Few events in the bloodstock world are as eagerly anticipated as the arrival of new stallions’ first foals, and the class of 2021 is a typically varied and well-credentialed bunch. Among those whose first offspring are on the ground already are a generation defining two-year-old, a champion three-year-old and the world’s highest rated horse from 2020, while the sirelines represented include the breedshapers Dubawi, Galileo and Shamardal.

Breeders invest considerable amounts of time, money and emotion into producing each and every foal, but breeding is a pursuit fraught with risk and there are very few guarantees. One thing we can be certain of is that every new name at stud has  something to recommend them, be that pedigree, racecourse performance or physique.

The service breeders provide by sending their mares and revealing which of the new names are ultimately capable of passing on the desired mix of genes is an essential one for the future of the industry, and as such, win, lose or draw, they deserve plenty of credit for their endeavour.

When it comes to pedigree, performance and physique, Ghaiyyath boasts the complete package. He retired with four Group 1 victories to his name, including the Coronation Cup, Eclipse and Juddmonte International, which he won during a stellar 2020  campaign. He earned an official mark of 130 for the latter performance, the highest figure awarded anywhere in the world  that campaign.

Ghaiyyath himself was an exceptional foal

The son of Dubawi and Nightime, Galileo’s first Classic winner, covered 140 mares in his debut season at Darley’s Kildangan Stud at a fee of €30,000, and the operation’s nominations  manager Eamon Moloney says Ghaiyyath’s progeny appear very much in their sire’s image.

Ghaiyyath, seen winning the Juddmonte International in 2020, covered 140 mares in his first season. Photo – George Selwyn

“The biggest thing is the quality that he seems to be putting through into his progeny,” he says. “A lot of them have that rich bay colour that he has himself, they’re a good size, and the  comments I’ve had from a few people is that there’s plenty of leg on them with good bone. The other thing that strikes me is that they’re not great big long foals, they’re a little bit more short coupled and you can really see that bit of Dubawi about them.”

Ghaiyyath himself was an exceptional foal, as evidenced by his €1,100,000 price tag, and Moloney notes that while his stock have a real look of their grandsire about them, plenty have inherited the unmistakable movement that Galileo brings to the mix.

“It’s fair to say Dubawis aren’t terrific walkers, and everyone accepts that, but Ghaiyyath has that big fancy Galileo walk,” says Moloney. “I remember the day he walked out from behind the mare and I knew he was going to cost a fortune! I’ve seen that same great shape and walk in his foals too.”

Ghaiyyath was joined at Kildangan by Earthlight, the son of Shamardal who went unbeaten during a two-year-old campaign that culminated with success in the Group 1 Prix Morny and the  Middle Park Stakes, which he won in juvenile course record time. The Godolphin homebred covered 162 mares at an introductory fee of €20,000, making him the most popular Flat recruit last year.

“Earthlight’s foals are exactly what we were hoping for,” Moloney says. “They’re really solid, strong-topped, powerful foals with a lot of hind-end on them. Interestingly they have a little bit more size than we’d expected and there’s a lot of rich bays among them,  which is great.”

Ghaiyyath and Earthlight were not the only new names to stand under the Darley banner in 2021, as the operation’s British base at Dalham Hall Stud welcomed the brilliant Pinatubo, who was rated the best two-year-old since Celtic Swing in 1994.

That rating of 128 came from his nine-length demolition in the Group 1 National Stakes, an effort he followed up by winning the Dewhurst Stakes. The son of Shamardal showed he was more than just a two-year-old by winning the Prix Jean Prat at three, when he also reached the frame in the 2,000 Guineas, St James’s Palace Stakes and the Prix du Moulin.

Mohaather’s first crop includes this smart colt out of Maid For Winning. Photo – Shadwell

Shadwell’s Nunnery Stud welcomed one of 2021’s most exciting recruits in Mohaather, whose turbo-charged turn of foot carried him to success in the Group 1 Sussex Stakes. He was introduced at a fee of £20,000 and covered 146 mares, including 43 stakes performers and 42 black-type producers.

