Mr Prospector Line Boosted Among Europe's Busiest Stallions

Starman, by Dutch Art, is a fourth-generation male-line descendant of Mr Prospector | Tally-Ho Stud

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Covering numbers are more an indication of fashion than of success but, this being, as we so often hear, “a numbers game”, it is worth having a closer look at the Flat stallions in Britain and Ireland who have been gifted books into three figures this year. We will also be looking in more depth at the French covering numbers in the coming days.

According to the statistics recently published by Weatherbys in the annual Return of Mares, there were 62 stallions who covered 100 or more mares in 2022, and that is not taking into account sires such as Crystal Ocean (GB), who covered 338 mares and can legitimately be considered a Flat sire (as can so many in his bracket) but is advertised on the Coolmore National Hunt roster.

As the accompanying table (below) shows, no Flat sires breached the 300-mark, but the four busiest, all standing in Ireland, reached around 250. In Britain, last year's leading first-season sire in that country, Ardad (Ire), was the only horse to pass 200. He covered 205 mares at Overbury Stud, having been sent only 26 mares in 2020. His first set of juveniles were swift enough out of the blocks for him to have a surge of late bookings in 2021, when his book numbered 146.

But how do these numbers break down into sire-lines within sire-lines? It is of course hard to get away from Northern Dancer, whose sons have been so dominant that they now possess their own strong branches within that division. Among these sires tabled, and there are of course other representatives with smaller books, only 10 of the 62 do not have Northern Dancer as a male-line ancestor.

The Mr Prospector line, always far more celebrated in America, has been given a massive boost in this part of the world largely thanks to his great grandson Dubawi (Ire), who will be champion sire in Britain and Ireland for the first time in 2022 and features on this list along with six of his sons – Time Test (GB), Night Of Thunder (Ire), New Bay (GB), Ghaiyyath (Ire), Too Darn Hot (GB), and Space Blues (Ire). It was Mr Prospector's son Seeking The Gold who was responsible for Dubawi's sire Dubai Millennium (GB), while another two sons of Mr P, Machiavellian and Gone West, lead us, eventually, to two names near the very top of this list, newcomer Starman (GB) – a crack sprinter who interestingly has Montjeu (Ire) as his damsire – and Wootton Bassett (GB), who stand at Tally-Ho Stud and Coolmore, respectively.

The only outlier among the group of 62 is Saxon Warrior (Jpn), who, along with Study Of Man (Ire), was one of only two sons of Deep Impact (Jpn) standing in Britain and Ireland. That number has now increased by one with the news that Tosen Stardom (Jpn) is to shuttle from Australia to stand at Ireland's Lemongrove Stud. Saxon Warrior was himself recently represented by a first-crop Grade I winner at the Breeders' Cup in Victoria Road (Ire), and Deep Impact's son Auguste Rodin (Ire) had his trainer Aidan O'Brien and the media ablaze following his victory in the G1 Vertem Futurity. The Sunday Silence line, so dominant in Japan, may yet take root in Europe.

To cover Northern Dancer's influence, in this group at least, we must break it down into five of his sons: Danzig, Sadler's Wells, Try My Best, Storm Bird, and Nureyev.

Of those, the name packing the biggest punch is Danzig, chiefly through his dominant sons Green Desert and Danehill. Sixteen of these busy sires listed here stem from Green Desert and 11 from Danehill.

Notably, from each of those two spring the veteran half-brothers Invincible Spirit (Ire), who has six sons and a grandson on this list, and Kodiac (GB), who has four sons. Arguably, their extraordinary Classic-winning dam Rafha (GB) must take much of the credit for this pair, along with a dynasty which includes new Sumbe recruit Mishriff (GB), but their longevity is also remarkable, with Invincible Spirit listed as having covered 106 mares at the age of 25 this year, while the 21-year-old Kodiac covered 63.

Think Danzig and your mind generally wanders towards speed, but he is also responsible for the Derby winners Sea The Stars (Ire) and Golden Horn (GB), the two best sons of his late grandson Cape Cross (Ire), who is of course also the sire of the recently deceased brilliant dual Oaks winner Ouija Board (GB). That fact in turn makes Cape Cross the damsire of another Derby winner, Australia (GB). All three of those had covering numbers in excess of 150, though Golden Horn had a strong National Hunt contingent in his 2022 book and he has since moved from Dalham Hall Stud to Overbury Stud, where that trend will continue.

