Assessing the ability of a thoroughbred always includes a degree of subjectivity. We all have our favourite ways to carry out the task, ranging from our gut feeling to careful analysis. The Timeform organisation have set a high standard in Europe for many years and the same Timeform brand has also assessed all racehorses that have competed in Australia and New Zealand since the mid-1990s.
And like the European Timeform handicap, the Australasian version is also immensely helpful when assessing stallions. Gone are the discrepancies and anomalies that black-type analysis often throws up. Each and every horse is assessed on its best form, regardless of grade of race.
It’s inevitable that some individual ratings will be contentious, but it is the pursuit of objective analysis that is most important, and ratings tend to deliver the clearest of pictures. Moreover, whilst individual ratings may be argued over, they rarely alter stallion rankings to any great degree.
Two-year-old racing in Australia is perhaps more important than in any other racing nation and it clearly plays a dominant role in shaping the commercial bloodstock market.
In this article, I have used Timeform ratings to rank sires by the quality of their best youngsters. We are looking at the best five juveniles from each crop and then averaging their highest juvenile Timeform ratings. This gives us a very clear picture of the sires that consistently produce the highest quality two-year-olds.
Active sires ranked by Average Timeform Rating of their best five juveniles in each crop
|Exceed And Excel||2004||15.7||107.6||Helmet||123|
|Fastnet Rock||2005||14.9||107.1||Smart Missile||122|
|Redoute's Choice||2000||22.5||105.3||Amelia's Dream||124|
|I Am Invincible||2010||11.4||105.3||Oohood||118|
|Not A Single Doubt||2005||13.5||104.0||Extreme Choice||123|
Danehill setting the benchmark
By way of setting the scene, as is often the case when it comes to sire achievements, Danehill sets the standard in Australasia even though Timeform ratings miss out his early crops. The best five juveniles in each of his rated crops have an average Timeform rating of 114.
Remarkably, 31% of Danehill’s juveniles recorded a Timeform rating of 100 or higher, with Redoute’s Choice his top colt on 123 and the Golden Slipper and Sires’ Produce winner Merlene his top filly on 122 in the period under review. Two other sons that play a prominent role in our ranking, Fastnet Rock (120) and the 119-rated Todman hero Exceed And Excel, are also among his sire’s best ten rated juveniles.
"Remarkably, 31% of Danehill’s juveniles recorded a Timeform rating of 100 or higher." - John Boyce
But it is a grandson of the great Danehill that heads our list. Champion sire Snitzel – himself a G3-winning and 121-rated juvenile – has put together a classy bunch of top two-year-olds with an average rating of 109.0. His best is the 119-rated Sires’ Produce winner Invader and he also has four juveniles rated 118, including last season’s Slipper winner Estijaab.
Snitzel’s 18.4% 100-plus rated horses is an excellent output and well ahead of expectations for his mares, and it also puts his famous grandsire’s 31% into perspective.
We have known for years that Exceed And Excel is the world’s most prolific source of talented two-year-olds. Only his sire can top his tally of 72 Stakes-winning juveniles and there is no surprise to see him feature prominently here. He may be second by a small margin on our ranking, but he’s sired half a dozen juveniles that are rated equal or better than the best by Snitzel. Helmet (123), Overreach (121) and Reward For Effort (121) are his best three, closely followed by Guelph, Earthquake and Sidestep all on 119.
"We have known for years that Exceed And Excel is the world’s most prolific source of talented two-year-olds. Only his sire can top his tally of 72 Stakes-winning juveniles." - John Boyce
Fastnet Rock failed to win in seven starts at two but was G1 placed and earned a 120 rating. His own top five juveniles per crop have an average rating of 107.1. Only one, G2 Todman winner Smart Missile broke through the 120 barrier, while Snitzel’s three-quarter brother Hinchinbrook was rewarded with a 119 mark after his fourth and third placings in the Slipper and Sires’ Produce.
Redoute’s Choice and I Am Invincible are locked on 105.3. Redoute’s Choice has sired seven G1-winning two-year-olds, the most recent, The Autumn Sun (TF113 at two), coming after a break of ten years. Remarkably, he’s the grandsire of 38 southern hemisphere-foaled G1 winners, including seven juvenile winners at the highest level.
The outcross sirelines
Meanwhile, I Am Invincible is just living up to his name and has already bagged 24 Stakes winners in Australia this season. But this young son of Invincible Spirit has yet to sire a G1-winning juvenile. Oohood, with three G1 juvenile placings, Brazen Beau and Look To The Stars have come closest so far.
"I Am Invincible is just living up to his name and has already bagged 24 Stakes winners in Australia this season." - John Boyce
The sire with the best two-year-old of all is Lonhro. His son Pierro, who has also made our top ten as a sire, had the perfect campaign at two, winning all his six races, including the G1 two-year-old Triple Crown.
In all, Lonhro has sired 63 youngsters with a Timeform rating of at least 100 and they also feature G1 winner Benfica and G2 scorer Exosphere who were both rated 118, the same mark their famous sire achieved in his first season on the track. His current two-year-old star, the G1 Blue Diamond winner Lyre, is ranked at 114, a mark she shares with Secession and Academus.
It’s good to see that three sires retired to stud from 2010 onwards have featured among the top ten – Zoustar in particular as he’s had only two sets of juveniles to represent him. Still awaiting his first juvenile G1 winner, Zoustar opened his G1 account when his three-year-old daughter Sunlight won the G1 Newmarket at the weekend.