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

2016 First Season Sires - The Final Word

            I have been analysing the 2016 first season sires for the last three to four years in terms of offspring ability compared to quality of mare sent to the sire and believe that there are a number of conclusions one can make not only about the 2016 sires themselves but also the analysis in general as a tool to help sift through the myriad of statistics and marketing thrown at breeders year on year to entice them to buy into a particular stallion for a cover. The sire is only half of the equation and clearly those sires at the top of the tree before "a ball as been kicked", who are usually the ones who performed best on the racetrack themselves, are going to receive better mares and consequently have a head start over the others. The analysis tries to take out some of that bias by leveling out the playing field and helping us to identify who really is the best sire in a relative sense.

The Sires

            You can find all the charts for each crop and year under the specific tab under the Research tab along with my comments and analysis and I have no intention of repeating everything again. Looking back through my updates on this cohort I have been quite consistent in my predictions of which sires will succeed. Frankel has been leading from the gate and has consistently demonstrated that he is the best even taking into account the advantage he has had from receiving the best mares. He has consistently been well north of the trend-line, which demonstrates where a sire ought to be if performing averagely for the group, and has had a high level of his potential runners on the racetrack in all three years. He has also had a high level of black type offspring, including Group 1 and classic performers, which is so important to bolster and maintain the key market sentiment which can make or break a stallion's career. He was always up there to be shot at from the outset given his status as one of the best racehorses ever but I think he is demonstrating his exceptional ability as a sire and will be around with us for many years to come as a leading light.

            Nathaniel, has been somewhat disappointing for me despite him being the sire of dual Arc winner Enable. Her performances and the fact that he receives a high quality of mare around the 90 level mean that he has produced a good number of black type performers that have kept his name in the lights perhaps more than he deserves. I predict that he will be off to become a dual purpose stallion pretty soon.

            There are a number of sires who have been consistently north of the trend-line in all three crops including Sir Prancealot, Mayson, Requinto, Elzaam and Dragon Pulse. All of them have been sent to mares averaging less than 80 and in Requinto's case less than 70 which has meant they have had an uphill battle from day one to prove themselves. Of the five I feel Sir Prancealot is the one who got away and, following the success of several offspring in the USA he is now standing there at an increased fee from when he stood in Ireland. Mayson at £5,000 is the best value sire from this group of sires and the other three have all performed well from the quality of mare they were asked to work with.

            Bated Breath started fairly shakily but each crop has been better than its predecessor and he has always shown that conformation is not an issue with high percentages of his progeny reaching the racetrack. He has not had a Group 1 winner yet but he did have an outstanding Royal Ascot in 2019 with three top quality wins that certainly helped push his career forward and contributed to an increase in fee to £12,500. His offspring appear to progress well and to generally have good temperaments and he just needs a couple of top performers to push on even further. I am convinced that he remains very good value and that the best may yet be to come, hopefully with one of mine!

The Analysis

            I started out thinking that I would need to analyse three years of each crop to be sure I took into account potential late improvers but I have noted from the analyses of this 2016 cohort as well as those of 2017 that the changes from the 2nd year to the 3rd year are relatively minor and do not have a big impact on conclusions to be drawn and so will focus on two years for each crop from now onwards for future stallion cohorts. More important for me is to continue to cover at least three crops which I think gives one a fair view of each sire's merits. Bated Breath's case is a key one to note here as his third crop is his best to date and demonstrates a positive trajectory after a moderate 1st crop and a better 2nd crop. Having said that, it is remarkable how consistent the data is reflecting the various merits of the sires and there are relatively few cases of a sire jumping around on the chart in relation to the trend-line for successive crops. (Power being an exception on the 3rd crop analysis although that may be due in part to low numbers). This gives me a certain confidence that this simple measure is reflecting something about each sire's innate abilities as a sire irrespective of the quality of mare covered and helps to get away from the noise and hullabaloo of marketing and market sentiment which is often based on headline information, black type horses and "feelings" as well as personal interests. Whilst we will never know eg what Requinto could have done with Frankel's mares this analysis helps to reverse the inherent natural bias through some sires covering better quality mares than others.


