A glance at the current leading jumps sires’ list reveals a familiar issue. Of the top 20 horses, only seven remain in service. At the time of writing, they are led by 20-year-old Yeats and possess an average age of 19. They are also each Irish-based.
With regards to the British scene, the notion that Kayf Tara’s retirement last summer marked the end of an era is no exaggeration. For the best part of two decades, he has assumed an essential role in the promotion of British jumps breeding at Overbury Stud, his standing great enough to attract appreciation on both sides of the Irish Sea.
However, all good things must come to an end and the announcement of Kayf Tara’s retirement last July at the grand age of 26 was not greeted with surprise. It also made the search for a horse to fill the void suddenly all the more urgent.
There are no shortage of passionate supporters within the British jumps community and for that look no further than the recent additions of horses such as Masterstroke, Scalo, Planteur, Axxos and Arrigo not to mention the enthusiasm behind the potential of Telescope, Frontiersman and Dartmouth among others.
At the time of writing, the leading active British-based sire is Shade Oak Stud’s 19-year-old Scorpion. Best known as the sire of Might Bite, the son of Montjeu hit Grade 1 heights again last season thanks to Riders Onthe Storm.
When it comes to filling the void left by Kayf Tara, however, youth will naturally be a driving element and for that, many will be hoping that some of the younger horses coming through – those aged 15 and under – will develop into weighty influences.
Faith placed in Galileo
Stallion masters and breeders have wasted no time in placing their faith in the Galileo line; obviously his place as the outstanding stallion of our time puts him at a natural advantage as does his ability to consistently throw tough, sound and genuine stock.
Last year, sons of Galileo aimed at a dual-purpose audience covered close to 1,500 mares between them. Several, such as the Coolmore pair of Soldier Of Fortune and Mahler, are established sources of talent while others, among them Shantaram and El Salvador, offer early promise. However, the fact remains that the majority are unproven.
The British-based selection includes Irish St Leger winners Flag Of Honour (the National Stud) and older Sans Frontieres (Vauterhill Stud). Group 2 winner Telescope resides at Shade Oak Stud while Sun Central, a Listed-winning half-brother to George Washington and Grandera, is part of a progressive roster under the Elusive Bloodstock banner at Hundred Acre Farm. Forever Now, a Listed-winning brother to Shantaram, stands at Norton Grove Stud.
Flag Of Honour, whose first crop are foals, was classy enough to defeat Latrobe in his renewal of the Irish St Leger, having also won the Eyrefield Stakes at two. A classy first book of mares included the dams of Grade 3 winners Stoney Mountain and Hawk High.
“There is the one foal on the ground so far and he looks to have plenty of size and scope, so we’re very pleased,” says Tim Lane, Stud Director of the National Stud.
“Flag Of Honour is a beautiful horse with lots of action. His book for this year is starting to get going now and we’ll have some nice mares to cover with him.”
In terms of anticipation, few can match the hopes held for Telescope. As a Group 1 performer whose five victories included a seven-length defeat of Hillstar in the Hardwicke Stakes, his retirement to Shade Oak Stud for the 2016 season was seen as something of a coup for the jumps industry and breeders have responded enthusiastically by sending him a series of six-figure books to give him every chance.
Exciting times at Overbury
It is very possible that Britain’s successor to Kayf Tara, however, lurks within the same Overbury stallion yard.
For starters, Jack Hobbs was a brilliant middle-distance performer on his day, as illustrated by dominant wins in the Irish Derby and Dubai Sheema Classic. A horse with a sizeable presence to him, the son of Halling is another to have covered good books throughout his stud career.
“He’s a big horse and good-looking with a great disposition,” says Simon Sweeting of Overbury Stud. “He’s covered a good number of elite mares and people are also liking the foals – plenty are happy enough to keep coming back.”
While Jack Hobbs’ first crop have just turned two, Frontiersman sits a year behind with first yearlings. The son of Dubawi boasts the allure of being out of champion Ouija Board and therefore a half-brother to Australia. However, he was talented enough in his own right to win four races and run second in the Coronation Cup. In a testament to his durability, he also overcame a host of issues, notably an eye infection that almost robbed him of the sight in one eye and two bouts of colic.
“The foals started to arrive and off the back of that, he ended up with over 100 mares”
“We’re really happy with the Frontiersman foals,” says Sweeting. “This time last year, we were pretty quiet with bookings for him and then the foals started to arrive and off the back of that, he ended up with over 100 mares. From what I saw myself, I sent the dam of Thyme Hill.”
Overbury’s roster is rounded out by the popular veteran Schiaparelli, who enjoyed something of a personal best last season as the sire of Ronald Pump and Indefatigable.
