Continuing my candid review of Coolmore’s 2020 stud fees- from Magna Grecia to Zoffany…..
Stallion 2020 fee (2019 fee)
Magna Grecia €22,500 (na)- (2016 by Invincible Spirit ex Cabaret by Galileo)
There are an incredible seven English 2000 Guineas winners standing at Coolmore. Magna Grecia was a decisive winner in 2019 but the race was unsatisfactory, with the near side runners seemingly at a big advantage. That said, he was already a Group 1 winner when he lined up for the Guineas having won the Vertem Futurity Trophy(aka Racingpost/Observer Gold Cup/Timeform/WilliamHill Futurity whatever you are having yourself). He was only 5th in Irish Guineas and missed most of the season before a final below par run in the QE2 at Ascot. He retired to stud with a record of three wins from six starts and a narrow defeat by subsequent French Guineas winner Persian King in the Autumn Stakes. He was an expensive foal at 340,000 guineas. Clearly a good looking individual, his dam was a Group winning daughter of Galileo and being a son of Invincible Spirit is a positive in selling any new stallion prospect. I don’t see him as the next Kingman or I am Invincible and expected him to be around €20,000. His fee will fall back over the coming years as he has to compete with newer arrivals on the marketplace.
Mastercraftsman €25,000 (€30,000) (2006 Danehill Dancer ex Starlight Dreams by Black Tie Affair)
There was a little girl,
Who had a little curl,
Right in the middle of her forehead.
When she was good,
She was very good indeed,
But when she was bad she was horrid .
That poem reminds me of Mastercraftsman. He can sire outstanding performers such as Alpha Centauri, The Grey Gatsby and Kingston Hill or lots and lots of dross. He had nothing of the calibre of Alpha Centauri in 2019, with his best winner Technician winning the Prix Royale Oak over nearly 2 miles. His 2019 yearling sales median dropped to 30000 guineas so he isn’t performing in the sales ring. He had smaller foal crops of 87 and 65 in 2017 and 2018 so his offspring won’t be as visible on the track in the coming years either. He may rebound on the strength of the crop conceived post Alpha Centauri but I would have expected him to be 20k for 2020.
No Nay Never €175,000 (€100,000) (2011 Scat Daddy ex Cat’s Eye Witness by Elusive Quality)
No Nay Never (NNN) has done very well with his first two crops but someone needs to get a grip and rein in the Scat Daddy hype. NNN has sired one Group 1 winner, and he (Ten Sovereigns) only ever won at 6 furlongs. NNN impressed with his current crop of 131 two year olds, featuring the Dewhurst place getters Arizona and Wichita and Group 2 winner (and Dewhurst also ran) Mystery Power. The breeders who used him in the early days have done well for themselves with a yearling median this year of 80,000 guineas. However to justify his 2020 covering fee, a commercial breeder would have to get 250,000 guineas+ for the resultant offspring. Those are the sort of numbers better suited to classic prospects, not the types sired to date by NNN ie sprinters and two year olds. By way of comparison, Kingman and Frankel who are proven classic sires are £150,000 and £175,000 respectively for 2020 and Invincible Spirit is €100,000. Don’t get me wrong NNN is a hugely promising sire with very good percentages and his record will improve further with the better quality mares that he is now attracting. He is free of Danzig and Sadler’s Wells which helps with his mare compatibility in these parts. However, he is being priced as if he had already fully delivered on his promise and there is limited upside. NNN’s fee has gone too far, too soon and he is best left to the Coolmore band of mares who aren’t paying for the privilege.
Requinto €4,000 (€5,000) (Dansili ex Damson by Entrepreneur)
Verdict: No loss
I had just written, how he was somehow clinging on to his place in the Coolmore roster, when I came across a late announcement that he was relocating to Italy for 2020.Had a yearling sales median of 8500 guineas in 2019 and unlikely to be mourned by too many.
Rock Of Gibraltar €6,000 (€7,500) (1999 Danehill ex Offshore Boom by Be My Guest)
Verdict: Should be Retired…
It’s almost a bit sad to see such a great horse operating at this level of the stallion market. Only had a reported 15 foals in 2018 and the median for his 9 yearlings sold this year was 6000 guineas. Has his moments as a sire but his overall record was modest, given the opportunities he received.
