The decision to shuttle the two-time Australian champion sire Redoute’s Choice to Europe for the first time has received timely support on two fronts.

Soon after he covered his first mares at Haras de Bonneval, the 16-year-old stallion (born August 15, 1996) became the first Australian son of Danehill to be represented by 100 stakes winners.

Then the second half of February and the first few days of March highlighted Redoute’s Choice’s tremendous potential as a sire of sires. Although Redoute’s Choice’s first foals weren’t born until the second half of 2001, six of his sons have already been represented by Group 1 winners. They are a mixed bunch. For example, Bradbury’s Luck won nothing more important than a Listed race but he drew attention to himself as the sire of Luckygray, a dual Group 1 winner at up to nine furlongs in Western Australia. Two of the six sons were sent to New Zealand for their stallion careers after becoming Group winners in Australia. The Group 2 middle-distance winner Duelled sired the 2011 Queensland Derby winner Shootoff, whereas Fast ‘N’ Famous, a Group 3 sprint winner, sired the 2012 Queensland Oaks winner Quintessential.

Stratum, Snitzel and Not A Single Doubt, the three other sons which have hit the Group 1 target, are much higher profile. Stratum, the 2005 Golden Slipper Stakes winner, numbers the 2010 Golden Slipper winner Crystal Lily and the 2012 Australian Oaks winner Streama among his Group 1 winners. He stood the 2012 season at Widden Stud at a fee of AUS$44,000. Stratum should have a good crop of two-year-olds reaching the track towards the end of 2013, as his success with Crystal Lily boosted his fee to $60,500 in 2010.

Not A Single Doubt spent his first six seasons at a fee no higher than $13,750

Snitzel, a sprinter who took the Group 1 Oakleigh Plate over five and a half furlongs, stood the 2012 season alongside his sire at Arrowfield at a fee of $33,000. Having been represented by several Group winners, headed by Sizzling (Group 1 TJ Smith) and Snitzerland (a close second to Pierro in the 2012 Golden Slipper), Snitzel was in great demand in 2012, covering 249 mares – his biggest book to date by a sizeable margin. The breeders who supported him will have been pleased to see his daughter Sweet Idea win the Group 2 Silver Slipper in early March.

Arrowfield is also home to Not A Single Doubt. As a winner of nothing more prestigious than a pair of Listed races over sprint distances, Not A Single Doubt spent his first six seasons at a fee no higher than $13,750. Unsurprisingly, much of his early Australian success as a stallion was limited to Listed and Group 3 levels, but he appears to have hit the jackpot with his two-year-old daughter Miracles Of Life. Unbeaten in four starts, in the hands of 29-year-old apprentice rider Lauren Stojakovic, Miracles Of Life was impressive in winning the Group 1 Blue Diamond Stakes in February. Her victory came 14 years after Redoute’s Choice had carried the same colours to success in the same race.

It will be fascinating to see whether any of Redoute’s Choice’s other inexpensive stallion sons can make a similar breakthrough in years to come. Arrowfield had the misfortune at the start of 2013 to lose Beneteau, who raced only as a two-year-old, when he won the Group 3 Blue Diamond Prelude and was third in the Group 1 Blue Diamond Stakes. He had 79 first-crop foals born in 2012.

Let’s hope Swettenham Stud has better luck with the speedy Master Of Design, winner of the TJ Smith Classic as a six-year-old in 2012. He covered 140 mares in his first season.

Darley is another with an inexpensive son of Redoute’s Choice, in Time Thief, who was placed at Group 1 level, while Widden has Tickets, who was second in a pair of Group 1 contests at two. He has 100 first-crop foals born last year.

Exceed’s juveniles excelling back at home
Last August, when reviewing the pedigree of Excelebration in the Thoroughbred Daily News, I wrote the following about his sire Exceed And Excel: “The difference between Exceed And Excel’s form in the two hemispheres meant that there was quite a gulch between his fees in the south and north. Whereas his initial Australian fee was AUS$55,000, the son of Danehill started his European career at €10,000. At the relevant exchange rates, this meant that Exceed And Excel was available in Ireland for less than a third of his Australian fee. As none of his five European crops of racing age [in 2012] was sired at more than £12,000, his European achievements seemed likely to pale alongside those of their more expensive Australian counterparts. Remarkably, the opposite has been true.

“Whereas he has only six Group winners among his 535 southern hemisphere foals, he already has twice as many Group winners among his 502 northern hemisphere foals.”

