There are several ways of measuring the success of a stallion, almost all of them based in some way on the performance of his progeny – amount of prize money won, number of races won, percentage of winners to runners, average earnings per runner, median rating of offspring, and so on.
A different approach would be to measure a stallion’s success judged on his stud fee over his career. thebreedingshed studied the top sires in Britain and Ireland in 2016 (ranked by the traditional prize money total of their progeny) and, where available, compared their current (2017) stud fee with their fee in their first year at stud. Dividing one by the other gives an improvement score. For example, a sire now standing for €20,000 that started at stud at a fee of €10,000 would have an improvement score of 2.
Instead of favouring sires which have been given the best opportunities at stud from the word go, this measurement instead highlights stallions which have, in many cases, started out with average or modest books of mares but who have earned better opportunities (reflected in a higher stud fee) as time has gone on. Some of these success stories, from ordinary beginnings, have been spectacular.
For the stallions discussed below we have given their rank by prize money earnings in Britain and Ireland in 2016 according to Racing Post statistics, their age in 2017, where they stand at stud, the year of their first season at stud, their fee in their first season, their advertised fee in 2017 and finally their improvement score (IS). Unless otherwise stated, all of these sires will stand for career-high fees in 2017.
Here are the nine sires whose fees have increased at least fivefold:
WAR FRONT #21 age 15 (Claiborne Farm [USA]) 2007 $12,500>$250,000 IS=20
Kentucky-based son of Danzig who’s the last of his great sire’s many successful stallions. Just modest stud fee early in career but it quadrupled to $60k after the success of dual Grade 1 winner The Factor in 2011. Reputation has risen rapidly in Europe of late, largely thanks to Aidan O’Brien-trained two-year-olds, including Dewhurst winners War Command and Air Force Blue and, in 2016, Cheveley Park Stakes winner Brave Anna. Also represented by Rodeo Drive Stakes winner Avenge in 2016.
INVINCIBLE SPIRIT #8 age 20 (Irish National Stud [IRE]) 2003 €10,000>€120,000 IS=12
Now one of the best sire sons of Green Desert. Fee soon rose to €75,000 after Lawman won Prix du Jockey Club in 2007. Dropped subsequently before creeping up again, then had top European milers Kingman and Charm Spirit in 2014 resulting in fee hitting six figures for first time. Another three Group 1 winners in 2016 thanks to Profitable (King’s Stand Stakes), Signs of Blessing (Prix Maurice de Gheest) and National Defense (Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere).
DUBAWI #2 age 15 (Dalham Hall Stud [GB]) 2006 £25,000>£250,000 IS=10
Enjoying the sort of stud career denied his short-lived sire Dubai Millennium. Much the most expensive of these when first going to stud and now the stallion with the highest advertised fee in Europe having lept by £100,000 after excellent 2015 season. Very much Darley/Godolphin’s flagship sire now, though other breeders have enjoyed plenty of success with him. Erupt, Journey, Left Hand, Postponed and Wuheida all Group/Grade 1 winners for him in 2016.
KODIAC #6 age 16 (Tally Ho Stud [IRE]) 2007 €5,000>€50,000 IS=10
Invincible Spirit’s younger three-parts brother and started out as a cheaper version of him given his less exalted racing record. Still standing for just €10k as recently as 2014, but got his Group 1 winner that year with Tiggy Wiggy in the Cheveley Park Stakes and speedy two-year-olds in 2016 included Norfolk Stakes winner Prince of Lir and Flying Childers winner Ardad.
DANSILI #16 age 21 (Banstead Manor Stud [GB]) 2001 £8,000>£65,000 IS=8.13
Son of outstanding Juddmonte broodmare Hasili but missed out on Group 1 success himself so started out inexpensively. Fee rose rapidly having got 2006 Arc winner Rail Link for his breeders and peaked at £100,000 in 2015 after getting 1000 Guineas winner Miss France, Prince of Wales’s Stakes winner The Fugue and Arc runner-up Flintshire the year before. Flintshire did well again in US in 2016 where Queen’s Trust won the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf.
SHOWCASING #27 age 10 (Whitsbury Manor Stud [GB]) 2011 £5,000>£35,000 IS=7
Youngest of these so may yet climb higher. Son of Oasis Dream whose biggest win came in Gimcrack Stakes. Started out as cheap source of speed but fee more than trebled after successful first crop of two-year-olds and made Group 1 breakthrough in 2016 with Commonwealth Cup and Sprint Cup winner Quiet Reflection.
PIVOTAL #5 age 24 (Cheveley Park Stud [GB]) 1997 £6,000>£40,000 IS=6.67
Veteran sire now and has been a huge success story for Cheveley Park. Not by a fashionable stallion himself (Polar Falcon) but results spoke for themselves, sending fee to high of £85,000 in 2007/2008. Best winners include some who stayed much further than he did himself, including Oaks/Irish Oaks winner Sariska, Dubai World Cup winner African Story and Champion Stakes winner Farhh. Successful sire of sires now too, with likes of Kyllachy and Siyouni.
DARK ANGEL #4 age 12 (Yeomanstown Stud/Morristown Lattin Stud [IRE]) 2008 €10,000>€65,000 IS=6.5
One of the younger sires in the list, so has scope to score more highly. Sent straight to stud after end of two-year-old campaign. Fee more than doubled after getting first Group 1 sprinter Lethal Force in 2013 (Diamond Jubilee Stakes/July Cup winner) and did so again when getting another top sprinter Mecca’s Angel in 2015 who won the Nunthorpe Stakes for the second time in 2016.
EXCEED AND EXCEL #9 age 17 (Kildangan Stud [IRE]) 2005 €10,000>€50,000 IS=5
Son of Danehill but bit of an unknown to European breeders at first having raced in Australia where also champion sire. Soon proved his worth in Europe to become one of most successful ‘reverse shuttlers’. Fee has risen steadily, and back at Kildangan now after several seasons for Darley at Dalham Hall. Represented by top miler Excelebration in 2011/2012.
[‘The Newmarket Stallion’ image – mira66]