Best in show: our awards to the sires, mares and breeders who shone in 2021
Martin Stevens does the honours in reflecting on a memorable year in bloodstock
Sire of the year
Galileo is the regular recipient of this award, so it is somewhat poignant that in the year of his demise the honour – and, of course, the British and Irish sire championship – has passed down to his exceptional son Frankel.
The main contributors to Frankel’s pot of more than £5.25 million in 2021 were Adayar, a brilliant winner of the Derby and King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes, and Hurricane Lane, who landed the Dante Stakes, Irish Derby and St Leger.
Significant supporting roles were played by Alpinista, who scored in the Daisy Warwick Fillies’ Stakes and Lancashire Oaks and excelled in Germany later in the season, Snow Lantern, who was successful in the Falmouth Stakes and placed in the Coronation and Sussex Stakes, and Mostahdaf, who scored in three stakes races.
Frankel was also showcased on the international stage this year by Converge and Hungry Heart, Group 1 winners in Australia, Grenadier Guards, a high-class miler in Japan, and the smart French-trained three-year-old fillies Rumi and Sibila Spain.
The Banstead Manor Stud sire, whose exploits have been rewarded with a fee increase to £200,000, has plenty to look forward to in 2022. Adayar and Hurricane Lane stay in training, and his next Classic crop includes the unbeaten filly Inspiral and numerous promising dark horses.
Breakthrough sire of the year
Mehmas was so dominant in the freshman sire table in 2020 that his peers were left a little in the shade. The Tally-Ho Stud hotshot was also the leading sophomore in 2021, supplying a dazzling dozen stakes winners worldwide, but a few more of his rivals also shone this time around.
New Bay, in particular, made a name for himself as a bright young thing of the stallion ranks, thanks to an outstanding 55 per cent strike-rate in Europe and an ever-growing list of black-type offspring headed by Sun Chariot Stakes winner and 1,000 Guineas runner-up Saffron Beach.
The first three-year-olds by the son of Dubawi also included the rapidly progressive Listed winner Bay Bridge and Royal Ascot scorer Perotto, while his second crop of juveniles contains Champagne Stakes winner and twice Group 1-placed Bayside Boy, nine-length German Group 3 winner Sea Bay and exciting Newmarket novice stakes winner Claymore.
New Bay’s early success has not gone unnoticed, as he covered a glittering book of mares at Ballylinch Stud this year, including the dams of Akeed Mofeed, Baaeed, Dubai Honour, Saffron Beach, Talent and Thistle Bird.
Jumps sire of the year
Rags-to-riches Whytemount Stud stallion Stowaway’s fairytale was completed with a posthumous first National Hunt sire title in 2020-21, while Haras de la Hetraie stalwart Kapgarde maintained his uncanny knack of siring superstars in the past year with A Plus Tard, Clan Des Obeaux and Fakir D’Oudairies.
But our award goes to the much-missed Jeremy, whose two National Hunt crops conceived at Garryrichard Stud before his untimely death in 2014 yielded four Cheltenham Festival winners in Appreciate It, Belfast Banter, Black Tears and Sir Gerhard.
The son of Danehill Dancer operated at a commendable strike-rate of 39 per cent last season, when his other ambassadors included the high-class Happygolucky, Mister Fisher and Scarlet And Dove.
Jeremy’s success shows no sign of abating, as already this month he has been represented by Listed mares’ chase winners Silver Forever and The Glancing Queen and up-and-coming hurdlers Jetoile and Tamar Bridge.
Broodmare of the year
Aghareed is a timely winner as she pays handsome tribute to her renowned owner and breeder Hamdan Al Maktoum, who died in March, and is a member of the sheikh’s signature family, descending as she does from the wonderful blue hen mare Height Of Fashion.
The 12-year-old daughter of Kingmambo and Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf heroine Lahudood has clicked spectacularly well with Sea The Stars to produce two colts who won eight black-type races between them in 2021.
Baaeed was unbeaten in six races at three, including the Sir Henry Cecil Stakes, Thoroughbred Stakes, Prix du Moulin and Queen Elizabeth II Stakes, while his year-older brother Hukum took the Tapster Stakes, John Smith’s Silver Cup, Geoffrey Freer Stakes and Cumberland Lodge Stakes.