Jim Atkinson

James Ortega Bloodstock Ltd 

7th February 2020 


The Bleedin' Obvious 

            After three years of the 2016 First Season Sires having runners on the track it is interesting to see various patterns emerging from my analysis comparing runner ratings to mare quality. Some of these patterns coincide with the more visible, rapidly formed and changing market views but others remain relatively hidden and, as they are unearthed, can offer value to breeders looking to make a success of their operations in tough times for a large part of the market. Of course the issue remains that if the value is not recognised then you will still find it difficult to reap the rewards in the market and you may have to run more of the offspring yourself to proove the theory you are following. Easier said than done with the relatively poor levels of prize money available in the UK and to some extent Ireland that can finance a more owner/breeder balance in your portfolio. France is an option with their owner and breeder premiums but then you may not want to have your runners based overseas if you are a UK or Irish operation.

            Whilst Basil Fawlty would accuse me of stating 'the bleedin obvious'  and you do not need to be a mastermind to realise that Frankel is the star of this first season sire group, in my view he has exceeded expectations with all three crops significantly outperforming. People love to shoot down the star and there seemed to be a fair few around ready to do that to a racehorse who is the best I have ever seen as he entered his second career. Even when his results started to come through they defaulted to "well, he gets the best mares" and then "but he hasn't had a Group 1 winner yet" and finally "he hasn't had a classic winner yet". Sure he gets the best mares by a long way and sure he didn't win all and sundry from the off but I think he has dispelled most of the sniping and this analysis shows that he improves his mares consistently. That is no mean feat as it is relatively harder to get higher runner ratings at a higher level but he is doing it for each of his first three crops in no uncertain manner. Outstanding.

            Fine, but we can not all afford £175,000 a cover so where can we find more value that perhaps has gone under the radar with market views disproportionately formed by headline making Group 1 winners and little or no credit given to those stallions covering lesser mares with an average top rating of 80 and less. Federico Tesio inspired the 'the best to the best'  industry mantra which makes sense but perhaps the best (or one of the better) sire(s) is, if not hidden, somewhat camouflaged by covering inferior mares, who after all, are 50% of the equation. In this 2016 group I believe without doubt that Frankel is the best but who are the camouflaged boys that could just break out if given a better quality of mare to cover? Below are the charts for the three crops after their third, second and first year respectively to help us get some answers. Each stallion has the following information after his name on the charts:-

  1. preferred distance as a racehorse

  2. height in hands

  3. % of potential runners who raced

  4. Number of potential runners (may change slightly from one year of analysis to another as potential runners are identified and/or those who have died without running have been removed)

  5. Number of black type winners & placed
  6. Covering fee in 2013/14/15 in £000






        Sir Prancealot, Mayson and Dragon Pulse are three that have consistently appeared above the trendline in all three crops and clearly are adding something to their mares who are on average rated below 80. The Sir Prancealot's are precocious and most of them seem to get to the track indicating a tendency to soundness. His mare quality for the 1st crop was around 7 to 8lbs better than his 2nd and 3rd crops and so no surprise that seven of his ten stakes performers so far have come from that initial crop. He went to Australia in 2018 and whilst there are noises that he may shuttle to Europe or the USA I fear those of us on the European continent have lost easy access to a low cost value sire who has done well with what he has had put in front of him. In similar vein, Mayson is doing well despite his 2nd and 3rd crops being bred off lesser mares than his 1st crop. With 17 stakes performers to date he has the highest number of black type performers of the sires who have been breeding with mares rated under 80. His progeny appear to be precocious and sound and he remains an excellent source of value. Dragon Pulse has had his best crop so far with the two year olds of 2018. His Ninetythreetwenty won a couple of races before running well in the Coventry Stakes behind Calyx and there are a few other 90 odd rated three year olds to carry on the good work this year. Whilst he did not cover so many in 2018 he does have a couple of bigger crops coming up and may be one to break through and carry on the Pivotal/Kyllachy dynasty. Certainly very good value at €6,000 for 2019.

