Good Morning Bloodstock is Martin Stevens' daily morning email and presented here online as a sample.
Here he brings a personal scoring system to determine which of Europe's three major 2,000 Guineas has been the best springboard to a successful career at stud - subscribers can get more great insight from Martin every Monday to Friday.
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I’m not sure I believe in the concept of stallion-making races any more than I do dominant sires of sires or successful nicks, but I’m putting common sense to one side temporarily for a bit of whimsy.
As the Irish 2,000 Guineas takes place at the Curragh on Saturday, I thought I’d find out which of the major mile Classics for colts has the superior record of producing accomplished stallions this millennium – Britain, France or Ireland.
To that end, I’ve compared the breeding records of the winners of each race from 2000 to 2015, and picked the best either on the basis of solid statistics or my subjective interpretation.
Therefore not everyone will agree with my scoring, but do bear in mind that this is intended to be an amusing walk down memory lane rather than a lofty disquisition on stallion performance, so spare me the argy-bargy on WhatsApp. I'm looking at you, Joe Foley.
Right, without further ado, let’s find out whether Newmarket is the nonpareil, Longchamp leads the way or the Curragh is in fact the kingmaker.
2,000 Guineas: King’s Best
Poule d’Essai des Poulains: Bachir
Irish 2,000 Guineas: Bachir
A mercifully straightforward showdown to start off with, as King’s Best might have been a little inconsistent during his 15 years on the Darley roster in Ireland, France and Japan, but he did supply top-notchers like Creachadoir, Eishin Flash, Proclamation, Sajjhaa and Workforce, whereas Bachir delivered almost nothing of note in his time standing in the same three countries.
Score: It’s one-nil-nil to the original 2,000 Guineas in Newmarket.
2,000 Guineas: Golan
Poule d’Essai des Poulains: Vahorimix
Irish 2,000 Guineas: Black Minnaloushe
A non-vintage year, this, with Golan not lasting long on Coolmore’s Flat roster before undergoing a switch of codes, Black Minnaloushe being granted only five years at Ashford Stud in Kentucky before his sale to South Africa and Vahorimix ruling himself out of contention through infertility. Golan gets the verdict thanks to Hong Kong Mile hero Beauty Flash and Victoria Derby winner Kibbutz emerging from his New Zealand crops, and the redoubtable racemare Missunited representing him in Ireland.
Score: The Rowley Mile goes two-nil-nil up.
2,000 Guineas: Rock Of Gibraltar
Poule d’Essai des Poulains: Landseer
Irish 2,000 Guineas: Rock Of Gibraltar
Rock Of Gibraltar might not have been the roaring success many thought or hoped he might be, but neither was he an unmitigated disaster and he did get stars such as Eagle Mountain, Mount Nelson, Prince Gibraltar, Samitar and Society Rock, as well as the dams of Kameko and Poetic Flare. It would be unfair to award points here, though, as Landseer never got to prove his worth as a sire as he died after breaking down in the Breeders’ Cup Mile.
Score: Britain remains two ahead with France and Ireland yet to score.
2,000 Guineas: Refuse To Bend
Poule d’Essai des Poulains: Clodovil
Irish 2,000 Guineas: Indian Haven
Refuse To Bend and Indian Haven had their moments, especially the former with the brilliant filly Sarafina, but neither quite made it in their second careers. Clodovil, on the other hand, stood the test of time at Rathasker Stud, siring a steady stream of useful sprinters and milers in spite of fertility issues, with Es Que Love, Gregorian and Nahoodh among his best and last year’s Haydock Sprint Cup hero Minzaal advertising his efficacy as a broodmare sire.
Score: That makes it two-one-nil with Ireland still drawing a blank.
2,000 Guineas: Haafhd
Poule d’Essai des Poulains: American Post
Irish 2,000 Guineas: Bachelor Duke
Haafhd was a costly failure, with his fee at Nunnery Stud having to be halved after his sophomore season, ironically enough, although he did find a degree of redemption as a damsire through the likes of Madhmoon and Quiet Reflection, while Bachelor Duke never gained a foothold at Ballylinch Stud, but did fare better in his shuttle role in New Zealand. American Post however arguably outperformed expectations, getting the likes of Criterium de Saint-Cloud winner Robin Of Navan and Poule d’Essai des Pouliches first-past-the-post Liliside, later the dam of Japanese megastar Lys Gracieux, from his inexpensively bred crops at Haras d’Etreham.
Score: France draws level with Britain. Ireland still languishes on nil.
2,000 Guineas: Footstepsinthesand
Poule d’Essai des Poulains: Shamardal
Irish 2,000 Guineas: Dubawi
It will take some creative scoring to settle this fantastic year, the 1961 Pétrus of post-millennial 2,000 Guineas contests. Footstepsinthesand has carved a niche for himself as a dependable source of solid if not spectacular sprinters and milers on the Coolmore roster, but the late Shamardal and reigning champion Dubawi became outstanding sires of runners of all ages and over all distances, and are forging powerful dynasties through their sons and daughters.
