Racing Post: ‘Ardad’s future looks big, bold and bright’

Racing Post: ‘Ardad’s future looks big, bold and bright’

By Aisling Crowe

11th January 2024

Modern stallion economics is dictated by numbers, with large crops the order of the day, making it more challenging for a stallion lacking in that area to make an impact in the sales ring and on the track.

That reality is what makes the success of Ardad, the Flying Childers and Windsor Castle winner who stands at Overbury Stud, all the more notable. He has just 143 named runners from his first three crops combined – a figure many stallions would attain with just one crop.

The majority of those runners came from his debut season at the Gloucestershire farm, where he sired 83 named foals at a fee of £6,500. From that cohort, who are now five-year-olds, 75 have run with 39 winning, of which 23 won at two. Among those 23 winning juveniles was Perfect Power, who struck twice at the highest level and added the Commonwealth Cup at three.

For a multiple Group 1 winner to emerge from relatively few numbers could be seen as an anomaly, but Perfect Power was not the sole black-type performer from Ardad’s first crop. Group 3 Sirenia Stakes winner Eve Lodge was also from that initial tranche of runners and the 12,500gns Tattersalls Ascot Sale graduate transformed into a 500,000gns December Mares Sale purchase when sold to Eddie O’Leary a few weeks ago.

In addition to that Group-winning mare, the 2019 foals by Ardad included the Coventry Stakes third Vintage Clarets, Saliteh, who was third in the Group 3 Lacken Stakes, and the twice Listed-placed Eidikos. The latter-duo earned their black-type stripes at three.

Ardad’s second crop had just 44 named foals and they have produced 38 runners so far, recording nine two-year-old winners from a total of 19 individual winners to date.

The best of them is Crispy Cat, who was third in the Norfolk Stakes and Flying Childers Stakes, as well as second in the Listed First Flier Stakes, to Blackbeard, and the Listed National Stakes for Amo Racing and Michael O’Callaghan. Transferred Stateside for the 2023 season, he won the snazzily named Texas Glitter Stakes at Gulfstream Park.

He was lent able support in black-type company by two fillies who were owned by the late Theresa Marnane; Ghrainne was third in the Group 3 Zukunfts-Rennen for two-year-olds during Baden Baden’s Grosse Woche, and Ardad’s Great was runner-up in the Listed Tipperary Stakes.

Ardad’s third crop is minuscule in comparison to the vast majority of young Flat sires, with just 16 named foals, who are three-year-olds of 2024. They have so far produced two winners – Silent Move, who at 200,000gns is the most expensive yearling by Ardad, and Rush Queen.

The Ado McGuinness-trained Rush Queen has shown a remarkable constitution, running nine times last year, winning twice and earning black type when third in the Listed Curragh Stakes.

Ardad’s foals-to-runners rate is quite high, at 88 per cent, and he has proved successful at producing two-year-old winners – crucial if a stallion is to have any chance of surviving in the cutthroat prevailing market conditions – and horses who train on.

Perfect Power advertised those qualities with panache. Bred, as his sire was, by the O’Callaghan family of Tally-Ho Stud, he was also a Goffs UK breeze-up horse, making £110,000 to Blandford Bloodstock for Sheikh Rashid Dalmook Al Maktoum.

A benchmark for a stallion is said to be the ability to sire a horse better than himself, and Ardad did that with the first opportunity he got.

Perfect Power, trained by Richard Fahey, won at Hamilton in early June before his Royal Ascot success. Fifth in the Richmond Stakes next time, he bounced back to victory in the Prix Morny before adding the Middle Park to his roll of honour.

At three he won the Greenham and successfully reverted to sprinting after the 2,000 Guineas, claiming the Commonwealth Cup. He was retired to stand at Darley’s Dalham Hall Stud for the 2023 breeding season.

Ardad’s best form was as a juvenile with the Tally-Ho homebred son of Kodiac – their leading source of precocity and pace – making £170,000 as a breeze-up horse at Goffs UK before going into training with John Gosden.

His form tailed off at three but the same cannot be said for his offspring, or for his family, which is a mix of juvenile and older black-type performers.

