1. Havana Grey(Havana Gold ex Blanc de Chine (Dark Angel) is the real deal. This is a proper breakthrough sire who just had his first Group 1 winner with Vandeek(ex Mona Misa by Exceed and Excel) . Rags to riches sires are a rarity and he is following in the recent footsteps of his broodmare sire Dark Angel, along with Showcasing and Mehmas who all established themselves as quality sires of two year old and sprinter/milers. His current crop of two year olds includes Group 2 July Stakes winner Jasour (ex Twilight Thyme by Bahamian Bounty) and Group 3 winner Elite Status (ex Dotted Swiss by Swiss Spirit) . Encouragingly five of his three year olds have won Stakes races so they are also training on. He should go gangbusters at the sales and there will be no surprises if his fee deservedly reaches £40,000+ for next season.
2. Charlie Appleby and Dubawi: Charlie Appleby is 7th in the UK trainers championship and Dubawi is 6th in the UK & Ireland sire tables. These would be stellar results for most trainers and sires but with a stud fee of £350,000 more is expected of Dubawi. Similarly, having topped the table in 2022 and 2021 it is relatively slim pickings for Charlie. With so many of Dubawi’s offspring trained in Moulton Paddocks the two events are highly correlated. So is Charlie suffering because of a bad crop of Dubawi’s or is Dubawi struggling because of a stable that is not firing for whatever reason? It’s probably a little bit of both. Ironically, the best two year old by Dubawi seen so far this season is the Futurity Stakes winner Henry Longfellow (Dubawi ex Minding by Galileo) is on track to become the first son of Dubawi to stand at Coolmore whenever his career ends.
3. Sons of Dubawi: Dubawi has garnered a reputation as a sire of sires. Night of Thunder and New Bay were the poster boys and are clearly very good sires. Night of Thunder looks to have a potential new star in Vespertilio but New Bay has had a quiet season so far. Zarak continues to post excellent percentages but could do with a Group 1 winner. Time Test has gone cold and Postponed is facing the exit. Too Darn Hot (ex Dar Ra Mi by Singspiel) looked to be disappointing early in the season but he has come nicely to the boil in recent weeks with a pair of a Group winning fillies in Fallen Angel and Darnation. Too Darn Hot defied his pedigree by being so precocious and not improving with age so it will be interesting to see what road his progeny follow.
Incidentally, I think Dubawi’s most interesting and best value son may be Frontiersman (Dubawi- Ouija Board by Cape Cross) who stands for just £1,000 at Overbury. He was runner up in a Coronation Cup, has a pedigree to die for and has sired two decent flat winners from three runners this year. That’s a lot of pedigree and performance for a pittance compared with many speedier sires. Who knows what he might achieve with better support from flat breeders?
4. Kodiac and sons: For a number of years, Kodiac was the two year old sire par excellence. However, the rise of No Nay Never, Mehmas and now Havana Grey have changed the two year old landscape. The appropriately named Lowther winner, Relief Rally (ex Kathoe by Fayruz) showed he can still produce top two year olds and with the three year old Good Guess(ex Zykina by Pivotal) winning a Prix Jean Prat and Zarinsk winning three Group races he has had a decent season.
Many of Kodiac’s sire sons started their careers with a flurry and outperformed their fees. However, things have quietened down since then with Kodi Bear not building on his strong start, Ardad not following up on Perfect Power and Coulsty must await his bigger crops. Prince of Lir was sold to India before Live In the Dream’s success in the Nunthorpe, Adaay is modest and Kessaar hasn’t thrown much. He has a few more sire sons to come on stream, notably Hello Youmzain, but it might serve as another reminder not to get too carried away (in a positive or negative way) with the notion of sires of sires.
5.Frankel will comfortably reclaim the sires championship and is out on his own in Europe. His dominance will only increase in the next few years. Dubawi’s quiet year has removed any doubt about who is the best sire around.
6. Galileo– still a force to be reckoned with . A 1-2-3 for Galileo in the Yorkshire Oaks was like a step back in time. Sadler’s Wells success waned in his final crops but Galileo’s fillies are still top drawer. 100 individual Group 1 winners will happen.
First Season Sires: We are quick to condemn the hasty rush to judgement on sires, but that’s not going to stop me donning my judges wig..
7. Advertise (Showcasing ex Furbelow by Pivotal) : Coventry winner by Showcasing who trained on to win a Commonwealth Cup and Prix Maurice de Gheest. He has 103 two year olds conceived at £25,000. I thought he would be near the top of the first season sire table but he has made a really slow start with only 2 winners to date, particularly in contrast with another son of Showcasing in Soldiers Call.
8. Ten Sovereigns(No Nay Never ex Seeking Solace by Exceed and Excel) had big numbers (150 two year olds) and as a speedy son of No Nay Never, would have been expected to get off to a quick start. He has done reasonably well with two Stakes winners and 15 winners to date but it’s going to be a tricky to accommodate all of the sons of No Nay Never/ Scat Daddy on the Coolmore roster next year. Ten Sovereigns, Little Big Bear, Arizona, Blackbeard and Sioux Nation will all be vying for patronage so there may be some outward transfers.
Ahead of expectations:
9.Blue Point (Shamardal- Scarlett Rose by Royal Applause) improved with age so he wasn’t necessarily just going to be a sire of two year olds but he has done well with 29 winners so far and has a buzz about him. That said people might be getting a bit carried away as he does have 161 two year olds conceived at €45,000 to represent him.
10. Phoenix of Spain (Lope de Vega ex Lucky Clio by Key of Luck). Haatem has already provided him with a Group 2 winner. He has strong percentages of winnners/runners and his horses are improving as they move up in trip which augurs very well for this resident of the Irish National Stud. Expect a strong performance at the sales and he deserves a good support from breeders for next year.
A decade ago, things were pretty grim in the French flat stallion ranks. At that time, the forgettable Elusive City, standing at €15,000, was the most expensive French based sire. Things have improved greatly since then and there is now a decent selection of credible stallions. The generous French premium system help to underpin their breeding sector and the success of French National Hunt breeders shows the potential of the French industry.
Other changes have been less positive. The death of Le Havre and the sale of Wootton Bassett were big blows. Book sizes have increased dramatically with 17 flat sires covering 100+ mares in 2022 and this level of concentration isn’t good for diversity. With the epic World Cup final between France and Argentina still fresh in the memory, I have used footballing references for my sire verdicts.
