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…..

breeze up sales- ready to run?

Breeze up sales were a logical development. One of the supposed advantages  is that the horses offered are almost ready to run.  I put this assumption to the test in this month’s International Thoroughbred magazine.  To read the article follow the link and go to pages 50-52

http://www.issuu.com/international_thoroughbred/docs/issuu_april

Coolmore-dominance in decline?

Back in April 2010 everything must have seemed rosy down in Tipperary. Eskendereya (Giant’s Causeway ex Aldebaran Light by Seattle Slew) looked set to finally provide one of their sires with a coveted Kentucky Derby victory. In Europe, St Nicholas Abbey (Montjeu ex Leaping Water by Sure Blade) was favourite for the Guineas and Derby. Galileo, Montjeu and Danehill Dancer were established members of Europes elite and the stallion roster contained plenty of unproven but exciting young stallions.

Fast forward to November and just like the Irish economy, things are looking somewhat grim despite Galileo helping them to an incredible 21st consecutive UK & Ireland sires championship. Galileo had a stellar year with Cape Blanco, Rip Van Winkle, Sans Frontiere, Lily of the Valley and three Group 1 winning 2 year olds in Play Misty for Me, Frankel and Roderic O’ Connor. It was a season comparable with any that Sadler’s Wells enjoyed in his heyday. That however is the end of the good news. After a recent stud visit one source told me that Galileo seemed to be in poor physical shape and had lost a lot of condition. If anything was to restrict his capacity to serve large books next year it would be a serious setback.

Montjeu

Montjeu had a disappointing year. St Nicholas Abbey failed to reappear after his Guineas fifth and Jan Vermeer was somewhat disappointing. Fame & Glory did add two Group 1’s but his season ended in disappointment in the Arc. Joshua Tree won the Canadian International but no obvious stars emerged from his two year old crop. He hasn’t suddenly become a bad sire but a Guineas win for St Nicholas Abbey would have helped fill one of the major gaps in his cv. The other gap is of course his relative lack of success with fillies, something which reduces his popularity with breeders.

Danehill Dancer

Danehill Dancer had two Group 1 winning fillies in Lilly Langtry (ex Hoity Toity by Darshaan) and Ave (ex Anna Amalia by In The Wings). However his results did not do enough to justify his private fee and to my mind he ranks behind Dansili, Pivotal, Dubawi and Oasis Dream amongst the top miler sires in Europe. Although they still refer to him as the best sire son of Danehill in Europe, Coolmore are aware of his limitations. This is evidenced through their use of Dansili rather than Danehill Dancer for many of their elite mares .

The Young Guns

Oratorio and Footstepsinthesand both had their first crop of three year olds. Both could have been expected to see their offspring improve with age. Both disappointed and they now seem pricey at €15000 and €12500 respectively. It would be no surprise to see either or both sold abroad.

Amongst the first season sires there were no fireworks and no Group 1 winners. Holy Roman Emperor (Danehill ex L’On Vite by Secretariat) came second to Iffraaj but there was a distinct lack of quality amongst the quantity. Aussie Rules (Danehill ex Last Second by Alzao) probably did best of the newcomers with a few Group horses included amongst his winners. Hurricane Run (Montjeu ex Hold On by Surumu) did ok considering no one really expected him to get precocious types. Ad Valorem (Danzig ex Classy Women by Relaunch) produced nothing of note and a similar comment applies to Ivan Denosovich (Danehill ex Hollywood Wildcat by Kris S) who will probably be moved on quickly.

middle of the road sires

There is nothing wrong with Peintre Celebre (fee €15,000), Rock of Gibraltar (fee 22,500) or High Chaparral (€15,000) as stallions but their limitations are evident at this stage. High Chaparral should be moved permanently to Coolmore Australia where he is so much more successful and highly regarded.

Next Year

2011 sees the first runners for Strategic Prince (Dansili ex Ausherra by Diesis) and Dylan Thomas (Danehill ex Lagrion by Diesis). It has been a number of years since Coolmore have unearthed a promising new sire and the odds are against Strategic Prince making the breakthrough. Dylan Thomas has the advantage of plenty of well credentialled mares but there is a bias against the staying sons of Danehill.

