Banville’s Stallion mixture at Arctic Tack continues to satisfy breeders.

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Eoin Banville has come a long long way since starting Arctic Tack Stud in Co Wexford in 1998. Setting up at his home base in Newbawn, Co Wexford with one stallion, Heron Island, Banville has developed a good reputation in the breeding industry since and has offered Snurge, Great Palm and Trans Island in the meantime.

The trade mark at Arctic Tack has been to offer a mixture of fresh young stallions in addition to more established ones with proven track performers. Both Heron Island, a son of Shirley Heights and Gold Well a son of Sadler’s Wells fitted this template, with Banville working hard to establish them in the sales ring and on the race track.

With between 15 and 20 mares of his own on the farm with their offspring sometimes registered under his own name of Eoin Banville and some others under the Arctic Tack banner he has had considerable success over the years. Soft Day, Grand Blue, Crocodiles Rock all come to mind and they have most recently been joined by the Grade 3 winner Johns Spirit by Gold Well who won the Paddy Power at Cheltenham in November for Johnjo O’Neill.

So what’s on offer this year? Arcadio covered 303 mares in 2013, which marked him down as the busiest stallion in the country is the showstopper for 2014. The Group 2 winning son of Monsun has his oldest crop of 5 year olds to race for him this year, with The Game Changer a recent track winner for Charlie Swan his best so far. The German bred 3 year old champion of 2005 has a number of young horses in training with Charlie Longsden in Britain so don’t be surprised to see Arcadio’s name amongst the winners. Its probably worth noting the word of warning that Banville himself issued that this level of covers are really only a paper exercise at present and that we still need to see the foals born, paid for, registered and sold and thats before they see the track in four years time!!!!!

Aizovoski joined the roster in 2013, with the 8 time winning son of Monsun covering 80 mares. With 6 stakes wins to his credit during a four year long and consistent racing career, his stock will do well to have some of this durability and soundness transferred to them. Tracing back to the famous French Wildenstein racing line a couple of National Hunt stallions pop up here including Buckskin and Pistolet Bleu to make this horse an interesting addition.

Montjeu was a phenomenal stallion on the flat with such winners as Motivator, Scorpion and Hurricane Run. Eoin Banville took charge of this horses full brother Gold Well in with the stallion transferring to the Coolmore operation in 2012. Sadly neither of these stallions are with us anymore but Banville must really like the bloodline as their half brother Le Fou is now in residence at Arctic Tack!

The 15 year old already has stock on the ground including some nice Black Type hurdlers and chasers with Urbain De Sivola and Cadre Bleu standing out. With very limited numbers of mares covered in France his best days are ahead of him with 80 covers in 2013. Le Fou is by Polish Precedent out of a Top Ville mare, with that broodmare sire being repeated in Arctic Tacks newest recruit Caudillo.

Retired from racing in 2013 this 11 year old winning son of Acatanango offers a new fresh young stallion to breeders. The Group 3 winner and multiple Listed winner is currently available for viewing to breeders.

This horse offers another option to hard pressed breeders as they search for value and saleability and in some cases more importantly resale-ability.

Arctic Tack continues to offer this mixture of fresh young stallions and older successful performers, its a mixture that has had success to date and 2014 should be no different!

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Can the breeding industry afford to allow the blessed trinity to manipulate it?

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The final sale of national hunt stock in Ireland for 2013 was held at Goffs on the 12th of December. In a change to normal practice of previous years this sale exclusively only offered foals with no Broodmares nor yearlings.

The catalogue had 313 foals on offer on the day with 284 of them offered for sale and 211 of them sold to new owners, while the sale boasted a healthy turnover of €1.92 million.

The top lot of the sale was offered by Shanaville Stables with the colt , a son of Beneficial making €39,000 being sold to Kevin Ross Bloodstock. This colt out of the Presenting mare Tanit Lady, comes from a strong national hunt family, including Gunner Welburn and Calling Wild. With 8 Black Type performers in the pedigree this horse already a half brother to a bumper and point to point winner,  Abigail Lynch has most likely been pinhooked to be sold on at a future date. This is the second last year that we will see foals by Beneficial who stood in Knockhouse Stud in Co Kilkenny,in the sales ring with the expectation that he might have up to 20 live foals in 2014.