            Requinto is another who has done consistently well despite covering mares on average rated below 70 making it very difficult for him to shine. Great Scot beat future Group 1 Breeders Cup Juvenile winner Line Of Duty in a novice race and ended the season with a fine 5th in the Group 1 Vertem Futurity earning a rating of 110. Has a bigger crop to race in 2019 but not afterwards and he will need a big year in 2019 to keep in the game at his €4,000. Bated Breath did not shine with his first crop (although it was his best quality of mare book by 6lbs) but the last two are showing more and he still has a shot at being a long term player. He has had 15 stakes performers but only three have been winners and he really needs a top performer to break through. He had more mares visit him in 2018 as people seemed to be coming around to using him at a very reasonable fee and I think he has a decent chance to make it.

            Nathaniel has received the second best set of mares in all three years of this analysis averaging around the 90 mark and has produced an outstanding horse in Enable but, despite large books and the mare quality mentioned he does get plenty of mediocre horses and has never beaten the trendline yet! He has proven he can get an exceptional horse but not my idea of best value taking everything into consideration.

            Elzaam is the surprise package of the 3rd crop producing on average the second best progeny from the 13th best quality of mare. There were half a dozen higher rated two year olds in this relativeyl small crop of 50 or so and if a few of them can kick on into their three year old careers he can start to get more attention. That, together with a couple of larger books gives him a chance but 2019 is key especially as at his €4,000 fee he is unlikely to attract better mares than the 70 to 75 rated mares he has been covering to date.

            Excelebration was always in Frankel's shadow as a runner and even more so as a stallion. However, that is not to say he has done that badly. Mare quality dropped off for his 3rd crop but on average he has been receiving mares around the 85 level and his progeny usually rate around the trendline. I also notice a certain tendency to improve over time although nothing startling. He has had fairly modest crops from 2017 onwards and it will be hard for him to break through. Certainly the drop in his fee from an initial €22,500 to €8,000 reflects the modest results and muted enthusiasm for him. He has proven he can get a top performer as in Barney Roy and you could do worse than use him at his current fee but there are probably others that appeal more.

            The rest have not impressed and the market as already spoken for them with Sepoy and Foxwedge back in Australia along with Power, Helmet in Germany, Born To Sea in France, Casamento to Sweden and now back to Ireland as a dual purpose prospect, Harbour Watch retired and Delegator passed away.

            So to summarise, I will restate the bleedin' obvious again and state that Frankel is clearly the pick of this bunch by a long way and likely to be a major player for the rest of his stallion career. Of the rest I believe that Mayson, Dragon Pulse and Bated Breath will make it as value proven sires although unlikely to produce many top headline makers along the way due to the relatively modest level of mares they are covering. I would not write off Requinto and Elzaam to join them although it will be tough for them whilst Nathaniel will have his niche as the producer of types with more stamina that could be top class. Possibly Sir Prancealot will be a hit Down Under. So there we have it and after three years I am saying that around 60 to 70% of the 2016 first season stallions will not be around meaningfully in a few years time. It's a hard game.

            Please see the individual tabs under 2016 First Season Sires by crop and year for more analyses and comments regarding this stallion class for its first three crops in each of their first one to three years.


Jim Atkinson

James Ortega Bloodstock Ltd

1st February 2019

Frankel First But What About The Rest


            As we move towards the end of the 2018 flat season and the third season for the offspring of the class of 2016, it is a good moment to see how the first three crops are developing. I aim to analyse three years of each new sire class to try and identify stallions that may give an edge in the breeding shed and the first crop to be analysed is now approaching the end of those three years which should have given them plenty of time to show what they can do. The analysis is confined to Northern Hemisphere stock only.

