Thursday, January 21, 2016

Europe 2-Year-Old Rankings Showcases Diverse Group of Sires

Breeders' Cup winner Hit It a Bomb was rated 116
When the European Two-Year-Old Rankings were released yesterday at the World’s Best Horse presentation in London, the diversity of stallions represented may have been surprising.

It was no surprise that Galileo (Sadler’s Wells) led the group of sires represented on it with six 2-year-olds, all owned by the Coolmore partners, ranked. That group included Europe’s champion 2-year-old filly Minding, rated 120, who was the first filly to be rated above 119 since Six Perfections in 2002.

“Minding is a very worthy favorite for the (one-mile) 1,000 Guineas,” said said Matthew Tester, the BHA Senior Handicapper. “Lumiere (a Shamardal filly rated 116) and Acapulco (a Scat Daddy filly rated 115) might have too much speed for a mile to be perfect for them, but Royal Ascot’s Commonwealth Cup is again shaping up as an exciting contest with Shalaa (an Invincible Spirit colt rated 121) looking likely to take them on”.

Overall, 33 stallions had at least one horse on the list with their 2016 stud fee ranging from €3,500 (approx. $3,817US/£2,768) to €185,000 (approx. $201,807US/£142,331). Four stallions on the list have private stud fees with a farther three no longer breeding.

Showing how strong the breeding programs in multiple countries are, four had representatives on the list with Ireland leading that charge at 17 stallions standing in that country. In addition to the United Kingdom and France, the United States is also represented by multiple sires with War Front (Danzig) having two horses listed (including the top ranked horse in Air Force Blue), the aforementioned Scat Daddy (Hennessey)  and More Than Ready’s (Southern Halo) Nemoralia rated 112.

The horse with the most ranked 2-year-olds after Galileo was Dark Angel (Acclamation), whose stud fee was advertised at €12,500 (approx. $13,653US/£9,636) in 2012 when the 2-year-olds were conceived. His first foals were 3 year olds that year and since then he has made a big name for himself with his first crop multiple Group 1 winner Lethal Force and last year’s Group 1 Coolmore Nunthorpe Stakes winner Mecca’s Angel leading his 13 group winners.

Joining Mecca’s Angel on their sire’s stakes performers list, 2-year-olds Gutaifan (rated 115) and Birchwood (rated 114) won Group 2 races and his two other rated 2-year-olds were a stakes winner and a Grade 1-placed horse. Those four were only a small part of his 26 stakes horses in 2015 so it is no surprise that in 2016, Dark Angel’s fee has been raised to €60,000 (approx. $65,532US/£46,262).

With the season that Zoffany (Dansili) had with his first crop of 2-year-olds it isn’t much of a surprise that last year’s Champion First-Crop Sire had the third most 2-year-olds on the list. Zoffany’s filly Illuminate was the highest rated of the three 2-year-olds by the sire with a 115 ranking, Royal Ascot winner Washington DC earning a 113 and Foundation rounding them out with a 111.

Behind Zoffany, six stallions had two 2-year-olds on the list with 24 others represented by one of the 49 horses rated for the season with just nine stallions represented by more than one horse.

The 2015 rankings also saw a changing of the guard in with Zoffany, Canford Cliffs (Tagula) and Dream Ahead (Diktat) all having at least one horse listed, joining pensioned or deceased stallions Danehill Dancer (pensioned), Bahamian Bounty (pensioned) and Scat Daddy (deceased) on the list.

“[The ranked 2-year-olds] are very different sorts of horses,” said Tester. “Shalaa’s great gift was his amazing cruising speed whilst Air Force Blue (a War Front so who won three Group 1s in 2015) has much more the profile of a Guineas horse. In remembering Johannesburg’s (Hennessy) three Group 1 wins one must bear in mind that he never won as a three-year-old, but there is every reason to think that Air Force Blue will measure up in the coming year.”

As is his tradition, Tester named a dark horse who wasn’t rated as a horse to follow next year. That 2-year-old, Royal Artillery, was one of multiple impressive War Front sons to race in Europe last year. 

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