We’ve been blown away by Mohaather’s foals

Tom Pennington, Shadwell’s nominations and marketing manager, admits that awaiting a stallion’s debut crop is not without its anxious moments, but says Mohaather’s offspring have quickly helped convert nerves into excitement.

“It’s always an exciting and nerve wracking time of year waiting for a stallion’s first crop of foals, but it’s fair to say we’ve been blown away by Mohaather’s,” says Pennington. “The biggest plus for me, at this early stage, is how he’s stamping them. The majority are all incredibly similar: dark in colour with quality heads, stamped with his white star.

“They’re also forward-looking and hugely athletic, which is what I expected and hoped to see. Whether you like it or not, breeders and buyers alike prefer to see a stallion putting a stamp on his offspring and you’ll definitely be able to pick out those by Mohaather come the foal sales.

Mohaather’s first crop also include this filly out of Tanouma. Photo – Shadwell

“The feedback from breeders has also been particularly pleasing and it’s testament to the foals Mohaather is producing that they’re returning again this year on the back of what they’ve had. Several breeders have commented on how Mohaather has really upgraded their mares. They might have had a couple of okay foals, but Mohaather has injected a bit of much-needed quality into their stock and smartened them up, which is fantastic to hear.”

He’s a complete dude with very definite mannerisms

British-based breeders looking for a Group 1-winning miler were rather spoilt for choice in 2021, as Mohaather was one of three such recruits to the country’s roster. Tweenhills added Kameko to its line-up having won the Vertem Futurity at two and the 2,000 Guineas, with his Classic victory gained in race-record time. The son of Kitten’s Joy stood his first season at a fee of £25,000 and entertained a book of 114 mares.

“I genuinely couldn’t be happier with what we’re seeing in Kameko’s foals,” says Tweenhills’ David Redvers. “They’re very much in his image; it’s noticeable how they all have his markings, his temperament and his frame with that massive shoulder and hip.

“He’s a complete dude with very definite mannerisms and a certain cheekiness and his foals seem to be taking after him in that regard as well. If I’m honest I was quite worried about our numbers [of mares] at the beginning of the season as we didn’t seem to have anything like the take up I was expecting, but now I’m very relaxed and we’re in good shape as there have been an awful lot of people come to him on the back of his first foals.”

Peas in a pod: a number of foals by Kameko have inherited his markings. Photo – Tweenhills Farm and Stud

Another horse with a Group 1 success over a mile on his CV is Without Parole, who won the St James’s Palace Stakes and now stands at Newsells Park Stud. Top-level miling talent flows through Without Parole’s pedigree, as he is a son of none other than Frankel and is a half-brother to Tamarkuz, who won the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile.

Leading Coolmore’s three recruits in 2021 was Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe and Prix Ganay hero Sottsass, who also landed Group 1 the Prix du Jockey Club during a world championship-winning  season at three. The son of Siyouni and the Galileo mare Starlet’s Sister was introduced at a fee of €30,000 and attracted a high-class book of 132 mares.

I’d say no first-season sire last year will have covered as good a racemare as Alpha Centauri

“Peter Brant [Sottsass’s racing owner] supported him very strongly in his first season and has sent most of those mares back to him again this year,” says Mark Byrne, a member of Coolmore’s nominations team. “The likes of Ecurie des Monceaux, Shadai, OTI, Normandie Stud also sent him some high-calibre mares as did Coolmore. It’s all very international which comes with him being a world champion.

“We’ve got Sottsass foals on the farm out of mares like $800,000 purchase Toinette and Albany winner Different League along with the dams of Fleeting and Interpretation. In fact, one of the highest-rated foals we have on the farm is by Sottsass out of a mare called We Are Ninety – he’s a beautiful foal.”

Peter Kavanagh of Kildaragh Stud said of his Sottsass filly out of Inez, dam of Siyouni’s Group 3-winning daughter  Spectre: “She’s a quality, balanced filly and merits repeating the mating.”

Sottsass was joined by the top-class miler Circus Maximus, who landed Group 1s in the St James’s Palace Stakes, Prix du Moulin and Queen Anne Stakes. The son of Galileo, who served his first book at a fee of €20,000, was a dual Royal Ascot winner just like his dam, Duntle, and received particularly strong home support from his breeder, the Niarchos family.

