Coolmore and Darley dominate the Irish flat stallion ranks and there is quite a gap back to the chasing pack. Tally- Ho stud has made significant progress in recent years and now has claims to be the ‘best of the rest’ in terms of their stallion roster. Their roster would be even more impressive if they hadn’t prematurely lost Red Clubs and Society Rock.
The stud was founded by Tony and Anne O’Callaghan (a sister of John Magnier). They are commercially astute and know how to maximise their assets. The covering figures for 2021 illustrate that point with Mehmas covering 292 mares, Kodiac 239, Inns of Court 184 and Cotai Glory 113…. A portion of these numbers can be accounted for by foal shares and their own band of mares but they are also clearly very good at sourcing, pricing and making stallions that the market desires.
Below is my review of the seven stallions on their roster for 2022.
1.Cotai Glory €8,500 (€5,000) (2012 Exceed and Excel ex Continua by Elusive Quality)
Verdict: Overpriced (slightly)
Stayed in training until he was five and retired with a record of 4 wins from 30 starts. He never won above Group 3 level although he did everything but win the Flying Childers (Grp2), as he swerved and unseated his jockey just before the line. He was also only beaten a neck by Profitable in the Kings Stand as a four year old. He cost 75,000 guineas as a yearling which was below the median for Exceed and Excel that year and indicates that he comes from a relatively ordinary distaff line.
He retired at €6,000 and had 126 foals in his first crop. At the time of writing he has had 84 runners and 34 winners headlined by Atomic Force who won the Grp 2 Prix Robert Papin. He also had an Italian Listed winner and Eldrickjones who was runner up in the Coventry. His good results on the track saw his yearling median jump from €10,894 to €29,216. There are quite a few sons of Exceed and Excel all at stud for under 10k including Bungleinthejungle, Buratino, Kuroshio, James Garfield and Burwaaz. The expectation with them is that they will produce speed and precocity and these are popular traits in the market. Cotai Glory has delivered so far and to be fair, his results warranted a price increase and his yearling median did likewise. My slight quibble is that although he got plenty of winners, I’d have liked to see a bit more quality. He has a smaller crop of two year olds for 2022 (69) and I’m not sure he will still be as in demand when selling yearlings in 2024.
2.Galileo Gold €7,000 (€5,000) (2013 Paco Boy ex Galiciux by Galileo)
Verdict: Good Value
I thought he had an excellent first crop that exceeded expectations. Ebro River won the Phoenix Stakes, Oscula who cost just €4,000 as a yearling won a Grp 3 and System won a Listed race. In addition, there were 3 other horse who picked up placed black type. At the time of writing his record stood at 24 winners from 61 runners from a total crop of 108 foals conceived off a €15,000 opening fee. He will have a smaller second crop of 62 two year olds in 2022 conceived at €10,000.
His sales returns rebounded after his first crop success with his yearling median increasing from €16,350 to €26,240.
Galileo Gold won the Vintage Stakes at 2 (Grp 2) but was better at three winning the Guineas on his reappearance and later adding a St James Palace. He was kept in training at four but he managed only one disappointing start in the Lockinge.
The big concern about Galileo Gold was his pedigree or more particularly his sire Paco Boy . Paco Boy was banished to Turkey and with only 3% stakes winners no tears were shed at his departure.
Galileo Gold’s female line is solid. He is out of a Galileo mare and Goldream is under his second dam. His fourth dam is Floripedes, the dam of Montjeu.
Paco Boy didn’t stop Galileo Gold being a top class horse and he doesn’t seem to be stopping him as sire. I think he is underrated and represents good value.
3.Inns of Court €5,000 (€5,000) (2014 Invincible Spirit ex Learned Friend by Seeking the Gold)
A useful sort from 5 furlongs to a mile, he won his only start and two, stood up to 4 seasons of training and compiled a decent looking record of 7 wins and 7 places for 18 starts. His best runs were probably when just touched off in the Prix Jacques le Marois (8f) as a three year old and in the Prix de la Foret (7f) as a four year old. He won the Prix du Gros-Chene (Grp 2) over 5 furlongs as a five year old so he was clearly versatile regarding trip. His female line is good, with his grand-dam Lune D’Or winning the Premio Lydia Tesio when it carried Grp 1 status and she in turn was dam of top class Japanese performer Fierment.
There are no shortage of sons of Invincible Spirit to choose from in Europe (19 listed on stallionguide.com). Invincible Spirit is described as a successful sire of sires based on Kingman and I Am Invincible in Australia but he has had his fair share of disappointments as well (Born to Sea, Charm Spirit, Shalaa) and others who were somewhere in between (Lawman, Mayson). Just as it would be a mistake to dismiss Galileo Gold because of Paco Boy, it would also be a mistake to assume a son of Invincible Spirit will succeed. I certainly don’t think as an unproven sire he warranted 184 mares this year but arguably such demand shows he is competitively priced.
