First Among Equals
I Am Invincible (pic:

The latest batch of young stallions are here, and 2016’s group of freshman sires look highly promising as sires of future note, writes Reneé Geelen.

There is a blue sky-dreaming mystery about the freshman sire that excites and intrigues breeders. Each of these horses has unproven potential; and if you get it right, the world is waiting to reward you with riches. There are breeders out there who are still dining out on being the first to support Danehill, Encosta de Lago or Street Cry in their first few seasons – back when you could send a mare for less than $15,000. Similarly, boom sire I Am Invincible started off his breeding career at just $11,000 at Yarraman Park, with his first crop proving dominating the 1st Season Sires category in 2013-14 by individual winners, stakes-winners and earnings. Now with a $55,000 stud fee I Am Invincible is one of the first stallions fully booked each year.

And there is a huge sense of satisfaction to be had when you correctly select the “next big thing”. There are bragging rights, and even better, there is the immense joy that comes from breeding a top racehorse. Because that’s what it is all about – to be the breeder who not only picks the next champion stallion, but sends the right mare to that stallion to create the next racetrack sensation.

Along this journey, there are shorter-term wins to be had as well. Breeders who supported the valuable, and at first glance pricey, pair of Pierro and All Too Hard in their first season have been richly rewarded at this year’s yearling sales for backing their judgement. And those who didn’t support them have enjoyed the sales ring duel between the two biggest young names to grace the Australian Stud Book as stallions in recent years. We all eagerly await their progeny on the track with anticipation.

The strength of freshman sires at the recent weanling sales underlined yet again just how profitable it can be for the breeders who pick the right freshman sire. That profitability can also be extrapolated much further for pinhookers who take the weanlings to yearling or 2YO ready-to-run stage before cashing in. History also shows that those with the vision to take an even longer view about the likelihood of freshman sires can sometimes get the greatest payback – success on the racecourse and, ultimately, via the stallions sons and daughters themselves at stud.

This year, 2016, we have an exciting group of youngsters to support, including three 2YO Gr1 winners: Press Statement, Pride of Dubai and Vancouver. There is the tough, globe-travelling 4xGr1-winning Criterion for those who want to breed a horse that should provide years of joy. Other Gr1 winners already announced include Exosphere, Free Eagle, Kermadec, Night of Thunder, Real Impact, and Trust in a Gust.

And it’s not just about Gr1 winners, with plenty of other options for breeders outside the lofty stratosphere of Gr1 winners (and often Gr1 prices). Take heart from the results in this racing season, where we have seen non-Gr1 winning stallions produce top class racehorses.

Two of our Gr1 2YO races have gone to progeny of non-Gr1 winning stallions. Written Tycoon, a Gr2 2YO winner, has left not just one but two 2YO Gr1 winners this season (Golden Slipper winner Capitalist and NZ’s Sires’ Produce winner Luna Rossa). Blue Diamond winner Extreme Choice this year is by Listed winner Not A Single Doubt. His rise to glory has taken a few seasons, but he’s right up there now. This season, he also left Vinery Stud Stakes winner Single Gaze, and dual Gr1 winner Miracles of Life last season; to make it 33 stakes winners in total. Not a Single Doubt has gone from an opening fee of $13,750 to being announced at $71,500 this year – thanks to the quality of his progeny.

Every year, a new group of horses retires to stud, and every year, breeders attempt to untangle the mystery. Who will succeed? Who will sell well? Which horse will give me the biggest thrill as a breeder? The beauty and the intrigue of racing is that no one knows for certain. We are all guessing, and spinning the thoroughbred roulette wheel. And that great unknown, with its potential to produce a once-in-a-decade stallion, makes it exciting.