Honouring the best of breeding in 2020: the Racing Post Bloodstock Awards

James Thomas looks at the sires, mares and breeders who shone

Galileo: the undisputed king of the stallion ranks once again in 2020
Galileo: the undisputed king of the stallion ranks once again in 2020Credit: Patrick McCann

Sire of the year

Given the last 12 months have seen Galileo claim his 12th British and Irish champion sire crown, break the world record for the most individual Group/Grade 1 scorers and become the first stallion to supply five winners of the Derby, selecting our sire of the year was a straightforward choice.

No stallion has come close to Galileo's achievements in recent times, and 2020 was no different as he fielded Group 1 winners Circus Maximus, Love, Magical, Mogul, Peaceful, Search For A Song, Serpentine and Shale for a prize-money haul of £5.273 million - over double that of his nearest pursuer, Dubawi.

He ends the year with a staggering 89 elite-level winners to his name. His 85th top-level scorer Peaceful's success in the Irish 1,000 Guineas saw Galileo wrest the leading sire of Group/Grade 1 winners title from his former studmate Danehill.

Peaceful: etched Galileo's name into the record books when winning the Irish 1,000 Guineas
Peaceful: etched Galileo's name into the record books when winning the Irish 1,000 GuineasCredit: Patrick McCann

He also notched a fifth Derby victor when Serpentine joined New Approach, Ruler Of The World, Australia and Anthony Van Dyck on the Epsom roll of honour in a result that saw Galileo surpass Sir Peter Teazle, Waxy, Cyllene, Blandford and Montjeu, who each sired four Derby winners apiece.

Moreover, he also claimed leading broodmare sire honours having been represented in that department by talents such as the world's highest-rated runner Ghaiyyath, Arc hero Sottsass and Dewhurst Stakes scorer St Mark's Basilica.

Breakthrough of the year

Few, if any, stallions did more to enhance their reputation during 2020 than Australia, with the son of Galileo vaulting from 17th in the 2019 British and Irish sires' championship to just outside the top ten, having sired seven stakes winners.

That septet is headed by Galileo Chrome, a member of Australia's second crop who supplied his sire with a breakthrough Group 1 winner when landing the St Leger for Joseph O'Brien.

His British and Irish runners also included the Group 2 scorers Cayenne Pepper (Blandford Stakes) and Leo De Fury (Mooresbridge Stakes), as well as the Group 3 winners Buckhurst, Epona Plays and Patrick Sarsfield. However his success was not merely confined to Britain and Ireland.

Australia: sired two top-level winners in 2020
Australia: sired two top-level winners in 2020Credit: Coolmore

Arguably his biggest result came at Keeneland, where Order Of Australia, trained by Aidan O'Brien and bred by the master of Ballydoyle and his wife Annemarie under the Whisperview Trading banner, saw off Circus Maximus in the Breeders' Cup Mile to double his sire's tally of top-flight winners.

Despite these results, his fee has come down to a career-low €25,000 for 2021, a move that will likely have piqued plenty of breeders' interests.

Jumps sire of the year

It may seem unusual to select a sire who has had just nine winners during the current campaign as the National Hunt stallion of the year, but the shortage of numbers cannot mask the excellent results registered by Coastal Path.

He has been represented by two Grade 1 winners during the last 12 months, including Asterion Forlonge, who thrashed Easywork to claim the Chanelle Pharma Novice Hurdle at Leopardstown in February.

Franco De Port: the son of Coastal Path after winning the Racing Post Novice Chase
Franco De Port: the son of Coastal Path after winning the Racing Post Novice ChaseCredit: Patrick McCann

Despite having come to grief in a Grade 1 over fences on St Stephen's Day, Asterion Forlonge has all the makings of a better chaser than hurdler. Similar comments apply to another of Coastal Path's sons, Franco De Port, who won the Grade 1 Racing Post Novice Chase at Leopardstown.

The former Haras de Cercy resident, who was retired from covering duty in 2019 due to fertility issues, has also been represented by high-class hurdler Saint Roi. He won the County Hurdle at Cheltenham, was beaten just a neck in the Grade 1 Morgiana Hurdle last month and was fourth in the Matheson Hurdle on Tuesday.

That trio are joined by Stayers' Hurdle third Bacardys and the smart chaser L'Air Du Vent.

Broodmare of the year

No mare can claim to have had the impact on the racing and sales landscape that Beach Frolic had in 2020, having supplied a champion three-year-old and topped one of the world's most significant breeding stock auctions.

That three-year-old is, of course, Palace Pier, who completed his development from 600,000gns yearling to dual Group 1 winner this year as he denied Pinatubo in a pulsating St James's Palace Stakes before ploughing through heavy ground in Deauville to win a Prix Jacques le Marois that included Alpine Star, Circus Maximus, Persian King and Romanised.

Beach Frolic in the Tattersalls sales ring
Beach Frolic in the Tattersalls sales ringCredit: Laura Green

Then in December, Beach Frolic, who was owned in partnership by the late Duke of Roxburghe's Floors Stud and the Warrens' Highclere Stud, took centre stage when she was offered at the Tattersalls December Mares Sale.

