Your browser version is outdated. We recommend that you update your browser to the latest version.

Mighty Mehmas & Machiavellian Mares

Posted 18/2/2021

            So another first season sire year has come to a close and, whilst the COVID pandemic tried its best to disrupt events, I think we can objectively analyse the new boys' performances as in any other year despite a delay at the beginning of the season. I followed the fortunes of 26 new sires and these are my thoughts on how some of them performed.

            Whilst I won't dwell too long on the lack of success of some of the new sires that I was expecting to do well, I did advise people that Mehmas was very likely to win the new sire GB/Ireland race for the most winners and it was no surprise to anyone when he duly obliged given that he was a sprinter with by far the most potential runners and those factors linked to his own conformation and demonstrated precocity meant that he looked a solid bet even at the skinny odds of 2/1. What has surprised me is the quantity and quality of his winners and it is extremely unusual that a sire who covered below average quality mares overall can get so many stakes performers which numbered 12 by year end. 69% of his potential runners hit the track which is a higher % than any other 2020 First Season Sire (FSS) and that says to me that he is passing on good conformation as well as the precocity that was expected. As a son of Acclamation and out of a Machiavellian mare he is three parts in blood related to Dark Angel and with this start I think there is a very good chance that he will end up imitating his close relation which would suggest that, whilst he has had his fee more than tripled to €25k, it could look a real bargain a couple of  years down the road.

            For me an odd characteristic of the 2020 FSS performance analysis is that the sires who covered the best mares underperformed. I expected Shalaa to be a major player but I think connections will be hugely disappointed with no stakes winners and only three black type placed runners from well over a hundred potential runners. The same can be said of The Gurkha and Awtaad who only managed three stakes performers between them. This triumvirate covered on average the best mares and their runners did not exactly cover themselves in glory. Early days to be writing sires off but this 1st crop needs to step up in 2021 and their 2nd crops need to perform to a much higher level in my opinion or else they will be packed off to "lesser climes" fairly quickly.

            Switching to the lower end, Coulsty (by Kodiac out of an In The Wings mare) was an absolute revelation. He covered by far the lowest quality mares yet from only 45 potential runners and 23 actual runners he obtained 5 black type performers including 3 winners and around one third of his runners were rated 80+. Clearly he has not received the same plaudits as Mehmas but that sire had more than 100 runners and 56 winners as well as quality black type performers to help blow his trumpet. Herein lies Coulsty's main challenge in that he covered very few mares in his second, third and fourth seasons which means he will have less than 25 new runners in the next three years. Perhaps his 1st crop will continue to shine at three years old (plenty of stamina on his dam's side) or a star or two come out of these new runners but he's going to find it extremely hard to get any air play until 2024 and that assumes he covers many more mares this year! At €4k he is exceptional value based on his FSS performance in 2020.

            So who else did well as a FSS? Territories (by Invincible Spirit out of a Machiavellian mare) impressed me without producing any really top performers. Some 17% of his runners are rated 90+ a figure that is only matched by Mehmas. He hasn't received the same press as the mighty Mehmas which is possibly down to the lack of a really top performer but also that four of his seven stakes performers obtained that level in Italy which tends to be downgraded in people's minds when compared with the UK and Ireland. Territories did run four times as a 2yo including a close 2nd in the Group 1 Jean Luc Lagardare run in October, but he shone as a 3yo and possibly his offspring have more potential for improvement as 3yos than Mehmas. He covered better quality mares than Mehmas but, as indicated above with the 90+ rated runners, he has produced plenty of quality in depth and very few duds. At £10k he looks very good value and we have booked him in to our mare Redskin Dancer who already has a 3yo by Territories called Chirimiri who is due to make his debut shortly in France, all being well!

            Before moving on to some of the other FSS of 2020 it is interesting to note that both Mehmas and Territories are out of Machiavellian mares. I was already sold on Machiavellian as a damsire with our Birthstone producing Gift List to get black type last year before being sold to race in the USA. The fact that two of the top three new sires from 2020 are out of Machiavellian mares has only reinforced my belief that he is an extremely good damsire to follow. Another belief I have is in the blue hen mare Rafha who provided the sires of both Coulsty and Territories and clearly is a major influence on the breed through the exploits of her sons Invincible Spirit and Kodiac.

            Moving on to the FSS of more stamina, as usual there are not so many and amongst the group I studied are New Bay, Fascinating Rock, Vadamos, Dariyan and Harzand. New Bay (by Dubawi out of a Zamindar mare) was by far the best of them on a number of counts. First, he had 54% of his potential runners actually run whilst the other four sires ranged between 28% and 46%. Secondly, he obtained two stakes winners and two placed whereas the other four achieved only three placed ones between them. Finally his runners were way ahead of the others in terms of average rating. Considering New Bay only ran once at 2yo in November and he was best between 10 to 12 furlongs it is surprising that he had so many runners and that they produced such good results. Of all the FSS mentioned so far one would have thought that his runners have potentially the biggest chance to shine in their second season and it would be no surprise to me if they do just that in 2021.

             Of the rest I think Kodi Bear (by Kodiac out of a Mujtahid mare) and Goken (by Kendargent out of an Indian Rocket mare) did well from relatively modest mares and the former at €6k is very good value. Twilight Son disappointed me a bit as his runners were rated 5lbs or so below Kodi Bear and Goken from a similar quality of mare and my hope is that his progeny pick up as 3yos just as their father did. He improved by 34lbs from 2yo to 3yo and early signs in January and February are that this improvement may well be happening as he has had a bunch of winners since the turn of the year. Pride Of Dubai and Belardo had plenty of stakes winners between them but their progeny performance overall was not so good. Scissor Kick only had 35% of his potential runners actually run with only 15 making the track of which four were rated 87+ but the numbers are too small to make any firm conclusions in my opinion and the low turn out rate worries me somewhat. Buratino, Adaay, Prince Of Lir and The Last Lion were pretty average overall although The Lir Jet was a big positive for Prince Of Lir. The rest need to up their game or they won't be around in the UK, France or Ireland for much longer.

            In conclusion, considering the quality of mare covered as well as number of winners, stakes performers and average progeny ratings my top six from 2020 FSS group are:-

  1. Mehmas
  2. Coulsty
  3. Territories
  4. New Bay
  5. Kodi Bear
  6. Goken

& one to watch is Twilight Son!

Jim Atkinson

James Ortega Bloodstock Ltd

18th February 2021