In elite company: which stallions covered the best in 2018?

5 min read
When it comes to popularity contests, it’s a straight shootout between Yarraman Park’s I Am Invincible and Arrowfield’s Snitzel. The early mare returns at time of writing for 2018 have them neck and neck in terms of elite mares covered in 2018.

I Am Invincible has opened up a big lead over his Australian rivals by siring 21 Stakes winners this season in Australia and New Zealand, compared to the eight sired by both Snitzel and Sebring.

And he scored another significant double at the weekend with the appropriately named Catch Me in the G3 Blue Diamond Preview and I Am Immortal in the Listed colts and geldings equivalent.

Quality of mares improving

I Am Invincible has always been popular having never covered fewer mares than the 120 he served in his first season, standing for $11,000. His total in 2018 – his ninth season at stud – numbered 215, the most he’s ever covered. But these raw numbers don’t explain the extent to which the quality of his mares have improved in recent seasons.

Table: Australian stallions by elite mares covered in 2018

I Am Invincible2151231129Yarraman ParkNSW$ 192,500
Snitzel16912212513ArrowfieldNSW$ 220,000
Zoustar236951225WiddenNSW$ 60,500
Pierro193871286CoolmoreNSW$ 88,000
Merchant Navy219811261CoolmoreNSW$ 55,000
Sebring1967612310WiddenNSW$ 66,000
Russian Revolution212731201NewgateNSW$ 55,000
Written Tycoon1576812012Woodside ParkVIC$ 110,000
So You Think217661337CoolmoreNSW$ 44,000
Capitalist223651222NewgateNSW$ 55,000
American Pharoah130551382CoolmoreNSW$ 66,000
Spirit of Boom208541205EurekaQLD$ 55,000
Shalaa143501232ArrowfieldNSW$ 33,000
Hellbent162441211Yarraman ParkNSW$ 27,500
Lonhro1104312815DarleyNSW$ 55,000

NB: Stallions with 100+ mares returned as 'covered' at time of writing

Only 64 or 11% of his first four books could be described as elite mares – those that are among the top 15% of all mares in Australia. When his first-crop star Brazen Beau arrived on the scene, I Am Invincible attracted more elite mares in his fifth crop than all the others combined. Since then he’s averaged 107 elite mares per book.

To provide some context, Champion sire Snitzel has averaged 127 in the past four years, but I Am Invincible has got his nose in front in 2018.

I Am Invincible

Snitzel set for years to come

Snitzel is set fair for years to come as he’s been covering at least 100 elite mares per season for the last six years. In his 13th year at stud in 2018, Arrowfield have certainly gone for quality over quantity with Snitzel – 72% of his total book were elite mares, compared to the 57% of I Am Invincible’s.

"With the influx of better mares, Snitzel's score is now 10.2%, so we can appreciate what’s ahead for his younger rival." - John Boyce

In his sixth season with runners, I Am Invincible is producing Stakes winners at a rate of 8.3%, a huge improvement on the 3.1% his mares produced with other sires. After six years, Snitzel was averaging 8.1% Stakes winners from mares than produced 5.9% Stakes winners among their other foals. With the influx of better mares, Snitzel's score is now 10.2%, so we can appreciate what’s ahead for his younger rival.

Snitzel

Zoustar's strong impression

Widden’s Zoustar, with 236 mares in total and behind only Rubick (245), covered 95 elite mares in his fifth year, after his first three-year-olds made such a strong impression during the spring. Perhaps a bit of a surprise in fourth spot on our ranking is Coolmore’s Pierro, who made breeders pay more attention after his early success as a sire. Any they have certainly reacted favourably to the top-class son of Lonhro.

He attracted 115 and 104 elite mares in his first two seasons, which has paid dividends for him on the track with six G1 horses so far from his first two crops. So, we can expect more good Pierro’s down the road.

Zoustar

The 126-rated Merchant Navy – fifth overall by number of elite mares covered – was the leading first-season sire. His 219 mares and 81 elite mares were the most of any of the new boys. Newgate’s Russian Revolution ran him close with 212 mares and was also second best by number of elite mares (73). Yarraman Park, meanwhile, are clearly benefitting from the I Am Invincible effect and did well to attract 44 elite mares among a total of 162 to their premier sire’s first-season son Hellbent.

Other freshmen to do well included Darley’s Impending (174 mares) and Coolmore’s Highland Reel (142 mares). In terms of elite mares Churchill was fourth with 36, Impending fifth with 34, ahead of Caravaggio (33), Pariah (28) and the Aquis pair Invader (25) and Spieth (19).

Second season numbers

Only seven second-season sires managed to attract 20 or more elite mares, such is the risk averse nature of the business. Newgate’s Capitalist is a good case study. He bagged 223 mares – more than year last year’s 212 – but his number of elite mares fell from 97 to 65. He was still the best by either category though. Likewise, the number of top mares visiting Triple Crown hero American Pharoah also fell, in his case a more modest reduction from 69 to 55.

American Pharoah

Conversely, as is the case with many a shuttle stallion, Shalaa’s numbers remained pretty stable as breeders warmed to him. He covered an almost identical number of mares as in year one, but eight more elite mares than he did last year.

The previously mentioned Impending was the leader among Victoria’s stallions with 174 mares, while Written Tycoon covered the most elite mares (68). Better Than Ready covered the most (233) in Queensland, while Spirit Of Boom was the clear leader by quality, with 54 elite mares.