Few aspects of the bloodstock industry come under as much scrutiny as young sires.
First impressions are key. From the moment their first foals hit the ground to the performances of first runners, opinions are formed, judgements made and the market influenced.
Regarding the 2020 intake of new names, the first market test is still months away. But as ever, chat regarding the first foals in question has already taken on a momentum of its own.
For stallion farms, it’s a fascinating yet nerve-wracking time. The addition of a new horse invariably requires significant investment and a weighty level of faith; the last thing they need to see is a young stallion begin to throw ordinary stock.
With that in mind, the idea that several of this class, notably Too Darn Hot, Study Of Man and Invincible Army, might be true-breeding bays is a source of satisfaction to their connections. Then there are others, such as Waldgeist, Masar, Advertise and Land Force, who have been the recipients of repeat business in their second season, meaning that breeders are liking what they see from their early stock.
Naturally, the confirmation that a stallion is stamping his stock does not guarantee success – for every Kingman, a true-breeding bay, there will be a Bushranger, a disappointing stallion whose first crop were akin to commercial catnip.
However, as far as the market is concerned, such consistency is a good start.
Little wonder, therefore, that Kirsten Rausing of Lanwades Stud is delighted to see the early indications pointing towards Prix du Jockey Club winner Study Of Man as a true-breeding bay.
Anyone using a Lanwades Stud stallion does so in the knowledge that they will be strongly supported by Rausing’s deep band of mares, and in Study Of Man’s case, there is the additional bonus of support from his breeder, the Niarchos family. This is the same partnership that worked many years ago to launch Hernando, another Prix du Jockey Club winner, to great effect.
“The wonderful aspect to Study Of Man is that he can cover a wide spectrum of mares, being a Deep Impact with no Galileo or Danzig to him,” says Rausing. “He was very well supported by some important breeders and I sent him all my best mares. I have nine from the Alruccaba family and a number of others from different families, including a very nice filly out of [Group 1 winner] Lady Jane Digby and others out of Cubanita [a dual Group 3 winner] and Leaderene [dam of current Australian stakes winner Le Don De Vie].
“It’s early days but he appears to be a true-breeding bay. I would also say that a few of them look to have a bit of Sunday Silence about them.”
From the view of the Niarchos family, supporting Study Of Man allows them where possible to inbreed to their blue hen Miesque, who appears as his granddam. Indeed, such a ploy has already worked well in the case of Study Of Man’s relation Karakontie, another Niarchos-supported stallion who stands in Kentucky.
“We sent eight mares to Study Of Man in his first year and I’ve been very pleased with the ones I’ve seen so far,” says Alan Cooper, racing manager to the Niarchos family. “We have a particularly good foal out of Cosmic Fire who is good sized and with a quality head.
“We have tried to inbreed to Miesque where we can – we bought a Whipper mare named Villanueva who is inbred herself to Miesque’s dam Pasadoble and we sent her to Study Of Man, so that will be interesting.
“The horse has let down really well and he’s getting good support, so we’re very pleased.”
Similarly, Arc hero Waldgeist also boasts the allure of powerful connections, in his case the alliance of Ballylinch Stud, Dietrich von Boetticher’s Gestut Ammerland and Newsells Park Stud.
Each has thrown its weight behind the stallion, including Ballylinch Stud, whose roster of mares due to foal to the son of Galileo this season included stakes winners Barkaa, Fort Del Oro, Highlands Queen, Modeeroch and Planchart.
“The ones that we have on the farm each have quality, movement and athleticism, and the feedback from breeders has also been excellent,” said the stud’s managing director John O’Connor. “Some breeders for whom I have a lot of respect are returning to him again this year. So he’ll have a nice follow-up book.
“Obviously he’s a Group 1-winning two-year-old – Andre Fabre doesn’t run two-year-olds at that level unless he feels that they possess the physical and mental strength to do so and those are elements that we have tried to reinforce within the mares that we have sent.
“Our filly out of Barkaa looks sharp and racy and there is an early born colt out of Forte Del Oro who is a powerhouse. There is also a good colt out of Lady Livius – she helped start off Lope De Vega and Tamayuz [as the dam of their first Group winners Burnt Sugar and Brown Sugar] and we’re hopeful that she can do the same with Waldgeist. I myself have a really good foal out of Fifth Commandment – he is the best that the mare has produced.”
