When it comes to the process of stallions establishing themselves, it would be nice to be able to say that it is not a sprint, but a marathon.
There is some evidence to support the view that it isn’t an outright sprint. Back in 2005, Galileo stumbled out of the starting blocks to finish a moderate seventh in the dash for first-crop sire honours. Then there was a repeat performer three years ago, when Duke Of Marmalade virtually fell flat on his face before he had even found his stride. He too finished only seventh, with eighth place going to Haatef and ninth to Hannouma.
Fast forward to August 1, 2015 and you’ll find Galileo in his customary position at the top of the Anglo-Irish stallion table, while Duke Of Marmalade ranked a highly respectable tenth on the European list, with five Group winners and prize-money equivalent to nearly £1.8 million. Unfortunately for Duke Of Marmalade’s European admirers, this surge came too late and he is now in his second season in South Africa.
So, while a slow start is far from insuperable, the breeding industry’s commercial sector allows very little time for a stallion to stage a recovery. In other words, the process has much more in common with a 400m race than a marathon. To stretch the metaphor further, Christine Ohurugu’s admirers will know that the fast starters – the stallions who shine with their quick-maturing two-year-olds – can often be overhauled when it truly matters by their opponents who need a bit more time and distance.
This raises the question of which of last year’s freshman sires are maintaining their progress.
Considering that Lope De Vega’s Timeform rating soared from 108 at two to 125 at three, there appeared to be every reason for thinking that this son of Shamardal would build on his very bright start. I think it is fair to say that he has, but so far without hitting the headlines. He now has five first-crop sons with Racing Post ratings between 111 and 119. Of these his Dewhurst Stakes winner Belardo was a respectable fourth to Gleneagles in the Irish 2,000 Guineas, a race which saw Endless Drama, another Lope de Vega colt, finish second.
We have also seen Consort finish third to Gleneagles in the St James’s Palace Stakes, after winning his first two starts, and Ride Like The Wind defeat the future French 2,000 Guineas winner Make Believe in the Group 3 Prix Djebel.
That Djebel victory made Ride Like The Wind the fifth Group winner from a first crop numbering 101, following Burnt Sugar, Hero Look, Belardo and Royal Razalma.
This is a fine achievement on Lope de Vega’s behalf, especially when that total can be expected to rise. It is worth pointing out, though, that the Ballylinch stallion can’t expect as much help from his second crop, as it numbers 78 foals – 23 fewer than its predecessor. That said, this second crop has already been represented by Elegant Supermodel, a fine third to Illuminate in the Group 3 Albany Stakes after winning her first two starts in France. Don’t forget either that Lope de Vega’s run of Group successes in 2014 didn’t start until September 6.
One stallion I have been tracking closely is Oasis Dream’s son Showcasing. I must admit that I once fostered hopes that he would follow in his sire’s footsteps by developing into a champion sprinter. These hopes were raised by his excellent victory in the Gimcrack, in which he covered the six furlongs in a very swift 1:09.28, and his very encouraging return to action at three, when he accounted for several accomplished older sprinters in finishing a close second in the Group 2 Duke of York Stakes.
Breeders who patronised Showcasing at his increased fee of £15,000 in 2015 should therefore feel that they have invested wisely
This Duke of York effort was somewhat reminiscent of Oasis Dream’s return to action at three, but whereas Oasis Dream benefited from his run, Showcasing went backwards.
So would his progeny train on? Well some of them certainly have, a prime example being his daughter Prize Exhibit. A dual winner in England at two, Prize Exhibit remained in the US after finishing a respectable fourth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf. She has progressed so well that she collected the Grade 3 Senorita Stakes on her 14th start and the Grade 2 San Clemente Handicap on her 15th. That gives Showcasing three Group/Graded winners from a first crop of 80, sired at a fee of £5,000.
Two others that have definitely trained on are the Irish-trained Sacrificial and the French-trained Projected. Sacrificial had to be considered somewhat unlucky in the valuable Britannia Stakes at Royal Ascot, when he easily accounted for his 16 rivals on the stands’ side but was third overall, but he gained compensation at Galway. Projected, for his part, has gone close to winning all four of his starts over Chantilly’s Polytrack.
Showcasing was available for even less in his second season, but his second crop is already producing an encouraging flow of juvenile winners, such as the Listed winner Tasleet, second to Shalaa in the Group 2 Richmond Stakes and winner of a valuable sales race at York in August. Muhadathat, another member of this crop, also ran well at Goodwood, taking fourth in the Group 3 Molecomb Stakes.
Breeders who patronised Showcasing at his increased fee of £15,000 in 2015 should therefore feel that they have invested wisely.
Another grandson of Green Desert who has been acquitting himself well is Paco Boy. As a Group 1 winner at three, four and five, Paco Boy is well qualified to sire durable performers, not just speedy two-year-olds. Not that he did at all badly with his first juveniles. Seven of them earned black type in 2014, with Beacon and Smaih leading the way thanks to their respective victories in the Group 2 Flying Childers Stakes and Group 3 Horris Hill Stakes. Paco Boy has demonstrated that he can sire a different type from these two thanks to his son Peacock, whose Listed win over a mile and a quarter was sandwiched between creditable seconds to Golden Horn and Time Test.
The potential star of the Paco Boy show has to be Galileo Gold, who became his sire’s third Group winner when he took the Vintage Stakes. That’s a pleasing start for a stallion who stood his first season at £8,500 and his second at £8,000.