With The Championships concluded so too have the careers of many of our top entires, with the financial lures of the breeding barn outweighing the comparatively limited riches of the track.
Whether these horses have in fact earned the ‘right’ to stand at stud always makes for good pub and racetrack arguments.
Here are my top five stud prospects from the retiring class of 2016 (in reverse order), judged equally according to value for money and potential for success.
5. Pride Of Dubai (Street Cry; 3YO)
Dual G1 winner as a 2YO, Pride of Dubai joins the Coolmore roster as a stunning stallion off type with an unproven racing career.
He ran second in a Blue Diamond Prelude, before winning a weak Blue Diamond, holding out Reemah at the post. He missed the Golden Slipper, but provided a career-best performance in winning the G1 Sires when he was three-wide without cover before being headed, lifting and winning (again against pretty moderate opposition).
Injury curtailed the son of Street Cry’s career and he didn’t return until an autumn 3YO, where he shone in a trial before failing in the G3 Eskimo Prince Stakes.
Juvenile success is popular in Australian breeding, which will be a tick for Pride of Dubai’s prospects. Like Exosphere, it’s likely he’ll perform better in the barn than on the track. With the passing of Street Cry, Pride of Dubai looks set to continue his successful bloodline in the Australian breeding scene.
However, his first year fee of $55,000 is enormous for an entire that failed to win beyond his 2YO season. Such a fee would be more appropriate for a horse that won a Caulfield Guineas, Newmarket Handicap, Coolmore Stud Stakes or some combination of those races. The question stands as to how forgiving Australian breeders are of his ultimately questionable performances on the track.
Standing at Coolmore Stud (Hunter Valley, NSW)
4. Contributer (High Chaparral; 6YO)
An elite middle-distance WFA performer at his best and with strong Irish bloodlines being by proven sire of sires High Chaparral, Contributer presents as a surprisingly exciting stallion prospect.
A winner as a juvenile in the UK, Contributer debuted in Australia in 2014 where he won the G3 David Jones Cup before disappointing in the G1 Emirates Stakes. The Godolphin galloper returned for an elite autumn preparation in 2015 in which won the G2 Apollo, G1 Chipping Norton Stakes and the G1 Ranvet Stakes, defeating raved Japanese galloper Tosen Stardom and future Queen Elizabeth-winner Lucia Valentina.
Contributer looked an ideal Cox Plate horse but subsequent failures in the Dato Tan Chin Nam Stakes, Underwood Stakes and the Caulfield Stakes put an end to those plans. Without contesting the Cox Plate, he ran a game 3rd in the McKinnon stakes prior to retirement.
A great WFA horse, connections have decided to send Contributer to stand in NZ in an attempt to breed more middle distance or staying types. He can do well across the ditch.
Standing at Mapperley Stud (NZ)
Fee: NZ $15,000
3. Press Statement (Hinchinbrook; 3YO)
Undefeated in three starts as a 3YO, Press Statement claimed the G1 JJ Atkins Plate in Queensland having bypassed the earlier 2YO features.
He proved to be a bridesmaid to Exosphere in the Sydney spring as a 3YO, finishing second in the Run to the Rose before being held up in the Golden Rose. He went on to win the Stan Fox G2 after Exosphere was kept for sprint races. Press Statement took on the weaker Victorian 3YOs in the Caulfield Guineas, demolishing the field as the $2.50F in what would prove to be a career-best run. He then skipped the Cox Plate, saved for a Guineas attempt in the Sydney autumn.
Well-backed in all his starts as an Autumn 3YO Press Statement only won once, and plans for Royal Ascot were abandoned. Press Statement is also by somewhat unproven sire Hichinbrook, whereas others on this list are sired by proven stallions of sires in the likes of Lonhro, High Chaparral and Street Cry.
It’s a shame not to see Press Statement run on, as despite being a hyped three-year-old he never kicked on to perform at WFA level.
Standing at Vinery Stud (Segenhoe Valley, NSW)
2. Exosphere (Lonhro; 3YO)
Exosphere works his way up the list with elite performances as a spring 3YO, complemented by his elite physical presence. He is the ‘boom’ colt of his class, despite somewhat lacklustre performances in the Coolmore Stud Stakes, Lighting Stakes and the TJ Smith.
His 3YO season saw him come over the top in the G2 Run To The Rose, before cleaning up the G1 Golden Rose by 2.3L, in a then-hyped field including Press Statement, Speak Fondly, Rageese and stablemate Holler.
Kept for sprint races by trainer O’Shea, Exosphere dominated the Roman Consul Stakes G2 in record time, defeating consequent performers Japonisme, Counterattack and Spill the Beans.
Despite his career tailing off following this, and the abandonment of Royal Ascot plans, Exosphere retires as a foe of punters and an exciting stallion prospect.
Standing at Darley – Kelvinside (Hunter Valley, NSW)
Fee: AUD $27,500
1. Criterion (Sebring; 5YO)
Criterion stands as the top seed of his class. Allowed to race on until his 5YO season, he was an elite, versatile and true racehorse. He took on the world’s best in multiple trips to Hong Kong, as well as racing the UK flat season in 2015. Criterion won a G2 Todman and a Listed Black Opal as a 2YO, whilst also contesting a Golden Slipper and Champagne Stakes. As a 3YO, he ran 4th in a VRC Derby, second in an Australian Guineas, won a Rosehill Guineas and an Australian Derby. His 4YO season included a career-best win in the Queen Elizabeth at the Championships. Criterion also placed in two Hong Kong G1s; the HK Cup and the QEII.
His career best preparation saw him win the Caulfield Stakes first-up, run second to Winx in the Cox Plate whilst also breaking the track record, before slugging 57.5kgs to 3rd in the Melbourne Cup in the highest-rating performance of the race. Despite disappointing in three starts in the 2016 Autumn, it did little to hurt his chances as a stallion prospect.
Criterion retires to stud as this year’s number one stallion prospect. His career had shades of Lonhro, with less brilliance but more versatility. The son of Sebring’s $35k fee looks great value.
Standing at Newgate Farm (Hunter Valley, NSW)
Article from Punters.com.au