We start to run down towards the end of yet another fascinating flat season that has seen the powerhouse of Aidan O’Brien once again conquering pretty much all leaving others in his wake, it is that time of year when we need to look forward to the National Hunt season, culminating of course with the trip of Cheltenham Aintree and Punchestown in the spring but with plenty of action before that to look forward to as we welcome back our old heroes to the fray, plus a few newcomers of course. With the flat we talk regularly of a “son of Frankel”, or a “daughter of Galileo”, as if their blue blood makes them invincible once they hit the track, but what about the more stoutly bred, just how much of an influence do the stamina laden sires have on race outcomes and which sires can we expect to be responsible for our ITV Racing tips in the 2018/19 season?
Naturally, just like any set of statistics, the secret is all in the gathering of the correct information, and anyone can list those most successful by prize money won or number of winners alone (or just list the official top ten sires), but if that equates to a large number of small race winners is that really what we want to know, so for this purpose we have mixed and matched with explanations as to why each stallion deserves his place on the definitive myracing list of the top National Hunt sires at present.
The ten to follow are:
Background – Number one on anybody’s list in recent years, he was 3rd in the 1995 Derby behind Lammtarra before winning the Gordon Stakes at Glorious Goodwood and six of his ten starts in total.
Top Progeny – Gold Cup winners Denman and War Of Attrition are the names we all remember along with Grand National winner Ballabriggs but of the newer brigade Yorkhill, Ballycasey and Top Gamble stand out to continue his success rate this coming season.
Race Conditions – His progeny are generally slightly better when the ground is on the good side, with plenty of winners at the big Spring Festivals as a result, with Cheltenham very much on the agenda of his better progeny.
The Future – As a sire he continues to provide his followers with numerous winners and a strike rate of last season and this combined of 11% but a level stakes loss so be wary. Picking one of his numerous offspring wasn’t easy but bumper winner Northern Soul looks one to consider and seems sure to be even better when stepped up in trip and faced with hurdles for the first time.
Background – Saddlers Wells has had an immeasurable impact on racing in the past decades. The sire of Galileo, High Chaparral and Montjeu, he was also the sire of Kayf Tara. The winner of two Ascot Gold Cups among other achievements, the ex-Godolphin star continues to stamp his stock with his staying prowess.
Top Progeny – Thistlecrack is the one we all hope can be brought back to his best but sadly that is anything but guaranteed, though we can but hope we get to see him in all his glory this season. Blaklion is top class when everything goes his way and ought to be challenging for all the top chasing honours if Nigel Twiston-Davies can get him spot on when it matters while Identity Thief remains a class act and seem sure to win more races.
Race Conditions – Most are happy on any surface, deep ground is no issue in the depths of winter but they possess the engine to compete on good going.
The Future – Despite his advancing years Kayf Tara keeps churning out top class horses and Paul Nicholls will be hoping Master Tommytucker goes all the way to the top. Unbeaten after two comfortable wins at Exeter he is a good looking seven-year-old who has obviously required plenty of patience, but he should go on to get better over hurdles or very possibly with a quick switch to fences this coming season.
Stats – As with most sires with lots of offspring you can’t back Kayf Tara’s blind but his offspring win and place on a regular basis with a 12.41% strike rate and invariably give you a good run for your money.
Background – A newcomer to our latest list but proving extremely popular at stud for Coolmore whose exploits in the winter sphere seems to be underestimated. No shock to see he is a son of Galileo and an Irish Derby winner over the mile and a half which helps to inject the required combination of speed and stamina
Top Progeny – Mega Fortune and Tin Soldier are perhaps his better-known progeny, but his newer books will see his offspring get better and better over the years ahead as he couples with the better pool of National Hunt mares available so expect some superstars, especially over hurdles, to hit the top races in the years ahead.
Race Conditions – All ground seems equal for his progeny with the majority of winners on soft ground and a profit made to level stakes when his progeny race on Good to Soft the one thing to note.
