Updated: Sep 9, 2021
Frankel, Rip Van Winkle, and Cape Blanco, all amazing horses in their own right with an abundance of prize money between them. They share many things, but perhaps most notably, the one key thing they all had in common was their sire, Galileo. The sire to these amazing horses, amongst many others, Galileo is one of the top breeding stallions in the world today. But what exactly defines a ‘top sire’? Is it the number of racehorses they produce? The prize money those horses accumulate? Or the level that those horses run at? Let’s take a look…
The table below shows the current top 10 sires in the UK/IRE:
Galileo, the top sire based on prize money, handles many top-class winners. Notable winners include New Approach and Ruler of the World who both won the Derby, and Soldier of Fortune, Treasure Beach, Cape Blanco, Australia, Capri, and Sovereign, all being Irish Derby winners for Aiden O'Brien. Amassing almost £1 million in prize money between his racing offspring (over £200,000 more than Kingman in 2nd), Galileo looks set to cement the top spot for many years to come. It goes without saying, though, that perhaps Galileo's greatest ever creation was the wonder horse that is Frankel. Unbeaten in 14 starts throughout his career with just shy of £3,000,000 prize money, Frankel was the highest-rated racehorse ever! And now already in 6th position on the leader board, how long until we see Frankel produce a world beater himself?
It's clear to see Galileo is the standout horse in the UK/IRE racing scene, with Kingman and Lope De Vega also producing several quality horses. Sea The Stars has the best win% but has a lower number of offspring running. Let's see how these statistics vary when considering runners in Europe as opposed to just the UK/IRE.
The above table shows the updated statistics from Europe based on prize money. Galileo has subsequently dropped to 4th place, and it's Lope De Vega (previously 3rd) who takes the top spot. At face value, 77 wins from 545 runs doesn’t look too impressive, but Lope De Vega has produced 125 stakes performers, amongst those, 12 Group 1 winners and 7 black-type 2-year-olds including Gr.1 winner Lucky Vega. It's a testament to the quality of these horses that earns him the top spot.
Close behind in 2nd is the lovely grey Kendargent. Although not overly impressive in his career, he has become something of a staple for producing top-class 2-year-olds and sprinters, who progress well throughout their careers. Notable offspring include the Gr.2 winner and Gr.1 placed Skaletti, alongside Gr.3 winners Batwan, Nickajack Cave, and See The Rose. Although mostly prolific in France, Nickajack Cave did well here in Ireland, and with a low stud fee, may we see a top-class 2-year-old out of Kendargent here in the UK soon?
Siyouni is the dark horse in this list though. Many forget he sired the great Sotsass who himself accumulated just shy of £3 million prize money, as well as Laurens who won and placed in several group 1 races. City Light also joins Sotsass as horses with RPR's over 120 to be sired by Siyouni, so although 3rd on the list, he's a top sire who goes under the radar.
Although prize money is a good measure of how good the horses are, and gives an indication of the level they are running at, we can also look at the RPR of the runners to better gauge their quality. The traditional benchmark is to use prize money, but that allows a handful of lavishly funded races to distort the picture. Looking simply at the number of winners is also inaccurate as this does not consider the quality of the horse. So now let’s look at the number of offspring with an RPR of 80+, which is a fair level to aim at initially.
The table below compares the total number of runners each sire had in 2019 against the number that had an RPR of 80 or higher:
Although only showing data from one year, you can see that Scat Daddy is the most prolific in sending out 80+ rated horses. It's worth noting however that he only had 40 runners that year, hence not featuring on the tables above, and Dubawi with a 62% 80+ rated runner percentage would be a far more in-demand stallion due to producing 175 runners, 108 of which were rated 80+. Galileo who was the number 1 sire above only managed 5th place here, which despite the number of top-class racehorses he has produced, equally has a large number that didn't achieve the stated RPR.
The different criteria yield different results, however, several horses appear in the top 10 of all of them. These include Galileo, Dubawi, Frankel, and Sea The Stars. You must consider all the factors. There is no point choosing the horse that had produced the most 80+ rated horses if they have only produced 1/3 of the others on the list. Likewise, you can’t choose the horse whose offspring have earned the most money if it has produced 100 more horses than the others, as this is not an accurate reflection. We must compare all the criteria to find a happy medium as there is no outright winner in every field. Therefore, it is possible to consider the above horses as the ‘top sires’, but realistically it all depends on which criteria you are judging it on.
