Value is, of course, a relative concept. But for breeders operating on a budget, it is also an essential part of their mating plans. The importance of value was brought into sharp relief last autumn and winter when the foal and yearling markets were subject to some significant turbulence.
Commercial breeders who pull some smart moves now will find future sales much more smooth sailing, and the good news is there is no shortage of options available. From speed sires to Classic producers, the statistically sound to the new retirees, we’ve run the rule over all the available names at £8,500 and under to help take the legwork out of finding value for money from your nomination fees.
Speed on speed
High among the thoroughly proven options is Dream Ahead, whose 64 stakes performers are headed by four Group 1 winners, namely Al Wukair, Donjuan Triumphant, Dream Of Dreams and Glass Slippers. Colts, fillies, juveniles or older horses, this proven source of speed can get you just about anything. He stands at Bearstone Stud for just £6,500.
Bungle Inthejungle continues to prove a consistent source of speedy and precocious types. The sire of Nunthorpe Stakes heroine Winter Power made a notable addition to his roll of honour in 2023 with Givemethebeatboys. The colt not only won the Marble Hill Stakes and ran third in the Phoenix Stakes, but he fetched a cool £1,100,000 from Bronson Racing at the Goffs London Sale on the eve of Royal Ascot.
Bungle Inthejungle stands at the Burns family’s Rathasker Stud at a fee of €7,500. He has 14 black-type performers on his record, as does his Rathasker studmate Gregorian, who is available at a fee of €4,500.
Speed has been the hallmark of so many of Cheveley Park Stud’s most successful stallions, and now the baton has been passed to Haydock Sprint Cup and Diamond Jubilee winner Twilight Son. The son of former Cheveley Park stalwart Kyllachy has sired 18 black-type performers from four crops of racing age, a list that includes the dual Group 3-winning Aria Importante, King’s Stand Stakes second Twilight Calls and the Listed-winning, £360,000 breeze-up graduate Beautiful Diamond. Twilight Son stands at a fee of £6,000.
Tally-Ho Stud’s Inns Of Court finished his first season with runners with 28 winners at a strike-rate of 31 per cent, as well as four stakes performers. His black type quartet features Megarry, winner of the Blenheim Stakes. The son of Invincible Spirit remains at a fee of €5,000.
Another second-season sire by Invincible Spirit standing at €5,000 is Yeomanstown Stud’s Invincible Army. He sired 13 winners from 52 runners in 2023 for a strike-rate of 25 per cent. His most notable runner to date is the Natalia Lupini-trained Kitty Rose. The Ingabelle Stakes scorer and Staffordstown Stud Stakes runner-up holds early entries for the Irish 1,000 Guineas and the Irish Oaks.
Land Force, who is new to Hedgeholme Stud this season, may not have posted a stakes winner in his first crop but 21 of his sons and daughters passed the post in front giving him a strike-rate of 32 per cent. His highest-rated runner to date is the royal homebred Serried Ranks, who defeated subsequent Sirenia Stakes scorer and Breeders’ Cup third Starlust to win a valuable Goodwood nursery.
Newmarket is home to Bobby’s Kitten, the Lanwades-based Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint winner by Kitten’s Joy. The £5,000 option has sired five stakes performers, led by Kirsten Rausing’s high-class homebred Sandrine, the winner of Group 2 prizes at two, three and four.
British breeders on the lookout for an injection of speed at a chicken feed fee also have Rajasinghe and Swiss Spirit to conjure with. The former stands at the National Stud at a fee of just £3,000, and has compiled a winners-to-runners strike-rate of 46 per cent from his first two crops. Swiss Spirit, meanwhile, stands at Batsford Stud and is priced at £2,000.
On the other side of the Irish Sea, the Irish National Stud stands Equiano, who has shown he can produce top-level talent courtesy of Belvoir Bay and The Tin Man. The 19-year-old son of Acclamation stands for just €2,000.
Manton Park’s Aclaim falls into this category by virtue of his first crop containing the 1,000 Guineas heroine Cachet. She also reached the podium in the Fillies’ Mile and Poule d’Essai des Pouliches.