            Clearly the stallion stakes are the unfairest form of contest with the best performers on the track getting the best broodmares to cover so that in theory they should walk the race. To try and equalise things a bit and try to identify stallions that are consistently improving their mares I have developed an index mainly based upon offspring performance in relation to the quality of mare covered. The index, which measures each stallion within this 2016 class relative to each other, also includes a nod to precocity, soundness and those stallions capable of getting a top horse.

            Frankel continues to dominate and to me he is in a different universe from the others as is his covering fee! Whilst he does not score very highly on precocity, measured by 2yo appearances on the track, he is clearly the best on offspring performance even when handicapping him for his superior broodmare partners and he has shown himself to be outstanding in getting black type performers as an indicator of top class horses. When I calculated the index including Frankel he rated at 130 whereas the next best was 107 with 100 being an average performer. Therefore I decided to look at the data set without Frankel and here is what I got for the other 16 stallions in this cohort:-


Mayson                                                110

Sir Prancealot                                      108

Requinto                                              104

Foxwedge                                             103

Excelebration/Helmet/Dragon Pulse     102

Nathaniel                                             101

Bated Breath/Power                               98

Harbour Watch/Born To Sea                 97

Elzaam/Casamento                                96

Sepoy                                                     95

Delegator                                                91


Comments On Sires at 100 or More

Mayson - This year's 2yo's have started well and Mayson is above the trendline of progeny runner performance versus mare quality for the third consecutive crop. In my book once could be an accident, twice is a coincidence but three times makes me firmly believe that this sire is improving his mares day in day out and he deserves a better quality of mare. In terms of precocity judged on the number of runners appearing at 2yo he rates 14% above average and he is also above average in terms of soundness based upon the number of runners against potential runners from his first three crops. Finally, he is doing well with 15 black type high quality performers from a slightly below average level of mare helping him to get important recognition as a sire capable of getting top performers although it has to be said that his 5 stakes winners are all in Listed races. Perhaps 2yo True Mason who was third in the Group 1 Prix Morny can get him the breakthrough. If he can get that big winner it would open the door for him and, irrespective of that, I think he could be a good long term prospect for breeders at the low to medium end.

Sir Prancealot - The highest scorer in terms of precocious offspring with 65% of his offspring having hit the track in their 2yo career to the end of August with the likelihood of reaching 70%+ by the end of the year. Sir Prancealot's also appear to be very sound as he is top in terms of this measure on his first crop being 8% above average for the 2016 cohort. Whilst he has a couple of top performers in Madam Dancealot and Sir Dancealot he is only slightly above average in the black type measure although this is clearly a tough area for one who has received mares on average rated 5lbs below the average of the group which is 80lbs. Like Mayson, his first three crops are all above the trendline when comparing runner performance against mare quality. Deserves better mares but is doing enough to be around for quite a while yet.

Requinto - As with Mayson and Sir Prancealot, Requinto is showing that he is improving his mares over each of his three crops to date. Unfortunately for him, he has received the worst set of mares based upon their ratings as racehorses of this 2016 cohort and they are 5lbs below Sir Prancealot and 8lbs below Mayson on average, so if they are having problems with quality he has it big time. after Sir Prancealot he is amongst a group of seven or so sires who have a good record for producing precocious, sharp 2yo's and his stock appear to be sound. He falls down to a large degree in terms of his ability to produce high quality offspring as the number of potential runners from his first three crops is the lowest of the group and that together with the lower quality mares means an extremely tough job to impress the market. He has just got his first black type winner in early Sept when Great Scot won a Listed race at Haydock and already has four stakes placed horses. Deserves better mares but unlikely to get them.

Foxwedge - With a mare quality average similar to that of Sir Prancealot, Foxwedge has done well in his first three Northern Hemisphere crops without showing that he is necessarily one that is giving enormous improvement to his mares. On average 53% of his crops have made the track as 2yos with a few months to go for the third crop versus a cohort average of 46% and he is on average for overall soundness. His first crop is his best crop to date with his star progeny, Group 1 winning Urban Fox, coming from that year whilst the second crop is somewhat below par to date. May have done better over time in the Northern Hemisphere.

