Winners & Losers
It isn’t all about the elite stallions when it comes to the breeder getting a return
Words: John Boyce
Tattersalls in October is the place all commercial breeders obtain clues about how to plan future investment strategies. And if this year’s results are anything to go by the vast majority will be feeling confident about their immediate future, despite the much gloomier forecasts for most economies in the world outside the bloodstock bubble.
The rising market didn’t protect every stallion. This study looks at the 132 European stallions with ten or more yearlings sold at the main yearling auctions this year. To get a more realistic sense of how each stallion was received by the market, I have added a £20,000 upkeep charge to the advertised conception fee for each of their yearlings, which serves a useful purpose in getting a clearer picture of trading conditions.
Before delving into individual stallions, it is always worth providing some context and the most important number to know is that only 41% or 1,845 of the 4,448 yearlings by this cohort of stallions made enough money to cover their sire’s advertised fee, plus a £20,000 keep charge. And that means that only 52% of the 132 sires covered here came out with an overall average profit.
Stallions priced from £50,000 upwards
It was no surprise to see Dubawi and Frankel as the two sires with the highest average prices. Both continued to supply top-class racehorses during 2022, with Dubawi leading the way with 35 European stakes winners ahead of Frankel on 23. Group 1 winners Coroebus, Modern Games, Eldar Eldarov, Naval Crown and Rebel’s Romance represented Dubawi, while Frankel’s winners at the top level included Alpinista, Inspiral, Nashwa, Westover and Onesto, plus one for the future in Chaldean. Both sires are well clear of the pack as their respective stakes-winner strike rates of 16.8% and 16.5% would suggest.
Kingman, Siyouni and Lope de Vega were the only other sires in this £50,000-plus fee group to make six-figure profits. The Kingman yearlings were his second crop to come to sale following the exciting picture he presented to breeders with his first, with horses like Group 1 Fillies’ Mile heroine Commissioning, Group 2 Gimcrack winner Noble Style and Group 3 scorer Nostrum leading the way.
Siyouni, meanwhile, has also hit a very high note just at the right time, siring the exciting Group 1 Moyglare Stud Stakes winner Tahiyra, who looks sure to be crowned champion two-year-old filly.
No one can ever doubt the endeavor of Ballylinch’s Lope de Vega, who has sired 17 European stakes winners this term, a tally that makes him fourth best overall. His best is the dual Group 1 scorer Dreamloper, who fits her sire’s profile very well in that the typical Lope de Vega has a very high chance of becoming a Stakes winner (10.6% from runners), if not a truly top-class racehorse. Nine years into his career, Lope de Vega is still waiting for a northern hemisphere runner good enough to earn a 130-plus mark for Timeform. Remarkably, his highest rated so far is still his first-crop star Belardo.
As things now stand there is no sire with more than No Nay Never’s six group-winning youngsters in 2022, yet still his 2020 fee of €175,000 made it tricky for those commercial breeders who used him. By my reckoning if all the No Nay Nevers came directly to a yearling sale, only 40% would have shown a profit. Ironically, owners of 2022 foals by the Coolmore star – conceived at a lower fee of €125,000 – will be much better placed to reap greater rewards next year.
Other stallions among the elite range that struggled to get most of their yearling into the black include Invincible Spirit, Dark Angel. Kodiac and Showcasing, all sires that produce a type of yearling typically not on the shopping lists of the big powerhouses. The only first-season sire in this upper price bracket was Darley’s Too Darn Hot and they sold well for the most part. He posted the best average of any new sire in 2022.
Stallions priced from £20,000 to £49,999
There cannot be too many disgruntled yearling vendors among those with a Night Of Thunder to sell in 2022. After his outstanding debut crop, Night Of Thunder’s fee was increased to €25,000 from £15,000, still less that the €30,000 he started out at. Little wonder then that the fifth book by the son of Dubawi was oversubscribed and it produced a stellar cast which – by my calculations – features more elite mares that either of his next two €75,000 crops. It was the yearlings from this glamour-laden crop that sold this summer and autumn for an average price more than double the previous year. It is also why 96.6% of his yearlings sold at the main sales this year turned a profit for their vendors.
Other stallions who had enjoyed good fortune recently but whose fees were still relatively modest in 2020 are Wootton Bassett, principally by dint of his move to Coolmore but also because he sired the Group 1 National Stakes winner Al Riffa, and Starspangledbanner, whose State Of Rest defeated Bay Bridge in the Group 1 Prince Of Wales’s Stakes at the Royal meeting. Kildangan’s Blue Point was the leading newcomer in this price range and was one of only six overall to post a six-figure average.
Stallions priced from £10,000 to £19,999
Only Darley’s Farhh was profitable in this cohort, with a £100,000 profit margin, helped by his daughter Fonteyn, an upset winner of the Group 1 Sun Chariot the weekend before the Tattersalls October Sale commenced. That said, it’s hard to argue with an average of £118,868 off a stud fee of just £12,000, or indeed his 8% lifetime stakes winners to runners. Unfortunately for New Bay, the Tattersalls October Sale was done with when the Ballylinch stallion recorded a Group 1 double on British Champions day, but he still acquitted himself well with an average price nearly six times his fee. Sea The Moon is also worthy of mention given that two-thirds of his yearlings showed a profit even after the £20,000 upkeep on top of his £15,000 fee. It is significant that the top four stallions in this price group had a big payday, their top prices exceeding £400,000.
Stallions priced up to £9,999
At the bargain basement, stallions that had stoked the market but were still available at low fees in 2020 came to the fore. Mehmas, Ardad and most recently Havana Grey have certainly done that, so it was no surprise to see them post high numbers of profitable yearlings, all above 80%. Moreover, they are the three to post the best fee multiples of any European stallion with ten or more yearlings sold this year
EUROPEAN SIRE YEARLING PROFITABILITY 2022
(Leading sires by average with 10 or more sold arranged by fee price range)