While Cachet, who sold to Katsumi Yoshida for 2,200,000gns at the Tattersalls December Mares Sale, remains Aclaim’s headline performer, she is not the only significant talent he has sired. His stud record also includes the Listed-winning sprinter Royal Aclaim and the classy two-year-old Purosangue, while his strike-rate of 42 per cent winners to runners also catches the eye.
As a Prix de la Foret winner by sire of sires Acclamation, and from the immediate family of Montjeu, Aclaim’s credentials suggest he should be capable of siring a variety of talents, and so it has proved. A fee of £8,000 underestimates his talents.
Having covered significant books during a long, dual hemisphere stud career, no stallion on this list of value options can boast more black-type runners than the venerable Holy Roman Emperor. Coolmore’s Castlehyde Stud resident is responsible for 185 stakes performers, a list that includes 14 Group/Grade 1 winners like Designs On Rome, Homecoming Queen and Romanised. This alone makes him look fairly priced at €8,000.
The 20-year-old son of Danehill may be into the autumn of his covering career but showed he is no back number in 2023 with Numerian winning an Australian Group 2, while Geography and Roman Mist won Group 3 contests in Germany. His yearlings fetched up to €120,000 during the latest round of sales.
Another Castlehyde resident with a long and distinguished career is Footstepsinthesand, whose seven Group/Grade 1 winners head a roll of honour that features 148 stakes performers. The sire of Chachamaidee, Marianafoot and Marie’s Diamond also stands at €8,000.
Dawn Approach is among the few who can boast of being a Classic winner on the track who developed into a Classic winner at stud. Following a champion juvenile campaign, Dawn Approach was a dominant winner of the 2,000 Guineas, while he later added the St James’s Palace Stakes to his resume. His son Poetic Flare followed in his footsteps by landing the 2,000 Guineas and St James’s Palace Stakes in 2021 before retiring to the Shadai Stallion Station in Japan.
Poetic Flare is no one-off, either, as Dawn Approach’s shuttle visits to Australia saw him leave Group 1 Winterbottom Stakes winner Paulele, while the Group 2-winning two-year-old Madhmoon was also second in Anthony Van Dyck’s Derby and Musis Amica was runner-up in the Prix de Diane and the Prix Vermeille. Dawn Approach stands at Jim Bolger’s Redmondstown Stud in County Wexford at a fee of €5,000.
The Giant’s Causeway/Shamardal line is represented by Bearstone Stud’s Belardo, the son of Lope De Vega who stands at £5,500. Belardo’s first two-year-olds featured the Rockfel Stakes winner Isabella Giles and since then he has enjoyed his most notable success in the US where Gold Phoenix took out the Grade 1 Frank E Kilroe Mile and Bellabel struck in the Grade 2 San Clemente Stakes.
Plenty of hype surrounded Belardo at the end of 2020 when his first juveniles created a positive impression, and in 2021 he duly covered his biggest and best book of mares. Whilst it can’t be ignored that he failed to live up to some lofty expectations subsequently, those breeding to him in 2024 can look forward to selling a foal or yearling in the years after his boosted fifth crop have been plying their trade on the track.
Another stallion with bigger crops in the pipeline is the National Stud’s Time Test, who stands 2024 at £8,500. On the back of his debut crop causing a stir, the son of Dubawi covered 160 mares in 2021 and 181 in 2022. The best of his 13 black-type winners are the Beresford Stakes scorer Crypto Force and Thoroughbred Stakes victor Rocchigiani.
The venerable Sixties Icon has done sterling service from Norman Court Stud, from where he sired the smart middle distance performers Harrison, Nagano Gold and Nakeeta, while his southern hemisphere stints have yielded top-level performers Crazy Icon and Sixties Song. He will stand his 16th consecutive season at £3,000.
Tweenhills offer the tough and talented Lightning Spear at a fee of £5,000, while the well-bred and high-performing Massaat stands at Mickley Stud at a mere £3,000.
