Observations On The Stallion Scene

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Coulsty is a young sire gaining momentum | Rathasker Stud

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It is a question that has long fixated the bloodstock industry: which stallion can be caught as he rises to the top?

As we know, those good stallions can be hard to find. Opportunity is naturally a key element to early success, but a stallion still needs to make the most of the chances afforded to him and for every one that lives up to expectations, there will be also be plenty who flop. As often said, horses are a great leveller and with that in mind, there is also the heartwarming aspect that a stallion, if good enough, can literally emerge from anywhere. Wootton Bassett (GB) (Iffraaj {GB}), for all he retired to a leading French farm in Haras d'Etreham, is a case in point having made his name off small early crops. And those with the foresight to latch on as he embarked on his rapid rise have been handsomely rewarded since.

Right now, there appears to be a similar momentum behind Rathasker Stud's Coulsty (Ire) (Kodiac {GB}). Priced at only €4,000, he covered over 100 mares last season off the back of a bright start with his first 2-year-olds and has again caught the attention of a number of shrewd breeders this year following a season in 2021 highlighted by the GI Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup heroine Shantisara (Ire). Coulsty doesn't have many 2-year-olds or yearlings on the ground, but he will be interesting to watch come 2024 when that first big crop hits the track.

More immediately, there are several stallions for whom the stars are aligning for a big year. For the 2019 season, No Nay Never (Scat Daddy) and Siyouni (Fr) (Pivotal {GB}) hit a fee of €100,000 for the first time. Kingman (GB) (Invincible Spirit {Ire}) was also raised to £75,000, but such was the depth and volume of his book that he may as well have been standing for six figures.

Today, each of these stallions can be classed as elite and are priced as such, with those 2019 figures firmly in the rear-view mirror as they ascend the fee ladder. Each was represented by an outstanding performer in 2021–Kingman as the sire of Palace Pier (GB), No Nay Never as the sire of Alcohol Free (Ire), and Siyouni as the sire of St Mark's Basilica (Ire)–and you don't have to be a rocket scientist to figure out that further Group 1 successes are likely to be forthcoming over the next few months. Instead, the question is how much further these stallions might rise now they have the firepower from their 2019 books to aid them.

No Nay Never was handed a particularly significant fee increase that year, rising from €25,000 to €100,000 as the champion first-crop sire of 2018. By that stage, the industry was well attuned to the strengths of Scat Daddy (Johannesburg), notably as an excellent source of juvenile talent. No Nay Never, as an exceptionally fast Group 1-winning son, offered hope of a legitimate Irish-based heir and when his first crop of 2-year-olds yielded G1 Middle Park S. winner Ten Sovereigns (Ire) as well as the high-class speedster Land Force (Ire), he duly became one of the hottest young sires in Europe.

His subsequent crops conceived from 2016 to 2018, when he was priced between €17,500 and €25,000, are also responsible for 17 stakes winners including Alcohol Free and last season's Group-winning 2-year-olds Zain Claudette (Ire) and Armor (GB).

However, with approximately 130 2-year-olds bred off €100,000 to run for him this season, 2022 could well mark another turning point in his career.

His yearlings returned an average of almost 200,000gns last autumn, led by a half-sister to Grade I winner Bolshoi Ballet (Ire) (Galileo {Ire}) bought by Al Shira'aa Farms for 925,000gns and a sister to G2 Coventry S. winner Arizona (Ire) bought by Cheveley Park Stud for 825,000gns.

The pair provides a snapshot of the quality of his 2019 book, which overall contained 50 stakes winners and another 18 Group 1 producers. Naturally, many of them are in top hands, and given the line's propensity to come to hand early, he should be quick to make an impact this season.

As for Kingman, he has no fewer than 194 2-year-olds to run for him bred off a fee of £75,000. As a brilliant miler from one of Juddmonte's finest families, Kingman has obviously never lacked for opportunity. But such support was rewarded immediately as one classy first-crop juvenile after another emerged during that 2018 season, ranging from Calyx (GB), winner of the G2 Coventry S., to Persian King (Ire), who ended his juvenile season by defeating Magna Grecia (Ire) (Invincible Spirit {Ire}) and Circus Maximus (Ire) (Galileo {Ire}) in the G3 Autumn S.

Come the end of the season and it was blatantly obvious that the majority of Kingman's better progeny–of which there were plenty–had inherited his turn of foot. It is that attribute and ability to act on quick ground that has also come to stand him in good stead in the U.S., where he has been represented by the graded stakes winners Domestic Spending (GB), Public Sector (GB), Serve The King (GB) and Technical Analysis (Ire), the latter arguably his best filly to date.

