Crop to The Top
John Boyce lays out the stats and figures of the stallions whose yearling averages are making moves
There are a multitude of factors at play that can cause a stallion’s yearling average to rise or fall from one year to the next. But there is nothing like racecourse success to change a buyer’s perceptions of a stallion. But there are other factors that can cause a stallion’s sales results to fluctuate, such as an increased or decrease in the quality of his mares, or even how many of a stallion’s best yearlings are brought to sale. This is especially true of elite stallions, who typically see only a fraction of their stock put up for auction.
It is interesting to note that there were 109 stallions with at least ten yearlings sold in both 2020 and 2021. Of these, only 54 saw their 2021 average prices improve on what they had achieved a year earlier. That may be a surprise to most of us given that the 2021 yearling market was buoyant and that 2020 demand for yearlings everywhere was somewhat curtailed due to the effects of the Covid pandemic.
It was Coolmore’s Camelot, with over 35 yearlings sold in both years, who made the biggest gains in 2021, posting an average price of £170k in 2021, compared to £84k the previous year. That’s a 103% increase. And while his eventual G1 Doncaster Futurity winner Luxembourg had already announced himself as a potential top-notcher in the G2 Beresford Stakes at the end of September, it cannot have been this alone that sent buyers after his stock. His other G1 winners last year were Sir Dragonet in Australia and Santa Barbara in the US, neither of which would cause such a seismic shift in his yearling prices. No, we have to go further back for the real reason. His 2021 yearling crop was produced from a better set of mares than is 2020 yearlings were as you might expect given he stood at his highest fee to that point in his career. It is worth noting though that his 2020 yearlings are not by any means his best ever bred. That distinction goes to his first crop, which featured the likes of Latrobe, Athena and Hunting Horn. It is the performances of this group of horses as three-year-olds in 2018 that prompted a much-improved book of mares the following spring and hence a big mark-up in yearling prices in 2021.
It was a very similar case with the second biggest improver on our list. Camelot’s stud companion No Nay Never. His average climbed from £105k in 2020 to £184k last year, brought about by a huge vote of confidence created by the success of his first two-year-olds rather than his more immediate racecourse success, although a second G1 winner in the shape of the admirable Alcohol Free can’t have hurt. Retired at a fee of €20,000, No Nay Never’s fee climbed to an eye-watering €100,000 in 2019 after he’d sired no fewer than seven first-crop juvenile Stakes winners, headed by the impressive G1 Middle Park winner Ten Sovereigns. And breeders got right behind him, sending him 170 mares, including 58 elite mares – nearly as many as he covered in all his first four years at stud. Incidentally, he has 93 elite mares among his 2020 book, so we can expect some fireworks from the son of Scat Daddy over the next few years.
Some of you will be surprised to see Ardad rank so highly on our list of improvers by raw price, given that he started out at such a low fee. In the case of this Overbury-based son of Kodiac, his average price increase is purely down to what happened on the racecourse in the weeks and days leading to the 2021 yearling sales. A rise from £15k to £55k was all the more impressive considering that it was not – as in the case of Camelot and No Nay Never – on the back of better mares. The 2021 Ardad yearlings are from his second crop, which is substantially inferior in quality to his first set of mares that produced his G1 Prix Morny and Middle Park hero Perfect Power and G3 heroine Eve Lodge. That said, that day will come for Ardad as he has covered 155 mares in 2021 and is full at his new fee of £12,500 for 2022. Not surprisingly, Ardad produced the best percentage mark-up in average yearling price – a whopping 251%.
The penultimate French yearling crop of Wootton Bassett came to sale in 2021. Produced from a fee of €40,000, it contained 81% profitable yearlings, which compared very favourably with the 85% among his 2020 yearlings produced from a €20,000 fee. So, a €20k fee hike moved his average up by £38k – excellent results for the son of Iffraaj. He has another €40k crop in the pipeline and then it’s on to the crop from his first year at Coolmore, when his fee rose to €100,000. But there will be far better prospects from that crop, as his book contained a record 137 elite mares compared to the 51 for his last group of French mares. Tally-Ho’s Mehmas reaped the rewards of not only an excellent first crop of two-year-olds, but also a second crop than contained four more Group winners, including the Timeform 112-rated Lusail. Truth be told, his second crop of foals were from mares not too far behind the quality of his first, but it was still a surprise to see his yearling average go from £49k to £80k in the space of 12 months. His third and fourth crops didn’t hold up so well, so there may be a quieter than usual time in the offing for the son of Acclamation.