Looking Back at Stud Season in England and Ireland

Last week we paid a closer attention to the last breeding season in North America as captured in Reports of Mares Bred. Today we will look at the season in England and in Ireland through the data published by Weatherbys in The Return of Mares.

Camelot, busiest 1st season stallion, photo Coolmore

Similar as in the United States, England and Ireland saw the growth of mares bred, namely Ireland witnesses a dynamic recovery from the deep drop during the crisis (see the article Thoroughbred Breeding Recovering After Crisis). The results of the sales confirm the growing optimism at global markets as the prices grew again this year which has a positive impact on the activity of breeders. This is, however, accompanied by the concentration and narrowing of the offer of stallions – while the number of mares bred grew, the number of active stallions keeps decreasing. Actually, it is no wonder when you look at high numbers of mares covered by stallions who are either NH or dual purpose. Among them one cannot leave unnoticed the continued growth of demand for Monsun’s sons. The Deutschland Preis (Gr.1) winner Getaway was mostly demand. The yet untested sire had his first crop of two-year-olds on the racecourse today, other Monsun’s sons Shirocco and Arcadio placed third and fourth by the number of mares covered. Most of the remaining places were taken by the sires of the Sadler’s Wells line, headed by the equally untested sons of Galileo – the winner of the Queen’s Vase and second in the St. Leger Mahler who had his first four-year-olds and the debuting Imperial Monarch.

The most active NH/Dual purpose stallions in the UK and Ireland 2014

stallion (sire) mares 2014 mares 2013
Getaway (Monsun) 295 230
Mahler (Galileo) 278 202
Shirocco (Monsun) 274 94
Arcadio (Monsun) 262 266
Imperial Monarch (Galileo) 261 -
Yeats (Sadler's Wells) 255 227
Fame and Glory (Montjeu) 254 208
Milan (Sadler's Wells) 235 198
Stowaway (Slip Anchor) 228 228
Jeremy (Danehill Dancer) 215 227
Oscar (Sadler's Wells) 213 181
Scorpion (Montjeu) 209 173

The most active flat stallions in 2014 in the UK and Ireland

stallion (sire) mares 2014 mares 2013
Kodiac (Danehill) 234 158
Mastercraftsman (Danehill Dancer) 221 172
Camelot (Montjeu) 195 -
Footstepsinthesand (Giant's Causeway) 184 86
Galileo (Sadler's Wells) 179 190
Thewayyouare (Kingmambo) 174 34
Declaration of War (War Front) 172 -
Champs Elysees (Danehill) 169 49
Casamento (Shamardal) 166 157
Dawn Approach (New Approach) 166 -
Arakan (Nureyev) 165 121
Shamardal (Giant's Causeway) 165 133
Invincible Spirit (Green Desert) 164 172
Society Rock (Rock of Gibraltar) 163 -
Big Bad Bob (Bob Back) 161 99
Iffraaj (Zafonic) 161 69
Dubawi (Dubai Millennium) 160 136
Dark Angel (Acclamation) 159 188
Dandy Man (Mozart) 158 133
Poet's Voice (Dubawi) 153 132
Teofilo (Galileo) 152 146
Zoffany (Dansili) 151 99
Nathaniel (Galileo) 148 141
Holy Roman Emperor (Danehill) 146 171
Rip Van Winkle (Galileo) 145 145
Epaulette (Commands) 140 -
Rock of Gibraltar (Danehill) 140 84
Califet (Freedom Cry) 139 -
Intello (Galileo) 139 -
Red Jazz (Johannesburg) 138 -
Bated Breath (Dansili) 134 140
Equiano (Acclamation) 134 118
Frankel (Galileo) 132 131
High Chaparral (Sadler's Wells) 132 115
Havana Gold (Teofilo) 130 -
Most Improved (Lawman) 129 -
Sepoy (Elusive Quality) 129 -
Lethal Force (Dark Angel) 127 -
Zebedee (Invicible Spirit) 127 137
Helmet (Exceed And Excel) 126 115
Fast Company (Danehill Dancer) 122 110
New Approach (Galileo) 122 121
Exceed and Excel (Danehill) 120 131
Sea The Stars (Cape Cross) 120 82