Willow Wood Farm in Cheshire is home to dual-purpose option Capri, the son of Galileo who won the Irish Derby and St Leger. He is standing his first season in Britain, after four years at Coolmore’s Grange Stud, priced at £2,500.
When it comes to the first-season sires of 2023, headlines were dominated by Blue Point and Too Darn Hot. And with good reason given the scale of their accomplishments. They look set to be heavily oversubscribed at fees of €60,000 and £65,000 in 2024.
However, when one or two horses pull focus there is always a chance that another stallion might just be flying under the radar. Step forward Soldier’s Call. The son of Showcasing made a very solid start to his second career with 26 European winners among his debut two-year-olds, a tally bettered only by Blue Point and Inns Of Court, both of whom had more runners. Those 26 winners came at a healthy strike-rate of 33 per cent to boot.
And there was quality as well as quantity, with four stakes performers capped by Dawn Charger, winner of the Group 3 Prix Eclipse. Soldier’s Call was arguably unlucky not to end his first season with runners with three black-type winners to his name, with Dorothy Lawrence caught on the bob when a short head second in the Dick Poole Stakes, while King Collector was beaten just a head in a Listed event at San Siro.
Had those two runners had the rub of the green, there is every chance their sire would be standing for more than the £8,500 fee he has been priced at for his first season at Steve Parkin’s Dullingham Park in Newmarket.
There is also plenty of ammunition in the pipeline too having covered three-figure books of mares in his second, third and fourth seasons. The biggest of those came in 2023, meaning anyone breeding to Soldier’s Call this time around will be able to take their yearling to market in the year his biggest crop of two-year-olds hits the track.
Derrinstown Stud’s Awtaad has made a habit of throwing stock in his own image, namely good lookers who come into their own granted a bit of time. The Irish 2,000 Guineas hero has sired 16 stakes performers and has shown he can get you a runner right out of the top drawer with Prix d’Ispahan scorer Anmaat.
Moreover, his offspring are starting to assemble an eye-catching record on the global stage, with Anisette winning the Del Mar Oaks and American Oaks, while the Aga Khan-bred Diamil has won a brace of Group 3 prizes in Australia.
This is an important point as it should help shore up the value of his offspring in the lucrative form horse market. While his foals and yearlings may not be as commercial as some on this list, it is worth remembering that his daughter Primo Bacio sold to Hillwood Stud for 1,100,000gns at the Tattersalls December Mares Sale, 12 months after the well-bred Mohjatty brought 600,000gns from Plantation Stud.
A bit of patience may be required for those thinking of breeding to Awtaad, but a fee of only €5,000 more than accounts for that fact and should leave plenty of scope for profit further down the line.
Rathasker Stud’s Coulsty has done it the hard way up to this point. His debut crop numbered just 45 foals but managed to come up with a smart two-year-old in Princess Margaret Stakes scorer Santosha and the Italian Listed winners Suicide Squad and Sopran Aragorn. And they weren’t even the best of the bunch. That honour belongs to Shantisara, a 10,000gns breeze-up purchase who went on to win the Grade 1 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup before being sold to Shadai Farm for $1.3 million.
Given his second, third and fourth crops contained less than 30 foals combined, it would be unreasonable to have expected too much in the interim. However, his biggest crop yet turns two in 2024 when the foals conceived in the afterglow of his eye-catching first runners will have their chance on the racecourse. And while this year’s juveniles are from a boosted crop of 76 foals, his 2022-conceived crop numbers 119 foals. If he can belatedly build on the promise of that debut crop by converting the opportunity these greater numbers represent, we could be about to see Coulsty in a whole new light. If that happens, a fee of €5,500 will look incredibly fair indeed.
Breeders operating on a budget have few more proven options than Kildangan Stud stalwart Raven’s Pass. Not only has he sired 65 black type performers but he is operating at a lifetime stakes winners-to-runners ratio of eight per cent, which is an eye-catching number at any fee, nevermind just €7,500.
The son of Elusive Quality’s best runners have tended to operate at or under a mile, with the likes of Flying Five Stakes heroine Romantic Proposal, Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere scorer Royal Marine and Japanese champion Tower Of London heading his roll of honour.
