Value Sires for 2024 Part I: New Stallions

Modern Games on show at Dalham Hall Stud on Tuesday | Emma Berry


Who would be a stallion master, eh? Sure it's fine if you have a new horse to show off, or one of the elite few who has truly made it, but pity the owner of the stallion who has just faded from fashion through no real fault of his own, merely overlooked as the stampede rushes on to the next new thing.

One can't blame breeders either for showing such interest in the new stallions at stud, for they have yet to be judged (though they will be, just as soon as their first foals hit the sales grounds) and have therefore “done nothing wrong”.

Let's not forget that in almost all cases, for a stallion to be at stud in the first place he was a decent racehorse. But there are degrees of decency, from the downright jaw-dropping bred-in-the-purple Classic winner to the Group 3 winner whose precocity and speed are really all he has going for him unless he can throw a nice type in the first place, and then those nice types can go on to do as their father did. That can be enough these days, and there's a separate and lengthy debate to be had about whether that really should be enough. But for breeders trying to sustain their business through a commercial approach, the first thing that matters is how likely you are to be able to sell a foal or yearling well, no matter how much we all know that breeding for the racecourse is what really counts in the long run, as long as that run isn't too long a run, if you know what I mean.

Aye, there's the rub. The long-term view can be rewarded with the greatest riches. Breeding a 'Cup horse', for example. Big prizes on big days, or perhaps a big offer from another nation that has already lost its way on the stamina front, or indeed from a major jumps owner if things haven't quite worked out on the Flat. Increasingly, through, few breeders can or want to wait that long. And as one breeder remarked at the recent foal sales, “At least if you have a horse by a first-season sire you know that every pinhooker is going to look at him.” 

So as we begin our Value Sires series in Europe for the season ahead, we will tackle the newcomers first before we head on, in price brackets, to those stallions who may or may not be suffering the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, which in the bloodstock business often merely means they are no longer this year's 'it boy'.

How anyone can base a business plan on such an unpredictable collective whim is beyond me, but that's the challenge faced by breeders when deciding on matings each year. If you are using a currently popular stallion who will cover a large book then you'd better pray extra hard for a corker of an individual if there are any holes in your mare's pedigree or production record. 

From Paddington (GB) at €55,000 to a handful of sires at €5,000, with just about everything in between, there is a huge range in both price and talent of this year's intake. We are not including a full list of new sires here, and the three which we consider to represent the best value in this division feature on the podium at the conclusion of this piece.

Value is relative, of course, and the fee for Paddington is punchy enough but then he was superb last year in his somewhat unusual progression from the Madrid Handicap in a bog at Naas through to that string of four Group 1 victories on summer ground at the Curragh, Ascot and Sandown and then back to more give at Goodwood. You can't really argue with a record that includes the Irish 2,000 Guineas, St James' Palace S. (beating Chaldean), Eclipse S. and Sussex S. Mostahdaf (Ire) and Nashwa (GB) had his measure at York in the International but by then Paddington had won six on the bounce, at a rate of a race pretty much every month since late March.

His first three dams all earned black type on the track, and we like to see a bit of Montjeu (Ire) on the page, through his Listed-winning dam Modern Eagle (Ger), providing a variation on a theme of Coolmore's other two sons of Siyouni (Fr), Sottsass (Fr) and St Mark's Basilica (Fr), who are both out of Galileo (Ire) mares. Paddington's granddam Millionaia (Ire) (Peintre Celebre) was runner-up in the G1 Prix de Diane and great granddam  Moonlight Dance (Alysheba) was third in the G1 Saint-Alary. But his fourth dam Madelia (Fr) (Caro {Ire}) outpointed them both by winning the Diane, Saint-Alary and the G1 Poule d'Essai des Pouliches, so there is plenty on the page to reinforce his claim to future greatness. 

It is up to each breeder to decide whether or not €55,000 is a price they can swallow, but it is a pretty safe bet that Paddington, himself a €420,000 yearling, will already have plenty of takers.

Coolmore is big on bears this year, and in fact Paddington and his fellow new recruit Little Big Bear (Ire) both hail from Wildenstein families, with the latter being a great grandson of the Hall-of-Famer All Along (Fr) (Targowice). Reinforcing  the No Nay Never blood in Tipperary, he did as he was expected and was fast and early. At three, he added the G2 Sandy Lane to the previous year's win in the G1 Phoenix S. in which he was injured. He was then beaten by Shaquille (GB) in the G1 Commonwealth Cup and a further injury incurred in the July Cup brought about his early retirement. Little Big Bear starts out at €27,500.

