In August 2019, Course Specialist was privileged to have a tour of the National Stud in Newmarket.
It was a privilege to meet Aclaim and Rajasinghe and to see dear old Bahamian Bounty in his retirement. Not to mention former Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Lord Windermere, who is enjoying himself immensely with his friend Jack The Giant.
Fast forward to 2020 and a lot has happened in the intervening months, with The National Stud readying itself for an exciting stallion roster.
Joe Callan, Marketing & Nominations Manager, spoke exclusively to Course Specialist about these developments.
Talk us through your new stallion prospects for the 2020 breeding season?
We couldn’t be more pleased with our stallion roster as we head in to the 2020 season. The roster is still very much at an embryonic stage with Aclaim and Time Test the most advanced, both of whom had their first foals sell this year and both were received exceptionally well. It will be important to keep that momentum going for their third season at stud, luckily they have a fantastic core group of breeder right holders who have consistently support them with high quality mares for which we are very grateful.
Rajasinghe is due to have his first-foals on the ground in 2020 which we are very excited for. He was an extremely quick horse who still holds the track record over six furlongs at Ascot for a two-year-old which he broke when winning the Group Two Coventry Stakes. His performance that day was exceptional and it was a real pity his three-year-old career was halted early due to injury. His owners Rebel Racing have been very supportive of him at stud and I have no doubts the support will continue once his progeny enter the sales ring. Richard Spencer who trains for Rebel Racing is a very good trainer so the future for Rajasinghe is exciting.
This year we added two new exciting prospects to our roster in Advertise and Flag of Honour. Advertise is a stunning horse, he was a Group One-winning two-year-old who progressed as a three-year-old to win the fastest running of the Group One Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot before defeating the older horses in the Group One Prix Maurice de Gheest. He is by Showcasing who is continuously proving himself to be a top-class stallion that improves his mares. He has the physical attributes to match his excellent race record and will cover a very high-class book of mares this year.
We are extremely lucky to be standing the Group One Classic winning Flag of Honour on behalf of Mr. Trevor Hemmings as a dual-purpose prospect. He is an impeccably bred son of Galileo who was an incredibly tough performer for Aidan O’Brien. He won or was placed at Group level on 9 occasions throughout his career. Despite his main exploits coming in the staying division, he also proved a talented two-year old and capped off his juvenile career with victory in the Group Three Eyrefield Stakes at the Curragh. His biggest win came in Group One Irish St. Leger, the front running effort he put in that day was incredible to watch and was truly testament to his toughness, let’s hope he passes that on to his progeny!
It was interesting to see the National Stud will be standing Flag Of Honour as a dual-purpose stallion in 2020. With so few stallions of this kind in Newmarket, what was the thinking behind this acquisition?
Without doubt there is a dwindling number of National Hunt stallions available in the UK at the moment which is very difficult on breeders. This is something that was noted on numerous occasions by people and mentioned to us, so when David Minton kindly asked us to stand Flag of Honour we were very excited for the opportunity to provide a horse of his calibre as an option for breeders. There is a good number of National Hunt breeders in the Midlands and East Anglia that he will hopefully appeal to along with some of our current flat clients. Anybody who has come to see him has loved him, he is a cracking physical, very athletic and walks for fun!
Time Test shuttled to the southern hemisphere in 2019, are there plans to do this again in 2020 and will it just be Time Test?
Absolutely, Time Test stood his second season at Little Avondale Stud in New Zealand this year and the plan is for him to return next year. Sam and Catriona Williams and their team do a brilliant job and he once again covered a full book this year. They are stud with proven success over for the years and also stand Per Incanto who has developed in to one of New Zealand’s leading sires in recent year.
Sam actually came over to us in June prior to any foals been born in the Southern Hemisphere time and we showed him some of the Time Test foals in the area, he said the bunch he saw here set the bar very high and luckily his crop in New Zealand seemed to be every bit as nice. Which in turn has led to him covering a full book there with some very nice mares.
Aside from the stallions, has the National Stud made any investments in infrastructure/operations? If so, what has been done?
Yes, we currently have a five-year plan in place to revamp the infrastructure throughout the stud. It is no secret the National Stud went through a turbulent time financially in the early 2000’s which didn’t really allow for a lot of investment in the infrastructure. In 2008 Brian O’Rourke took over as Managing Director and did an incredible job to take the stud back to a financially stable stage throughout his tenure. The growth has continued under Tim Lane, who took over as Managing Director in 2017 and has done an outstanding job also. Last year saw a £1 million increase in turnover to £3.3million for the stud and a £900,000 operating profit having broken even the previous year and hopefully this year will surpass last year. This has allowed the stud to invest in infrastructure, this year £250,000 was spent on the refurbishment of the stallion unit, the facilities at the foaling unit is next on the agenda for a makeover along with other small projects throughout the stud.
In your own opinion, what are the biggest challenges in the thoroughbred industry?
In my view the biggest challenges at this present time is the lack of staff here in the UK and the lack of prize money.
Wages and working hours seem to be the catalyst behind the staffing issue and it is closely intertwined in to a vicious circle due the lack of prize money available. I believe the people with the passion are there but sometimes they can’t justify staying within the industry. If the prize money was healthier trainers and studs could pay more and it could be the first step in leading to the retention of good people while also enticing new young and enthusiastic staff.
Education is of course a major facet of the National Stud and I firmly believe the amazing opportunities provided here, by the Irish National Stud and other programmes such as the Godolphin Flying Start are invaluable tool in training the next generation and supplying different paths in to the industry.
What were the biggest successes the National Stud enjoyed in the sales ring and on the racecourse in 2019?
The highlight in the sales ring this year for us had to be the success of the first crop foals by Time Test and Aclaim. The Time Test foals were hugely popular with an average and median over three times his covering fee and selling to some of the best judges in the business. This was a fantastic result as it so important to us that breeders are paid dividends for supporting our stallions in the early stages of their careers.
The Aclaim foals also sold very well, they fetched as much as €120,000 and were extremely well received as a whole. Thankfully this leads both stallions in a good position heading in to their third seasons at stud.
Our consignment side also saw a strong increase this year, most notably with the mares. We grossed 2,100,000gns and were amongst the top consignors for the week. Our consignment business has been growing steadily and we now have some fantastic clients that entrust us with some very nice horses to sell every year.
On the racecourse this year there is a nice filly called Queen Gamrah that was bred by the National Stud. She has raced three times and won her last two impressively. Although they mightn’t have been the strongest of races, the fashion of which she won suggested may be an exciting prospects when she steps up in class.
What are the rates for each National Stud stallion in 2020?
Aclaim – £9,500 (Live Foal Terms)
Advertise – £25,000 (1st Oct SLF)
Flag of Honour – £4,500 (Live Foal Terms)
Rajasinghe – £5,000 (1st Oct SLF)
Time Test £8,500 (1st Oct SLF)
For more information, please visit: www.nationalstud.co.uk