Final chances: Demand for the progeny of deceased stallions

6 min read
It may be a cliché, but the saying “you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone” has often been proven right. TDN AusNZ took a look at the figures to see if the death of a sire increased demand for his progeny.

Many artists have reached their highest levels of fame posthumously; their work selling for vastly increased prices after their deaths. Does the same thing happen in the thoroughbred industry?

Many of us may recall an example of a bidding war for a stallion’s progeny not long after that stallion’s death, so we look at if the overall statistics back up that perception.

Strangely, the answer appears to be no in Australia, but possibly yes in New Zealand.

Untimely Australian losses

Let’s start our analysis with arguably Australasia’s untimeliest stallion death of the last decade – Northern Meteor (Encosta de Lago).

A winner of three races including the famously stallion-making G1 Coolmore Stud S., Northern Meteor stood for $33,000 at Widden Stud from 2009 to 2012.

Northern Meteor

In 2012, 94 Northern Meteor yearlings were sold across Australasia at an average price of $85,132. The following year, that average dipped slightly to $72,703.

Northern Meteor died in July of 2013 at the age of just eight. By that time, his first crop of two-year-olds had lit up Australian racetracks with 19 individual winners, three at stakes level, and more than $1.8 million in prize-money. He was crowned Australia’s champion first-season sire of 2012-13.

In 2014, the average for Northern Meteor’s yearlings soared to $228,750, and in 2015 it was $184,104.

"How much of that is to do with his death, and how much of it is down to that electrifying success of his first progeny?" - Richard Edmunds

These figures are clearly a massive increase from his averages while he was alive, but how much of that is to do with his death, and how much of it is down to that electrifying success of his first progeny?

To answer that question, we look at a stallion whose qualities were already well known by the time of his death.

A legacy that continues

Street Cry (Ire) (Machiavellian {USA}) was a G1 Dubai World Cup winner whose early shuttles to Darley Australia were for a fee of $16,500 and attracted only moderate interest. In 2009, his yearlings sold for an average of $53,759.

But then his progeny took the racing world by storm. As well as United States stars such as the sensational Zenyatta and Kentucky Derby winner Street Sense, Street Cry also hit headlines in Australia with the 2009 Melbourne Cup winner Shocking, Caulfield Guineas winners Whobegotyou and Long John, and dual Group 1-winning two-year-old Pride of Dubai.

Street Cry

By the time Street Cry resumed shuttling to Australia after a two-year break, his stud fee had swelled to $110,000 and his next three crops of yearlings averaged $262,933, $211,083 and $294,456.

Street Cry had to be euthanised in 2014, after which his remaining yearlings averaged $273,522 and $285,468 – fairly similar to the years that preceded his death.

And if there had been any increase during this period, it could also be attributed to the exploits of Street Cry’s daughter Winx, who embarked on her record-breaking unbeaten sequence midway through 2015.

Meanwhile, English and Irish Derby winner High Chaparral (Ire) (Sadler’s Wells {USA}) began his southern hemisphere stud career with a hiss and a roar.

Initially shuttling to Windsor Park Stud in New Zealand before relocating to Coolmore Australia, his very first southern hemisphere crop featured the Group 1 stars So You Think, Monaco Consul, Shoot Out and Descarado, followed not long afterwards by Dundeel. He is now the sire of 1744 runners, 128 of them at stakes level including 22 individual Group 1 winners.

High Chaparral

From an average of $37,796 in 2009, High Chaparral’s yearlings had unsurprisingly soared to an average of $238,197 two years later. In the following three years, his averages dropped back to $170,743, $163,275 and $128,647.

Following his death in late 2014, his average yearling price remained steady at $117,257 and $125,330, suggesting there was no posthumous increase in demand for his progeny.

It is probably too soon to reach a verdict on the mighty Redoute’s Choice (Danehill {USA}), who died in March of this year.

His yearlings have averaged between $300,000 and $400,000 every year since 2015, and in the only yearling sale so far since his death – the recent Inglis Australian Easter Yearling Sale in Sydney – his 16 yearlings sold for a higher average of $430,625, including two million-dollar lots.

However, his averages were even higher than that earlier this year at the Gold Coast and Karaka sales. His 15 yearlings at the Magic Millions Gold Coast sale averaged $549,667, with three seven-figure yearlings including one at $1.6 million. His two yearlings at New Zealand Bloodstock’s Karaka sale averaged $500,000.

Redoute's Choice

It’s a similar story with Sebring (More Than Ready {USA}), who was a shock loss to the industry when he died in February at the age of just 13. His yearlings at the Gold Coast in January averaged $289,833, then his Easter yearlings recently returned a similar average of $259,800. So, again, at this stage the statistics do not point to significantly increased demand following his death.

Kiwi offerings

In contrast, let’s now look to the other side of the Tasman.

Waikato Stud home-bred O’Reilly (NZ) (Last Tycoon {Ire}) had a brief but brilliant racetrack career, then became a champion sire of the likes of Sacred Falls, Silent Achiever, Alamosa, Shamrocker, this season’s Doncaster winner Brutal and nine other Group 1 winners.

O’Reilly died on New Year’s Eve in 2014. His yearlings had averaged $123,491 in 2012, then $116,345 in 2013 and $131,836 in 2014.

Following his death, they averaged $129,737 in 2015, $132,851 in 2016 and a spectacular last hurrah of $160,470 in 2017 – including a sale-topping $825,000 colt at Karaka.


And then there’s O’Reilly’s former Waikato Stud barnmate, the versatile Pins (Snippets).

While he has often been overshadowed by headline acts O’Reilly and Savabeel (Zabeel {NZ}), Pins has carved out an outstanding career of his own.

His nine Group 1 winners include Cox Plate winner El Segundo, Hong Kong champions Aerovelocity and Ambitious Dragon, champion New Zealand three-year-old Katie Lee and the current Kiwi star three-year-old Madison County.

Pins died in April of last year. His yearlings averaged $64,315 in 2017 and $90,224 last year – a figure that rose enormously this year to $144,681.

One possible contributing factor to such an increase is that he had the benefit of 18 yearlings selling in the top-level Karaka Book 1 Sale this year, with just three in Book 2. In comparison, in 2018 he had 16 in Book 1, seven in Book 2 and three in Book 3.

Thorn Park (Spinning World {USA}) developed into a quality stallion during his tenure at Windsor Park Stud, siring 29 stakes winners including Cox Plate winner Ocean Park and fellow multiple Group 1 winners Jimmy Choux, Veyron, Suavito and Norzita.

Thorn Park

His yearlings averaged under $50,000 in 2011, but crept up to $67,871 in 2012 and then rose significantly to $102,673 in 2013 – immediately after his death in December of 2012.

His remaining yearling crops averaged $103,562 and a hefty $190,000, although the latter came from only two yearlings at Karaka.

These figures paint a picture of a surprising disparity between the two countries – the death of a stallion in New Zealand does appear to lead to increased demand for their progeny, but in Australia, possibly because of its larger and more star-studded stallion ranks, there is no discernible change.