Kingman has obviously consolidated his place as one of Europe's elite stallions since then, notably as the sire of Palace Pier from his second crop and the top Japanese miler Schnell Meister (Ger) out of his third. But a fifth crop that contains the progeny of 24 Group or Grade 1 winners, including the Classic winners Finsceal Beo (Ire), Ghanaati, Great Heavens (GB), Nightime (Ire), Sariska (GB) and Sky Lantern (Ire), alongside 20 Group or Grade 1 producers suggests the likelihood of a serious further uptick in riches to come.

The secret has been out on Siyouni for several years now and, indeed, 2021 was the year in which the Aga Khan's flagship stallion landed his second French champion sires' title. It is worth remembering that the bulk of his success has been achieved off fees ranging from €7,000 to €30,000, while St Mark's Basilica was the product of a seventh crop bred off €45,000. So what might he achieve now he has his first €100,000 crop running for him?

The next chapter of the Siyouni story is also being written with heavy investment being made in his sons at stud, in particular Coolmore as the home of both St Mark's Basilica and Sottsass (Fr). However, he is already becoming a broodmare sire of note, as illustrated by last year's Group 1-placed pair Times Square (Fr) (Zarak {Fr}) and Dr Zempf (GB) (Dark Angel {Ire}).

Ballylinch Stud's Lope De Vega (Ire) (Shamardal) also has his most expensive crop of 2-year-olds on the ground, bred in this instance off a fee of €80,000. By 2019, the horse had undergone five consecutive years of fee increases as he became ever more successful, and today is one of the most popular stallions in Europe at €125,000. A 2-year-old crop that includes the progeny of 83 stakes winners, as well as yearlings that sold for up to 725,000gns, lends confidence to the idea that he will remain on a firm upward trajectory.

New Bay Maintaining Momentum…

These are stallions, however, who are now priced at a level out of reach for many breeders. Instead, the art for plenty of investors, especially those who are more commercially minded, lies in catching such horses as they rise from a lower level.

Breeders have understandably decided that New Bay (GB) is one such horse. As reported in TDN earlier in the year by Emma Berry, New Bay was the first stallion at Ballylinch Stud to fill for this season, despite a fee increase of 87.5% to €37,500. A Prix du Jockey Club winner by Dubawi (Ire) from the family of Kingman and Oasis Dream (GB) (Green Desert), New Bay possessed a number of enticing attributes when he retired to stud alongside the backing of a powerful ownership group. As such, the deck was stacked in his favour and he is delivering, with G1 Sun Chariot S. winner Saffron Beach (Ire) and the exciting Bay Bridge (GB) leading the way among his first crop, and G2 Champagne S. scorer Bayside Boy (Ire) and wide-margin German Group 3 winner Sea Bay (Ger) among his second. Each of the above is in training for 2022, thereby laying the foundations for a potentially big season to come.

Another popular Irish-based horse with first 4-year-olds, Rathbarry Stud's Kodi Bear (Ire), has also been quick to attract supporters at his new fee of €15,000, up from €6,000. One of a growing number of successful sire sons by Kodiac (GB), he has gained a reputation for throwing tough, sound stock, thereby making him a popular option with trainers. It helps that a number also possess a measure of class: think last season's Group 2-winning juvenile Go Bears Go (Ire) and G1 Oaks runner-up Mystery Angel (Ire). The sire of ten stakes horses overall in two medium-sized crops of racing age to date, it doesn't take too much imagination to envisage him sailing further up the ladder sooner rather than later.

Dubawi's Sons All The Rage…

Dubawi's legacy has arguably never been in a stronger position given that in addition to the likes of Night Of Thunder (Ire) and New Bay, his band of sons at stud also include the hugely popular pair Time Test (GB) and Zarak (Fr).

Both Group 1 performers with exceptional pedigrees, in particular Zarak as a son of Zarkava (Ire) (Zamindar), they were nevertheless both priced affordably when they retired to stud in 2018.

At €12,000, Zarak was the more expensive of the pair. He was popular as well, with his first crop containing 86 foals, of which 23 are so far winners. A pair of Listed winners head the group but crucially, it also includes another two Group 1 performers in Times Square (Fr) and Purplepay (Fr). For a horse that only ran once at two himself (when successful at Deauville), it's a start that marks him down as another success story for the Aga Khan's Haras de Bonneval in Normandy.

The National Stud, meanwhile, installed Time Test at a fee of £8,500, off which they were able to attract a good base of early support. So far, he has responded with 11 first-crop winners although they include no fewer than five stakes horses led by the Group 3 scorers Romantic Time (GB) and Rocchigiani (GB). Another representative, Sunset Shiraz (Ire), was third in the G1 Moyglare Stud S.