Excelebration - Is proving a solid enough stallion without setting the world alight and is slightly improving his mares which are the joint second best quality group (with Sepoy) to be covered by these stallions. He is joint second highest behind Sir Prancealot in terms of the precocity index and just above average in terms of the soundness index also having the third highest number of potential runners to hit the track. Standout offspring is clearly Barney Roy but perhaps he ought to have had more than four stakes winners from his Northern Hemisphere coverings given the above average level of mare (85) that has visited him.

Helmet- Rather like the two preceding sires, you have to say that Helmet is doing a decent job but hardly standing out. Again he has his standout horse in Thunder Snow. He scores on 100 or higher on all indices with the fourth highest on precocity which surprised me in the sense that whilst he was a sprinter/miler he is also a big unit and the fact that a lot of his stock are running as two year olds with good performance is a plus for him.

Dragon Pulse - Another solid sire that is doing what could be expected of him given the quality of mare he receives which is similar to Foxwedge and Sir Prancealot. Scores joint second highest in the precocity index but somewhat let down by only two stakes winners, lack of an outstanding offspring and overall lack of quality so far. Not one to dismiss but needs a few star performers to break through.

Nathaniel - Suffers in terms of the precocity index as clearly his progeny get better as 3yos but performing very well in terms of getting black type performers including a real superstar in Enable and other excellent performers in God Given and Pilaster. Comes out slightly positive on the soundness index relative to the others and bang on average in terms of performance of the three crops on the racecourse when considering that he has had the best quality mares without accounting for Frankel. His ability to get a higher quality performer, appeal as a different option  who gets horses that run over a longer distance than most of the others, capability to get classic winners and a continued supply of the better mares should see him continue to do well. I would have thought he would be higher in the index but clearly in a total data game there are plenty of non-performers that we do not hear about to offset his top performers which we do hear a lot about.

Bated Breath - Finally, although he is only at 98, I have to comment on Bated Breath whose second crop was much better than his first and his third crop look promising. Group 2 winner and twice Group 1 second Beckford came from that second crop as does Group 3 winner Worth Waiting who continues to improve. I am a bit biased here as I have bred two that have run so far in Ekhtiyaar and Kaanoon who are both rated around the 100 mark and have another 2yo and foal to come as well as two mares in foal! Despite this personal interest, I believe that Bated Breath could make the grade based upon his slightly above average performance in terms of runner ratings versus mare quality despite that somewhat moderate first crop. He scores only 12th of 16 in terms of 2yo runners, rather in line with his own first appearance as a 3yo and indicating that his offspring need a bit of time.


            Plenty can change yet as the third crop are barely out of the starting stalls but the first two crops give a pretty good indication of where we are going with these sires and it is noticeable that the first crop ratings have not changed that much as the crop has moved from three to four years old. As the title of this piece says, leaving aside the star Frankel what about the rest? I stick with Mayson as being the best value bet to improve your mare at a price that "Breeders On A Budget" can afford and would say that Sir Prancealot is a close next best and also in that bracket. These are the two sires after Frankel that are proving they are performing well above average in this index. We will probably never know what they could achieve if their mare quality rating was at 90 rather than 78 and 75 respectively as top mare owners would most likely think they should be sending their mares to "better" stallions who cost more. I have received that advice as well and it is a brave man who bucks the trend! Whatever, I think these two stallions can become the type that you send a maiden mare to knowing that you have every chance and a bit more of getting a decent animal and perhaps if they get some more top performers they can break through. Of the others, there are a number of solid performing sires as outlined above and I have already stated my bias towards Bated Breath. Again, he is one in the affordable bracket but he needs to fully convince as yet judging by this index. Finally we have Nathaniel, like Frankel a son of Galileo, who is definitely one to consider when you are after more stamina and potentially one that could be a top performer although this index would tell me that others are performing relatively better according to the criteria used.