2023 fee (2022 fee)
1. Siyouni €150,000 (€140,000) 2007 Pivotal ex Sichilla by Danehill
FootballComparison: A footballer who scores some spectacular goals but doesn’t score often enough
If the Aga Khan wasn’t one of the world’s richest men, this could be considered a rags to riches story 🙂 Retired at a fee of €7000, there were no great expectations for Siyouni. Pivotal had failed to deliver a top class sire son and Siyouni’s race record was good (he won a Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere), but unremarkable.
Since his first runners in 2014, Siyouni has delivered stars such as St Mark’s Basilica, Sottsass, Laurens and Ervidya. This ability to get superstars helps to gloss over the fact that his 6% percentages of stakes winners (66 from 1052 foals of racing age) is modest enough for a sire at his fee.
Siyouni had 63 yearlings sold this year for a median of €210,000 and he covered 132 mares this year. On the track he had a healthy 9 Group winners and 14 Stakes winners, so it was understandable that he was popular in the sales ring. A sire who has risen from such a modest opening fee clearly belongs in any discussion of the elite European sires. However for me a career tally of 7 Group 1 winners in the Northern Hemisphere is a little underwhelming. Three of his best performers were also siblings to other top horses so he got plenty of help on the dam side. This was the situation with Sottsass (1/2 brother to MySisterCharlie) , St Mark’s Basilica (1/2 brother to Magna Grecia) and Tahiyra (1/2 sister to Tarnawa), . When his progeny are good, they tend to be very, very good but I would like to see him converting his quality books of mares into top performers with a little more regularity.
2. Zarak €60,000 (€25,000) 2013 Dubawi ex Zarkava by Zamindar
Football Comparison: A young player with famous parents who is overpriced
Another Aga Khan owned sire is the second most expensive sire in France. Unlike Siyouni, Zarak was always expected to make a big impact. That expectation is understandable, when you are by Dubawi out of Zarakava who was one of the greatest fillies of our lifetimes. On the track, he almost lived up to his stellar pedigree winning a Grand Prix de Saint Cloud and finishing runner up in Prix de Jockey Club (to Almanzor) and Prix Ganay (to Cloth of Stars). At stud he has produced 9 stakes winners led by Grp 2 winner Purplepay. His yearling median has risen to €56,500 and he covered 159 mares this year at €25,000. Sons of Dubawi are very fashionable and his pedigree is free from Danzig and Sadler’s Wells so he can suit most mares. However, I was surprised at the size of the price hike. He stood for €12,000 for his first four season and then got a hike to €25,000 after his first two year olds did well. He lacks a superstar and his sales results don’t justify the hike he received. Those facts may change but I would have thought something around €35,000 would have been more appropriate for now.
3. Galiway €30,000 (€30,000) (2011 Galileo ex Danzigaway by Danehill)
FootballComparison: Overrated like Paul Pogbaat Man Utd
He covered 170 mares at €30,000 this year which goes to show that French breeders can be just as influenced by a foolish herd mentality as their Irish/ UK counterparts. 🙂 Galiway never won above Listed level and his half brother Silent Name was disappointing as a sire. In total he has 9 Stakes winners from 190 foals of racing age. This is 5% which is arguably a very good outcome given that he stood at €3,000 for his first four seasons. I’m more sceptical about his merits. His popularity is primarily down to Sealiway who won a soft ground Champion Stakes in 2021 but whose trainers (Frederic and Cedric Rossi) are caught up in the ongoing French doping investigation. His next best progeny are Grp 3 winners Esope and Kenway. He also has a high class hurdler in Vauban. I simply can’t see the wisdom of paying €30,000 for him when you have a much better son of Galileo like Nathaniel standing for £15,000.
4. Almanzor €25,000 (€30,000) (2013 Wootton Bassett ex Darkova by Maria’s Mon)
FootballComparison: Hoping to hang on for extra-time to see if he can turn things around
An outstanding winner of the Prix de Jockey Club, Irish Champion Stakes and Champion Stakes, he was an exciting addition to the French stallion ranks. When his sire was sold to Coolmore, Almanzor was perfectly positioned as the heir apparent. Alas his first crop hasn’t set the world alight and he badly needs some top runners to emerge to remain relevant. He has no winners above Listed level in Europe although he does have some nice prospects. His yearling median fell back to €35,500 from more than double that amount. He still has some big crops waiting in the wings so he could yet turn things around but its odds against at this stage. He covered 129 mares this year but he will prove a harder sell for next year. It would have been better to shave some more from his fee as his star is waning.
5. Persian King €25,000 (€30,000) (2016 Kingman ex Pretty Please by Dylan Thomas)
FootballComparison: Anice prospect but not cheap
High class on the track, he won the Autumn Stakes at two, the French Guineas at three, and he was runner up in the Prix de Jockey Club. At four he won the Prix de Moulin and the Prix D’Ispahan at four and he stretched his stamina to finish a very creditable third in the Arc. He comes from a good Wildenstein family that includes Peintre Celebre under his 4th dam, Policy Maker under his third dam and Planteur under his 2nd dam. Covered 115 mares this year. He lacked the brilliant turn of foot of Kingman but he still rates an interesting prospect.
6. Mishriff €20,000 (na) (2017 Make Believe ex Contradict by Raven’s Pass)
Football Comparison: Should have looked to transfer a year earlierwhen he was hot property
Connections probably regret not retiring Mishfriff at the end of 2021. At that point, he was after annexing the Sheema Classic and the Saudi World Cup on Dirt. For good measure back on turf he won an International Stakes and he was just touched off in a King George to complement the Prix de Jockey Club he won as a three year old. It was an appealing story for the marketplace, a classic winner who could perform on turf or dirt and who had Rafha (dam of Invincible Spirit and Kodiac) as his 3rd dam. Keeping him in training as a five year old did nothing to improve his cv. His best effort in 2022 was a narrow defeat in the Eclipse. His sire Make Believe has also failed to sire anything else above Group 3 level and will be standing for his lowest fee of €10,000 for 2023. It will be interesting to see what level of support he attracts and I think he may struggle, despite his many fine attributes as a racehorse. Incidentally, It seems hard to believe that his foals will have the still active Dubawi as their great, great grandsire.