Jeremy is causing a bit of a stir having transferred from the Irish National Stud to Garryrichard Stud in Co Wexford in 2013. With Our Conor the flag bearer for him on the track Dermot Cantillon offered a son of his out of the Sadlers Wells mare Poulkovo from Tinnakill House. This half brother to one winner has a real flat pedigree with his grandam Pine Chip being a full sister to Coolmore stallion Peintre Celebre. This pedigree would not have been out of place at some of the flat sales this autumn but the transfer of Jeremy onto the national hunt stallion roster put paid to that. He made €35,000 here which is a nice return on his 2012 covering fee of €6,000. Whether or not he ever faces a fence at Lingstown or Dromahane might be open to question, but his purchaser Rathmore Stud must be confident that they will make a profit on him.

Kevin Ross was busy as he signed the docket for the third highest priced lot as well when paying €30,000 for a Presenting colt out of a Little Bighorn mare Papoose. Presenting has been the flag bearer for Rathbarry/Glenview Studs in Fermoy in Co Cork for some years now and this colt offered under the Ballincurrig House Stud banner is a full brother to Aintree Grand National winner Ballabriggs. The pedigree gies back to Hi Cloy, Wonder and the Cheltenham Champion Hurdle winner For Auction.

The same price of €30,000 was also achieved for a Flemensfirth colt out of Mucho Macabi a half sister to another Champion Hurdler, Hurricane Fly. This 20 times winner is the reigning champion with the flat pedigree tracing back to Lady Singer and Yankee Gold. This foal was offered by Grange Stud a sister stud The Beeches Stud in Lismore Co Waterford where Flemensfirth has been resident since 1998.

This horse was purchased by GH Bloodstock while Abbeylands signed for the Scorpion colt out of Spring Baloo from Grange Hill Stud. As this dam name suggests the colt is from the family of Ash Baloo and Lucky Baloo all recognisable names in the jumping world.

These were all good prices and the press releases afterwards pushed a positive spin on the results. I would too if it were my job, but when I drilled down a little deeper beyond the average sales figure of €9,084 the picture wasn’t so rosy.

I have put a figure of €4,000 as the bottom price most foals need to make to get even close to a breakeven point. This is to cover stallion fees, registrations and sales preparation. It does not cover vets and feed bills that might be incurred nor the man hours put into the foal. So of the 284 foals offered 113 40% or 2 in 5 of them were sold for €4,000 or less. Every single one of these were in my view sold at a loss by their breeders!!! How can this continue?

So that remains the major concern in my view in the long term and the blessed trinity of Sales Companies, Stallion Masters and Bloodstock Companies cannot continue to manage or manipulate the market without ultimately damaging the breeding industry.

What can be done?

In my opinion Stallion fees are too high and have been for years, caps should be placed on the number of covering certs for each stallion, sales companies should offer a charter of service and treat all vendors equally while bloodstock agents should register their business interests and ownerships for all to see.

If we started with these small steps we might well develop a true and fair market place and a better industry.

Great sales prices at Brightwells for Point to Pointers.

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Everyone is out early this morning in the Point to Point world as the make their way to Dromahane for the Duhallow Foxhound meeting. The start time is 10.30 with a strong entry of 52 horses for the Brightwells Bloodstock 4 Year Old Maiden. The same Sales company also sponsor the following contest with the 5 Year Old Geldings Maiden having 41 horses down to face the judge.

Depending of course on the declarations it looks like a divide or two is very much on the cards. So by chance and you are reading this piece this morning and you haven’t moved yet, you had better slip yourself into turbo drive to make it.

The benefit of those sales races came very much into focus over the weekend with Brightwells staging an auction to coincide with the December Gold Cup meeting at Cheltenham.

Offering 55 horses on Friday evening the sale was made up primarily of point to pointers with form between the flags this season.

Some had actually managed to have only debuted less than 7 days ago before their appearance in the sales ring.