The enthusiasm behind Frontiersman adds further fuel to the belief that Dubawi could develop into an important element within this sphere.
Dual Group 2 winner Universal (Groomsbridge Stud), a proven stakes producer on the Flat, was one of the first to retire to stud. Since then, the list has also come to include Hardwicke and Yorkshire Cup winner Dartmouth. The early omens appear positive for that horse, with half of his foals to sell realising in excess of €20,000 and his book rising by over 20% to close to 80 mares in 2020. Like Telescope, he is in place to herald an interesting few years for Shade Oak Stud, also home to Recharge, a Group 1-placed son of Cape Cross.
Yorton welcomes Arrigo
British jumps breeding has also gained much in recent years from the drive behind Yorton Farm Stud. Now well established as a premier nursery, not to mention a successful sales arena on behalf of Goffs UK, the stud jumped into 2021 with a roster of six stallions.
Three, including Easysland’s 18-year-old sire Gentlewave, represent the ever popular Monsun line, while another veteran, Linda’s Lad, is a son of Sadler’s Wells himself.
A younger son of Monsun, Masterstroke, joined the farm from France for 2020 with a promising dual-purpose start behind him, notably as the sire of Grade 3-winning hurdler Floridee. Better was to come last year when he was represented by Miss Extra, a Group 2 winner on the Flat, and with that in mind, Masterstroke is going some way to living up to a profile that consists of a Group 1 race record and outstanding connections as a grandson of Urban Sea.
It is that Urban Sea family of Allegretta that also sits behind Yorton’s new addition Arrigo, the only son of Shirocco at stud.
A German Group 2 winner, Arrigo joins Yorton following stints in France and Germany and his eldest crop are four-year-olds.
Yorton’s addition of German Group 1 winner Scalo for 2020 also provided breeders with the option of a dual- purpose horse with a Group 1 stud record, courtesy of the 2019 German Derby hero Laccario.
In addition, plenty of opportunity has been afforded to Coronation Cup winner Pether’s Moon, with Yorton going as far as to send some of his early stock to be trained in France. The move is already paying off via his first-crop daughter Anneloralas, a Yorton-bred who struck at Auteuil in October before two placings in black-type company.
Similarly, Elusive Bloodstock is on an upward curve with the recent additions of French 2,000 Guineas victor Falco and Group 2 winner Axxos.
Falco was already a Group 1 sire under both codes – courtesy of Odeliz and Peace And Co – at the time of his purchase. However, his arrival from France also coincided with the emergence of Hitman, a novice chaser of Grade 1 potential for Paul Nicholls.
As for Axxos, the son of Monsun joins Elusive Bloodstock having sired useful jumpers Calett Mad, Dame Du Soir and Earlofthecotswolds from his earlier stint in France.
Other proven sires within the lower price bracket include Top Trip, a high-class staying son of Dubai Destination. The sire of recent Listed-winning four-year-old Le Petit Nice, he stands at Vauterhill Stud alongside Sans Frontieres and Group 1 winner Cannock Chase, who was off the mark with his first two- year-olds last year.
Meanwhile, an interesting roster at Batsford Stud includes Dashel Drasher’s sire Passing Glance and St Leger winner Harbour Law, whose first crop are yearlings.
Yorgunnabelucky (Mickley Stud), a brother to Shamardal, already has a French Listed-winning hurdler to his credit in Fortunes Melody while it will be interesting to see how Frammassone (Peel Hall Stud) fares as time goes on. Based in Ireland until last year, he offers something different as a dual winner on the Flat at two and triple Grade 1 winner over jumps.
It is Ireland, though, that continues to hold the aces, with the majority of the current top 20 active sires Irish-based led by Coolmore’s Yeats (Castlehyde Stud), who has already surpassed £1 million in earnings for the season.
Yet Yeats is now 20 while others such as Getaway, Westerner, Court Cave and Shirocco are also reaching the veteran stages of their stud careers.
By the very nature of the beast, it takes time for jumps stallions to develop a profile, meaning that quite often they are entering the twilight of their stud career by the time their full merits are appreciated. The Coolmore pair of Soldier Of Fortune (The Beeches Stud) and Walk In The Park (Grange Stud) are other examples; 17-year-old Soldier Of Fortune, the sire of Grade 1-winning hurdler Mega Fortune out of his early French runners, has consistently covered books in the region of 200 mares since his arrival to Ireland in 2016 as has 18-year-old Walk In The Park, who found fame as the sire of Douvan and Min and is akin to catnip in the sales ring as a result.
But what of the younger horses? The name on many lips is Arctic Tack Stud’s Jet Away, a Cape Cross relation to Dansili who was a Listed winner during his time with Sir Henry Cecil and a Group 3 winner in Australia.