Mayson rates another thoroughly proven source of speed. The July Cup-winning son of Invincible Spirit spent 11 years at Cheveley Park Stud and has his talents underlined by a strike rate of 43 per cent. His 29 stakes performers are headed by the top-class Oxted, who emulated his sire in the July Cup before landing the following year’s King’s Stand Stakes.
Mayson has made the switch to Springfield House Stud where he stands at €4,250. The roster also features another former Cheveley Park Stud resident in Unfortunately, the Group 1-winning son of Society Rock who stands at €3,000.
Stallions with first runners
There are few riskier strategies in commercial breeding than sending your mare to a stallion who is about to have his first runners. Rightly or wrongly the market makes up its mind fairly quickly, and if your chosen stallion gets off to a slow start, the foal’s value will likely have plummeted before it has even been born.
There are some key clues to consider to get the probabilities in your favour, such as two-year-old numbers and sales results. Among this year’s first-season sires standing at £8,500 and under, one name has the most compelling trail of evidence.
Sergei Prokofiev not only hails from a farm in fine form in Whitsbury Manor Stud but he is due to be represented by a sizeable juvenile crop containing 122 sons and daughters. Moreover, his first-crop yearlings averaged £37,615 and sold for a median of £26,250. He also sired the most expensive lot by the first-season sires among this list with the half-brother to Motorious bringing 220,000gns from SackvilleDonald at Book 1.
As if all that weren’t enough to suggest Sergei Prokofiev’s two-year-olds will make their presence felt, he was a high-class juvenile himself, winning the Cornwallis Stakes, and is a son of international sire sensation Scat Daddy. He stands 2024 at £6,000. He is not the only descendant of the Scat Daddy line in this price bracket as Coolmore’s Coventry Stakes scorer Arizona, a son of No Nay Never, is standing at €5,000.
Newsells Park Stud’s Without Parole, an £8,000 option, was responsible for not one but two six-figure yearlings, with Mandore International, agent for Madaket Group, going to €160,000 for one of his fillies at Arqana, while Alex Elliott spent 120,000gns on a colt at Book 1. The son of Frankel won his only start at two and rapidly progressed into a Group 1-winning miler, taking out the St James’s Palace Stakes on just his fourth outing.
Yeomanstown Stud’s Shaman also has a three-figure crop of juveniles to run for him and is also from a hot sireline being a son of Shamardal, while his yearlings averaged £20,600. Twice a Group 1 runner-up over a mile at three, he achieved his biggest success at four when landing the Prix d’Harcourt over ten furlongs. From the famous Fall Aspen family, his first crop are reportedly pleasing pre-trainers and trainers, including Archie Watson. “Shaman was a stallion we really liked the idea of and I was delighted to end up with two colts from the yearling sales,” he reported. “They are both nice, good bodied, good sized horses and typical of the Shamardal line. I couldn’t be happier with them.” Shaman is available at €5,000.
Sands Of Mali, standing at Ballyhane Stud at the same fee, has already been the subject of positive whispers among several breakers and pre-trainers. This Gimcrack winner turned Group 1-winning three-year-old sprinter has plenty of ammunition with 99 juveniles in his first crop, while noted judges Nick Bradley, Richard Fahey, Stephen Hillen and Eddie Linehan were among those who purchased his yearlings.
Micheal Orlandi’s Starfield Stud has two sons of Farhh on the roster and both welcome their first runners in 2024. Albeit Far Above peaked at four, he probably rates the likelier option to get early runners being a particularly muscular individual who graduated from the breeze-ups and proved at his best over five furlongs when beating Judicial in the Palace House Stakes. He has 80 two-year-olds in his first crop and is standing for €5,000.
King Of Change ended his racing career with a superior rating of 120 having landed the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes over a mile. He has around 50 juveniles and is also available at €5,000. Far Above and King Of Change not only stand at the same stud and share the same sire, they generated very similar sales results in 2023. Their yearlings both averaged close to £18,800 and both had a top price of 70,000gns. In the case of King Of Change that was a filly bought by Henry Candy, while James Tate went to that price for one of Far Above’s sons.