So, we now know why they are considered as being the top sires, but what about some of their offspring who are worth keeping tabs on this year?
Galileo: 1. Lone Eagle 2. Armory 3. Gloria Mundi
· Lone Eagle recently won a Listed event at Goodwood easily by 4 lengths, and after a break looks set to kick on this season, already boasting an RPR of 115 and also has some classy form last year at 2, winning a Group 3.
· Armory is still only 4 and already has almost £1 million in earnings. He had some very good Group 1 form at 2, ran a fine 2nd in the Cox Plate last year, and has begun this year with a strong 3 length success in the Group 2 Huxley Stakes.
· Something of an unknown quantity currently, but Gloria Mundi stayed on strongly to win on debut, and since went down only by a neck to Eshaada in a Listed race at Newbury on her second-ever start. Bred by Bjorn Nielsen (Stradivarius) and again trained by the Gosden's, she could be very smart. It will be interesting to watch her progress.
Kingman: 1. Palace Pier 2. Waldkonig 3. Tolstoy
· Palace Pier won the Lockinge in fine style last month and boasts an RPR of 127 currently. Providing he continues to progress as he has been, he could be something really special. It’s worth noting he also beat Pinatubo last year and wasn’t hard ridden when winning the Lockinge recently.
· Waldkonig began his career with a taking debut victory at Wolverhampton before failing to live up to expectations against Mishriff after a break. Dropping back to a class 5 and as a heavy favourite, he again disappointed at Haydock and was then off the track for 286 days. Thankfully, he has come back as a 4-year-old in fine form, comfortably winning a class 2, and recently improving to win the Gordon Richards Stakes at Sandown. Let's hope this is the start of things to come!
· Another unknown quantity, but despite running green at the start, won a class 3 Novice Stakes at Yarmouth on debut, pulling clear towards the finish. The 2nd placed horse in that race has since finished 2nd again in a class 2 at Chester behind Al Shibli. Despite not being scintillating form, there were flashes of quality there, and the pedigree is quite impressive.
Lope De Vega: 1. Haqeeqy 2. Surrey Pride 3. New Science
· Haqeeqy possessed some solid form at 3 barring one disappointing run and came back to win an 18 runner Lincoln contest at Doncaster in March. Since then he finished a very creditable 4th to Oh This Is Us in the Queen Anne Trial beaten only 1.5 lengths and it will be interesting to see where he goes next.
· Surrey Pride is a consistent performer for Joseph Tuite running some very respectable races towards the end of his 3-year-old career. He has since won a class 2 handicap at York, and although he will never be a world-beater, is a very solid and consistent handicap horse at present.
· New Science is one of the more interesting 2-year-olds and a personal favourite to follow this year. Comfortably winning his debut at Yarmouth despite running around a lot, he clearly possesses bags of ability, and once getting him straight, this will show. Only the one race so far but winning it impressively makes him one to watch for the future!
Frankel: 1. Mohaafeth 2. Mostahdaf 3. Adayar
· Underwhelming at 2, but anything but this year, Mohaafeth has gone from strength to strength. His most recent success was in the Newmarket Stakes, a Listed event at (you guessed it) Newmarket. He was very impressive that day, cantering home by 5 lengths, with some smart horses in behind. Another who we could expect big things from going forward.
· Mostahdaf is an unbeaten 3-year-old from the John & Thady Gosden yard. After winning readily on debut, he has since won a class 2 Conditions race at Kempton and a Listed race at Sandown. It remains to be seen where his limitations lie, but as it stands, he is progressing nicely and looks like a very classy horse.
· Unlucky in the Classic Trial and Derby Trial, but getting his revenge in the Derby itself, Adayar was mightily impressive in running his opposition ragged at Epsom last week. Arguably not the strongest Derby ever, but an impressive performance earned him an RPR of 123. Charlie Appelby is pleased with him and is considering the King Edward VII Stakes at Ascot as his next race.
