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By Chris McGrath

Sires With First 2-Year-Olds in 2018…

This category tends to find itself at a real crossroads. Many will have had fee cuts for their third season, as the usual tide of initial enthusiasm ebbed in advance of a debut at the yearling sales; and now they have actual racehorses, of all things, looming round the corner as they embark on their fourth year.

As a group, however, this intake certainly shared a buoyant ride through their first examinations in the ring–and there will be corresponding optimism about their approaching track auditions.

As a superbly bred Classic miler,

Kingman (GB) (Invincible Spirit {Ire}) (Juddmonte, £55,000) has done more than enough to hold his fee as kingpin of his intake. His yearlings achieved an average of 198,000gns–boosted by a single filly at 1,700,000gns out of the Ballymacoll dispersal at Tattersalls, but maintaining a productive median as well at 113,960gns.

Rather like Gleneagles (Ire) (Galileo {Ire}) in his slipstream,

Australia (GB) (Galileo {Ire}) (Coolmore, €35,000) has been given an early trim– from an opening €50,000–to maintain his position among the many sons of the farm’s colossus competing for his mantle. His yearlings more than paid their way at 126,830gns. As a son of a Derby winner out of an Oaks winner, he might not be expected to make a flying start, but if he matches Camelot (GB) (Montjeu {Ire}) last year, he’ll be doing just fine. Remember he was neck and neck with Kingman in the Guineas–behind the startling intrusion of Night Of Thunder (Ire) (Dubawi {Ire})–before moving up in trip.

Conversely the farm has been able to give

No Nay Never (Scat Daddy) (Coolmore, €25,000) a hike from €17,500 after he produced some dazzling multipliers at the sales. His first yearling under the hammer raised €480,000 at Deauville in August and another colt brought double that, at 850,000gns, at Tattersalls Book 1. He ended with an average nearing six figures and, if the median clearly couldn’t stretch that far, this very fast juvenile from a line of Group 1 juvenile sires looks the man to beat in the freshmen’s championship.

The next in the averages had nothing like so obvious a commercial profile, so deserves all the more credit; while we’ll also take a look at a couple of fast-and-early options:

SEA THE MOON (Ger) (Sea The Stars {Ire}) (Lanwades, £15,000)

As an 11-length German Derby winner out of a Monsun (Ger) sister to three other German Classic winners, Sea The Moon mustered a Timeform rating of 127 in just five starts (derailed by injury after his sole defeat). But even that kind of merit tends to count against sires who won’t win you a Brocklesby, so his sale returns represent a remarkable measure of the way he stamped some knockout yearlings.

With 10 of them raising €100,000 or more, he achieved some unexpected dividends for those who had recognised the generic appeal of German blood–arguably the best value in Europe for anyone actually trying to breed a racehorse, as opposed to a show pony at the sales–and the specific lustre of this graduate from the first crop of a sire soaring beyond the reach of most breeders. Sea The Stars himself, of course, traces to another outstanding German family: that of Urban Sea’s dam Allegretta (GB) (Lombard {Ger}).

Sea The Moon’s arrival in Newmarket had given imaginative breeders in the European mainstream access to a sire who might otherwise have been confined to the quality-but-not-quantity shared by so many underrated German sires. And the market showed that it can sometimes see past the witless commercial stampedes, stretching to a 525,000gns colt at Tattersalls Book 1.

He has managed to maintain three-figure books to follow his first one through and surely represents value pegged at the same fee. After all, foals conceived this spring will reach the yearling sales with two crops having been able to reach full bloom as 3- and 4-year-olds. So it’s all looking pretty sustainable, even as it stands: a new stallion with every right to sire a Classic horse, standing for 15 grand, and paying his way at the sales. Nowadays that’s not so much rare as nearly unique.