Exceed And Excel filly Guelph caused a lot of interest as she is inbred 2 x 3 to Danehill

I pointed out that the northern hemisphere figure could easily rise before the end of 2012, thanks to such as the smart handicapper Fulbright, and I was proved right when he took the Group 2 Challenge Stakes to boost his sire’s total of northern hemisphere Group winners to 13. It is going to be interesting to see whether Exceed And Excel’s 2011 and 2012 crops can maintain this standard, as they too were sired at £12,000, before his fee climbed to £22,500 and then to £35,000.

Exceed And Excel’s fee also rose in Australia following the success of his first two crops, doubling from its original $55,000 to $110,000 in 2008 and 2009. Although a stallion’s fee is often a reliable litmus test for predicting the future, it hasn’t worked with his 109 foals of 2009. None has so far succeeded in winning anything better than a Listed race.

Fortunately the signs are more encouraging with his second six-figure crop. The Group 3 Blue Diamond Prelude has divisions for both sexes and Exceed And Excel sired the winners of both, thanks to his son Kuroshio and daughter Guelph. His four stakes winners from 27 runners have earned him third place on Australia’s list of sires of two-year-olds.

Guelph caused quite a lot of interest because she is inbred 2 x 3 to Danehill. She finished only ninth of 14 when second favourite for the Blue Diamond Stakes when attempting to become the second Group 1 winner inbred to Danehill. Southern Lord, a Stratum gelding inbred 3 x 3, was the first.

It’s a pretty safe bet that there will be more to come. Taking a quick look through Fastnet Rock’s current crop of Australian two-year-olds, two of them are out of daughters of Redoute’s Choice. Then there are others whose second dams are by Danehill, which creates the same end result – 2 x 3 to Danehill. There are also several inbred 3 x 3 to Danzig, with dams by Green Desert, Anabaa, Polish Patriot and Bianconi.

At the Inglis Yearling Sale in early March, the highest price in the opening session – $250,000 – was paid for a Teofilo colt out of a Fastnet Rock mare, which is therefore inbred 3 x 3 to Danehill. More significantly, a Fastnet Rock yearling colt that sold for NZ$1,975,000 in January has a second dam by Danehill, so is another inbred 2 x 3.

By the way, I am not necessarily recommending such close inbreeding, simply pointing it out. While I can envisage major winners inbred so closely to Danehill, where do we go from there, especially in Australia, a nation which has so much Danehill blood?

Hot spell for late stallion Lavirco
One of the strongest contenders for the title of hottest National Hunt stallion during February was Lavirco, winner of the 1996 German Derby. Sadly this son of Konigsstuhl died in November 2009, at the age of 16, but his legacy includes Majala (Grade 2 Kingmaker Novices’ Chase on February 9), So Young (Grade 2 Red Mills Trial Hurdle a week later) and Roi Du Mee (Grade 2 Bobbyjo Chase on February 23), while multiple Grade 1-winning hurdler Mikael d’Haguenet is finally getting the hang of the bigger obstacles.

Lavirco’s talented runners outside France during the 2012-13 season also include Tarla (Grade 3 TA Morris Memorial Mares Novice Chase) and Royal Boy (third in the Grade 1 Tolworth Hurdle). His current French representatives include So Young’s brother Quarouso, winner of the Grade 2 Prix Georges Courtois Chase at Auteuil last November.

Although Lavirco is no longer with us, there is the consolation that he has 44 unraced three-year-olds, the vast majority of them being non-thoroughbreds with names beginning with “A”, including a couple with the Collonges suffix. There are also 54 four-year-olds, mainly with names beginning with “V”.

Although Lavirco spent much of his life as a member of the French National Stud’s extensive stallion team, he was bred and raced in Germany. His dam La Virginia, a sister to the dam of the top-class Lomitas, also produced Lavirco’s talented brother Laveron. This winner of the German St Leger was switched to hurdling and did so well that his victories included the 2002 French Champion Hurdle.

Lavirco’s sire Konigsstuhl was also responsible for Monsun, a stallion who looks destined to make a considerable impact on the Anglo-Irish jumping scene. February saw Shirocco represented by his first Graded winner over hurdles, when Annie Power took the Grade 2 Novice Hurdle.

Network, another son of Monsun, has developed into an excellent sire of jumpers, with Sprinter Sacre, Saint Are, Rubi Light, Rubi Ball and Net Lovely advertising his merit, and there is a growing band of Monsun stallions available to jumping breeders in Ireland and Britain.

They include Getaway at Coolmore and Schiaparelli at Overbury Stud, but others are Listed winner Aizavoski, Group 2 winner Arcadio, Group 1-placed Salutino and Shirocco’s Listed-winning brother September Storm. There is now also a grandson of Monsun in Durban Thunder, a Group 1 winner by Samum, who is another recruit to Ireland.