The world’s ten most expensive stallions for 2018

New to the $250,000 club: Medaglia D’Oro’s fee was increased for 2018 after Breeders’ Cup victories by two of his offspring. Photo: Darley America

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As in previous years Galileo remains the most expensive stallion at stud worldwide. As outlined below, the Coolmore colossus has been long listed as private but it would seem that the figure sits well above that commanded by the outstanding Japanese stallion Deep Impact on 40,000,000yen (£264,000).

Darley stalwart Dubawi maintains his position as Britain’s most expensive stallion at £250,000, ahead of Frankel, whose strong start at stud is reflected in a fee of £175,000, up from £125,000.

In America, the top position is again assumed by Tapit, who is due to stand his fourth season at $300,000, ahead of War Front and Medaglia D’Oro on $250,000. The latter is new to the $250,000 club this year, having been handed a substantial fee rise after firing in two winners at the Breeders’ Cup.



1998 Sadler’s Wells - Urban Sea (Miswaki)
Stands: Coolmore, Ireland
Current world ranking: 1  
Fee: private

Once again we can safely assume the Galileo, the greatest influence on the Thoroughbred of the recent era, is the world’s most expensive stallion.

Galileo has been listed as standing for a private fee since 2008 but off-the-record reports suggest that the figure has long been north of €400,000 - at the recent breeding stock sales, there were suggestions that it had crept up to €600,000 for those outside breeders who had been accepted into a book that is today primarily the domain of Coolmore and associates.

The reasoning is obvious. Now rising 20-years-old, Galileo has 70 G1 winners to his credit, leaving him only three short of his legendary sire Sadler’s Wells. That tally includes 12 from the past year, among them classic winners Churchill, Winter and Capri, another champion 2yo in Happily and a trio of top older performers in Highland Reel, Ulysses and Decorated Knight. When Churchill and Winter swept the Newmarket 2,000 and 1,000 Guineas in May, Galileo became the first stallion since Fairway in 1936 to achieve such a feat.

As a result, Galileo picked up his ninth British and Irish sires’ championship, on this occasion achieved with prize-money just shy of £12 million, a personal best. In Europe, his total stood at approximately £14.43 million.

All the while, his influence continues to grow via a band of sons at stud that include Frankel, Nathaniel and Teofilo, who between them supplied Cracksman, Enable and Ajman Princess in 2017. Other big names, such as Australia, Gleneagles, Churchill, Highland Reel, The Gurkha and Ulysses, are waiting in the wings.

Galileo’s daughters, meanwhile, are already responsible for four European classic winners, namely Galileo Gold, La Cressionniere, Night Of Thunder and Qualify. Perhaps that record will be enhanced next season by Saxon Warrior and U.S. Navy Flag, two leading 2yos of the past year.

With his own 2yos such as Clemmie, Happily, Gustav Klimt, Kenya, Magical and The Pentagon among those flying the flag for the classic generation in 2018, it is going to take a lot to topple Galileo from his customary position as leader. And as ever, there is a large group of regally connected juveniles in the pipeline; this year they include the 4 million-guinea daughter of G1 winner Dank bought by Godolphin at the Tattersalls October Sale.

2017: covered 178 mares at a private fee



2002 Sunday Silence - Wind In Her Hair (Alzao)
Stands: Shadai Stallion Station, Japan
Current world ranking: 3  
Fee: 40,000,000yen (£264,000)

It was business as usual in 2017 for Deep Impact as Japan’s dominant sire captured his sixth consecutive Japanese sires’ championship, an accolade that was fuelled by three domestic G1 winners, including Al Ain, who became his sire’s 12th Japanese classic winner in the Satsuki Sho (2,000 Guineas).

Waiting in the wings are a number of youngsters who will no doubt bid to emulate that colt next April if all goes well this winter; the most exciting would appear to be the unbeaten Danon Premium, the wide-margin winner of of G1 Asahi Hai Futurity at Hanshin in mid-December.

