Value Sires Part III: 10,000 to 20,000

Study Of Man has his first three-year-olds in 2024 | Lanwades

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Stick or twist? That's the question faced by many breeders this year. Anecdotally, it appears that some will be pulling back and not covering certain mares, which is understandable after a tricky sales season, not to mention the constant reminders from racecourse managers regarding the “significant headwinds” faced by racing.

Unlike America, the foal crop in Britain and Ireland has been gently on the rise in recent years, up to 13,438 in 2023, compared to 12,778 in 2020, though within that combined number for last year, the Irish crop rose by 4% to 9,082 while the British number was down by 4% at 4,356. It will be interesting to see if that trend continues this year.

Those behind the stallions will be all too aware of the dilemma faced by some of their clients. In Monday's TDN, Coolmore's Mark Byrne said, “Now more so than ever breeders will need to steady the ship and use the good stallions that they can afford.” 

As we discussed in Part II of this series, which looked at stallions under the £/€10,000 mark, for those attempting to breed commercially and second-guess which way the winds of fashion and favour will blow, it truly is a game of chance. As we go up another tier in price, we will try to offer some perspective on both up-and-coming and established stallions which could offer value. This will not include any of the stallions standing their first season this year who were dealt with in Part I of the series.

Proven sires

While for many breeders the Juddmonte high-flyers of Frankel (GB) and Kingman (GB) are out of reach, it is hard to look past two stalwarts of the roster in this division. Bated Breath (GB) had a quieter year in 2023 by his own standards but he has the offspring of his strongest crop on paper to run for him this year and he's a stallion we will surely be hearing plenty more from. Having spent a couple of years at £15,000, he is back down to £10,000 and when considering his yearling average in 2023, of £48,300 for 60 sold, this does look a very workable price for a horse who generally gets good-looking sprinter-milers.

Then there is his fellow resident Oasis Dream (GB), who has been a friend to the British breeding industry for 20 years now and last year had a yearling average of just over £55,000. Yes, he's 24, but at his lowest fee of £15,000 (his career high having been £85,000 ten years ago) he's a decent choice to get a young mare off to a good start. We all know what Oasis Dream can do: his best horses among his 18 Group/Grade 1 winners include his champion two-year-old son Native Trail (GB), who has recently retired to Kildangan Stud, the brilliant Midday (GB) and top sprinter Muhaarar (GB). Oasis Dream is versatile as a sire and increasingly influential as a broodmare sire – from brilliant juvenile sprinter Big Evs (Ire) (Blue Point {Ire}) to talented stayer Quickthorn (GB) (Nathaniel {Ire}). 

And that brings us to Nathaniel, who some now seem to consider a National Hunt sire but that's sheer madness. With a Derby winner and an Oaks winner already in his portfolio, Nathaniel added another two Group 1 winners to his list last year in the Champion Fillies and Mares S. winner Poptronic (GB) and the aforementioned Quickthorn. Both of these horses raced for their breeders, and I guess Nathaniel has a proper owner-breeder profile, but look at how the Blunts and the Blyths have been rewarded for their patience: Poptronic was sold for 1.4 million gns after her Champions' Day success, having also racked up racecourse earnings of £459,815, and Quickthorn has earnings knocking on the door of £800,000.

Nathaniel's fee has gone up again a little this year. After spending three years at £15,000, he is now back at £17,500, but he's still worth it. 

Golden Horn (GB) is another with a National Hunt label around his neck since his move to Overbury Stud but again, if you're an owner-breeder with a bit of patience, he really should not be forgotten. Admittedly, it remains a disappointment that from his early expensive books he has still not produced a Group 1 winner. That is surely coming, but it didn't happen soon enough to stop his fee dropping from £60,000 to £10,000 (having been at £8,000 last year when he covered 162 mares). Sure, plenty of breeders have had their fingers burnt, but he is now at a price which is workable. He had nine stakes winners in 2023, including three Group 2 winners, putting him ahead of some fairly big names, and he certainly should not yet be considered solely a jumps sire.

On the rise

Territories (Ire) is quietly compiling a decent record and is one who could easily be overlooked in the rush for the new stallions. He shouldn't be. Haydock Sprint Cup winner Regional (GB) became his second Group 1 winner last year after the Prix de l'Opera heroine Rougir (Fr), and he was represented by another seven stakes winners in Australia, Britain, Italy and Germany last year. His fee has been pretty consistent: £12,000 for his first four years and £10,000 for the next four. Territories is not necessarily flashy but, from the family of Shamardal and Street Cry (Ire), he has a solid feel to him.

