Value Sires Part 4: First 2-Year-Olds

Profitable | Marc Ruhl


The wait is very nearly over for the young pretenders we will examine in this fourth installation of our multi-part Value Sires series: stallions with their first runners in 2021. While the full verdicts must be delayed until these are given a fair shake with their first full seasons with 2- and 3-year-olds, the reality is that the first juvenile races in the coming months will be akin to a perpetual Christmas morning in the bloodstock world, with each of us eager to unwrap the packages we have been examining and investing in over the past three years and reveal what is inside.

While we will refer heavily to yearling sale averages throughout this commentary, the reality is that we can't come close to knowing what is there until these sires' youngsters hit the racecourses. Last year's first-season sire sensation Mehmas (Ire) was all the way down in 10th on the 2019 first-crop yearling average table, while runner-up Adaay (Ire) was 14th and French standout Goken (Fr) in 23rd. Nonetheless, we will take one last crack at predicting who we may be applauding come season's end.

Darley's Profitable (Ire) (Invincible Spirit {Ire}) made a strong debut at the foal sales in 2019 with an average 2.7x his stud fee, and the G1 King's Stand S. winner continued to live up to his name last year at the yearling sales.

He led his cohort by both number offered and sold (97 and 82) yet despite those whopping numbers managed to uphold an average 3.9x his opening fee of €12,000 at Kildangan Stud: €46,428/£41,899-seventh overall on the freshman table. His median of €38,536/£34,776 (3.2x) indicated, too, that quality resonated throughout the bunch. Profitable was a winner at two, a five-furlong listed winner at three and King's Stand scorer at four who is by the right sire in Invincible Spirit, and he remained popular with breeders last year covering 156 mares after covering 182 and 142 in his first and second seasons. Profitable was well-priced from the start at €12,000 and held his fee over his first three seasons, but in a year where most everything is being trimmed he is down to €10,000 at Kildangan Stud in 2021.

Profitable was superseded in price on the Kildangan roster in 2018 by fellow newcomer and Royal Ascot Group 1 winner Ribchester (Ire) (Iffraaj {GB}), who won the 2017 Queen Anne S. among four top-level victories going a mile.

Ribchester started out at €30,000 but is available for €17,500 this year after covering 129 mares in 2020. Ribchester was the fourth-leading first-season sire at the yearling sales last year, with 68 sold for an average of €66,659/£60,156, 2.2x their covering fee. Ribchester won the G2 Mill Reef S. at two, the

G1 Prix Jacques le Marois at three and the G1 Lockinge S., G1 Queen Anne and G1 Prix du Moulin at four and was rated 124. He has the added benefit of being by Iffraaj, whose Wootton Bassett (GB) went to a new level in 2020.

The leading first-season sire by average at the yearling sales last year was Coolmore's dual Group 1-winning sprinter Caravaggio (Scat Daddy), who had 64 sell from 81 offered for an average of €108,452/£97,871 (3.1x his debut fee of €35,000) and a median of €76,003/£68,588 (2.17x). After seeing his fee rise a shade to €40,000 for 2020 after he was leading first-crop sire at the foal sales in 2019, Caravaggio was last fall packed off to Ashford Stud in Kentucky to continue his career at $25,000. With 217 mares-the highest for a new flat sire–having visited Caravaggio in 2018, however, it is likely his presence will still be keenly felt in Europe. Caravaggio was a supremely talented sprinter who won the G1 Phoenix S. at the end of an unbeaten 2-year-old campaign and added the G1 Commonwealth Cup at three over subsequent champion sprinters Harry Angel (Ire) (Dark Angel {Ire}) and Blue Point (Ire) (Shamardal) before retiring with a rating of 120.

Caravaggio is one of two sons of Scat Daddy in this sire intake; the other is Yeomanstown's El Kabeir, who was likewise popular at the yearling sales, averaging 3.3x his opening €8,000 stud fee at €26,544/£23,955 from 60 sold. El Kabeir won the 1700m

GII Kentucky Jockey Club S. at two and the following spring took a pair of Kentucky Derby prep races, the GIII Jerome S. and the GIII Gotham S., over the same trip. After proving popular enough to hold his debut fee for his first three seasons, El Kabeir is down to €6,000 for 2021.

