It's mid-November. The Breeders’ Cup is over. All of the breeding stock sales are still to come and there is no clinging onto the flat action any longer. Both winter and the National Hunt racing are well and truly here.
So, where do we start? When it comes to bloodstock analysis and trends in the jumping sphere, one could compare it to the London Underground if flat bloodstock is Dublin’s Luas Line.
The game is much longer-term. Which, in many ways is a breath of fresh air in comparison to the cut-throat nature on the flat. But it can also be disappointing in instances when a superstar comes along and their unheralded sire is already close to pension age.
In the leading National Hunt sires of the 2019/2020 season, only three of the top ten are still in active stallion duties. Two terrific stalwarts, Flemensfirth and Kayf Tara, joined the retirement bench this year and most of the others have passed away.
And although those heavyweights will still have runners for some years to come, we need to know who is going to fill their substantially sized shoes.
We already have the likes of Getaway, Buck’s Boum, Walk In The Park, No Risk At All and company performing solidly with a number of stars under their belts. But there have been strong indicators within some of the younger generation to suggest future prominence.
Maxios, the busiest sire in Britain and Ireland this year covering 298 mares, was standing his first season at Castlehyde Stud since moving from Gestut Fahrhof in Germany.
Those high covering figures mean more firepower on the track, but the massive crop won’t appear for a number of years and it is not for that reason we mention Maxios here.
His popularity reflects a number of exciting factors. Maxios was a dual Group One winner on the track himself and is a son of Monsun who has already proven he is a worthy sire line in the jumps game with his sons Getaway, Shirocco and Network.
He also comes from an extraordinary Niarchos Family pedigree being a half-brother to five-time Group One and Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe winner Bago (who is also a Group One producing sire). And their grandam is the champion filly Coup De Genie, dam of Group One winner Denebola and is a sister to the influential sire Machiavellian.
It doesn’t stop there, not only has he sired an elite-level winner on the flat in German Oaks heroine Diamanta, Maxios has also had a number of notable performances within the National Hunt sphere already.
Aramax won the 22-runner Fred Winter at Cheltenham this year for JP McManus and three-year-old Quilixios who is unbeaten in his three starts over hurdles to date for Cheveley Park, destroyed his opponents by 12, 13 and 20 lengths and has been launched to favouritism for the Triumph Hurdle at Cheltenham. To mention just two.
Next there is Jet Away. A Group Three winner in Australia over 10 furlongs who also won a Listed race at Goodwood over the same distance. Jet Away is by Cape Cross, another interesting line to assist with the saturation of Sadler’s Wells blood in the pool.
Bred by Juddmonte, Jet Away belongs to one of the best female families around. He is the first foal out of Kalima, an unraced full-sister to blue hen Hasili who produced five Group One winning Champions and three Group One producing sires in Champs Elysees, Dansili and Cacique. The former who also has three National Hunt crops to arrive.
Jet Away has resided at Arctic Tack Stud in Wexford since 2015 and the manner in which his first point-to-point runners announced themselves, ensured that even though he had been covering decent book sizes anyway, he was the second most popular stallion in Britain and Ireland behind Maxios at 288 this year.
His oldest progeny turned four in 2020 and include Gordon’s Jet, the five-length debut bumper winner for Gordon Elliott, and Brandy Love the eight-length point-to-point winner on her only start who is now in training with Willie Mullins.
Jukebox Jury, sire of 2018 Triumph Hurdle winner Farclas has been in the headlines of late due to the exploits of his daughter Princess Zoe in the Group One Prix du Cadran for Tony Mullins.
A dual Group One winner on the flat, Jukebox Jury won the Irish St Leger and is a son of Montjeu. Beginning stud life in Germany in 2013, Jukebox Jury relocated to Burgage Stud in Carlow two years ago and his first jumping-bred crops are even more highly anticipated now.
He still has some exciting prospects to watch until then such as Irascible who won first time out over hurdles for Henry De Bromhead two weeks ago.
Irish stallions have always dominated the leading tables and rankings, and with Britain’s chief influence Kayf Tara now gone from the active ranks, it is all the more pertinent that their young talent is explored.
One of the most high-profile youngsters (in National Hunt terms) due to his bloodlines is Masterstoke.
Bred and raced by Godolphin, Masterstoke was a Group Two winner in France and stood under their French banner since 2014. Last year however, he was purchased by Yorton Farm Stud in Shrewsbury and began his new duties there this year.
Masterstroke is not only another son of Monsun, but his dam Melikah is a Stakes-winning, dual Oaks-placed daughter of Arc winner Urban Sea, making her a sister to Galileo and Sea The Stars. He is a brother to three other stakes winners as well as the dam of UAE Derby winner Khawlah, who produced Epsom Derby winner Masar.
His progeny from relatively small crop numbers and bred off a €3,000 fee include Group Two winner Miss Extra and he already has a number of exciting performers over jumps such as Floridee, winner of a Grade Three and Listed race over hurdles from just four starts to date.
Each of these four sires are phenomenally well-bred, have all produced top horses from very small stud fees and without waxing lyrical, are extremely exciting as the only way appears to be up now that they are all getting solid support.
Are the next Flemensfirth and Kayf Tara amongst them? Watch this space.