While the current batch of first-season sires await their first 2-year-old winners, when it comes to the numbers game, Lyndhurst Farm Stud's Better Than Ready is punching well above average.
Just a month into the 2-year-old season, Better Than Ready currently tops the first-season sires table having had six runners to date, who have collected a total of $51,500 in prizemoney.
He has two runners in Saturday's St Rita's College QTIS 2YO Hcp at Doomben, giving him an excellent chance of becoming the first of the freshmen to get a winner on the board.
"I said from the minute he walked onto the place that he was the ideal replacement for Sequalo because he is free of Danehill blood and you can put anything to him, except for a More Than Ready (USA) mare," - Lyndhurst Farm Stud's Jeffrey Kruger
Lyndhurst Farm Stud's Jeffrey Kruger is not surprised that the progeny of the former top-level sprinter have made an impression early in the season.
"I said from the minute he walked onto the place that he was the ideal replacement for Sequalo because he is free of Danehill blood and you can put anything to him, except for a More Than Ready (USA) mare," he told TDN Aus NZ.
"All that Star Kingdom and Danehill blood, with their speed, it just mixes well with him."
"He did present himself as a two-year old. They certainly look like they were forward running types, right from the world go. That was the case with the breakers and the response at the sales, it looked like they'd run early."
The depth of the first crop in terms of their early-running capacity will only get better according to Kruger, who said the word from a wide-range of trainers has been extremely positive.
"There are a lot of horses that have unofficially trialed well that are going to bob their heads up in the next few weeks. I think we are in for some good times," he said.
Sending them far and wide
One to the key pillars to the early good signs, according to Kruger, was the decision to send that first crop to a wide range of sales.
"They ended up everywhere. Our major shareholder, Richard Foster from Yarramalong Stud, he sold them in four states," he said.
"The response has been enormous. I've closed him off and we haven't even got a winner yet. They are presenting themselves well at the trials and they are getting to the races." - Jeffrey Kruger
The buzz around the first crop has had a significant flow on for their stallion, with Kruger revealing that the son of More Than Ready (USA) would service a record book this season.
"The response has been enormous. I've closed him off and we haven't even got a winner yet. They are presenting themselves well at the trials and they are getting to the races," he said.
"We closed him off at 185 mares, allowing for free returns, he'll go close to covering 200 mares and that shows you his popularity."
"He equalled his highest previous year already and it's only mid-October. He's covered 138 mares for the season and that matches the number in total in his first year."
Kruger said the quality of mares had improved significantly as well and that Better Than Ready would serve double the black-type or black-type producing mares this season as he had in his first three years.
The Boom effect
A Queensland sprinting stallion making a first-season impression was a headline written many times last season thanks to Eureka Stud's Spirit of Boom, who had a phenomenal first year with 18 winners and five stakes-winners.
Kruger said the flow-on effect to a stallion like Better Than Ready, who stands for $9900, was already evident as Spirit of Boom's stud fee has rocketed from $11,000 to $55,000 this season.
He said there were a few mares who went to Better Than Ready this season, who had previously been to Spirit of Boom.
The other effect was the interest that Spirit of Boom was generating at the local sales, which helped get Better Than Ready's first crop on the radar of more buyers.
"Last year's March QTIS sale, everybody came to buy Spirit of Booms," he said.
"Chris Waller's man (Guy) Mulcaster came to the sale to buy a Spirit of Boom and went home with five horses, four of which were by other stallions. The fact that sale was so popular across the board with syndicators and agents, that also helped in putting them in stables wide and far."
Ready to win?
The Better Than Ready colt that Mulcaster bought at that sale, now named Soldati, runs in that 2YO race at Doomben for Waller on Saturday.
He was fifth on debut at Doomben, while the other Better Than Ready colt, The Odyssey, prepared by the man who trained the stallion, Kelly Schweida, was second in the same race.
The impressive 3.75L winner of that race on October 6, Guntantes, also fronts up. He is by Rothesay, who has been at Lyndhurst Farm for two seasons since moving from Glenlogan Park.
"Everything she throws that mare, they run early. He’ll be very hard to beat." - Jeffrey Kruger
"I know that family very well, because (Robert) Heathcote used to board (Guntantes' dam) Cantantes here," Kruger said.
"Everything she throws that mare, they run early. He’ll be very hard to beat."
Kruger said that after a difficult first season for Rothesay at Lyndhurst Farm, a change in the price point had made a significant difference.
"We slashed his fee in half and he's getting a much better book of mares this year. He's got a couple of handy horses in Prioritise, who has won his last four and Havasay, who is another one of (Liam) Birchleys. He just lacks a top liner, but he's a very good winner-getter."
"He's a ripping sort of a horse. He's a fantastic temperament, and he's a delight to have here."