1.Coolmore/Ballydoyle. It couldn’t have gone any better for Ballydoyle/Coolmore. 6 Winners, 4 Group 1 winners, all colts, all eligible for a place on the stallion roster. Another 5 winners were by Coolmore stallions.The only surprise was their lack of two year old firepower . Maybe this a reflection of a tweaking of the training regime by Aidan O’Brien or maybe this years crop just aren’t precocious.
2. Jim Bolger.
After Royal Ascot he trains arguably the best three year old filly miler in Europe in Lush Lashes and the best two year filly in Cuis Gaire. Both are daughters of Galileo the stallion he made (see earlier article), which added jam to Coolmores bread. For good measure he trained Finsceal Beo to be third in the Queen Anne and Intense Focus to finish second in the Coventry. And these were his only 4 runners at the Royal Meeting. He may not be well liked but he sure can train horses.
3. Lucky Story. A very impressive Royal Ascot winner in the shape of Art Connoisseur (tipped in my earlier article about Lucky Story) is great exposure for any new sire. The fact that his brother Dr Fong sired the first (Free Agent) and third (Markyg)in the Chesham stakes is an added bonus.
4. Exceed and Excel. Flashmans Papers won the Windsor Castle stakes and Spin Cycle was a close second in the Norfolk Stakes. These results justify some of the big prices paid for his offspring and might have provided some cheer to the Darley boys.
1. Godolphin. One winner from thirteen winners is very disappointing for an operation that often dominated the Royal meeting. The fact that there were such celebrations about Campanologists Group 2 win is in itself indicative of the trough they are now experiencing.
Gone but not forgotten
Danehill. Sire of arguably the best winner of the week in Duke of Marmalade. Multidimensional returned to form by running second in the Hardwicke, Sugar Ray won one of the big handicaps The Duke of Edinburgh stakes and as if to remind us of his sires versatility, old stager Distinction finished second in the marathon Queen Alexandra.
Gone and soon to be forgotten?
Storm Cat? With the fast ground at Royal Ascot you would have expected the Storm Cat line to thrive but only Colony, a son of Statue of Liberty made the winners enclosure and that was after a handicap. Giant’s Causeway was the sire of Intense Focus runner up in the Coventry. However you would have expected a much greater showing from the Storm Cat sireline.
There is a difference between price and worth. Bargains can be found by recognising that difference. Browsing through a list of stallions in Britain at fees of under £5000 there were a few surprising names. Some of these are older stallions who have fallen out of fashion, some are stallions facing into difficult second, or third seasons and others just seem cheap to me. In no particular order my selections as the best value bargain basement sires are as follows:
1. Proven Sire standing in the UK= Generous at £4500.
Ok his sales figures are terrible and he is being marketed as a dual purpose sire. However he is a very good sire of racehorses and that should count for something. He is the sire of 37 stakes winners from 599 foals of racing age which is a very respectable 6%. He started his career with huge expectations and a fee to match. When early results were solid rather than spectacular, it was impossible to resist a big money offer from Japan where his sire Caerleon was very popular. On his return to these isles he was being marketed as a dual purpose sire and covering very moderate mares. He still managed to sire a classic winner in Mystic Lips (2007 German Oaks) from one of the mares covered since his return. He is also achieving success as a broodmare sire and Tartan Trader came within a length of giving him a Derby success as a broodmare sire to go with the Guineas victory of his brother Golan. To these can be added Tungsten Strike and High Accolade who are also out Generous mares.
2. Promising UK based sire= Lucky Story at £4000
It’s very early days for Lucky Story but he has made a bright start. He has sired Art Connoisseur who is unbeaten in two runs and will be well fancied in whatever engagement he takes up at Royal Ascot. He has also sired Caranbola who is a winner and was second in a Listed race. That isn’t a lot to go on but its a better start than anyone would have predicted. Lucky Story is a son of Kris S out of a Miswaki mare and is a full brother to the St James Palace winner Dr Fong (who stands for £9000). Although he never won a group 1, Lucky Story was the equal of his brother and he won two Group 2 races at two in the Vintage Stakes at Goodwood and the Champagne Stakes at Doncaster. At three he put up a fine performance in the QEII at Ascot running Ratki to half a length with Refuse To Bend, Soviet Song and Antonius Pius in his wake. With a pedigree free of Northern Dancer and two promising performers in his first crop he offers value to British breeders.
3. Unknown but seems cheap- Zafeen at £3000
Zafeen won the Mill Reef Stakes at 2 and was second in the Prix Morny. At three he was runner up to Refuse to Bend in the 2000 Guineas and won the St James Palace. He was rated the champion European three year old miler. He is a son of supersonic Zafonic, who to date has not left a major sire son (although Count Dubois is doing well in South Africa and Ifraaj has just started his career). His dam Shy Lady was by Kaldoun and was a 6 furlong listed race winner in Germany from the family of Diffident. Northern Dancer is buried far back in his pedigree at 4sx6d so there should be no problem breeding to stallions from his line. Zafeen looks good, he was a top class racehorse at two and three, his pedigree is respectable and he looks very reasonably priced to me.