His first two year olds have performed respectably in 2016 and he is an interesting young stallion.
  3. Lord of England- 2016 fee €5500 (2003 Dashing Blade ex Loveria by Los Santos). A group 1 winner at three in Germany he has compiled a respectable stud record. Dashing Blade is a son of Shirley Heights and thus Lord of England represents the Mill Reef line.
  4. Tagula- 2016 fee €4000 (1993 Taufan ex Twin Island ex Standaan ) A decent two year old who won the Prix Morny he has had a long stud career made respectable by two horses much superior to himself in Canford Cliffs and current star Limato. Taufan is by Stop the Music who is by Hail to Reason. Given his age it is unclear whether he will still be active in 2017.

Amongst the National Hunt ranks there are more options including

  1. Robin Des Champs 2016 fee private (1997 Garde Royale ex Relayeuse by Iron Duke). A decent hurdler but an exceptional sire with Quevega, Vautour, Sir des Champs to his credit. Garde Royale was a Group 2 winning son of Mill Reef who sired Carling on the flat.
  2. Flemensfirth 2016 fee €10,000 (1992 Alleged ex Etheldreda by Diesis). A dual group 1 winner and a top national hunt sire, his sire Alleged is from the Ribot line and his dam is by Diesis who is by Sharpen Up, both once prominent sire lines now in decline.
  3. Vinnie Roe 2016 fee €3000 (Definite Article ex Kayu by  Tap on Wood)- He wasn’t bred to be a stayer but he turned out to be a remarkable stayer. Definite Article is a son of Indian Ridge, a son of Ahonoora.
  4. Axxos 2016 fee €1200 (2004 Monsun ex Acerbis by Rainbow Quest)- A Group 2 winner and runner up in the Grand Prix de Paris, he is like many sons of Monsun being marketed to National Hunt breeders. There are lots of sons of Monsun on the market but most tend to have dams with some element of Northern Dancer.
  5. Gentlewave (2003 Monsun ex Saumerine by Saumarez). Another son of Monsun and a high quality one winner of the Italian Derby and runner up to Dylan Thomas in the Irish Derby.
  6. Gamut 2016 fee €3000 (1999 Spectrum ex Greektown by Ela Mana Mou). Winner of Grand Prix de Saint Cloud , however as a late maturing type he was unlikely to find favour on the flat. Has sired Road to Riches.

With the passing of time there will be no more options. On the grounds of age I have excluded stallions such as Turgeon ( 1986 Caro ex Reiko by Targowice)and Piccolo (1991 Warning ex Woodwind by Whistling Wind). There are bargain basement options such as Sabiango (Acatenango ex Spirit of Eagles by Beaus Eagle) and Major Cadeaux (2004 Cadeaux Genereux ex Maine Lobster by Woodman)- a winner of the Bet365 mile but yet to make any impact as a sire. There are also undoubtedly others that I have overlooked.


With each succeeding generation in a closed stud book, it becomes more likely that a major stallion like Northern Dancer will eventually achieve a presence in every single individual. What is remarkable, is the speed at which this has happened in European pedigrees for Northern Dancer. In Japan Sunday Silence is on his way to achieving a similar feat in an even shorter timeframe and Europe would benefit from importing some of his stallion sons and grandsons into Europe. The US has more variety and less domination by a single line. As mentioned at the outset I am not bemoaning the domination of Northern Dancer merely observing a change in equine history happening in fast forward. Darwin would have been impressed.

Account Hack

Apologies to anyone who was notified of a number of new posts on the website yet found nothing here except spam postings . Unfortunately I suffered a WordPress account hack but I have now regained control- normal service and postings about bloodstock (not offerings to write college essays for you) will resume shortly. For anyone who unsubscribed following all the spam postings it should now be safe to resubscribe.



Kildangan’s 2016 fees- Do they Exceed or do they Excel?

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.


