New Approach’s stunning Royal Ascot treble, together with his first-season sire championship, deservedly attracted plenty of attention (and prompted a rise in fee from £22,500 to £50,000). As yet, though, he still has work to do before he displaces Dubawi as the kingpin of the Darley stallion team.

I was reminded of this by a table which appeared in Bill Oppenheim’s column in the January 2 edition of Thoroughbred Daily News. Oppenheim’s table, based on TDN data, listed the top 15 stallions in order of number of Group/Graded winners per northern-hemisphere crop. It was no great surprise to see the prolific Galileo topping the table. The four-time champion sire has an average of 8.13 Group winners in his eight crops, bettering Sadler’s Wells’s career figure of 7.26. The list also features such stalwarts as Danehill in third place, Storm Cat (seventh), AP Indy (ninth) and Danzig (11th), so Dubawi is doing extremely well to rank as high as fifth (with another British stallion, Dansili, in sixth).

New Approach still has work to do before he displaces Dubawi as the kingpin of the Darley stallion team

The flaw with the list is that it doesn’t take into account each stallion’s number of foals, which would significantly alter some of the positions. For example, Sadler’s Wells has a higher percentage of Group winners to foals (7.4%) than Galileo (5.8%), while Danzig achieved the exceptional feat of siring more than 10% Graded/Group winners.

The good news is that Dubawi is still doing extremely well when numbers are factored in. His 23 Group winners come from a total of 372 foals in his first four crops, which equates to nearly 6.2%. As we have yet to see any stakes winners from Dubawi’s fourth crop, which is his smallest at 61 foals, his 23 Group winners actually come from a total of 311 foals in his first three crops, which works out at around 7.4%.

Another element which can’t easily be factored in is the stallions’ fees. Inevitably most of the sires on the list have ranked among the highest-priced stallions in their respective countries, whether it be the US, Ireland or Britain. Of course, Dubawi is now one of these high-priced stallions, with the 2013 season being his second at £75,000. Remember, though, that his first four crops of racing age – the ones to which he owes his position – were sired at £25,000, £25,000, €40,000 and £15,000. While those fees were high enough to guarantee that Dubawi received quality mares, there was no doubt scope for improvement, which raises the exciting prospect that the best is yet to come from the most accomplished son of the brilliant Dubai Millennium.

Even though his first juveniles did well in 2009, with both Poet’s Voice and Sand Vixen scoring at Group 2 level at Doncaster, Dubawi’s fee in 2010 was set no higher than £20,000. But then Makfi came along early in 2010, followed by a flood of other Group winners.

The end result was that Dubawi was kept busy during the 2010 season, covering 161 mares compared to the previous year’s 68. Several of the breeders who used Dubawi in 2010 reaped rich rewards at the 2012 yearling sales, with colts selling for 470,000gns, 360,000gns, €450,000, 340,000gns, 320,000gns and 300,000gns. Chances are, then, that Dubawi’s 2011 crop will soon be adding to his reputation, and then there is the enticing prospect of his higher-priced crops coming on line from 2014, the first sired at £55,000 in 2011.

A mighty double for Poliglote

Galileo wasn’t the only son of Sadler’s Wells to end 2012 as champion sire. Poliglote did even better in one sense, in that he ended the year as France’s leading sire not only on the Flat, thanks to the Arc victory of Solemia, but also over jumps. His biggest jumping earners of 2012 featured the likes of Saint du Chenet, winner of the Grade 1 Grand Prix d’Automne over hurdles, and Nikita du Berlais, runner-up to Thousand Stars in the French Champion Hurdle.

Sadler’s Wells was also represented among France’s leading jumping stallions by Ballingarry, who ranked fifth with the help of the hurdler Top Ling and chaser Sadler’sflaure. The Coolmore superstar also sired the dam of fourth-placed Martaline, so his impact is still being felt on both sides of the Channel.

The Rathbarry team is to be congratulated on securing the services of another of Sadler’s Wells’s sons, Sholokhov, to join the team at Glenview Stud. Still only 14 years old in 2013, Sholokhov finished as high as 13th among the leading French jumping sires, despite having only 27 runners in France from his German crops.

As many as 16 of the 27 were winners and they were headed by the exciting Esmondo, who won four important races over hurdles, including the Grade 1 Grand Course de Haies des 4 Ans in December.