The market for young horses with winning form is particularly strong just now with some excellent prices achieved.

The sales topper here was the aptly named Tell Us More, with the 4 year old gelding representing the first crop of the Castle Hyde Stud stallion Scorpion. This horse was trained by William Codd and ridden by his brother Jamie to win first time out at the Louth Foxhound meeting at Tattersalls Farm on the 8th of December.

Owned by William Drew he was knocked down for £290,000 to Harold Kirk and is likely yo be seen in the new year racing under the Willie Mullins banner.

Thats one great price for a horse and it capped a great week for the Codd’s with Jamies fivetimer at Tattersalls Farm , followed by his 2013 Point to Point HRI Award and this sales topper looking like Santa came very very early to Mayglass.

This sale was really good as Co Clare based Ronnie O’Leary sold his 4 year old Flemensfirth bumper winner, Mystical Dreamer to Gordon Elliot for £160,000 while two other winning pointers made the next best price of £120,000.

Tom Malone purchased Racing Europe a 4 year old by Kayf Tara from Con O’Keeffes Kilbarry Stud in Waterford for this price, while Johnjo O’Neill paid the same for the Beneficial 4 year old Oficial Ben from Denis Prendergast’s Co Tipperary yard.

Many many more winning point to pointers also found new homes here with Robert Tyner’s Co Cork yard selling Sir Abbot a 4 year old by Morozov for £85,000 to Frank Berry and Liz Doyle making £75,000 for Capote a 5 year old by Oscar. The Co Wexford trainer saw Highflyer Bloodstock sign the docket for this winner.

Its a risky enough strategy producing horses like this but when a plan comes together it makes it all worth while. These sales provide a really good opportunity for owners and trainers to turn over a few euro and clearly shows that the point to point fields provide their shop window.

Knockhouse Stud looking towards the challenge of 2014.

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Knockhouse Stud at Kilmacow in Co Kilkenny have long had a reputation as a quality horse breeding establishment.

With Stallions having been here since the 1930’s the current set up came into being with Pat Kinsella and his son Sean in 1970. The focus is now very much on the thoroughbred horse with the stud having been home to both Roselier and Beneficial. Both of these stallions have had considerable success on the track and have also left their mark on the breeding side with a reputation as broodmare sires.

The stud is still operated by Sean Kinsella but he is now ably assisted by Janet who now manages the yard. With the death of Beneficial earlier this year there was a demand to replace him on the 2014 stallion roster. They currently have Millenery, Touch of Land, Prince Flori and Subtle Power in place.

In early December Notnowcato was unveiled as the replacement with the 11 year old stallion transferring from Britain and focussing on the national hunt world.

With 4 year olds already on the ground the chesnut son of Inchinor has already had success with his progeny having sired a Listed flat winner in the shape of Chil The Kite in France.

Notnowcato was a talented racehorse amassing over €1million in prizemoney winning the Group 1 Juddmonte International Stakes and the Coral Eclipse Stakes as a 4 and 5 year old. He didn’t win as a 2 year old but he showed impressive improvement to progress into Group company after his 3 year old career. He was trained by Sir Michael Stoute to win 7 races over a 20 race career and 4 seasons.

While he is a winning 10 furlong horse, his sire Inchinor by Ahonoora and his dam sire Cadeaux Genereux would all indicate speed. The dam side is strengthened somewhat by the presence of Blushing Groom and Nijinsky so it will be interesting to see how he is received by breeders.

Kinsella must be happy that a cross of this speed influence with the stouter national hunt mare will be attractive to breeders and trainers.

He will be the star attraction in 2014 where he joins a five strong stallion roster.

Millenary is a Group 1 Doncaster St Leger winning son of Rainbow Quest. The 16 year old raced on for years winning multiple Group and Cup races , showing admirable courage and consistency. He is already sire of many winners both inside the rails and between the flags but just needs to get a star performer to see progress.

