As the March issue went to print, the evergreen Flemensfirth was preparing for an incredible 20th covering season at the Beeches Stud in County Waterford. Remaining at a career- high fee of €15,000, the son of Alleged is the most expensive National Hunt stallion in Ireland, and with good reason, having topped last season’s stallion tables by both prize-money and number of winners.

He is, however, in danger of losing his mantle to a younger member of the Coolmore National Hunt roster in the shape of Milan, who stands at Grange Stud. The sire of Jezki is the highest- ranked active stallion on this season’s leaderboard, currently headed by the much-missed Presenting, King’s Theatre, Oscar and Beneficial.

Britain’s top representative is hot on their heels, as Overbury Stud stalwart Kayf Tara continues to justify his doubled fee, with racing fans as well as breeders overjoyed to see his son Thistlecrack return to form this winter.

Scorpion heads the roster at Shade Oak Stud

The Overbury roster also includes Schiaparelli, a beautifully bred son of Monsun, who counts Grade 3 performer Whatmore among his eldest runners, while the progressive mare Indefatigable is an eye-catcher from his second crop.

Irish Derby hero Jack Hobbs joined them in 2018, during which he covered 168 mares, making him the most popular young National Hunt stallion in Britain that year.

British National Hunt breeders are now without Midnight Legend and Black Sam Bellamy, but gained the services of Scorpion, sire of Might Bite, in 2017. The top-class son of Montjeu heads the roster at Shade Oak Stud, where he is joined by Fair Mix, best known as the sire of Simonsig.

The son of Linamix counts Grade 1 Tolworth Hurdle third Southfield Stone amongst this season’s better performers. Hoping to emulate their success in Shropshire are Dartmouth, whose first foals arrive this spring, and Telescope, whose oldest crop are now two and have sold for up to £40,000.

French friends

Meanwhile, across the Channel, the recently retired Martaline leads the French jumps sires’ table, helped in part by November’s Grade 1 Prix Cambaceres victor Beaumec de Houelle. Close behind him is Saint Des Saints of Haras d’Etreham, who is awaiting the seasonal return of his daughter Whetstone, whose nine successive victories least season included a wide-margin win in the Grade 1 Prix Ferdinand Dufaure.

Fakir D’Oudairies was another who made racing fans stand up and pay attention, when romping home in the Grade 2 JCB Triumph Hurdle Trial, with the son of Kapgarde since purchased privately by JP McManus.

His sire also has Cheltenham Gold Cup glory within his sights, as his King George VI Chase hero Clan Des Obeaux currently sits second in the betting for the prestigious contest.

Another Gold Cup contender bred in France is Al Boum Photo, son of Haras d’Enki resident Buck’s Boum, a full-brother to a Cheltenham conquerer in Big Buck’s. Like many National Hunt sires in France, Buck’s Boum raced over timber himself, his greatest hour coming in the Grade 1 Prix Cambaceres, in which he finished second to Long Run, completing a 1-2 for their sire Cadoudal.

Clan Des Obeaux is by French sire Kapgarde – Photo: George Selwyn

Another French stallion making his mark away from home is Haras du Mesnil resident Doctor Dino, whose offspring La Bague Au Roi and Sharjah have both won two Grade 1 contests on the trot this season.

Not just a one-trick pony, the talented globetrotter is also responsible for a Group 1 performer on the Flat, his daughter Physiocrate having claimed runner-up honours in the Prix de Diane in 2015.

Another Gold Cup contender bred in France is Al Boum Photo

Advertising the promise of Al Namix this season is Colin Tizzard’s Elixir De Nutz, a game winner of the Grade 1 Tolworth Hurdle in January. The son of Linamix previously enjoyed top-level success in Britain with Mildmay Chase victor Saphir Du Rheu and twice in Ireland with Petit Mouchoir.

Crillon, meanwhile, is enjoying success later in his stallion career, much like he did on the track, the one-time handicapper having progressed to finish second to Montjeu in the Group 2 Prix Foy. Now 23 years of age, his best progeny to date, Buveur D’Air, landed 11 wins in succession, seven of which came at Grade 1 level.

