Kevin Blake

This week Kevin is focusing on the second season sires table and pinpoints a stallion whose achievements have gone under the radar.

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Analysis of a vintage group of sires that retired to stud in 2015     

Statistically, the chances of any one stallion “making it” as a long-term commercial success are very low. The vast majority of them fail to achieve such status. Yet, every year will see the bloodstock industry row in behind dozens of new unproven stallions in the hope of their chosen sire being “one of the ones.”

2015 has proven to be a truly remarkable year for new stallions. The likelihood of “one of the ones” emerging from any one crop is low enough, but against all the odds, the crop of sires that commenced their covering duties in Europe in 2015 has managed to produce two exceptional stallions in the shape of KINGMAN and NO NAY NEVER.

With less than two years having passed since they had their first winners as sires, the achievements of their progeny has seen Kingman’s nomination fee rise to £150,000 and No Nay Never’s increase to €175,000. Of all the sires in Europe, only Galileo, Dubawi and Frankel stand for higher fees. That is as elite as it gets.

The achievements that have lifted Kingman and No Nay Never to such incredible heights in a remarkably short space of time will obviously dominate any analysis of the crop of sires that retired to stud in 2015. However, it would be ill-advised to focus solely on them, as the depth of that 2015 crop of sires very much extends beyond its two leading lights. With that in mind, now appeals as being a good time to look at the 2015 crop of sires as a whole and assess how their first two crops have fared thus far.
 

Kingman
Kingman and James Doyle before their Irish 2000 Guineas win.

 While there is always a great amount of focus on the first-season sire table every year with many participants being willing and keen to make fast judgements on sires, not nearly as much attention is paid to the second-season sire tables. Yet, it is this table that can reveal even more valuable information. It can often show that some of the fast conclusions drawn by the market based on the first-season sire table were overly hasty, identifying sires that are undervalued and underappreciated.

The progeny of a total of 23 sires that stood their first season at stud in 2015 have been analysed for this article. They have been assessed using Racing Post Ratings as a measure of performance and all of the statistics are accurate up to 1 April 2020. I have also included the statistics that each sire registered with their first two-year-olds up to 31 December 2018 to allow the reader to assess the progression of the progeny of each sire from that time up to 1 April 2020.

Here is what the numbers reveal:
 

2015 First Crop Tables

The numbers confirm what most will already have known about Kingman and No Nay Never. They are exceptional sires. Both stand out in a big way on every measure throughout the depth charts, siring Group 1 winners in their first crops and already having Group winners in their second crops of juveniles last season.

Given their overall profiles, there was obvious potential for the slight advantage that No Nay Never held over Kingman after their first two-year-olds ran being reversed the following year, with Kingman’s progeny being widely considered as being likely to progress better from two to three. However, the two have remained head-to-head by most statistical measures up to the present day, with Ten Sovereigns doing his part to dash any fears that No Nay Never’s progeny wouldn’t progress well with age by winning the July Cup last summer. For his part, Kingman’s progeny found just as much progression from two to three as had been hoped, with the likes of King Of Comedy, Persian King, Headman and Sangarius all showing strong improvement as three-year-olds.

In terms of where these star sires go from here, the next couple of years promise to be interesting for them both due to their contrasting profiles. This year will see them both represented by two-year-olds from their third crops. Traditionally, a stallion’s third and fourth crops will be the weakest of their first four, as it is widely considered to be commercially risky to use a sire just before they have their first runners. 

Of course, if the sire goes on to have great success with their first runners, sending a mare to them in their third or fourth season will look an inspired decision. However, given the aforementioned reality that the vast majority of new sires will fail, doing so is a high-risk move that many mare owners are reluctant to take.

This reality is particularly applicable at the lower end of the nomination fee scale, which makes No Nay Never potentially vulnerable to such a third-crop dip given his fee for that crop was €17,500. Mind, it is worth pointing out that No Nay Never’s second crop of two-year-olds actually outperformed his first crop in terms of RPR100+ performers per runner, so it might be dangerous to anticipate a third-crop dip in his case.

In contrast, Kingman was considered a leading prospect from the outset of his stallion career, covering at a fee of £55,000 in each of his first four seasons and enjoying support from the world-class broodmare band of his owner Khalid Abdullah in each of those years. Thus, he may not be as vulnerable to a third-crop dip as No Nay Never might be.

With regard to the longer term, it should be pointed out that while both Kingman and No Nay Never will benefit from notable uplifts in the quality of the mares they were sent from 2019 onwards, No Nay Never will unquestionably get the bigger uplift. Jumping from a nomination fee of €17,500 to €100,000 in 2019 and €175,000 in 2020 will mean that No Nay Never will cover an entirely different class of mare than those with which he combined to make such an incredible start with. While Kingman will enjoy a lift too, a nomination fee of £55,000 in his first four seasons already placed him in the upper echelons and thus he doesn’t have as far to rise as a result.

Kingman and No Nay Never have risen to the very top end of the stallion ranks in a very short space of time. How they progress as elite sires promises to be just as fascinating to watch as their rise to that level has been.

Given that Kingman and No Nay Never have understandably dominated the coverage of the sires that stood their first seasons in 2015, one could easily assume that crop was all about just two sires, but it isn’t.

In fact, as can be seen on the above table, the sire with the highest percentage of RPR110+ performers per runner isn’t Kingman or No Nay Never. It is Australia.

Just how well Australia has fared as a sire thus far shouldn’t be underestimated, as the numbers show that he has made an excellent start to his stallion career, particularly with regard to how many RPR110+ horses he has already produced. While he has yet to sire a Group 1 winner, the likes of Broome, Sydney Opera House and Western Australia all went close to doing so, with Sir Ron Priestley also finishing second in the St Leger.
 

Australia
Australia and Joseph O'Brien add the Irish Derby to their Epsom success.

It is understandable that Australia has been somewhat underappreciated given the outstanding performances of the progeny of Kingman and No Nay Never. However, in a more typical year, the performance of Australia’s progeny would make him the headline act amongst his crop. Given that his nomination fee has been reduced from €35,000 to €27,500 for 2020, there is a strong case to be made that he represents significant value compared to No Nay Never and Kingman who are now out of the reach of most breeders.

Another sire that is even lower down the nomination fee scale that warrants mention amongst this exceptional crop of stallions is SEA THE MOON. Standing at Lanwades Stud in Newmarket for £15,000 throughout his stud career, Sea The Moon has had smaller numerical representation thus far compared to the other sires at the top of the above table, but his 100 or so runners have fared very well indeed.

As well as siring the likes of Pondus, Quest The Moon and Enjoy The Moon in his first crop, he also enjoyed notable success with his second crop of juveniles last season, with Alpine Star winning the Group 2 Debutante Stakes at the Curragh and Wonderful Moon winning a Group 3 at Krefeld in Germany by 12 lengths.

Being a German Derby winner that is by Sea The Stars and out of a Monsun full-sister to two German Derby winners, Sea The Moon’s progeny can be expected to progress with age and build on the fine start they have made thus far. He looks to represent excellent value at £15,000.

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