Jim Atkinson

James Ortega Bloodstock Ltd

18th September 2018



Frankel Way Out Ahead


            The class of 2016 have now had two years for their progeny to show what they can do on the track and, whilst still relatively early doors, it is blindingly obvious that one horse stands out head and shoulders above the rest. Rather like his demolition of the 2,000 Guineas field, Frankel is not only leading in my analysis of runner performance in relation to mare quality but he is bounding away! Given the clearly superior level of mare that he covered, Frankel's offspring need to achieve a much higher average rating than the other sires and they have done this for the first two crops with the 1st crop being 5lbs ahead and the 2nd crop no less than 7lbs ahead of the trendline which indicates average performance. The next best are 3lbs and 4lbs better respectively so Frankel is showing a clean pair of heels to the other 16 sires. The bloodstock market seemed anxious about him getting his first European Group 1 winner until Cracksman emphatically knocked that one on the head but to me it was just a matter of time and there will be many more. He will be one of the best sires around for years to come and probably will succeed his dad Galileo in a few years time as Number 1 although Dubawi may disagree.

            Here I give my opinion on the 17 sires who were part of the group I analysed which are GB and Ireland based. You can find the particular annual charts and analyses under the Research tab 2016 First Season Sires tab and here I will summarise and indicate which sires I think will last longer term on the big scene. Having dealt with "Sir" where are we with the rest of the 2016 class?

            The jury is out for me over Nathaniel. Sure his 1st crop improved at three as expected but overall not as much as I expected and he still hovers around the trendline with his 1st crop. the 2nd crop had a pretty dismal score being 10lbs below the trendline and will need to improve greatly to get him above it in 2018. James Ortega Bloodstock bred Perfect Illusion who has won two races for Andrew Balding in early 2018 is an exciting prospect and for sure there are more like him out there but I am doubtful that Nathaniel is producing consistently at the level he should be given that he is receiving the second best quality of mares in this group. On the plus side he has produced a top class horse in Enable and it would also not surprise me to see his 1st crop step up again at four years old in 2018. Let's see.

            Mayson's 1st crop did not improve as expected which disappointed me as I chose him as one of my top three but his 2nd crop has started even better than his first and indeed stepped up on the 3lbs better than trendline of his 1st crop to register 4lbs better. He is consistently improving his mares more than average and I keep faith with him as one of the more likely to succeed. What he needs of course is an Enable type offspring to seriously put him in the headlines.

            When the sales companies came around to look at our yearlings in 2017 we were told that one of them was not keen on Bated Breath so our filly would very likely not make the better sale. I can understand that based upon the performance of the 1st crop which was ok in 2016 but below expectations at three years old. However, the 2nd crop has done very well and horses such as Beckford and Gavota have helped them beat the trendline by 4lbs. As I always expected Bated Breath's offspring to improve with age, it would be disappointing if they went through 2018 and did not at least maintain their position relative to the trendline. Hopefully our Ekhtiyaar, whilst a 1st crop colt, will improve on his 100 rating and give the sire another headline maker. After his 2nd crop's performances Bated Breath appears to be flavour of the month and was full for 2018 nominations reflecting how quickly this market can change.

            Sir Prancealot is performing consistently well north of the trendline and is proving himself to be better than original expectations with his 1st crop being 3lbs above the trendline and his 2nd crop 1.5lbs up. His sire Tamayuz also had an excellent 2017 and I believe this sire line could prove to be a fruitful one over the next few years. Sir Prancealot may not be the most fashionable of sires but he has consistently improved his mares who come from the lower end of the spectrum of this 2016 class.

            Being a great fan of Kyllachy I am pleased to see Dragon Pulse perform well and his runners achieved the same average rating as Bated Breath's runners with his 2nd crop from a quality of mare almost exactly the same. His 1st crop (obtained from a markedly lower level of mare) also ended up ahead of the trendline by a 1lb or so and, like Sir Prancealot, I would categorise him as a solid performer who is improving his mares and has done better from a better quality band of mares for his 2nd crop.