Moon on the rise

Laurina is another recent sensation, with the Willie Mullins-trained mare remaining unbeaten since transferring from the stable of Guillaume Macaire.

Much the best progeny of Spanish Moon, she was never in danger when winning her Grade 1 last season and scored by an incredible 48 lengths on her return this January. Her success saw Spanish Moon’s fee rise to €5,000 in 2018, during which he covered 111 mares.

Haras du Lion resident Balko enjoyed Grade 1 Cheltenham glory last season courtesy of Balko Des Flos, an impressive winner of the Ryanair Chase. His dam’s half-sister was sent to Balko, producing Vision Des Flos, twice runner-up in Grade 1 company in 2018.

One of those seconds came behind Lalor at Aintree, the winner just one of a handful of runners over jumps by It’s Gino, resident of Haras de Rosieres aux Salines.

Soldier Of Fortune was also repatriated from France to Ireland

It’s Gino also produced his best race performance in placings, having dead- heated for third with Soldier Of Fortune in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe won by Zarkava, and in which Youmzain finished second.

The success of French imports in Britain and Ireland has unsurprisingly seen stallion farms clamour for their sires. Perhaps one of the most high-profile transfers in recent years was Walk In The Park, following the outstanding success of his sons Douvan and Min.

He has since covered bumper books of mares at his new base of Grange Stud, most notably 228 mares in 2017 – quite the increase from six registered foals in France in 2014.

Soldier Of Fortune was also repatriated from France to Ireland and has been the busiest stallion in Britain and Ireland for the past three years, covering 304 mares in 2016, 352 in 2017 and 290 mares in 2018.

The Beeches Stud stallion is now unfortunately without his Grade 1-winning son Mega Fortune, but has the likes of Christmas Hurdle second Early Doors to race for him this season.

Yorton singing the Blues

Yorton Farm brought a French flavour to Wales with the acquisition of Blue Bresil in 2016. The son of Smadoun has since rewarded them with Grade 1 glory in the Ryanair Hurdle, won by his son Mick Jazz, who went on to finish third on two occasions in other Grade 1 contests.

Standing alongside Blue Bresil is Norse Dancer, the sire of Yanworth, and Coronation Cup winner Pether’s Moon, whose first crop are now two-year-olds.

German bloodlines are also in demand, well demonstrated by the popularity of young sire Getaway, a son of Monsun standing at Grange Stud. He sired his first Grade 1 winner this season, when the tough and talented mare Verdana Blue lowered the colours of Buveur D’Air in the Christmas Hurdle.

Getaway will continue to have plenty of soldiers on the ground in future, having covered 284 mares in 2017 and another 249 last year.

Another son of Monsun achieving early success, though with significantly lower numbers, is Arctic Tack Stud’s Aizavoski. His first crop boasted an impressive strike-rate between the flags last season, including the Belharbour maiden winner Envious Editor, who subsequently sold for £195,000.

German bloodlines are in demand, demonstrated by young sire Getaway

Arctic Tack is also home to another son of Monsun in Arcadio, sire of recent Grade 1 winner Hardline and Mildmay Novices’ Chase victor Flying Angel. Joining them in 2017 was Beresford Stakes winner Ol’ Man River, a son of Montjeu bred out of the brilliant miler Finsceal Beo.

One of the most recent additions to the Irish stallion ranks is German Group 2 winner Axxos, a son of Monsun sourced by Coolagown Stud following the promising exploits of Calett Mad, amongst others.

Axxos was also placed at Group 1 level, including in the Grand Prix de Paris behind Zambezi Sun, who he now stands alongside. The latter’s first Irish crop are now yearlings, whilst his older crops include Listed winner Spirit Sun and Grade 2 performer Bulkov.

German families to the fore

Various German influences can be found at the Cashman family’s Glenview Stud,home to Shirocco, who over the last few months has sired Melbourne Cup third Prince Of Arran and two six-figure point- to-pointers, Silver Hallmark and Minella Royale.