Darley, Dalham, Dubawi, Dear?- 2016 fees

Having considered Coolmore’s 2016 fees, the  next step is to look at its main rival Darley. Darley spreads its stallions across the UK, Ireland and France and the growth in its roster sees no sign of abating. To facilitate comparison of the Dalham and Coolmore rosters, I have also converted the sterling fee to euros. The weakness of the Euro compared to sterling is significant in assessing their relative attractiveness.

Stallion 2016 fee (2015 fee)

Dalham Hall Stud

Dubawi £225,000/c.€320,000 (£125,000). (2002 Dubai Millennium ex Zomaradah by Deploy)

Verdict: His merit has never been really in doubt and had a superb season with 9 Northern Hemisphere group 1 winners including King George winner Postponed, French Derby winner New Bay, Dubai World Cup winner Prince Bishop and Juddmonte International winner Arabian Queen. A consequence of all this success is a fee increase of £100,000 over 2015.It looked as if he was going to dethrone Galileo from his usual position as champion sire but ended up as runner-up. To me Galileo still has the edge over his younger rival being a much better sire of two year olds and a lot of Dubawi’s Group 1 winners have needed time to mature (a topic I will return to in future).  My own suspicion is that Dubawi’s fee was set relative to Galileo’s reputed fee of c.€300k and was deliberately set above that level. This is a case of ‘mine is bigger than yours’ (fee wise anyway :)) although in my view his fee should be less than Galileo’s (and perhaps Galileo will be €350-€400k next year). Regardless, at this rarified level, financial concerns and mere 6 figure sums hardly matter for those using the stallion.

Golden Horn £60,000/c.€85,000 (NEW) (2012 Cape Cross ex Fleche D’or by Dubai Destination)

Verdict: Had an outstanding season on the track winning the Derby, Arc, Eclipse and Irish Champion Stakes. However his opening fee looks expensive to me. I would quibble with his lack of two year old form (just one narrow maiden victory) and the quality of his female line (highly respectable as his unraced dam unraced is a half sister to Coronation Stakes winner Rebecca Sharp but not an elite female line). His surprise defeat in the Juddmonte International, his erratic behaviour in the Irish Champion Stakes when he should have been disqualified and his defeat on merit by Found in the Breeders Cup also might have been expected to knock some more off his fee.  Given that he is an unproven stallion, his stud mate New Approach is better value and when you convert his fee to euros I think he compares unfavourably with Australia.

New Approach £60,000 €85,000 (£80,000) (2005 Galileo ex Park Express by Ahonoora)

Had a sensational first crop with three two year old winners at Royal Ascot (Dawn Approach, Newfangled and Tha’Ir) and his first crop progressed to annexed the 2000 Guineas (Dawn Approach), the Oaks (Talent) and he sired the Derby runner-up (Libertarian). He has not maintained this momentum and his fee has fallen back from the £80,000 he stood for in 2015 and 2014. This is a reasonable adjustment and although he is still not cheap but he is a fine stallion and is worth his hefty fee.

Iffraaj £22,500 €32,000 (£22,500) (2001 Zafonic ex Pastorale by Nureyev)

A one time champion first season sire by number of winners and a good sprinkling of high quality performers has seen his fee rise from its initial modest level. Had a pretty good year in 2015 with St James Palace Stakes runner up  Latharnach and some high quality two year olds in Group 2 winner Ribchester and Fillies Mile runner up Nathra. That said he never strikes me as a likely sire of a superstar and he seems pricey to me particularly in Euro terms as I would value him at no more than €20,000.

Sepoy £15,000 €21,000 (£15,000) (2008 Elusive Quality ex Watchful by Danehill)

A Golden Slipper winner at two who trained on to be a top sprinter at three. Sons of Elusive Quality have been largely disappointing at stud (Raven’s Pass, Smarty Jones, Elusive City) and at the price I wouldn’t be rushing to take a chance on this being an exception to that rule nor the modest record of most reverse shuttlers.