WAR COMMAND (War Front) (Coolmore, €8,000)

There seems to have been a pressing of the panic button here–not by the farm, but by breeders. Having covered 152 mares in 2016, War Command plummeted to 59 last year, and has received a corresponding fee cut after opening at €15,000. The culprit, however, might not be War Command himself, but Air Force Blue (War Front). For War Command’s first crop of weanlings went on the market straight after Air Force Blue’s similar failure to train on, at three, prompted many Europeans into some pretty wild extrapolations about their sire.

The silly thing is that had both horses been retired straight after winning the Dewhurst, two things would have happened. People like me would have written sanctimonious commentaries on an appalling trend; and each would have been oversubscribed at €30,000 by breeders who couldn’t care less what kind of 3-year-olds they might have made. As such, you can’t blame certain farms for taking the bird in the hand with a precocious horse, rather than risk him not training on.

Breeders who can think for themselves, however, will perhaps look at the contrasting example of the super-tough Roly Poly (War Front) here, or durable and classy horses like Summer Front (War Front) in the U.S., and acknowledge that there might be umpteen different reasons for a given son of the same sire to appear to have drained the tank by excelling at two.

Whatever accounted for War Command’s insipid second season, it seems odd that commercial breeders, notoriously obsessed with speed and precocity, should be allowing a six-length Coventry winner (who later added that Dewhurst) to slip to eight grand before he has even had a single breezer.

His dam, an E.P. Taylor S. winner by a top broodmare sire in Red Ransom, is out of a half-sister to Silver Hawk, herself out of a Jacques Le Marois winner. If you look, in fact, there’s a lovely spread of old school blood across War Command’s deeper pedigree. You’d like to think a $250,000 sire might even be in his favour too, but people get funny ideas.

If he seems up against it for now, his first yearlings did double the average achieved by his first foals, and included eight at €100,000 or more. And a bunch of juvenile winners for War Command could be no surprise whatsoever. By the time he has had three summers’ worth of fast and early types, those who keep the faith this spring could find themselves feeling pretty smug.

GARSWOOD (GB) (Dutch Art {GB}) (Cheveley Park, £4,000) &

COACH HOUSE (Oasis Dream) (Bucklands Farm & Stud, £3,000)

Here’s a pair with very different backgrounds who have both been priced, not to squeeze every last penny out of breeders, but to give them a proper chance of turning some kind of profit.

Garswood comes from the premier British wellspring of commercial speed, a black-type winner in three consecutive years who rounded off his career with a Group 1 success in the Prix Maurice de Gheest. He has a dyed-in-the-wool Cheveley Park background, out of a Kyllachy (GB) half-sister to Coronation S. winner Infallible (GB). His first yearlings were in comforting demand with some real pragmatists (at up to 140,000gns) and they will be reliably putting him on the map this summer. It’s interesting to note that his book expanded from 57 to 88 last year, a good reflection on his first weanlings.

Coach House, meanwhile, was given an impressively businesslike start by a much smaller British outfit, a debut book of 110 mares giving him every chance of producing a few sharp types to see him through smaller ones since.

On the track, Coach House could not match the durability of Garswood, derailed by injury after five starts, but he was terribly precocious: up and running for Ballydoyle by the first week of April, a six-length maiden winner next time, and sent off favourite for the Norfolk after following up in a listed race. He ran into no less a creature than No Nay Never (Scat Daddy) at Ascot, but broke the previous juvenile course record in chasing him home.

His dam won the G3 Ballyogan S. and was twice on the podium in Group 1 sprints, while her bottom line spreads into a series of unreconstructed speed influences, from Thatching (Ire) to Abernant (GB).

Naturally, not every mare bred at this level is going to produce a statue, but his yearlings achieved a high clearance rate and one of them brought 125,000gns from Roger Varian out of Tattersalls Book 2.

Even those of us dismayed by the overloading of this end of the market, then, must acknowledge that it can still provide value.

Sires With First 3-Year-Olds in 2018…

Pretty perky stuff from this crew with their first runners last year, albeit the most prolific of them had sadly already been lost to Tally-Ho in Society Rock (Ire) (Rock Of Gibraltar {Ire}).