Of course, Ballylinch Stud and Gestut Ammerland previously teamed up to launch Lope De Vega into an international supersire. While Waldgeist has a long way to go to emulate the heights of his illustrious stud-mate, such support naturally means that he is being afforded every chance – as befits a multiple Group 1-winning son of Galileo.
“As a partnership, we’re trying to do the same thing as we did when we were getting Lope De Vega started but in this case, there is the added bonus of also having Newsells Park Stud as a partner,” says O’Connor.
“He’s not a sprinter-miler so the fact he’s popular is not only good for the horse but good for the business as well. These types of horses – tough, sound runners with the class to compete at the top level over a period of time – are very important to the future of the breed.”
Study Of Man and Waldgeist were among a clutch of Classic performers to retire to stud in 2020. Another, Irish 2,000 Guineas winner Phoenix Of Spain, attracted the support of a wide range of breeders at the Irish National Stud, among them shareholder SF Bloodstock, the Aga Khan, China Horse Club and Ballylinch Stud.
One breeder particularly taken with the son of Lope De Vega is Peter Kavanagh of Kildaragh Stud.
“We used the horse for several reasons,” he says. “Obviously he’s a Classic winner, was a good two-year-old and is an imposing horse.
“You have the Lope De Vega in him but we also liked the Caro element [his second dam is by Kaldoun] as well – it’s an excellent line but is today very thin on the ground.
“We have two foals by him. The filly out of Petit Calva is a lovely mover and very pretty. She’s all quality. And then we have a colt out of a daughter of [Group 1 winner] Pearly Shells who is very robust and an easy mover with substance.”
Kavanagh is also one of several breeders to speak positively of Darley’s Masar. Quick enough to score on debut over 6f at Goodwood as a two-year-old, the son of New Approach won the Derby the following year and possesses an intriguing pedigree being inbred to blue hen Urban Sea.
“Obviously Masar was a Derby winner, he’s a stand-out physical and inbred to Urban Sea and Ahonoora,” says Kavanagh. “At that fee of £15,000 [he stood for £14,000 in 2021], we just thought that he was very affordable.
“The ones that we have on the farm each have quality, movement and athleticism, and the feedback from breeders has also been excellent”
“We have a really strong, scopey colt by him. He’s a real model. And our other colt is from the Alruccaba family – he’s a lovely, elegant, Classic type.”
In Britain, Charlie Budgett of Kirtlington Park Stud is so pleased with his Masar filly that he is rearranging his breeding plans in order to support the horse again.
“Our Masar filly out of Nougaboo is big and strong,” he says. “She has got lovely balance and is very athletic with a good mind. As a result of her and others I have seen, we are rearranging matings in order to send more mares to him.”
Coolmore’s new recruits, meanwhile, included 2,000 Guineas and Vertem Futurity hero Magna Grecia. An imposing Invincible Spirit half-brother to Poule d’Essai des Poulains winner St Mark’s Basilica, he covered a book of 180 mares at €22,500 last year, among them many belonging to some of Europe’s leading breeders.
“Magna Grecia was the most expensive foal by his sire when the Coolmore partners bought him and I think that is a testament to his looks and the foals he has produced so far,” says Coolmore’s Mark Byrne. “The only Invincible Spirit to have won a British Classic, he was also a Group 1 winner at two. This reflects the size and scope that he has put into his progeny.
“Magna Grecia has a lot of quality to him, with a lovely noble head, and a great action to round it all off.”
The list of happy outside breeders numbers James Wigan, who is ‘delighted’ with his colt out of Scorn.
“I have made no secret of the fact that I’ve always been a massive fan of Magna Grecia,” he says. “I was very taken with him physically when I saw him as a two-year-old and thought his Guineas win was exceptional. We supported him last year with Scorn, a daughter of Seeking The Gold and champion two-year-old Sulk. She foaled a colt and we’re absolutely delighted with him.”
The most expensive new stallion of 2020, however, was the unbeaten champion two-year-old and Sussex Stakes winner Too Darn Hot. A Dubawi son of Group 1 winner Dar Re Mi from the family of Darshaan, Too Darn Hot possesses the background to support his immense talent and was unsurprisingly popular at a fee of £50,000, covering 172 mares including 70 black-type winners.
Naturally, the list of supporters included his owner-breeder Watership Down Stud.
