Value Sires Part IV: It's All Relative

Arc and Prix du Jockey Club winner Sottsass has his first runners this year | Coolmore

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We're at the top end now when it comes to stallion fees, but there is quite a range to those prices, which for this feature is anything above £/€20,000. There is of course a massive difference, certainly when it comes to value, in a stallion standing at £35,000 and one at £350,000. In fact, we have two at that latter fee, which makes Frankel (GB) and Dubawi (Ire), the champion sires of the last two years in Britain and Ireland, the most expensive stallions in the world.

Those two representatives of Juddmonte and Darley respectively live within a mile of each other as the crow flies over the stud farms encircling Newmarket. Add to that mighty pair the names of Kingman (GB) at £125,000 and Baaeed (GB) at £80,000, and you have four of the top ten European stallions by price all within that square mile of excellence. 

It's not all about Newmarket, of course, with the Aga Khan Studs standing the most expensive stallion in France, Siyouni (Fr), at €200,000, the same fee commanded by their Sea The Stars (Ire) in Ireland, where he matches Wootton Bassett (GB), who heads the Coolmore roster. The lucky ones among us were those who jumped aboard the Siyouni and Wootton Bassett supporters' buses when those two stallions started out at €7,000 and €6,000 respectively. In bloodstock, as in life, there's a lot to be said for those who have carved out their own lofty niches from humble origins. 

Of course, with this level of sire power, one needs a mare of equally high standing, whether on the racecourse or as a producer or both. Many of the resulting offspring are retained to race by major owner-breeders, and those that do make it to the sales ring can be expected to fetch the level of return that could make even these high fees look good value. It's all relative. 

Dependable

At a more reachable level for many breeders comes this dependable trio – two we can most certainly call stalwarts and one who stamped his presence on the business with his first few crops. 

We discussed Yeomanstown Stud's Dark Angel (Ire) in greater depth in TDN last August. For 2024, he remains at €60,000, which was his fee for the preceding three seasons and down from three years at €85,000 between 2018 and 2020. Admittedly, his yearling sales average, which was in six figures for seven straight seasons, has dipped a little in the last few years and to a certain degree he is perhaps a victim of his own success, with various sons and other younger stallions of a similar profile encroaching on this popular sprinter/miler territory. But he had 77 yearlings sold at an average of £88,637 in 2023 which isn't bad going and, now 19, he was also third in the general sires' table behind Frankel and Dubawi.

From one O'Callaghan family farm to another, we switch to Tally-Ho Stud. At 23, Kodiac (GB) is into veteran territory but he is also at his lowest fee for nine years at €35,000. You pretty much know what you're going to get with him because he's been there, done that, siring plenty of fast colts and fillies and regularly providing the highest number of winners in a season. He hasn't lost his touch, as demonstrated last year by his Group 1-winning son and now stable-mate Good Guess (GB) and the G2 Lowther S. winner Relief Rally (Ire).

Before Good Guess gets a shot at the title, the most credible threat to Kodiac's crown within the Tally-Ho empire comes from Mehmas (Ire), who tore up the first-season sire record books in 2020 and has continued to build on that great start. His European results are backed up by some notable success in America, which should put his sales stock, whether as yearlings or horses in training, on the radar of a wider range of buyers, and at €50,000 in 2024, his fee has come down from last year's high of €60,000. 

His two-year-olds of this year were conceived in his first book after that break-out season of 2020, so we can expect the level of of his mates that year to have risen in line with his fee. That is not always a guarantee of increased success but I wouldn't want to bet against Mehmas continuing to be one of the most exciting younger sires in the European ranks. His equable temperament, and that of many of his offspring, appears to be what sets him apart.

Versatile

If you're looking for a stallion with the potential to get you a Classic winner at a mid-level price then the names of Teofilo (Ire) at €30,000, Sea The Moon (Ger) at £32,500, and Galiway (GB) at €30,000 should all be considered.

It would be wrong to compartmentalise Teofilo as a staying stallion, though he is very good at that, as his Melbourne Cup-winning sons Without A Fight (Ire), Twilight Payment (Ire) and Cross Counter (GB) show, not to mention the Ascot Gold Cup winner Subjectivist (GB). But there is much more in Teofilo's playbook than that, and he remains a hugely dependable sire across the distances, and of fillies too, from the Irish 1,000 Guineas winner Pleascach (Ire) to Irish St Leger winner Voleuse De Coeurs (Ire). If you also factor in some of his achievements as a broodmare sire – Coroebus (Ire), Mac Swiney (Ire), Cachet (Ire) and Dreamloper (Ire) are among the Group 1 winners in that category – and a case can be made for Teofilo being an elite sire at a much more affordable fee than some in that category. 

Sea The Moon has defied the level of commercial acceptability usually granted to winners of the Deutsches Derby and throughout his career to date has posted very consistent sales returns via his yearlings. His fee has remained sensible – starting at £15,000 for the first six seasons, and then rising steadily to £22,500, then £25,000 and to his current high of £32,500. No doubt helped by the fact that he tends to get very good-looking stock, Sea The Moon has a following in both hemispheres despite never having left Lanwades since retiring to stud, and he coasts into 2024 having sired the winners of the equivalents of the Derby and the Oaks in his native Germany, where he is the champion sire.

Climbing up the ranks in France is Galiway, whose two Group 1 winners are the full-brothers Sealiway (Fr), who was also busy last year at Haras de Beaumont, and Classic prospect Sunway (Fr). We can perhaps expect Galiway to make as much of an impact at the Cheltenham Festival as he may do at Chantilly or Epsom, and that has increased his appeal to the National Hunt crowd, with another of his sons, Kenway (Fr), having recently joined Coolagown Stud in Ireland. 