The biggest winner from a flying start is

Dabirsim (Fr) (Hat Trick {Jpn}) (Haras De Grandcamp, €30,000), whose fee has more than trebled from €9,000. A top juvenile himself, he offered imaginative Europeans something different as a grandson of Sunday Silence and they reaped the dividends with his first juveniles–above all Mr. Marnane, of course, with Different League (Fr). Even as it was, Dabirsim was already the busiest sire in France last year and he has obviously left the branch line for the intercity now.

His second crop of yearlings averaged second only to

Camelot (GB) (Montjeu {Ire}) (Coolmore, €30,000) in their intake. As such a beautiful and accomplished horse, Camelot always looked a good bet to salvage his magnificent sire from treatment–in Britain and Ireland, at any rate–as primarily a National Hunt influence.

His numbers have held up across the board: mustering 179 mares even in his fourth season, after maintaining an average of 200 through his previous three; 20 juvenile winners, five impacting at stakes level, very auspicious in stock seemingly guaranteed to progress; and, as noted, heading the yearling averages with his second crop. As such, a €5,000 trim to his fee has a thoroughly charitable look.

Havana Gold (Ire) (Teofilo {Ire}) (Tweenhills, £15,000), in contrast, has doubled his fee–fair enough, off such a low base–after making an instant impression in both quantity and quality, two of his 23 winners scoring at group level.

We’ll start our browse for residual value elsewhere–always tricky, in the transition to sophomore sire–with the only other freshman to match that achievement in Europe:

RELIABLE MAN (GB) (Dalakhani {Ire}) (Haras Du Thenney, €7,000)

Remarkably, Reliable Man’s two GSW emerged from just 20 starters–compared with 66 for Havana Gold. In fact, they were his only two winners of any kind, albeit he has meanwhile also been doing very well with his first Southern Hemisphere crop.

That duly earned him a transfer from Germany, but the fee remains most enticing for a Prix du Jockey-Club winner (emulating sire and grandsire, though unraced until that April) who looked better than ever in Australia as a 5-year-old.

Having gone down by less than two lengths to champion Pierro (Aus) (Lonhro {Aus}) on his first start off the plane, when merely warming up over just 7 1/2f, sadly he broke down in the very act of shocking It’s A Dundeel (NZ) (High Chaparral {Ire}) in the G1 Queen Elizabeth S.

But he has meanwhile consolidated that brief but dazzling impression with a pair of Group 1-placed runners sired at Westbury Stud in New Zealand. His first German crop, meanwhile, was headed by Erasmus (Ger), who looked clearly the best colt on the domestic scene when running away with the G3 Preis des Winterfavoriten by eight lengths; and Narella (Ire), whose own Group 3 success gave her an equivalent status among the local fillies.

A grandson of the 1978 Oaks winner Fair Salinia (Ire), Reliable Man is bred to be every bit as classy as he looks in the flesh. It’s sad that his sire did not get the respect he deserved before his premature retirement; sad, too, that perhaps his best son first had to seek out more imaginative racing cultures in Germany and New Zealand.

But Reliable Man has certainly seized his limited opportunities and now, perhaps, people will remember the flair that won him a stallion-making Classic. At the fee, this is one seriously intriguing prospect.

PEDRO THE GREAT (Henrythenavigator) (Haras de la Haie Neuve, €6,000) &

FARHH (GB) (Pivotal {GB}) (Dalham Hall, £10,000)

These represent a David and a Goliath among European studs but otherwise have plenty in common: a debut crop of just 34 and 33 respectively, producing two black-type winners apiece from the seven to have won so far; leading to a monster clearance rate of their second crops at the yearling sales, at an average in healthy multiples of the covers involved.

Both have duly earned a small hike, from €3,000 and £8,000, but have hopefully done enough to ride things out if their next crops struggle to match their overture.

