Six industry insiders share their secrets in our breeding on a budget jury
Merits of new and established sires and sourcing mares among the hot topics
Which new sires for 2019 who stand at £10,000/€12,500 or less offer the best value for money?
Luke Barry, Manister House Stud: Sioux Nation has the race record, imposing good looks, and that ever popular sire-line that we all want a piece of. Kessaar is arguably one of the best looking stallions to retire to stud this year - simply stunning. If he breeds them like himself, they'll be popular, and Rajasinghe is another we’ve sent a mare to.
Royal Ascot-winning two-year-old, great-looking specimen and we love that Choisir line. Tough, sound and with a will to win. Lightning Spear and James Garfield have attractive credentials too for the fees they stand at.
Tom Blain, Barton Stud manager: Sioux Nation should be a commercial option as he's a Group 1 winner at two by Scat Daddy. Havana Grey is also an interesting option. He actually beat Sioux Nation to win his Group 1 at three, he's good looking and will be well supported by good breeders, which makes a huge difference.Ted Durcan, jockey turned bloodstock agent: Sioux Nation would interest me as value. He's a Royal Ascot- and Group 1-winning two-year-old son of Scat Daddy with an abundance of speed and looks to match. Poet's Word, while you certainly wouldn't expect his offspring to be very precocious, he was a very, very talented racehorse. He's very sound with a super temperament and you won't find many better-looking horses than him. He maybe more for the breeder-owner than the commercial sales ring.
Richard Fitzsimons, BBA Ireland: It has to be Havana Grey. He's a smashing-looking individual and possess a characteristic that I personally like to see in a stallion's profile; a consistent performer on the track. What sets him apart from the others for me is the fact that he was an early two-year-old and continued to perform late on into his juvenile season and then trained on as a three-year-old taking on - and beating - older horses and winning a Group 2 and Group 1.
Cathy Grassick, bloodstock agent: Lancaster Bomber, Lightning Spear and Unfortunately are all Group 1 winners that stand at very reasonable stud fees, which in my mind makes them great value.
Unfortunately, a son of the greatly missed Society Rock, offers breeders two-year-old precocity. Lancaster Bomber, a half-brother to Excelebration by War Front, showed diversity performing from 7f to 1m2f from two to four years. Lightning Spear was a top-class miler and very tough racehorse, and is by the sire of sires Pivotal.
Billy Jackson Stops, bloodstock consultant: I think Lightning Spear is great value at £8,500. A Group 1 winner, he also raced consistently at the top level for five years, demonstrating his soundness and resilience.
Sons of Pivotal, like Farhh and Siyouni, are going well at stud and I imagine Lightning Spear will continue the trend. In Ireland I like James Garfield at just €7,000, he's a tough horse from a good family who showed a lot of speed at both two and three years old.
Who was your pick of last year's first-season sires from that price bracket?
LB: War Command has done very little wrong, a heap of winners with a near 50 per cent strike rate, he’d give your mare a great chance of a winner and we got great money this year for a yearling by him. And Ruler Of The World managed to get a proper Group 1 winner in his first crop, could he be the forgotten horse? He does have the Oaks favourite after all.
TB: I haven't given up on Mukhadram yet, if you're prepared to be a bit more patient. His stock should be better at three and this is a big year for him. Ruler Of The World had a Group 1 winner at the end of last year and could keep producing the goods.
TD: It's very hard not to be impressed with Bungle Inthejungle's results on the racecourse last year. His progeny come across as being very professional with a great attitude in their races. War Command operated at a ratio of 46 per cent winners to runners on the leading first-season sire table in Europe last year and that has to be very much respected.
The son of War Front sat second only to No Nay Never, who was operating at a ratio of 49 per cent and now stands at €100,000. I was taken with Mukhadram's end-of-season results. The two-year-olds I had dealings with all seemed solid and straightforward. With his stock being allowed some time to mature, I think his offspring will improve immensely and he has an exciting season ahead. Standing at £6,000 this year, he still represents brilliant value.
RF: I'm not convinced that last year's first-season's sires priced at €12,000 and under were a vintage bunch. A lot of these stallions produced small winners but no proper consistent headline horses to convince me to use them during these challenging times.
CG: I have to say I'm a fan of Bungle Inthejungle and have long been a fan of his sire Exceed And Excel. He's off to a great start thanks to the support given to him by Rathasker Stud and I look forward to seeing what the future holds. He has a great pedigree, being from a high-class speed family. This is probably why he has upgraded his mares and done so well with his two-year-olds.
BJS: War Command's progeny were eye-catching numerically, with 16 winners including a Listed winner. However, Kuroshio impressed me the most, he covered a small number of below-average mares in 2015 and still had six winners from 14 runners in 2018. These included black-type performers Daphinia, Kurious and Group 2 Vintage Stakes second Dunkerron. He impressed me so much I brokered a deal to bring him to Ireland for the 2019 breeding season.
Which other young sires in that price range take your fancy?
LB: We're sending mares to Galileo Gold, El Kabeir and Gutaifan. The latter has the numbers in his favour with physicals to make your imagination believe they might run a bit. Both Tally-Ho and Yeomanstown get behind their stallions, giving them a great chance.
