When times are hard, seeking value for money becomes all the more important. In this quest it mustn’t be forgotten that fashion is a commodity which comes at a premium and often proves to have been over-priced. So, instead of joining the stampede to use the latest new stallion, why not consider some other, less obvious options?
Although numerous breeders believe that a first-season sire offers a degree of safety, in that his reputation can’t suffer any knocks prior to the sales, they are often much less keen to use an unproven horse in his second, third or fourth year. In the USA stallion fees often fall substantially during these early years, offering breeders a chance to access horses who would otherwise be beyond their budget.
Although this trend isn’t so noticeable in British and Irish stallion fees, stallion masters still often find it difficult to maintain their stallion’s mare numbers and deals can often be done. So, if you have faith in a particular horse, why not use him in one of these more difficult years? If you believe he can make an immediate impact with his first two-year-olds, try supporting him in his second year. Or wait until his third year if his progeny are likely to take a bit more time to prove their worth.
Of course much depends on whether you are breeding to race, or breeding for the sales ring. If the objective is the racecourse, fashion becomes largely irrelevant and a wider choice of stallions becomes available. For many small breeders, though, it is hard to get away from the inexpensive speed sires who hold greater appeal to a larger number of buyers at the sales.
There is no reason why bold Flat breeders should ignore sires consigned to the jumps division
The following look at some of the stallions standing the 2013 season at fees no higher than £10,000 or €12,500 makes no claims to being comprehensive, but hopefully offers some food for thought.
While the horse who stays a mile and a half or more may be considered unfashionable, there is no getting away from the fact that there is still a lot of money to be won with middle-distance horses. There is also no escaping the fact that Galileo and Montjeu, the two most influential stallions of recent years, were at their most effective at a mile and a half. Too many people assume that sprinters are precocious and that middle-distance horses are invariably backward, when there are plenty of horses who don’t fit these stereotypes.
Galileo, remember, has sired three champion two-year-olds, while Montjeu has sired four winners of the Racing Post Trophy. Conversely, the last ten winners of the King’ Stand Stakes contain two seven-year-olds, three six-year-olds and only one three-year-old.
The last couple of years have also underlined that comparatively inexpensive middle-distance stallions can make an impact with their juveniles. First there was Sir Percy, a horse who had himself proved that a Classic career can still go hand in hand with first-rate juvenile ability. Then came the classically-bred Sixties Icon. Even the stigma of having triumphed in the St Leger wasn’t enough to stop him siring eight winners from 17 domestic first-crop juvenile runners.
Sadly, many of our finest middle-distance stayers are now consigned immediately to the National Hunt sector, but there is no reason why bold Flat breeders should automatically ignore these stallions, especially if they have mares who could inject some speed. Flat winners by such stallions could become quite valuable as potential jumpers.
FAME AND GLORY: for as little as €5,000, breeders can access this admirable performer. Don’t let the disappointing end to his career cloud the fact that Fame And Glory was an unbeaten Group 1 winner at two who went on to Classic success at three. He later increased his tally of Group 1 wins to five, showing his form over a wide range of distances and ground. With Montjeu as his sire and a Shirley Heights mare as his dam, he also represents some of the finest Classic bloodlines.
SHIROCCO: this son of Monsun is being courted by jumping breeders, but he sired a St Leger runner-up in his first crop and an Oaks and Irish Oaks runner-up in his second.
YEATS: the 2013 season will begin to show whether this magnificent horse is going to justify Coolmore’s decision to allow him his chance as a Flat stallion. There really isn’t any reason why he shouldn’t succeed, as he represents the same Sadler’s Wells-Top Ville cross as the much-missed Montjeu. Yeats won his only start at two before going on to a pair of Group successes over a mile and a quarter at three and a victory in the Coronation Cup at four, so this four-time Gold Cup winner’s story wasn’t just about stamina. His fee is only €6,000 in his fourth season.
AZAMOUR: despite being an unbeaten Group winner at two and a Group 1 winner over eight, ten and 12 furlongs, Azamour soon began to find it hard to maintain the scale of support he deserved. Fortunately this comparative lack of ammunition hasn’t stopped him establishing his merit. His 52-strong second crop matched its predecessor’s total of four Group winners. Then his third crop, numbering only 33, produced the 2012 Prix de Diane winner Valyra. His early success led to larger books and he has nearly 100 two-year-olds with which to do battle in 2013, and he also has a good-sized crop of yearlings. He may still not be the height of fashion – as you might tell from his fee of €10,000 – but he has more to offer than some pricier stallions.