Score: Three points to Ireland, in recognition of Dubawi claiming a champion sire crown; two points to France, as Shamardal was also a phenomenon; and one point for Britain as Footstepsinthesand's long career in the service of budget breeders and tally of nearly 150 stakes performers doesn’t deserve zero. So it is now four to France and three each to Britain and Ireland. This is getting exciting.
2,000 Guineas: George Washington
Poule d’Essai des Poulains: Aussie Rules
Irish 2,000 Guineas: Araafa
Ireland’s comeback in this competition comes to a juddering halt here as Araafa sadly became a byword for stallion failure in the mid-2010s. That leaves a tough call between the British and French 2,000 Guineas, though. Should the point go to George Washington, who managed to sire only one foal in his ill-starred life, but that being the Listed-placed filly Date With Destiny, or Aussie Rules, who left nine crops but was inconsistent, with Cazals and Fiesolana his only offspring to score at higher than Group 3 level?
Score: I’m doing it, I’m going to risk incurring the wrath of readers by awarding the point to the Newmarket 2,000 Guineas on the strength of one offspring. I just won’t bother looking at my phone today. So that’s four-all to France and Britain, and three to Ireland.
2,000 Guineas: Cockney Rebel
Poule d’Essai des Poulains: Astronomer Royal
Irish 2,000 Guineas: Cockney Rebel
Cockney Rebel and Astronomer Royal were fine racehorses but neither ever received much support at stud. The Anglo-Irish 2,000 Guineas hero delivered 94 winners from 210 runners for a smart strike-rate of 44.8 per cent, but got no winners above Group 3 level, while the French victor managed 57 winners from 127 runners at a remarkably similar clip of 44.9 per cent, with his only two Pattern winners Sir Patrick Moore and Stellar Path being full-siblings, suggesting their dam America Nova might have upgraded the mating. Let’s call it a no-score draw.
Score: Still four-all to France and Britain, with three for Ireland.
2,000 Guineas: Henrythenavigator
Poule d’Essai des Poulains: Falco
Irish 2,000 Guineas: Henrythenavigator
An intriguing match, this one. In the dark blue corner we have Henrythenavigator, who covered elite books of mares at an expensive fee in his early years at Ashford Stud, and in the pale blue corner we have Falco, who initially stood at fees of €7,000 and €8,000 at Haras d’Etreham. In spite of that inequality of opportunity, the former got only two more top-level winners on the Flat than the latter. Furthermore, Henrythenavigator was banished overseas after eight years on the Coolmore roster, while Falco is still pulling in punters at Nunstainton Stud, having been repurposed for the National Hunt sphere, in which he has been represented by the likes of Hitman, Peace And Co and Tahmuras.
Score: Henrythenavigator escapes the ignominy of losing out to the blue-collar hero Falco due to leaving a few useful sire sons in France in George Vancouver and Pedro The Great. It’s a score draw, meaning it’s five-five-four with Ireland behind.
2,000 Guineas: Sea The Stars
Poule d’Essai des Poulains: Silver Frost
Irish 2,000 Guineas: Mastercraftsman
Silver Frost was by no means a bad sire, in fact he deserves plenty of credit for getting Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud winner Silverwave from medium-sized crops conceived at low fees, but he is simply outclassed here by Mastercraftsman, who has 18 Group/Grade 1 winners to his name including celebrities Alpha Centauri, Kingston Hill and The Grey Gatsby, and even more so by the legendary Sea The Stars, who has one more top-level scorer without having shuttled and is responsible for all-time greats such as Baaeed, Crystal Ocean, Sea Of Class, Stradivarius and Taghrooda.
Score: Newmarket regains the lead, and it’s now six-five-four.
2,000 Guineas: Makfi
Poule d’Essai des Poulains: Lope De Vega
Irish 2,000 Guineas: Canford Cliffs
Makfi got one out of the very top drawer in Make Believe and another European Group 1 winner in Mkfancy, but overall his results were disappointing relative to his £25,000 fee at Tweenhills and he was sold to Japan in 2017. Canford Cliffs also underperformed on the opportunities given to him when standing at Coolmore at an opening fee of €17,500 and he is now faring better in South Africa. So Lope De Vega, the source of 18 top-level winners including Belardo, Lucky Vega and Phoenix Of Spain and up to a fee of €125,000 at Ballylinch Stud this year, is the clear winner here.
Score: Six-all to Britain and France, and four to Ireland.
2,000 Guineas: Frankel
Poule d’Essai des Poulains: Tin Horse
Irish 2,000 Guineas: Roderic O’Connor
Roderic O’Connor and Tin Horse sired a smattering of smart horses between them but they offer zero competition to the superlative Frankel, an outstanding champion on the track and at stud. Not much more needs to be said.
