It’s that time of the year when stallion championships are settled and reputations are either enhanced or shattered – the latter often with too much haste for some young sires.

The battle for star pupil among this year’s freshmen has been fascinating, with a decent handful set to graduate with honours to their sophomore season.

Shamardal’s son Lope De Vega, who had been simmering promisingly all summer, came to the boil on Future Champions Day with Royal Razalma’s Cornwallis Stakes victory, which was swiftly followed by his first Group 1 winner in the form of Belardo, who was bred at Ballylinch Stud where Lope De Vega stands.

The pair brought their sire’s tally of Group winners to four, including Burnt Sugar and the Italian-trained Hero Look, with each win coming at a different distance from five furlongs to a mile.

Shamardal has enjoyed another terrific season and is headed only by Galileo and Invincible Spirit on the overall sires’ list. The Darley sire is about to embark on his tenth season at stud and it is encouraging to see his fellow dual Classic-winning son make such a promising start at stud – especially for those selling a first-crop foal by Casamento, another young son of Shamardal, later this month.

Of a similarly encouraging nature, particularly for the Aga Khan Studs, is the rise of Siyouni, who, at the time of writing, shades Lope De Vega with five individual stakes winners. As successful a stallion as Pivotal has been and remains, it’s fair to say that he is not yet noted as a sire of sires. Siyouni may well start to tip his reputation a little in that regard.

A trio of Group 3 winners, including the Aga Khan’s twice Group 1-placed Erveyda, is complemented by a brace of Listed scorers and a thumpingly good strike-rate of almost 46% winners to runners.

Of the leading players in the first-season sires’ table, only Showcasing has a better strike-rate, which is knocking on the door of 50%. He has been a tremendous boost to Whitsbury Manor Stud and his success means that England, Ireland and France all have highly exciting new recruits to trumpet.

Showcasing has a number of black-type representatives to his credit already, headed by the Group 2 Mill Reef Stakes winner Toocoolforschool, while his tally of individual winners is equal to Fast Company (24) and bettered only by Zebedee (28), whose sire Invincible Spirit set a European record for number of first-crop winners back in 2006.

Beacon may have been gifted the Flying Childers Stakes by the unfortunate unshipping of George Baker from Cotai Glory but he has nevertheless been a shining light for Paco Boy this term, winning four of his seven starts, including the Listed Dragon Stakes, and he leads a pack of 22 winners for the Highclere Stud resident.

Equiano won twice at two in Spain, where he started his racing career, but he was much more of a force to be reckoned with at three, four and five, and that longevity makes his first-crop members, which include Group 3 winner Dark Reckoning, well worth following next year.

Similar note should be made of Lord Shanakill’s offspring. He’s already posted a decent number of winners – 14 from 31 runners – and a number of his youngsters look scopier than one might have expected. On the track and in the sales ring his family has been very much to the fore in the past month, with his Galileo half-sister Together Forever winning the Group 1 Dubai Fillies’ Mile and another Sea The Stars half-sister becoming the most expensive filly at the Goffs Orby Sale when selling for €1.1 million.

For reasons close to home, personal interest has been taken in the first runners for Haras du Quesnay-based Youmzain this season and, for a stallion whose stock should be progressive as he was, it is therefore pleasing to see him post five winners from just ten runners to date.

Next year’s stars?
On pages 72 to 78, Carl Evans recaps an extraordinary few weeks in the sales rings of Britain and Ireland, where there has of course been continued interest in the offspring of stallions with first-crop yearlings.

Poet’s Voice is this year’s show-stopper – and as a son of Dubawi that’s perhaps no surprise – with a Tattersalls October Book 1 average of 257,143gns for seven yearlings sold and a Book 2 average of 94,096gns for 26 sold. Zoffany, too, has been popular, his three yearlings in Book 1 returning an average of 336,667gns, while his ten Book 2 offerings averaged 86,400gns. Ballylinch Stud will be hoping it has another Lope De Vega on its hands with Dream Ahead, who had nine sell in Book 1 for an average of 140,444gns and 18 in Book 2 for 75,667gns.

Popularity in the ring is one thing, but they’ll have it all to prove again come next spring and beyond.