Irish National Stud- 2020 Fees reviewed

The 2018 accounts of the Irish National Stud show net assets of €19.3 million (you can view the accounts here if interested). There are 4.88 million Irish people, so I reckon I have a stake worth around €4 πŸ™‚ Hopefully, it won’t impair by impartiality…

My favourite story (hopefully true) about the Irish National Stud involves the late Michael Osborne. During his stint as Managing Director he was in US and wearing an Irish National Stud cap. Seemingly he was asked by one American lady “are you really?”…

The current roster includes 9 stallions and they are reviewed below.

  1. Decorated Knight €9,000 (€12,000) (2012 Galileo ex Pearling by Storm Cat)

Verdict: Fairly Priced

A triple Group 1 winner with one of the best pedigrees in the book. His dam is a sister to Giant’s Causeway making him a brother in blood to Gleneagles. Comparing the the two, in terms of peak ratings there wasn’t a huge gap between them (Timeform 124 vs 129) but Decorated Knight lacked the sort of precocity desirable in the marketplace. Decorated Knight didn’t win a Stakes race until he was 4 and didn’t win his Group 1’s until he was five. Hence, Gleneagles retired at a fee of €60,000, Decorated Knight at €15,000….

Decorated Knight’s first foals were well received with a median of 30,000 guineas. Given the good start made by Gleneagles with his first runners, I think a fee of €9,000 for Decorated Knight seems pretty good value. He is just another unproven stallion son of Galileo, and most will disappoint, but I think his pedigree gives him an edge over other wannabes.

2. Dragon Pulse €6,000 (€6,000) (2009 Kyllachy ex Poetical by Croco Rouge)

Verdict: Overpriced

As a two year old, he was trained by Jessie Harrington to win the Grp 2 Futurity Stakes and he was runner up to Dawn Approach in the National Stakes . At three he moved to France to Mikael Delzangles and won the Prix Fontainbleu before defeats in French Guineas and the St James Palace. It wasn’t a profile that had studs queuing up for him but he has carved out a place for himself in the Irish marketplace. He is free of Sadler’s Wells and Danzig which makes him suitable for a wider range of mares in Ireland and he attracted 131 mares in 2019.

Dragon Pulse has a reasonable winners/runner ratio. Trainers seem to like his stock and for me he is sort of a lesser version of Footstepsinthesand who similarly is favoured by trainers, despite lacking real stars. The fact that he has only had three modest stakes winners from his first four crops is the big negative for me. Commercial breeders might also be concerned that he had a yearling median of 10,000 guineas last year.

3. Elusive Pimpernel €3,000 (€1,000) (2007 Elusive Quality ex Cara Fantasy by Sadler’s Wells)

Verdict: Fairly Priced (for National Hunt purposes)

He stood for €1,000 for his first 8 seasons and received a tripling of his fee on the back of some good recent results over hurdles (Coeur Sublime and Soviet Pimpernel) and fences ( Ex Patriot). He has a very modest record on the flat, even taking into account the low quality of mare that he was covering. You would be very brave/foolish to use him for flat purposes. To date he hasn’t covered very big books but that could all change now that National Hunt breeders have him in their sights.

4. Famous Name €1,000 (€1,000) (2005 Dansili ex Famous At Last by Quest For Fame) standing at Anngrove Stud

Verdict: Fairly Priced (for National Hunt purposes)

21 wins from 38 runs over 5 seasons and only beaten a head in the French Derby. Disappointed as a flat sire, but at that fee you can see why National Hunt breeders might take a chance on him transmitting soundness and some ability.

5. Free Eagle €12,500 (€12,500) 2011 High Chaparral ex Polished Gem by Danehill

Verdict: Fairly Priced

Free Eagle was lightly raced but highly regarded. After winning on debut he was 2/5 when well beaten by Australia as a two year old in a Group 3. He was off the track for a full year before winning a Group 3 and running a good third in the Champion Stakes behind Noble Mission. He won his Group 1 on his four year old reappearance in the Prince of Wales but failed to win again, despite running well in third in the Irish Champion Stakes and not being beaten far in the Arc. As a son of High Chaparral, I didn’t expect much precocity from Free Eagle’s first crop of 88 but they did quite well. He had 12 winners from 42 runners and these included two classy, Ger Lyons horses in Listed winner Justifier and Stakes placed filly Auxilia . It is reasonable to assume that his progeny will be better at three so it was surprising to see his yearling median drop from 25,000 guineas in 2018 to 10,750 guineas in 2019. At those prices you are better off buying one of his offspring than trying to breed one.

