Sires on the up
Darley’s Night of Thunder has seen the largest percentage increase in his fee which has trebled from €25,000 to €75,000 for 2021. The son of Dubawi won the 2014 2000 Guineas and the following season’s Lockinge Stakes before taking up stallion duties at Kildangan Stud in 2016 when he started out at a fee of €30,000. Night of Thunder’s big increase was largely down to the success of his first crop of three-year-olds. Four of those achieved Timeform ratings in excess of 110 in 2020, headed by Jersey Stakes winner Molatham (117). Night of Thunder’s other leading performers were Dante winner Thunderous (116), Flying Five runner-up Keep Busy (116) and the UAE 1000 Guineas winner Dubai Love (112) who ran her best race when third under joint-top weight in the Sandringham at Royal Ascot. The average Timeform rating of Night of Thunder’s runners in the UK and Ireland increased from 70.7 in 2019 to 73.0 in 2020.
Over at Coolmore, Wootton Bassett was a high-profile signing from France during the summer. His fee in Ireland in 2021 will be €100,000, up from €40,000 in his final season at Haras d’Etreham. Unbeaten for Richard Fahey as a two-year-old in five starts, notably the Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere, Wootton Bassett has been one of the success stories among French-based stallions of recent years as he stood his first season in 2012 at just €6,000 and dipped to €4,000 at one stage. Siring Europe’s best horse of 2016, Almanzor (133), proved a turning point in Wootton Bassett’s stallion career and a number of smart performers have followed, including The Summit (116) who was runner-up in both colts’ classics in France in the summer. Another of his French three-year-olds, Wooded (121), won the Prix de l’Abbaye, while Audarya (120) added to her Group 1 win in the Prix Jean Romanet by winning the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf. Champagne Stakes winner Chindit (115) headed Wootton Bassett’s two-year-olds. There was a marked rise in Wootton Bassett’s average rating in the UK and Ireland in 2020, up to 75.0 from 68.1 the year before.
As well as Wootton Bassett, Siyouni, he too a Jean-Luc Lagardere winner, is another stallion who has gone from strength to strength in France. His latest fee increase at the Aga Khan’s Haras de Bonneval takes him from €100,000 to €140,000, having started out at just €7,000 in 2011. His highest-rated performer to date, Sottsass (127), joins the Coolmore roster in 2021 after ending his racing career with victory in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe. Siyouni’s excellent autumn continued just a week later when St Mark’s Basilica (121) won the Dewhurst Stakes to become Timeform’s top-rated two-year-old of the season. Siyouni was another whose average rating increased, from 68.6 in 2019 to 71.4 in 2020.
🙏 St Mark's Basilica delivers— Racing TV (@RacingTV) October 10, 2020
🏇 Five runs
🥇 Two wins
🏆 G1 Dewhurst Stakes
✅ 1.3million guineas purchase
St Mark's Basilica leads home a @Ballydoyle 1-2 in the @DarleyStallions Dewhurst Stakes under @FrankieDettori at @NewmarketRace
Results ➡ https://t.co/sBcsavHpYf pic.twitter.com/LdAnqM0exx
Shamardal died earlier in 2020 but he leaves behind an excellent stallion son in Lope de Vega who is building an ever-growing reputation at Ballylinch Stud. His fee goes up from €100,000 to €125,000 in 2021 which will be ten times what he stood for earlier in his career. With the likes of unbeaten Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf winner Aunt Pearl (118p), Phoenix Stakes winner Lucky Vega (116) and KPMG Champions Juvenile Stakes winner Cadillac (114) among his two-year-olds, Lope de Vega had a particularly good year in the juvenile department. The average rating of his runners in the UK and Ireland was up to 72.6 from 68.4 the year before.
Perhaps the most notable fee rise in the stallion ranks, though, has been handed to Tally-Ho Stud’s champion first-season sire Mehmas. The son of Acclamation was retired to stud straight after his two-year-old season in which he showed smart form, winning the July Stakes and Richmond Stakes. His initial fee in 2017 was €12,500 which had dropped to €7,500 in 2020, but having sired a record-breaking number of individual first-crop winners, Mehmas will be standing for €25,000 in 2021. There was quality as well as quantity among his two-year-olds which included Richmond and Middle Park Stakes winner Supremacy (118), Gimcrack Stakes winner Minzaal (113) who was third in the Middle Park, and the listed winners Method (108) and Acklam Express (103).