Circus Maximus is the sire of this smart colt out of Freedonia. Photo – Coolmore

“I’d say no first-season sire last year will have covered as good a racemare as Alpha Centauri,” says Byrne. “She has a very nice filly foal at foot with loads of quality. The Niarchos family also sent him Freedonia, dam of Group 1-winning two-year-old Albigna, who produced another smashing filly. Other major breeders who used him included the likes of Triermore, Airlie, Croom House, the Aga Khan and Moyglare so he got fantastic support. Like those by his father, the foals by Circus Maximus are great walkers, very athletic and balanced horses.”

I’m absolutely delighted with this foal

The triumvirate of Coolmore recruits was completed by Arizona, the Coventry Stakes-winning son of No Nay Never who joined the Castlehyde Stud roster at €7,000.

“Arizona was a brilliant two-year-old and is very much in the mould of Scat Daddy and his son No Nay Never,” says Byrne.

“He won the Coventry Stakes, just like  Scat Daddy’s son Caravaggio, who was last year’s champion first-season sire. He’s very like his father and he’s getting those typical Scat Daddy types; big, strong, early-looking foals. The feedback has been very good so we’re excited by him.”

Norman Ormiston is one of the breeders who used Arizona last year, and said of his filly out of Puttore: “I’m absolutely delighted with this foal and I’m using Arizona again this year because she’s so good. She is a beautiful mover, has a fantastic temperament  and is a precocious type.”

The O’Brien family also supported Arizona and Ana O’Brien has been rewarded with a quality filly out of her Pivotal mare Dancer’s Leap.

Another son of Scat Daddy who joined the stallion ranks in 2021 is Sergei Prokofiev, whose three black type victories include the Group 3 Cornwallis Stakes. The powerfully built individual, who fetched $1,100,000 as a yearling, offers breeders access to some sought-after US bloodlines, being out of a Tapit half-sister to Grade 3 scorer Necessary Evil. The Whitsbury Manor Stud  resident was the most popular British-based Flat newcomer in 2021, with 154 mares covered at a fee of £6,500.

“I’ve probably seen 50 foals by him and they’re definitely a bigger, more American type of foal than we’ve had from the likes of Showcasing and Havana Grey,” says stud director Ed Harper. “The average birth weight of the Sergei Prokofiev foals is about four and a half kilos heavier than the rest of our foals, which is fairly telling.

“We’ve got a lot of Showcasing fillies  and he works terrifically with them and hopefully that’s a cross we can keep repeating. We sent about 35 of our own mares last year and he covered 154 in total. We’ll not be far off that this year and the great thing about him is that, because of his pedigree and physique, anyone who likes him can use him.”

A Without Parole colt out of Lady Eclair strutting his stuff. Photo – Newsells Park Stud

On the theme of speed and precocity, Norman Court Stud introduced Rumble Inthejungle, a son of Group 1-winning sire Bungle Inthejungle whose finest hour came when landing the Group 3 Molecomb Stakes at Glorious Goodwood. Another promising stallion son of Shamardal is Shaman, who joined the likes of Dark Angel and El Kabeir at the O’Callaghan family’s Yeomanstown Stud in County Kildare. The strapping Wertheimer brothers’ homebred won five times while under the care of Carlos Laffon-Parias, headed by the Group 2 Prix d’Harcourt. He also performed with distinction at Group 1 level at two, three and four, most notably when runner-up in the Prix Jacques le Marois and the Poule d’Essai des Poulains.

His debut crop hails from a book of 134 mares and he received strong support from the breeders such as Manister House Stud, Mount Coote Stud, Norelands, Pier House Stud, Ringfort Stud and his own breeder, the Wertheimer brothers.

A bit of French flair was also added to the Coolagown Stud roster by Way To Paris, a son of the much-missed Champs Elysees who won the Group 1 Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud. He also won a brace of Group 2s, namely the Grand Prix de Chantilly and Prix Maurice de Nieuil and served 120 Flat and National Hunt mares in his debut book.

