A Champion Sire In GB For First Time In 34 Years

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Adayar, a Derby winner for Frankel in his first season as champion sire | racingfotos.com

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The ascent of Frankel (GB) to the head of the stallion ranks in Britain and Ireland was documented in some details in Monday's TDN, and it has lent a touch of poignancy coming in the year in which his great sire Galileo (Ire) left us. In the extraordinarily long reigns of both Sadler's Wells and his son Galileo we have become accustomed to having a superstar stallion in our midst, and Frankel will do well if he is to come anywhere close to the 14 sires' championships of Sadler's Wells and the 12 (and counting?) recorded by Galileo, who was in second place this year. It is far from impossible, however.

In Frankel's first championship, the title is in effect returned to Britain for the first time since the former National Stud resident Mill Reef was champion sire in 1987 for the second time. It is scarcely believable that Mill Reef's sireline has dwindled so significantly in Europe in the intervening years, with the Classic winners Sir Percy (GB) and Reliable Man (GB) the two most notable bearers of this genetic thread remaining.  

There is some diversity among the sirelines of this year's top 20, up to a point. Five trace back to Sadler's Wells: Frankel, Galileo, Australia (GB) (10th), Camelot (GB) (15th) and Dawn Approach (Ire) (20th). 

Dark Angel (Ire) and Mehmas (Ire), both sons of Acclamation (GB), are doing their bit to fan the resurgence of the line of another of Northern Dancer's sons, Try My Best, and were fifth and 14th respectively, with the latter being an impressive finish for last year's champion first-season sire Mehmas. 

Another of Northern Dancer's sons, Nureyev, is represented by his great grandson Siyouni (Fr), who was 12th in Britain and Ireland and is champion sire in France for the second consecutive year. More about him in the coming days. 

Through the line of Northern Dancer's grandson Storm Cat we have Lope De Vega (Ire) in sixth, his late sire Shamardal in 19th, and between that pair is No Nay Never, extending that line father still through Hennessy and Scat Daddy, in 11th place. 

The Danzig strain of Northern Dancer remains strong, mostly through Green Desert, from whom springs fourth-placed Sea The Stars (Ire), Kingman (GB) in seventh, Invincible Spirit (Ire) in 17th, and the latter's dependable and under-rated son Mayson (GB), who was 18th in the table. The trio of Danehill-line representatives in the top 20 are Kodiac (GB), a growing influence in his own right and eighth this year, the late Zoffany (Ire), who was one place behind him, and the 13th-placed Dandy Man (Ire), who continues to deliver the goods year after year despite receiving little fanfare.

We only really break free of Northern Dancer when it comes to Dubawi (Ire), who had a standout winners-to-runners strike rate of 54% and is a dazzling representative for the influence of Mr. Prospector in Europe. Dubawi was third overall in the table, with progeny earnings only around £250,000 short of his long-time nemesis Galileo. His most prominent son Night Of Thunder (Ire) was 16th overall with only three crops of racing age, and we can expect to see more of Dubawi's stallion sons creeping into contention in the coming years.

Star performers

With Frankel's five individual European Group 1 winners of 2021 putting him way out in front, and almost £1.5 million ahead of Galileo on British and Irish earnings, joint gold stars are awarded to his pair of Classic winners Adayar (Ire) and Hurricane Lane (Ire), both of whom contributed significantly to Charlie Appleby gaining his first trainers' championship in Britain. 

For Galileo, a quieter year by his own lofty standards was headlined by the G1 Prix de Diane winner Joan Of Arc (Ire), while Love (Ire) collected another top-level win in the G1 Prince of Wales's S.

Though not counting towards his domestic tally, Dubawi's record-breaking feat of being represented by three Breeders' Cup winners in one year must not pass without further mention. He has an emerging star in the G1 QIPCO British Champions Sprint winner Creative Force (Ire), as well as one who has recently departed the scene in the neat and hardy Space Blues (Ire), who signed off with consecutive wins in the G2 City of York S., G1 Prix de la Foret and GI Breeders' Cup Mile. The GI Breeders' Cup Turf winner Yibir (GB) will be one to follow with great interest through his 4-year-old season.