TB: Twilight Son is producing good-looking stock, which is exciting for breeders and gives you a chance at the sales. He'll have to produce it on the track, however. I've always liked Brazen Beau - we sold some very nice yearlings by him last year and he's having good results in Australia. There's no telling if he can deliver in the northern hemisphere but he must have a chance.
TD: The Gutaifan two-year-olds are compact, racy types and have impressed. They appear to be very progressive and have a very good outlook. Mehmas has some good looking stock and they seem to be very commercial. Taking a longer view, Make Believe, who was a seriously good racehorse, and Free Eagle both seem to have quality stock. However, I'm sure it won't be until the second half of the season that we see them in their best light.
RF: For me it has to be Dragon Pulse. I purchased the stakes performer Mattymolls Gaga and Dragon Roll, who won a maiden first time out, so he's been a lucky stallion for me at an affordable level.
He had a bright start to his stallion career with multiple winners and stakes horses Legendary Lunch and Magical Fire, and has big crops to run for him out of better-quality mares. He's a horse who's starting to come back onto peoples' radar and he gets you a tough, honest consistent performer.
CG: The couple of foals I've seen by Profitable have been excellent. He was a great racehorse and being by sire of sires Invincible Spirit makes him a horse to follow. Dragon Pulse has his largest ever crop of two-year-olds hitting the track this year and I hope he can deliver the consistency of his previous books.
I like that he works so well with Danzig-line mares. Cityscape has been very eye-catching in what he has done from a small number of representatives and I look forward to seeing what more is to come from his progeny.
BJS: Havana Grey and Unfortunately are both good-looking horses with great two-year-old form from their racing careers - they’ll suit the commercial breeders well. I liked the first foals by Vadamos a lot last year, they were an attractive bunch. Then I'm excited to see Slade Power's progeny progress from two to three - as a racehorse he was champion older sprinter, so I expect his progeny to improve with age.
Which other older or more established sires are worth using at those prices?
LB: Camacho ticks so many boxes; Group 1 sire, gets tough durable trainers horses, he gets so many two-year-old winners and he gets you a sales horse. No brainer! And Dandy Man is similarly priced with a very similar profile. Does all of the above, and both have two exceptional fillies to run for them going forward. Dragon Pulse is the other proven horse we like that flies under the radar - a great option at a low fee.
TB: Tamayuz and Dandy Man are both solid options that keep delivering. You can also get paid properly in the sales ring if you can breed a good-looking model.
TD: Both of the following horses have produced reliable and hard-knocking progeny and they offer great appeal to the breeder: Camacho, a sire of 30 two-year-old winners in 2018, has had another stellar season both on the racetrack and in the sales ring. Bated Breath is a lovely consistent sire who has bred winners over a multitude of trips. He has an excellent 55 per cent winners-to-runners strike rate and being a son of Dansili, his progeny seem to improve with age.
RF: Fast Company is a Group 1-producing sire who can only get better with the better books of mares that he's covered in 2017 (162) and 2018 (163). You need soldiers on the ground combined with quality mares to produce horses who win races, make headlines and paint the picture in the breeders' heads.
This lad is doing that in my eyes. Surely he will go on to produce more Group 1 horses in the coming years off these bigger and better-bred crops and should continue on an upward trajectory.
CG: Camacho, Fast Company and Footstepsinthesand are all stallions that I support strongly. They're stallions with excellent performance records that are capable of getting top-class performers in both their colts and fillies and represent great value for money for breeders.
BJS: Fast Company, Dandy Man and Footstepsinthesand are still great value, they've all produced Group 1 winners and have a constant stream of winners year on year. All three of these stallions can also produce good sales horses, with Fast Company's highest-priced yearling selling for 80,000gns in 2018, while Dandy Man and Footstepsinthesand both had yearlings sell for six figures.
Do you have any tips for sourcing a mare cheaply to send to those stallions?
LB: Work the sales hard, do your homework, keep an eye on the less obvious sales, know what you're willing to forgive: do you forgo race record and use a proven horse? Maybe buy one a little crooked and breed it to a correct, reliable horse. Try to acquire something with a good hind end and plenty of action.
Then keep the mare and stallion's physical in mind when mating. With a lull in the market, great opportunities could present themselves. Many will not breed their lesser mares, their culls could be your rough diamonds!
TB: Look at as many horses as possible before a sale. Do your research. Focus on the big breeding operations where you know that they are moving stock on for the right reasons. Follow as many horses into the ring as you can, something always falls through the gaps. It's a question of being there when they do. I also think you can find some value buying older mares with stock to run for them but it's higher risk.
TD: If she pleases the eye, she'll please the heart.
RF: Contact me and I will sort you out!
CG: I'd always suggest that you should enlist the help of a good bloodstock agent when trying to purchase the best mare you can for your budget. I'm always delighted to be of assistance!
BJS: Sales are the best place to get value with cheaper mares. Having a list and then spending as much time as possible by the ring waiting for something you like to slip through the net would be my best tip.