Kodiac breaks own record and now has Sunday Silence in his sights
Tally Ho's rags-to-riches sire hits 44 not out
Kodiac broke his own European record for individual juvenile winners on Wednesday when Seen The Lyte became his 44th of the campaign in a claimer at Beverley.
A low-key environment, perhaps, for such a remarkable achievement – but if instructive of his rise, as a dependable source of fast, tough, precocious stock, cherished by trainers for getting the job done, then the wider context also told of his ongoing transformation.
For it was only the previous day that Anthony Stroud, making his first visit to the Tattersalls Ireland September Sale in many years, paid €200,000 for a Kodiac colt on behalf of Godolphin. Earlier this year, Sheikh Mohammed's stable had set a Goffs UK breeze-up record at Doncaster when paying £360,000 for another son of Kodiac.
So if he still has just the one Group 1 winner to his name, Kodiac seems very likely to match quantity with quality as the calibre of his mares begins to reflect a tenfold increase in his fee, to €50,000 this year, since he first retired to Tally-Ho Stud in 2007.
As it is, he was the busiest Flat sire in Britain and Ireland last year with 232 partners. Obviously modern book sizes have had a role in the rewriting of this particular record, but a more significant factor is surely Rafha – the dam of both Kodiac, by Danehill; and Invincible Spirit, by Danzig’s other great conduit, Green Desert. For it was from Invincible Spirit (and, to be fair, Kheleyf as well) that Kodiac first wrested this record, with 43 winners in 2014.
Seen The Lyte is one of 189 foals from a crop still conceived at just €10,000. The previous one, which produced two Royal Ascot two-year-old winners in Ardad and Prince Of Lir, had been procured at €7,500. Consecutive hikes, since, to €25,000, €45,000 and €50,000 will doubtless result in somewhat fewer Brocklesby types. As such, perhaps, his tally this year may prove a lasting monument to his remarkable rags-to-riches tale – and, of course, he is a long way short of being done for the year.
In fact, with so many novice and nursery events still to be staged this autumn, he can next turn his sights on the world record of 51 juvenile winners sired by Japan's great patriarch, Sunday Silence, in 2004.
It is an incredible possibility for a sire who started out pinning as much on the reflected glory of his three-parts brother as on a yeoman racecourse career of his own. Kodiac never won a stakes race, his success confined to a maiden and three handicaps, albeit he certainly showed a commensurate level of form in finishing fourth of 17 in the 2006 Prix Maurice de Gheest.
That was his fourth and final season, and the fact that he showed his best form in maturity – anomalously, given his reputation as a sire, he was confined by setbacks to a single July start at two; and did not resurface until the following September – sheds light on the fact that his stock is not merely fast and early. Indeed, he has sired seven three-year-old Group winners. Nonetheless there is no mistaking the niche he has filled for commercial breeders with, hitherto at any rate, their commercial mares.
What he did bring Tally Ho, at an opening fee of €5,000, is a pedigree. Rafha was a Classic winner, in the Prix de Diane; and had produced a Group 1-winning sprinter in Invincible Spirit from another son of Danzig. Invincible Spirit, moreover, had just run away with the rookie sires' championship, causing his fee to leap from €10,000 to €35,000 the year his sibling retired to Tally Ho; when Lawman's Classic success promptly sent him zooming up to €75,000.
And here was the kid brother, available at just €4,000 as his first runners hit the track. Kodiac's third crop comprised just 33 foals, but the first two produced 17 and 21 juvenile winners respectively and he duly proved able to ride that bump. He was up and running, and no single crop by Kodiac has fallen under a clip of one-in-three juvenile winners-to-runners.
The big breakthrough came in 2014, not merely on account of the record he broke yesterday but with a couple of youngsters from his fifth crop breaking into the top echelon: Europe's champion two-year-old filly, Tiggy Wiggy, who went on to make the frame in the 1,000 Guineas; and Dewhurst runner-up Kodi Bear. Kodiac ended up behind only Galileo in the juvenile sires' table that year, off a covering fee of €6,500, and both maintained the same position in 2015.
As Kodiac's fee began to climb, so did the dividends in the sales ring. Logically, that should also be reflected on the track. At the moment, he is operating at just 5.5 per cent stakes-winners-to-runners. But in 2009 he covered no black-type winners, and just four black-type producers; the dams of his current yearlings, in contrast, include 21 such winners and 42 such producers.
It may yet prove that smarter mares can help him follow in his sibling's footsteps, once again, conceivably even as a sire of sires. So far he is represented by Adaay, Coulsty, Kodi Bear and Prince Of Lir. That might not yet measure up to Lawman, I Am Invincible, Kingman and company – but the slow burner is burning ever more brightly now.