With the persistent dark cloud of Covid hanging over us and the pressures of a selective market, it can be argued that the hunt for a value sire has never been so important. Thankfully, breeders in Britain and Ireland are faced with ample choice, with an array of approximately 90 stallions who are advertised for the 2021 season at up to £8,000/€8,000, ranging from proven Group 1 sires to talented new additions.

Group 1 sires aplenty

The gold standard in this British-based category belongs to Derby winner Sir Percy (Lanwades Stud). At a fee of £7,000, British breeders have access to a proven Group 1 sire who operates at a clip of 41% when it comes to winners to foals of racing age, is responsible for 49 stakes horses and boasted a pair of 150,000gns yearlings in 2020. In fact, he ended the season with a yearling average close to 50,000gns to bolster a profile that epitomises value.

A similar sentiment also applies to Sixties Icon (Norman Court Stud) at his new fee of £1,000. Here is another proven Group 1 sire who is enjoying success under both codes and boasts 32% winners to foals of racing age. Like Sir Percy, he appeals as an inexpensive option to get a young mare going, as does Mayson (Cheveley Park Stud: £4,000), who fires in plenty of winners (33% winners to foals of racing age) alongside quality, last year’s July Cup hero Oxted being a fine example.

Of the other proven sires in this bracket, Sharpen Up’s grandson Cityscape (Overbury Stud: £4,000) is another Group 1 sire with eye-catching figures (7% Group winners to first-crop runners) while the first crop of Outstrip (Dalham Hall Stud: £4,000) offered encouragement, given it contains the likes of Gold Trip, the Prix Greffulhe winner who ran fourth in the Arc, and Grade 3 winner Outburst.

For several of these horses, there is the enticing prospect of possessing larger crops to come. For instance, Havana Gold (Tweenhills Farm and Stud: £7,500) has 145 two-year-olds to run for him bred in the aftermath of a first crop that included Group 1 winner Havana Grey. Those youngsters, which sold for up to 150,000gns as yearlings, are now housed in some of the country’s leading yards and it will be disappointing if they do not enhance their sire’s profile.

Sixties Icon – Photo: Emma Berry

Highclere Stud’s Cable Bay, available for £8,000 in 2021, covered 100 mares last season thanks to a swift start highlighted by the Group 1 filly Liberty Beach.

Another with a respectable commercial following, his yearlings sold for up to 150,000gns in 2020. Similar comments apply to Due Diligence (Whitsbury Manor Stud: £6,000), whose feat of supplying three first-crop stakes winners saw his 2020 book rise to 100.

Of the older horses, it’s worth noting that Pastoral Pursuits (Norton Grove Stud: £2,000) boasts a lifetime winners to foals of racing age figure of 38%. A fee of £2,500, meanwhile, is commanded by proven stakes sire Heeraat (Mickley Stud), Swiss Spirit (Batsford Stud), who offers access to the Invincible Spirit sire line, and Music Master (Throckmorton Court Stud), a high-class half-brother to Twilight Son. For £1,750, breeders also have the option of talented sprinter Intrinsic (Hedgeholme Stud: £1,750), whose early runners include Topper Bill, a recent winner in smart company in Dubai.

Impressive profile for Irish stalwart

Rathasker Stud’s Clodovil again hit Group 1 heights in 2020 as the sire of top juvenile Tiger Tanaka and went on to end the year as one of Europe’s leading sires in terms of black-type winners to runners – a figure of 7.41 places him ahead of some high-profile contemporaries. He also continues to bat at 51% winners to foals of racing age. All in all, it’s quite an impressive profile for a horse who stands for €5,000, the same figure commanded by his hard-knocking son and stud-mate Gregorian, for whom 2020 was highlighted by the excellent French two-year-old Plainchant.

Also nestling within this bracket at Rathasker is Bungle Inthejungle (€8,000). This fast son of Exceed And Excel was a leading first-crop sire in 2018 and has since maintained that momentum, notably in 2020 as the sire of Cornwallis Stakes heroine Winter Power. He has a pair of €12,000 crops in the pipeline, so it’s reasonable to hope that better is to come.

