Bolshoi Ballet and Joan of Arc served notice that Galileo isn’t going to be displaced from his position as Champion sire anytime soon. However, whilst not at the end, we are at the beginning of the end of his reign and this will have very significant consequences for top level racing and breeding. Some of the likely impacts include:
1. A dilemma for Coolmore.
Although Galileo was still covering this year, he is now 23 and there have been limited updates on whether he is getting mares in foal. In the absence of Galileo, who should they utilise with their extensive broodmare band? This is the most immediate issue for Coolmore/Ballydoyle.
Looking at Coolmore’s European roster there is nothing remotely of his class available. The most expensive listed sire is No Nay Never (€125,000) who is far removed from Galileo in terms of progeny aptitudes. He is nobody’s idea of a suitable substitute. Wootton Bassett is next at €100,000 and he will already be busy as a suitable outcross mate for their band of mares sired by Galileo. He is an interesting option but by no means certain of the patronage.
Camelot stands at €60,000. He received a fee hike this year but he doesn’t look like a successor in waiting. He will probably benefit from some redirected mares but he can count himself lucky.
Fastnet Rock (€50,000) is very limited and is already 20 years old. Sottsass (€30000) is unproven, likewise Saxon Warrior (€20,000) and Churchill €30,000. Gleneagles €25000 has disappointed. Australia €25,000 is the best son of Galileo on their roster and would benefit from access to better mares and maybe speedier types but Coolmore don’t seem to have a lot of confidence in him.
The US roster is headlined by American Pharoah (decent results in Europe) and Justify (potential but unproven) along with Uncle Mo (very few runners in Europe). It’s hard to see them redirecting too many mares to them. So there is the dilemma….do Coolmore support their own sires knowing their limitations or utilise more outside sires?
2. Implications for Ballydoyle.
Ballydoyle has been spoiled for over a decade with a conveyor belt of superior Galileo runners. I often thought that for a level playing field Galileo’s should carry a five pound penalty 🙂
A full listing of his astonishing 39 European classic winners can be found at https://www.aidanobrienfansite.com/galileo-classic-victories-by-crop-order.php .
However, without Mr Reliable the days of 25+ Group 1 winners in a season will be very hard to replicate. 15+ Group 1 winners in a season would be dreamland for any other operation but may seem underwhelming given what has gone before. This can escalate tensions with owners used to unprecedented success. Will ‘the lads’ scale back on numbers? Will Aidan look to scale back the numbers he is training or redirect more to his sons?
3. Dubawi may win a sires championship
A little like Richard Johnson had to wait for McCoy to depart, if he can hang around for long enough, Dubawi may eventually claim a sires championship.
4. New owners will have a chance to compete and succeed
There is now an opportunity for new wealthy owners to enter the game and credibly chase middle distance classic horses. For the last decade with the close control of the Galileo progeny even the ultra-rich couldn’t get their hands on the right ammunition for classic glory. (Note if any such ultra-rich owner is looking for a bloodstock adviser drop me a line)…
5. The title of Galileo’s best son is still undecided
Frankel isn’t everyone’s cup of tea but he has very good black type percentages, classic winners in Logician and Anapurna and a superstar in Cracksman. He currently leads the way ahead of the reliable Teofilo and the infuriatingly inconsistent New Approach who nonetheless can boast three classic winners in Dawn Approach, Talent and Masar. There are still plenty of sons who could yet emerge to take this title.
Conclusion: Few would have predicted that the Sadler’s Wells era would have been followed by the even more remarkable Galileo era. We don’t know what lies ahead but we are unlikely to see a third such dominant force emerge for some time. A more competitive top level racing environment with success being more evenly spread might not be such a bad thing…