“He got some nice Flat mares,” says Coolagown’s Davey Stack. “I shared some pictures of the Way To Paris filly out of Missandei bred by Lianne Delaunois- Vanderperren running around the field at 24 hours old and we got ten mares sent to us on the back of that. He marks his stock very well, nearly everything he’s got is bay and they’re well marked foals with good physicals. They have very good attitudes and they’ve inherited their father’s step. We’ve already covered the dam of Trip To Paris this year and Liskennett, who was second in the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle.”

Joe Foley’s Ballyhane Stud welcomed Sands Of Mali for 2021 after a racing career that was capped by victory in the Group 1 Qipco British Champions Sprint Stakes, having also won the prestigious Group 2 Gimcrack Stakes at two.

Sands Of Mali certainly has the looks to match his high-class race record, which is backed up by outcross pedigree, being a son of the Mr Prospector line stallion Panis. Those attributes, allied to an introductory fee of €6,500, made Sands Of Mali a sound commercial option, and his first foals come from a book containing 152 mares.

Ballyhane’s leading light is undoubtedly Dandy Man, and one of his top flight-winning offspring joined the Irish stallion ranks last year in River Boyne, who won the Grade 1 Frank E. Kilroe Mile Stakes at Santa Anita before beginning his stallion career at Derek Iceton’s Tara Stud in County Meath.

We were overwhelmed by the support,

The Irish ranks also welcomed two sons of Farhh for 2021, including Palace House Stakes winner Far Above, who, at a fee of €5,000, has proved particularly popular at Starfield Stud. The powerful physical specimen is standing under the banner of Bloodstock.Racing, whose principal Jack Cantillon offered a positive bulletin on Far Above’s first foals.

Far Above is the sire of this strong filly. Photo – Alex Cairns

“He covered 142 mares in his first season and we were overwhelmed by the support,” he says. “We have some wonderful breeding right holders, people like Tally-Ho, Con Marnane and  David Lowe, people who understand fast horses.

“What has been striking about his foals so far has been their size. We would historically at Tinnakill put a lot of emphasis on size in terms of later quality. State Of Rest was a very big foal at birth, as was Stellar Mass, who was third in the Irish Derby so we were very struck by having the biggest foal we’ve ever had since our records began, which was a colt foal by Far Above out of Seracina at 72kg.

“If I had to pick one who I think could be Far Above’s first winner I think it’s the foal out of Centime. He’s beautifully bred and has so much quality.”

Far Above was not the only important addition to the Starfield Stud roster last year, as St Leger hero Galileo Chrome also began his second career at the County Westmeath operation. The Group 1-winning son of Australia caught the eye of Flat and National Hunt breeders alike and duly covered a six-figure debut book.

The other son of Farhh who retired in 2021 was Group 1 Queen Elizabeth II Stakes scorer King Of Change, who also finished runner-up to Magna Grecia in the 2,000 Guineas. He joined the team at Derrinstown Stud at a fee of €7,000 and attracted a book of 70 mares.

No operation welcomed more newcomers in 2021 than LM Stallions, which operates out of March Hare Stud in Surrey. Legends Of War, a son of Scat Daddy who topped the 2018 Craven  Breeze-Up Sale at 900,000gns, headed the roster at £5,000, having finished runner-up in the Gimcrack Stakes and winning a Kentucky Downs Grade 3. Legends Of War was joined by Windsor Castle Stakes winner Southern Hills, a son of Gleneagles who covered his debut book at £3,000, Tip Two Win, a son of Dark Angel best remembered for his runner-up effort in Saxon Warrior’s 2,000 Guineas, and Teofilo’s son Diplomat, a dual Group 2 winner in Germany who also struck over hurdles at Auteuil. Diplomat was introduced at a fee of £2,000.

LM Stallions was not the only operation to recruit the services of one of Gleneagles’ sons in 2021, as Royal Lytham, winner of the Group 2 July Stakes and placed in the Group 1 Phoenix Stakes, took up a berth at Irish Emerald Stud at a fee of €4,000.