            Born To Sea had an excellent year in 2017 with his 1st crop improving markedly from a low level in 2016 to be only a couple of pounds below the trendline which is not bad for a 12f racehorse whose progeny may improve above average again at four. However, his 2nd crop has emerged bang on the trendline with a strong probability that they will end 2018 much higher. He obviously needs a headline performer to stand out but it would not surprise me if we see further improvement through this year in relation to the trendline.

            Foxwedge, Excelebration, Helmet, Power, Casamento and Elzaam all had their individual stars such as Barney Roy for Excelebration or Thunder Snow for Helmet and they are all performing consistently close to the trendline which tells me that whilst they are doing ok they are not really standing out as top stallions at least until now.

            Requinto rather did what I expected and his 1st crop did not kick on from a great start whilst his 2nd crop has not done so well being 2lbs below the trendline which for a 15.2 hands high sprinter does not bode well. Delegator did do better with his 2nd crop but nothing to suggest that he would have been anything out of the ordinary had he still been covering whilst Harbour Watch has been consistently below the trendline and, whilst injury has forced his retirement, I would not have been surprised if he would have been moved on anyway. Sepoy's 1st crop did not develop so well at three and his 2nd crop was 4lbs below the trendline so no surprise to me that he will not be covering in the UK this year.

            In conclusion, I believe there is only one certainty from this lot to be around for many years to come and that is Frankel which hardly comes as a surprise to anyone. After him I think there are six other sires who are in the mix to make it being Mayson, Bated Breath, Nathaniel, Sir Prancealot, Dragon Pulse and Born To Sea. Whilst I would like to side with both Mayson and Bated Breath and I do not write off Nathaniel, I have a sneaking feeling that Born To Sea may surprise us all in the next couple of years and continue the Urban Sea story, especially if he gets a slightly better quality of mare to cover. Time will tell!


Jim Atkinson

James Ortega Bloodstock Ltd

25th March 2018



Second Season Sire Movers & Shakers

How the First Season Sires of 2016 are shaping up in 2017


            The fight to become a top stallion and leave your everlasting stamp on the thoroughbred pedigree is a tough one and very few stay the course and get the choice mares that will help them to make a difference to the pedigree. The class of 2016 was a particularly tough one even without the phenomena that is Frankel who captured his "unfair share" of top mares based upon his superstar status on the racecourse. Nathaniel and Excelebration, to name just two, were top racehorses in their own right and the others certainly had a fight on their hands to keep in favour with the fickle bloodstock market that is quick to condemn and difficult to keep happy.

            This blog is a look at how they are doing in their second year from a perspective of progeny rating relative to quality of mare covered. In the Research tab under 2016 First Season Sires - 1st Crop 1st Year  you can find my analysis and prognosis from January based upon 17 first season sires performance in 2016. It is interesting to note that Frankel served mares rated on average 12lbs better than next best Nathaniel and 33lbs better than the doughty Requinto!

1st Crop

            The sires who have demonstrated the best ability to produce progeny with an average rating significantly above where the quality of the mare covered would indicate for the cohort as a whole are Sir Prancealot, Requinto, Frankel and Foxwedge in that order. All four have produced horses that are now three years old that are on average between 3lbs and 4.5lbs better than the trendline (where a sire should be based on the quality of mare covered) and is an indication of their excellent relative performance within the cohort. Whilst Sir Prancealot covered a fair level of mare (11th highest) both Foxwedge (14th) and Requinto (17th) were at the low end. Frankel's performance is impressive as whilst he had the best mares by a long way, that in itself possibly leaves him open to even more pressure to perform. His progeny are rated on average no less than 9.5lbs better than next best Nathaniel whereas the higher quality of mare should have led to only a 6lb superiority.

