Kildangan 2020 fees reviewed: Why Blue Point is overpriced and other thoughts-Part 1 Belardo to Night of Thunder

Darley stands 16 stallions in Kildangan for 2020. It has a preponderance of sprinters/milers with only Teofilo being a noted middle distance sire. Either by accident of design, Darley’s elite middle distance sires (Dubawi, Golden Horn and New Approach) are homed in Dalham where they don’t compete head on with Coolmore’s array of middle distance sires. In this article, I gave a frank review of 9 sires on its Irish roster and will review the remainder over the Christmas break.

Kildangan Stud 2020 fee (2019 fee)

1.Belardo €10,000 (€10,000) 2012 Lope De Vega ex Danaskaya by Danehill)

Verdict: Fairly Priced

A Dewhurst winning son of Lope De Vega, he was second in the QE2 at three and won the Lockinge at four. That makes him sound very exciting but he actually only won five of his 16 starts and he seemed to lose his way at three, failing to win in 7 starts. His dam Danaskaya is listed as a Champion Irish two year old, but that honour was rather cheaply won and her best performances were placed efforts in the Cheveley Park and Lowther Stakes. It is a useful rather than exceptional female line.

Commercially, the markets didn’t seem in love with his first yearlings. The median was 20,000 guineas which is less than breeders would have expected off an initial €15,000 fee. At €10,000 he gives low cost access to a son of Lope De Vega, he was a Group 1 winning two year old and he compares well with Phoenix of Spain (by Lope de Vega ex Lucky Clio by Key of Luck) who will commence in the Irish National Stud for €15,000.

2. Blue Point €45,000 (€na) (2014 Shamardal ex Scarlett Rose by Royal Applause)

Verdict: Overpriced

There was a fair bit of speculation about Blue Point’s likely fee. His retirement with ‘nothing to prove’ was announced after Royal Ascot. Had Blue Point’s fee been announced in July, I suspect it would have been 25-30k. The arrival of Pinatubo, Earthlight and Victor Ludorum moved Shamardal’s reputation to a whole new level. Of his sire sons, Lope de Vega continues to climb the ranks, so if ever there was a good time to launch a son of Shamardal at stud it is now.

Blue Point was magnificent this year winning his five starts. These included 3 races at Meydan and then a Royal Ascot double in the Kings Stand over 5 furlongs and the Golden Jubilee over 6 furlongs. He has always been high class, winning a Gimcrack at 2, two Group races at three and the Kings Stand at 4. He ran twenty times, winning eleven and placed 6 times, so he was durable as well as classy. His dams pedigree is about speed. Scarlett Rose produced a Railway Stakes winner in Formosina, the second dam produced the tough and durable Tumbleweed Ridge but it’s not a particularly classy female line.

So why do I think he is overpriced?

Blue Point’s fee compares unfavourably with Caravaggio. Caravaggio was a better two year old, beat Blue Point in the Commonwealth Cup, is by an equally fashionable sire in Scat Daddy. Caravaggio has a slightly stronger distaff line yet he stands for 40k (and I think that is overpriced).

Blue Point was best at 5 and didn’t win his first Group 1 until he was four. Who is looking to breed four and five year olds? If you want a recent reminder of outstanding 5 year old sprinters failing at stud, check out stud mate Slade Power 🙂 Blue Point is an atypical Shamardal in terms of his distance preference and his distaff line is not top class. He may well succeed but there are just too many caveats for my liking to justify €45k…

3. Buratino €5,000 (€5000) (Exceed and Excel ex Bergamask by Kingmambo)

Verdict: Overpriced.

It’s small money but I think he is slightly overpriced given the risk/reward ratio. This is a sire heading into his fourth season with an initial yearling median of 6,000 guineas. Buratino was a precocious two year old who made his debut in March. When he won the Coventry in June from Air Force Blue it was his 6th race! Air Force Blue reversed the placings in the Phoenix Stakes but Buratino ran another fine race when only beaten half a length in the Middle Park. His subsequent three year old career was disappointing. As a son of Exceed and Excel, he can be expected to deliver early speedy types and his third dam Mira Adonde produced a rags to riches sire in Danehill Dancer. A few cheaper sons of Exceed and Excel have done well including Bungle intheJungle, Kuroshio and Sidestep and he may join their ranks, but I thought they would have dropped him to €4,000.

4. Dawn Approach €10,000 (€15,000) (2010 New Approach ex Hymn of Dawn by Phone Trick)

Verdict: Overpriced

He stood at €35,000 for his first three seasons, so his 2020 fee tells you that he hasn’t lived up to expectations. He was a champion two year old, a Guineas winner who won four Group 1’s but it’s his stud record that matters- and his stud record isn’t impressive. His winners to foals of racing age percentage is only 22% (120 from 544) and he is on 2% stakes winner to foals of racing age. He can sire a top horse but he is something of a ‘nearly sire’. Madhmoon is top class, having nearly won the Derby. Musis Amica nearly won the Prix de Diane and Mary Tudor was third in an Irish Oaks. Dawn Approach has yet to sire a Group 1 winner and only Madhmoon has won at Group 2 level. Commercially, he is dead in the water and he had a yearling median of 8500 guineas in 2019. I actually think there is good value in buying his yearlings at those sort of prices but you couldn’t advise a commercial breeder to pay €10k for next season.