But it is the Flat with which we are chiefly concerned here, and Galiway's French yearling results last year – six sold at Arqana in August for an average of €131,667 and 23 in October for a €44,761 average, all from his 2021 fee of €12,000 fee – make him a stallion worthy of closer attention. Since 2021, his price has increased to €30,000.

The Next Step

This year is a critical one for the two young stallions who made the biggest impression with their first-crop runners in 2023. Understandably, both Blue Point (Ire) and Too Darn Hot (GB) have been given fee increases, the former from €35,000 to €60,000 and the latter from £40,000 to £65,000. Getting a mare in to either of these Darley stallions might have been the toughest first challenge for the many breeders who wanted to use them at their higher fees. There is plenty of sales-ring and some racecourse evidence to back up those decisions, and a Group 1-winning three-year-old, preferably a Classic winner, will be required to keep these reputations soaring.

A year ahead of them is Coolmore's Sioux Nation, whose juveniles of this year were conceived at his lowest fee of €10,000. He is now at €27,500 thanks to the exploits of the hugely likeable Brave Emperor (Ire) and Matilda Picotte (Ire) among his 10 Group winners from his two crops of runners to race. Sioux Nation was third in the second-season sires' table last year behind Ace Impact's sire Cracksman (GB) and Havana Grey (GB), and while the latter had the highest number of black-type winners (11), Sioux Nation was represented by the most Group winners of this intake (7). He is definitely a horse to watch, even though his fee has increased by €10,000 in the last year.

Everything to Prove

I'm going to pitch in two names here who are teetering on the brink of triumph or disaster. That's not actually true, of course, but such is the knee-jerk reaction to the early results of stallions by industry people who really should know better, that some horses can be commercially 'dead' before we have even had a proper chance to see what they can do. If mass desertion by breeders follows then it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy that the stallion will fail, sometimes through no actual fault of his own, other than the fact that he is unlikely to get you a Brocklesby winner. 

Anyway, as I climb down off my soapbox for the umpteenth time with the fading hope that folks will just wait'n'see awhile, I will put forward Ghaiyyath (Ire) at €25,000 and Hello Youmzain (Fr) at €22,500 as two of the more interesting names among those with first runners in 2024. 

A dual Group 1-winning son of Kodiac, Hello Youmzain's yearlings were in demand in Deauville last year and he must be odds-on to be France's leading first-season sire this year. He covered 140 mares in his first season at Haras d'Etreham at his opening fee of €25,000.

Ghaiyyath's fee has also been trimmed slightly from his starting point of €30,000. Not all sons of Dubawi are created equal, of course, and there is now no shortage of them at stud, but Night Of Thunder (Ire), bred on the same cross as the 130-rated Ghaiyyath, and Too Darn Hot, bred on a similar cross, have set the bar high. 

Both Hello Youmzain and Ghaiyyath became Group winners themselves for the first time in the second half of their juvenile seasons. If their offspring can follow suit, it is easy to imagine that both stallions could be more expensive by this time next year.

TDN Value Podium

Bronze: Acclamation (GB), Rathbarry Stud, €25,000

If we are spruiking Dark Angel and Mehmas in this piece, then we must have their sire on the podium. At 25, Acclamation is still going strong and is an increasingly significant influence. As last year's G1 Hong Kong Cup and G1 Cox Plate winner Romantic Warrior (Ire) showed, he is far from just a one-trick pony, though he is obviously best known as a sire of sprinters, with the brilliant Marsha (Ire) among them. Al Shaqab's Orne (Ire), who was bred at home by Rathbarry, has Classic claims ahead of this season, and with Acclamation's fee sliding down from his career-high of €40,000 in 2018 and 2019, he's very much still one to keep on your side. 

Silver: Pinatubo (Ire), Dalham Hall Stud, £35,000

Perhaps boosted by the success of his fellow son of Shamardal, Blue Point, last year, Pinatubo seems to be many people's idea of this season's leading freshman in waiting. If you had the chance to see him last week during Darley's open days, then it would be hard to disagree, as he has swagger and substance in spades. 

His yearling average of almost £154,000 for 41 sold tells of his commercial popularity to date. It's up to him now, and up his sleeve he has the fact that he is from the same family as Invincible Spirit and Kodiac. 

Pinatubo has remained at £35,000 throughout his stud career and that could look very reasonable if his stock live up to expectations this year. 

Gold: Sottsass (Fr), Coolmore, €25,000

We hear a lot about 'stallion-making races' and I'm not sure I believe in the concept, but all we need to know about Sottsass is that he won the G1 Prix du Jockey Club and the G1 Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe – two races that most owners would give their eyeteeth to win – not to mention the G1 Prix Ganay and G2 Prix Niel. He was also third in the Arc as a three-year-old behind the older horses Waldgeist (GB) and Enable (GB).

Sottsass is from one of the current 'it' families, with his half-siblings including the stellar Sistercharlie (Ire) and My Sister Nat (Fr), while full-brother Shin Emperor (Fr) looks a Grade 1, or even Classic, winner in the making in Japan this year.

He is the first cab off the rank when it comes to Coolmore's sons of Siyouni (Fr). In general, his first yearlings looked athletic and together, and they may raise a few eyebrows by coming to hand sooner than expected. More importantly, however, they should go on, and as we know, it's best to rely on a Classic winner to get you a Classic winner.

 

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