In terms of figures, few also come close to Raven’s Pass (Kildangan Stud: €7,500). A six per cent black-type winners to foals of racing age underlines his reputation as a source of quality, an aspect that again came to the fore last year via Group 1 winner Matterhorn. Not far behind on five per cent is Coolmore’s Rock Of Gibraltar, a brilliant racehorse and the sire of 16 Group/Grade 1 winners who can be used at €5,000. Fellow proven Group 1 sire Tamayuz (Derrinstown Stud: €8,000) boasts a figure of four per cent and had yearlings sell for up to 170,000gns in 2020.

Rathasker Stud’s Clodovil is the sire of top juvenile Tiger Tanaka – Photo: Caroline Norris

Another veteran, Canford Cliffs’ sire Tagula, is ‘private’ for 2021 but remains in service for his 25th season at Rathbarry Stud. Haatef, also a proven stakes sire, remains at Derrinstown Stud at a fee of €2,000.

2020, meanwhile, marked a breakthrough for Elzaam (Ballyhane Stud: €5,000) as the sire of Matron Stakes heroine Champers Elysees and Group 3 scorer Waitingfortheday. One who can be relied upon to throw a fine type, he is another to have several good-sized books to come as does Camacho (Yeomanstown Stud: €5,000), who hit the Group 1 club several seasons ago via Classic-winning miler Teppal. A friend of the commercial market, Camacho’s three-year-olds include the Group performer Aunt Bridy, who sold for 410,000gns in December.

Derby runner-up Khalifa Sat was a notable first-crop highlight for Free Eagle (€8,000), whose base of the Irish National Stud also includes a pair of proven speed options in Dragon Pulse (€2,000) and Equiano (€3,000), The Tin Man’s sire who shifts from Newsells Park Stud. The latter offers an interesting route into the Acclamation sire line, something that is also represented by Alhebayeb (Tara Stud: €5,000), the sire of recent Californian stakes winner Cathkin Peak, and the Group 1-placed Tough As Nails (Blackrath Stud: €1,500).

Winners flowing for Adaay

To sire over 20 winners in a first-crop is a laudable achievement and Britain is home to two such stallions, both of whom are available for £5,000. Whitsbury Manor Stud’s Adaay was among Europe’s leading first-crop sires, second to only Mehmas, with a haul of 23 winners that included three stakes- placed runners.

Not far behind on 22 winners for the year is Twilight Son (Cheveley Park Stud: £5,000), whose tally is led by the Group 3 scorer Aria Importante.

Both stallions were successful two-year-olds who trained on into accomplished performers, in particular Twilight Son who hit Group 1 heights in the September of his three-year-old season.

Twilight Son: – Photo: Zoë Vicarage

Similar comments apply to Bobby’s Kitten (Lanwades Stud: £7,000), a high-class juvenile whose career peaked with a win in the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint at three. Bobby’s Kitten offers something a bit different as one of only two British-based sons of Kitten’s Joy and his dozen first-crop winners includes a live Classic candidate in Monaasib.

Middle Park Stakes winner Charming Thought (Dalham Hall Stud: £4,000) fired in eight winners, good for a winners to runners strike-rate of 35%, while new to Hedgeholme Stud is fellow Middle Park hero The Last Lion (£4,000), whose early winners include the highly-tried Kraken Power.

There also remains an interesting member of the Indian Ridge sire line in Pearl Secret (Chapel Stud: £3,000), off the mark with his first runners in 2020.

Kodiac’s developing legacy

2020 was a turning point in the legacy of Kodiac, being the year that sons of the record-breaking Tally-Ho Stud stallion were represented by their first runners.

As outlined above, the British-based Adaay didn’t disappoint and nor did the Irish trio of Coulsty, Kodi Bear and Prince Of Lir.