“We have a number of foals at the stud that belong to Watership Down and our clients,” says the stud’s general manager Simon Marsh. “Knowing the family as well as we do, we know how well Darara and Dar Re Mi stamp their stock. And it looks like Too Darn Hot is doing the same. He appears to be a true bay breeder and they’re very well put together with wonderful heads and a beautiful eye.
“I would say the head comes from Darara, and then Darshaan [Darara’s half-brother] was similar. It seems that you can send him a plainish mare and get a quality foal so he seems dominant in that respect.”
It would seem that Too Darn Hot has also captured the imagination of various Newmarket farms. They include Dwayne Woods of Brook Stud.
“Our Too Darn Hot filly is a superb foal,” he says. “The mare can get them small and I was worried about that but this foal has size and scope. She’s absolutely lovely.”
While Too Darn Hot was warmly welcomed at Darley’s Newmarket base of Dalham Hall Stud, the same could be said of the operation’s Irish recruit Blue Point.
A horse with a real look of Shamardal to him and a brilliant sprinter whose 11 wins ranged from the Gimcrack Stakes at two to that memorable King’s Stand – Diamond Jubilee Stakes double at five, he attracted a first book of approximately 200 mares and the attention of breeders such as the Aga Khan, Rifa Mustang, Al Asayl, Haras de Saint Pair, Whatton Manor Stud and Moyglare Stud Farm to complement the healthy home support of the Maktoum family.
On the theme of top-notch sprinters, Coolmore’s 2020 intake featured two of the highest order in July Cup winner Ten Sovereigns and Coventry Stakes hero Calyx, the first Irish-based sons of No Nay Never and Kingman to stud respectively.
“The Scat Daddy line reminds us time and time again how precocious and fast it is,” says Mark Byrne. “Caravaggio had already had six winners, several first time out, by mid-May.
“Ten Sovereigns is a very powerful type with great strength and a very masculine looking horse, and this is incredibly evident in his foals – they have a great energy and active walk to them.
“Calyx has certainly passed on his quality and a slick action to his stock. Like himself, they are very sharp sorts. You know you are going to be seeing a lot of his two-year-olds run before Ascot.
“Too Darn Hot appears to be a true bay breeder and they’re very well put together”
“When you look at the foals and know how fast Calyx was, they are exactly how you would hope they would look.”
That enticing profile wasn’t lost on breeders, who between them sent Calyx approximately 165 mares.
One of the first born was a colt out of Rip Roaring, who was bred by Steve Bradley at Brookside Farm in Newmarket.
“Our Calyx colt has taken everything in his stride and we couldn’t be happier with him,” says Bradley. “Not only does he look great, but he is tremendously engaging and absolutely fearless. We will definitely be sending the mare back to Calyx next year.”
Ten Sovereigns was one of the most popular new stallions of 2020 with a book close to 220 mares. Deep in quality, it included the backing of a deep array of successful breeders.
Among them were Harry McCalmont of Norelands Stud, who describes his colt out of Music And Dance, a Galileo relation to Hasili, as being the best foal on his farm. “The foal has a lot of strength, is a great mover and has a lot of presence,” he says.
In addition, Ten Sovereigns continues to receive the support of his trainer Aidan O’Brien.
“Ten Sovereigns was an unbelievably fast horse,” says O’Brien. “We have 13 foals by him already on the ground with a few mares still to foal and are delighted with what we’ve got. We’re sending him a similar number of mares this season; I think 14 are already in foal.
“You’d have to be impressed with what Scat Daddy and No Nay Never have already achieved and Caravaggio has made a serious start.”
Aidan and Annemarie O’Brien are also among the breeders with foals from the first crop of Land Force, another son of No Nay Never who was saddled by O’Brien to win the Richmond Stakes. Based at Highclere Stud, Land Force has benefitted from the support of breeders such as the Queen, Paul Shanahan, Skymarc Farm, New England Stud and Trevor Stewart, from whose Cassandra Go family Land Force descends.
“We are thrilled with his first crop,” says Jake Warren of Highclere Stud. “His magnificent physique plus his extremely commercial profile gave us the confidence to send the majority of our mares to him last year. Thankfully we did as the resulting foals look to be the real deal, with our crop averaging 55.6kg. I suspect this is the reason the market are coming back and he’s already covered over 100 mares again this year.”