Tara Stud’s River Boyne and Norman Court Stud’s Rumble Inthejungle couldn’t quite match their peers in terms of covering numbers or sales results. But the former is a Grade 1-winning son of Dandy Man and the latter is a fast son of Bungle Inthejungle, who stand as testament to what can be achieved despite humble origins. The pair are standing at €3,500 and £3,500 respectively.
Stallions with first yearlings
Stallions’ covering numbers tend to follow a familiar trajectory. They peak in year one before gradually declining as breeders spread their risk while they await a horse’s first runners. A few names among those with their first yearlings in 2024 bucked this trend with bigger numbers in year two than in year one.
In the case of the National Stud’s Lope Y Fernandez (£8,500), we can assume that his increased numbers came on the quality of his first foals. He covered 134 mares in year one and 152 in year two. When the foals from that initial book reached the sales, they created a solid impression as 42 sold for an average of £20,765. The most expensive of the bunch was the colt signed for by Amanda Skiffington on behalf of Giacamo Algranti at 100,000gns.
Capital Stud’s Alkumait (€5,000) made good commercial sense when he first retired as a Mill Reef Stakes-winning son of Showcasing. He duly attracted a three-figure debut book. His profile received a big boost in the months after covering that first book as his half-brother Chaldean won the Dewhurst Stakes and 2,000 Guineas, which helped Alkumait’s numbers rise to 121 for 2023.
Also falling into this category is Mickley Stud’s Flying Childers Stakes scorer Ubettabelieveit, whose numbers rose from just below 100 to just above 100 in year two. His fee has remained at £5,000 throughout his time on stallion duty and his foals fetched up to 42,000gns. The noted judges from Tally-Ho Stud bought two of them, including his priciest representative. Ubettabelieveit isn’t the only son of Kodiac in this category as the Irish National Stud are represented by the Coventry Stakes winner Nando Parrado, who stands for €6,000.
Newsells Park Stud’s A’Ali’s numbers may have followed a more familiar path – 114 in year one and 93 in year two – but his first representatives at the sales still came in for a warm reception. Three of his foals sold for over 50,000gns, with buyers including Stroud Coleman Bloodstock, Yeomanstown Stud and Eddie O’Leary’s Lynn Lodge Stud, the latter of whom gave 68,000gns for the sire’s top-priced lot. A’Ali stands 2024 at £5,000.
Rounding out those with their first yearlings in 2024 is Chapel Stud’s Bangkok, a dual-purpose option who was a classy runner with a deep pedigree. The Group 2-winning son of Australia, who stands alongside the proven Hellvellyn (£2,000), stands at £3,000.
Stallions with first foals
Only five stallions standing at the value price range are welcoming their first foals this year, and one of those proved eye-catchingly popular with breeders in 2024.
Ballyhane Stud’s Space Traveller is not only Bated Breath’s highest-rated son after winning the Jersey Stakes and finishing runner-up in two Grade 1 contests, but he is a particularly good-looking individual to boot. This combination saw breeders support him with 186 mares in his first season, and he can be bred to this year at the same €6,500 fee. Surely that many breeders can’t be wrong.
Starfield Stud’s Dubawi Legend also proved popular in his own right covering 122 mares. He is another finer looker and also has high-class form in the book, winning a German Group 3 at three and finishing second to Native Trail in the Dewhurst at two. As his name suggests, he is a son of Dubawi, whose line could hardly be more in vogue thanks to the exploits of New Bay, Too Darn Hot and Zarak. He stands for a fair-looking €6,000.
Two sons of Mehmas figure in this list, led by the powerfully built Persian Force (above). He raced only at two but compiled some high-class form over eight starts, winning the July Stakes and reaching the frame in four top-flight contests, namely the National Stakes, Prix Morny, Middle Park and the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint. He served a 132-strong book at Tally-Ho Stud and stands for €8,000 in his second season.
Meanwhile Overbury Stud’s Caturra, winner of the Flying Childers Stakes, covered 109 mares in his first season. He has had his fee clipped into £5,000.
