Cut your cloth to fit

Many mares are sent to expensive stallions with little hope of their owners retrieving their outlay at the sales. John Boyce runs the rule over some sires standing for 15,000 or less which could prove more suitable choices.

(Standing for up to £15,000 in 2024)

Name Born Fee 24 Sire AvT10 TFR Top Rated TFR
Oasis Dream 2000 £15,000 Green Desert  125.3 Muhaarar 130
Holy Roman Emperor 2004 €8,000 Danehill  122.1 Designs On Rome 130
Iffraaj 2001 £10,000 Zafonic  120.6 My Prospero, Ribchester 129
Motivator 2002 €5,000 Montjeu  119.9 Treve 134
Footstepsinthesand 2002 €8,000 Giant's Causeway  119.4 Beauty Flame, Heshem, Pure Champion 123
Equiano 2005 €2,000 Acclamation 118.6 The Tin Man 126
Kendargent 2003 €15,000 Kendor  118.3 Skaletti 124
Intello 2010 €8,000 Galileo  117.9 Young Rascal 125
Raven's Pass 2005 €7,500 Elusive Quality  117.8 Matterhorn 123
Lawman 2004 €4,000 Invincible Spirit  117.4 Harbour Law 119
Muhaarar 2012 €14,000 Oasis Dream  116.7 Eshaada 120
Golden Horn 2012 £10,000 Cape Cross  114.2 Trawlerman 124
Make Believe 2012 €10,000 Makfi 113 Mishriff 131
Bated Breath 2007 £10,000 Dansili  112.5 Space Traveller 118
Territories 2012 £10,000 Invincible Spirit  112.2 Aldaary 124
Awtaad 2013 €5,000 Cape Cross  111.3 Anmaat 125
Ulysses 2013 £9,000 Galileo  111 Mighty Ulysses 117
Twilight Son 2012 £6,000 Kyllachy  109.5 Twilight Calls 117
Kodi Bear 2012 €15,000 Kodiac  108.6 Go Bears Go 116
Belardo 2012 £5,500 Lope de Vega 108.5 Gold Phoenix 120
Almanzor 2013 €10,000 Wootton Bassett  107 Lassaut 118
Goken 2012 €15,000 Kendargent  106.2 Fang 115
Cotai Glory 2012 €12,500 Exceed and Excel  105.8 Atomic Force 112
Bungle Inthejungle 2010 €7,500 Exceed and Excel  105.3 Winter Power 123
Zelzal 2013 €10,000 Sea the Stars  104.5 Dolce Zel 112
Galileo Gold 2013 €7,000 Paco Boy  101.3 Ebro River 113

Such is the clamour for access to the top commercial sires these days that a very high proportion of mares end up getting covered by a stallion too expensive for their own pedigree. It’s remarkable that, every autumn, approaching four out of every ten mares sold in-foal don’t make enough money to cover the advertised stud fee of the covering sire. More than ever, it is important to look for value among the stallion ranks. To this end, it might be productive to run the rule over those sires standing for up to £15,000 or €15,000 and examine them through the lens of how good their best ten horses are according to their Timeform ratings. 

Stallions available at 15k or less tend to fall into two groups, those that are no longer considered commercial for whatever reason and those starting out which are still on many people’s watch lists. Among the former group are some veteran stallions that have proven themselves beyond all doubt and are being shunned simply because of their age. 

At the top of the table is Oasis Dream who has all the hallmarks of a top-class sire. His average of 125.3 for his best ten runners puts him firmly in the elite category, as does his percentage of Stakes winners to runners, which is hovering at around 9%, an excellent return for a speed sire. Can he still deliver the goods? That is the question we have to ask ourselves. Now 24 years old, the former Champion Sprinter has proved through his top-class son Native Trail – conceived when his sire was 18 – and his Group 2 Vintage Stakes winner Marbaan – conceived when Oasis Dream was 20 – that his age may not be such a risk factor. Then you have the added reassurance that he’s a truly top-class broodmare sire, so his daughters have a great residual value.

Holy Roman Emperor has always been among the less expensive go-to sires and he has a proven ability to produce top quality stock.

Holy Roman Emperor has always been among the less expensive go-to sires and he has a proven ability to produce top quality stock.

Whereas Oasis Dream may have slid further down the commercial scale, Coolmore’s Holy Roman Emperor has always been among the less expensive proven go-to sires. His top-class Hong Kong sons Designs On Rome (rated 130 by Timeform), and Beauty Only (rated 125), are perfect advertisements for his ability as a sire and contribute significantly to his top-ten average of 122.1. He has to be great value at just €8,000, particularly as he’s proved he retains the ability to sire nice horses such as last year’s Group 3-winning juvenile Geography, plus the Group 3-placed Great Generation.

Darley’s Iffraaj, the sire of the red-hot Wootton Bassett, is another proven veteran. One of his two top-rated runners, My Prospero, winner of the Group 2 Prix Eugene Adam and like his sire’s Ribchester rated 129 by Timeform, was foaled as recently as 2019. This just goes to show that if you have a good mare, Iffraaj can come up with a very good horse. 

Raven’s Pass is another Darley stallion worthy of consideration in that he always delivers a very high proportion of Stakes winners for his fee level at just €7,500. Sire of horses of the calibre of Matterhorn (Timeform 123) and crack Japanese sprinter Tower Of London (Timeform 122), plus Group 1-winning two-year-old Royal Marine, he’s even got a juvenile Stakes winner from his 2021 crop in Son Of Corballis, winner of the Tipperary Stakes. Moreover, his sire line has had a productive start to the year with his paternal half-brothers Quality Road and Bullbars supplying Group 1 Pegasus World Cup winner National Treasure and Group 1 C F Orr Stakes winner Mr Brightside respectively.

