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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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.