The Zenith Stallion Station in County Westmeath offers something completely different, with dual-purpose prospect Tosen Stardom, a son of Deep Impact who won two Group 1s in Australia, standing at €5,000.
New to stud
Mutasaabeq was something of a slow-burner on the track but could prove much more of an instant hit now that he is standing at the National Stud at an introductory fee of £6,500. Shadwell’s homebred won at two, three and four but reached his peak at five, recording two Group 2 victories in warm company.
He thrashed Native Trail by three lengths in the bet365 Mile and brought the curtain down on his 17-race career with a gusty success over Regal Reality and Chindit in the Joel Stakes. The striking-looking individual is not only by noted sire of sires Invincible Spirit but is out of 1,000 Guineas and Coronation Stakes heroine Ghanaati, a member of the Height Of Fashion dynasty. He offers breeders plenty of bang for their buck.
The same can also be said of Mac Swiney, who was among the best of his generation at two and three, winning the Futurity Trophy and the Irish 2,000 Guineas. The well-bred son of New Approach is from the same Jim Bolger family as Dewhurst winner Parish Hall and has been introduced at the Irish National Stud at €8,000.
Sire sensation Showcasing has a growing number of sons on stallion duty and Ballyhane Stud is responsible for one of those in Asymmetric. He is best remembered for landing the Richmond Stakes, a race in which he beat two subsequent Group 1 winners in Ebro River and Perfect Power, the latter of whom he finished third to in the Prix Morny. A switch to the US didn’t quite go as intended but he showed he retained plenty of ability when landing the Prix du Cercle over five furlongs when he returned to Europe at four. This good-looking sort from an out-and-out speed family should prove popular at €7,000.
The Antarctic emerged as one of the talking horses of this year’s ITM Irish Stallion Trail, with the brother to top-class sprinter Battaash winning plenty of new fans with his exceptional good looks at Coolmore’s Castlehyde Stud. That should come as no great surprise as the son of Dark Angel cost MV Magnier 750,000gns when he was sold at Book 1 by Ballyphilip Stud. He developed into a talented sprinter for Aidan O’Brien, winning a brace of Group 3s over six furlongs and twice reaching the podium behind Blackbeard in the Middle Park Stakes and the Prix Morny. If he breeds foals as good-looking as himself, his fee of €6,000 will look like a gift.
Another new option from the successful Acclamation line is Bouttemont, who is standing beside the renowned sire of sires at Rathbarry Stud at a fee of €5,000. Bouttemont might have been foaled in Ireland but he spent most of his life in France, where he won five races for Yann Barberot.
He won the Group 3 Prix de Meautry over six furlongs and the Listed Prix Hampton over the minimum trip, so sprinting was very much his forte. He also won a valuable conditions race on the Tapeta at Newcastle. He is the first son of Acclamation, to whom he bears a striking physical similarity, to retire to Ireland since Mehmas in 2017.
Havana Gold’s reputation as a sire of sires has been greatly enhanced by the rising star Havana Grey, and breeders now have access to another son in El Caballo, who is starting out at Culworth Grounds Farm at £6,000. Trained by Karl Burke, El Caballo went on a six-race winning spree that began at two and ended at three with victory in the Sandy Lane Stakes over six furlongs. He is a sibling to two black-type performers and out of a Showcasing half-sister to Mill Reef Stakes winner Temple Meads.
Whitsbury Manor Stud has a new recruit of its own to stand alongside Havana Grey in Dragon Symbol. The strapping grey son of Cable Bay is a Group 1 winner in all but name as he finished first past the post in the Commonwealth Cup, only to be demoted for causing interference. He showed that performance was no flash in the pan by also finishing second in the July Cup and King George Stakes and third in the Nunthorpe. The Whitsbury Manor homebred has been priced at £8,000.
Castle Star is another who should appeal to commercial breeders on a budget as he has looks, sireline and Group 1 form at two. The son of Starspangledbanner was an easy winner of the Marble Hill Stakes and rounded out his juvenile campaign by running second to Perfect Power in the Middle Park Stakes. He stands at Capital Stud at a fee of €5,000.