Let us, however, focus on the flat sires. It was mainly thanks to the great results achieved by two-year-olds that Danehill’s son Kodiac, half-brother to the excellent Invincible Spirit, became the most demanded sire, having covered 234 mares. This meant that the fee of the stallion at Tally-Ho Stud, Ireland, went steeply up – next year the fee will be 25,000 euros while this year it was just 10,000. The same applies to the Coolmore-based Mastercraftsman, whose first crop of three-year-olds was a sensation and whose fee will be 40,000 euros next year. The debuting Camelot was much demanded too, who, same as next four stallions with the highest number of mares, is based at Coolmore. The Epsom Derby winner Camelot and the winner of the Juddmonte International, Declaration of War, were the most successful debutantes at stud this year. They were followed by the two-year-old unbeaten champion and the winner of the 2,000 Guineas Dawn Approach, who is based at Kildangan Stud. Together with the winner of the Prix Jean Prat (Gr.1), Havana Gold, based at Tweenhills Farm & Stud, Dawn Approach was the first grandson of the excellent Galileo at stud in England and Ireland. Both were heavily demanded and covered, together, nearly 300 mares. Galileo’s sons and grandsons were much popular – of sixteen sires of the Galileo paternal line and based in England and Ireland, including Galileo himself (in Returns of Mares we will find even Hail, based in Qatar with seven mares registered by Weatherbys), eleven of them covered more than 100 mares, ten even more than 130 mares. These stallions covered this year more that 42% of all broodmares mated to the stallions of the Sadler’s Wells line. This year their ranks were expanded by the debuting Intello who covered 139 mares at Cheveley Park Stud.

Sadler’s Wells is a son of Northern Dancer, whose line has dominated the thoroughbred breeding in the British Isles and there is no other line in Europe – similar to Mr Prospector one in the States – which could compete. What is interesting is to see the development of individual lines that develop in quite a different way that we may have expected a few years ago. This year, for the first time, the line of Northern Dancer’s son Be My Guest was not represented at all in England and Ireland. In his first crop, Be My Guest had classic winners Assert and On the House and he became the champion sire. The influence of Nijinsky is waning too. The last Triple Crown winner and a sire of three Epsom Derby winners, and grandfather of two more, is today represented in England and Ireland exclusively by NH stallions.

On the contrary, the branch established by the two-year-old champion and the winner of the Dewhurst Stakes Try My Best is strengthening. Similarly to the line established by Danzig, the Try My Best line today profiles as a speedy and precocious line and it is these qualities that have won it its present position. This has been much contributed to by Acclamation, whose sons Dark Angel and Equiano were the most frequently used stallions of the Try My Best line, followed by the debuting Lethal Force, the grandson of Acclamation.

Danzig's line is still the strongest branch of the Northern Dancer line and its stallions covered over 6,700 mares against nearly 5,000 mares covered by stallions of the Sadler’s Wells line. The gap is yet more pronounced than these numbers since not a few active sires of the Sadler’s Wells line are NH or dual purpose, while among those of the Danzig line the number of such sires is considerably lower. The influence of the Danehill stallions is – judged by the number of mares – two-fold of the Green Desert stallions. The current boom of the sons of Invincible Spirit, whose best son Kingman is going to launch his stud career next year at Banstead Manor Stud, could contribute to diminishing this gap between Danehill and Green Desert.

The Storm Bird line, or rather that of his son Storm Cat, is represented, with the exception of Red Jazz, by sons and grandsons of Giant’s Causeway, among whom the Coolmore-based Footstepsinthesand was most popular this year, followed by Casamento and Shamardal. The Nureyev line was most helped by Arakan.

Mr Prospector is the strongest non-Northern Dancer line in Europe and its future is likely to be closely associated with Dubawi if he can be as successful as sire of sires as he is successful as a sire. The most active of this line this year, however, was the Coolmore-based Thewayyouare, who saw a great surge of demand, followed by Iffraaj, who, too, was more demanded than last year.

The Blandford line was discussed above – its influence is limited to NH and is driven by the demand of NH breeders for Monsun’s sons. The other lines are dwindling. Same as in North America, we can see strengthening of the most dominant lines and narrowing of the spectrum in England and Ireland where, however, the scale itself is considerably narrower. This can be seen in the figure no. 3 where you will see all the lines of active stallions at stud (or imported mares covered by foreign sires), while we could not include all the lines in North America into a single table last week. Never Bend and Mill Reef are unlikely to be saved by Dalakhani and the once strong Hyperion line is declining too, as well as other traditional lines of European breeding, such the Fairway line which was without a single representative among the active stallions this year. On the other hand we see further branching out of the Northern Dancer line which now includes a wide spectrum of horses from precocious sprinters to late stayers and whose individual branches can fulfil the roles once performed by the traditional, now extinguished lines.

The sire lines by the number of mares covered

sireline stallions mares covered
Northern Dancer            189 14683
  of which Danzig 85 6718
  Sadler's Wells 53 4958
  Try My Best 11 928
  Storm Bird 10 891
  Nureyev 14 789
  Nijinsky 8 160
  Night Shift 2 79
  Lyphard 3 123
  Unfuwain 2 36
Mr Prospector            27 1805
Blandford            9 1193
Never Bend            11 559
Roberto             7 308
Ribot             2 296
Sharpen Up            12 201
In Reality             4 153
Hail to Reason             3 153
Hyperion             3 138
Djebel             7 138
Blushing Groom             4 71
Seattle Slew             1 65
Grey Sovereign             2 21
Bold Ruler             1 8
Raise a Native             1 5
Princequillo             1 2
Teddy             1 1

Miloslav Vlček

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