The Future – As a popular sire his numbers on the track will increase year on year but for the moment Joseph O’Brien’s Cornelius Sulla looks as interesting as any. Placed in numerous bumpers he finally got off the mark at Killarney in April last year and although off since he is fully expected to win races over hurdles once he gets back to the track.
Stats – 2017 and 2018 to date have seen him responsible for 156 runners and 30 winners for a very respectable 19.23% strike rate and we can only see this getting better in the future when you look at the top-quality mares being sent his way.
Background – We all have personal favourites and the USA bred son of Alleged is one of ours. He has been at or near the top of the National Hunt stallion tree for many years now having retired to stud after winning at up to Group One level on the flat over up to a mile and a quarter for trainer John Gosden.
Top Progeny – Imperial Commander and Flemenstar stand out from a very long list of top-class horses over the years, while Waiting Patiently was the one last season with a win over Cue Card in the Betfair Chase at Ascot the standout performance and at the age of seven he should have even more to offer.
Race Conditions – The softer the gong the more winners he is responsible for though he has had successes on a quicker surface as well, though a lot less of them.
The Future – They think a fair bit of Castlegrace Paddy at the Fahy yard in Ireland and it will be a surprise if they cannot place the seven-year-old to win a few more races this season as long as they do not push him up into the highest class.
Stats – As expected backing his offspring blind won’t make you money but being selective will. An overall 16.12 strike rate (one in six) stands out while nine winners from thirty-five bumper runners in 2017 and 2018 to date has shown a 21-point profit at starting price.
Background – A high-class middle-distance winner on the flat for trainer Andre Fabre and perhaps a surprise selection in this list. Yet to be responsible for the top class blue riband winners of the others on our list but keeps on pushing out winners, quite often at decent prices as well. Breeders see him as a value alternative and he has been sent some decent mares in recent years.
Top Progeny – Nothing from the top rank with Quatres Heures one of the picks though he will be in France this season after leaving Willie Mullins. Deal Done may be his best horse on current ratings but it’s the younger brigade that may be worth a second look.
Race Conditions – Just the two winners in the last season plus but both were on soft ground suggesting that is the opportunity to strike and make a profit.
The Future – Putting in an eight-year-old may seem strange but Indy Five is coming down the handicap and although well beaten when tried against the better horses he can win again once he comes back down the handicap to a realistic mark.
Stats – Two winners from just the fourteen runners in the last season and a bit for a one in seven (14.29) success rate but a twenty-five-point profit which could have been increased considerably if we stuck to soft going.
Background – Top class for Aidan O’Brien winning the St Leger in 2001, a race often seen as the kiss of death for a flat sire and a good thing for the winter game. A son of legendary sire Sadler’s Wells out of a Darshaan mare and a top ten National Hunt sire for many years now.
Top Progeny – Hurdlers stand out ahead of chasers here (though plenty have tried both successfully), with Jezki the household name of recent years and the sadly no longer with us Darlan who won six of his nine career starts.
Race Conditions – All ground comes alike to his children though the majority of recent scorers have been on ground with plenty of cut in it with soft or heavy providing the majority of his winners in the last eighteen months or so.
The Future – Point to point winner Santini looks the one to follow here with Champion trainer Nicky Henderson responsible for his season targets. Four runs over hurdles saw a four and a half-length third in the Albert Bartlett at Cheltenham followed by an Aintree win over three miles – he is currently as short as 9/1 favourite for the RSA Chase with improvement expected once he is sent over fences.
Stats – Not easy to make a profit from following his horses with an 11.26% strike rate and a level stakes loss of 36 points though he has a better strike rate over fences (15.29%) than over hurdles (8.53%) recently.
Background – No longer with us after passing at the age of 20 but his offspring still run as the son of Sadler’s Wells reminds us all just how important that bloodline is. Second in the 1994 Derby to Erhaab and a Group One winner at Ascot the same year when taking the King George, he ran in the colours of Sheikh Mohammed before the introduction of Godolphin and their colours.