Dubai Mile went one better when he contested a two-year-old Group 1 race as he ended his juvenile campaign with victory over Arrest in the Criterium de Saint-Cloud. That performance makes him the highest-rated son of the star-crossed Roaring Lion with an peak official mark of 114. He has been introduced by Manton Park at £7,500.
Galiway has proved an absolute revelation since retiring to Haras de Colleville by siring top-level winners under both codes. On the Flat he has supplied Sealiway, who won the Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere and the Champion Stakes, and Criterium International scorer Sunway. Over hurdles he has been represented by the likes of Willie Mullins-trained stars Vauban and Gala Marceau.
Now his first son to stand outside of France has arrived at Coolagown Stud, with Kenway (above) introduced at €3,000. His three wins at two included the Prix la Rochette while he also landed Listed contests at three and four over as far as nine furlongs. Not only is he by Galiway, he is bred on the same cross as Sealiway, Sunway and Gala Marceau.
Those looking for a complete outcross have two other options with Marie’s Diamond, who is standing at Diamond Stud Bellewstown, and Norton Grove Stud’s Midnight Sands.
Marie’s Diamond won seven races for Mark Johnston and ran 65 times between the ages of two and seven. In his prime. he finished third behind Circus Maximus in the Queen Anne Stakes and also won the Anglesey Stakes at two. The son of Footstepsinthesand stands at €6,000.
Midnight Sands did most of his racing on the international stage, including at Meydan where his six wins were capped by the Burj Nahaar over a mile on dirt. The son of Speightstown was bred by the Niarchos family and is standing at £2,500. He joins a varied roster at Norton Grove which also includes Pearl Secret (£2,000), who provides rare access to the Ahonoora sire line, the tough, high-class miler Century Dream (£3,000), a Cape Cross half-brother to King Of Change, and proven stakes sire Mattmu (£2,000).
Matt Coleman, agent with Stroud Coleman Bloodstock:
“Of the horses who already have runners, I’m a Coulsty fan. I bought a couple of his yearlings last year, one for Tom Ward and one for Kevin Philippart De Foy, and they’re two nice fillies. I think Coulsty has done well so far from relatively small crops of low-grade mares, so I think he’s a horse who could advance above his current fee.
“I bought Sands Of Mali for the Cool Silk Partnership and he has his first runners this year, so I’m interested to see how they go. He was a super talented two-year-old and sprinter, winning the Champions Sprint at three. Anthony [Stroud] bought A’Ali as a breeze-up horse and I was genuinely impressed by his foals and think he’s a horse to look out for at the yearling sales this autumn and with runners in 2025.
“As for the horses retiring to stud this year, I also bought Midnight Sands for the Cool Silk team and he retires to Norton Grove Stud. But a horse that might not be on many peoples’ radar is Bay Bridge. He raced in Britain for Sir Michael Stoute but has been retired to France and I think he’s very good value at €6,000. He was a Group 1-winning son of New Bay and a very talented horse who performed at the highest level internationally.”
Mark McStay, Avenue Bloodstock:
“It’s a very difficult part of the market to navigate because, unless you get an outstanding physical or a sibling to a horse who gives you a big update, you’re probably going to be going to sales with lower average and median prices. That’s probably the part of the market that’s most challenging at the moment, so no matter how clever we all are there’s always going to be an element of luck required.
“There are stallions at this level that I like though. Looking for proven value, Awtaad stands out. He’s been lucky for me because I purchased Anisette, who was the highest-rated three-year-old turf filly in North America last year. He’s a sire that, for whatever reason, his fillies really seem to work. He’s a particularly good-looking horse and at his fee, I think he’s one that breeders have to take pretty seriously if they’re on a budget.