His dam, Good Clodora, ran only at two but is a Red Clubs half-sister to Ruby Rocket, a Listed winner at two and three better known for being the dam of Maarek, the son of Pivotal who won the Prix de l’Abbaye as a six-year-old.

Ardad’s third crop had both the scarcity value at the yearling sales and the memories of Perfect Power’s exploits on their side when it came to auction time in 2022. That sales season saw him record an average of £73,136 and a median of £48,825 for 12 of the 14 yearlings that came under the hammer around Europe.

Silent Move, who represents the Perfect Power team, was one of a quartet of six-figure yearlings from that crop when sold at Book 1 by Tally-Ho, who had purchased him as a foal for 64,000gns from breeders Oakshott Bloodstock.

Book 2 was the source of a further pair of six-figure Ardad yearlings; Strong Request, a full-brother of Crispy Cat, made 130,000gns to Blandford Bloodstock from Throckmorton Court Stud, and the 110,000gns Dorney Lake, who was purchased by Stroud Coleman for Godolphin and sent into training with John and Thady Gosden. Bred by Mickley Stud and Tim and Miranda Johnson, he was a 58,000gns foal sale to RC Bloodstock and resold by Kildaragh Stud.

At Arqana’s August Yearling Sale, Grand City made €115,000 from Haras d’Ellon to Yohea.

Ardad’s two-year-olds of 2024 are perhaps uniquely positioned as they are his biggest crop to date but bred from his lowest fee, namely £4,000 in 2021. Ardad will have numbers to represent him this year but they are potentially weaker in quality than their predecessors.

That, combined with his small numbers of juveniles in 2023 and their failure to ignite the imagination, and the increased amount of Ardad yearlings on the market contributed to a substantial drop in his yearling sales average and median last autumn, although that was also influenced by the decline suffered by the market in general.

The 2023 yearling sales saw 58 Ardad youngsters change hands from the 64 offered at an average price of £25,121 with the median at £20,500.

His most expensive fourth crop offering was a filly out of Kahura who made €90,000 to Rodrigo Goncalves from Kilpatrick Farm at Goffs Orby Book 1. She is a half-sister to Listed Two Year Old Trophy winner and Middle Park third Summer Sands.

Kevin Ross went to 72,000gns at the Tattersalls Somerville Sale for the full-sister to Ardad’s Great, offered by Jamie Railton, and at Book 2 Amo Racing, along with George Boughey and Hamish Macauley, secured the full-brother to Crispy Cat and Strong Request for 62,000gns.

John Quinn will train the Ardad filly out of First Destinity, the Listed-placed Lawman half-sister to Lightning Spear. He was sold by Patrick Turley’s Kingsfield Stud to Richard Knight and Sean Quinn for €70,000 at the Tattersalls Ireland September Yearling Sale.

Ed Bethell takes charge of Music History, the £38,000 full-sister to Clearpoint, who has a peak Racing Post Rating of 99, while Kevin Philippart de Foy is registered as the trainer of the full-sister to Dorney Lake, who cost 42,000gns to Brownsbarn Thoroughbreds and Moore’s Racing.

That difficult fourth season for a sire was negated by the evidence of Ardad’s early representatives, as breeders would ultimately commit 156 mares to visit him, the vast majority of whom would have been covered long before Perfect Power and Vintage Clarets made it a Royal Ascot to remember for their sire.

However, the better quality runners lie in the future, as a comparison of the calibre of mares he covered in 2021 and 2022 demonstrates. His 2021 book included 62 per cent winning producers and a total of 75 winners at a rate of 48 per cent, with 15 black-type performers among them, making up ten per cent of the total. He covered nine black-type winners that year, which was six per cent of his book.

Fast forward to the breeding season of 2022 and with the exploits of Perfect Power, Eve Lodge and Vintage Clarets proving that Ardad could sire good horses, the mares sent to Gloucestershire improved once more.

The race records held by the dams of this year’s Ardad yearlings are better than in previous seasons with 62 per cent of his book in 2022 having won. They include 38 black-type performers, at a rate of 19 per cent, with nine per cent of them black-type winners and four per cent of his book successful at Group level.

He served 154 mares in 2023, including 54 per cent winners, with ten per cent black-type performers and six per cent of them earning their black type at Group level, three per cent of the total being Group winners.

Ardad’s future looks big, bold and bright.