Value Sires: First Foals Of 2020

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Tasleet was popular with breeders and mare buyers last year | Racing Post

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In the second installment of TDN Europe's Value Sires Series, we take a look at the sire crop with its first foals due this season. While the first real clues will be laid out once the foals actually hit the ground, many of this intake had in-foal mares go through the ring at the latest round of breeding stock sales, thus providing a minimal amount of data to tear apart. Numbers of mares bred are taken from the Weatherbys Return of Mares published in November 2019.

The covering sire returns posted by Tasleet (GB) (Showcasing {GB}) and Poet's Word (GB) (Poet's Voice {GB}) perhaps perfectly illustrate the void between the breed-to-race and breed-to-sell realms that we touched on in our first installment. This time last year, the two horses were preparing to stand their debut seasons alongside one another at Shadwell's Nunnery Stud for £6,000 and £7,000, respectively. Tasleet was a stakes-winning sprinter at two, three and four who won the G3 Greenham S. and G2 Duke of York Clipper Logistics S. and was good enough to finish runner-up in the G1 Diamond Jubilee S., G1 Sprint Cup S. and G1 British Champions Sprint S. Perhaps just as importantly, he provided an alternative to his rapidly ascendant sire Showcasing, whose fee last year jumped to £55,000. Tasleet covered 107 mares and–possibly also aided by the fact that his close relative Battaash (Ire) (Dark Angel {Ire}) continued to enhance his reputation this year–his in-foal mares at the sales provided the best overall return on investment for his sire crop. All 12 through the ring sold for an average of £31,772/€37,229 (5.3x his stud fee) and a median of £17,758/€20,812 (2.9x his stud fee).

Poet's Word, meanwhile, entered stud last year as one of the best-credentialed of the crop on his racing performance. He had won the 2018 G1 Prince of Wales's S. and G1 King George VI and Queen Elizabeth S. and was rated 127-equal to Horse of the Year Roaring Lion and joint third in the world. He is a half-brother to the Group 3-winning Malabar (GB) (Raven's Pass) and to the dam of the high-class juvenile Beckford (GB) (Bated Breath {GB}), while his second dam Inchyre (GB) (Shirley Heights {GB}) is a half-sister to multiple stakes winner and sire Inchinor (GB) (Ahonoora {GB}). It is also the family of Grade I winner Miss Keller (Ire) (Montjeu {Ire}) and Classic winner Harbour Law (GB) (Lawman {Fr}).

Poet's Word was doubtless hurt, however, by the fact that he did not win a stake until August of his 4-year-old campaign-far too late for a market that is feeling the increasing weight of the demand for precocity. Despite being one of the best horses in the world in 2018, he was visited by just 30 mares in his debut season and in August it was announced he was on the move to Boardsmill Stud in Ireland, where the demand from National Hunt breeders would be much greater.

While it is disheartening to see such a fine animal rejected so quickly by the flat realm, it is important to remember that the move to a dual purpose role doesn't entirely eliminate the possibility that he will make a mark on the flat, and in fact there was some demand for his in-foal mares at the sales. His three mares offered all sold for an average of £20,027/€23,446 (2.9x stud fee) and a median of £15,529/€18,199 (2.2x stud fee).

At the head of the class this time last year was Tweenhills's Roaring Lion (Kitten's Joy), standing for £40,000 fresh off earning a Cartier Horse of the Year statue on the merit of four consecutive Group 1 wins through the summer and autumn. Roaring Lion was tragically lost in August after covering a strong book of 133 mares-a horrific loss not only for those who loved him but for those looking to take advantage of a rare branch of the Sadler's Wells line in Europe. Roaring Lion led yet another list in the fall when his seven in-foal mares sold (nine offered) topped the freshman covering sires' table by average (£118,561/€138,918, 2.9x his stud fee). While Roaring Lion's loss will be keenly felt, a glance down the names of the breeders who supported him-the Maktoum brothers, Juddmonte, the Niarchos Family, George Strawbridge, the Aga Khan and other leading breeders across Europe and the U.S.-indicates that the writing of his legacy isn't nearly finished.