7. Hello Youmzain €22,500 (€25,000) (2016 Kodiac ex Spasha by Shamardal)
FootballComparison::Could go either way -like a penalty shootout
A Grp 2 winner as a two year old in the Criterium de Maison Lafittes, he won the Sprint Cup at 3 and the Diamond Jubilee at 4. Sons of Kodiac have outperformed expectations at stud with Ardad, Coulsty and Kodi Bear doing well this. This fellow was Kodiac’s best performer on the track but for me he is a little pricey for an unproven sprinter. His distaff line has a lot more stamina influences than you might expect with his first three dams by Shamardal, Sadler’s Wells and Mill Reef respectively. It will be interesting to see if he is a pure influence for speed and precocity or if those other elements come through. He received 128 mares in 2022 and is likely to remain popular for the coming season.
________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ 8. Kendargent (€17,000 ) Kendor ex Pax Bella by Linamix
FootballComparison:A game of two halves and he hasn’t had a good second half
His first crop of 19 foals were conceived at a fee of €1,000. Despite such humble beginnings, his first crop included Group winners Restiadargent and Kendam. Given that Kendargent had never even won a Stakes race (he was placed 2nd in Grp 3 and 4th in Grp 1) it seemed like we were witnessing the emergence of an extraordinary and unlikely success story. His fee was hiked in the coming years to €22,000 and he started covering three figure books. However his progress stalled. To date, Skalleti is his only Grp 1 winner and Kendargent has sired just 38 Stakes winners (4%) from 873 foals of racing age. He has failed to deliver on that initial promise.
9. Goken (€15,000, €15,000) Kendargent ex Gooseley Chop by Indian Rocket
FootballComparison:Has come from the lower leagues and doesn’t look at home in the top flight
He has mirrored his father in many ways. Like Kendargent he was owned by Guy Pariente and he has a wonderful outcross pedigree. He was the first son of Kendargent at stud but he can boast a better race record than his sire, as he was a dual Group 3 winning sprinter and he was 3rd in a Kings Stand. He was retired at fee of €5,000 and like his sire he had a strong first crop of two year olds which saw his fee hiked to €15,000. His oldest runners were four in 2022 and his stakes winners include three Grp 3 winners and four Listed winners from 116 foals of racing age (6%). A yearling median of €18,500 doesn’t justify his current fee and he will need to start delivering more on the track.
10. Victor Ludorum €15,000 (€15,000 ) 2017 Shamardal ex Antiquities by Kaldounevees
FootballComparison: “When the seagulls follow the trawler it is because they think sardines will be thrown into the sea“- Eric Cantona
Victor Ludorum was popular with French breeders (the seagulls) covering 154 mares in his first season, so he will have lots of opportunities to succeed (sardines) 🙂 He was one of the three unbeaten Group 1 winning two year old colts by Shamardal in 2019 (along with Pinatubo and Earthlight). In the case of Victor Ludorum he won the Prix Jean Luc Lagardare and followed up at three in winning the Poule d’Eassi des Poulains. He was kept in training at four when he added a Grp 3 from 6 starts that year. He is from a predictably strong Darley family with Irish Oaks winner Helen Street (the dam of a very good sire in Street Cry and Grand-dam of Shamardal) as is his third dam (and Helen Street appears 3X3 courtesy of Shamardal). He is pitched at the same price as Earthlight and it’s probably reasonable for what he offers.
11. Zelzal €15,000 (€15,000 ) 2013 Sea the Stars ex Olga Prekrasa by Kingmambo
FootballComparison:More likely to be relegated than promoted
Won a Prix Jean Prat at three and was 3rd in the Prix de Moulin at four. Has sired a pair of Grp3 winners this year in Dolce Zel and Ouraika. He may have benefited from the successes of Baaed who is also bred on the Sea the Stars/Kingmambo cross. However this guy whilst not bad, is not Baaed either! In truth his tally of 3 stakes winners from 104 foals of racing age isn’t that impressive and I’m not sure the big hike in fee from €6000 in 2020 to €15,000 in 2021 was warranted. His yearling median this year was €13,000 and I think he is well overpriced.
There are 9 stallions at Kildangan for 2023. Belardo (Bearstone Stud) and Ribchester (Haras du Logis) have departed and Naval Crown has landed. There are four sons of Dubawi, two sons of Shamardal and one each for sons of Galileo, Invincible Spirit and Elusive Quality. Five of the sires have yet to have runners and overall the Irish roster is weaker in quality and quantity than the 12 sires in Dalham stud. Dubawi’s growing reputation as a sire of sires has worked in their favour. It also helps that Dubawi’s sons are often a good outcross option for an Irish broodmare band saturated in crosses of Sadler’s Wells and Danehill . That said, blindly believing in sire lines rarely works out and its always worth remembering that for every Night of Thunder/ Zarak/New Bay there have been underwhelming sire sons of Dubawi eg Worthadd, Poets Voice, Makfi, Postponed etc. In terms of marketing and promotional savvy, Darley are now a match for Coolmore or any other operator. Unfortunately, they have also adopted Coolmore’s policy of what would traditionally be regarded as very large (excessive) books of mares.
2023 fee (2022 fee)
1. Night Of Thunder €100,000 (€75,000) (2011 Dubawi ex Forest Storm by Galileo)
Verdict: No longer a bargain
Highfield Princess kept his name in lights with victories in the Prix Maurice de Gheest, The Nunthorpe and the Flying Five. The two year old Isaac Shelby won the Grp 2 Superlative Stakes and Rumbles of Thunder and Lola Showgirl won Grp 3’s . Night of Thunder’s offspring were wildly popular at the sales and he had a yearling median of €186k from a crop conceived at €25,000 . These sales results provided the justification for the latest price increase more than results on the track.
He covered 180 mares in 2022 at €75 000 and 177 mares in 2021 at €75,000. If you were to quibble, you could argue that his fee has gotten ahead of his results on the track and his first crop greatly outshone his 2nd and 3rd crops. I did a piece on Night of Thunder back in 2019, when I said he seemed destined for the very top (see http://www.montjeu.com/night-of-thunders-lightning-start/) . I will keep the faith for now. He is no longer in bargain territory but with his better bred crops imminent, he should maintain his climb up the ladder. ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
2. Blue Point €35,000 (€40,000) (2014 Shamardal ex Scarlett Rose by Royal Applause)
Verdict: Overpriced/ High risk with first runners in 2023
Covered 142 mares this year, 183 in 2021 and 198 in 2020 so there are a lot of believers in his potential. He was a superb racehorse, winning a Gimcrack at 2, two Group races at three and the Kings Stand at 4. At five he was unbeaten in five starts including 3 Group 1’s. He ran twenty times, winning eleven and placed 6 times, so he was durable as well as classy.