Sean Kinsella has always had a particular interest in German breeding having stood Lepanto in the past. Currently he stands Touch of Land with the French bred son of the German horse Lando very much fits into this mould. A Group 2 winner he showed durability and pace during his racing career and the hope is that this will transfer these to his progeny. The last couple of seasons has seen an increased level of interest in him by broodmare owners and the 13 year old just needs to solidify this by producing a winner or two on the track. His stock seem to be well regarded and the chances are that they will get a chance to race.

The other German cross in the stud is the 10 year old Lando horse Prince Flori. This Baden-Baden Group 1 winner was new to Knockhouse in 2013 having spent a couple of fruitless years at stud prior to this. He is popular with breeders and the chances are he will continue to attract attention for the next couple of years.

The final horse on the roster is the Sadler’s Wells 16 year old Subtle Power with the British Group 2 and American Group 1 horse having already had winners in Ireland and Britain with a couple of Black Type performers.

With Notnowcato their must see headline act in 2014, the full roster is strong with a good variety on offer to breeders.

Sean Kinsella and his family are only too aware of the challenges that face independent family studs in Ireland but they are hopeful that 2014 will see them build on previous years.

Surely this sale has the one for you?

Tattersalls Ireland get their November National Hunt Sale underway on Monday the 11th with the six day sale running right through the week until Saturday the 16th with 1475 lots in total.
Offering a broad range of horses, the first day has 273 yearlings listed with foals offered over the next four days until the final day with 234 horses catalogued being a mixture of stores and broodmares.

Ballincurrig House Stud in Cork is the biggest consigner of yearlings with 17 entries, Baroda and Colbinstown Studs from Co Kildare offering 8, Co Wexford based Jamestown Consignment have 7 the same number as the Mill House Stud.

Scanning the stallion names in these lots quickly shows a theme developing, with Stowaway, Mahler, Ask, Scorpion, Shantou and Black Sam Bellamy all appearing. This is not an exhaustive listing but it is interesting one non the less. It shows the current fashion very clearly and should be noted. Whether these yearlings are been pinhooked for the future is open to debate as some may be bought to race by their purchaser this time rather than to be resold as 3 and 4 year olds.

The four day foal sale shows page upon page of horses with great pedigrees and even though the Derby Sale and Goffs Landrover Sale showed some sort of improvement in the bloodstock sector the market for foals will be a better indication as to its health. I am sure we will have some good headline prices quoted at us but I prefer to look at the numbers unsold and those that go through the ring for less than €4000.  This of course won’t be clear till after the sale but its a pretty basic figure to judge a sale on. Very few foals cost less than this figure for any breeder to get to the sale, between stallion covers, entry fees and registrations. So lets keep that simple figure in mind.

In the meantime the sire list for foals shows the strength of the Coolmore operation covering Grange, Castle Hyde and the Beeches for this purpose.  Oscar tops the list with 66, Scorpion 64, Flemensfirth 61, before Ronnie O’Neills Stowaway 56 pops up in fourth for his Whytemount Stud, Rathbarry Stud comes in on 51 with Presenting, with Getaway 46 and Milan on 42 for Coolmore again before Court Cave registers on 40 for Boardsmill Stud. These wont get all the top prices needless to say but their shear volume will have an impact. Other stallions of note include Beneficial, Robin Des Champs and Shantou and these will be very popular in my view and they have a good number on offer on the foal sale days.

The broodmare sale totalling 154 and store horse sale of 79 is interesting as they offer two sides of the coin with in foal mares full of hope and expectation that they will have an animal that will develop into a saleable 3 and 4 year old.

The covering sires make interesting reading with Fame and Glory topping the list with 10, Stowaway on 8, followed by Jeremy, Kalanisi and Milan with 7. First season sire Fame and Glory has been marketed well, I think that this shows an indication that foals in 2014 will have a strong showing for Fame and Glory, Stowaway and Jeremy in particular.

This of course is purely a review by numbers, it doesn’t look at the page, pedigree nor confirmation, thats really up to you! Don’t forget that success and value can be found at the right price and that the house doesn’t need to be mortgaged to achieve it. That’s of course if you are a buyer, a seller on the other hand looks at it a different way, when was it any other way?