He stands alongside former Gestut Etzean sire Sholokhov, another enjoying substantial success in the sales ring, with Muckamore sharing top-price honours at £190,000 at the Cheltenham November Sale.

Glenview Stud also stands German Derby runner-up Malinas, who began his stallion career in France, then the UK, before moving to Ireland, with his first Irish crop now three-year-olds.

A number of Graded performers and young point- to-point winners has seen his success grow in the sales ring, with progeny selling for up to €320,000 in 2018.

Completing the Glenview roster is 2018 addition Youmzain, who initially stood as a Flat stallion in France. A top-class racehorse himself, he has sired high-level performers under both codes, including Punchestown Champion Hurdle third Saglawy, who has also won at Grade 2 level.

Hurricane Fly, the winner of 22 Grade 1 hurdle races, is by Montjeu – whose sons are excelling as jumps sires

Montjeu much missed

It is no surprise that sons of Montjeu are beginning to make their mark as jumps stallions, as he is, after all, the sire of the great Hurricane Fly. We are, however, now without the services of his son Fame And Glory, who sired his first Grade 1 winner

in February, in the shape of Commander Of Fleet. His old home of Grange Stud will be hoping lightning strikes twice with top-class stayer Leading Light, whose first crop are now three-year-olds. Grange stands another son of Montjeu, Pour Moi, whose Flat progeny is topped by Epsom Derby victor Wings Of Eagles. He made the switch to jump mares in 2017.

Over at Burgage Stud, Jukebox Jury sired a Grade 1 Cheltenham Festival winner just months after making his move to County Carlow from Gestut Etzean.

The 13-year-old has a long way to go to reach the heights of fellow Burgage resident Shantou, who continues to sire top-class jumpers such as The Storyteller, Death Duty and Airlie Beach. The first crop of Burgage’s young gun Sea Moon, meanwhile, recently turned two.

Aga Khan pedigrees continue to produce exciting National Hunt performers

The three-time Group 2 winner boasts an excellent pedigree, with the son of Beat Hollow being closely related to dual Group 1-winning stayer Brian Boru, out of the Park Hill Stakes winner Eva Luna, herself a daughter of Alleged.

As well as top-class racehorses on the Flat, Aga Khan pedigrees continue to produce exciting National Hunt performers, something which has stood Boardsmill Stud stallion Kalanisi in good stead.

Kalanisi stands at Boardsmill Stud – Photo: Irish Thoroughbred Marketing

The Breeders’ Cup Turf hero continues to deliver the goods towards the top of the National Hunt sires’ table and has been represented in recent seasons by Brain Power, Kalashnikov and the unbeaten Malone Road.

In 2017, he was joined at Boardsmill Stud by former Newsells Park resident Mount Nelson, who can boast the unique accolade of having sired top-level winners over sprint distances and over hurdles. His popularity with breeders saw the dual Group 1 winner cover 267 mares last year.

The Flood family’s French import Califet was busy in his first Irish season, covering 154 mares, the product of which turned four in January of this year. They bid to repeat the success of star progeny Clarcam, a dual Grade 1 winner over fences, and Cilaos Emery, winner of last year’s Champion Hurdle at Punchestown.

Completing the roster at Boardsmill is Court Cave, an unraced brother to Beat Hollow, who has repaid his initially risky purchase with Cheltenham Festival winners over the past two years. Those include Grade 1 Neptune Hurdle victor Willoughby Court, partly responsible for Court Cave’s career-high fee of €4,000 in 2019.

In the blood

Pedigree, rather than race performance, has earned many horses a stallion career and another looking to measure up to his successful siblings is Kilbarry Lodge Stud resident Pillar Coral, an unraced half-brother to Reefscape and Martaline.

He stands alongside Diamond Boy, who made the move from France to Waterford after achieving an impressive strike-rate with limited numbers. His army will soon grow, though, having covered 235 mares in 2018, while he has the likes of Kingwell Hurdle winner Grand Sancy to race for him in the meantime.