The negatives are that he is from an unexceptional female line, he is an atypical Shamardal in terms of distance preference and he was at his best at 5. I’d worry that people will expect fireworks from his first runners. Its always a mistake to assume that sprinters should be good sires of two year olds just because two year olds run over sprint distances. With such a modest reduction in fee and facing into such a risky season, I wouldn’t be rushing to take a gamble on him this season.
3. Teofilo €30,000 (€30,000) (2004 Galileo ex Speirbhean by Danehill)
Verdict: A very likeable sire but overpriced for commercial breeders
Teofilo sired a new Grade 1 winner in Nations Pride and Boundless Ocean, Gear Up and West Wind Blows all added Group victories. Teofilo did even better as a broodmare sire with 4 Group 1 winners in Coroebus (by Dubawi), Cachet (by Aclaim), German Oaks winner Toskana Belle (by Shamalgan) and Dreamloper by Lope De Vega. Teofilo is a very solid proven sire (109 stakes winners from 1560 foals (7%) who can sire top horses from milers to out and out stayers. The negatives are that his yearling median was €51,434 last year off a €40,000 covering fees. When you consider his fertility is not the best then he is not attractive for commercial breeders. Conversely his yearlings at the sales represent good value for buyers as he is underrated by the market.
4. Ghaiyyath €25,000 (€25,000) (2015 Dubawi ex Nighttime by Galileo)
Verdict: Fairly Priced
Now entering his third season, he attracted 161 mares in 2022 and 138 in 2021.. He is bred on the same cross as Night of Thunder and his dam was a classic winner, hence his €1.1 million price tag as a foal. His 13 career stats saw 9 wins including 4 Group 1’s. He was a Grp 3 winner at two which is bonus territory for a son of Dubawi. Dubawi’s reputation as a sire of sires is continuing to grow and that probably meant he didn’t get the price drop that is common in a sires third season. Using any unproven sire is a gamble but for me this fellow isn’t badly priced for the package on offer.
5. Space Blues €16,000 (17,500) (2016 Dubawi ex Miss Lucifer by Noverre). Verdict: Slightly Pricey for second season
Attracted 160 mares this year after retiring on a high following his Breeders Cup mile victory. He also annexed a Prix de la Foret and a Prix Maurice de Gheest in a career that say him amass 11 wins and 4 places from 19 runs. In many ways, he was a typical Dubawi who improved each season. He has a nice outcross pedigree for many mares as he is free of Sadler’s Wells and Danzig. I thought they might have taken a little more off his fee for his second season but he still rates an interesting prospect.
6. Earthlight €15,000 (€18,000) (2017 Shamardal ex Winters Moon by New Approach)
Verdict: No strong views
He attracted 162 mares in 2021 but this dipped below 100 this year (which perhaps indicates an issue of which I’m not aware). Earthlight won his five starts at two including a Prix Morny and a Middle Park in which he beat Golden Horde. At three, he won a Listed race and Group 3. Shamardal’s reputation peaked in 2019 when Pinatubo, Earthlight and Victor Ludorum all enjoyed unbeaten two year old seasons. Lope De Vega remains his only proven sire son. Having retired at 20k, Earthlight’s fee is now predictably reduced for his third season. Comparing the two sons of Shamardal, I think Earthlight’s fee is more attractive than Blue Point’s, as he was more precocious and from a stronger distaff line. However, I wouldn’t be rushing to use him either.
7. Naval Crown €15,000 (na) (2018 Dubawi ex Come Alive by Dansili)
Verdict: Doesn’t excite at the price
With Charlie Appleby enjoying a golden run, there are a lot of sons of Dubawi being retired to stud. Naval Crown earned his place courtesy of a narrow victory in the Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot. He also won a Grp 2 at Meydan, was runner up in the July Cup and 4th in the 2000 Guineas to Poetic Flare. He was a 33-1 shot when winning his Grp 1 and it was a curious race with the draw having an impact. His overall record was four wins from 20 starts so whilst undoubtedly talented he wasn’t a superstar. His pedigree is modest by the usual Darley standards and its not one of the stronger female families in their broodmare band. On that basis, I think he is a little less exciting than some of his stud mates and there are better value unproven sires available.
8.Profitable €9,000 (€12,500) 2012 Invincible Spirit ex Dani Ridge by Indian Ridge)
He sired a Queen Mary winner in his first crop and Darley overreacted by giving him a fee hike. The market responded by reducing the number of mares to 118 in 2022 , compared to the 168 in 2021. He had another Grp 2 winning filly this year in Wed and Miramar won a Grp 3 as did Mitbaahy. Profitable won a Kings Stand at four and he is very much an influence for speed. He has five stakes winners from his 135 three year olds and one to date from his 91 two year olds. These aren’t particularly impressive statistics and those invested in him will hope that his offspring will improve with age, just as he did. He had a yearling median of €25,074 which was reasonable but a reduction on the €32k of 2021. The market may be cooling on him and he needs a top horse or two to emerge.
9. Raven’s Pass €7,500 (€7,500) (2005 Elusive Quality ex Ascutney by Lord at War)
Verdict: Overpriced (slightly)
Had a quiet year on the track but strangely his sales results were much improved with his yearling median increasing from €12,370 to €21,397. He has good percentages for a stallion at this fee with 38 stakes winners from 590 foals (6%) but he has never really excited . He has achieved some notable successes as a broodmare sire with Mishriff, Kessaar and Saffron Beach being offspring of his daughters.
Since I published my initial review of Coolmore stallions, Gustav Klimt has been exiled. This leaves ten sires standing for €20k or less. It’s a mix of the young and old, proven and unproven, pretenders, contenders and wannabees. Luck is a huge factor in successful breeding. Building on this insight, I incorporated a fortune cookie generator to help with my sire reviews. Initial results are promising and it seems more credible than some of the ‘expert analysis’ available in the trade press who simply regurgitate press releases/puff pieces. The Gods have spoken and who are we to disagree?