It’s a very big sale, probably the biggest one in the national hunt sector. Surely this sale has the one for you?

Camelot Story to Run and Run.

So the legend and myth leaves the race track and moves into the stallion barns!!! Camelot last seasons wonder horse has been retired and will stand as a stallion for Coolmore in 2014.

Was the announcement a surprise? Not really, the biggest surprise was the decision to keep him in training and run him as a 4 year old after three classic wins as a 3 year old and another Group 1 victory in the Racing Post Trophy in 2011.

Aidan O’Brien always talked the horse up and he looked really special when taking the English 2000 Guineas before landing the Epsom Derby. Many observers have spoken about the poor quality of that seasons 3 year olds. But the fact is every year has its Derby winner just as every year sees an All Ireland hurling winner or an FA Cup victor, some are better than others, some are more memorable!

Following these classic wins talk then switched to the Triple Crown (winning the 2000 Guineas, Epsom Derby and English St Leger as a 3 year old).  Being totally honest the chance of following in Nijinsky’s hoof prints just couldn’t be passed up. Nijinsky really was and remains an iconic horse and one against whom many are measured.

Before the Doncaster race the small matter of the Irish Derby had to be sorted. Camelot won it, but not in the manner of a racing legend. Perhaps this was the first chink seen in his amour?

His run in the St Leger when losing his unbeaten record to a handicapper in the shape of Encke was a huge disappointment. Joseph O’Brien might wish to forget this race but the mythical bubble was burst.

He tried his luck in the 2012 Arc but to no avail. A bout of colic soon after this was seen to some as an obvious “out” for O’Brien to retire the horse.

The Master of Ballydoyle must really have believed in his horses ability if not invincibility to persist after this. 2013 saw Camelot back on the track but he only added one further win to his career tally in addition to a string of no shows.

By Montjeu he follows other Derby winning sons of that horse, Motivator, Authorized and Pour Moi to stud and 2014 will see him embark on a new career. His dam line gives him a cross of Kingmambo and Danehill so he won’t be found wanting on that score.

A four time Group 1 winner must surely be an asset in the Coolmore world and they will no doubt push his services like relentlessly.

He may suffer a little from being linked to failure, as in the failure to win the Triple Crown, but on all measures he was a fine racehorse and deserves the opportunity at stud.

No fee has been set but I’d imagine it will be at least a five figure sum!

We still have a number of years of the mythical Camelot story to run, let’s see where it goes from here.

Anticipation awaits for Garryrichard Stud

Garryrichard Stud nestled in the rural landscape of south Co. Wexford has long had a good reputation in the horse breeding sector. Operating since 1870 the Hickey family have an enviable record as stallion masters having stood Lord Americo, Over The River, Callernish, Master Owen and Arctic Slave etc.

Currently in the stewardship of Denis Hickey, their influence on the thoroughbred industry does not stop in Garryrichard as Denis’s brother Michael Hickey runs Sunnyhill Stud and sister Mary Doyle operates Knockmullen House Stud, while his niece Jane is involved in Ballyhane Stud.

Hickey has high hopes that his partnership with the Irish National Stud which had its first season in 2013 will reap rewards with the stallion Jeremy, now after completing his first breeding year in Garryrichard.

Will a full book of quality national hunt mares the first foals of 2014 should be well received.

2013 was an astounding one for the young stallion with his first crop of runners, only 4 year olds, saw him having black type success both over jumps and on the flat.

It was however the exploits of Our Conor, that really captured the headlines after winning all around him including the Triumph Hurdle for Dessie Hughes. His return to the track was to be at the Curragh next weekend in the Irish Cesarewitch but that plan is on hold, so we will have to bide our time for his return.

Hickey must have been over the moon to see the 4 year old Jeremy gelding Mr Fifty One win his bumper at Gowran Park last week for Jessica Harrington. Anticipation is running high to see what other gems sired by Jeremy are unearthed.

A star like Our Conor is great to have but every stallion has to have more than one horse to advertise himself and bumper winners are vital to a stallions continued popularity.

