Big results from small covering fees suggest Kodiac could be a great
Martin Stevens looks at the shining record of the Tally-Ho sire
Kodiac has been regarded as one of the best sources of speed and precocity for some time now, but because he was something of a slow burner in the early years of his stallion career and started out at such a minimal fee, it is easy to forget that his current crop of two-year-olds, which has been making headlines at the breeze-ups and has already yielded a number of exciting prospects, was conceived at a cost of just €10,000.
The Tally-Ho Stud stallion finished fifth among the leading first-season sires of 2010 by progeny earnings and his tally of winners was less than half of Iffraaj's record-breaking haul and also behind Holy Roman Emperor.
He slipped to ninth place by prize-money at the end of his sophomore season, as Holy Roman Emperor displaced Iffraaj in the number one spot and Hurricane Run and Shirocco, whose progeny were entitled to flourish at three, rocketed up the charts.
All the while, though, Kodiac was quietly gaining recognition as an excellent source of early-blooming stock who often had a degree of class and toughness, such as Bathwick Bear, Stone Of Folca and Sweet Cecily.
He was given extra credit as his first two crops were bred off a fee of just €5,000, and breeders were likely more inclined to jump on the bandwagon because what he lacked in race record – no black-type successes, although a fourth placing in the Prix Maurice de Gheest – was more than made up for by his pedigree, as a son of Danehill and Prix de Diane heroine Rafha, making him a half-brother to the outstanding sire Invincible Spirit.
The cheaply bred two-year-olds continued to fly the flag for Kodiac, with the success of his fourth crop, the second of two bred at a reduced fee of €4,000, helping their sire into tenth in the leading list of juvenile sires in Europe in 2013.
The next two crops, bred after Kodiac's freshman and sophomore seasons and conceived at fees only marginally increased to €6,500 and €7,500, elevated the sire to second place behind only Galileo in the two-year-old tables of 2014 and 2015. That was an outstanding achievement when you consider the calibre of mares Coolmore's champion was covering at his six-figure fee.
One of those two-year-olds of 2014 bred at €6,500 was Kodiac's breakthrough horse, the brilliant Cheveley Park Stakes winner Tiggy Wiggy, while another was Dewhurst second Kodi Bear. That entitled Tally-Ho Stud to increase the charge for the stallion's services to €25,000 for 2015.
In turn, the juveniles of 2015 who were bred off a fee of €7,500 included Group winners Bear Cheek, Besharah, Gifted Master and Shaden, while Kodi Bear won the Celebration Mile and Tiggy Wiggy finished third in the 1,000 Guineas that year. By 2016 Kodiac's fee was cranked up to €45,000.
Last year the highlight for Kodiac was a Royal Ascot double for his juveniles Ardad and Prince Of Lir, both conceived at a fee of €7,500 again. A well-earned increase to €50,000 for the current breeding season was the result.
This year's two-year-olds were conceived after Kodiac first began to climb the ranks, but at a fee of €10,000 that still placed him towards the lower end of the stallion market.
So it is all the more creditable that he has, once again, got off to a flying start with his early-bird runners this season. He has nine two-year-old winners already – five more than any other sire in that department – and several look as though they could give him more Royal Ascot success.
Brother Bear is perhaps the most exciting. The Jessica Harrington-trained colt, a 125,000gns yearling, took a while to find his stride but easily dismissed Ballydoyle hotpot Sioux Nation by two lengths on his debut over six and a half furlongs at Leopardstown on Sunday.
Others who look as though they could make a name for themselves are To Wafij, a 130,000gns yearling saddled by Roger Varian to win convincingly at Yarmouth first time out last week, and £65,000 purchase Koditime, who scored on debut at Doncaster last month for Clive Cox. Never Back Down, a £100,000 yearling, also made all to win narrowly at Leicester for Hugo Palmer.
On Friday, William Haggas unleashed his £52,000 Goffs UK purchase One Minute and the daughter of Kodiac easily beat her paternal half-brother To Wafij and looks a Royal Ascot candidate.
Note the auction prices of those two-year-olds. Kodiac achieved an average yearling price of around £75,000 and £64,000 for inexpensively bred horses, while his two-year-olds at the breeze-ups this season have sold for an average of £65,000, including a £360,000 top lot at Doncaster and another best-seller at 240,000gns at the Tattersalls Guineas sale last week.
Izzy Bizu, one of Kodiac's more cheaply bought two-year-olds at €30,000, was a ready winner of a Catterick maiden for Mark Johnston on Thursday.
Generally profitable sales stock; 30 black-type winners, seven of whom reached the first three in two-year-old contests at Royal Ascot; and fours sons at stud - Adaay, Coulsty, Kodi Bear and Prince Of Lir; all conceived at fees of between €4,000 and €7,500: Kodiac deserves high praise indeed.
It whets the appetite for what he might achieve with his yearlings, foals and future offspring in-utero who cost between €25,000 and €50,000 to produce, and raises hopes that his progeny might one day make their mark in the Classics. He certainly has the pedigree for that to happen.
Kodiac is following in the hoofprints of the likes of Danehill Dancer and Indian Ridge as a sprinter who upgrades modest mares to reach the top of the stallion ranks and leave a lasting influence on the breed.