The daughter of Nayef, whose towering achievements mask the fact she is still only nine, was widely expected to prove the highlight of the sale and lived up to expectations when she sold to Coolmore's MV Magnier for 2,200,000gns.

There is every chance we will hear plenty more of Beach Frolic in coming years, as her Highland Reel yearling, bought by Jamie McCalmont for 320,000gns, is due to go to John Gosden, she delivered an Almanzor colt on April 1 earlier this year and she was sold carrying to Blue Point. What is more, her new owners plan to send her to none other than Galileo for her 2021 covering.

Breeder of the year

To breed one Group 1 winner in a season is quite the achievement, but to breed three really is exceptional. Having realised such a feat, Jim Bolger receives our breeder of the year accolade.

In a remarkable ten-minute spell on October 24, a pair of two-year-old colts bred by Bolger landed Group 1 contests, as Gear Up won the Criterium de Saint-Cloud before Mac Swiney, whom Bolger also trains, struck in the Vertem Futurity Trophy.

Just ten days later, the Bolger-bred Twilight Payment claimed the Melbourne Cup for Joseph O'Brien and owners Nick and Lloyd Williams, who bought their latest winner of the race that stops a nation privately through Badgers Bloodstock after the son of Teofilo was knocked down to Kerr & Co for €200,000 at the Goffs November Horses-in-Training Sale in 2018.

Jim Bolger: 'It will be a tragedy for Irish racing if he were let go in September.'
Jim Bolger: 'It will be a tragedy for Irish racing if he were let go in September.'Credit: Patrick McCann

Moreover, he also bred the two-year-old stakes winners Poetic Flare, who won the Group 3 Killavullan Stakes, and Flying Visit, successful in the Eyrefield Stakes, as well as the brother to Gear Up who set a Tattersalls Ireland September Yearling Sale record when sold to the Hong Kong Jockey Club for £325,000.

Honourable mentions must also go to Aidan and Annemarie O'Brien, whose Whisperview Trading enterprise was responsible for elite-level winners Thunder Moon and Order Of Australia, and Derek Veitch of Ringfort Stud, who bred a trio of the year's best juveniles in Minzaal, Miss Amulet and Ubettabelieveit.

Consignor of the year

The late Duke of Roxburghe's Floors Stud has enjoyed plenty of big results at Book 1 of the Tattersalls October Yearling Sale down the years, but none could match the high emotion that abounded when the 2020 draft contained a brace of seven-figure lots.

The Frankel colt out of the Duke's brilliant racemare and producer Attraction set things off when going the way of Godolphin at 1,100,000gns. A short while later that price was comfortably eclipsed when a son of Dubawi out of Cushion, a daughter of Attraction no less, was knocked down to Sheikh Mohammed's team at 2,100,000gns.

The Duke of Roxburghe at Tattersalls in 2017
The Duke of Roxburghe at Tattersalls in 2017Credit: Laura Green

Those results paid a huge tribute to the enduring skill and vision with which the Duke had nurtured his signature family, but after those transactions the Duchess of Roxburghe, Virginia Wynn-Williams, revealed that Floors Stud would be holding a part-dispersal, with the remaining mares boarding at other farms.

Although no longer run by the Duke of Roxburghe or his family, Floors Stud will remain in action, with current stud manager Christopher Gillon set to operate his Gillon Bloodstock from the famed Borders nursery.

Bargain of the year

The rise and rise of Miss Amulet has ranked as a genuine rags-to-riches tale, as the daughter of Sir Prancealot has developed from bargain buy to blue-chip racing prospect.

The filly found her way into Ken Condon's yard after Michael Donohoe of BBA Ireland spent just £7,500 to secure her on behalf of Colm Griffin at the Tattersalls Ascot Yearling Sale.

Although that sum massively undersold Miss Amulet's talent, it did in fact represent a significant appreciation in value from what she cost as a foal, with Dermot Dunne and his niece Eleanor of Rockview Stables having pinhooked her at a mere €1,000.

Miss Amulet wins the Lowther Stakes at York
Miss Amulet wins the Lowther Stakes at YorkCredit: Edward Whitaker

She landed a Cork maiden before going on to win the Listed Marwell Stakes and the Group 2 Lowther Stakes. After that, Griffin decided to cash in and sold Miss Amulet privately to Michael Tabor in a deal which doubtless netted the owner a tidy windfall.

Miss Amulet went on to finish runner-up to Alcohol Free in the Cheveley Park Stakes and third behind Aunt Pearl in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf, with both performances suggesting she will be a force to be reckoned with at three.

But whatever she does during her Classic season, she has already far exceeded that modest yearling price tag of just £7,500.

More to read:

From the unexpected to the unwelcome: the biggest bloodstock shocks in 2020

Top of the lots: the most expensive National Hunt prospects sold in 2020

From young guns to sires on fire: hunting out value among the 2021 covering fees

'Price is no object' - the most expensive lots from a drama-filled year of sales