Coolmore studmates Caravaggio and Churchill will be two of the most interesting first-season sires as their first books of mares combined both quantity – they covered more than two hundred mares apiece – and quality. Their first crops were both bred from a fee of €35,000 and both were Royal Ascot-winning two-year-olds, with Caravaggio winning the Coventry and Churchill the Chesham. They’re pretty well matched, therefore, to make successful starts to their stallion careers, though Caravaggio, a son of Scat Daddy, was purely a sprinter, whereas Galileo’s son Churchill, having been champion two-year-old, went on to win the 2000 Guineas and the Irish equivalent at three.
Among those likely to be quick off the mark with sprinting two-year-olds are the King’s Stand winner Profitable, Cotai Glory who won the Molecomb at two, and another speedy two-year-old Ardad who won the Windsor Castle and Flying Childers.
Shadwell bought no fewer than five six-figure yearlings by Profitable at Tattersalls in October, which sounds like a ringing endorsement, while Cotai Glory, whose first-season fee was just €6,000, had a half-brother to last year’s Middle Park winner Supremacy sell for 180,000 guineas.
The National Stud’s Prix de la Foret winner Aclaim was the busiest new stallion in Britain when he went to stud in 2018, so should have plenty of opportunities to make his mark in 2021. Another point in his favour is that he’s by Acclamation whose sons Dark Angel and, as already mentioned, Mehmas, are proven as excellent sires of two-year-olds.
Others sure to make their mark with their first crops of two-year-olds include top-class miler Ribchester (whose top-priced yearling was a 350,000 guinea half-brother to the very smart sprinter Hit The Bid), another 2000 Guineas winner Galileo Gold and Dubawi’s high-class mile/ten-furlong performer Time Test.
Top middle-distance performers Highland Reel, Postponed and Ulysses will have their first runners too, though the best from their progeny won’t be seen until they turn three.
The ‘dark horse’ among the first-season sires is El Kabeir who was an American dirt performer successful at Grade 2 level as a two-year-old. However, he received plenty of support in his first season at Yeomanstown Stud in Ireland as, like Caravaggio, he’s a son of Scat Daddy who has already sired a champion first-season sire in No Nay Never.
Yearling sale toppers
The world’s most expensive yearling of 2020 was a sister to the last two winners of the Grand Prix de Paris, Japan and Mogul. Bought at Tattersalls in October for 3.4m guineas (Mogul had fetched the same amount two years earlier), the daughter of Galileo will be joining her brothers at Ballydoyle. Whilst not bred to come into her own until tackling middle distances next year – her dam is a half-sister to Arc winner Sagamix – it’s worth noting that both Japan and Mogul were also group winners at two. Among the filly’s other siblings are her full sister Secret Gesture who was runner-up in the Oaks.
A second Galileo filly to make seven figures (2.8m guineas) at Tattersalls and destined for Ballydoyle was out of Prize Exhibit. The dam won a couple of Grade 2 contests in the USA and the pedigree was given a major boost earlier in the year when Prize Exhibit’s brother Mohaather won the Sussex Stakes. Prize Exhibit was already a half-sister to the dam of another Group 1-winning miler Accidental Agent, successful in the Queen Anne Stakes.
MV Magnier also purchased this bay filly by Galileo out of Prize Exhibit for £2.94 million @Tattersalls1766 today! 💰— Racing TV (@RacingTV) October 8, 2020
The dam – Prize Exhibit - is a full-sister to Sussex Stakes winner Mohaather 🐴 #TattsOctober pic.twitter.com/6Dt3do8HYw
The top colt from Book 1 at Tattersalls was a Kingman half-brother to the 2016 2000 Guineas winner Galileo Gold. Bought for 2.7m guineas on behalf of a partnership based in Bahrain, the colt looks set to be trained in Britain and connections will no doubt be hoping he shows Guineas-winning potential himself at two; Galileo Gold won the Vintage Stakes in his first season. There’s both speed and stamina in this family, as the dam is a half-sister to the King’s Stand and Prix de l’Abbaye winner Goldream, while Montjeu features further back in the pedigree.
Godolphin snapped up six of the top ten lots at Tattersalls October Book 1, including a Frankel half-sister to Derby and Arc winner Golden Horn for 2m guineas. Their other purchases included a full brother (also by Frankel) to the very smart Sheikh Hamdan-owned middle-distance horse Elarqam who was bought for 1.1m guineas. They are out of 1000 Guineas winner Attraction, and it was a daughter of Attraction, Cushion, who was the dam of Godolphin’s highest-priced yearling, a colt by Dubawi who was sold for 2.1m guineas.
The buyers of the half-brother to Galileo Gold also struck at Deauville in September with another superbly-bred purchase, a filly this time, who topped the sale at €2.5m. By Dubawi, she’s probably worth even more now after her half-brother Sottsass won the Arc just weeks later. Her dam Starlet’s Sister, a daughter of Galileo, had already produced the 2018 Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf winner Sistercharlie.