From the Experts: Joseph Burke


Joseph Burke | Burke Bloodstock


On the back of the eagerly anticipated stallion fee announcements in Europe, Gary King spoke with a number of leading industry figures about value. Today we hear from Joseph Burke.

GK: Who have you identified as a first-year stallion at an appealing opening fee?

JB: I must admit that whilst I have not inspected any of the first-season sires yet, on paper I expected Earthlight (Ire) (Shamardal) to be standing for a little more than €20,000. So I booked one of our better mares to him, a Group 3-winning 2-year-old currently carrying her second foal to Night Of Thunder (Ire), as soon as I read about his fee via a TDN alert whilst in Lexington. For a horse who finished his career rated just two pounds behind another leading 2-year-old and freshman son of Shamardal in Pinatubo (Ire), it would appear the value lies with Earthlight given that Pinatubo has been pitched at £35,000.

Kameko (Kitten's Joy) is also very competitively priced at £25,000 and I would definitely be using him were it not for the uncertainty surrounding Brexit. Breeding is difficult enough without all the hassle Brexit could potentially entail next season, something the chair of Britain's Thoroughbred Industries Steering Group confirmed when he advised members “not to schedule movements for the first two weeks of 2021.” Nevertheless, Kameko has to rate a very attractive prospect for breeders with mares based in England.

In the U.S. we have booked two mares to Game Winner (Candy Ride {Arg}) whom I think is comfortably the best value first-season sire over there for 2021, priced at $30,000.

GK: Best value proven stallion, and why?

JB: To me this is a no-brainer. In the breeding game, the evidence is often there in black and white for anybody willing to do their own independent research and place a lot of stock in statistics. That said, a mere glance is all that's needed at the second-crop sire's results for 2020 illustrates that Make Believe (GB) (Makfi {GB}) is the only stallion to have sired a Group 1 winner in Mishriff (Ire), and not just any ordinary top level winner but a Classic winner who has inherited his sire's turn of foot. Mishriff is the shortest price of any English-trained horse to take next year's Arc, a trip he might possibly get as a 4-year-old.

Make Believe has also sired three individual group winners including the multiple Group 3 winner Rose Of Kildare (Ire). He's a correct horse whom you can rely upon to throw a good physical. Oghill House Stud sold the full-brother to Rose Of Kildare for 175,000gns at Book 2 this year, and he is priced at €15,000.

From a commercial perspective, it is essential to go to stallions who don't cover huge books and with that in mind, Ballylinch manages him very well which gives breeders a better opportunity to earn a decent return in the sales ring. In fact, when you look at the overall sire list, of those with more than three winners in 2020, no other living stallion in GB or Ireland has a higher percentage of winners-to-runners this year, not a single one. He has a pretty outstanding 47% strike rate with 28 winners from 59 runners. In his short career thus far, he is outperforming his contemporaries on every level and most of the established sires as well. As the clock at the old Curragh racecourse famously stated 'Time discloses all', but I don't think one requires hindsight to see that Make Believe is the best-value proven sire who is only going one way.

In the U.S., Twirling Candy (Candy Ride {Arg}) at $40,000 and Munnings (Speightstown) at $50,000 appeal in this category.

GK: Who would you consider to be an under the radar stallion?

JB: Elzaam (Aus) (Redoute's Choice {Aus}) has an overall strike rate of 42% winners-to-runners and has sired 12 stakes horses including the G1 Matron S. winner on Irish Champions Weekend, as well as the runner-up in the Hong Kong Derby. Yet Elzaam is available at just €5,000 for 2021. I think that is surely the definition of under the radar.

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