Although his first crop are only five, Jet Away has made an immediate impact as the sire of promising bumper mares Brandy Love and Hollymount, who changed hands for £200,000 and £300,000 respectively following their debut scores. Another representative is Donald McCain’s exciting hurdler Dreams Of Home.
“Jet Away was a classy and very tough racehorse,” says Eoin Banville of Arctic Tack Stud. “But I have to admit it was his pedigree that was most attractive to me.
“He is owned in partnership with Douglas Taylor, who bought him from Juddmonte at Tattersalls and campaigned him with great success in Australia. Thankfully, he chose to send him here to stand and to be fair to him, his support in the horse has been a large part of his success.
“He is a big, good-looking horse with great presence and attitude, and it’s this attitude that seems to very prevalent in his stock.
“I was getting good feedback early on from the pointing yards, so I was very hopeful something might happen. But even so, his start has been very exciting.”
Jet Away covered close to 300 mares last year and will be strongly supported again in 2021 with a book that includes top hurdler Laurina.
Also on Arctic Tack’s roster is Ol’ Man River, whose first crop are three- year-olds. Sold for a sale-topping €2.85 million as a yearling, Ol’ Man River won the Beresford Stakes at two and boasts excellent connections as a Montjeu son of Classic-winning miler Finsceal Beo.
“From what I have seen and done with his first crop, I’m more than happy with them,” says Banville. “They have plenty of size and scope with good attitudes.”
Ol’ Man River is one of two sons of Finsceal Beo at stud alongside the Galileo horse Finsceal Fior (Green Hills Stud), who has been represented by winners under both codes.
Like Jet Away, Coolmore’s Maxios (Castlehyde Stud) is a young horse starting to make serious headway over jumps, with his early German-bred crops highlighted by top Triumph Hurdle winner Quilixios and Fred Winter Hurdle scorer Aramax. Jumps breeders would appear to think he’s the real deal, given he covered over 270 mares in his first season at Castlehyde Stud last year.
As in Britain, the Monsun bandwagon forms an important part of the Irish jumps breeding fabric and Maxios is one of three sons on the Coolmore roster. Group 2 winner Ocovango (The Beeches Stud) boasts Listed-winning hurdler Langer Dan alongside a clutch of promising winning pointers, including Gordon Elliott’s pricey acquisition Glenglass, while there should be a warm welcome for new recruit Vadamos (Grange Stud).
Overall, however, there is unsurprisingly an emphasis on Sadler’s Wells within Coolmore’s brigade of younger jumps sires.
As a Classic and Gold Cup-winning son of Montjeu, Leading Light (Grange Stud) possesses a profile not too dissimilar to Fame And Glory and his first crop are now making some headway in the pointing field, notably Kilbarry Leader, who sold for £75,000 following her success in a point at Dromahane.
“Jet Away was a classy and very tough racehorse. But I have to admit it was his pedigree that was most attractive to me”
Derby hero Wings Of Eagles (The Beeches Stud), a grandson of Montjeu, has been well received in the two seasons since his arrival in France as the recipient of over 430 mares. He is now fully integrated as a jumps sire yet it was still good to see his Flat-bred yearlings sell for up to €60,000 last year.
It is Galileo, though, who holds the strongest hand. The bulk of his sons are unproven and comprise of champion stayer Order Of St George (Castlehyde Stud), something of a buzz horse whose first foals sold for up to €90,000 last year, a pair of St Leger winners in Kew Gardens (Castlehyde Stud) and Capri (Grange Stud), and Highland Reel’s Group 2-winning brother Idaho (The Beeches Stud). All have been well received by breeders so far.
Outside of Coolmore, the Galileo list includes a pair of Bahrain Trophy winners in Shantaram (Coolagown Stud), whose first crop are hitting the track now, and Feel Like Dancing (Whytemount Stud), who is off the mark with his first runners in France.
Among the others, El Salvador, a seven-time winner whose first crop includes the well-regarded winning pointer Greenrock Abbey, stands at Killack Stud, Group 3 winner Quest For Peace is based at Knockmullen House Stud, classy stayer Mizzou is at Old Road Stud and Frankel’s brother Proconsul is based at Annshoon Stud. The latter stands alongside the proven German Derby hero Kamsin.
Meanwhile, Frankel’s older half-brother Bullet Train (Woodfield Farm Stud) is already a stakes sires under both codes from his time in Kentucky and Australia.
One step removed from Galileo as a son of New Approach is the Derby runner-up Libertarian (Knockhouse Stud). Another whose first crop have turned five, he is well worth keeping an eye on given his select first crop includes the highly-tried Holymacapony.
