Which sires offer the best value to breeders?

Once foaling begins time can zip by us in the blink of an eye and before you know it’s time to box up and start the cycle again. In an ideal world, we’d all breed ‘the best to the best and hope for the best’, but most of us don’t have that luxury.

There’s value if you look hard enough so hopefully the following suggestions can shed some light on where to find it.

There are ample proven value sires who are overlooked by the yearling market but continue to punch above their weight statistically when it comes to winners.

Keeping risk to a minimum and giving your mare the best chance of getting a winner under her belt is a good place to start, but in an industry built on dreams, it would be remiss not to consider an unproven sire who might be more likely than most to hit the jackpot.

RAVEN’S PASS (€7,500, Kildangan Stud)

Breeders’ Cup winner and burgeoning broodmare sire, Raven’s Pass has battled with small crops since retiring to Kildangan Stud in 2009 for €40,000.

His 2022 fee of €7,500 represents massive value.

Small crops and perceived uncommercial yearlings put off the masses, but a quick look at what his daughters are achieving as broodmares at this stage means a filly could potentially be worth a lot more than €7,500. That’s not to say a colt will let you down, with 80% runners to foals of racing age and 62% of those runners winning races, you’ve an excellent chance of getting a young mare off to a good start with a runner on the ground by a proven Group 1 sire for an affordable fee.

What’s more, 37 of his winners won Stakes races – that’s 7% blacktype winners to foals of racing age. To put that in perspective, Juddmonte’s power sire Kingman operates at the same strike rate – standing for a fee of £150,000!

GALILEO GOLD (€7,000, Tally Ho)

What do Frankel, Gleneagles and Galileo Gold all have in common?

All three followed up their 2000 Guineas wins with victories at Royal Ascot in the St. James’ Palace Stakes, and all three have sired Group 1 winners – what sets them apart? Their fees.

Having covered 155 mares in 2019, there’s every reason to believe Galileo Gold’s 2022 fee of €7,000 will look value in 12 months’ time.

As a son of the unfashionable and exiled Paco Boy, Galileo Gold has his critics. However, the highlight of his 24 winners, his wayward but talented son Ebro River, has gone someway to silencing them.

Aptly bred at Tally Ho and running for the same connections as his sire, he provided his rookie sire with a Group 1 winner in his first crop when taking the Phoenix Stakes at the Curragh during a busy campaign.

Galileo Gold himself turned a Group 2 winning juvenile campaign into Classic success and if Ebro River features in the 2022 Classics, those who keep the faith at €7000 will be feeling smug. Remember, these are the horsemen who brought us Kodiac who’s early career followed a similar trajectory – Kodiac’s fee also took a dip in advance of his first runners before an encouraging first crop instilled a small rise to €6,500.

Fast forward and that fee has multiplied 10 times to its peak of €65,000. It could prove a very shrewd move indeed to put your faith in Tally Ho.

EXPERT EYE (£10,000, Juddmonte)

The fourth season of an unproven stallion is a high-risk but high-reward place to venture.

As your mare is scanned in foal, it’s a nervous place to be as the first of your gambled on stallion’s foals reach the racecourse. But fortune favors the brave, and as breeders who used Mehmas at €7,500 in his fourth season will tell you, it can be a very exciting place to be if the stallion clicks – Mehmas’ 2021 year average of €92,416 is testament of that.

Rolling the dice on Expert Eye, at a fee of £10,000 which is half his introductory fee of £20,000, might be a gamble worth taking and here’s why; he’s managed by prominent stallion makers Juddmonte and covered a bumper 244 mares in his first two seasons at stud.

He is a son of emerging sire of sires Acclamation. His pedigree is rich in Group 1 winners and he won the Group 2 Vintage Stakes on only his second start at 2 by over 4 lengths. His precocity, consistency and class are self-explanatory from his race record that culminated in a Breeders’ Cup Mile success where he had the likes of One Master, Clemmie, Lightning Spear, and Mustashry at his mercy.

His profile is such that there is every reason to hope that his first crop hit the ground running and ensure the prospect of an Expert Eye foal keeps breeders warm next winter ahead of 2023.

OASIS DREAM (£20,000, Juddmonte)

Including a £20,000 stallion as a budget one may raise a few eyebrows, but for a sire of his class who is such a consistent source of Group winners to have held steady at his fee represents colossal value.

Responsible for 2021’s Champion 2YO Native Trail and ante post favorite for the 2000 Guineas, I implore anyone to find a chink in his armour.

Entering the twilight stage of his career, having turned 22 on January 1, is just about the only possible stick you can beat him with, but there is strength in numbers and he has covered over 100 mares every year for the past three seasons.

His yearling average of €92,341 (roughly £78,394) continues to hold strong and gives breeders an excellent return on investment. Of his foals of racing age, 82% of them make the track with 66% of those runners reaching the winners enclosure.

Eight new Stakes winners in 2021 including aforementioned G1 Dewhurst and G1 National Stakes winner Native Trail give Oasis Dream a remarkable 8% Stakes winners to foals of racing age.

Already the damsire of no less than five Group 1 winners, the market is now recognising the residual value of an Oasis Dream filly. Coupled with his excellent results in the commercial yearling market, if you can stretch yourself to £20,000 hopefully the rewards are there to be reaped.

Should Native Trail succeed on the Rowley Mile on the first Saturday in May it would not be beyond the realms of possibility to see Oasis Dream’s fee take a rise in 2023 in his 23rd year.

GUSTAV KLIMT (€4,000, Coolmore)

A shot in the dark here but at just €4000, why not take a chance on a son of Galileo from the family that gifted us Kodiac, Invincible Spirit and Pride of Dubai?

Gustav Klimt covered 118 mares in his first crop at a fee of €7,500 that this year returned a very healthy €19,618 yearling sales average. A remarkably consistent and versatile racehorse, he had the speed for 6f but uniquely also possessed enough class to place in a Guineas.

Just half a length in the St James’ Palace Stakes and a similar margin in the Haydock Sprint Cup denied him a Group 1 win, but the stellar list of Group 1 winners in his pedigree more than accounts for his own shortcomings on the track.

Take a chance on his pedigree if nothing else – he’s bred on the fruitful Galileo x Danehill cross and his Stakes winning dam is a half-sister to Invincible Spirit and Kodiac – both who are a long way away from €4000.

It’s a brave move, but he is priced appropriately to account for the risk involved and might be worth a shot in the dark. Best of luck!

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