Tweenhills can gain some consolation from the fact that its other two sires with first foals this year, Zoustar (Aus) (Northern Meteor {Aus}) and Lightning Spear (GB) (Pivotal {GB}), both performed admirably with their first in-foal mares. Well, in the case of Zoustar, first Northern Hemisphere mares. Australia's champion 3-year-old sprinter and a dual Group 1 winner, Zoustar was far and away the leading first- and second-season sire Down Under and this season, with three crops on the track, he sits sixth on the general sires' table. He is the sire of 10 pattern race winners headed by the G1 Coolmore Stud S. and G1 William Reid S. victress Sunlight (Aus). Australia's top sires have continued to resonate in Europe this season-Exceed and Excel (Aus) alone sired the dams of the G1 Investec Derby winner Anthony Van Dyck (Ire) and the G1 July Cup victor Ten Sovereigns (Ire)-and there is plenty in Zoustar's pedigree to resonate in the north. He descends on top from Sadler's Wells's full-brother Fairy King, while his broodmare sire Redoute's Choice (Aus) this year provided the top staying mare Enbihaar (Ire) and himself hails from the great mare Shantha's Choice (Aus).

Four of Zoustar's 13 stakes winners have second dams by Danehill or Sadler's Wells, while two others are out of mares by Anabaa and Fastnet Rock. Zoustar covered 149 mares in his first season in Britain and of his 18 in-foal mares offered, 16 sold for an average of £82,074/€96,147-3.3 times his stud fee and third on the freshman covering sires' table. Those that supported him included the Niarchos Family, Juddmonte, Newsells Park, the Aga Khan and China Horse Club, and Zoustar's popularity was such that he gets a rare fee hike for his second season, up to £30,000 from £25,000.

Tweenhills's evergreen Lightning Spear was retired at the end of 2018 at the age of seven after at last getting his Group 1 in the Sussex S. He had made just three starts at two and three combined, but truly flourished thereafter and was competitive at the top of the miling division for the next four years, three times posting RPRs of 122. Lightning Spear stood last year for £8,500 and his average of £21,917/€25,681 (five sold from five offered) was 2.6x his fee. He covered 55 mares last year and is down to £5,000 for 2020. Lightning Spear is reported to be about as good looking a horse as you will find, and if his first-crop foals are in his mould both physically and in terms of ability, £5,000 could prove a shrewd investment after the sales in a year or two's time.

Coolmore introduced two new stallions last year at its Tipperary headquarters, both by international sires out of Group 1-winning daughters of Galileo. Just as importantly, both were Group 1 winners at two and three. U S Navy Flag, out of the four-time Group 1 winner Misty For Me (Ire)-and a full-brother to the triple Group 1-winning miler Roly Poly from the family of champion and sire Fasliyev–doubled up in the G1 Middle Park S. and G1 Dewhurst S. at the end of a busy 11-race juvenile campaign, and he trained on to win the G1 July Cup at three, matching the RPR of 122 he earned in the Dewhurst when he had beaten the subsequent GI Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf victor Mendelssohn by 2 1/2 lengths.

U S Navy Flag covered 119 mares at €30,000 last year and takes a cut to €17,500 for 2020-which could be good value for yearling sellers in 2022 should his first foals hit the ground running. U S Navy Flag was second to Roaring Lion by average for his first in-foal mares-and the only other in the crop to crack the six-figure mark–with all eight offered sold for an average of £100,559/€117,803. That is four times his stud fee, which puts him second to Tasleet in that regard.

