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Alfred Noble - Phoenix stakes - Curragh - 26.07.2009

Alfred Nobel: son of leading juvenile sire Danehill Dancer

  PICTURE: Caroline Norris 


Danehill Dancer tops after Phoenix sweep

ALMOST in August, and enough time has passed to begin to give the two-year-old sires a real assessment. In most bloodstock minds, the most important of these are the first-season sires, and with good reason - freshman sires flood the market with their yearlings and a few months later their progeny are all over the racecourse, as their minders do all they can to establish a crucial early lead in the standings. But let's not forget there are some more veteran sires who consistently turn up a strong hand of two-year-olds.

Progeny prize-money is the typical way to look at sire ratings, butwe have tweaked that method to look at average earnings per runner instead. This method goes some way to mitigate the large numbers of runners some sires have had, which gives them an advantage under the straight progeny prize-money system of ranking. For instance, Exceed And Excel, with 46 runners, is ranked second by progeny earnings. But by average earnings per runner, he comes out in 12th place.

Because we included only first-season sires with at least two winners and older sires with at least five winners, we also eliminate sires with scant representation, notably Chevalier - whose lone juvenile winner has been the consistent Monsieur Chevalier, who earned £98,480 for his Weatherbys Super Sprint win - and Johannesburg and Tagula, who have had four winners each, including the impressive Royal Ascot victors Radiohead and Canford Cliffs.


Leading sires of 2yos in GB and Ireland by average earnings per runner (with 5 or more winners up to 27/07)

 Stallion  Avg earnings per runner (£)  Winners  Runners
 Danehill Dancer  17,426  11  31
 Galileo  12,748  5  11
 Oasis Dream  8,924  6  19
 Le Vie Dei Colori*  7,511  6  11
 Orpen  6,434  5  8
 Giant's Causeway  5,655  5  11
 Royal Applause  5,314  7  25
 Oratorio*  4,981  6  20
 Verglas  4,834  6  30
 Camacho*  4,523  5  15

* first season sire

As to the horses on the list, Danehill Dancer stands head and shoulders above the rest, following his devastating 1-2-3 in the Group 1 Camas Park & Ashtown House Phoenix Stakes on Sunday (led by Alfred Nobel, his trio were the only three Danehill Dancers in the eight-horse field). With 31 runners and 11 winners he has relatively large numbers, earning an average of £17,426.

Some way behind him with an average of £12,748 is Galileo, who has had about half the winners and one-third the runners of Danehill Dancer but is proving yet again that, like his sire Sadler's Wells, he is a very good source of high-class two-year-olds. This season they include the filly Cabaret and the colt Cape Blanco, both Group 3 winners.

Rounding out the top three with an average of £8,924 is Oasis Dream, who is having a terrific year with his older runners as well. The surprise entrant right behind him is Le Vie Dei Colori, who unfortunately died last year when his first crop were only yearlings. The son of Efisio has had six winners from just 11 runners, including Listed Golden Fleece Stakes winner Perfect Symmetry, and he heads the first-season sires' standings by average earnings.

Four of the top ten sires are not now based in Ireland, but Orpen (fifth place) was still at Coolmore's Castle Hyde Stud when these runners were conceived, while Giant's Causeway (sixth) is at Coolmore's Ashford Stud in Kentucky. So that makes it just two of the top ten - Oasis Dream and Royal Applause - without Irish connections.

For this and other reasons, Royal Applause deserves mention. The Coventry Stakes winner of 1995 has been another consistent provider of good two-year-olds, which this year include the smart filly Habaayib, winner of the Group 3 Albany Stakes at Royal Ascot and most recently second to Oasis Dream's Misheer in the Group 2 Cherry Hinton.

The leading sires table by progeny earnings is dominated by Danehill and Green Desert stallions, with seven of the top ten sired by one or the other son of Danzig. However, ranked by average earnings there is a more even spread among various Northern Dancer branches; while there are three Danehill sons (Danehill Dancer and first-season sires Oratorio and Camacho) there are also sons of Sadler's Wells (Galileo), Green Desert (Oasis Dream), Lure (Orpen) and Waajib (Royal Applause). Le Vie Dei Colori, by Efisio, and Verglas, by Highest Honor, have also cracked the top ten.

Likewise the table of top freshman sires by average earnings has an interesting cross-section of Northern Dancer antecedents. Along with two by the ubiquitous Danehill (Oratorio in second and Camacho in fourth place) it includes two by Giant's Causeway (third-ranked Shamardal and eight-ranked Footstepsinthesand, who has had 34 runners - more than any other on our list), one by Nureyev's son Fasliyev (Chineur, ranked fifth) and one by Danzig (Antonius Pius, tenth).


Leading first-season sires in GB and Ireland by average earnings per runner (with 2 or more runners up to 27/07)

 Stallion  Avg runner earnings (£)  Winners  Runners
 Le Vie Dei Colori*  7,511  6  11
 Oratorio  4,981  6  20
 Shamardal  4,760  4  15
 Camacho  4,523  5  15
 Chineur  4,325  7  22
 Pastoral Pursuits  3,695  10  23
 Firebreak  2,873  2  12
 Footstepsinthesand  2,464  9  34
 Avonbridge  2,311  9  33
 Antonius Pius  2,308  9  30

* deceased

Outside of Northern Dancer, Bahamian Bounty (Pastoral Pursuits), Charnwood Forest (Firebreak), Averti (Avonbridge) and Dubai Millennium (Dubawi) have all got sons with average earnings above £2,000. At this point they all stand a chance to break into a higher league (although Antonius Pius has already been sent to South Africa), so it is not their fault - but £2,000 sounds a pitiful average when compared to these sires' stud fees.

It's yet another reminder of the sad state of prize-money in this region.




King's Theatre £947,392
Presenting £887,432
Oscar £771,633
Beneficial £757,104
Milan £707,790
Westerner £558,887
Flemensfirth £500,575
Kayf Tara £464,883
Stowaway £400,620
Midnight Legend £391,209