1. Gleneagles €17,500 (€15,000) (2012 Galileo ex You’resothrilling by Storm Cat). Fortune Cookie Advice: “It is now and in this world that we must live“
The days when he stood for €60,000 and he was the bright shiny new thing on the Coolmore roster are gone. He has not lived up to expectations or the opportunities afforded him- but he is not a complete flop either. He sired five Group winners this year including a Grade 1 winner in Highland Chief (Man of War Stakes). He also sired two Group 2 winners including Royal Scotsman who was a close second in the Dewhurst and two Group 3 winners. His progeny seem to improve with age and many stay middle distances. There is nothing wrong with those qualities but they are not perhaps what the market expected from his offspring. His yearling median stayed at €32,000 but that is for a crop conceived at €35,000 so many breeders will have been stung by their involvement with him. Gleneagles is finding his place in the world, he has regained credibility as a sire but it would have been better to leave his fee unchanged as his best days commercially are long behind him.
2. Sioux Nation €17,500 (€10,000) (2015 Scat Daddy ex Dream the Blues by Oasis Dream)
Fortune Cookie Advice: “It’s better to be alone sometimes”
44 winners to date, saw him take a prominent position in the first season sires table. He topped the European listing by number of winners and was just behind Havana Grey by prizemoney. His results on the track saw his yearling median increase from €24k to €43k. He was advertised as a source of precocious speed and he delivered on that. In that regard, it is understandable that he got a price increase. He had three Stakes winners so there was some quality but overall he doesn’t strike me as a sire who is going to be a consistent source of high class winners. In contrast, I can envisage Havana Grey moving to the next level. Sioux Nation covered 158 mares in 2020, 61 in 2021 and a mammoth 255 in 2022 so he will have lots of representatives in the ring on and the track in the coming years. There will need to be more quality horses emerging to justify his elevated fee. That may happen but I’d be very wary of following the herd on this one. ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
3. Ten Sovereigns €17,500 (€17,500) (2016 No Nay Never ex Seeking Solace by Exceed and Excel)
Fortune Cookie Advice: “If you feel you are right, stand firmly by your convictions“
He has benefitted from the good season enjoyed by No Nay Never. A Middle Park and July Cup winner, who failed to stay in the Guineas and was beaten in the Commonwealth Cup, Nunthorpe and in the Everest. He has an unremarkable female line but in relative terms he is better priced than Blackbeard. He will have plenty of representatives in the ring and on the track as he covered 173 mares in 2022, 152 in 2021 and 214 in 2020. He had 88 yearlings sell for a median of €43,500 this year so they are popular in the ring and that underpins his fee. With big numbers to represent him, he will be one of the favourites for first season sire honours. He will be quickly shunned if he doesn’t make a strong start with his first runners but given his numerical strength, he has every chance to make an impact.
4. Magna Grecia €15,000 (17,500)- (2016 by Invincible Spirit ex Cabaret by Galileo)
Fortune Cookie Advice: “Let the Deeds Speak“
First runners this year so definitely in the high risk category. That said, he was a good Guineas winner, he is a half brother to St Mark’s Basilica and Invincible Spirit has a decent reputation as a sire of sires. Although he won a Vertem Futurity at two , I wouldn’t expect his runners to be especially precocious. His yearling median was €45k this year but commercially everything is dependent on how his first runners perform and anyone who tries to predict that is just sticking a finger in the air.
________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ 5. Calyx €10,000 (12,500)- (2016 Kingman ex Helleborine by Observatory)
Fortune Cookie Advice: “A short stranger will soon enter your life with blessings to share”
Alternative Fortune Cookie Advice: “You learn from your mistakes, you will learn a lot today”
Another sire due to have his first runners 2023. His fee has steadily dropped each season from an opening €22,500. Since then, we have all cooled somewhat on Kingman. In the cold light of day, Calyx’s race record shows he was talented but fragile. He managed only 4 starts and never contested a Group 1. He covered 163 mares in 2020 which dropped to 105 in 2021. He is not the biggest at 15.3 but I liked his turn of foot. He is one for gamblers that could go either way.
________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ 6. Circus Maximus €10,500 (12,500)- (2016 by Galileo ex Duntle by Danehill Dancer)
Fortune Cookie Advice: “You will travel to many exotic places in your lifetime”
Entering his third season at half his opening fee, but has been a hard sell to breeders. Circus Maximus was high class, sound and genuine but for me lacked a bit of star quality. He has received some high class mares from the Niarchos broodmare band which should help his prospects. Despite this, it would be no surprise if he followed in the path of the similarly bred The Gurkha, who ended up plying his trade elsewhere after initial runners failed to fire.
7. Footstepsinthesand €10,000 (€12,500) (2002 Giant’s Causeway ex Glatisant by Rainbow Quest)
Fortune Cookie Advice: “Now is the time to try something new“
I never understood the attraction of Footstepsinthesand. He is now entering his 17th season at stud but he has sired just three Northern Hemisphere Group 1 winners . His progeny are overrated by trainers . This underpins his sales price (yearling median of c.€23k) but for me he is very limited and is one to avoid.
8. Holy Roman Emperor €10,000 (€10,000) (2004 Danehill ex L’On Vite by Secretariat)
Fortune Cookie Advice: “Life consists not in holding good cards, but in playing those you hold well”
Had a decent year on the track with 5 Group winners in the Northern Hemisphere, headlined by dual Group 2 winner Jadoomi. At the sales, his yearling median increased to €26,783. At the money, I think he is a solid sire who is perhaps a better percentage choice for a young mare than some of the more fashionable but unproven sires.
9. U S Navy Flag €10,000 (€12,500) (2015 War Front ex Misty For Me by Galileo)
Fortune Cookie Advice: “You already know the answer to the questions lingering inside your head”
Had his first runners in 2022 and started brightly before faltering. Perhaps bolstered by early season results he covered 144 mares a big jump on the 59 covered in 2021. To date he has an underwhelming 11 winners that included 2 Listed winners. His yearling median has declined from €53,500 in 2021 to €22,000 in 2022 so the market has lost faith. We sometimes bemoan the tendency to write off sires much too early but it’s hard to see him recovering and he may be used as another stick to knock sons of War Front. There are now big question marks surrounding him.
10. Arizona €5,000 (€6,000)- (2017 No Nay Never ex Lady Ederle by English Channel) Fortune Cookie Advice:“Fortune favors the brave”
Now entering his third season, he got a price reduction despite the good year for No Nay Never. Arizona has his plus points as a Coventry winner who was second to Pinatubo in the Dewhurst. He will suit breeders looking a commercial source of cheap speed/precocity and is probably reasonably priced overall who may get a return with him.