Moving into the Coolmore stallion quarters alongside U S Navy Flag last year was Saxon Warrior (Jpn) (Deep Impact {Jpn}). Unbeaten at two, Saxon Warrior won the G1 Racing Post Trophy over Roaring Lion and took the G1 Qipco 2000 Guineas on seasonal debut at three, earning at RPR of 122 that he matched later in the season when second by a neck to Roaring Lion in the G1 Coral-Eclipse. Saxon Warrior is out of the champion 2-year-old filly Maybe (Ire), while his second dam Sumora (Ire) (Danehill) is a three-quarter sister to G1 Oaks winner Dancing Rain (Ire) (Danehill Dancer {Ire}). It is also the family of Derby and triple Group 1 winner and sire Dr Devious (Ire) (Ahonoora {GB}). He covered 165 mares last year at €30,000, and takes a small trim to €27,500 this year. Saxon Warrior had 11 in-foal mares sell for an average of £63,690/€74,638, good for fourth among first-crop covering sires by average.

Covering their second seasons at Coolmore's Castlehyde Stud this year are Sioux Nation (Scat Daddy) and Gustav Klimt (Ire) (Galileo {Ire}). Sioux Nation, out of the Oasis Dream (GB) mare Dream The Blues (Ire), could follow another son of Scat Daddy, No Nay Never, right into a prominent role as an outcross to Galileo. Like No Nay Never, Sioux Nation won the G2 Norfolk S. at Royal Ascot before taking a Group 1-the Phoenix S.-at two.

Sioux Nation won the G3 Lacken S. at three and was third behind Havana Grey (GB) (Havana Gold {Ire}) in the G1 Flying Five S. Breeders have certainly caught on to his likeness to No Nay Never; Sioux Nation was the busiest new flat sire in Britain and Ireland last year, covering 241 mares, and he stays at €12,500. His fellow Castlehyde newcomer, Gustav Klimt, covered 117 mares in 2019 and is down to €6,000 from €7,500. Gustav Klimt won the G2 Superlative S. at two and started off at three with a victory in Leopardstown's Listed 2000 Guineas Trial S., but was unable to win again thereafter. The remainder of his 3-year-old season with not without merit, though: he was placed four times at Group 1 level in the Irish 2000 Guineas, St James's Palace S., Prix Jean Prat and the Sprint Cup. What's more, Gustav Klimt has a big pedigree behind him: not only does he have four stakes-winning siblings, including the G1 Gran Criterium winner Nayarra (Ire) (Cape Cross {Ire}), but he is a grandson of the blue hen Rafha (GB) (Kris {GB}), who is responsible for the sires Invincible Spirit (Ire) and Kodiac (GB). That page was given a few major boosts in 2019, too, by 2-year-old champion Pinatubo (Ire) (Shamardal) and GI Breeders' Cup Mile victress Uni (GB) (More Than Ready), and also includes another member of this sire crop, James Garfield (Ire) (Exceed and Excel {Aus}), who covered 68 mares at €7,000 at Rathbarry Stud and is this year down to €6,000. James Garfield won the G2 Mill Reef S. at two, beat Expert Eye to win the G3 Greenham S. at three and put up his best performance on ratings when second to Polydream (GB) (Oasis Dream {GB}) in the G1 Prix Maurice de Gheest.

Juddmonte's newest sire Expert Eye (GB) (Acclamation {GB}) certainly wasn't overlooked by shrewd breeders last year, covering 139 mares for the likes of Kirsten Rausing, Hascombe & Valiant, Watership Down, John Gunther, the Aga Khan, Will Farish, George Strawbridge and his owner/breeder Juddmonte themselves among many other esteemed breeders. Expert Eye is beautifully bred, being a son of Dark Angel (Ire)'s sire Acclamation out of a Dansili (GB) half-sister to champion and Classic winner Special Duty (GB) (Hennessy), who is in turn out of a full-sister to five-time Grade I winner Sightseek (Distant View) and half to dual Grade I winner Tates Creek (Rahy). Expert Eye displayed raw talent right off the bat, winning the G2 Vintage S. in his second start at two and he followed up at three with wins in Royal Ascot's G3 Jersey S. by 4 1/2 lengths and the seven-furlong G3 City of York S. before capping his career with a score in the GI Breeders' Cup Mile. Expert Eye's 19 in-foal mares sold averaged £60,628/€71,050-a healthy three times his opening £20,000 stud fee-and he takes a trim to £17,500 this year.