Sea The Stars: 1. Al Aasy 2. Third Realm 3. Polling Day
· Winner of two Group 3’s including the Al Rayyan Stakes and beaten only a neck in the Coronation Cup this year alone, Al Aasy is one to keep tabs on. An RPR over 120, making quality horses such as Logician look ordinary, and with entries in the Hardwicke and the l’Arc De Triomphe, he could prove his worth this flat season. He is still only 4 years old, so has the potential to progress further.
· Third Realm posted a very classy win over current Derby winner Adayar in the Derby Trial, and although subsequently finishing some 11 lengths behind in the race itself, he got bumped around and seemed to be caught flat-footed on the day. If settling better and ridden handily, he could be another worth following, seeing as he's already proved he can figure at the top end.
· Polling Day is another inexperienced horse that I believe could be interesting. His debut saw him stretch clear to win impressively, and subsequently, his second run was another win when upped in distance albeit by a head after a much-reduced lead. Back down at 1 mile 4f and with more experience, he could be a quality horse. He has speed and stamina, he just needs to be kept up to his work to avoid wandering/hanging in the closing stages. Headgear may be implemented next time, but there have been definite glimpses of promise so far and he is 2-2.
Dubawi: 1. Master Of The Seas 2. Creative Force 3. Highland Avenue
· Master Of The Seas was an unbeaten 2-year-old before finishing 2 lengths behind the winner Thunder Moon in the Vincent O'Brien National Stakes at the Curragh. Since then, he has won the Craven Stakes at Newmarket and just missed out on winning the 2000 Guineas more recently. He is a horse that likes to close from the rear, so a step up in distance shouldn't be an issue, and it opens up several opportunities going forward such as the Irish Derby.
· Creative Force is unbeaten in 3 starts since being gelded, most recently winning the Carnavon Stakes in impressive style. Still only 3, he looks to be straightforward and possesses plenty of potential going forward. Currently getting quotes for the Darley July Cup Stakes, Charlie Appelby holds him in high regard and is one to note.
· Highland Avenue is another promising 3-year-old from the Appelby stable, having placed 1st or 2nd in all 5 runs. He is a strong stayer and a step up in trip could be on the cards based on his recent runs, making him desirable for the Coral-Eclipse at Sandown in July. His recent 2nd in the Heron Stakes looks to be working out well against some class horses and is one to monitor.
Finally, let’s look at some first season sires that look good value to follow this flat season:
Ardad has made an impressive start with his offspring. 11 wins from 36 starts yield a win percentage of 38.09% and earnings of £62,361. His offspring include Tipperary Sunset and Condrieu, both of which have 100% strike rates so far, making up £29,000 of the prize money between them. Other notable mentions go to Beautiful Sunshine and Vintage Clarets with 67% win rates and £19,000 earnings between them. If it's a sprinter you're looking for, then horses sired by Ardad look the way to go!
Next up is Caravaggio whose runners have 37 starts between them. Only 5 wins from those, but earnings of just over £80,000 makes it worth noting, in particular, Andreas Vesalius who has earned £20,000 from 3 runs alone, and the currently unbeaten Dizzy Bizu, who won on debut at Chantilly and has already gained an RPR of 83. Again, although with a lower strike rate, it looks as though there may be some smart sprinters on the horizon from this top-class stallion.
One sire who has had fewer runners than any of the others, but still sits high up the list is Galileo Gold. 3 wins from 24 starts, but one of those being a stakes winner bumps him up the list. Ebro River won a 5f Listed event at Sandown in impressive style just last month on only his third start, and if that's anything to go by, it will be worth monitoring future offspring as he becomes a more in-demand sire!
The last horse in question is Profitable. 34 starts from 24 individual horses have accounted for 6 wins and a 20.83% win percentage. Much like Caravaggio, the bare stats don't look all that impressive; however, accumulating £54,658 of prize money from those runs looks much more promising. From a speedy family himself, he has Quick Suzy (an Irish sprinter) and Miramar (a French sprinter) at the top of his list so far, both boasting impressive form and earning £27,335 and £21,696 between them, respectively.
So if you're looking for some impressive first-season sires to follow, then it would be in your best interest to keep tabs on those above. Regarding the offspring they produce, it looks as though 2-year-old sprinters are the way to go this flat season.