Checking in second to Caravaggio on average was French flagbearer Almanzor (Fr) (Wootton Bassett {GB}), who had 53 yearlings sell for an average of €97,960/£88,403 (2.8x his first-year fee of €35,000) and a median of €76,889/£69,388 (2.2x). Almanzor sees his fee trimmed for the first time this year to €30,000 at Haras d'Etreham. The winner of the G1 Prix du Jockey Club and the G1 Irish Champion S. and G1 Champion S. over Found (Ire) (Galileo {Ire}) as a 3-year-old, Almanzor was rated 129 and named Cartier champion 3-year-old. His popularity heading into this crucial fourth season will only have been helped by the ascendant year enjoyed by his sire Wootton Bassett in 2020.

The Galileo Gang

Galileo (Ire) has a great shot to bolster his already prolific record as a sire of sires with six high-class sons in this class. Chief among them on the yearling averages-and the joint priciest when they retired with Caravaggio and Almanzor-is the dual Guineas and four-time Group 1 winner Churchill (Ire), who had 67 yearlings sell for an average of €93,319/£84,215 (2.7x his €35,000 fee). Winner of Royal Ascot's Listed Chesham S. in his second start, Churchill ticked off the G3 Tyros S., G2 Futurity S., G1 National S.–beating Mehmas (Ire)–and G1 Dewhurst S. to earn champion 2-year-old honours, and added the English and Irish Guineas' the following spring. Churchill is a grandson of the G1 Cheveley Park S. winner Airwave (GB) (Air Express {Ire}) and his dam, Meow (Ire) (Storm Cat) was second in the G2 Queen Mary S. and has produced the Cheveley Park winner Clemmie (Ire) and the G3 Diamond S. scorer Blenheim Palace (Ire) (Galileo {Ire}) from subsequent matings to Galileo.   Dual Group 1 winner Ulysses (Ire) (Galileo {Ire}) finished fifth on the averages table, his 39 sold averaging €60,202/£54,329–

that was 2x his opening fee of £30,000 at Cheveley Park Stud, and should his first crop take off the breeders who have used him more recently stand to reap the benefits: he has dropped steadily to £17,500, £15,000, and is down to £10,000 in 2021. It us unlikely, however, that we will see the best of his offspring this season; he himself ran just once at the back end of his 2-year-old campaign and came into his own the summer of his 3-year-old year prior to winning the G1 Coral-Eclipse and the G1 Juddmonte International (the latter over Churchill) at four. Rated 126, Ulysses is by a Derby winner and out of an Oaks winner, his dam being the stoutly bred Kingmambo mare Light Shift.

Another later-developing multiple Group 1-winning son of Galileo is the Irish National Stud's Decorated Knight (GB), who is this year down to €7,500 from an opening fee of €15,000, with the INS having recently announced that breeders using the horse this year will receive a bonus nomination in 2022. Like Ulysses, it would be a surprise to see the Decorated Knights out running early this year, he having run just once at two and having done his best work at five, when he won the G1 Jebel Hatta, G1 Tattersalls Gold Cup and G1 Irish Champion S. either side of finishing unplaced behind Ulysses in both the Coral-Eclipse and Juddmonte International. It will be an interesting study in genetics, however, to see whether or where the precocity of Decorated Knight's female family shines through; his dam, Pearling (Storm Cat), is a full-sister to Giant's Causeway and You'resothrilling, both pattern race winners at two, with You'resothrilling having already produced the juvenile Group 1 winners Gleneagles (Ire) and Happily (Ire) by Galileo.