Coolmore has lost ground to their rivals but they are still the biggest operator by far in the Irish market. The roster lacks diversity and is relatively unadventurous. Given their financial muscle, it would be refreshing to see them introduce some American and more Japanese bloodlines. Coolmore achieved their elevated status through years of shrewd decision making. In the words of the fortune cookie generator ” The man on the top of the mountain did not fall there”. Staying on top of the mountain will need them to adapt but they are more than capable of that.
2022 was a disappointing year overall for Coolmore’s Irish sires. No Nay Never did well, but no other sire really enhanced his reputation. Coolmore lost their 30 year grip on the UK/Irish sires championship in 2021 and they seem unlikely to reclaim that championship anytime soon. Their best placings in the sires table were the irreplaceable Galileo in 4th and No Nay Never in 10th.
Ballydoyle was light on top three year old colts so the only addition to the roster was the temperamental two year old Bluebeard. The roster saw the departure of Highland Reel (to Japan) and Rock of Gibraltar (to horsey heaven) leaving a roster of 21 sires for next year. In terms of pricing, they were conservative with only minor tweaks. The best mares in Europe are now earmarked for Frankel/Dubawi/Sea the Stars/Siyouni rather than Coolmore sires, but Coolmore is still the destination of choice for a significant proportion of the Irish and UK broodmare band. .
Below is my assessment of their published fees for 2023, starting with the priciest sires.
Stallion 2023 fee (2022 fee)
1. No Nay Never €175,000 (€125,000) (2011 Scat Daddy ex Cat’s Eye Witness by Elusive Quality)
Verdict: Had a very good year but he is no Danzig
No Nay Never (NNN) was the real bright spot of the year for Coolmore. A stellar crop of two year olds conceived at €100k included three Group 1 winners in Little Big Bear, Blackbeard and Meditate and Group 2 winners in Aesop’s Fables and Trillium. The four year old Alcohol Free added the July Cup to her haul, so his offspring can also train on. MV Magnier was reported as saying his father was comparing NNN with Danzig. NNN is now 6% stakes winners to foals of racing age (45 stakes winners from 809 foals of racing age), a figure which will improve in time. In an era of much smaller books, Danzig sired 198 stakes winners from 1099 foals (18%) and almost 50 Grp 1 winners. No Nay Never has to date sired 7 Grp 1 winners so in truth the comparison is very much a case of wishful thinking. A closer comparison is probably Danzig’s son War Front (11% stakes winners) who also rose from a modest opening fee to the top ranks of sires.
I previously wrote that to justify his six figure fee he needed to produce 2-3 Group 1 winners each year. He succeeded admirably in that regard this year. He covered a book of 178 mares this year and 183 mares last year so he won’t be short of well bred representatives on the track in the coming years. Commercially he remains in the high risk category. Despite his results on the track, his yearling median this year was €153k- from a 2020 covering fee of €175k. Sprinters/two year olds are simply never going to attract the same blockbuster yearling prices as elite middle distance sires. Coolmore will be hoping that Little Big Bear will train on to become a Guineas winner as he will need to start producing classic milers to alter the perception of him as a two year old/sprinter sire. No Nay Never is going to be a big player for Coolmore/Balldoyle in the coming years but despite his qualities he is not attractively priced for outside breeders.
2. Wootton Bassett €150,000 (€150,000) (2008 Iffraaj ex Balladonia by Primo Dominie)
Verdict: Little upside at that price
Coolmore’s faith in No Nay Never was repaid on the track this season. Big money signing Wootton Bassett still has to deliver for them but he is being given huge support.
His first 8 crops led to 488 foals. In contrast, he has covered 249 mares in 2022 and 244 mares in 2021. It must have been a relief for Coolmore to see Al Riffa win the National Stakes as his dam is by Galileo and he has covered an abundance of Galileo mares in the past seasons. On the track, the supporting cast wasn’t that exciting with Group/Grade 2’s for Chindit and Speak of the Devil the best of them. His yearling median in 2022 was €150,000 which was a good out-turn for a crop conceived at €40,000. At €150,000 he will need to deliver 2-3 new Group 1 winners each year and produce classic contenders. He may well do so but I wouldn’t be rushing to invest at this stage as he is priced as if he has already delivered on the potential shown by his earlier crops.
3. St Mark’s Basilica €65,000 (65,000) (2018 Siyouni ex Cabaret by Galileo)
Verdict: a well credentialed but expensive gamble
Kept at the same fee for his second season after attracting 176 mares this year. He has lots to recommend him as a top class racehorse at two and three who won a Dewhurst, two French classics and a high quality renewal of the Irish Champion Stakes (albeit the stewards should have reversed the placings with Tarnawa in that race). He was a 1.3 million Guineas yearling and he is a half brother to Magna Grecia . With a strong book of mares he will be given every chance of succeeding but history tells us that most sires don’t live up to expectations. On the basis of historical probability rather than a reservation about his individual merits I would rate him as too risky at that price.
4. Camelot €60,000 (€75,000)- (2009 by Montjeu ex Tarfah by Kingmambo)
Verdict: Flatters to Deceive
There was a lot of expectation around Luxembourg this year but he had mixed year. He was 3rd in a Guineas, missed the Derby, won the Irish Champion Stakes and finished 7th in the Arc. He remains in training to embellish his record before presumably retiring to Coolmore for the 2024 season. In contrast Sammarco won the two German group 1’s with little fanfare. Waterville won a Ceaserwitch which wasn’t the plan early in the season when he was touted as a classic contender. That for me is the story of Camelot, he flatters to deceive a little- with horses like Sir Dragonet, Santa Barbara, Pink Dogwood and English King all disappointing in classics when fancied . His yearling median somehow reached €160,000 in 2021 before dropping back to €90,000 this year. I suspect the market may continue to cool on him in the coming years and he makes little commercial appeal at that price.
