Same Studs, Exciting New Names

Waldgeist is new to Ballylinch Stud | Scoop Dyga

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It is hard to believe this is the fifth year in a row I have traversed rural Ireland on the Irish Thoroughbred Marketing Irish Stallion Trail, and while it represents a unique chance for the general public who are interested in the bloodstock industry to get a glimpse of some household stallion names, for me personally it provides a lovely opportunity to see the new kids on the block who will be covering mares for the first time this spring. The majority of these are not long out of competition and thus many bear more resemblance to a horse in training rather than a stallion, and another great feature of the trail is to see the physical alteration that occurs to many stallions year on year, in particular the ones who had been freshmen the previous year. My one regret is not being able to get to more farms but deadlines, daylight and speed limits dictate that only a handful can be reached during the hours of business.

Adhering to a strict schedule is key to fitting in as many visits as possible, as is an early start, so with that in mind and considering he was one of only a few stallion masters opening their doors at 9 a.m., it was to Ballyhane Stud first to see Joe Foley and Steve Parkin's new recruit Soldier's Call (GB). The son of Showcasing (GB) appears the type of stallion Foley has been so successful in managing over the years and he arguably has even more commercial appeal than the likes of Captain Rio (GB) and Dandy Man (Ire) when they started off, albeit that is reflected in his opening fee of €10,000. Lest anyone needs reminding Soldier's Call was a precocious, fast and classy juvenile that won the Listed Windsor Castle S. at Royal Ascot, the G3 Prix d'Arenberg at Chantilly and the G2 Flying Childers S. at Doncaster. He also took on his elders with distinction when third in that same season's G1 Prix de l'Abbaye at ParisLongchamp. Although winless at three, he enhanced his profile with solid placings against the world's best sprinters in both the G1 King's Stand S. and the G1 Nunthorpe S. and Foley said he is understandably excited about launching him this spring.

I couldn't leave without a quick look at Ballyhane's poster boy Dandy Man (Ire). He will stand this year at €15,000, which is the highest price that a Ballyhane stallion has commanded to date.

“I could have stood him for higher, the demand was there, but the way the market is at the moment I decided to leave him at €15,000,” Foley said. “He's a great stallion and his progress has been so relentless; let's hope Soldier's Call will be as successful. He's certainly a similar model to Dandy Man and anyone that has seen him has been very impressed,” he added.

To Coolmore next, and there was no time to waste as I was keen to make the opening 10 a.m. show where I was looking forward in particular to seeing the rookies Calyx (GB), Ten Sovereigns (Ire) and Magna Grecia (Ire). Calyx, the first son of Kingman (GB) to retire to stud in Ireland, had only a short career, running just four times. However, there were signs of brilliance on three of those outings, namely when he beat subsequent triple Group 1 winner Advertise (GB) in the G2 Coventry S. in 2018 and also when he blitzed his opponents in the G3 Commonwealth Cup Trial S. at Ascot in May of last year. His racing career was cut short but the Kingman factor and his obvious raw talent were enough to see Coolmore swoop to secure him for their roster, with his breeder Juddmonte Farms retaining a share in him.

After a perfect juvenile campaign that was crowned with a win in the G1 Juddmonte Middle Park S., Ten Sovereigns had an in-and-out 3-year-old season, the highlight of which was his sparkling win in the G1 Darley July Cup. He still did more than enough to earn a berth in Coolmore and he is quite a taking individual with plenty of scope and loads of quality. The fact that his sire No Nay Never's covering fee has gone beyond the reach of many breeders should ensure no shortage of suitors for his services this year.

Having ended his juvenile season in style when winning the G1 Vertem Futurity Trophy in 2018, Magna Grecia resumed 2019 in similar fashion when running out a clear-cut winner of the G1 QIPCO 2000 Guineas. He didn't fire, however, in the G1 Tattersalls Irish 2000 Guineas and after a period on the sidelines his racing career ended with another below-par effort at Ascot in October. This son of Invincible Spirit (Ire), however, lacks absolutely nothing from a physical point of view and is one of the more imposing horses on the roster.

Commenting on Coolmore's new additions Mark Byrne, himself a recent enough team member, said, “It's good to have three new horses retiring that each offer something different. Obviously we've been huge on Galileo (Ire) but now we are beginning to see Galileo's influence come through as a broodmare sire of stallions with the success last year of Night Of Thunder (Ire). So with Magna Grecia also out of a Galileo mare we are hoping that might follow on. There is still huge demand for No Nay Never despite his fee hike so that augurs well for Ten Sovereigns, and Calyx won a lot of admirers with the blistering pace he showed so there is plenty to be optimistic about.”