Each returned a winners to runners strike-rate during 2020 of 35% or above led by Rathasker Stud’s Coulsty (39%), whose record of three stakes winners, highlighted by the Princess Margaret Stakes heroine Santosha, amid five stakes horses makes him a highly interesting play at €5,000 for 2021. Ballyhane Stud’s Prince Of Lir (37%) drops to €3,500 despite firing in Norfolk Stakes winner The Lir Jet among three black-type horses while Rathbarry Stud’s Kodi Bear (35%) holds steady at €6,000 as the sire of five stakes horses. The latter’s yearlings sold for up to £110,000 in 2020.

Others on the stakes scoresheet with their first two-year-olds were Classic- winning miler The Gurkha (Coolmore: €5,000), sire of the high-class German colt Best Of Lips, and Estidhkaar (Tara Stud: €5,000), the sire of two stakes horses. The latter shares his sire, Dark Angel, with Markaz (Derrinstown Stud: €3,000), whose clutch of winners include the highly-rated Mark Of The Man.

“2020 was a turning point in the legacy of Kodiac”

The early winners by high-class two-year-old Buratino (Kildangan Stud: €5,000) included the Group 2-placed Snapraeterea and this relation to Danehill Dancer has another sizeable crop of juveniles on the ground for 2021.

Meanwhile, it almost goes without saying that the Epsom and Irish Derby hero Harzand (Gilltown Stud: €8,000) is another sleeper going forward; for starters, the interesting maiden winners French Fusion and Port Sunlight promise to represent this well-bred son of Sea The Stars with credit in 2021.

Fascinating Rock (Ballylinch Stud: €5,000) was another who came into his own as an older horse and possesses the backing of a powerful ownership.

Crunch time looming

Multiple Group 1 winners Postponed, Decorated Knight and Galileo Gold are among the quality horses with first two-year-olds on offer to breeders within this bracket. Each boasts the support of strong connections and possess representation in some of Europe’s leading yards.

First yearlings by Postponed (Dalham Hall Stud: £7,500), who shares his sire Dubawi with Night Of Thunder and New Bay among others, were well received, selling for up to 145,000gns. Of course, Postponed was one of his sire’s best performers, with victories in the Juddmonte International, Coronation Cup, King George and Dubai Sheema Classic to his credit.

Decorated Knight (€7,500), whose first foals sold for up to 190,000gns, is a triple Group 1 winner with the additional allure of being a Galileo relation to champion sire Giant’s Causeway. Strongly supported by his owner Imad Al Sagar of Blue Diamond Stud, who has sent him plenty of high-performing mares, he stands alongside the Group 1-winning two-year-old National Defense (€5,000), who looks to add to Invincible Spirit’s legacy as a sire of sires.

Frankie Dettori celebrates winning the 2,000 Guineas on Galileo Gold – Photo: George Selwyn

It also promises to be another interesting year for Tally-Ho Stud, with attention turning to the first crops belonging to 2,000 Guineas and St James’s Palace Stakes hero Galileo Gold (€5,000) and high-class sprinter Cotai Glory (€5,000), whose first crop made up to 180,000gns. Both have over 100 two-year-olds to run for them this year as does the Scat Daddy horse El Kabeir (Yeomanstown Stud: €6,000). Interestingly, he has caught the attention of prominent owner Peter Brant, who paid 180,000gns and 125,000gns through Demi O’Byrne for a pair of first-crop yearlings by the Grade 2 winner last year.

Meanwhile, Kodiac’s eye-catching start as a sire of sires must bode well for the prospects of Flying Childers Stakes victor Ardad (£4,000). Also winner of the Windsor Castle Stakes at Royal Ascot, he boasts over 90 two-year-olds, plenty of them in the care of leading trainers.

Ardad stands at Overbury Stud, whose diverse roster also includes Irish Derby hero Jack Hobbs (£4,000). While that son of Halling sits under the dual-purpose banner, hopefully he will be represented in due course by some Flat runners as well.