The end comes quickly

Coolmore has dominated the European scene for so long that it is unsurprising that we start to raise eyebrows at any erosion of its dominance. In 2006, 2007 and 2008 they had 5 of the top 6 stallions in the UK and Irish rankings. In 2009 they had 3 of the top 6 and in 2010 this was down to 2 of the top 6. Their stranglehold has ended.

Reasons for decline.

1.It was inevitable that the massive Arab investment in bloodstock would eventually unearth some top class stallions. This year was a very good year for Darley. Amongst their young stallions Dubawi emerged as a superstar and Shamardal had a fine year. Iffraaj took first season sire honours. King’s Best had two Derby winners in Workforce and Eishin Flash. Cape Cross produced another top class colt in Behkabad. In addition Sheikh Mohammed owns significant stakes in “independent stallions” Invincible Spirit and Pivotal who were 6th and 11th respectively in this years Irish/UK sire table. Juddmonte are sitting pretty with two outstanding young stallions in Dansili and Oasis Dream.

2. You can’t just go out a find a replacement for either Sadlers Wells or Danehill:)

3.Too many eggs in one basket. The Coolmore roster was incredibly top heavy with sons of Danehill, and except for Danehill Dancer they have failed to strike gold with them. The assertion that he is an outstanding sire of sires is open to debate in a European context. Their faith in Danehill Dancer to found a sireline via Mastercraftsman, Choisir and Choisir’s son Starspangledbanner may also prove misguided.

4. Competitors have upped their game in terms of PR, marketing and deal making. Coolmore PR is also becoming a little jaded and it is starting to invite cynicism everytime we hear AP O’Brien describe his latest winner as showing”incredible natural speed but he is so relaxed and settles so well that you could run him in either the July Cup or the Ascot Gold Cup!”

5. The Maktoum boycott didn’t help and would have influenced some breeders decisions

6. The euro sterling exchange rate rose considerably over the noughties with a particularly sharp spike in 2008. This made using Coolmore stallions more expensive for UK breeders.

7. Lack of outcross options. All of the current stallions are Northern Dancer line stallions and breeders will want more options in time

The future

A world leader like Coolmore doesn’t just suddenly disappear into oblivion. Galileo is still only 12 and is poised for a period of dominance. However apart from Montjeu the supporting cast appears weak and similarly their American roster is unexceptional apart from Giants Causeway. However they still have the financial resources to buy the best yearlings and the best trainer in the world to manage them. The ending of the partnership with Johnny Murtagh indicates the pressure that is on everyone to produce results- 14 Group 1 wins this year was still deemed a disappointing year. Their dominance might be in relative decline but they are still the best in the game.

A vintage crop?

When we think of races involving horses that became successful stallions, the standout event is the 1984 French Derby that famously saw Darshaan defeat Sadler’s Wells and Rainbow Quest.  The 1996 July Cup won by Anabaa, had Danehill Dancer and Pivotal back in fifth and sixth places.  It is early days yet, but we might soon be adding races from the 2005 season to the above list as the likes of Dubawi, Shamardal,  Oratorio, Motivator and Footstepsinthesand were all in their classic year, whilst Azamour was enjoying a very successful four year old season. Arakan never competed against the aforementioned horses but he is also enjoying a good start with his first three year olds.

The above thoughts are prompted by the results of the French 2000 Guineas which resulted in a 1-2-3 for second season sires with Lope de Vega (by Shamardal), defeating Dick Turpin (Arakan ex Merrily by Sharood) and Shamalgan (Footstepsinthesand ex Genevale by Unfuwain). Following on from the classic successes of Dubawi’s offspring Makfi and Worthadd and some promising results for Azamour and Oratorio, it looks as if we have an unusually large number of promising sires coming on stream at once. It is much too early to be dogmatic about any of these sires but we can make some reasonable assumptions.