Farhh, for instance, has only entertained 72 partners over his last two seasons. But his first 3-year-olds should certainly build on the foundations they laid in 2017: his dam, a dual Group 1 winner at 12f by Lando (Ger), is out of a half-sister (by Slip Anchor (GB)!) to the dam of Fame And Glory (GB) (Montjeu {Ire}). As a horse who himself did so well in maturity, certainly, you wouldn’t necessarily be expecting him to produce a G3 Acomb winner at the first attempt in the unbeaten Wells Farhh Go (Ire).

As a 5-year-old Farhh managed just two starts, bookending the season, but he won the Lockinge by four lengths in the spring and then beat Cirrus Des Aigles (Fr) (Even Top {Ire}) in the Champion S., just like Frankel (GB) the previous year. He’s earning his stripes and looks a solid bet for serial promotions.

Pedro The Great, for his part, is a half-brother to Guineas winner Footstepsinthesand (GB); his standout performance in a career restricted to just five juvenile starts was a surprise win in the G1 Phoenix S. after his stablemate (and the hot favourite in a field of just six) slipped up. On the face of it, not the most substantial foundation–but he’s giving himself a surprising chance, and you have to admire it when a young sire does it that way round.

Sires With First 4-Year-Olds in 2018…

Even a European champion from the first crop of the rival he famously beat on their debut could not steal the show from

Frankel (GB) (Galileo {Ire}) (Banstead Manor, £175,000), whose indices are so wildly off the charts that he is threatening to become still more dominant in his second career than he was in his first.

You’ll now find as many people prepared to quibble with a fee hike from £125,000, as to confess that they sneered at Frankel’s first foals. These caused a diminution in both quality and quantity among the book of just 114 mares in 2015, but he will doubtless ride out that bump until reaching the crop conceived from 195 mares last year.

Certainly these are exciting times for Juddmonte, either side of the ocean. One who started alongside Frankel is

Bated Breath (GB) (Dansili {GB}) (Banstead Manor, £10,000), who’s Juddmonte top and bottom and earned a squeeze up from £8,000 after G2 Railway S. winner and Group 1 runner-up Beckford led seven black-type operators in 2017. His third crop duly made third in the European sales averages.

It was, of course, the year of the sophomore both in Europe and the U.S., where two legs of the Triple Crown were won by graduates of their sires’ debut crop.

In France,

Rajsaman (Fr) (Linamix {Fr}) (Haras de Montfort & Preaux, €8,000) has been allowed to remain at an unchanged fee despite producing a dual Classic winner in Brametot (Fr). Okay, he has had a fairly quiet couple of years at the sales–but that’s an acceptable risk when you load numbers behind a young sire. And people will surely now be taking a second look at one of the all-time Group 3 races, when Rajsaman beat Siyouni (Fr) (Pivotal {GB}) and Lope De Vega (Ire) (Shamardal) in the Prix de Fontainebleau of 2010. He did that as a pacemaker, but his overall CV left no doubt as to his authentic Group 1 calibre, even if he never actually nailed an elite prize; and he does have a smart pedigree, too, quite apart from keeping the flame alive for a venerable sire.

Poor old

Excelebration (Ire) (Exceed And Excel {Aus}) (Coolmore, €8,000) has actually taken another fee cut–from €10,000, his fifth in a row–despite a first-crop standout of his own in Barney Roy (GB). Yet only one or two of the intake meaningfully surpassed his winners-to-runners clip in 2017, and only three his black-type horses. This group included one who missed a Group 1 podium in the Middle Park by a head, so he’s no one-trick pony.

One that deserves a mention, for the little good it may do him, is

Tai Chi (Ger) (High Chaparral {Ire}) (Gestut Ohlerweiherhof, €4,500). He may be hard to reach, for breeders operating at that level outside Germany; and his sample may seem too small to be reliable, statistically. But eight winners from 14 starters in 2017, out of just 32 named foals in two crops, included two at black-type level (plus two others placed).