Similar comments apply to Group 3 winner Mahsoob (Meiklehaugh Stud: private), a well-related son of Dansili.

Grey another commercial success story for Whitsbury

The first foals by Group 1-winning sprinter Havana Grey (Whitsbury Manor Stud: £6,000), billed as the fastest horse from the Galileo sire line, were swift to gain approval at last year’s sales. In all, 35 sold for an average of 24,029gns, among them colts who were knocked down to Japan’s Paca Paca Farm and Shadwell Estate Company for 130,000gns and €135,000 respectively.

Another quick horse, Coventry Stakes winner Rajasinghe (The National Stud), was also well received as a foal average of 29,500gns attests. The sextet of youngsters in question includes colts who made 50,000gns, 47,000gns and 37,000gns – not bad for a stallion standing for £3,000.

Two-year-old Royal Ascot form is also on show via Washington DC (Bearstone Stud: £4,500), the 2015 Windsor Castle Stakes winner who trained on into a Group 1 sprinter. The only son at stud in Britain and Ireland by the much-missed Zoffany, his first foals sold for up to 58,000gns.

Tasleet (Nunnery Stud: £5,000), a high-class sprinter built in the mould of his sire Showcasing, also emerged out of the sales season with credit, hitting a high of 60,000gns, as did Mill Reef Stakes winner Kessaar (Tally-Ho Stud: €5,000), another son of emerging sire of sires Kodiac whose representatives included a €55,000 colt.

Each of the above were talented two-year-olds but for €4,500 breeders can also access a juvenile of the calibre of French champion Unfortunately (Oak Lodge Stud). The Prix Morny hero is based in Ireland but also has the backing of Cheveley Park Stud, which will stand him in good stead.

Lightning Spear on his way to victory in the 2018 running of the Sussex Stakes – Photo: Geprhe Selwyn

Similarly, Sussex Stakes winner Lightning Spear (Tweenhills Farm and Stud) stands for just £5,000. An admirable campaigner who made 27 starts and filled the frame in eight Group 1 races, he is one of only two Flat- orientated sons of Pivotal standing in Britain alongside Farhh.

Massaat (Mickley Stud: £4,000), meanwhile, possessed the talent to run second in both the Dewhurst Stakes and 2,000 Guineas. He’s also well-related, being a Teofilo half-brother to Group 1-winning sprinter Eqtidaar.

Pedigree power could also be a key to Gustav Klimt (Coolmore: €4,000), James Garfield (Rathbarry Stud: €4,000) and Master Carpenter (March Hare Stud: £1,000) given that each descends from the Eljazzi family responsible for Invincible Spirit, Kodiac and Pride Of Dubai.

Gustav Klimt, by Galileo, and James Garfield, by Exceed And Excel, were both Group 2-winning two-year-olds that were Group 1-placed at three while Master Carpenter, by Mastercraftsman, was a hard-knocking Group 3 winner.

Finally, St Leger winner Harbour Law (Batsford Stud: £2,000) represents the enticing combination of Classic form and deep family, being a member of the Hascombe and Valiant Studs line of successful sire Inchinor.

Plenty to entice among second-season horses

Inns Of Court (Tally-Ho Stud: €6,000) was the most popular stallion of 2020 within this bracket as the recipient of 218 mares. A good-looking son of Invincible Spirit who won a Group 2 over five furlongs yet fell only a short-head shy of victory in the Prix de la Foret, it’s easy to see how he has caught the imagination of breeders.

Richmond Stakes winner Land Force (Highclere Stud: £5,000), the first son of No Nay Never to stud, was also popular, covering 155 mares. Crucially, several went on to sell extremely well at the breeding stock sales, among them Zain Art, who topped the Goffs November Sale at €390,000, and Kalagia, who jointly topped the Tattersalls July Sale at 130,000gns.

Land Force wasn’t the only young sire to receive an eye-catching book. Flying Childers Stakes winner Soldier’s Call (Ballyhane Stud: €7,500) ended the Tattersalls December Sale with a covering average of 155,000gns boosted by the six-figure sales of current stakes producers Princess Guest and Rush. In all, the son of Showcasing covered 164 mares.