Sea The Stars, only narrowly behind Dubawi in fourth, looks to have another superstar on his books in the unbeaten Baaeed (GB), an important colour-bearer for Shadwell in a time of transition. From winning a Leicester maiden in early June to becoming a dual Group 1 winner just four months later, the hype raged all season for William Haggas's new stable-star, but it was well justified by the time he got the better of the Cartier Older Horse of the Year Palace Pier (GB) (Kingman {GB}) in the G1 Queen Elizabeth II S. on QIPCO British Champions Day. Baaeed's return in 2022 will be hotly anticipated, as will a potential step up in distance, which is well within his compass on paper. 

For Dark Angel, who completed the quintet of stallions with earnings in excess of £3 million, his best performers clinched their biggest successes outside Britain and Ireland, with the juvenile Angel Bleu (Fr) collecting a pair of Group 1 wins in France, and Althiqa (GB) and Raging Bull (Fr) both landing Grade 1s in America. The latter is now standing at Gainesway Farm in Kentucky. 

But Dark Angel also had a pair of Group 2 winners at Royal Ascot, with Berkshire Shadow (Ire) landing the Coventry S., and Indie Angel (Ire) taking the Duke of Cambridge S. Continuing the Ascot run was the Royal Hunt Cup winner Real World (Ire), who progressed impressively through the season to add three stakes wins to his tally, including the G2 Prix Daniel Wildenstein. 

Honourable mentions 

Of those stallions with more than one crop of runners, it was a breakthrough year for Ballylinch Stud's young son of Dubawi, New Bay (GB), who was represented by a first Group 1 winner in Saffron Beach (Ire) and, like his sire, had a winners-to-runners ratio of 54%. The four-time winner Bay Bridge (GB) could well be an emerging older star for the Sir Michael Stoute stable, while the juvenile Bayside Boy (Ire), trained next-door by Roger Varian, surely has the Classics on his agenda for 2022. 

A former Ballylinch resident, Dream Ahead, has served a stint in France and is now about to stand his first season in Britain at Bearstone Stud, where he should fit right in with the Holdcrofts' speed-orientated broodmare band, which now includes Dream Ahead's best daughter Glass Slippers (GB). Though she could not build on her two Group/Grade 1 wins of 2020, Glass Slippers was not disgraced this season with a couple more top-level placings, and Dream Of Dreams added the G1 Diamond Jubilee S. to his G1 Haydock Sprint Cup victory of 2020.

Dream Ahead remains deserving of being given a chance by breeders, and it is worth noting that his Group 1-winning son Al Wukair (Ire) made a promising start with his first runners in 2021, siring the second-highest number of winners (15) among the French-based freshman sires. 

A stallion that we can expect to see shooting up the charts in Britain and Ireland in the years to come is Wootton Bassett (GB) following his relocation to Coolmore earlier this year. Third overall in France, where he started his stud career with some distinction, he was behind only Siyouni and Adlerflug (Ger), who respectively had a dual Classic winner and the Arc winner to boost their earnings. 

In 2021, Wootton Bassett, another who traces back to Mr. Prospector through Iffraaj (GB) and Zafonic, had only 34 runners in Britain and Ireland, but they were a classy bunch, including Audarya (Fr), runner-up in two Group 1s this year having won two last year, G2 Royal Lodge S. winner Royal Patronage (Fr), and G3 St Simon S. winner Ilarab (Ire).

It is also easy to imagine the profile of Rathbarry Stud's Kodi Bear (Ire) rising in the years to come. He had a couple of highly likeable performers this season in the super-tough Oaks runner-up Mystery Angel (Ire) and the G2 Railway S. winner and GII Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint runner-up Go Bears Go (Ire).

In a year when Gleneagles (Ire) covered just 35 mares compared to 149 in 2020, he enjoyed a decent season on the track, with Loving Dream (GB) having become his first Group 1 winner in the Prix de Royallieu, following victory in the G2 Ribblesdale S. Gleneagles was also represented by the G2 Kilboy Estates S. winner Insinuendo (Ire), G2 Prix Greffulhe winner Baby Rider (Fr) and the G2 German 1000 Guineas winner Novemba (Ger).

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