Although Sholokhov won the Group 1 Gran Criterium in Italy at two for Aidan O’Brien, he was often employed as a pacemaker at the start of his second season. Despite being sent off at 200-1 in the Irish Derby, Sholokhov kept on so well that he hung onto second place behind High Chaparral. He again set a strong pace, this time for Hawk Wing, when they finished first and second in the Eclipse.

Sholokhov was O’Brien’s representative in the 2002 St Leger but he finished last and was then sold to join Michael Jarvis. After disappointing again on his first start for his new trainer, he was retired. He made his stud debut at €5,000 at Gestüt Etzean in 2004 and was well qualified both in terms of performance and pedigree. One of his half-sisters, Affianced, is the dam of the Irish Derby winner Soldier Of Fortune and another, Zavaleta, is the second dam of Dewhurst winner Intense Focus.

For a while it looked as though Sholokhov was going to be a major asset to the German breeding industry, as he sired six stakes winners in his first crop of 52, but his next five crops – the biggest of them 76-strong ­­– have so far produced only three stakes winners. Easily the best of them is the German Oaks and Preis von Baden winner Night Magic.

One fascinating statistic is that eight of his nine stakes winners on the Flat are fillies. Fortunately, the National Hunt world has offered a profitable alternative for Sholokhov’s sons. In addition to Esmondo there is Don Cossack, who started a very hot favourite on his Grade 1 debut over hurdles, having previously built a sequence of four victories in bumpers and over hurdles.

Before leaving the topic of the leading French jumping sires, forgive me for pointing out yet again that several of them were themselves good winners over jumps, including second-ranked Saint des Saints, sixth-ranked Kapgarde and tenth-ranked Dom Alco.
Other jumping winners which reached the top 20 were Robin des Champs, Sadler’s Wells’s son Antarctique, King’s Theatre’s son Great Pretender and Pistolet Bleu’s son Balko. Great Pretender won both his starts over hurdles at Auteuil after showing smart form on the Flat, whereas Balko raced exclusively over hurdles and fences, winning nine of his 19 starts.

Once again I would plead with any of the top jumps trainers in Britain and Ireland to think twice before they automatically geld new recruits, no matter how well-bred they may be.

Juvenile ability is key at Ashford

The team at Ashford Stud, Coolmore’s sister stud in Kentucky, seems convinced that outstanding juvenile ability is the key to stallion success. Already home to Lookin At Lucky and Uncle Mo, the dominant two-year-old colts of 2009 and 2010, Ashford has now added the 2011 champion, Hansen, to its roster.

This policy is hardly surprising, as Ashford’s initial success was based largely on those outstanding juveniles Storm Bird and El Gran Senor, as well as the precocious Woodman. Since then Ashford’s Giant’s Causeway had topped The Blood-Horse’s year-end sires’ table on three occasions and he was the second-best juvenile of his year. Similarly, Ashford’s up-and-coming stallion Scat Daddy was the second-best American juvenile colt of 2006.

Lion Heart, a former Ashford stallion, was also well above average at two. Unbeaten in three starts, culminating in a decisive victory in the Grade 1 Hollywood Futurity, Lion Heart went on to finish second in the 2004 Kentucky Derby, before winning the prestigious Haskell Invitational. The son of Tale Of The Cat had stood only five seasons at Ashford and had just two crops on the track when, together with Dehere and Powerscourt, he became part of a job lot of stallions sold by Ashford to the Jockey Club of Turkey.

I suspect that Ashford would happily welcome Lion Heart back. Best known in England as the sire of Dangerous Midge, winner of the 2010 Breeders’ Cup Turf, he is also responsible for Line Of David, winner of the Arkansas Derby in 2010, and for the dazzling Kantharos. The latter looked something special when he won his first three juvenile starts in 2010 by a total of 28.5 lengths, only to be injured soon afterwards.

Lion Heart’s final American crop reached the track in 2012 and it has already produced a pair of Grade 2 winners in Know More and Uncaptured. Know More took the Best Pal Stakes in August, before finishing second in a pair of Grade 1 races, and Uncaptured also matured quickly, winning three of Canada’s best juvenile races in the summer. Uncaptured has since contested two Graded stakes at Churchill Downs and he won them both, including the Grade 2 Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes in November.

With their help the prolific Lion Heart finished tenth on North America’s leading sires’ table, which suggests that Lion Heart has a significant role to play in Turkey’s burgeoning racing and breeding industry, which in 2011 was home to 422 stallions, 4,324 mares and 1,235 foals.