5. Starspangledbanner €50,000 (€35,000) (2006 Choisir ex Gold Anthem by Made of Gold
Verdict: Pricey given his black type percentages
His fee has risen steadily over the past five seasons from €15,000 in 2018 to a heady €50,000 next year. He has gone from being a value sire to an overpriced sire. He made his name as good sire of sprinters/two year olds but surprisingly his two Group 1 winners in 2022, Aristia and State of Rest both triumphed over 10 furlongs and he has just had a third group 1 winner in the Hong Kong Mile victor California Spangle. His fertility has improved markedly from his early days but his percentages have gone in reverse. He is now showing 25 Stakes winners from 722 foals of racing age, a rather modest 3%. His yearling median in 2022 was just over €60,000 which was a good return from a €22,500. However I’m not sure he will rise much further. He is a sire I liked and his recent Grp 1 winners are changing perceptions of him but the price increases were overdone.
6. Saxon Warrior €35,000 (€20,000) (2015 Deep Impact ex Maybe by Galileo)
Verdict: Interesting but overpriced
Victoria Road got up on the line to win the Breeders Cup Juvenile Turf by a nose. I suspect if the photo finish had gone the other way, Saxon Warrior would be listed at 25k for next year and that would be a more realistic fee for him. He had three stakes winners with Grp 3 winners Moon Ray and Lumiere Rock joining Victoria Road. He also sired Gan Teorainn who was runner up in the Prix Marcel Boussac and was later sold for a cool million. In total he had 22 first crop winners which was a decent outcome given that his progeny can be expected to do better at three. His yearling median was just over €40k so the market wasn’t entirely bowled over by his first crop. He was an admirable horse winning a Guineas and Racing Post Trophy and losing out narrowly to Roaring Lion over 10 furlongs. His pedigree is top notch being a son of Deep Impact and his dam was a Moyglare winner so there is plenty to like about him but the price increase was overdone.
7. Churchill €30,000 (€25,000)- (2014 by Galileo ex Meow by Storm Cat)
Verdict: A poor siredespite Vadeni
Vadeni showed that Churchill can sire a really top horse. His two year olds included Prix Marcel Boussac winner Blue Rose Cen and Royal Lodge winner The Foxes. Yet despite those successes Churchill is not a good sire. He has covered huge books throughout his career – 211 mares in 2018, 214 mares in 2019, 250 mares in 2020, 198 in 2021 and 108 in 2022. His yearling median dipped slightly to €50,000 so the market hasn’t abandoned him yet. However his overall record (8 stakes winners and 96 winners) is far from impressive and for me he is one to avoid.
8. Sottsass €25,000 (25,000) (2016 Siyouni ex Starlet’s Sister by Galileo)
Verdict: Fairly Priced
Sottsass race record of an Arc, Prix Ganay and French Derby is impressive. His pedigree is impressive with the dam also producing 7 time Gr. 1 winner Sistercharlie and Gr. 1 placed My Sister Nat. St Mark’s Basilica is the more high profile son of Siyouni but at their respective prices Sottsass is better value.
9. Australia €25,000 (€35,000)- (2011 by Galileo ex Ouija Board by Cape Cross) Verdict: Slightly overpriced (should be €20,000)
Had a new Grp 1 winner in Ocean Road and Nachtrose won the Oaks D’Italia. However, overall it was an underwhelming year on the track. At this stage in his career we have a fair idea of the true merit of Australia. He is a decent sire of 5% stakes winners but he has his limitations. He has covered 173 mares in 2022 and 162 in 2021 with many of these reportedly foal shares. His yearling median dropped back to €33k this year and I suspect he will struggle to regain the love of the commercial market.
10. Blackbeard €25,000 (na)- (2020 by No Nay Never ex Muirin by Born to Sea) Verdict: Overpriced– Ten Sovereigns is better relative value
Ran 8 times and won 6 times including a pair of Group 1’s in the Prix Morny and Middle Park. He was an early two year old, debuting in April, winning a Listed race in early May and a Group 3 later that month. His dam Muirin won at two and was 4th in the Moyglare but never won again in five later career starts. Blackbeard cost 270,000 guineas as foal and following his exploits his sister cost an eye popping €2.6 million as a yearling. Blackbeard was also notably quirky (see video of his antics below https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JirvdmHzh84&t=9s) and it was hard to envision him improving his record at three. The fact that Little Big Bear was kept in training and Blackbeard retired is a good indicator of who they perceive as being the better horse/better prospect. Taking everything into account, I think he is well overpriced. If you really want to use a son of No Nay Never at Coolmore then Ten Sovereigns is standing at €17,500 and he was both a better horse than Blackbeard and he trained on at three.
Whitsbury Stud were quick off the mark with their fees for 2023. The stud was founded by the bookmaker William Hill in the 1950’s and is now run by Ed Harper. Their website https://www.whitsburymanorstud.co.uk/index.html is surprisingly basic but they are fortunate that their stallions progeny are doing the business on the track and they don’t need flashy websites 🙂
Below is my assessment of their published fees for 2023..
Stallion 2023 fee (2022 fee)
Showcasing £45,000 (£45,000)- (2007 Oasis Dream ex Arabesque by Zafonic)
Verdict: Slightly Overpriced
Showcasing retired for a fee of £5000 which was reduced to £4500 for the subsequent three seasons. As he now stands at ten times that price its fair to say he has greatly exceeded expectations. He is now well established in the top division of stallions on these islands.
He retired as the winner of the Gimcrack, he ran to a similar level when third in the Middle Park. As a three year old he was placed in Duke of York before flopping in his final two starts. He came with a typically strong Juddmonte pedigree and was a half brother to Camacho who has had his moments at stud from low fees.
His first crop included Cappella Sansevera and Prize Exhibit and his second gave him a Group 1 winner with Quiet Reflection and a Group 2 winner in Tasleet. There weren’t a lot of stars in his third and fourth crops but triple Group 1 winner Advertise led his 2016 crop and an even better horse in Mothaater followed in his 2017 crop along with Soldier’s Call. These sort of results saw his fee hit £55,000 in 2019 and 2020 before dipping back again to £45000.
In general he is a good sire of sprinters/milers, many of them precocious. For a relatively young sire who started at bargain basement fees, it’s surprising that he has five sons at stud (Capella Sansevera, Tasleet (who sired a Coventry winner in his first crop) and a trio yet to have runners in Advertise, Soldiers Call and Mothaater).
