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Sunday 11 December 2016

Prospects breeding confidence

Some exciting new specimens have been unveiled by our top stud farms

Siobhán English

Published 12/10/2016 | 02:30

Ryan Moore riding Air Force Blue to win the 2015 Dewhurst Stakes at Newmarket racecourse on October 10, 2015 in Newmarket, England Photo: Alan Crowhurst/ Getty Images
Ryan Moore riding Air Force Blue to win the 2015 Dewhurst Stakes at Newmarket racecourse on October 10, 2015 in Newmarket, England Photo: Alan Crowhurst/ Getty Images
Kodi Bear becomes the first son of the commercially-popular Kodiac to be retired to stud. He will stand at Rathbarry next season

Without doubt Ireland is home to the finest thoroughbred stallions in the world, with the likes of Galileo, Dubawi and Sea The Stars currently occupying the top three positions in the Leading Sires table in Europe.

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In addition, Irish-based sires also hold great prominence in the National Hunt equivalent, among them Presenting, King's Theatre, Oscar and Beneficial.

With the demands on certain sires constantly changing, each autumn Irish breeders eagerly await the arrival of freshman sires on to the roster ahead of the new breeding season.

In recent weeks some exciting prospects have been announced by some of Ireland's top stud farms, while other leading names of the Irish racing scene are destined for further afield for 2017.

One such colt is Air Force Blue, a champion two-year-old last season for Aidan O'Brien. Bred in Kentucky by Stone Farm, the son of War Front is now set to return to Lexington and will stand at Coolmore's Ashford Stud next season.

"With the exception of Frankel who has made such a brilliant start to his stud career, Air Force Blue is Timeform's highest-rated juvenile in nearly 20 years. In fact, he's the highest-rated juvenile ever from the Danzig line," said Ashford Stud manager Dermot Ryan.

Meanwhile, National Hunt sire Scorpion is to leave Coolmore and next season will stand at Shade Oak Stud in Shropshire, while a new recruit for Coolmore is The Gurkha.

A double Group 1 winner this season for Aidan O'Brien, The Gurkha (Galileo) is a full-brother to Queen Nefertiti and the family also includes champion older mare Solemia, champion two-year-old filly Silasol and Group 2 winner, Prospect Park.

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Scorpion's oldest crop are seven years old and among his best performers are Punchestown Champion Novice Hurdle winner Don't Touch It, Grade 1-placed hurdler Tell Us More, Listed mares' bumper scorer The Nipper and the useful hurdlers Blue Fashion and Might Bite.

Shade Oak Stud also stands Telescope and Galileo's full-brother, Black Sam Bellamy.

Rathbarry Stud, whose current resident stallions include Presenting, Robin Des Champs and Sholokhov (sire of 2016 Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Don Cossack), has acquired two new stallions for 2017. Ajaya and Kodi Bear, sons of popular sires and half-brothers Invincible Spirit and Kodiac, will join the team at the Co Cork stud for the upcoming season.

Owned and bred by Saleh Al Homaizi and Imad Al Sagar, Ajaya was a high-class juvenile for William Haggas, beating Ribchester to win last year's Group 2 Irish Thoroughbred Marketing Gimcrack Stakes, having previously finished a head second to Gutaifan in the Prix Robert Papin.

Interestingly Gutaifan was one of the busiest first-season sires in Ireland this past season, having covered some 203 mares at Gay O'Callaghan's Yeomanstown Stud. They also stand his sire Dark Angel, which has had a hugely successful season with no fewer than 10 winners in Hong Kong alone.

Gay O'Callaghan's brother, Tony, runs Tally-Ho Stud which has recently purchased a 50pc share in dual Group 2 winner Mehmas and will stand the colt at its Co Westmeath base alongside Kodiac.

Both Dark Angel and Mehmas are by Acclamation who stands at Rathbarry Stud.

Meanwhile, another son of Kodiac, the Group 3 winning sprinter Coulsty, will join Clodovil, Bungle Inthejungle, Es Que Love and Anjaal at Rathasker Stud.

Anjaal was the second most in-demand new sire this year with a book of 194 mares.

Trained by Richard Hannon, Coulsty gained his greatest career victory when winning the Group 3 Prix de Meautry Lucien Barriere at Deauville, while he also finished second in the Group 2 Hungerford Stakes over seven furlongs last year.

Rathasker previously stood Fast Company, sire of Group 1 winner Jet Setting, before the son of Danehill Dancer was relocated to Overbury Stud for the 2016 covering season.

He will now return to Ireland for 2017 to stand at Kildangan Stud. Darley is offering a limited number of lifetime breeding rights for a fee of €10,000, entitling the breeder to send one mare for every year from 2017 onwards.

Sam Bullard, Darley's director of stallions said: "Fast Company is a stallion on the up. He could be a very valuable sire in the future, in the manner of an Iffraaj or Kodiac.

"We are selling lifetime breeding rights - so popular with our club stallions - because we want to give breeders the chance to join in the opportunity of helping to raise him to the next level. The price ensures that breeders will benefit - and we will too."

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