Top Progeny – Where do we start with such a long and prestigious list. Cue Card has to be the all-time number one and perhaps the most popular horse in training in recent years while The New One runs him close for longevity and talent albeit over hurdles instead.
Race Conditions – Perhaps surprisingly soft and heavy going brings out the best in his offspring though they have won on all extremes in the past eighteen months, so nothing can be discounted with any confidence.
The Future – Harry Fry thinks the world of Acting Lass and he should win more races over fences this season with his handler a master at placing them to good effect, while L’Ami Serge can add to his career earnings at the age of eight for trainer Nicky Henderson.
Stats – Despite a healthy 13.82% strike rate last season and this a level stakes loss of 351 points is off-putting. The strike rate goes up to 14.90% over fences and the losses come down to 20 points or so suggesting chasing may be the sphere to focus on at present
Background – Who we expect you to ask? A winner over hurdles in France and a son of Quest For Fame, he is yet to hit the media headlines but has a remarkable strike rate recently and is well worth a pale on the list for that reason alone.
Top Progeny – Raptor has been his standout in recent years for Willie Mullins and won off a mark of 136 on his last run before retirement in 2012, while Plus Jamais won a couple of chases at Newcastle last season for Iain Jardine and may well add to those this coming winter.
Race Conditions – Rain is the order of the day for his offspring with a better success rate on soft and heavy going though it is such a small sample this is not conclusive.
The Future – Calix Delafayette looks to be one to follow after an April win following wind surgery at Kelso and although no world-beater he should pay his way on the Northern circuit for trainer James Ewart.
Stats – Just the fifteen runners last season and this but a remarkable 40% success rate saw a decent level stakes profit of over 23 points. Three out of eight over hurdles (37.5%), two out of six over fences (33.33%) and one out of one in bumpers.
Background – His inclusion is based purely on results from the last five Cheltenham Festivals where he has finished top sire with seven winners which suggests he has plenty of ability in the breeding sheds. A smart hurdler in France himself and a son of Garde Royale he does not have the breeding of some of the others on this list, but beauty is as beauty does.
Top Progeny – A prestigious list over the years headed by the remarkable Quevega and backed up by Vautour, Sir Des Champs, and Un Temps Pour Tout to name a few. All won big races, and all were competitive at the very highest level of the sport.
Race Conditions – Winners on all surfaces but a preference for a quicker surface with good ground seeing the highest number of winners.
The Future – For the coming season there is a huge list of options to pick from but Crackerdancer will do for us for now. An eight-year-old mare she has been a slow burner for a while but exploded in to life in March 2017 when taking a bumper and followed that with three more wins before a fall at Fairyhouse and pulling up at Limerick. High class and sure to win more races.
Stats – An amazing 83 winners in the last season and a half and a strike rate of 13.26%. Close to 200 points level stakes loss if you backed them all but the strike rate goes up to 14.71% and the losses tumble to less than 5 points if you work on chases only.
Background – Hands up all those who expected to see Frankel on this list! At £175,000 or so stud fee it seems unlikely that any of his children ever had anything other than classic pretentions on the flat but the reality is not every horse can follow in their father’s footsteps. The unbeaten superstar for a generation if not a lifetime won all fourteen starts, ten at Group One level and is passing on that ability in every sphere.
Top Progeny – Just the two so far (others will join the winner ranks when it becomes clear they are not like their father), with Solo Saxophone the top rated at 128 after victories at Catterick and Wetherby and Commentariolus a winner at Fairyhouse for Gordon Elliott.
Race Conditions – Three wins in total and one each on Good to Soft, Soft, and Heavy – so no obvious preference just yet.
The Future – All we can say is watch this space – others will be diverted to the winter game but Frankel will always be a prominent flat sire though the winning instinct seems to live on regardless of the code
Stats – Low numbers to work with but three winners from six starts for a 50% strike rate and 4.25 points of level stakes profit.
Interested in seeing which of these have the best season? Make sure to follow our horse racing tips to see which we tip the most often!