FIRST RUNNERS IN 2023
Speed, stamina and blue blood abound as the freshman sires of 2023
will have have their credentials tested
Words: Laura Joy
Each season, one of the most intriguing undertones involves studying the new first-season sires in hope of predicting who will strike gold. Every ordinary maiden or novice with a contender carries an extra level of intrigue and Royal Ascot representatives are imperative for a positive perception ahead of the yearling sales. Each year a new host of high-class colts retire to the stallion shed and this year is no different. Here’s a snapshot of what to expect.
From the stallion masters who took Group 3-placed Kodiac and turned him into a €65,000 sire, breeders have learned that trust in Tally-Ho Stud is rarely misplaced. Living at the home to two former champion first-crop sires in Mehmas and Cotai Glory, INNS OF COURT (Invincible Spirit) yearlings have been received in a manner which suggests many believe he will follow suit. From 98 yearlings offered, 88 have found new homes. Conceived off a €7,500 fee, a yearling average of €42,700 to date is healthy without breaking records. Though Inns Of Court is by excellent source of speed and precocity Invincible Spirit, he only made one start at two, albeit a winning one. Like many sprinters, he showed more speed as he matured but his race record is admirably versatile.
Winning a seven-furlong Group 3 and just a short head away from victory in the Group 1 Prix Jacques le Marois over a mile, Inns Of Court successfully dropped back to six at four and five at five. His pedigree lends encouragement for his progeny over a mile too, his dam being a half-sister to Japanese St Leger winner Fierement (Deep Impact). The only concern is the unforgiving market’s obsession with precocity, his profile suggesting his progeny will improve from two to three and beyond.
LAND FORCE (No Nay Never) is by the juvenile sire of the season and made all bar one of his nine starts at two. The Group 2 Richmond Stakes winner was winning by May of his juvenile season having made a promising debut in April to finish third. His pedigree received a major Group 1 boost following Auguste Rodin’s devastating Vertem Futurity Stakes win. Land Force showed consistency, precocity and speed and he only disappointed once as a 2YO, when tried beyond six furlongs in the Group 1 National Stakes. His debut crop was extremely well received as foals returning a €23,700 average from 30 sold (34 offered). Bred off a £6,500 fee, his yearlings maintained momentum with 68 selling (74 offered) for an average of €38,651. There is very little No Nay Never can do wrong at the moment and Land Force could be the latest feather in his cap.
At the more expensive end of the scale, another son of No Nay Never has been posting eye-catching sales results consistently. TEN SOVEREIGNS crowned an unbeaten juvenile campaign with success in the G1 Middle Park and held his Group 1 form at three when beating his elders in the July Cup. Raw speed and class, traits we have come to associate with his sire, were plentiful on the track and whispers suggest he has passed them onto his progeny. You have to go back to his third dam to find another Group 1 winner but his own achievements more than make up for that. Expect sharp and speedy juveniles and from 214 mares covered and a yearling average of €75,241, he will undoubtedly be near the top of the market to emulate his sire and take champion first-season honours.
No Nay Never and Kingman have come up against each other before in the race to champion first-crop sire and Kingman might yet avenge his age-old rival if his son CALYX can put it up to his barnmate. Brief but brilliant aptly sums up the Juddmonte colt’s racing career which consisted of only four starts and spanned just ten and fifteen days in each respective season. His fleeting moments on the racecourse were reminiscent of his sire Kingman and grandsire Invincible Spirit’s speed, and his deep Juddmonte pedigree is not to be sniffed at. His dam Helleborine was successful at Group 3 level and second to Misty For Me in the Group 1 Prix Marcel Boussac over a mile at two. 163 mares visited his adopted home of Coolmore in his first season for €12,500 returning a yearling sales average of €57,144. His pedigree received a further boost as his dam’s full-sister Needleleaf produced champion two-year-old Native Trail who took the Irish 2000 Guineas. Pedigree and speed are in abundance, but does his concise career on the track concern? Calyx’s own great-great-grandsire, breed shaper Danzig raced just three times, so ‘no’ is the likely answer.
Another descendant of Danzig, ADVERTISE was second to Calyx in the Coventry Stakes, Too Darn Hot in the Dewhurst, Ten Sovereigns in the July Cup and down the field in Magna Grecia’s 2000 Guineas. That said, the Showcasing dynasty can hardly get any hotter. From his Group 1-winning juvenile Belbek scoring on Arc day to his son Tasleet’s impressive first crop led by Coventry winner Bradsell, the prospect of Showcasing’s first Group 1-winning son to have runners enthrals. Advertise’s Group 1 haul of three includes the stallion-making Phoenix Stakes at The Curragh. A yearling average of €73,722 for 60 sold is led by a colt out of Group 3 Nell Gwyn runner-up Squash (Pastoral Pursuits), who brought the hammer down at 500,000gns to Richard Knight Bloodstock.