Teofilo is also represented by an interesting young candidate in Austrian School (Clongiffen Stud). He was a tough five-time winner but boasts the added allure of being a half-brother to Tiger Roll. His first crop are foals this year.
If there is a belief of a rising tide behind Galileo in the jumps world, then the same must be said of his half-brother Sea The Stars. For starters, his first son to stud, the classy Flat sire Sea The Moon, is already responsible for top novice chaser Allmankind.
Among the dual-purpose representatives, Crystal Ocean (The Beeches Stud) is the most the exciting as an excellent middle-distance talent who won the Prince Of Wales’s Stakes and ran Enable to a neck in the 2019 King George.
His debut book of 270 mares consisted of several high-quality jumpers and producers in addition to a smattering of those belonging to Flat breeders. It will be fascinating to see how this popular horse fares under both codes.
It has also been interesting to follow the momentum behind another son, Affinisea (Whytemount Stud). An unraced half-brother to Soldier Of Fortune who cost €850,000 as a foal, he has been a regular recipient of large books – he covered over 200 mares again last year – at Whytemount Stud.
Whytemount was the mastermind behind Stowaway and its upwardly mobile roster also includes Valirann, a Group 2-winning stayer by Nayef whose first crop includes the unbeaten Listed-winning bumper performer Knappers Hill.
Burgage Stud fits into a similar mould. Stalwart Shantou has been retired but in his place Jukebox Jury has been swift to gain respect while there is a real belief behind the merits of the younger Sea Moon.
Jukebox Jury joined Burgage in 2018 from Germany with a strong profile behind him, notably as a dual Group 1-winning son of Montjeu who had sired a cluster of stakes horses on the Flat. But then his arrival in Ireland coincided with the victory of Farclas in the Triumph Hurdle and thus Jukebox Jury’s place as the next ascendant jumps sire son of Montjeu was consolidated.
Since then, he has also found fame on the Flat as the sire of popular Prix du Cadran heroine Princess Zoe.
The first crop of Sea Moon, winner of the Great Voltigeur and Hardwicke Stakes before striking in Group 2 company in Australia, turned four this year. He’s an interesting horse, not only in light of his ability but also his pedigree as a Beat Hollow relation to Workforce.
Pedigree is also a key factor in Kilbarry Lodge Stud’s Pillar Corral, an unraced half-brother to the outstanding French sire Martaline who stands alongside Diamond Boy. There remains a buzz around the latter, whose early representatives on this side of the Channel include classy novice chaser Grand Sancy.
The likes of Jukebox Jury and Maxios are fine examples of how a horse can capture the imagination once they switch codes. The same path is also being followed by Elusive Pimpernel (Irish National Stud), whose early jumpers include recent Listed-winning novice hurdler Thedevilscoachman alongside Triumph Hurdle runner-up Coeur Sublime.
A switch to a jumps role at Boardsmill Stud for King George hero Poet’s Word also coincided with his book swelling from 29 to 209. A good-looker (300,000gns yearling), high-class and tough with it, he appeals to become another feather in the cap for Boardsmill Stud, which has done so well with the likes of Court Cave, Kalanisi and Califet.
Flat Group 1 form, meanwhile, is also on offer via German Derby hero Lucky Speed (Sunnyhill Stud), Prince Of Wales’s Stakes scorer My Dream Boat (Starfield Stud) and top juvenile Marcel (Anngrove Stud).
Each offer an outcross for Sadler’s Wells and Monsun blood, as do the Group 2 winners Snow Sky (Ballycurragh Stud), by Nayef, and Nocturnal Fox (Windmill View Stud), by Farhh.
An emerging appreciation for Danehill Dancer-line sires, no doubt fuelled in part by the success of the late Jeremy, can also be seen in the popularity of various other horses on offer.
For example, Hillstar (Garryrichard Stud) offers the appealing combination of Group 1 talent (won the Canadian International) and pedigree (half-brother to Crystal Ocean). St Leger winner Kingston Hill (Castlehyde Stud) switched recently from a Flat role and has been well received since with three-figure books and sale results that include a €72,000 colt, while Group 2 winner Sumbal is an interesting addition to Boardsmill Stud.
As for Jeremy himself, he is the sire of Success Days (Kilbarry Lodge), whose extensive resume consists of four Group wins headed by the York Stakes.
Similarly, Mount Nelson, a representative of the Rock Of Gibraltar branch, left behind Berkshire (Kedrah House Stud). The Royal Lodge Stakes winner is another for whom a switch to Ireland has resulted in a busier role, with books of 143 and 197 heading his way since his arrival.