Among the younger fully exposed sires is Muhaarar, who’s enjoying a bit of a renaissance at his new home, Haras du Petit Tellier, after his son Marhaba Ya Sanafi, won the Group 1 Poule d’Essai des Poulains last year to become his sire’s second top level winner. It is now clear that this top-class sprinter by Oasis Dream is anything other than a speed influence as his stamina index of 8.6 furlongs and his highest-rated runner is the mile-and-a-half Group 1-winning Eshaada would suggest. Interestingly, his daughters feature a very respectable 8.4% Stakes winners to runners and it is not beyond to bounds of possibility that many of his earlier well-bred daughters will become good broodmares, as was the case with his own sire Oasis Dream.

Muhaarar, sire of last year’s French 2000 Guineas winner Marhaba Ya Sanafi, is enjoying a bit of a renaissance since his move to France.

Muhaarar, sire of last year’s French 2000 Guineas winner Marhaba Ya Sanafi, is enjoying a bit of a renaissance since his move to France.

There are not many on our list that have sired what Timeform consider a ‘very high-class’ horse, those rated from 125 to 129. One that has is Derrinstown Stud’s Awtaad in the shape of Group 1 Prix d’Ispahan winner Anmaat from a very productive first crop that featured six Stakes winners in total from 77 runners (7.8%). His other Group 1 scorer is the Timeform 113-rated Anisette from her sire’s third crop, who scored a top level double on America’s west coast last year in the Del Mar Oaks and American Oaks.

Another sire with this distinction is the Irish National Stud’s Equiano, available for only €2,000. This son of Acclamation is value even within this group given that he’s responsible for a top ten average of 118.6 and has the very high-class The Tin Man (TF126) as his top horse, while the fact that Make Believe can sire one as good as Mishriff (TF131) must also bring him into consideration at his €10,000 fee, given that his biggest and one of his best crops race this year as two-year-olds. 

Territories, who stands at £10,000, has a high-class horse on his resumé in the shape of the Timeform 124-rated Aldaary, plus the excellent Group 1 winners Rougir and Regional. Then there is Bated Breath, who tends to produce Stakes horses at a level way above what his £10,000 would suggest. I would also mention Belardo at £5,500 because he too is about to be represented by his best-ever crop, conceived the year after he’d sired three first-crop Group-winning juveniles. Finally among this group, Ulysses also has two strong crops about to take the stage, as will have Cotai Glory, who covered his best set of mares last spring which ought to protect any 2024 investment in the son of Exceed And Excel.

Calyx had four sons rated 100 or higher in his first crop and covered a large number of quality mares in 2023.

Calyx had four sons rated 100 or higher in his first crop and covered a large number of quality mares in 2023.

Among the sires available for 15k or less this spring that were represented with their first runners last year are four that have already sired a Timeform 100-rated runner. This group will be very much under the spotlight this term, as they will be expected to show their stock can progress markedly from two to three, before they are deemed to have done enough to earn the continued support of commercial breeders. 

Top of the pile is Kingman’s son Calyx who has four colts rated 100 or higher. Commercial breeders actually gave a big thumbs up to the Group 2 Coventry winner last spring, substantially increasing the number and quality of his mares and all before he had had a runner. In the event, he didn’t disappoint, siring two Group 2 winners and a Group 3 winner, plus Group 1 Dewhurst third Eben Shaadad, his highest rated at 109. 

Soldier’s Call also assembled a talented bunch of two-year-olds last term, headed by Group 3 Prix Eclipse winner Dawn Charger (Timeform 102). We are also entitled to expect more from the first three-year-olds by Lope de Vega’s Irish 2,000 Guineas winner Phoenix Of Spain, sire of Group 2 Vintage Stakes winner Hateem, as well as those by Lanwades’ Deep Impact stallion Study Of Man, who has a live Classic contender in the shape of the Timeform 108-rated Group 2 Beresford Stakes winner Deepone. Advertise and the Invincible Spirit duo of Inns Of Court (sire of the 100-rated Listed winner Megarry), and Invincible Army are all also competitively priced based on the 2023 achievements.

(Standing for up to £15,000 in 2024)

Name Born Fee 24 Sire AvT10 TFR Top Rated TFR
Calyx 2016 €12,500 Kingman  96.4 Eben Shaddad 109
Soldier's Call 2016 £8,500 Showcasing  90.9 Dawn Charger 102
Phoenix of Spain 2016 €10,000 Lope de Vega  88.2 Haatem 98
Inns of Court 2014 €5,000 Invincible Spirit  87.4 Megarry 100
Magna Grecia 2016 €10,000 Invincible Spirit  86.4 Neapolitan 93
Advertise 2016 £10,000 Showcasing  85.6 Matters Most 94
Invincible Army 2015 €5,000 Invincible Spirit  85.3 Kitty Rose 93
Study of Man 2015 £12,500 Deep Impact  83.4 Deepone 108
Masar 2015 £10,000 New Approach  80.2 Golden West 91

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 was part of the Darley/Godolphin team from 2001 to 2022 as Group Marketing Head and then Group Head of Research. He is currently a partner in a data analytics company based in London.

Why Advertise Your Stallion

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An Overview • Stud Record • Sales Record • Race Record • Pedigree Record