Ruler Of The World €6,000 (€10,000) (2010 Galileo ex Love Me True by Kingmambo)
Verdict: Bon Voyage
A beautifully bred Derby winner who finished close up in a Champion Stakes. His stud record consists of Iridessa and nothing else. He was restricted by (relatively speaking) small crops of 45 and 55 in his first two seasons but will now be standing in Haras de Bouquetot for 2020.
Saxon Warrior €27,500 (€30,000) (2015 Deep Impact ex Maybe by Galileo)
Verdict: Fair Price
Lots to like about Saxon Warrior. By the 5th of May in his three year old career his career stats were 4 runs, 4 wins that included a 2000 Guineas, A Racing Post Trophy and a Beresford Stakes. In two of those races he defeated Roaring Lion. He ran five more times, finishing fourth at odds on in the Derby behind Masar and finishing third in the Irish Derby. He was narrowly beaten by Roaring Lion in an Eclipse before again finding that rival too good in the International Stakes and the Leopardstown Champion Stakes. He seemed versatile in trip being equally adept at a mile and a mile and quarter and not being beaten too far in two Derbies. He is a welcome top class son of Deep Impact to stand in Europe and his dam Maybe (by Galileo) was a champion two year old who won the Moyglare Stud Stakes from a high class female line. You could argue that he is just another unproven Guineas winner standing at Coolmore and his fee will be shaved further in the coming seasons but the novelty of his sireline in these parts make him an interesting prospect for the right mares. He attracted 165 mares in 2019 and should remain popular for now.
Sioux Nation €12,500 (€12,500) (2015 Scat Daddy ex Dream the Blues by Oasis Dream)
Verdict: Overpriced (slightly)
The poor man’s son of Scat Daddy and like others by SD he needed good to firm ground to show his best form. His overall record of 4 wins from 15 starts shows he was just short of top class even if he did snare a Group 1 in the Phoenix Stakes to go with his Group 2 at Royal Ascot in the Norfolk. His female pedigree is more than a little light by the usual Coolmore standards. Interestingly, the granddam Catch The Blues serves as a nice reminder that Aidan O’Brien didn’t always train Galileos. She was unsold for IRP£3500 but Aidan managed to win a Ballyogan Stakes with her and got her placed in a Haydock Sprint Cup. I would have thought something like 10k would be closer to the mark. However breeders obviously disagree with me and 241 mares were covered at €12,500 in 2019..
Starspangledbanner €22,500 (17,500) (2006 Choisir ex Gold Anthem by Made of Gold
Verdict: Fair Price
A quality sprinter on two continents who had well reported fertility issues and he didn’t return from Australia for a few years. His first small crop (2012) of only 33 foals included a very impressive 8 Black Type winners including the Wow Signal, Home of the Brave and Anthem Alexander . There were 73 foals in his 2017 crop with Millisle delivering a second Group 1 for her sire in the Cheveley Park. His yearling median sales price took a bit of a dip to 30000 guineas in 2019, so that doesn’t leave a lot of scope for profit for commercial breeders. Maybe, I’m still blinded by the memory of that first crop but for me he is a likeable sire, who upgrades his mares and is worth using.
Ten Sovereigns €25,000 (na) (2016 No Nay Never ex Seeking Solace by Exceed and Excel)
The poor man’s No Nay Never 🙂 Unbeaten at two, he won the Middle Park. He failed to stay in the Guineas before disappointing in the Commonwealth Cup. He bounced back with a top class performance in the July Cup before again disappointing in the Nunthorpe. On his final run, the Everest in Australia, he again failed to scale the heights 🙂 He cost 200,000 guineas as a yearling, with his dam being Listed placed and his grandam being Group placed. However, its an unremarkable distaff line and his siblings by Halling and High Chaparral were sold for €21,000 and 40,000 guineas respectively. The use of those sires and those prices gives an indication that this isn’t the bluest of blood. For less money, you could use a proven July Cup winner in Starspangledbanner, or a better bred one in US Navy Flag but regardless of what I say, Ten Sovereigns will prove popular in his first season as people jump on the NNN bandwagon.