Poet’s Voice £12,000 €17,000 (£12,000) (2007 Dubawi ex Bright Tiara by Chief’s Crown)

A first crop son of Dubawi who won the Group 2 Champagne Stakes and two and went on to defeat a strong field that included Makfi and Rip Van Winkle in the QE2 stakes at three. Had his first runners this season and they performed reasonably well and more or less in line with expectations if you hold the belief that his progeny will progress with age (which I do). As a superior racehorse, and a son of an exceptional stallion with reasonable early runners he seems fairly priced to me.

Brazen Beau £10,000 €14,000 (NEW) (2011 I am Invincible ex Sansadee by Snadee)

A top Australian sprinter by a son of Invincible Spirit. I’m not sure we need all these reverse shuttlers but he earned a Timeform rating of 127 so his merit as a racehorse is not in doubt. If European breeders want to believe that overseas sprinters are genetically superior, who am I to stop them spending their money 🙂

Farhh £8,000 €11,000 (£12,000) (2008 Pivotal ex Gonbarda by Lando)

An interesting horse, lightly raced with only 10 runs over 4 seasons. His only two runs as a five year old resulted in wins in the Lockinge Stakes over a mile early in the season and the Champion Stakes over 10 furlongs at the end of the season. Won his only runs at two and three and showed progressive form and at four when he was placed in a number of Group 1’s. His dam was dual Group 1 winner in Germany and is compiling a nice record at stud with Farrh’s full brothers Racing History and Basem both being Group performers in 2015. This is also the family of Fame and Glory and Legatissimo. His pedigree with its single strain of Northern Dancer via Nureyev and absence of Mr Prospector makes him almost an outcross for the majority of Britain’s mares. I’m a lifelong fan of Pivotal but I don’t quite buy the description of him used by some advertisers of him as a proven sire of sires. This claim is based on the respectable record of Kyllachy and the good initial results of Siyouni whilst ignoring Excellent Art, Falco, Virtual, Windsor Knot etc. Farhh was a superior racehorse, but his lack of precocity might hinder his commercial appeal. Overall though his fee is not unreasonable at least until we have evidence to the contrary from the track.

Helmet £8,000 €11,000 (€10,000) (2008 Exceed and Excel ex Accessories by Singspiel).

Another Aussie Group 1 winner at two who trained on to land further group 1 success at three. His success of his sire Exceed and Excel has a lot to answer for in terms of all of these reverse shuttlers 🙂 His pedigree is very European looking from a well known European ‘A’ family that includes Annaba (the filly by In the Wings not the stallion Anaaba), Anna of Saxony, Ave, Anipe etc. There is nothing objectionable about him or his fee (and I would prefer him to Brazen Beau) but he just wouldn’t be for me.

Casamento £5,000 €7,000 (€5,000) (2008 Shamardal ex Wedding Gift by Always Fair)

By a very good stallion in Shamardal and a winner of the Racing Post Trophy at two and a Group 3 at three he earned his place at stud. He will have his first two year olds in 2016 so his merit will quickly be apparent. His fee last season of €5000 seemed about right to me, £5000 seems a little pricey in comparison but not outrageous.

Outstrip £5,000 €7,000 (NEW – Darley Club) (2011 Exceed and Excel ex Asi Sempre by El Prado)

A good two year old who won the Champagne Stakes, a breeders Cup Juvenile Turf and was third in the Dewhurst to War Command. He didn’t add to his success at three or four and this is somewhat reflected in his fee. He is well bred by a great sire of two year olds in Exceed and Excel out of a Grade 1 winning mare from the speedy family of Turkish Treasure. He is being promoted as part of the Darley Club which allows breeders a free return in years 2 and years 3 and if all of these are used then you get a lifetime breeding right. Whilst this is clearly a marketing initiative to help fill less desirable members of the roster (and I wouldn’t recommend it for some of the others) in this case I think it represents a  good deal for breeders with significant potential upside. If I owned a suitable speedy mare likely to produce two year olds I would utilise Outstrip (no sitting on the fence there) and if Darley want to use that quote please give me a call to discuss a fee!).

Next week I will look at Darley Irish stallions in  Kildangan…..

The A-Z (Australia-Zoffany) of Coolmore’s 2016 Stud Fees..

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.