As Warren notes, Land Force has been the recipient of strong repeat business. For example, Charlie Budgett has sent three mares on the strength of his filly. Another repeat user is Bill Dwan of The Castlebridge Consignment.
“There are a number of reasons that we used him,” says Dwan. “He is a son of No Nay Never, he was incredibly fast, was a very good-looking yearling and he has an outstanding pedigree – which is exactly the combination the market wants. I sent mares to him last year and again this year.”
Similarly, Denis Brosnan’s Croom House Stud has returned to the well.
“We have three and what is so impressive is that each of them have perfect conformation, strong bone and lovely heads,” says stud manager Cathal Brosnan. “When they arrived it was a very easy decision to use him again this year.”
“Land Force’s magnificent physique plus his extremely commercial profile gave us the confidence to send the majority of our mares to him”
Other breeders are also positive. “Really nice deep horses that look like proper sprinting types” is the view of Dwayne Woods while ‘fabulous’ is the adjective used by Anna Sundstrom of the Coulonces Consignment on her pair by the stallion. “They’re both very forward going, beautifully marked and very correct,” she says.
While interest in the Scat Daddy sire line continues to grow, that in Green Desert and his descendants remains undiminished.
Firmly regarded as an elite source of speed, his sire line is responsible for the Showcasing horses Advertise and Soldier’s Call in addition to Eqtidaar, Inns Of Court and Invincible Army, all of whom are sons of Invincible Spirit.
At £25,000, Advertise is the most expensive horse to retire to The National Stud since Mill Reef and covered close to 140 mares in his first year.
“Advertise an exciting horse for us as he ticks a lot of the boxes,” says stud director Tim Lane of the horse, who won the Phoenix Stakes, Commonwealth Cup and Prix Maurice de Gheest. “And it’s also exciting because he’s getting good foals.
“They’ve got size, swagger and limb, and on the whole a quality head. Like him, they stand over a lot of ground.”
Lane reports that plenty of breeders have returned to Advertise this season, a trend that is also standing Soldier’s Call in good stead. Winner of the Windsor Castle and Flying Childers Stakes as a two-year- old and second in the Nunthorpe Stakes at three, Soldier’s Call resides at Ballyhane Stud, which has cultivated the stud career of fellow speedster Dandy Man to such good effect.
“Soldier’s Call covered a first book of mares chock full of quality and we couldn’t be happier with his first foals,” says Ballyhane’s Joe Foley. “They’re an outstanding bunch; he stamps them full of power, strength and quality and we can’t wait to see them run.
“Many breeders have sent mares back to him for his second season and consequently he’s got a serious second crop of foals in the pipeline too.”
Nunnery Stud’s Eqtidaar represents the essence of Shadwell as one of three black-type winners out of its excellent mare Madany, and with a racing career capped by victory in the Commonwealth Cup, also possesses the kind of speed profile that is so commercially appealing.
“I’ve been lucky to get around and see a large proportion of Eqtidaar’s first foals and have been blown away by what I’ve seen and how well they’ve been received by breeders,” says Tom Pennington, nominations and marketing manager of Nunnery Stud.
“Soldier’s Call covered a first book of mares chock full of quality and we couldn’t be happier”
“He’s a big, strong, imposing individual who really fills the eye and he’s passing those traits on to his stock. Not only are they precocious looking, they are also blessed with great scope, good minds and fantastic athleticism – they all walk exceptionally well which bodes well for the foal sales later this year.”
Given the appetite for sons of Invincible Spirit, the foal sales should also be a productive period for the Group 2-winning sprinters Inns Of Court and Invincible Army.
Tally-Ho Stud’s Inns Of Court, who won the Prix du Gros-Chene and fell only a head short of victory in the Prix de la Foret, covered 218 mares in his first season and boasts the backing of a stud that has cultivated the likes of Kodiac and Mehmas so successfully.
Meanwhile, hardy sprinter Invincible Army covered 140 mares at Yeomanstown Stud, among them 60 stakes performers and/or producers.
“We’re really excited by the Invincible Army foals,” says Davy O’Callaghan of Yeomanstown Stud. “He is colour dominant – all bays and browns so far – and they’ve all got size, strength and great bone.”
With the first hurdle of approval for these young stallions cleared, the next test will be the unforgiving arena of the auction ring. And if the early indications are any barometer, then it looks set to be an interesting winter of selling.