A busy first breeding season for new sire Order Of St George

Order Of St George wins the 2017 G2 British Champions Long Distance Cup at Ascot ahead of Torcedor (partly hidden) and Stradivarius (yellow cap). Photo: focusonracing.com

The outstanding stayer Order Of St George was the joint busiest stallion in Europe this year in his first season at stud, according to the Weatherbys Return of Mares 2019, just published.

The Aidan O'Brien-trained 2016 Ascot Gold Cup and dual Irish St Leger winner, who also finished third and fourth in two Arcs, covered 261 mares, the same number as his fellow son of Galileo, the 2007 Irish Derby winner Soldier Of Fortune, who has long been popular with breeders. Both are part of the Coolmore National Hunt stallion operation in Ireland.

Soldier Of Fortune topped the list last year with 281 total recorded coverings. He was also the most active stallion in 2017 with 341.

The Return of Mares 2019 shows a two percent decline in the number of live foals registered to date for the year in The General Stud Book across GB and Ireland. The total has fallen by 270 to 13,443, of which 4,655 are registered in GB and 8,788 in Ireland. 

The total number of broodmares reported at stud in 2019 is 22,919 - a fall of 622 or 2.6% from 2018. Of these, 2,927 or 12.7% were not covered (1,249 in GB and 1,678 in Ireland) and 498 or 2% were barren.

Of the 22,919 mares, 20,149 were covered this year by registered stallions and 13,893 conceived (5,524 in GB and 8,369 in Ireland), an overall conception rate of 68.95% (after deducting the 369 mares exported or died).

The number of stallions has remained the same in Ireland at 252 but declined by six to 152 from 2018 (158) in GB. 

The number of stallions covering more than 200 mares rose from 11 in 2018 to 18.

Breeders and owners have continued to register foals since September 30, and total foal crop numbers for 2019 will be available in the Weatherbys Return of Mares Supplement published in early February 2020.

Live foals registered: ten-year comparison


The Return of Mares also reports the following key data across the Thoroughbred population in GB and IRE:

  • The 2019 crop comprises 51.1% colts and 48.9% fillies.

  • The percentage ratio of foals GB:IRE is consistent but moving slightly in favour of GB at 34.63%:65.37% compared to 34.46%:65.54% in 2018 and 34.07%:65.93% in 2017.

  • 8,439 mares at stud in GB in 2019 compared to 8,667 in 2018 (a reduction of 228) and 9,015 in 2017 (a reduction of 576 in two years).

  • 14,480 mares at stud in IRE in 2019 compared to 14,874 in 2018 (a reduction of 394) and 14,434 in 2017 (an increase of 46 in two years).

  • 7,307 mares in GB (86.59% of mares reported at stud) were covered in 2019 compared to 7,409 mares in 2018 (85.49%).

  • 12,842 mares in IRE (88.69% of mares reported at stud) were covered in 2019 compared to 13,193 (88.70%) in 2018.

  • 5,524 mares conceived in GB (77.57% of mares covered) compared to 5,803 in 2018 (80.60% of mares covered).

  • 8,369 mares conceived in IRE (66.11% of mares covered) compared to 8,720 in 2018 (66.74% of mares covered).

  • 20,149 total recorded coverings in GB and IRE combined in 2019 compares to 21,297 in 2018 – a reduction of 1,148 – and 20,819 in 2017 – a decline of 670 in two years.

  • Number of stallions in GB has reduced by 6 from 152 to from 158 in 2018 and by 16 compared to 2017.

  • Number of stallions in IRE has remained the same as 2018 at 252 but has increased by 1 (from 251) since 2017.

  • 83 stallions covered 100 or more mares in 2019. This compares to 87 in 2018 and 92 in 2017.

  • 18 stallions covered 200 or more mares in 2019 compared to 11 in 2018 and 10 in 2017.

The Return of Mares 2019 can be purchased here


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