Showcasing is doubly represented among freshmen sires and Group 2-winning SOLDIER’S CALL, placed in four Group 1s, achieved a strikingly similar standard to his sire. Admirably consistent, Ballyhane Stud’s Soldier’s Call was as precocious as he was fast, and his progeny will be expected to play their hand early.
SOLDIER’S CALL (Ballyhane)
Also standing in Ireland, at Yeomanstown Stud, is INVINCIBLE ARMY whose first yearlings were well received by the breeze-up contingent. An opening fee of €10,000 returned a healthy yearling average of €53,000 from 74 offered and 67 sold has rewarded breeders who put their faith in the Group 2-winning son of Invincible Spirit. Like most sprinters, Invincible Army improved with time and was at his best as a four-year-old. He contested five group races as a juvenile, winning one and placing in the others. The combination of Invincible Spirit and his consistent, progressive race record were clearly enough to entice breeders. Dam Rajeem (Diktat) was a classy individual herself and equally progressive. A listed-winning juvenile, she improved at three to win the Group 1 Falmouth Stakes. Whilst his progeny will be expected to hit the ground running, it might prove prudent to reserve absolute judgement until we see an older crop race on.
Another sprinter who epitomises the need to give them time to strengthen and develop is BLUE POINT. A son of much-missed Shamardal, he proved he had inherited his sire’s tenacious constitution in 20 starts across four seasons. Group 1-placed at two, he progressed through each season with his busy career culminating in a rare Group 1 Royal Ascot sprint double. Receiving just shy of 200 mares in his first season, a fee of €45,000 returned an average of €112,989 from 76 sold. Shamardal was capable of siring high class progeny over a variety of trips, but sprinters were less common Whilst Blue Point should have enough representatives on the track to keep him in the headlines, there’s every reason to believe they will improve from two to three and beyond. There is very little stamina in Blue Point’s pedigree and his dam Scarlett Rose is by renowned speed influence Royal Applause.
One time ante-post 2000 Guineas favourite TOO DARN HOT will certainly have one eye on the Classics, but not before his progeny aim to emulate his own juvenile achievements. The champion two-year-old of 2018 arguably has one of the best profiles amongst the class of 2023. Though a setback interrupted the early part of his Classic campaign, he soon got back on track taking the Prix Jean Prat and Sussex Stakes in the latter part of the season. Not only that, Too Darn Hot is by Dubawi, whose sons are rapidly becoming a rare commodity. From Night Of Thunder to New Bay, sons of the champion sire are in demand and Too Darn Hot is no exception. His dam Dar Re Mi was a triple Group 1 winner from a mile and a quarter to a mile and a half. Too Darn Hot has the credentials to mix it with the best at Dalham Hall.
MAGNA GRECIA (Invincible Spirit) was faultless on the first Saturday in May. Adding the 2000 Guineas to his Group 1 Vertem Futurity Trophy win over PHOENIX OF SPAIN (Lope de Vega) by the narrowest of margins, the pair will go head to head for the third time here with the latter having emerged victorious in the Irish 2000 Guineas. In the ‘qualifying round’, Magna Grecia has emerged on top with a yearling average of €63,266 from 64 sold; the highlight being a 300,000gns colt out of Maria Lee purchased by Manor House Farm. The half-brother to 2000 Guineas winner Poetic Flare (Dawn Approach) should be in action before long. An average of €37,764 for Phoenix Of Spain is not to be sniffed at, amongst the highlights being a 200,00gns half-sister to Grade 2 winner Twilight Gleaming (National Defense) who was signed for by Ben McElroy.
Further down the line, expect Derby winner MASAR (New Approach), Arc winner WALDGEIST (Galileo) and Prix du Jockey Club winner STUDY OF MAN (Deep Impact) to make their presence felt. Whilst they should not be ignored, their progeny are likely to need their three year old season before judgement day. Masar is by a Derby winner out of a Group 2-winning miler Khawlah (Cape Cross). He made his debut in May of his two-year-old season, won the Group 3 Solario Stakes and was third in 2000 Guineas on route to Epsom glory. If that’s not enough to convince, his fourth dam is none other than Urban Sea making him inbred 3x4 to the blue hen herself and related to two of the best stallions of the modern era in Galileo and Sea The Stars.
Waldgeist is a son of Galileo and a Group 1 winner at two. Standing at Ballylinch, who are enjoying a purple patch with their recruits Lope de Vega and New Bay, his dam is a half-brother to St Leger winner Masked Marvel. New Bay’s opening fee of €20,000 is a thing of the past whilst Lope de Vega, currently standing for €125,000, began life at €15,000. Waldgeist started bang in between the pair at €17,500 and a glimpse into the future could reveal that represents immense value.
Study Of Man won the Prix du Jockey Club in 2018 and boasts another blue hen as his second dam in Miesque, the dual Classic winner responsible for Kingmambo, East Of The Moon and far too many Group 1-winning descendants to name. He made his sole juvenile start in September and though it was faultless, his profile and pedigree suggest his progeny will need to turn three before we judge them.