In 2002, Showcasing had plenty of success with his two year olds. Belbek won the Grp 1 Prix Jean Luc Lagardere and he was backed up by the Group 2 winning fillies Swingalong (Lowther Stakes) and Dramatised (Queen Mary). He has 77 yearlings sold this year for an average of £74000 and a median of £52,500. Given their conception fee was £55,000 commercial breeders weren’t covering costs. It seems that the market appreciates the merits of Showcasing but isn’t willing to pay silly money for his progeny. It is for this reason I rated him as slightly overpriced but he is undoubtedly a very useful sire.
2. Havana Grey £18,500 (£6000)- (2015 Havana Gold ex Blanc de Chine by Dark Angel)
Ed Harper is quoted as saying they thought long and hard about what fee to set for Havana Grey. To be fair it’s a tricky decision. He set a blistering pace in the first season sires championship with a very impressive 50% winners to runners (40 winners from 80 runners) , 5 stakes winners and 3 Group horses. The only slight reservation was the lack of a real superstar with no winners above Group 3 level and his highest rated horse being the 108 rated Eddie’s Boy.
This crop of two year olds was conceived off an £8000 fee. His fee dipped to £6500 and then £6000 for his third and fourth season. Doubtless breeders who patronized him then are delighted now. His 2022 yearlings sold for an average of £59000 with a median of £43000, which is a great result off a £6000 fee.
Havana Grey was a tough two year old running eight times highlighted by a win in the Molecomb and a runner up spot in the Prix Morny to Unfortunately. He ran a similar number of times at three and added the Group 2 Sapphire Stakes and the Group 1 Flying Five both at the Curragh. In third place in that Flying Five was Sioux Nation, his closest rival for the first season title.
Havana Grey’s pedigree is unremarkable. His sire Havana Gold is doing well but is still available at £12500. Blanc de Chine, his dam by Dark Angel has produced little of note and you need to go well back in the pedigree to find any real quality via Chain Store (dam of Al Bahathri).
It’s interesting to watch the change in stamina through the generations. Sadler’s Wells progeny had an average winning distance of 11.4f, Galileo 11.2f, Teofilo 10.8f, and Havana Gold’s is 7.8 furlongs . Havana Grey was best at 5 but ran well in the Morny over 6. This is a good example of the figures quoted by Emmeline Hill of Plusvital who estimated that there is a 50% reduction in T:T horses (stamina) in the general population and a 70% increase in C:C (sprinters).
I believe his 2023 fee is a bargain as for me his runners are greatly exceeding expectations across all metrics. Having 80 runners is hugely impressive from a crop of 116 foals (103 quoted in some reports). Having 40 winners already is hugely impressive. Having 5 stakes winners is impressive. When those results come from a fee of £8000 he gets extra kudos. We obviously don’t know yet whether his runners will train on but it’s encouraging that he trained on well. His subsequent crops will have slightly lesser books of mares so he may dip in terms of profile. However, I think all the signs are that this is a breakthrough sire in the mould of a Dark Angel or Mehmas. I was expecting a £25000 fee and for me he represents a very attractive risk/reward profile. I expect his fee to be comparable with Showcasing in another few years.
3. Sergei Prokofiev £6,000 (£6000)- (2016 Scat Daddy ex Orchard Beach by Tapit)
Verdict: Your guess is as good as mine
Cost $1.1 million as a yearling. He had his moments on the track notably winning a Cornwallis Stakes (Grp 3) and two Listed races but he was short of being top class. UK Breeders must believe that being a son of Scat Daddy is enough to guarantee success as he has attracted bumper books of 150+ in his first two seasons. The rise of No Nay Never and good starts by Sioux Nation and Justify support that theory.
I would be cautious as even the best sires of sires have plenty of dud sons and Scat Daddy isn’t at that level. Those big books though give him every chance to succeed and he could easily make his mark despite his lack of top class racing ability.
4. Due Diligence £5,000 (£5,000)- (2011 War Front ex Bema by Pulpit)
A better racehorse than Sergei Prokofiev, he ran a huge race to be runner up in the Golden Jubilee. Whereas Sergei Prokofiev benefits from the reflected halo effect of Scat Daddy , Due Diligence suffers from the distaste that now exists for sons of War Front. Market prejudices may be irrational but commercial breeders cannot be oblivious to them. Due Diligence had a yearling median of just £7875 in 2021 but this recovered to £16275 in 2022. This was somewhat surprising as he had nothing decent emerge on the track in the year. His overall record is reasonable with 54 winners from 120 starters and 164 foals of racing age as he has struggled for patronage compared to some of his stud mates. To date he has 3 stakes winners led by a pair of Group 3 winners but its difficult to imagine him rising too far up the ranks.
For me the most interesting thing about this sire is his record with Compton Place mares. He has a pair of Group 3 winners in Good Vibes and Streamline ex Compton Place mares and his highest rated horse on Racing Post Ratings, Diligent Harry is out of a Compton Place mare. In total there are only seven foals of racing age bred on this cross so for nicks fans despite the small sample size this has got to be a really interesting option.
The accounts themselves don’t contain too many surprises but there are a few interesting revelations contained within the notes to the accounts:
The Directors of the Stud during that period included Jessica Harrington and Mark Weld. They were each paid €8,100 for attending 5 meetings- so it’s a nice gig. As the above note shows, Jessie Harrington and Dermot Weld were selected to train horses owned by the INS in 2020 or 2019. Jessie and Mark Weld may have excused themselves from the deliberations regarding the selection of trainers but it’s a situation that should be avoided. A new policy should be introduced that Board members or their families are precluded from training horses of the stud. It might also be worth asking what tendering process was undertaken before deciding that the best trainers happened to be those sitting at the Board table? The amounts involved are small in the overall context of the stud but the optics in terms of ‘insiders’ are not good…
The INS could go a step further and deliberately place horses with smaller trainers/regional trainers/younger trainers. The trainers used should be rotated every few years. The loss of a few horses isn’t going to impact on a Dermot Weld or Jessie Harrington but it would be a nice boost for someone at an earlier stage of their career.
2. The stud has received a derogation from the Dept of Agriculture to avoid listing the number of employees by salary bands, which is not good practice and should be reviewed. This is the same evasion as practiced by the IHRB and prevents proper scrutiny of the appropriateness of the management structure and payscales.
3. On a positive note, the salary of the Chief Executive Cathal Beale is fully disclosed as is a requirement under the Code of Practice for Commercial State Bodies. This salary amount might attract outrage on Liveline (an Irish chat show in which the callers complain about everything) but it doesn’t seem outlandish for the role and for someone who has brought some energy to the role.