Chicken Little aka Chicken Licken wasn’t wrong, she was just ahead of her time. Nowadays it seems that the sky really is falling down as asset values crash around the world. Stallion fees are understandably under pressure as the recent sales season showed falls in the grosses, averages, and medians. However there are still some stallions bucking the trend, who’s fees for 2009 are showing increases on 2008. So in the words of Bugs Bunny “Whats up doc?”
Starting with Coolmore- Montjeu and Danehill Dancer are both now listed as private from last years fees of €125,000 and €115,000. Both sires had good years with Montjeu adding another classic winning colt in Irish Derby winner Frozen Fire and the very impressive Grand Prix de Paris winner Montmartre. His older horses included Group 2 winners Honolulu and MacArthur and the Autumn saw him reveal some promising 2 year olds including a one-two in the final Group One of the Season at Saint Cloud with Fame and Glory and Drumbeat, alongside the Royal Lodge success of Jukebox Jury who also finished second in the Racingpost Trophy. Danehill Dancer had a great year in Ireland where his star turns were Mastercraftsman who won the Phoenix and National Stakes as well as Again who won the Moyglare. These had a large back up cast including Ice Queen who was just touched off in the Irish Oaks, Caribbean Sunset who was narrowly beaten in the Irish 1000 Guineas and Westphalia who won the Group 2 Champagne Stakes. Both stallions have the offspring of better books of mares on the way and normally you would say that the fee hikes could be justified but in the current environment it is more questionable. In the case of Danehill Dancer I would contrast his situation with that of Pivotal who sired Guineas winners in three countries but saw his fee cut from £85000 to £65000- and Danehill Dancer whilst a good sire is no Pivotal. It is possible, indeed probable that the decision to list the fees as private is just the famed Coolmore spin machine at work. I strongly suspect that any breeder prepared who offered last years fees for either Danehill Dancer or Montjeu would have no problem getting an appointment for his mare. The other Coolmore giant is Galileo and his fee is advertised as private in 2009, the same situation as 2008. Galileo had a fantastic year with his three year olds New Approach and Lush Lashes, older horses Soldier of Fortune and Red Rocks and promising two year olds Kite Wood, Cuis Ghaire and Rip Van Winkle. Although there is no advertised change in his fee, with the retirement of Sadler’s Wells he is probably ‘more private’ now than he was before!
Darley have raised two of their stallions. Kheleyf has gone from €5000 to €12000 and Exceed and Excel was raised from €10000 to £12000. It’s easy to understand these increases given the success of both stallions with their two year olds, finishing first and second with 27 and 21 individual winners respectively, including a respectable number of stakes performers.
The Irish National Stud also had a good year with its first season sires. Elusive City was responsible for Group winners Elusive Wave and Soul City and it was no harm that Soul City also won the Goffs million. The success of Raven’s Pass, another son of Elusive Quality was also timely. His fee has now moved from €8000 to €12500 which seems pricey to me. Indian Haven also had two Group winners in Ashram and Aspen Darlin and has fee has increased slightly from €6000 to €7500. I would expect his progeny to train on well and I think he is represents very good value and could be the one to replicate the success enjoyed his sire Indian Ridge and grandsire Ahonoora at the Irish National Stud.
Amongst the second season sires Dalakhani was the star. Two classic winners in Moonstone and Conduit were backed up by Group 2 winners Centennial and Democrate and four other stakes winners. His results justify an increase from €40000 to €50000.
Nayef matched Dalakhani by siring two Group 1 winners in Lady Marian and Tamayuz. Like Dalakhani he is free from Northern Dancer and he represents very good value at his new fee of £15000 up from £10000 in 2008.
Bizarrely Shadwell also increased the fee for Sakhee from £10000 to £12000. He had a few useful performers in Samuel and the Italian Permesso who was twice Group 1 placed but it hardly constituted a successful season. I certainly can’t see the rationale behind this increase.
Juddmonte have not increased any of their fees, nor have Rathbarry or Lanwades, although Lanwades would have been forgiven had they given Hernando an increase after the exploits of Look Here and Casual Conquest.
The National Stud raised Bahamian Bounty from £9000 to £10000. This was surprising as although he had plenty of winners he had no Group winners all year and his best performer was Gallagher who finished runner up in the Prix Morny. Time will tell whether this decision was brave or foolhardy, but I found it surprising.
The brevity of the above list tells you all that you need to know about the current state of the market. Confidence is in short supply but no doubt commercial breeders are hoping that when it comes to selling the outcome of their 2009 matings that the financial outlook will be a lot rosier. I hope they will be proved right but I’m always reminded of the saying “anyone who wants to make a small fortune out of horses, needs to start with a big fortune”……..