“In Britain, Aclaim gets a lot of winners and has had a Classic winner in Cachet, which augurs well, and James Tate has Royal Aclaim, who’s a very good sprinter. At that money, he’s a horse who can help your mare and you can get paid in the ring if you get a nice one. I’ve also got a soft spot for Belardo, who gets plenty of stakes horses. I bought a filly by him last year called Lexington Belle who was an inexpensive purchase but she got black type. Kuroshio’s stats are good and although he’s had smaller crops, he’s shown he’s capable from limited opportunities. I know he’s getting older, but at the money Footstepsinthesand is another who’s proven value.
“At the unproven level I think the standout, and by a long way, has to be Without Parole. He’s a Group 1 winner by Frankel, he won the St James’s Palace Stakes in a faster time than Frankel, and he’s particularly well-bred. He was bred by the Gunthers, who also bred Justify, and they’re one of the best breeders in the world. We’ve already seen how well Cracksman, another son of Frankel, has done with Ace Impact. I liked Without Parole’s yearlings and I don’t think anyone would say ‘Where has this come from?’ if a Group 1-winning son of Frankel did well with his first crop.”
Tom Blain, Barton Stud:
“In terms of proven stallions, I’m a big fan of Awtaad. I think he’s a much better stallion than many people think. He produces good-looking horses and I’m sending a mare to him. I also think Dream Ahead can breed you a good racehorse. I wouldn’t be averse to using him; he’s well-bred and has proven he can produce runners. Again, Mayson comes up with a good sprinter every year and is fair value. It’s unlikely you’ll produce a big sales horse but for an owner-breeder at an affordable nomination fee, he makes sense.
“I’m a big believer in Sergei Prokofiev. He’s produced some lovely stock, he’s well-bred and he’s good looking. Ed Harper does an amazing job at developing young stallions so I think he’s exciting. Possibly more of a niche one but I think King Of Change is lovely and I’ve had a couple of very nice foals by him. I think Micheal Orlandi has managed him well and it just wouldn’t surprise me if he worked. He’s a bit more expensive but I also like Mohaather. I thought he was a very good racehorse and we’ve sold four or five yearlings of his that I liked. They went to good trainers and I’m already hearing good things.
“Among those with first yearlings it’s all about Lope Y Fernandez for me. I loved his foals. He’s an exciting son of Lope De Vega and he’s covered plenty of decent mares. The stock he’s produced are of a high quality. We haven’t seen any of Dubawi Legend’s foals yet and I’m a bit biassed because we had the mare and bred a couple of his siblings, but he’s a well-bred son of Dubawi and he’s good-looking so you can’t go far wrong with him. I also like what Simon Sweeting does at Overbury and what they’ve done with Ardad is very impressive, so Caturra is interesting among those with their first foals.
“I think Bouttemont, a son of Acclamation standing at Rathbarry, is another interesting one. They’ve done such an amazing job with the sire. I’d be a big backer of theirs. The same goes for Dragon Symbol. He looks like a carbon copy of Havana Grey, albeit with different breeding. He’s coming from the same farm, will be covering the same mares, so he’s an exciting prospect. At this level you’re backing the stallion studs as much as you are the horses. Everybody knows that mares make stallions, and good stallion masters with good-quality land sending plenty of mares to their own horses is always an important part of the mix.”
Oliver St Lawrence, bloodstock agent:
“I liked the Lope Y Fernandez foals. They sold very well off a relatively cheap nomination fee. I thought him and A’Ali were the two to take out of last year’s foal sales from this price range.
“The A’Alis looked bonny, two-year-old types and they had a nice enough step on them for the progeny of a horse who was a sprinter. They had plenty of strength and he seems to be stamping his stock too, so he’s doing all the things breeders seem to like. I’m not a big foal buyer but I can understand why the market received them so well.
“Of the stallions about to have runners I’d go with Without Parole. He slightly surprised me at last year’s yearling sales as I hadn’t necessarily expected to like them but did. Of the more reasonably priced stallions I thought his yearlings walked well and had a bit of quality about them. I wouldn’t expect them to be early two-year-olds but I thought he had a chance and I left the yearling sales with a positive view on him. I’d also give Phoenix Of Spain a good shout at €10,000. He had enough nice two-year-olds to think that he has a chance this coming year with his first three-year-olds. He’s going well.”