The 2018 Return Of Mares also highlighted the popularity of newly- turned dual-purpose sire Champs Elysees, who covered 228 mares at Castle Hyde Stud, before his untimely death in December.

Nearby at the Beeches Stud, Mahler covered 227 mares, his popularity undoubtedly aided by the gallant chestnut mare Ms Parfois, a dual Listed winner last season, as well as a fine second in the Grade 1 Mildmay Novices’ Chase.

Proven Grade 1 sire Westerner remains popular at 20 years of age

Not many stallions experience such a dramatic surge in demand as Sandmason did last year, with Lacken Stud’s sole resident covering 217 mares at the grand age of 21.

It is in stark contrast to the single mare he covered in 2017, while he was friendless (or mateless) in 2016. The turnabout was brought by the Grade 1 victories of his sons Summerville Boy and Black Op.

Black Corton’s success in last season’s Grade 1 Kauto Star Novices’ Chase surely revived the stallion career of his sire Laverock, who stands for €2,000 at Clongiffen Stud in 2019. He is joined this season by Prince of Wales’s Stakes hero My Dream Boat, who stands under the Compas Stallions banner, and covered 61 mares in 2018.

Proven Grade 1 sire Westerner remains popular at 20 years of age at Castle Hyde Stud, where the multiple Group 1 winner covered 201 mares last season. His progeny share his youthful durability, with ten-year-old Wakanda a Grade 2 winner this season, and the now nine-year-old West Approach a fine second in the Long Walk and Cleeve Hurdles.

Fellow Castle Hyde resident Yeats won many hearts during his exceptional race career and his daughter Shattered Love certainly gained the support of many a racing fan with her two Grade 1 victories against the opposite sex last season.

His sire, Sadler’s Wells, has shaped the thoroughbred, his legacy not restricted to the Flat but also upheld by numerous successful jumps sires.

Coolmore’s Castle Hyde Stud is home to Yeats – Photo: Coolmore

Sadler’s Wells represented

Many have already been mentioned in this piece, but a rising star is Sunnyhill Stud’s Doyen, who began his stallion career on the Flat. His eldest jumpers are now six. Among them is the Gordon Elliott- trained Battleoverdoyen, who repaid his £235,000 price tag when winning the Grade 1 Lawlor’s of Naas Novice Hurdle, remaining unbeaten in four starts.

Other sons of Sadler’s Wells at stud include Nunstainton Stud’s Dragon Dancer, who was beaten just a short head in the Derby by Sir Percy (sire, of course, of Gold Cup favourite Presenting Percy). The beautifully-bred Dragon Dancer returned to Britain last year from France and is being supported by a decent number of mares at his new home.

Bullet Train, a three-parts brother to Frankel, has returned from America to stand at Ireland’s Woodfield Farm Stud, while the talented stayer Ask stands at Dunraven Stud in Wales. Ask moved to Dunraven in order to replace the late Dr Massini and stands alongside Mountain High, a half-brother to Islington, whose progeny include Graded performer Air Horse One.

The Irish National Stud has embraced the National Hunt success of the progeny of Elusive Pimpernel, and Cristina Patino’s relation of Big Bad Bob can look forward to being represented by larger crops.

Notnowcato’s son Redkirk Warrior blossomed over sprint distances last year, landing back-to-back Group 1 contests in Australia before returning to his old home of Britain for a Royal Ascot tilt.

The Knockhouse Stud resident won three Group 1 races over ten furlongs himself, his beaten rivals including Authorized and Dylan Thomas, and his progeny also embrace longer distances. They include the ill-fated dual Grade 1 winner Long Dog and the Paul Nicholls- trained Old Guard.

Knockhouse Stud stands another top-class racehorse in Workforce, who won the Derby in record time and arrived from Japan in 2017. He covered 120 mares in his first Irish season, with ten of those being Flat mares.

The same year Knockhouse gained the services of September Storm, a full-brother to Shirocco, whose progeny include Alan King’s talented mare Mia’s Storm.