Halfway through the Flat racing season, we sat down with Weatherby’s bloodstock expert, Martin Stevens for the inside scoop on 2021’s Champion first season Flat sire market.
“At the halfway point of the season it’s still all to play for in the race to become Britain and Ireland’s first-season sire by number of individual winners.
But one sire in particular has played a strong hand early and stormed to the top of the table – causing bookmaker Fitzdares to slash his odds to claim the title.
Ardad was always likely to be quick out of the blocks with his debut two-year-old runners as he was especially precocious himself, winning the Windsor Castle Stakes by a wide margin on only his second start and adding the Flying Childers Stakes to his CV later in the season.
He is also by Kodiac, who has supplied a world record number of two-year-old winners from a single crop, out of a mare by a former leading first-season sire in Red Clubs. Furthermore, his close family members include the star sprinters Anita’s Prince, Kier Park and Maarek.
The only thing that had the potential to hold back Ardad was that he had fewer juveniles to represent him this year – 87, to be precise, compared with crops of at least 124 for each of the early market leaders Profitable, Caravaggio, Churchill and Cotai Glory.
However, he leads his fellow freshmen up to July 1 with 12 winners from 28 runners in Britain and Ireland for an admirable strike-rate of 43%. His haul includes the Norfolk Stakes scorer Perfect Power and Coventry Stakes third Vintage Clarets.
Consequently, Fitzdares have been forced to cut his price from an opening show of 20/1 into 6/1.
Caravaggio now leads the market at 2/1, having put seven winners on the board from 30 runners in Britain and Ireland for a strike-rate of 23%. The former top two-year-old by Scat Daddy should have plenty more winners in time, as with 131 juveniles he has the largest crop among his peers.
He has dislodged Profitable from the head of betting, although the star sprinter by Invincible Spirit is solid at 3/1 having delivered seven winners from 21 runners in Britain and Ireland including the Queen Mary Stakes scorer Quick Suzy and George Boughey’s exciting filly Thunder Love.
Cotai Glory’s price has contracted by one point since the market opened and he is now available at 4/1 in the wake of fielding nine winners from 35 runners in Britain and Ireland (26%).
His highest-rated performer, Coventry Stakes runner-up Eldrickjones, has yet to add to that tally as he is still a maiden, but he will surely do so soon.
Churchill’s odds remain at 4/1 with five winners from 16 runners in Britain and Ireland (31%). The fact that he has had far fewer racecourse representatives than the other market leaders to date suggests his stock might need a little more time.
With his decent strike-rate and large crop of 124 in mind, he will be a very interesting prospect as the Flat season progresses and longer-distance two-year-old races kick in.
Galileo Gold, with five winners from 22 runners (23%) in Britain and Ireland including Listed scorers Ebro River and System as well as Albany Stakes third Oscula, is not out of it either and is available at an eye-catching 20-1.
The race to become the leading first-season sire by number of winners is thus poised as an absorbing tortoise versus hare scenario.
Can Ardad maintain his lightning-quick start or will he run out of ammunition? Will the Classic winner Churchill make stealthy progress past him as more of his stock are able to run over longer trips?
Or might Cotai Glory, Caravaggio or Profitable make use of their large crops to keep a steady flow of winners coming and finish on top?
One thing is for sure: it will be a fascinating second half of the year for breeders, bloodstock enthusiasts and bettors who can keep tabs on the performance of each stallion through Weatherbys Global Stallions App”.