Highland Reel (Ire) (Galileo {Ire}) is likely best remembered for his middle-distance Group 1 wins at the Breeders' Cup, Royal Ascot and Hong Kong International meeting at four and five, but the whole story is that he was a supremely talented and tough top-level competitor from two onwards. Highland Reel won the G2 Vintage S. at two and the GI Secretariat S. and his first G1 Hong Kong Vase at three during a season in which he ran in six different countries. He added the G1 King George VI and Queen Elizabeth S. and the GI Breeders' Cup Turf at four in addition to seconds in the G1 Juddmonte International, G1 Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe and the Hong Kong Vase. As good as ever at five, Highland Reel took the G1 Coronation Cup, G1 Prince of Wales's S. and a second Hong Kong Vase and was placed in the Breeders' Cup Turf and G1 Champion S. The quest to breed a horse of Highland Reel's constitution is what the foundation of the Thoroughbred breed is built on, and a flashy pedigree indicates he was no fluke. Highland Reel's yearling average was bolstered by the 320,000gns half-brother to Palace Pier (GB), but he nonetheless sits 10th on the table at €33,007/£29,787 for 53 sold. Like Ulysses, Highland Reel is down to €10,000 this year from a debut €17,500, so merits a hard look by breeders.

Galileo has two classy sons in France among this group. After three years at Elwick Stud at £6,000, the GI Woodbine Mile and GI Arlington Million scorer Mondialiste (Ire) relocates to Haras d'Annebault at €4,000. The harsh reality is that he did not even win a race until midway through his 3-year-old season and has covered small books, so stud success will be an uphill battle for Mondialiste, but nonetheless his yearlings didn't go unnoticed last year; they sold for up to 60,000gns and 47,000gns at Tattersalls. Likewise, his pedigree says 'sire': he is out of the dual Group 1-winning Occupandiste (Ire) (Kaldoun {Fr}) and a half-brother to G2 Prix de Sandringham scorer Impressionnante (GB) (Danehill), the dam of Intello (Ger) (Galileo {Ire}).

Flying the flag at Haras de Montfort et Preaux is The Queen's Recorder (GB) (Galileo {Ire}), who made a solid start at the yearling sales with 31 sold from 39 offered at an average of €16,010/£14,448 off a €6,000 fee that is now down to €4,000. Recorder won the G3 Acomb S. at two and is out of the G2 Cherry Hinton S. winner Memory (Ire) (Danehill Dancer {Ire}).

The Dubawi Trio

While Galileo has a good chance in the coming seasons to bolster his already lofty reputation as a sire of sires, so too does Dubawi (Ire), who had three sons among the top 10 freshman sires at the yearling sales last year. The G3 Jersey S. winner Time Test (GB) was well priced from the outset by the National Stud at £8,500 and is one of very few horses to maintain his fee through his first four seasons. Out of the Group 1-winning Dansili (GB) mare Passage Of Time (GB), Time Test won the Jersey and the G2 Joel S. at three and the G3 Brigadier Gerard S. and G2 York S. over 2000 metres at four before relocating to America, where he was twice Grade I-placed. His 46 yearlings offered last year clearly caught the eye, with 39 sold for an average of €37,957/£34,254 that was an excellent 4.5x his stud fee and good for seventh on the first-season sires' table.

One slot behind him was Dubawi's four-time Group 1 winner Postponed (Ire), whose 25 yearlings sold averaged €35,358/£31,909. Postponed was among the best of his generation at four and five, winning the G1 King George VI and Queen Elizabeth S. and the following year the G1 Dubai Sheema Classic, G1 Coronation Cup and G1 Juddmonte International consecutively, but despite the fact that he also comes from a solid pedigree, being a grandson of the G1 Moyglare Stud S. winner Bianca Nera (GB) (Salse) and a half-brother to Group 1 winner God Given (GB) (Nathaniel {Ire}), his fee has been on a steady slide and is this year down to £7,500 from a debut £20,000. If he proves the next Night Of Thunder (Ire) or even New Bay (GB), however, those using him for four figures this year will doubtless get the last laugh.