There's a lot of love for Kodi Bear (Ire), particularly in our house, because he is from the family of Roy Rocket (Fr). But that pointless fact aside, he made a decent start with his first crop which included the Group 2 winner Go Bears Go (Ire) and Oaks runner up Mystery Angel (Ire). He needs to build on that, but he has some bigger and more expensive crops on the way through following his early success. This season's two-year-olds were conceived from his lowest fee of €6,000. He's been at €15,000 for the last two seasons and remains at that figure in 2024. Crucially, the market seems to retain faith in his stock.

Phoenix Of Spain (Ire) caught a few people by surprise with the early results of his first two-year-olds, his 18 winners including the G2 Vintage S. winner Haatem (Ire) and giving him a 36% winners to runners strike-rate. His fee for 2024 has been reduced by a third from his opening price of €15,000, and €10,000 seems a reasonable level for this good-moving Classic winner.

Heading into the second season

In France, Sealiway (Fr) was the busiest new stallion of 2023 and, a good juvenile himself, it would be no surprise to see him make a reasonably fast start with his runners. That won't be until 2026, but considering the leap his own increasingly popular sire Galiway (GB) has made, from €3,000 to €30,000, Sealiway's fee of €12,000 may look reasonable in years to come, and he has certainly been lent some support to get his career off to a decent start.

For his personalised breeder bonus scheme alone, which returns for his second year at stud, it is worth taking a chance on Stradivarius (Ire), who covered 120 mares in his first year and remains at £10,000. He's unlikely to get you the Brocklesby winner but if he sires horses in a similar mould to himself, there could be plenty of fun and rewards to be had down the line.

TDN Value Podium

Bronze: Gleneagles (Ire), Coolmore, €17,500

From a top-drawer family, Gleneagles had weighty expectations on his shoulders from the start. While he may not have quite lived up to that level, and his fee has come down accordingly, he has steadily proved himself to be more than useful and was represented by nine group winners last year, while his daughter One Look (Ire) was the easy winner of the Goffs Million on debut, having been picked up for €65,000 as a yearling. In the last two years another three of his daughters have sold for in excess of 500,000gns at the December Mares Sale.

Silver: Ardad (Ire), Overbury Stud, £12,500

Ardad could have a big year in store. From being the leading first-season sire in Britain in 2021, when his son Perfect Power (Ire) won the G2 Norfolk S., G1 Prix Morny and G1 Middle Park S., his numbers dropped off keenly to just 18 foals in his third crop, but the success of his first runners meant that his book soared to three figures, and he has 101 two-year-olds in 2024, with 144 yearlings to follow those. From a lowest fee of £4,000 in 2021, he has since then stood at £12,500, which keeps him in a commercial bracket, with a yearling average last year of almost seven times his fee.

Gold: Study Of Man (Ire), Lanwades, £12,500

One of the best-bred stallions in Europe, this son of Deep Impact (Jpn) made a really promising start with his first two-year-olds last year and is another who could be set for a big season. His most obvious Classic prospect from his nine winners at a strike-rate of 35% is Deepone (Ire), winner of the G2 Beresford S., a race whose previous winners include Sea The Stars (Ire), Saxon Warrior (Jpn), and Luxembourg (Ire). But there are others who could well step up on impressive performances last season, including the French-trained Birthe (Ire) and Newmarket winner Sons And Lovers (GB). One would expect his stock to be progressive and there's a number of well-bred youngsters yet to make an appearance, not least a half-brother to the Derby winner Desert Crown (GB).

Breeder's perspective: Tom Whelan, Church View Stables

Gold: Kodi Bear (Ire)

Silver: Supremacy (Ire)

Bronze: Space Blues (Ire)

Breeder and pinhooker Tom Whelan says, “I've had great luck with Kodi Bear so I'd have to put him forward as being the best-value stallion in this bracket. He gets great-looking horses and they all have a great attitude and lovely size for a son of Kodiac (GB). He's just very hard to knock. I'm a huge fan.  

“I have been very taken by some of the progeny of Supremacy. He looks to have a real chance. Another one who had his first foals last year was Space Blues and, while I might be a bit biased here because I got decent money for one, I'd be happy to use him going forward. I better give a mention to two others, Phoenix Of Spain and Lucky Vega (Ire), as they are producing the goods at this level as well.”

 

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