4. Kessaar €5,000 ( 5,000) (2016 Kodiac ex Querulous by Raven’s Pass size 15.3h
Verdict: Fairly Priced
Retired at the end of his two year old career. He ranks as one of the better sons of Kodiac on the track winning the Grp 2 Mill Reef Stakes and the Grp 3 Sirenia Stakes. His overall record was three wins from 7 starts and he was 4th on his only run in a Grp 1 (the Criterium International).
Sons of Kodiac are very fashionable right now with Ardad, Kodi Bear and Coulsty all delivering good results and he does seem to have a better strike rate with his sons than many other sires (including the previously mentioned Invincible Spirit). This may account for Kessaaar’s yearlings selling well in 2021 with a median of €28,152 off an €8,000 initial fee. Kessaar will have his first runners in 2022 so there is added risk/potential reward to using him next year . He come from an unremarkable female line but so are many of the early sire sons of Kodiac. If you think he is going to be the next son of Kodiac to out-perform then the fee he probably represents a fair bet at the price.
5. Kodiac €65,000 ( €65,000) (2001 Danehill ex Rafha by Kris size 16. 0 1/2h
The Kodiac story/fairytale is well known now. He never won a stakes race, raced until he was five and only got his chance at stud because of the first crop success of his half brother Invincible Spirit. He started at €5,000 and was available at €4,000 in his third and fourth seasons. Despite this, he has become the golden goose that has brought Tally-Ho stud to new heights. He is an ultra reliable sire of two year old winners and he is now acquiring a reputation as a sire of sires. He has attracted very large books at €65k since 2019 and €50k since 2017.
The downside is that his percentages are not great for a horse at his fee. He has now had 1586 foals of racing age and 77 Stakes winners, working out as a modest 5%. His tally of only 6 Group 1 winners is underwhelming and to me he has plateaued despite getting better mares. Commercially, if anyone is paying the list price and not on a foal share then there is not a lot of profit in him at his listed fee. His yearling median was €92,850 in 2021 but was only €54,766 in 2020. He will be 21 in the next covering season and I would have thought something around €50k would be more appropriate at this stage.
6. Mehmas €50,000 ( €25,000) (2014 Acclamation ex Lucina by Machiavellian size 16.0 h)
He stood at €7,500 in 2020 so the hike to €50,000 tells you that he has made a very impressive start to his stud career. He has obvious parallels with Dark Angel, both being by Acclamation out of Machiavellian mares and retired at the end of their two year old career. Dark Angel won a Middle Park (Grp 1) and Mill Reef Stakes (Grp 2) , Mehmas won the Richmond and July Stakes (Grp 2) and was third in the Middle Park. Comparing stats and accounting for book sizes, Mehmas has made a more impressive start. He has two Grp 1 winners in his first crop (Supremacy and Going Global) and an impressive 12 Stakes winners from the 141 foals in that crop. He has continued the good work with his two year olds of 2021 which included three Grp 2 winners (Lusail, Malvath and Caturra) .His yearlings median in 2021 jumped to €65,242 a great return off a €10,000 fee.
He has a smaller crop of two year olds next year 57 foals so his star may dim a little . I thought he deserved a chunky hike but felt that €40k might have been better. Commercially the massive/excessive crops (292 mares covered this year ) are bound to have an impact at the sales and I don’t see huge upside at his €50k price. To move to the next level commercially he will have to start showing he can get classic prospects rather than just two year olds/sprinters and a wait and see approach might be more prudent at his new price.
7. Starman €17,500 ( na) (2017 Dutch Art ex Northern Star by Montjeu size 16.0 h)
Unraced at two, ‘only’ and only a Listed winner at three he showed his best form at four. This year he won a Duke of York Stakes (Grp 2)before an impressive performance in the July Cup that earned him champion sprinter status. He failed to follow up that success though, finishing 3rd in the Prix Maurice De Gheest and a short head second to Emaraaty Ana in the Haydock Sprint Cup. His final career stats were 8 runs, 5 wins and two places.
His pedigree is reasonable with its share of black type but Starman is easily the best in the family. His dam was a modest winner over 10f at Bath who also produced a stakes performer by Kodiac. The second dam was unraced but produced two Stakes horses.
Dutch Art at times promised to be an important sire through the likes of Slade Power, Garswood and Mabs Cross but he proved unreliable both with his fertility and with his runners on the track. His sire son Garswood failed to make the grade as a sire and was sold for just 40,000 guineas this summer and previously a first crop son Caspar Netscher suffered fertility issues.
With doubts over his lack of precocity, his relatively modest page and his unproven sire line I think he is too risky at that price…
With Kodiac entering the twilight of his career, Tally-Ho are fortunate to have another money making machine emerge in Mehmas. One criticism of the stud is that they don’t participate in the ITM Irish Stallion Trail. It’s obviously an inconvenience to open the doors but it’s the right thing to do to help showcase the industry to racing and bloodstock fans. It’s disappointing that Tally-Ho have opted out as they could well afford it…..