Forget the Oscars and the Baftas, the winners in 2016 are ...
Martin Stevens dishes out the gongs for the biggest achievers on the track and in the sales ring over the past 12 months
Sire of the year
No contest: Galileo. The decision barely needs explaining, but to recap the Coolmore phenomenon’s extraordinary year . . .
He had 14 individual Group/Grade 1 winners worldwide, including the brilliant filly Minding, who won five, Alice Springs, who won three, and Churchill, Highland Reel, Seventh Heaven and The Gurkha, who each won two. His progeny earnings in Europe this year stand at more than £16 million, almost three times those of his closest pursuer Dubawi.
He managed to sire the first three home in two of the most prestigious contests of the year, when Minding led home Ballydoyle and Alice Springs in the 1,000 Guineas and Found beat Highland Reel and Gold Cup hero Order Of St George in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe.
His profile as a sire of sires continued to grow, with New Approach and Teofilo supplying their own Group 1 winners and his masterpiece Frankel getting off to a flying start with his first runners who included a Grade 1 winner in Japan in Soul Stirring.
He also demonstrated he is a rising force as a broodmare sire, with his daughters producing Classic winners Galileo Gold and La Cressonniere and Group 1-winning two-year-olds Intricately and Rivet.
What a privilege to live in the age of Galileo.
Breakthrough sire of the year
It would have been a brave call to nominate Wootton Bassett as the next big thing in the stallion ranks before his first two-year-olds ran last year, but the scarcely used Haras d’Etreham resident could be just that.
Wootton Bassett was top-class at two, when he won five races culminating in the Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere in which he beat future Classic winner Tin Horse by two and a half lengths. He did not go on at three himself, finishing unplaced in four starts.
The son of Iffraaj did not seem to capture breeders’ imaginations when he was retired to Normandy, and has just 17 foals in each of his first two crops.
However, that first crop yielded the brilliant Almanzor, winner of the Prix du Jockey Club, Irish Champion Stakes and Champion Stakes this year, as well as Listed winner and Group 2 third
Do Re Mi Fa Sol.
His fee for 2017 has been more than trebled to €20,000 from €6,000.
Jumps sire of the year
The late King’s Theatre was crowned champion jumps sire in Britain and Ireland for the fourth time in the 2015-16 season, with a long list of top-class performers headed by two fine chasers in Carlingford Lough and Cue Card. He looks likely to be in the running for a fifth title next year too.
But our award goes to another son of Sadler’s Wells who produces a high concentration of talented jumpers in Kayf Tara. The Overbury Stud stalwart was represented by three Grade 1 winners at the Cheltenham Festival – Thistlecrack in the World Hurdle, Blaklion in the RSA Chase and Ballyandy in the Champion Bumper. That trio, plus other top-level winners Identity Thief and Tea For Two, helped Kayf Tara finish a career-best third in the 2015-16 sire standings.
Kayf Tara could do even better this season, with Thistlecrack and Identity Thief back in action with big wins, North Hill Harvey winning the Greatwood Handicap Hurdle, Carole’s Destrier an admirable second in the Hennessy and Cantlow looking a force to be reckoned with in cross-country chases.
Broodmare of the year
How you pronounce her name might be open to question, but there is no doubting Hveger and her talent as a broodmare.
The Australian-bred daughter of Danehill finished second in the South Australia Oaks and third in the Australasian Oaks before producing Crown Victoria Oaks second Valdemoro to Encosta De Lago in her native country.
She was imported to Ireland by a Coolmore partnership as a mate for Galileo and has clicked brilliantly with the champion sire to produce Highland Reel, winner of the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes and Breeders’ Cup Turf this year, and Idaho, placed in the Derby at Epsom and Curragh and winner of the Great Voltigeur Stakes.
Hveger has an unraced two-year-old filly with Andre Fabre called Cercle De La Vie, a yearling filly and a colt foal, all by Galileo.
Breeder of the year
Nurturing a large blue-chip broodmare band kept specifically to produce Classic winners rather than here-today, gone-tomorrow two-year-olds or sprinters, with occasional judicious purchases of other leading breeders’ stock to invigorate the bloodlines: the strategy continues to pay dividends for the Aga Khan and this year the influential breeder was rewarded with his fifth homebred winner of the Derby in Harzand, a son of home stallion Sea The Stars.
Harzand also landed the Irish Derby and was one of three Group 1 winners for the Aga Khan this year, along with Dariyan and Vazirabad. There were also Group winners Candarliya, Eziyra, Shamreen and Tanaza.
Other top-level winners Almanzor, Mont Ormel and Vadamos were all out of mares bred and sold by the Aga Khan, so his influence ran deeply in European top-level racing this year.
Honourable mentions to Barronstown Stud, breeders of tough Middle Park Stakes winner The Last Lion and high-class Even Song, Simple Verse and Toulifaut, and Gerard Augustin-Normand whose support of his own stallions Le Havre and Air Chief Marshal was rewarded by breeding dual Classic heroine La Cressonniere and Grand Prix de Paris scorer Mont Ormel from them.
Consignor of the year
No other vendor manages to dominate a sale to the extent that Ecurie des Monceaux does at the Arqana August Yearling Sale each year.
The operation, owned by Lucien Urano and run as a well-oiled machine by Henri Bozo, this August sold 29 lots at the flagship auction in Deauville. It accounted for around ten per cent of the number of yearlings sold, but together they accounted for a quarter of the takings.
Monceaux sold all of the four most expensive lots, headed by the Galileo half-sister to Irish Oaks winner Chicquita bought by Coolmore and Mayfair Speculators for €1.4 million. That filly was the fourth yearling out of Prudenzia, a Listed-winning daughter of Dansili and Monceaux foundation mare Platonic, to sell for a seven-figure price in Deauville.
The quality of Monceaux stock was advertised on the track in 2016 by Joe Hirsch Turf Classic hero Ectot, a €75,000 yearling buy at Arqana in 2012, and exciting wide-margin Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere winner National Defense, a €280,000 purchase in Deauville in 2015.
Bargain of the year
Has such a huge profit been achieved between buying and reselling a horse in such a short space of time as was the case with Jet Setting?
In one of the best trading coups of recent times, young agent John Kilbride bought the filly as a four-times raced maiden two-year-old from trainer Richard Hannon for just 12,000gns at the Tattersalls Autumn Horses-in-Training Sale in October 2015, with the hope of her picking up some black type.
Transferred to Adrian Keatley, Jet Setting not only fulfilled the brief but soared past it, improving throughout the spring to take the notable scalp of Minding in the Irish 1,000 Guineas on her favoured soft ground.
Three weeks later she was sold to the China Horse Club for £1.3m – leaving a seven-figure profit for her previous owners Equinegrowthpartners, not including prize-money won – at the Goffs London Sale on the eve of Royal Ascot.