Score: The Newmarket 2,000 Guineas forges ahead on seven, with France on six and Ireland on four.
2,000 Guineas: Camelot
Poule d’Essai des Poulains: Lucayan
Irish 2,000 Guineas: Power
Another year that doesn’t need much explanation. Camelot has sired ten Group/Grade 1 winners at Coolmore, including the brilliant Luxembourg and Classic scorers Even So, Latrobe and Sammarco, while Lucayan has made little impact with admittedly cheaply bred horses in France and Power didn’t last long as a budget option on the Coolmore roster – although he did stage a rally when it was all too late, by supplying the likes of Helvic Dream, Laws Of Indices and Sonnyboyliston in recent seasons.
Score: Britain goes clear: eight-six-four.
2,000 Guineas: Dawn Approach
Poule d’Essai des Poulains: Style Vendome
Irish 2,000 Guineas: Magician
Dawn Approach was initially considered disappointing, but he has at least given us a 2,000 Guineas winner in Poetic Flare and Derby runner-up in Madhmoon, as well as a Group 1-winning Australian colt in Paulele. That’s just enough to see off Style Vendome, whose only major accomplishment as a sire has been Prix Marcel Boussac winner Lily’s Candle, and Magician, who has sired nothing higher than a Listed winner to date.
Score: Newmarket is going to be hard to collar, with nine points on the scoresheet compared with France’s six and Ireland’s four.
2,000 Guineas: Night Of Thunder
Poule d’Essai des Poulains: Karakontie
Irish 2,000 Guineas: Kingman
Karakontie has performed admirably for a European turf horse in the competitive Kentucky stallion market, but he doesn’t hold a candle to Night Of Thunder or Kingman, two of the best young sires in Britain and Ireland. Night Of Thunder has become renowned for exceptionally high strike-rates of winners to runners, with Highfield Princess, Isaac Shelby and Suesa among his best representatives, while Kingman is a confirmed conduit of class, and has already amassed six Group 1 winners, including Kinross, Palace Pier and Persian King.
Score: Hard to split Night Of Thunder and Kingman, so it’s one each to Britain and Ireland, making it ten-six-five.
2,000 Guineas: Gleneagles
Poule d’Essai des Poulains: Make Believe
Irish 2,000 Guineas: Gleneagles
Gleneagles is yet to deliver a horse rated by the Racing Post within eight pounds of Make Believe’s best performer Mishriff. But the Coolmore horse is generally the more consistent sire, with 26 black-type winners compared with the Ballylinch Stud resident’s seven. He also has the favourite for Saturday’s Irish 2,000 Guineas in Newmarket third Royal Scotsman.
Final score: With Anglo-Irish 2,000 Guineas hero Gleneagles edging out French victor Make Believe, the Newmarket Classic finishes with 11 points and the Longchamp and Curragh versions both end with six.
There you have it: the 2,000 Guineas appears to be the more reliable pointer to prestige at stud, by this imprecise measure at least. Just as well I didn't go back another decade and bring in names to conjure with such as Entrepreneur, King Of Kings and Pennekamp.
All of which isn't necessarily the best way to whet the appetite for the Irish 2,000 Guineas on Saturday, but don’t let it spoil your enjoyment of what looks an intriguingly open contest, as the notion of stallion-making races is only really of use to marketing managers for padding out their promotional material – and bloodstock journalists when they're stuck for inspiration.
What do you think?
Share your thoughts with other Good Morning Bloodstock readers by emailing email@example.com
“We have such a strong team of horsemen and that’s something I must emphasise, as well as the strength of the broodmare band itself,” says Juddmonte chief executive Douglas Erskine Crum in a wide-ranging interview about the ever-successful operation.
More than half of the 16 runners in the 6f fillies’ maiden at the Curragh on Friday (5.25) have finished in the first four on their earlier starts, so it could prove difficult for the three debutantes who have been declared to make their presence felt.
But the pedigree of one of them, the Jessica Harrington-trained Nelda, makes an each-way investment tempting. She is a Dark Angel full-sister to one Group 1 winner in Persuasive, who struck in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes, and a half-sister to another in Creative Force, who scored in the British Champions Sprint and was sadly lost in action at York last week.
Their wonderful dam Choose Me, a Listed-winning daughter of Choisir descended from dual champion racemare Cairn Rouge, has produced four other winners including Listed victress Tisbutadream and highly rated handicappers Amazour and Songkran.
Nelda carries the colours of Vimal Khosla after being purchased by Amanda Skiffington for €230,000 at the Goffs Orby Yearling Sale.
Did you miss Good Morning Bloodstock Live?
Martin Stevens talked to Watership Down Stud's Simon Marsh about Too Darn Hot’s first two-year-olds, the operation’s history and mating plans for its outstanding broodmares in Good Morning Bloodstock Live. You can find it on Instagram @rpbloodstock or YouTube @racingpostbloodstock4646
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