Putting on the Rizz

The Oxford English Dictionary's word of the year for 2023 was 'Rizz'. No, me neither, but apparently if you're a regular TikTokker, you will already know that this means “style, charm, or attractiveness, and the ability to attract a romantic or sexual partner”, or put more simply is a shortened version of charisma. 

I don't know the French translation of rizz, but let's go with 'ooh la la', and it's something which Ace Impact (Ire) has in spades. Who among us did not marvel at the way he chewed up and spat out the otherwise brilliant Big Rock (Ire) down the Chantilly straight in the Prix du Jockey Club? Could he stay a mile and a half? Could he ever, just as soon as the afterburners were engaged to propel him past Westover (GB) and Onesto (Ire) in the Arc.

Jean-Claude Rouget told TDN in October that he watched Ace Impact's six races through again after he was retired, perhaps to remind himself that, though brief, his career really did burn brightly. Always leave them wanting more, they say, and he certainly did after six perfect races. It's a shame but understandable, as when it comes to launching a Prix du Jockey Club and Arc winner at an almost brand new stallion operation, the time to strike is when he is unbeaten and his last sensational run is still emblazoned on breeders' memories. 

In contrast, we saw plenty of Modern Games (Ire), who holds that rare bragging right of being a Group 1 winner at two, three and four, and a dual Breeders' Cup winner to boot.  He's a proper miler, a Classic-winning one, and it'll cost £30,000 to send him a mare, but good luck if you've been dawdling as it was reported at Darley's open morning on Tuesday that he was full before Christmas. 

It's not hard to see why as Modern Games is a lovely individual with balance and scope, who joins his sire Dubawi (Ire) on the Dalham Hall Stud roster. His family is one which is increasingly repaying Sheikh Mohammed, who bought his granddam Epitome (Ire) (Nashwan) from her breeder Gerald Leigh. She has given the Godolphin operation the G1 Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere winner Ultra (Ire) (Manduro {Ger}) among her 10 winning offspring. Modern Ideals (GB) (New Approach (Ire) did not make that list of winners, running only twice unsuccessfully in France, but she has more than atoned in her second job as the dam of not just Modern Games but also his fellow Classic winner Mawj (Ire) (Exceed And Excel {Aus}) and Listed winner Modern News (GB) (Shamardal).

Son has also followed father in the case of Chaldean (GB), who is now at Banstead Manor Stud alongside Frankel (GB) and, like his sire, won the 2,000 Guineas and G1 Dewhurst S. If there were two buzz names during the December Sales among those touring the stallion studs of Newmarket then they were Chaldean and Shaquille (GB), whom we will come on to a bit later. Chaldean is at £25,000, which is significantly more that two other sons of Frankel retiring to Newmarket studs with higher ratings this year but, as Patrick Cooper pointed out in yesterday's TDN, he has plenty going for him on the commercial front. Chaldean was a relatively early two-year-old, carrying decent form through wins at Newbury then the G3 Acomb S., G2 Champagne S. and finally that year's Dewhurst before claiming his Classic laurels on his return to Newmarket. 

We wait to see what his Group 2-winning half-brother Alkumait (GB) (Showcasing {GB}) can achieve with his first runners this year, but certainly Chaldean's family has been much in the news for his breeder Whitsbury Manor Stud. Five of his dam's offspring have now earned black type, including the Group 1-placed Get Ahead (GB) (Showcasing {GB}), who sold for 2.5 million gns at Tattersalls in December. It's a family going places, and Juddmonte will doubtless lend the might of its broodmare band to help Chaldean get off to the best possible start at stud.

France Blessed with Enticing Names

Had Vadeni (Fr), who was featured last week, been retired after his impressive three-year-old season, it is easy to imagine that he would be standing for more than €18,000 but that is his opening mark now at Haras de Bonneval which could well represent value about a horse who romped to victory in the “stallion-making” Prix du Jockey Club before also landing the Eclipse against his elders. 

His fellow Aga Khan Studs newcomer Erevann (Fr) can't match Vadeni on performance but he can on pedigree and this son of two Classic winners, with a good helping of 'rizz', really does look excellent value at €8,000. 

France is not short of new and enticing stallion prospects this year and three worthy of mention here are Mishriff (Ire) at €17,500, Onesto at €12,500 and Bay Bridge (GB) at €6,000.