Like Time Test, Haras de Bonneval's G1 Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud scorer Zarak (Fr) (Dubawi {Ire}) has held his fee steady at €12,000 since retiring to stud. Zarak's 28 yearlings sold averaged €34,133/£30,803, 2.8x his fee, and his median was a respectable €24,704/£22,293, 2x his fee. Zarak was merely doing what was expected of him when winning a Group 1, being a much anticipated son of the Aga Khan's unbeaten Arc winner Zarkava (Ire) (Zamindar), and the page has continued to be boosted by his stakes-winning sisters Zarkamiya (Fr) (Frankel {GB}) and Zaykava (Fr) (Siyouni {Fr}).

Four-Figure Head Turners

A horse in a lower price bracket that really turned heads with his first-crop yearlings last year was Tally-Ho Stud's Cotai Glory (GB) (Exceed and Excel {Aus}), who won the G3 Molecomb S. at two, the G3 Dubai International World Trophy S. at four over Group 1 winner Alpha Delphini (GB) (Captain Gerrard {Ire}) and who was second to Profitable in the G1 King's Stand S. Cotai Glory's 62 yearlings sold averaged €25,345/£22,872, 4.2x his opening fee of €6,000–he has been at €5,000 since 2019. Tally-Ho will be hoping lightning can strike thrice; the stud best known as the home of Kodiac (GB) also brought us Mehmas (Ire) last year.

Mehmas is a son of Acclamation (GB), who has also provided us with Dark Angel (Ire), and Acclamation has two sons in this group: Aclaim (Ire) and Attendu (Fr). The former stands alongside Time Test at the National Stud and, after opening at £12,500 in 2018, has been at £9,500 since. Aclaim's 48 yearlings sold averaged €28,251/£25,495, 2.3x his fee. The G1 Prix de la Foret winner is out of the Danroad (Aus) mare Aris (Ire) and is a grandson of Cumbres (Fr) (Kahyasi {Ire}), a half-sister to Montjeu (Ire).

The Wertheimer-bred Attendu was only ninth in Aclaim's Foret, but prior to that he had won a trio of Group 3s over seven furlongs or a mile, including when he beat Group 1 winners Esoterique (Ire) (Danehill Dancer {Ire}) and Territories (Ire) (Invincible Spirit {Ire}) in the Prix du Palais-Royal in 2016. Attendu stood for €5,000 at Haras du Quesnay his first two seasons and has since been at €3,000, and he made a strong showing with his first yearlings, they averaging 4.6x his fee at €23,135/£20,878 for 12 sold, with his median also holding up at €17,459/£15,755.

There were, in fact, a handful of young sires at the lower four figures in France who returned promising results at the yearling sales. Whitecliffsofdover (War Front) was a $1.15-million yearling who was third behind National Defense (Ire) (Invincible Spirit {Ire}) in the G1 Jean-Luc Lagardere. He remains at €3,000 at Haras De La Haie Neuve, his first yearlings having brought more than 8x his stud fee at an average of €25,126/£22,674. Those figures were of course buoyed by the lone yearling he had at the Arqana Select Yearling Sale, a colt that brought €135,000 from Jean-Claude Rouget, but a median of €12,607/£11,377 (4.2x his fee) indicated there was some quality across the board for his 12 sold.

Haras du Mezeray's dual winner and multiple group-placed De Treville (GB) boasts a pedigree that would fit in at any stud farm around the world, being by Oasis Dream out of the multiple Group 1 winner and producer Dar Re Mi (GB) (Singspiel {Ire}). De Treville is listed as private for 2021 after starting out at €3,000, and while just two of his five yearlings through the ring last year sold, they made €90,000 and €20,000 at Arqana October.

Al Wukair (Ire) packs a fair bit of punch at Haras de Bouquetot at €6,000, down from €8,000. The son of Dream Ahead went toe to toe with the best of his generation; a listed winner at two, he beat French champion 2-year-old National Defense in the G3 Prix Djebel at three before finishing third behind Churchill (Ire) (Galileo {Ire}) in the G1 2000 Guineas. His career high came later in the summer when he bested popular young Irish sire Inns Of Court (Ire) (Invincible Spirit {Ire}) in the G1 Prix Jacques le Marois. Al Wukair had 24 of 25 sell at the sales last autumn, averaging 3x his stud fee at €24,326/£21,953.