Almost half of the stallions on this list – 28 in total – stem from Danzig, and that is surely owing to the speed and precocity more generally associated with this line, which is so much in demand from breeders these days. These include newcomers Palace Pier (GB), A'Ali (Ire), Soldier's Call (GB), Mohaather (GB), Alkumait (GB) and Nando Parrado (GB).

Conversely, the Sadler's Wells/Galileo (Ire) axis is more usually associated with middle-distance performers, though we do have a notable exception in this area at the moment in Europe's leading first-season sire, the G1 Flying Five S. winner Havana Grey (GB), who is the sire of 42 winners and five stakes winners this year and is a great grandson of Galileo. In total, seven of the 10 representatives of the Sadler's Wells line tabled here descend via Galileo, with the other three including Kitten's Joy's son Kameko.

The expanding influence of the Storm Bird/Storm Cat line in this part of the world, chiefly through the latter's sons Giant's Causeway and Hennessy, is highlighted by the fact that nine make this list, with Lope De Vega (Ire), Lucky Vega (Ire), Lope Y Fernandez (Ire), Pinatubo (Ire) and Blue Point (Ire) all representing Giant's Causeway through Shamardal. (Earthlight {Ire} is just bubbling under with a book of 92). No Nay Never, by Hennessy's son Scat Daddy, is becoming increasingly widely represented, but Scat Daddy's Sioux Nation was narrowly the busiest of all this year. No Nay Never will have six sons at stud in Europe in 2023, including Ten Sovereigns. Sergei Prokofiev, the only Scat Daddy stallion in Britain, has been well supported and stands alongside Havana Grey at Whitsbury Manor Stud.

Nureyev's line is hanging in there through Pivotal (GB), whose son Farhh (GB) has compromised fertility, which is a shame as he looks as though he could have made far greater inroads in the stallion tables if he had been able to cover the numbers required to compete these days. His son Far Above (GB) covered a three-figure book in his first year, while of course Pivotal's greatest sire son, Siyouni (Fr), is arguably the most popular stallion in France. Because of his location, his full book is not listed in the Return of Mares for Britain and Ireland, but he is reported by the Aga Khan Studs to have covered 132 mares this year, while his two Coolmore-based sons Sottsass (Fr) and St Mark's Basilica (Fr) covered 126 and 176, respectively.

Finally, Try My Best's branch, via the perhaps unlikely source of the former Coolmore then Shadai resident Waajib (Ire) and his son Royal Applause (GB), has started to flourish through Acclamation (GB). Though the latter, now 23, was just shy of 100 mares himself this year, his sons Mehmas (Ire) and Dark Angel (Ire) covered 249 and 193 mares, while Mehmas's son Supremacy (Ire) was also high on the list with 187.

As the record-breaking first-season sire of 2020, and having backed that up last year by leading the second-crop sires' list, Mehmas's popularity continues to be in the ascendant and not just via his male offspring. In the last few weeks, his daughter Malavath (Ire) topped the Arqana Breeding Stock Sale at €3.2 million, while another, the Grade I winner Going Global (Ire), sold for $2.5 million at the Fasig-Tipton November Sale in Kentucky.

With Supremacy one year ahead of them, three more young sons of Mehmas join the ranks for 2023: G1 Haydock Sprint Cup winner Minzaal (Ire) is on Shadwell's Derrinstown roster, with Persian Force (Ire) retiring to stand alongside his sire at Tally-Ho Stud, and Caturra (Ire) becoming the first to stand in England, at Overbury Stud.

As we have seen in the recent past with such notable examples as Kendargent (Fr) and Wootton Bassett, starting out with small books of mares does not preclude success, and in fact it can be a breeder's worst nightmare to have one of many of a stallion's offspring if the fickle market suddenly turns its back. But as a guide to who's hot and who's not in the eyes of the commercial sector, the figures in the Return of Mares are always fascinating to peruse. And for those breeders simply with an eye on the racecourse with no sale-ring concerns in between, there are still plenty of options when it comes to well-bred and well-performed stallions which require simply the courage of your own convictions. Blood will out.