5. Exceed And Excel €40,000 (€50,000) (2000 Danehill ex Patrona by Lomond)

Verdict: Overpriced

To start with the positives, Exceed and Excel is a successful stallion in two hemispheres, a real two year old sire, commercially popular and now achieving success as a broodmare sire and sire of sires. He had a very good year in Australia but was much quieter in Europe. This saw his yearling median dipped from 80000 in 2018 to 52000 guineas in 2019. At this stage, we know Exceed and Excel is a good sire with 164 (7%) stakes winners, but I don’t think his Northern Hemisphere results have justified his lofty fee. He still only has three Group 1 winners (Excelebration, Margot Did and Outstrip) to his name. There are better sires out there for the money and the market may be falling out of love with him….

6. Fast Company €12,000 (€12,000) (2005 Danehill Dancer ex Sheezalady by Zafonic)

Verdict: Overpriced

Was brought back to Kildangan for the 2017 after the classic success of Jetsetting and a Group 2 win for Devonshire in 2016. There was nothing comparable in 2019, with his top performer being the 6 year old Safe Voyage who won a Group 3 and finishing third in the QE2.

Fast Company had respectable sales returns this year with a yearling median of 17000 guineas. Anyone thinking of using him in 2020, will have to hope that the better mares he covered since 2017 will translate into track success. I’m not so convinced. He stood for €7000 in 2017 after his breakthrough season. I don’t understand why he is now worth €12,000 with little of note in the interim.

7. French Navy €4,000 (€4000) (2008 Shamardal ex First Fleet by Woodman)

Verdict: Overpriced

Had his first runners this season with a sprinkling of decent winners and there is hope that his progeny will improve with age. A likeable sort, French Navy managed 22 runs and 11 wins in a career that saw him running until he was 7. However, even at €4000 unless he gets a breakout horse he is going to be a very hard sell for the nominations team. His yearling median was an insulting 2350 guineas. Looking into my crystal ball, I see that if Casamento (another son of Shamardal) does ok as a jumps sire this fellow will follow him down that road.

8. Fulbright €4,000 (€4,000) (2009 Exceed and Excel ex Lindfield Belle by Fairy King)

Verdict: Overpriced

Like French Navy had his first runners in 2019. Unlike French Navy there was nothing of any quality and in terms of precocity much more would have been expected of Fulbright’s offspring. His median was 3000 guineas. I can’t think of any good reason to use him at any fee.

9. Night Of Thunder €25,000 (£15,000) (2011 Dubawi ex Forest Storm by Galileo)

Verdict: Unbelievably Good Value

Night of Thunder had an exceptional first season. That could turn out to be a statistical anomaly based on a small sample size but I don’t think so. A fee of €50,000 wouldn’t have seemed outrageous to me. It may be the case that his published fee is bit like those ‘limited special offers’ to get you in the door and they will try to sell you something else (because he is full) but hopefully they aren’t that cynical! I did a full review (probably reads like a love letter ) to Night of Thunder earlier this month and you can read that at http://www.montjeu.com/archives/903 . To summarise, I’m a big fan and if you can access him at €25,000 well that should make for a happy Christmas and New Year.

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…..

Bargain Basement British Sires- Best of the Rest

There is a difference between price and worth. Bargains can be found by recognising that difference. Browsing through a list of stallions in Britain at fees of under £5000  there were a few surprising names. Some of these are older stallions who have fallen out of fashion, some are stallions facing into difficult second, or third seasons and others just seem cheap to me. In no particular order my selections as the best value bargain basement sires are as follows:

1. Proven Sire standing in the UK= Generous at £4500.

Ok his sales figures are terrible and he is being marketed as a dual purpose sire. However he is a very good sire of racehorses and that should count for something. He is the sire of 37 stakes winners from 599 foals of racing age which is a very respectable 6%.  He started his career with huge expectations and a fee to match. When early results were solid rather than spectacular, it was impossible to resist a big money offer from Japan where his sire Caerleon was very popular. On his return to these isles he was being marketed as a dual purpose sire and covering very moderate mares. He still managed to sire a classic winner in Mystic Lips (2007 German Oaks) from one of the mares covered since his return.  He is also achieving success as a broodmare sire and Tartan Trader came within a length of giving him a Derby success as a broodmare sire to go with the Guineas victory of his brother Golan.  To these can be added Tungsten Strike and High Accolade who are also out Generous mares. 

2. Promising UK based sire= Lucky Story at £4000

It’s very early days for Lucky Story but he has made a bright start. He has sired Art Connoisseur who is unbeaten in two runs and will be well fancied in whatever engagement he takes up at Royal Ascot. He has also sired Caranbola who is a winner and was second in a Listed race. That isn’t a lot to go on but its a better start than anyone would have predicted. Lucky Story is a son of Kris S out of a Miswaki mare and is a full brother to the St James Palace winner Dr Fong (who stands for £9000). Although he never won a group 1, Lucky Story was the equal of his brother and he won two Group 2 races at two in the Vintage Stakes at Goodwood and the Champagne Stakes at Doncaster. At three he put up a fine performance in the QEII at Ascot running Ratki to half a length with Refuse To Bend, Soviet Song and Antonius Pius in his wake.  With a pedigree free of Northern Dancer and two promising performers in his first crop he offers value to British breeders.

3. Unknown but seems cheap- Zafeen at £3000
Zafeen won the Mill Reef Stakes at 2 and was second in the Prix Morny. At three he was runner up to Refuse to Bend in the 2000 Guineas and won the St James Palace.  He was rated the champion European three year old miler. He is a son of supersonic Zafonic, who to date has not left a major sire son (although Count Dubois is doing well in South Africa and Ifraaj has just started his career). His dam Shy Lady was by Kaldoun and was a 6 furlong listed race winner in Germany from the family of Diffident.  Northern Dancer is buried far back in his pedigree at 4sx6d so there should be no problem breeding  to stallions from his line. Zafeen looks good, he was a top class racehorse at two and three, his pedigree is respectable and he looks very reasonably priced to me.