            Another aspect that is worth following is the improvement from two to three years old (and indeed to four years old) as we need to pinpoint those sires that have the ability to have higher rated stock over time and not just those who are sires of precocious two year olds that could mislead us into overrating some and discarding others too quickly. With this in mind Born To Sea is the biggest mover and after being the holder of the wooden spoon after his first crop's two year old career being fully 6.5lbs below the trendline he is now just 1.5lbs down which represents a very significant improvement of 5lbs. He is followed, although at a fair distance, by Nathaniel who has improved from 3lbs below to 0.5lbs below. Given that these two were the only sires that were proficient racehorses over 12 furlongs it is perhaps not surprising that they are showing so much improvement as their offspring go through their three year old careers and perhaps we will see even more when they are four. Other sires to show reasonable improvement are Sir Prancealot (1.5lbs) and Foxwedge (1.5lbs). Sires that have gone the other way are Requinto, Elzaam and Mayson all of whom have dropped 2lbs or so. Mayson is still positive against the trendline but has somewhat surprisingly dropped when one would have thought his progeny would improve given their sire's own progressive career.

2nd Crop

            Whilst we still have four months or so to go before the end of the two year old career for this crop, there are some interesting patterns emerging that sometimes confirm 1st crop performance as two year olds but others that are completely different. First let's take a look at those sires showing repeat patterns for offspring ratings:-

Frankel - Positive by 4lbs off an even higher quality bunch of mares (with runners to date) than his first crop

Mayson - Positive by 3lbs, equal to his first crop

Nathaniel - Negative by 10lbs which is even worse than his first crop's low performance

Delegator - Negative by 6lbs which is broadly equal to his first crop. Holder of the wooden spoon.

Elzaam, Power, Excelebration, Helmet, Casamento, Sepoy, Dragon Pulse - All broadly equal to their first crops and close to the trendline plus or minus 1lb

            That is eleven sires that are following a similar performance to their first crop for a bunch of mares that are approximately 80% to 90% different whereas the following have declined:-

Requinto & Sir Prancealot - Both are bang on the trendline but have declined versus their first crop with Requinto down 6lbs and and Sir Prancealot down 3lbs

Foxwedge - Down from 1.5lbs over to 1lb under

            Finally, below are the sires that have shown significant improvement in their second crops at this stage of the year of their two year old career:-

Born To Sea - His second crop are 2.5lbs positive versus 6.5lbs negative in his first crop. This is a swing of 9lbs and if this crop improves with age similarly to his first crop he is in for an excellent year in 2018.

Bated Breath - His second crop are 5lbs positive versus 0.5lbs negative last year which is a swing of 5.5lbs.

Harbour Watch - from 1.5lbs negative last year he is 2lbs positive with his second crop. up 3.5lbs.


             First, Frankel is a superstar sire as well as racehorse and will be the next best thing since sliced bread or Galileo! The only chink in his armour I see is his temperament. I have a mare that I would love to cover by Frankel as she is so calm and laid back and has produced one racehorse so far who has won a stakes race and I hope the fee is not shifted out of my reach completely.

            Secondly Born To Sea  looks like he could carry on the Urban Sea legend. The improvement in his three year olds has been phenomenal and much better than Nathaniel who has also been very good in year 2 but more in the headlines than Born To Sea due to top performers like Enable. If you factor in the two year old performance of the 2nd crop where Born To Sea's progeny are on average 3lbs ahead of Nathaniel from a mare group 16lbs worse, Born To Sea looks one to follow. His best horses so far from crop 2 are Muirin, Wilson and Santorini Sun. However, we have to be cautious in that only 17% of Nathaniel's crop have run whereas 35% of Born To Sea's have done so and things can change by the end of the year.

            Thirdly, do not write off Bated Breath yet. His first crop have not been spectacular but his second crop is currently the relatively best performer of the lot. Beckford, Mistress Of Venice, Landshark and Vik The Billy are all black type performers and Gavota is rated 95. There are four others rated 80+ to give strength in depth to this second crop for a horse who himself improved with age.

            Fourthly, Sir Prancealot is one to follow. He was the top first season sire in terms of winners and his first crop are also currently the best relative performers taking into account mare quality. His second crop is doing ok without reaching the same heights as the first crop.

            There will be other twists and turns as we go through the remainder of 2017 and 2018 but the picture is starting to become clearer about which sires will succeed from the class of 2016.


Jim Atkinson

James Ortega Bloodstock Ltd

September 2017