At six years of age, Waldgeist (GB) is twice as old as some other stallions retiring to stud this year and one hopes that his impeccable race record that saw him log four Group 1 wins– including an epic defeat of Enable (GB) (Nathaniel {Ire}) in the 2019 G1 Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe–will see the son of Galileo get the support he deserves. In a precocity obsessed industry breeders should not forget the new Ballylinch stallion was a Group 1 winning 2-year-old and his ability to withstand the rigours of competing with the very best in the world for four seasons should not be underestimated. As he was paraded in front of viewers at Ballylinch, the stud's Eoin Fives revealed that part owner Gestut Ammerland would be sending 14 mares to him this year, including Group 1 winner Grey Lilas (Ire) (Danehill) while Date With Destiny (Ire), best known as the only progeny of the late George Washington (Ire) is also booked in.

Ballylinch is of course home to a six-figure stallion now in Lope De Vega (Ire), who embarks on the 2020 covering season on a fee of €100,000. Interestingly, he was kept ticking over in the off season by covering a select group of mares on Southern Hemisphere time, including the dual Group 1 winner Viddora (Aus) (I Am Invincible {Aus}).

Another 6-year-old four-time Group 1 winner retiring to stud this year is Blue Point (Ire) but Darley's son of Shamardal will be operating at the other end of the distance spectrum to Waldgeist. Blue Point achieved a rare feat in 2019 when winning the opening day's G1 King's Stand S. at Royal Ascot and bouncing out four days later to follow up in the G1 Diamond Jubilee S. In doing so, he became the only horse to win three Group 1 sprints at Royal Ascot, having also won the King's Stand in 2018. He retires to stud at a fee of €45,000 at a time when his own sire Shamardal's stock could not be any higher following an annus mirabilis in 2019 thanks to star juveniles Pinatubo (Ire), Earthlight (Ire) and Victor Ludorum (GB). I was delighted my arrival in Kildangan also coincided with Night Of Thunder (Ire) being paraded, Europe's leading 2019 first season sire having returned to his land of birth after a stint at Dalham Hall in Newmarket. It's no doubt great news for Irish breeders and his 2020 fee of €25,000 seems eminently fair considering he sired seven stakes winners in his first crop.

Next up was the Irish National Stud, where Phoenix Of Spain (Ire) is the new offering. The son of Lope De Vega was another of last season's 3-year-olds who threatened to be a dominant force but who could not quite replicate his early season best performance, which came in beating Too Darn Hot (GB) by three lengths in the G1 Irish 2000 Guineas at The Curragh. He is a fine, big, good-walking horse and I imagine Cathal Beale and the INS team are delighted to have him. He is also being well supported this year by a range of domestic and international breeders including SF Bloodstock, who have committed nine mares to him. At 23 years of age, fellow INS stallion Invincible Spirit (Ire) is the oldest stallion among the top 10 sires list in Ireland and Britain, but he certainly isn't showing his advancing years, looking remarkably youthful as he paraded with his long-serving groom Michael 'Daffer' Kelly. Then again, he probably heard about his upcoming date with the fantastic Laurens (Fr) (Siyouni {Fr}), a prospect that ought to put a pep in his step.

Facing into a sixth and final viewing of the day, the old Merc was literally sucking diesel at this stage but there were enough fumes to get me to Yeomanstown Stud outside Naas before calling it a day. Invincible Army (Ire) is the O'Callaghans new offering for 2020 and at the beginning of the 2019 flat season this fellow looked set to make the breakthrough to Group 1 level after an impressive early season win in the G2 Duke Of York S. However, he could not quite make that last, most difficult leap into elite company, but still posted some decent efforts at the top level. According to Guy O'Callaghan, who along with his brother Robert was providing front of house support to their father Gay, the Yeomanstown team had been tracking the progress of Invincible Army ever since David O'Callaghan spotted him at the Craven Breeze up two and a half years ago. They had to be patient though and only sealed the deal to stand the son of Invincible Spirit in September.

“We are really thrilled to have gotten him, there was a lot of competition for him but thankfully he came our way,” said Guy O'Callaghan. “Credit has to go to David for noticing him first. He is a beautiful horse with a great temperament and he is a great addition to the roster here.”

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