Honourable mentions go to Reckoning, the dam of five-length Gold Cup hero Subjectivist and dual Group 2 winner Sir Ron Priestley, and Tijuana, who produced Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe victor Torquator Tasso and leading German two-year-old colt Tunnes.
Breeder of the year
It took something very special indeed to outdo Jim Bolger’s remarkable achievement of breeding, owning and training the English and Irish 2,000 Guineas winners Poetic Flare and Mac Swiney from stallions he trained and maternal families he has long nurtured, but Kirsten Rausing edges it for us thanks to a simply extraordinary year of success.
Her distinctive white and green silks were carried by Alpinista, who emulated her granddam Albanova’s feat of winning three German Group 1s in a season, Albaflora, who ran second in the Yorkshire Oaks and British Champions Fillies & Mares Stakes, and Aleas, who scored in the Glasgow Stakes – all three descended from her influential broodmare Alouette.
Rausing also bred and owned Sandrine, successful in the Albany and Duchess of Cambridge Stakes, Oriental Mystique, who struck at Listed level in France and was twice Group 3-placed, and Alerta Roja, another descendant of Alouette who ran second in the Doncaster Cup.
Moreover, Rausing bred and sold Zaaki, who has become the darling of Australian racing following his three Group 1 victories there, and several more classy performers closer to home such as Harrovian and Pondus.
It looks set to be another big year for Rausing in 2022, as her two-year-old homebreds were to the fore in the past season, with Kawida taking the Montrose Fillies’ Stakes and the unexposed Allada, Ching Shih and Heat Of The Moment also bearing her colours to victory. One of the most exciting back-end maiden winners of the year, Eldar Eldarov, trained by Roger Varian for KHK Racing, was another bred by her.
All that, and many of the above-named horses are by stallions she stands or stood at her Lanwades Stud in Newmarket.
Consignor of the year
Tally-Ho Stud was another worthy recipient of the title of breeder of the year, but since so many of the County Westmeath farm’s graduates were sold out of its hands, and it traded many other talented horses besides, this is arguably a more fitting honour.
Tally-Ho bred and sold Commonwealth Cup heroine Campanelle, Phoenix Stakes scorer Ebro River and further Group-winning two-year-olds Caturra, Glounthaune, Lusail and Malavath, as well as Surrey Stakes winner Mehmento, all of whom are by its own sires Kodiac, Mehmas or Galileo Gold.
The stud also traded or consigned for clients the top-notchers Beauty Inspire, El Bodegon and Gubbass – all three by home stallions too – and bred and sold the Prix Morny and Middle Park Stakes winner Perfect Power, a son of Ardad, another former Tally-Ho homebred by Kodiac.
What’s more, Tally-Ho pinhooked Yorkshire Cup winner and Melbourne Cup third Spanish Mission and Listed scorer and Prix de Diane third Burgarita as yearlings, and co-bred Italian 2,000 Guineas winner Fayathaan.
Unsurprisingly, Tally-Ho drafts were in strong demand at the sales again this year, with two of its lots jointly topping the Goffs UK Breeze-Up Sale at £210,000 – the subsequently classy Maglev and Twilight Jet – and another heading the Tattersalls Craven Breeze-Up, with the Practical Joke filly Tout Ensemble fetching 360,000gns.
Bargain of the year
There was no end of big talents who were bought for small prices and landed their connections considerable windfalls through prize-money and/or resale in 2021, including A Case Of You, Baron Samedi, Rohaan, Sonnyboyliston, Suesa and Torquator Tasso.
But the tale of Trueshan takes some beating. The French-bred son of Chapel Stud sire Planteur was bought for just €8,000 at the Osarus Yearling Sale and was resold by Knockanglass Stables to trainer Alan King and Highflyer Bloodstock for the still relatively inexpensive sum of 31,000gns at the Tattersalls Guineas Breeze-Up Sale of 2018.
He took his career earnings to more than £1 million with victories in the Goodwood Cup, Prix du Cadran and British Champions Long Distance Cup this year, and went to show once again that the breeze-up sales are about more than just precocious and pacey two-year-olds.
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