Incidentally, his pedigree got a boost during the year, when his three parts sister Search For A Song (by Galileo) won the Irish St Leger and the dam has now produced a very impressive six Stakes winners including Custom Cut and Sapphire.
Thatcher may have said “you can’t buck the market” and I’m sure she would have strongly disapproved of a State owned stud farm as well πŸ™‚ It’s easy to conclude that he is overpriced on the basis of the sales returns, but I’m going to give him the benefit of the doubt and say he is fairly priced on the basis of progeny performance and their potential for improvement. It’s the yearling market in 2022 you need to consider and he is undoubtedly in the risky category but perhaps worth a punt.

6. Invincible Spirit €100,000 (€120,000) (1997 Green Desert ex Rafha by Kris)

Verdict: Ovepriced (slightly)

The balance sheet of the Irish National Stud would be a lot less healthy without him. Had a good year on the track with Magna Grecia winning the Guineas and Invincible Army and Inns of Court winning Group 2’s. Being touted as a sire of sires with the success of Kingman and I Am Invincible and an encouraging first crop by Cable Bay (although his results aren’t that exceptionally good) should also have boosted his reputation. He is now 23 but age is no barrier to siring a good horse. Despite the success on the track his yearling median dropped to 110,000 guineas so he is commercially risky as older stallions lose ground to more fashionable new arrivals. He is undoubtedly a very good sire with 126 stakes winners (6%) to his name. You could debate whether his fee should be dropped back somewhat based on his sales results or can be justified based on the track results and sire of sires spin, but I thought it would be pared back a little more.

7. National Defense €8,000 (€8,000) (2012 Invincible Spirit ex Angel Falls by Kingmambo)

Verdict: Fairly Priced

It’s understandable that the INS would want to stand a son or sons of Invincible Spirit. National Defense looked very good winning the Jean Luc Lagardere (Grand Criterium) on Arc weekend but in retrospect it was a weak field. Prior to that victory he had won a maiden and been beaten in a Group 3 but ended up rated as champion French two year old. He made a nice three year old reappearance in the Prix Djebel finishing second to Al Wukair and started favourite for the French Guineas only to finish last and never be seen again on the track.

National Defense has a solid female line with plenty of decent back type performers and he cost €280,000 as a yearling. He had a good first book of mares conceived at €12,000 and his first foals were well received with a median of 26,000 guineas. The success of Kingman and the good season enjoyed by Cable Bay will have helped push the idea of Invincible Spirit as a sire of sires, whilst helping to obliterate the memory of Born to Sea, Mayson, Swiss Spirit, Zebedee, Vale of York and the unremarkable records of Charm Spirit and Lawman πŸ™‚ It’s a gamble using him in his third season but at €8000 it stacks up reasonably well compared to some of the newer sons of Invincible Spirit on the market .

8. Palavicini €1,000 (not listed) (2006 Giant’s Causeway ex Cara Fantasy by Sadler’s Wells)

Verdict: Fairly Priced (for National Hunt purposes)

A Group 3 winner and a half brother to Elusive Pimpernel. Another of the stallions associated with Cristina Patino. He won’t be doing a Big Bad Bob and becoming an unlikely success story. Very few foals to date and nothing of note so far, I’m not sure why you would use him but what are you expecting for €1,000?

9.Phoenix of Spain €15,000 (na) (2016 Lope de Vega ex Lucky Clio by Key Of Luck)

Verdict: Overpriced (slightly)

Looked really good when winning the Irish Guineas on his three year old reappearance. Too Darn Hot was well beaten in second and Magna Grecia was back in fifth. At that stage it looked as if the INS had pulled a master stroke by buying into Phoenix of Spain during his two year old days. In a marketplace where so few stallion prospects are available, they certainly did well in purchasing him. Unfortunately, he failed to win after his classic success and in truth was disappointing in all of his subsequent four runs. His two year old form had been promising, winning an Acomb Stakes,finishing a good second to Too Darn Hot in the Champagne Stakes and beaten a head after being bumped by Magna Grecia in the Vertem Futurity Trophy. In his favour, he is by an upwardly mobile stallion in Lope De Vega. His dam side is reasonable with the granddam having produced a Group 2 winner in Special Kaldoun and he cost 220,000 guineas as a yearling. He could easily make the grade as a stallion but being picky , I think Belardo is a better value son of Lope De Vega at 10k.

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