All of which has made Time Test hot property, with yearlings selling for up to 400,000gns and his book having reportedly filled fast for 2022. He will have to arguably do more than continue that momentum to satisfy the market hype, but he has plenty to go to war with and remains sensibly priced at £15,000, a figure that gives breeders a chance.

While much of the market chatter continues to centre upon Time Test, it would be foolish to disregard the National Stud's other second-crop stallion Aclaim (Ire). The Group 1-winning son of Acclamation (GB) ran only once at two, when successful at Kempton, before going on to thrive at three and four years. Yet he managed to sire 27 2-year-old winners in his first crop last year, among them the tough Group-placed filly Cachet (Ire); only Cotai Glory (GB) (Exceed And Excel {Aus}) and Profitable (Ire) (Invincible Spirit {Ire}) sired more.

Tally-Ho Stud's Cotai Glory leads the way among that crop in terms of 2-year-old winners (35) and black-type performers (8) and has enjoyed a productive winter with his progeny on the all-weather to suggest that they are still progressing into their 3-year-old year.

Yet two of the real talking points from last season emerged out of the success of Ardad (Ire) (Kodiac {GB}) and Galileo Gold (GB) (Paco Boy {Ire}), both of whom were quick to sire first-crop Group 1 winners. Neither has ever stood for a fortune–Ardad stood his first season at Overbury Stud for £6,500 while Galileo Gold was priced by Tally-Ho Stud at €15,000-so they can be credited as doing smaller breeders a good turn.

The question now is whether they can maintain that momentum. It doesn't help that both have smaller crops of 2-year-olds running for them this year (Ardad has 43 and Galileo Gold has 64). However, it will be disappointing if Ardad isn't far from the action, given that he has G1 Prix Morny and Middle Park S. hero Perfect Power (Ire) to represent him alongside G3 winner Eve Lodge (GB) and a number of promising minor winners.

As for Galileo Gold, G1 Phoenix S. winner Ebro River (Ire) tops a list of eight first-crop black-type performers that also includes the tough Group 3 winner Oscula (Ire) and Maglev (Ire), who could assume high order within the Californian turf division judging by his recent success in the Baffle S. at Santa Anita. With all that in mind, Galileo Gold looks an interesting play at €7,000 this season.

For a horse with 20 first-crop winners to his credit, a fee of £10,000 for Ulysses (Ire) (Galileo {Ire}) also looks potentially good value. Don't forget that here is a horse who didn't break his own maiden until May of his 3-year-old season and after capturing the G3 Gordon S., flourished at four when successful in the G1 Eclipse S. and G1 Juddmonte International. He has been extremely well supported at stud by the Niarchos family, who have been rewarded so far as the breeder of G3 Eyrefield S. runner-up Piz Badile and Yarmouth debut winner Aeonian (Ire), and Cheveley Park Stud, who feature as the breeders of no fewer than 11 of his winners to date in addition to the Listed-placed maiden Gwan So (GB).

Everything points to the stock of Ulysses, a beautifully-bred horse, progressing well at three.

French Hopes…

Recent weeks, meanwhile, have been kind to Almanzor (Fr) (Wootton Bassett {GB}), notably as the sire of a pair of impressive Chantilly maiden winners in Point Of Fact (GB) and Lassaut (Fr). A champion on the track, the Haras d'Etreham resident is another who has been extremely well supported at stud, and having sired nine 2-year-old winners in 2021, including the Group 3-placed Queen Trezy, recent results have placed him on a stronger footing going forward. As it is, he is going well in New Zealand where his first runners include recent G1 Sistema S. runner-up Dynastic and G2-placed Andalus.

Finally, it is is hard not to be taken by the early results fired in by Haras de Bouquetot's Zelzal (Fr). A quicker son of Sea The Stars (Ire) who captured the 2016 Prix Jean Prat, Zelzal is bred on the same Kingmambo cross as his sire's fellow Group 1 winners Baeed (GB) and Cloth Of Stars (Ire), and is doing his bit to enhance his legacy as an influential sire of sires on the Flat at a time when a number of his better sons are standing within the jumps sphere.

With 57 3-year-olds bred off €8,000, Zelzal doesn't possess the firepower of some of his contemporaries. However, his first crop already includes three stakes-winning fillies in Zelda (Fr), a Listed winner at two, alongside Dolce Zel (Fr) and Ouraika (Fr), between them winners of the GIII Florida Oaks and GIII Sweet Life S. in the US this year.

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