Similarly popular was The Grey Gatsby (Ire) (Mastercraftsman {Ire}), whose 19 sold averaged 3.2x his €7,000 fee at Haras du Petit Tellier at €22,271/£20,098. The Grey Gatsby won the G1 Prix du Jockey Club before upsetting Australia (GB) in the G1 Irish Champion S. at three and placing in three Group 1s at four.

The yearling sales also brought good results for Group 1 winners Ectot (GB) (Hurricane Run {Ire}) (11 sold averaged 4.2x his opening fee at €20,762/£18,736; he stands for €4,000 at Bouquetot), Ivanhowe (Ger) (Soldier Hollow {GB}) (sold for up to €25,000 and €23,000 off a €4,500 fee; he now stands for €3,300 at Haras du Cercy); Zelzal (Fr) (Sea The Stars {Ire}) (sold for up to €70,000; he started at €8,000 at Bouquetot and is down to €6,000), and Elm Park (GB) (Phoenix Reach {Ire}) (€3,000 at Haras du Saz, he had yearlings sell for €25,000 and €17,000). Former Godolphin campaigners Ultra (Ire) (Manduro {Ger}) and Birchwood (Ire) (Dark Angel {Ire}) are both available for €5,000; Ultra won the G1 Jean-Luc Lagardere and stands at Haras du Logis, while Birchwood won the G2 Superlative S. and was third in the G1 National S. and GI Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf before winning a listed race at three. Birchwood was well represented at the sales with 31 sold from 35 offered, and those averaged 3.4x his stud fee at €17,104/£15,435. Birchwood stands at Haras de la Huderie.

A pair of Group 1 winners are likewise available in Ireland for €5,000. Tally-Ho, the stud farm that brought us last year's record-breaking first-season sire Mehmas (Ire) this year provides the G1 2000 Guineas winner Galileo Gold (Ire) (Paco Boy {GB}) with his first runners. The winner of the G2 Vintage S. at two before finishing third behind Ultra in the Lagardere, Galileo Gold justified his 14-1 Guineas upset with a second in the G1 Irish 2000 Guineas before beating The Gurkha (Ire) (Galileo {Ire}) in the G1 St James's Palace S. And while there may be some question marks over his sire Paco Boy, there is little to fault elsewhere in Galileo Gold's pedigree, his dam being by Galileo, the damsire of Night Of Thunder, and a half-sister to dual Group 1-winning sprinter Goldream (GB) (Oasis Dream {GB}). Galileo Gold's third dam is a half-sister to Montjeu (Ire). Galileo Gold will have the numbers to give him a shot at the sire title, having covered 140 and 93 mares in his first two years at stud. He was amazingly down to just 38 mares last year, hence why his fee has dropped from €15,000 in 2018 to €5,000 this year, and even those who used him last year at €7,500 will be in line for a good payday at the sales should his first crop take off in 2021.

Like Galileo Gold, National Defense's fee of €5,000 is sharply down from the €12,000 at which he started at the Irish National Stud, and while more recent mare numbers will work against him down the road, he has every chance to make an impact with his first runners. By sire of sires Invincible Spirit out of the multiple stakes producing Kingmambo mare Angel Falls (GB), National Defense won two of his three starts at two including a 4 1/2 length romp in the Lagardere and was rated 118p by Timeform.

Value Sires Podium

Gold: Highland Reel (€10,000) – a runner of the highest class from two to five with the pedigree to back him up.

Silver: Profitable (€10,000) – a Group 1-winning sprinter who was well-backed at both the foal and yearling sales and who has been consistently popular with breeders.

Bronze: Al Wukair (€6,000) – among the best of his generation in all of Europe and a Marois winner. Well received at the yearling sales.

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