Darley debuted a pair of new sires at Dalham Hall Stud last year, and both were understandably very popular with breeders. Cracksman (GB) (Frankel {GB}) remains at £25,000 this year after covering 147 mares in 2019, and he was last year assigned the gold medal for value in this column among newcomers on his merits as a racehorse. Officially rated 130 upon his retirement in 2018-and joint world's best with Winx (Aus)-Cracksman is rated below just three other European colts of the past 10 years: his own sire Frankel (GB) (140), Sea The Stars (Ire) (136) and Harbinger (135). Cracksman earned an RPR of 131-the highest of this sire crop–when winning the G1 Champion S. by seven lengths at three and six lengths at four, and his page has plenty of class, too: he is out of the stakes-winning Pivotal (GB) mare Rhadegunda (GB), who is herself a granddaughter of the G1 1000 Guineas and G1 Cheveley Park S. winner On The House (Be My Guest). Should Cracksman succeed in passing on his talented genes, it may not be much longer that he is available for £25,000.

Harry Angel (Ire) (Dark Angel {Ire}), likewise, was a sprinter of the very highest quality. He won the G2 Mill Reef S. on his second start at two and added the G1 July Cup and G1 Sprint Cup (with an RPR of 128) at three to be named Cartier Champion Sprinter. He came back at four to win the G2 Duke of York Clipper Logistics S. with an RPR of 127. Harry Angel covered 139 mares last year for £20,000, and like Cracksman stays at that price for 2020.

Whitsbury Manor Stud brought us Showcasing (GB)-who started out at £5,000 in 2011 and nine years later is standing for 11x that-and that farm looks to follow the same trajectory with Havana Grey (GB) (Havana Gold {Ire}), who takes a dip in fee to £6,500 from £8,000, having covered 145 mares last year. Havana Grey won five stakes races-including the G3 Molecomb S. at two and the G1 Flying Five S. and G2 Sapphire S. at three-and he has plenty of back class in his pedigree, his third dam being a half-sister to Classic winner and producer Al Bahathri (Blushing Groom {Fr}).

The G1 Prix Morny winner Unfortunately (Ire)-a son of the late champion first-season sire Society Rock (Ire)-started out at Cheveley Park Stud last year, where he covered 52 mares at a fee of £7,500, and for this year he has relocated to Oak Lodge Stud in Ireland and is priced at €5,500.

Group-winning sprinters Rajasinghe (Ire) (Choisir {Aus}) and Massaat (Ire) (Teofilo {Ire}) both remain at £5,000 in 2020. Rajasinghe's finest moment came when he won the G2 Coventry S. while Massaat-a half-brother to G1 Commonwealth Cup winner Eqtidaar (Ire) (Invincible Spirit {Ire}–was second in the G1 Dewhurst S. and G1 2000 Guineas and won the G2 Hungerford S. at four. Rajasinghe stands at The National Stud, while Massaat is available at Mickley Stud.

Tally-Ho Stud's Kessaar (Ire) (Kodiac {GB}) was the busiest first-season sire in Ireland last year standing outside the Coolmore banner, and he covered 97 mares while standing alongside his sire. Kessaar ran only at two, racing seven times and winning the G3 Sirenia S. and the G2 Mill Reef S. He is down to €6,000 after starting out at €8,000.

Overbury Stud's Frontiersman (Ire) is doubtless among the best bred of this group, being by Dubawi (Ire) out of the great champion Ouija Board (GB) (Cape Cross {Ire}), and thus a half-brother to dual Derby winner and good young sire Australia (GB) (Galileo {Ire}). Frontiersman never sparkled on the racecourse, but he wasn't a slouch, either; he won twice at three but his two best efforts came at four when runner-up in both the G1 Coronation Cup and G2 Princess of Wales's S. with RPRs of 118 and 119. He won the mile-and-a-half Listed Godolphin S. later in the season and remains at a private fee at Overbury. He isn't an obvious standout in this group but he is bred to be a sire and had ability. He covered 69 mares last year.