In some respects Mishriff is both fortunate and unfortunate. A badly-placed kick to the wall of his stable last winter meant that he missed all of what should have been his debut covering season. His price has been trimmed from what was his planned opening fee of €20,000, and you get an awful lot of performance and physique for the price he is now. He was a terrific racehorse who moves like a dream. Then of course there's his family, which includes those not insignificant stallions Invincible Spirit (Ire) and Kodiac (GB). Go and have another look at Mishriff at Haras de Montfort & Preaux if you're in France for the Route des Etalons. You won't be disappointed, especially as that extra year of letting down before embarking on his stud duties means that he now looks like a man among boys when compared to fellow new recruits.

Onesto is a new Frankel for France at Haras d'Etreham. A compact horse whose breeze-up fractions at Ocala belied his middle-distance pedigree, he sent agent Hubert Guy into a similar rush to buy him for $535,000 and bring him back to Europe where he duly won the G1 Grand Prix de Paris.

After winning the G1 Champion S. of 2022, Bay Bridge had a frustrating time of it last year. He did win the G3 September S. to bring his tally to seven victories from 16 starts, giving a solidity to his record, which included a close second to Luxembourg (Ire) in the G1 Tattersalls Gold Cup. A later-maturing and powerful individual, the son of New Bay (GB) joins Haras du Mesnil, a stud with an excellent track record. He really should be given some consideration at his bargain fee. 

Your Guess is as Good as Ours

If Mehmas (Ire) is the next Kodiac for Tally-Ho Stud, then who will be the next Mehmas? Could it be a son of Kodiac in the farm's latest stallion, Good Guess (GB)? His trainer Fabrice Chappet thought plenty of him from his earliest days in training, and it wasn't just because he was an expensive yearling at 420,000gns. He won his first two races as a juvenile but it wasn't until his three-year-old season that we really saw him flourish when Good Guess won the G1 Prix Jean Prat and G3 Prix Djebel, both over seven furlongs. Bred by Cheveley Park Stud, he's a grandson of their 1,000 Guineas winner Russian Rhythm (Kingmambo) and he's a well-made individual. At €17,500, he will have the Tally-Ho faithful, not to mention a decent number of the home mares, in his corner. 

Triple Time (Ire) very nearly made the podium below, but I'm only allowed three spots and it was a competitive field in this division. At £10,000, he has been fairly priced for his opening season at Dalham Hall Stud. Like Chaldean, he is a Group 1-winning miler by Frankel from a family that is clearly going places. Triple Time, winner of the Queen Anne S. last season, was actually rated 2lbs higher than Chaldean but his significantly lower fee reflects the fact that his top-level win didn't come until he was a four-year-old, though he was a Listed winner at two. He was lightly raced, making only two appearances in each of his last two seasons, but he was clearly no slouch and is one of two Group 1 winners from his dam Reem Three (GB) (Mark Of Esteem {Ire}), who has so far produced seven black-type runners. The family could be boosted further still this year by Classic prospect Rosallion (GB)  (Blue Point {Ire}).

Like Tally-Ho Stud in Ireland, England's Whitsbury Manor Stud has a loyal following of commercial clientele along with its own sizeable band of mostly speedily-bred broodmares. With Showcasing and Havana Grey (GB) the stud has had two of the most talked-about stallions in Britain in recent years, which is why one can't overlook the farm's latest recruit Dragon Symbol (GB), who was also bred at Whitsbury Manor. By Cable Bay, he appeared to be a Group 1 winner for a few agonising moments when finishing first past the post in the Commonwealth Cup. The race was awarded to Campanelle (Ire) in the stewards' room and he was demoted to second. Dragon Symbol has won five sprints in total as well as finishing second in the G1 July Cup and third in the G1 Nunthorpe. Could this bridesmaid become the bride, or even better the groom, in his next career, which he starts at a fee of £8,000?

There has been a lot going on at the National Stud stallion yard in recent years with the arrival of Lope Y Fernandez (Ire) in 2022 being followed the next year by Stradivarius (Ire). Now comes the Shadwell-bred Mutasaabeq (GB), a son of Invincible Spirit from a solid stallion family which includes Nashwan, Unfuwain and Deep Impact (Jpn), with Baaeed (GB) in the wings. Mutasaabeq, a treble Group 2 winner whose pedigree was discussed in more detail in these pages recently, is introduced at a very reasonable £6,500. 

The shuffling of the pack which has brought Soldier's Call (GB) to Dullingham Park for his first season in England has meant that there was room for another son of Showcasing at Ballyhane Stud in Ireland. Step forward Asymmetric (Ire), the G2 Richmond S. winner and Morny third of 2021, who returned from a stint in America to win a Listed contest at Deauville last year on the same card that his half-brother Mill Stream (Ire) (Gleneagles {Ire}) claimed his first stakes victory. Speed is what it says on his tin, and there will doubtless be plenty of breeders signing up for that at €7,000.