The evidence on the track is not in dispute, Jeremy a 10 year old Group 2 winning son of Danehill Dancer, has had a great start to his national hunt career. Hickey and Garryrichard Stud may well reap the rewards as they offer breeders a very commercial choice.

Success and Value Can Be Found

Goffs were over the moon with the results of their Orby yearling sale which concluded last week. An extraordinary session on the second day saw M.V Magnier take the top lot when paying out a whopping €2,850,000 for a yearling son of the deceased Coolmore stallion, Montjeu. It was an enormous price to bid at public auction, the second highest in history in Ireland, only being surpassed by Authaal, a son of Shergar who cost 3.1 million guineas in 1984. Trained by David O’Brien he went on to win the Irish St Leger in 1986. But I suppose in today’s Euro and taking account of inflation it would be even a little higher again.

Magnier, of the Coolmore Magniers, was the biggest player on the stage at Goffs buying four of the top eight lots over the two days. Interestingly at this level, 8 of the top 10 sold were fillies, a pretty amazing statistic in itself. At the other levels of the bloodstock market, fillies are hard to sell at decent prices and very easy to buy at giveaway prices!

This Montjeu colt is the third produce of Finsceal Beo, a champion 2 year old herself and the winner of the Irish and English 1000 Guineas in 2007. Trained by the phenomenally successful Jim Bolger, she was owned by Michael Ryan whose Al Eile Stud in Dungarvan, Co Waterford also sold her yearling son at this sale. Not a bad days work!

Bolger interestingly was awarded a Longines IFHA International Merit Award in Paris today for “His impact on the industry as trainer, owner, breeder and educator”. Richly deserved as he has set a standard in racing and breeding second to none and his influence is enormous. The culmination of his 2013 season must surely be the Trading Leather, trained, owned and bred by the Bolger’s to win the 2013 Irish Derby.

These sales figures show a very, very healthy climate with 346 of the 395 lots offered sold. An average sales figure of €100,591 was a 12 % increase on 2012, with €34.7 million being spent over two days an increase of 28% on last years totals.

I don’t think however that we should all run out today and buy a horse based on these figures. As they always say it costs as much to keep a bad horse as a good one, but a couple of interesting winners recently do show that astronomic figures as achieved at Goffs, don’t always guarantee success and value can be found much lower down.

Last weekend, Pollyana, a 4 year old daughter of Ballylinch Stud stallion, Whipper, won the Group 2 Prix Daniel Wildenstein at Longchamp, she was a €3,000 yearling. While, Sruthan, a 3 year old son of Ballyhane Stud’s stallion, Arakan, the winner of the Group 3 Concorde Stakes at Tipperary, cost just €1,000.

As always, food for thought, that’s why I try to keep everything in focus.

Blue Blood On Offer.

Today sees the start of the Goffs Orby Sale at their venue at Kill in Co Kildare. With 425 choice yearlings on offer over the next two days, bloodstock agents, trainers and prospective new owners will be vying with each other as they seek to find the Classic winners for 2015. With progeny of some of the top stallions on sale it will be of interest to see how sons and daughters of Galileo, Teofilo, New Approach etc. are received in the sales ring. Some of these pedigrees come from the best currently available and represent the bluest of blue blood. Other stallions of note to keep an eye on will be Sea The Stars, Iffraj, Zebedee and Acclamation. This sale will test the water on an international level to see what confidence and more importantly what money is available for bloodstock investment.

Sales update

Brightwells held a breeze up and HIT sale at Cheltenham at the November festival meeting.  It had a really strong local interest when Need To Talk trained by Davidstown based Alan Dobbs who had won a point to point at Ballinboola earlier in the month was sold for 230,000 sterling.  Dobbs celebrated his first winner with this horse at this meeting so he must have been really chuffed to be involved with this sale. The 4 year old son of Kings Theatre has now moved to the British yard of Phillip Hobbs, from Dobbs to a Hobbs and it only cost 230,000 !.  Denis Murphy must also have been pleased to get 85,000 sterling for his Heron Island 4 year old Sail By The Sea who was also purchased by Roger Brookhouse.