1. Arakan is the least likely to succeed. In one sense he has already surpassed expectations and he has sired a horse (Dick Turpin) of superior racing merit to himself. Arakan never won above Group 3 level despite being kept in training until the age of five, and as a son of Nureyev (who many regard with suspicion as a sire of sires) he didn’t immediately appeal as a likely sire success. The challenge will be to remain above the radar for the next few years until he can hopefully capitalise on the success of Dick Turpin.

2. Motivator has been plagued by bad luck. Injury restricted his first crop size and he has now missed the 2010 breeding season.  He had some promising two year olds last year notably Pollenator and Prompter and he seems capable of getting a decent horse but in a fickle market place he needs a big horse to appear quickly.

3. Azamour seems the best source of quality stamina at this stage. Despite being a son of Night Shift who sired more than his fair share of sprinters the early signs are that Azamours progeny will stay as well as he did himself. To date he has sired two Derby trial winners in Azmeel and Puncher Clynch. Eleanora Duse also ran well when a close third in the Musidora Stakes.

4.  Darley are currently outscoring Coolmore amongst the younger brigade.  The achievements to date of Dubawi outrank those of any of the other sires listed. Shamardal has also achieved more than  Coolmore’s Oratorio or Footstepsinthesand.  Coolmore will be hoping that Steinbeck can be the big horse that Footstepsinthesand needs, whereas Oratorio looks as if he has a good spread of possible top horses with Lolly for Dolly being a contender for the Irish Guineas and Fencing Master and Beethoven could add to last years achievements.  I doubt if they are panicking in Tipperary but it does seem to be a few years since they have added a real star to their roster.

A strange sequence of events-1000, 2000, 2010 Guineas

Our friends in the States may not agree, but they have their classic programme in the wrong order. Having the Kentucky Derby as the opening classic is like having your main course first.  In Europe, we have the Guineas for starters, building up to the main course of the Derby and then we allow plenty of time for digestion, before the dessert of the St Leger.  This years Guineas weekend belonged to the masters of fine dining, the French.

The 2000 Guineas- Derby pointers

The hope and hype from Ballydoyle was that St Nicholas Abbey would continue his unbeaten run and ultimately become the first triple crown winner since Nijinsky in 1970. Alas for his followers, the wait for a son of Montjeu who can excel over a mile will continue. However, unlike everything I’ve read elsewhere I thought he ran a perfectly satisfactory Derby prep and I think that the 4-1 now available for Epsom is good value. In fact, if he had won the Guineas I would have been a little more concerned about his chances at Epsom as then there would have been a doubt that he was not a ‘typical Montjeu’ who excelled over middle distances.

Makfi- history to date

The Guineas was won well by Makfi a son of Dubawi about whom we wrote in detail in a recent post. Amazingly in the Autumn he was sold from Marcus Tregoning’s yard and put in the October horses in training sale where he fetched 26000 guineas. This is now proven to be an extraordinarily bad piece of business on the part of Sheikh Hamdens team. At a future date I will compile a list of the worst culling decisions in memory and Makfi is sure of a place near the top. He won his maiden in November at Fontainbleu before starting this season with an easy victory in the traditional French Guineas trial, the Prix Djebel. In hindsight his starting price of 33-1 was very generous and was due to a lack of punter familiarity with his young trainer Mikel Dezangles, a lack of respect for the French form and the distorted market due to the gamble on St Nicholas Abbey.

Makfi-pedigree

Makfi’s pedigree is top class. His dam Dhelaal was an unraced daughter of Green Desert.  Dhelaal is however a half sister to champion two year old Alhaarth (by Unfuwain) who has a Guineas connection as the sire of 2004 winner Haafhd. Makfi is her first foal and he was followed by a filly by Nayef. Interestingly Nayef is a half brother to Unfuwain.  Makfi’s granddam Irish Valley also produced 7 other winners apart from Alhaarth including French Group 3 winner Green Pola (by Nijinsky). Her unraced daughter Dalayil (by Sadler’s Wells) is the dam of Derby third Aqaleem (by Sinndar) who recently died having been sold to Australia in the hope of winning a Melbourne Cup. Coincidentally Aqaleem was trained in England by Marcus Tregoning and he was third in the Derby to Authorized (by Montjeu ex Funsie by Saumurez) and Green Valley the third dam of Makfi is also the third dam of Authorized. Green Valley is most commonly found throughout pedigrees as the dam of Green Dancer (by Nijinsky) who won the Observer Gold Cup (now the Racing Post Trophy) and the French Guineas before becoming one of the best sire sons of Nijinsky. Green Valley has the enviable record of having 13 winners from her 14 foals and she herself is a daughter of Sly Pola who was a flying two year old who won the Prix de l’Abbaye. This is a family that keeps producing high quality performers and Makfi has certainly upheld the family tradition.