TDN Value Podium

Bronze: Mostahdaf (Ire), Beech House Stud, £15,000

As a good-looking winner of both the G1 Prince of Wales's S. and G1 Juddmonte International and a well-bred son of Frankel, it's hard not to think that Mostahdaf is a snip at £15,000. His dam Handassa (GB) (Dubawi {Ire}) is a Listed winner who has already bred another dual Group 1-winning miler in Nazeef (GB) (Invincible Spirit {Ire}) while granddam Starstone (GB) (Diktat {GB}) is a half-sister to Goodricke (GB) and Pastoral Pursuits (GB), who were both Group 1-winning sprinters by Bahamian Bounty (GB). It's a classy pedigree which really should be pretty commercial. 

Perhaps the fact that Mostahdaf didn't race at two has moderated his fee, and he was undoubtedly at his best at five, but if durability and soundness count against horses these days then we are in the fast lane of the highway to disaster.

Silver: Angel Bleu (Fr), Sumbe, €9,000 

Sumbe has a trio of Group 1-winning newcomers, with the aforementioned Mishriff as well as Belbek (Fr), who should not be overlooked at €7,000. But Angel Bleu at his opening price of €9,000 really smacks of value. On the track he was an extremely likeable individual. Fast, early, but most importantly, hardy. He ran eight times at two for five wins from five furlongs to a mile, including the G2 Vintage S., G1 Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere and G1 Criterium International. He may have been written off when a setback curtailed his three-year-old season, but the son of Dark Angel (Ire) was back at four to win the G2 Celebration Mile and Listed Spring Trophy.

He's a strong and bonny individual with an international pedigree of broad appeal. His dam, by Galileo, is a sister to Group 1 winners Highland Reel (Ire) and Idaho (Ire), while the achievements of his Australian third dam Circles Of Gold (Aus) (Marscay {Aus}), on the racecourse and at stud, are worthy of their own book.

Gold: Shaquille (GB), Dullingham Park, £15,000

Of course none of this matters until we can see what their runners are capable of, but it was hard not to fall for Shaquille when he sauntered out to the new stallion showing ring at Dullingham Park during the December Sales. He was one of the talking points of that week, with many favourable comments from a range of breeders from all over Europe and he thus receives our first gold medal of this series.

Shaquille doesn't really look like a sprinter, but that's what he was, and a very good one at that, winning the G1 Commonwealth Cup and then downing the colours of his older rivals in the G1 July Cup. He too can call on Galileo as his broodmare sire, and he is by a long way the best son of Charm Spirit (Ire), who was a multiple Group 1-winning miler himself. Grand-dam Danehurst (GB) (Danehill) was more than useful for Cheveley Park Stud and also very fast, as was the G1 Cheveley Park S. winner Hooray (GB) who is from the same family and, being by Invincible Spirit, bred on a similar pattern.

If Shaquille's youngsters look and move like him then he'll be off to a good start in the sales ring, and that, as we know, is a first important marker which can then determine his level of support down the line. 

New Stallions: Breeder Selections

Leon Carrick, Leon Carrick Bloodstock


Gold Medal: Native Trail (GB)

Native Trail was precocious enough to make 210,000gns at the Tattersalls Craven Breeze-Up Sale when consigned by Norman Williamson's Oak Tree Farm. He went on to become top-class two-year-old and also trained on to win an Irish 2,000 Guineas. Out of a full-sister to the Group 1 Sprint Cup winner African Rose and the Group 1-placed two-year-old Helleborine, his pedigree stacks up well. The prospect of using an undefeated two-year-old who went on and won a Classic for €17,500 would appear to be very appealing and there is no doubt that he will be well-supported by breeders.


Silver Medal: Lusail (Ire)

Lusail is a bit more left field but I think he makes a lot of sense. A Group 2-winning son of sire sensation Mehmas, he was quite a sharp two-year-old who was beaten just a head in the Group 1 St James's Palace S., where he earned a Timeform rating of 116. That proves he clearly trained on and, if he gets enough support from breeders, there's every chance that Lusail could prove a hidden gem at only €6,000. He's affordable for smaller breeding operations and he suits the current market with his precocity.


Bronze Medal: Chaldean (GB)

A son of the mighty Frankel, he boasts similar credentials to Native Trail given he is a Group 1-winning two-year-old who also went on to become a Classic winner at three. Crucially, though, he is considerably more expensive, which swings things for me. Chaldean is a high-class horse with an excellent pedigree behind him and he should do very well. For those who cannot afford him, his half-brother Alkumait, winner of the G2 Mill Reef S. at Newbury, could prove an interesting option.


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