A total of 135 mares headed the way of fellow Group 1-placed sprinter Invincible Army (Yeomanstown Stud: €7,500), a Group 2-winning and well-related son of Invincible Spirit. Of his debut book, 42% were stakes performers and/or producers.

Flag Of Honour – Photo: Laura Green/Tattersalls

The increasingly powerful Invincible Spirit sire line is also represented by Eqtidaar (Nunnery Stud: £5,000), the winner of a competitive renewal of the Commonwealth Cup. A half-brother to Massaat, he benefits from the support of Shadwell.

Breeders also have the option of a fast grandson of Invincible Spirit in Richmond Stakes winner Barraquero (Claremount Stud: €2,500).

At the other end of the spectrum, the National Stud’s Flag Of Honour (£3,000) appeals as a fine dual-purpose prospect as an Irish St Leger-winning Galileo son of multiple stakes producer Hawala.

Pedigree is also a key selling point behind Portamento (Hedgeholme Stud: £1,500), a Group 3-placed Shamardal son of Grade 1 winner Octave, Sogann (Norton Grove Stud: £2,000), a Frankel half-brother to proven sire Dabirsim, and Wusool (Lilling Hall Stud: £2,000), a Group 3-winning son of Speightstown and Classic winner Torrestrella.

Group 1 winners among new names

Breeders looking for a new yet inexpensive horse have an array of Group 1 winners to choose from.

They include tough sprinter Sands Of Mali (Ballyhane Stud: €6,500), the QIPCO British Champions Sprint Stakes winner who also landed the Gimcrack Stakes at two.

River Boyne, another hardy campaigner, was a top-class miler in the US whose nine wins were highlighted by the Grade 1 Frank E Kilroe Mile. The $1.23 million earner retires to Tara Stud at a fee of €5,000.

Derrinstown Stud’s King Of Change (€7,000) was also an excellent miler who concluded his career by defeating seven Group 1 winners to take the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes. Prior to that, he had also run second in the 2,000 Guineas.

In Grand Prix de Paris hero Way To Paris (Coolagown Stud: €3,500), breeders also have the option of a seven-time winner who fell only a head short of Sottsass in the Prix Ganay.

Far Above winning the 2020 running of the Palace House Stakes – Photo: Edward Whitaker

Group 2 winner Shaman (Yeomanstown Stud: €6,000) was one who consistently held his own among the best of his generation, as placings in the Poule d’Essai des Poulains and Prix Jacques les Marois attest, as did Coventry Stakes winner Arizona (Coolmore: €7,000), a No Nay Never relation to Dabirsim who also ran second in the Dewhurst Stakes.

Nor are there any shortage of true speed options. Far Above (Starfield Stud: €6,000) is one such horse, having capped his career with an easy win in the Palace House Stakes. Rumble Inthejungle (Norman Court Stud: £3,500) captured the Molecomb Stakes while Sergei Prokofiev (Whitsbury Manor Stud: £6,500), a $1.1 million yearling, posted his career highlight in the Cornwallis Stakes.

Sergei Prokofiev is one of several new sons of Scat Daddy to stud in Europe this year. Another is the Grade 3-winning sprinter Legends Of War (£5,000), a 900,000gns breezer who is new to the LM Stallions banner this season alongside Windsor Castle Stakes winner Southern Hills (£3,000), Diplomat (£2,000), whose eight wins range from a Group 2 over a mile on the Flat to a jumps race at Auteuil, and 2,000 Guineas runner-up Tip Two Win (£3,500), one of the highest-rated sons of Dark Angel at stud.

Speaking of Dark Angel, Mickley Stud welcomes his Shamardal half-brother, four-time winner Almanaara, to its roster at a fee of £3,000.

Clongiffen Stud has also added Royal Lytham (€4,000), a well-related son of Gleneagles who won the July Stakes as a two-year-old.