 

British and Irish Flat stallions with three-figure books in 2022

Name  No. Mares   (Sire)

Sioux Nation 255 (Scat Daddy)

Starman (GB) 254 (Dutch Art (GB))

Mehmas (Ire) 249 (Acclamation (GB))

Wootton Bassett (GB) 249 (Iffraaj (GB))

Ardad (Ire) 205 (Kodiac (GB))

Starspangledbanner (Aus) 202 (Choisir (Aus))

Saxon Warrior (Jpn) 199 (Deep Impact (Jpn))

Kodi Bear (Ire) 194 (Kodiac (GB))

Dark Angel (Ire) 193 (Acclamation (GB))

New Bay (GB) 193 (Dubawi (Ire))

Frankel (GB) 188 (Galileo (Ire))

Supremacy (Ire) 187 (Mehmas (Ire))

Time Test (GB) 181 (Dubawi (Ire))

Night Of Thunder (Ire) (180 Dubawi (Ire))

No Nay Never 178 (Scat Daddy)

St Mark's Basilica (Fr) 176 (Siyouni (Fr))

Cotai Glory (GB) 176 (Exceed And Excel (Aus))

Ten Sovereigns (Ire) 173 (No Nay Never)

Australia (GB 173 (Galileo (Ire))

Lope De Vega (Ire) 168 (Shamardal)

Havana Grey (GB) 166 (Havana Gold (Ire))

Dubawi (Ire) 165 (Dubai Millennium (GB))

Too Darn Hot (GB) 164 (Dubawi (Ire))

Galileo Gold (GB) 163 (Paco Boy (Ire))

Sea The Stars (Ire) 161 (Cape Cross (Ire))

Ghaiyyath (Ire) 161 (Dubawi (Ire))

Space Blues (Ire) 160 (Dubawi (Ire))

Camelot (GB) 159 (Montjeu (Ire))

Pinatubo (Ire) 159 (Shamardal)

Coulsty (Ire) 158 (Kodiac (GB))

Gleneagles (Ire) 155 (Galileo (Ire))

Palace Pier (GB) 154 (Kingman (GB))

Elzaam (Aus) 153 (Redoute's Choice (Aus))

Golden Horn (GB) 152 (Cape Cross (Ire))

Lucky Vega (Ire) 152 (Lope De Vega (Ire))

Sea The Moon (Ger) 152 (Sea The Stars (Ire))

Kingman (GB) 150 (Invincible Spirit (Ire))

Showcasing (GB) 150 (Oasis Dream (GB))

Sergei Prokofiev 150 (Scat Daddy)

U S Navy Flag 144 (War Front)

Ulysses (Ire) 143 (Galileo (Ire))

Blue Point (Ire) 142 (Shamardal)

Inns Of Court (Ire) 141 (Invincible Spirit (Ire))

Invincible Army (Ire) 138 (Invincible Spirit (Ire))

Dandy Man (Ire) 137 (Mozart (Ire))

Lope Y Fernandez (Ire) 134 (Lope De Vega (Ire))

Nathaniel (Ire) 133 (Galileo (Ire))

Nando Parrado (GB) 130 (Kodiac (GB))

Sottsass (Fr) 126 (Siyouni (Fr))

Oasis Dream (GB) 125 (Green Desert)

Magna Grecia (Ire) 120 (Invincible Spirit (Ire))

Profitable (Ire) 118 (Invincible Spirit (Ire))

Far Above (GB) 117 (Farhh (GB))

Bated Breath (GB) 115 (Dansili (GB))

Bungle Inthejungle (GB) 115 (Exceed And Excel (Aus))

Waldgeist (GB) 115 (Galileo (Ire))

A'Ali (Ire) 114 (Society Rock (Ire))

Soldier's Call (GB) 112 (Showcasing (GB))

Churchill (Ire) 108 (Galileo (Ire))

Mohaather (GB) 108 (Showcasing (GB))

Invincible Spirit (Ire) 106 (Green Desert)

Alkumait 105 (Showcasing (GB))

Kameko 102 (Kitten's Joy)

 

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