The Gurkha €12,500 (€17,500) (2013 Galileo ex Chintz by Danehill Dancer)
Verdict: Fair Price
Unraced at two, he was an impressive winner of the French Guineas. He then ran second in the St James Palace to Galileo Gold (after Frankie outrode Ryan Moore) and in the Eclipse to Hawksbill. He finished his career on a high with a victory in the Sussex Stakes over Galileo Gold, Ribchester and Awtaad.
The Gurkha has a classy enough pedigree. His dam, Chintz was a Group 3 winner of the CL Weld Stakes, his Granddam was a Listed winner and the third dam Brooklyns Dance is the dam of Arc winner Solemia and other notables.
It’s always a brave/foolish act (usually the latter) to use a horse in his fourth season. His first yearlings had a median of only 25000 gns which is a very poor result off a €25000 fee. There is no scarcity of quality sons of Galileo at stud competing for mares, but €12500 is enticing enough to overcome the usual caution in this matters.
US Navy Flag €17,500 (25,000) (2015 War Front ex Misty For Me by Galileo)
Verdict: Fair Price
US Navy Flag makes for an interesting comparison with Ten Sovereigns. Both won by the Middle Park and July Cup but US Navy Flag also won the Dewhurst. In addition, U S Navy Flag stayed better than Ten Sovereigns, finishing a credible second in the Irish 2000 Guineas to Romanised. US Navy Flag comes from a much better distaff line than Ten Sovereigns. His dam, Misty For Me won an Irish 1000 Guineas and Moyglare Stakes amongst her four Group 1’s and is also the dam of triple Group 1 winner Roly Poly (also by War Front). To add to the story, Misty for Me is a sister to Prix Marcel Boussac winner Ballydoyle and this is also the family of champion two year old and flash in the pan sire Fasliyev. Overall this is a real quality family. War Front is a better (and more expensive) and proven sire compared to No Nay Never. However NNN is more fashionable so Ten Sovereigns will attract more mares….. Alas, commercial breeders have to take heed of fashion even when they disagree. The words of Keynes are very apt “the markets can stay irrational, longer than you can stay solvent”!
So how to assess US Navy Flag? He raced in headgear but he was genuine. In terms of commercial appeal he is held back by his sire War Front. I’m not sure what happened to people with War Front. Everyone loved War Front, until they stopped loving him. He didn’t become a bad sire, quite the contrary, but there is a suspicion about his sire sons in Europe so in his first season US Navy Flag ‘only’ attracted 119 mares. The record of sons of War Front in these parts is not actually that bad. Declaration of War only stood in Europe for one season and his record was underwhelming, War Command can be excused on the basis of ordinary mares but this year Due Diligence exceeded expectations. Overall looking at the total package of pedigree and performance, U S Navy Flag looks a reasonable price to me.
Zoffany €22,500(€25,000) (2008 Dansili ex Tyranny by Machiavellian)
Zoffany is Marmite (or should that be kryptonite) – everyone has an opinion on him, with little middle ground. Incidentally most people don’t like Marmite 🙂 I once part-owned a 40’s rated Zoffany colt/gelding but I try not to let that colour my view of him 🙂
Albigna winning the Prix Marcel Boussac was a big result for Zoffany. He needed a Group 1 horse as he had lacked one since the forgettable Ventura Storm in his first crop. The heady days of a Royal Ascot treble in 2015 with Waterloo Bridge, Washington DC and Illuminate are all but forgotten. In 2019, Zoffany had a useful supporting cast with Fleeting being placed in two Oaks and Main Edition winning a German 1000 Guineas. Albigna is however the only stakes winner to date from the 169 two year olds representing him in 2019. He has another 158 foals in his 2018 crop so he has plenty of ammunition for next season. For me, he hasn’t delivered on his early promise. He gets good looking sales horses and had a yearling median of 40,500 guineas in 2019 . However, his overall stats of 3% stakes winners don’t justify his stud fee.