Punching above their weight

John Boyce identifies three good value stallions with a proven ability to upgrade their mares  

There are only a handful of sires with 100-plus runners standing at £20,000 or below that can boast ratios of Stakes horses greater than what their mares have managed to do with all other sires. That’s how difficult the task is for a stallion. Improving your mares is a prerequisite for a sire before he can even be even considered a possible success. Three that have earned the opportunity to cover ever better mares are Sea The Moon (Lanwades, 2020 fee £15,000), Havana Gold (Tweenhills, £10,000) and Mayson (Cheveley Park, £5,000). 

MAYSON was the last of the three to open his Group 1 account. And in the July Cup winners, Oxted, he has a real star on his hands. Rated 126 by Timeform, Oxted is already more accomplished a racehorse that his sire, whom Timeform assessed at 124 after his own July Cup success in eight years earlier. 

Mayson’s son, Oxted maintains the family tradition by winning the Group 1 July Cup at Newmarket.

Mayson’s son, Oxted maintains the family tradition by winning the Group 1 July Cup at Newmarket.

Being a son of Invincible Spirit, himself by July Cup hero Green Desert, and out of a mare by Pivotal, Mayson could scarcely have a better commercial pedigree. And with a second dam by Efisio and a third by Bay Express, speed was always going to be Mayson’s strong suit. Little wonder then that he never ventured beyond six furlongs in 18 career starts, winning five times and hitting the board on a further seven occasions.

His penchant for speed is also coming through in his offspring. With an average winning distance of 6.6 furlongs for his mature runners, Mayson has pitched his stock into the most competitive arena of British and Irish racing. It’s sobering to know opportunities for speedsters to earn black-type at five and six furlongs are only half that of mile-and-a-quarter horses and mile-and-a-half horses. In fact, this fact goes some to explaining why Invincible Spirit’s percentage of Stakes winners (8.5%) is only about half that of the best middle-distance sires. 

Even so, Mayson has still managed to come out on the right side of the ledger, siring 9.0% Stakes horses to runners from mares that typically manage just 6.6% when covered by all other sires. Further evidence can be gleaned from his progeny’s Timeform ratings, his percentage of horses rated 100 or more (11.4%) comparing favourably with that of his mares’ other runners. In fact, though he’s not been trusted with many elite mares, one in three Maysons have surpassed the 100 mark.

MAYSON'S STAKES WINNERS

Form TFR Horse YOB Sex Dam Broodmare Sire
G1w 126 OXTED  2016 G CHARLOTTE ROSINA W  CHOISIR
LRwG2p 115 GLOBAL APPLAUSE  2014 C CROWN W  ROYAL APPLAUSE
LRw 106 RAYDIANCE  2015 G IRIDESCENCE W  DUTCH ART
LRw 102 PRIVATE MATTER  2014 G Privacy Order UP  AZAMOUR
LRw 98 ROSIE BRIAR  2014 F Lighted Way P  KRIS
LRwG3p 97 DANCE DIVA  2015 F DANCE EAST W  SHAMARDAL

SEA THE MOON’s first ten Stakes winners have been achieved at an excellent rate of 7.1% from runners. This showing is all the more meritorious given that he’s stood at a fee of £15,000 since the outset of his career and there are many more expensive sires struggling to do better. What we were really waiting for from Sea The Moon was a flagship racehorse and his impressive Group 1 Coronation Stakes heroine Alpine Star certainly fits that bill. But breeders had already warmed to Sea The Moon before Alpine Star came along. The Lanwades stallion has covered 100-plus books in each of his first five years at stud. 

Alpine Star provides her sire Sea The Moon with his first Group 1 success in Coronation Stakes at Royal Ascot.

Alpine Star provides her sire Sea The Moon with his first Group 1 success in Coronation Stakes at Royal Ascot.

Predictably, in these commercially risk-adverse times, maintaining the quality of mares visiting a stallion in years two, three and four is now almost impossible. And Sea The Moon was no exception, his number of elite mares falling from 24 in year one to seven by year three. That said, breeders liked what they saw among his early runners and rewarded him with 27 elite mares in 2019 – a huge vote of confidence and one that ought to be bolstered further by Alpine Star.

High quality mares are important to all stallions, but it is particularly easy to get excited about Sea The Moon’s prospects when you know that his strike rate from an admittedly small number of elite mares is 15.8% Stakes winners to runners. Moreover, the son of Sea The Stars typically sires 25% horses good enough to earn a Timeform mark of 100 or more.

SEA THE MOON'S STAKES WINNERS

Form TFR Horse YOB Sex Dam Broodmare Sire
G1w 121 ALPINE STAR  2017 F Alpha Lupi UR  RAHY
G2wG1p 118 QUEST THE MOON  2016 C Questabella UR  ROCK OF GIBRALTAR
G2w 114 WONDERFUL MOON  2017 C WONDERFUL FILLY W  LOMITAS
G3w 110 PRIVILEGIADO  2016 C Scarlett's Pride WLRp  SINGSPIEL
G3wG2p 106 HAMARIYNA  2016 F HANAKIYYA W  DANEHILL DANCER
G3w 104 NOBLE MOON  2016 G NOUVELLE NOBLESSE G3w  SINGSPIEL
LRwG3p 117 PONDUS  2016 G DIABLERETTE W  GREEN DESERT
LRw 108 ENJOY THE MOON  2016 C ENJOY THE LIFE LRw  MEDICEAN
LRwG3p 107 TICKLE ME GREEN  2017 F Tickle Me Pink UR  GROOM DANCER
LRw 105 PRECIOSA  2016 F PRAKASA G3w  AREION

HAVANA GOLD was the first of this trio of stallions to establish his credentials, siring Group 1-winning two-year-old Havana Grey from his first crop. His 15 Stakes horses thus far are well above what could have been expected of his early mares. Once again, the son of Teofilo has clearly demonstrated what he’s capable of if trusted with a good enough mare. His two best performers to date, Group 1 winner Havana Grey (Timeform 118) and Group 3 winner Tabdeed (119) are progeny of elite mares. He certainly got an early boost from Havana Grey’s good juvenile season and covered his best ever book of mares in 2018. So we ought to see an upturn in Havana Gold’s fortunes with next season’s two-year-olds.

HAVANA GOLD'S STAKES WINNERS

Form TFR Horse YOB Sex Dam Broodmare Sire
G1w 118 HAVANA GREY  2015 C BLANC DE CHINE W  DARK ANGEL
G3w 119 TABDEED  2015 G Puzzled P  PEINTRE CELEBRE
G3w 96 TREASURING  2015 F YOU LOOK SO GOOD W  EXCELLENT ART
LRwG2p 112 HEADWAY  2015 G ON HER WAY W  MEDICEAN
LRw 101 BARADE  2015 G STATIA W  ANABAA
LRw 98 HARIBOUX  2017 G ROYAL WARRANTY W  SIR PERCY
LRw  - HAVANA VIEW  2015 C Morning View UP  NORTH LIGHT

About the author

John Boyce

John Boyce grew up on a stud farm and is a bloodstock journalist and former editor of Pacemaker and of The Thoroughbred Breeder. He has been part of the Darley/Godolphin team since 2001 as Group Marketing Head and then Group Head of Research. He is currently responsible for stallion and broodmare analysis to help the organisation’s stud, sales and marketing teams.

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