CHAMPS ELYSEES: two of Danehill’s best middle-distance sons, Dylan Thomas and Duke Of Marmalade, failed to hit the heights in 2012, which perhaps explains why Champs Elysees went from being hot at the 2011 foal sales to comparatively cold at the 2012 yearling sales. However, this multiple Grade 1 winner may be better judged by comparing him to his brothers Dansili, one of Europe’s most reliable sources of Group winners, and Cacique, who has sired three Group winners and a pair of Listed winners from only 35 foals. Champs Elysees’s 2013 fee of £5,000 is half his original fee.
DARK ANGEL: at €12,500 this son of Acclamation only just qualifies for this review, but I have been impressed with his early efforts. His career charts some of the pitfalls which often await today’s young stallions. His second book was quite a lot smaller than his first and Dark Angel stood his third season at €7,000 (down from an initial €10,000) but the reduced fee didn’t halt the fall in numbers. However, his first crop contains Lethal Force, Gabrial, Lily’s Angel, Sovereign Debt and Tough As Nails, and his second has produced Alhebayeb and Boomshackerlacker. Consequently the breeders of the 38 foals in his third crop had a highly saleable product at the 2012 yearling sales, where his average exceeded 33,000gns.
FOOTSTEPSINTHESAND: Shamardal and Footstepsinthesand helped establish Giant’s Causeway’s talent as a sire, and now they are both contributing to his growing success as a sire of sires. Whereas Shamardal costs €50,000, Footstepsinthesand is standing his third consecutive season at €10,000. The 2005 2,000 Guineas winner has a fine record with Danehill mares, notably siring the tough Chachamaidee, and his pedigree becomes more impressive every year. His half-brother Pedro The Great won the Group 1 Phoenix Stakes in 2012, a few months after Power – a colt out of a half-sister to Footstepsinthesand – had won the Irish 2,000 Guineas. His 2013 two-year-olds should be well worth keeping an eye on.
SIYOUNI: although the cost of sending a mare to France would have to be added to the price, Siyouni strikes as an interesting prospect at his 2013 fee of €7,000. We have already seen several other sons of Pivotal sire Group winners, with Kyllachy carving out a place as a very reliable commercial sire, while Captain Rio did well at bargain-basement level. The first crop by Falco contains the Group-winning Snowday. Siyouni had four future Group 1 winners behind him when winning the 2009 Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere, to improve his juvenile record to four wins from six starts. Although he didn’t win at three, Timeform still rated him 122. A half-brother to the 2012 dual Group 1 winner Siyouma, Siyouni is out of a half-sister to the highly talented Slickly, so he is well qualified to make his mark.
KODIAC: according to his advertisements, Kodiac has covered 186, 164 and 144 mares in the past three seasons. This three-parts-brother to Invincible Spirit has earned this support the hard way, as his five two-year-old Listed winners were sired at fees of €5,000. Expect Kodiac to add plenty more juvenile winners over the next few years.
INTIKHAB: if only you could be sure that you would get a filly, this elderly stallion would be one to bear in mind at his fee of €5,500. This top-class miler is responsible for three Group 1-winning daughters, headed by those admirable fillies Snow Fairy and Red Evie, and he is also the broodmare sire of the South African star Igugu and the Group 1-winning Gordon Lord Byron. As two of his daughters’ Group winners are by Galileo, Intikhab broodmares may have more success in store.
FIREBREAK: as a son of Charnwood Forest, Firebreak has always slotted into the none-too-fashionable bracket. He cost only 27,000gns as a yearling but did so well at two that it cost Godolphin 525,000gns to acquire him. He maintained his form very well and eventually retired with the proud record of having won seven Group races, including at least one in each of his four seasons in training. Timeform rated him 125 at his best. At the time of writing, Firebreak had had only 62 runners but he has enjoyed Group success with the smart Hearts Of Fire and the fast Caledonia Lady. At £3,500, Firebreak clearly has plenty to offer the bargain hunter.