For most of the season Dandy Man has held a commanding lead in the race to be Europe’s leading first-season sire and he still has the advantage but is being strongly challenged by Intense Focus and Mastercraftsman, both of whom were represented by stakes winners over the weekend.

Intense Focus just holds sway over Mastercraftsman on prize-money – with £257,747 in earnings compared to £250,726 – but the latter has sired more winners and is currently tied with Dandy Man on 13 first-crop scorers.

Intense Focus had already notched two black-type performers in the Group 3-placed duo of Heart Focus and Home School and he enjoyed his best result to date when Astaire won the Group 2 Gimcrack Stakes at York’s Ebor Meeting. A Group winner for a young sire is enough to make any stud manager happy but Ballylinch’s John O’Connor had even more reason to celebrate as he also bred the colt with his sister Anne from their Dansili mare Runway Dancer. Trained by Kevin Ryan for Angie Bailey, Astaire has now won three times in just four starts.

While Astaire was strutting his stuff on the Knavesmire, Sir Robert Ogden’s homebred Amazing Maria demonstrated her love of Goodwood and became the first Group winner for Mastercraftsman when claiming her second victory at the Sussex track in the Group 3 Prestige Stakes. Others to have recorded black type for the young Coolmore resident this season are Listed winner Pablosky, Acomb Stakes runner-up The Grey Gatsby and Listed-placed Double Look.

Slower to get into stride but now boasting a decent tally of 12 winners and three Listed-placed runners is Tally Ho Stud’s Bushranger, while leading the way among the British-based freshmen is Captain Gerrard. The Mickley Stud resident has 11 winners to his name from just 35 runners.

The Italian-based Breeders’ Cup winner Red Rocks, a son of champion sire Galileo, has made a flying start at stud with an impressive strike-rate of 10 winners from 26 runners, and another with decent statistics is the 2009 Prix du Jockey-Club winner Le Havre. Now standing at Haras de la Cauviniere, he has been represented by five winners from his 14 runners.