Dubawi is doing everything right as a stallion.  Makfi is his second classic winner in recent weeks as Worthadd (x Wigman by Rahy) won the Group 3 Italian Guineas and he has prospects of further classic success with recent Group 3 winner Anna Salai ( x Anna Palariva by Caerleon) in the French 1000 Guineas.

The 1000 Guineas

This years 1000 Guineas was full of controversy. There was a very significant draw bias which meant most of the field were at a huge disadvantage.  First past the post was Jacqueline Quest (by Rock of Gibraltar ex Coquette Rouge by Croco Rouge), however Tom Queally’s mount was deemed to have interfered with Special Duty (Hennessy x Quest to Peak by Distant View) and the placings were altered. Again, for those who like coincidences, Jacqueline Quest’s sire Rock of Gibraltar benefitted from Hawk Wing’s poor draw (and rider)when he won the 2002 running of the 2000 Guineas and Special Duty ‘s granddam Viviana is a daughter of the last English Guineas winner to be disqualified, Nureyev. Furthermore Special Duty’s owner, Khalid Abdullah also owned Known Fact who was awarded the race on the disqualification of Nureyev.

 I wrote about Special Duty’s pedigree and her chances in the Guineas after she won the Cheveley Park (see paragraph Special Duty- Omens are good) and oddly enough I also devoted a recent posting to controversial stewards decisions of which this Guineas will probably be added, although I feel the stewards today made the correct decision.

Channel 4’s coverage

Finally it might be worth noting  Channel 4’s television coverage of the stewards enquiry. John Francome got it spectacularly wrong with his repeated assertions that there was no way the result would be changed. Then during an interview with Jaqueline Quest’s owner Noel Martin, the presenter (Mike Cattermole, I think) was told that the horse was called after Mr Martin’s wife. The presenter then asked if his wife was at the races and he was told that “she died some years ago and is buried in my back garden”. An emotional owner then outlined some details of his extraordinary and often tragic recent past and mentioned how his life had been worsened by Channel 4 who made what he felt to be an unfair documentary about him.  When the revised result was announced the camera zoomed in on a distraught Mr Martin. This was car-crash television from Channel 4.

MAKFI (GB) 2007 c b

Dubawi
(IRE) 2002
Dubai
Millennium (GB) 1996
Seeking
The Gold (USA) 1985
Mr
Prospector (USA) 1970
Con
Game (USA) 1974
Colorado
Dancer (IRE) 1986
Shareef
Dancer (USA) 1980
Fall
Aspen (USA) 1976
Zomaradah
(GB) 1995
Deploy
(GB) 1987
Shirley
Heights (GB) 1975
Slightly
Dangerous (USA) 1979
Jawaher
(IRE) 1989
Dancing
Brave (USA) 1983
High
Tern (IRE) 1982
Dhelaal
(GB) 2002
Green
Desert (USA) 1983
Danzig
(USA) 1977
Northern
Dancer (CAN) 1961
Pas
De Nom (USA) 1968
Foreign
Courier (USA) 1979
Sir
Ivor (USA) 1965
Courtly
Dee (USA) 1968
Irish
Valley (USA) 1982
Irish
River (FR) 1976
Riverman
(USA) 1969
Irish
Star (FR) 1960
Green
Valley (USA) 1967
Val
De Loir (FR) 1959
Sly
Pola (USA) 1957