Washington DC (Ire) (Zoffany {Ire}), a multiple stakes-winning and Group 1-placed sprinter, covered 67 mares at Bearstone Stud for £6,000 last year and is down to £5,000. Washington DC won the Listed Windsor Castle S. and was second to Air Force Blue (War Front) in the G1 Phoenix S. at two, and during a busy 11-race campaign at three he picked up two more listed wins and was placed in the G1 Commonwealth Cup and G1 Prix de l'Abbaye. He wound up his career at five with a total of five black-type wins.

Last year in France it was Recoletos (Fr) (Whipper) who led all newcomers at €8,000 at Haras du Quesnay. A dual group winner over 2000 metres at three and third in the G1 Prix du Jockey Club, Recoletos won the G1 Prix d'Ispahan and the G1 Prix du Moulin de Longchamp at four. His second dam is Pharatta (Ire) (Fairy King), a group winner in France and the U.S., and his third dam is a half-sister to Derby winner Shahrastani (Nijinsky).

Recoletos is down to €6,500, so taking over top billing is Godolphin's dual Arc-placed Cloth Of Stars (Ire) (Sea The Stars {Ire}), who once again stands at Haras du Logis for €7,500. The dark bay is, quite simply, bred to be a breed-shaper. His dam Strawberry Fledge (Kingmambo) is a full-sister to Oaks winner Light Shift-now better known as the dam of Ulysses (Ire) (Galileo {Ire})-and Grade/Group 1 winners like Shiva (Jpn) and Main Sequence also appear under the second dam. His third dam is the G1 Prix de Diane winner Northern Trick.

That class certainly shone through in Cloth Of Stars. A dual winner and Group 1-placed at two, Cloth Of Stars won the G1 Prix Ganay at four and was the first colt across the wire in the G1 Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe at both three and four, finishing second to Enable (GB) (Nathaniel {Ire}) in 2017 and third behind she and Sea Of Class (Ire) (Sea The Stars {Ire}) in 2018. Cloth Of Stars also hit the board in the G1 Dubai Sheema Classic and the G1 Prix Ganay, and it could be argued that if not for a pair of great mares reaching the wire at Chantilly and Longchamp ahead of him he would be standing for a much greater fee.

Thirty-something new sires made their debuts in France last year, and two of those were by sire of the moment Scat Daddy: In addition to Smooth Daddy standing for €5,000 at Clongiffen Stud in Ireland, those were Seahenge and Seabhac. Seahenge was a $750,000 yearling who won the G2 Champagne S. at two and was third in the G1 Dewhurst S. for the Coolmore partners, while Seabhac won the 1700 metre GIII Pilgrim S. in New York and is out of a half-sister to U.S. champion 3-year-old and Classic winner Afleet Alex. Both remain at €5,000 this year, Seahenge at Haras de la Haie Neuve and Seabhac at Haras de Saint Arnoult.

Taareef (Kitten's Joy) is a son of another decorated American sire who started in France last year. The winner of five group races at or around a mile was also Group 1-placed, and his opening fee of €6,000 at Haras du Mezeray is slashed to €3,000 for 2020.

Iquitos (Ger) (Adlerflug {Ger}) anchors this sire crop in Germany. He made just a single start at three but made up for lost time at four, winning the G1 Grosser Preis von Baden and the G2 Preis der Badischen Wirtschaft. The bay added further Group 1 success at both four and five in the Grosser Dallmayr-Preis – Bayerisches Zuchtrennen and Grosser Preis von Bayern, and he was placed at the highest level on three other occasions. Iquitos stands for €6,000 at Gestut Ammerland.

Value Sires Podium

GoldCracksman (£25,000): he filled this spot last year and has done nothing to damage his reputation. One of the best racehorses of the last decade covered a top first book of mares.

SilverTasleet (€6,000): A Group 1-class sprinter that the market has responded favourably to.

BronzeU S Navy Flag (€17,500): with his fee reduced, now is the time to roll the dice that his first 2-year-olds will come out running.

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