Anyway here are a couple of more familiar names who seem to represent value–one more obvious than the other, but with no apologies for that:

NATHANIEL (Ire) (Galileo {Ire}) (Newsells Park, £20,000)

A tweak back up from £17,500, to the fee he stood at for his first four years, is apparently all Nathaniel deserves after producing a filly as imperious as Enable (GB) from his very first crop. That’s how perverse are the values of the commercial market. But for those labouring under the quaint misapprehension that thoroughbreds are bred to gallop, rather than merely walk round a sales ring, that also makes him serious value.

Those who care, already know all they need to: that Nathaniel is just one of three Group 1 winners out of his dam; and that he thrived with maturity and middle distances while famously getting closer to Frankel, first time out over a mile, than did any other horse subsequently.

So dominant was Enable, however, that perhaps not everyone realises the breadth of Nathaniel’s achievement in 2017. He had a dozen black-type operators, and seven at group level, far exceeding every other sire in the intake bar Frankel.

Yet while he was again only surpassed by his old nemesis–albeit by a yawning margin–in the averages achieved by third crop yearlings, the unbelievable fact is that his median was virtually unchanged from that registered by his previous crop.

You might not think that’s crazy, but whatever works for you, pal. Enjoy your trips to Brighton and Redcar during Ascot week.

RIO DE LA PLATA (Rahy) (Haras du Logis, €5,000)

One thing Nathaniel did nail before launching his first runners was the size of his book, which dipped below three figures for the first time only last year. Rio De La Plata, in contrast, mustered just 78 named foals from his first two crops.

Yet of the 46 who started a race in 2017, 19 were winners–three at black-type level. Of course, that’s not going to win over the kind of people who run away screaming from a South American family, even one saturated with local Group 1 success. Never mind most of those won’t have got past a Blushing Groom (Fr) top line, which offers precisely the kind of variegation in such desperately short supply in Europe these days.

Nor, come to that, will commercial breeders especially embrace Rio De La Plata’s track record–which speaks of far too much hardiness and racing character to be of interest, even if he did win the G1 Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere at two. (When he also won a maiden by five at the July Meeting, the G2 Vintage S. at Goodwood, and was foiled only by New Approach in the G1 National S.)

Classic-placed, he was still winning Group 1s at five when also collared on the line in the Moulin with the following nobodies immediately behind: Siyouni (Fr) (Pivotal {GB}), Paco Boy (Ire) (Desert Style {Ire}), Lope De Vega (Ire) (Shamardal). At six, he was again runner-up in the Moulin, to Excelebration (Ire) (Exceed And Excel {Aus}).

As things turned out, the market liked his first yearlings and he was suddenly sent 116 mares in 2016. Last year, ludicrously, new fads saw him slump to 37. I guess he was always up against it, not having gone to stud until he was eight. Because who, in this day and age, wants to know a juvenile G1 winner with top-class mile form?

And the Judges Say…

OLIVER ST LAWRENCE

First of all an easy one. I thought

Muhaarar (GB) (Oasis Dream {GB}) (Nunnery, £30,000) looked under-priced when he went to stud and I think they are to be commended for keeping his book down, too. The third year is a tricky one to be using him, obviously, but his foals achieved an extremely high median and he wouldn’t seem a bad bet at 30 grand as a champion sprinter with that pedigree.

 I’d say

Mastercraftsman (Ire) (Danehill Dancer {Ire}) (Coolmore, €25,000) is now very good value, if not necessarily to produce a sales horse then particularly for an owner-breeder. His first crop at €35,000 are now 3-year-olds, and he’s got a €40,000 crop of 2-year-olds coming through.

And, for a cheap one,

Poet’s Voice (GB) (Dubawi {Ire}) (Dalham Hall, £6,000). I wouldn’t have given him the time of day a year ago, but I’ve booked a few nominations for clients this time round after he had a stack of 2-year-old winners and Group horses.

In Wednesday’s edition, look for European Value Sires: Part III-Established Sires. Click to go to European Value Sires Part I. For Chris McGrath’s three part American Where’s the Value series, visit: Part I, Part II, and Part III.

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Source : http://www.thoroughbreddailynews.com/euro-value-sires-part-ii-starting-up-on-the-track/

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