It’s not out of the question that Deep Impact could be represented in 2018 by another European classic winner, either. The stallion came to great international attention in 2012 as the sire of the Wildenstein’s Poule d’Essai des Pouliches heroine Beauty Parlour, and now in the Racing Post Trophy winner Saxon Warrior and narrow Fillies’ Mile runner-up September - just two of three Deep Impact juveniles based at Ballydoyle - he has two legitimately strong fancies for the major European events next year.

Also of note are Study Of Man, a grandson of Miesque who won his only start at Saint-Cloud for Pascal Bary, and Tempel, who won her second start at Chantilly for Andre Fabre.

As a result, Deep Impact’s fee has been increased by 10,000,000yen to 40,000,000yen for 2018.

2017: covered 231 mares at a fee of 30,000,000yen



2002 Dubai Millennium - Zomaradah (Deploy)
Stands: Dalham Hall Stud, Newmarket, UK
Current world ranking: 2    
Fee: £250,000

Darley’s flagship sire commands £250,000 for the second year running following a year that featured eight G1 winners and a runner-up finish to Galileo on the leading British and Irish sires’ list.

Prix Saint-Alary heroine Sobetsu led the way among the 3yo generation while older horses Nezwaah (Pretty Polly Stakes), Zarak (Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud) and Bateel (Prix Vermeille) each landed maiden G1 victories.

As for next year’s classic crop, there must be G1 aspirations for the G3 winners Glorious Journey and Ghaiyyath, as well as Emaraaty, who created such a fine impression when winning at Newbury in the autumn. The Godolphin filly Wild Illusion, meanwhile, is priced at 16/1 for the Oaks following her win in the Prix Marcel Boussac.

However, 2017 was also a year that brought immense rewards in the U.S. for Dubawi, primarily courtesy of Wuheida, successful in the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf. There was also a G1 winner on dirt in the form of Awesome Again Stakes hero Mubtaahij.

Dubawi’s yearling average of 738,996gns wasn’t quite as strong as the previous year, when he recorded a whopping 972,667gns. Yet once again he was responsible for the dearest colt at the Tattersalls October Sale - bought by Roger Varian on behalf of Dubawi’s owner Sheikh Obaid for 2.6m gns - while another youngster, the first foal out of 1,000 Guineas heroine Sky Lantern, commanded 2m gns from the partnership of Coolmore and the Mayfair Speculators, making him the first Dubawi colt to head Coolmore’s way at a yearling auction.

2017: covered 174 mares at a fee of £250,000



2001 Pulpit - Tap Your Heels (Unbridled)
Stands: Gainesway Farm, Kentucky, USA
Current world ranking: 19     
Fee: $300,000 (£238,663)

Tapit couldn’t match his record-setting season of 2016, during which his progeny amassed earnings of approximately $19.245 million, and consequently the Gainesway stallion lost his winning hold over the American sires’ championship.

However, it says plenty for Tapit’s consistency as one of America’s leading sires that an average year for him comprises progeny earnings north of $12.6 million.

Tapit made his name from humble fees but now his more expensive crops are filtering through the system. In 2017, his oldest six-figure crop, born in 2013 off an $125,000 fee, was headlined by the Santa Anita Gold Cup winner Cupid, who will be one of 11 sons of Tapit at stud in Kentucky next season. Nor has his second $125,000 crop disappointed; that group includes Tapwrit, his third Belmont Stakes winner in four years, the brilliant Unique Bella, who returned from injury to take the G1 La Brea Stakes, and Dream Dancing, who became his third G1 winner on turf in the Del Mar Oaks.

As ever, Tapit remains within the upper echelon of the commercial market. His yearling average came close to $800,000 in 2017 thanks in part to an outstanding Keeneland September Sale, at which he accounted for the top three lots led by Cupid’s sister, who was sold by VanMeter-Gentry Sales to MV Magnier for $2.7 million. It marked the third time in the past four years that Tapit had supplied the Keeneland September sale-topper.

Tapit is one of eight American-based stallions to stand for north of $100,000 in 2018. Not among the official list is American Pharoah, whose fee is listed as private for the second year running. The Triple Crown hero stood his first season at Ashford Stud for $200,000 and it’s safe to assume that his current fee floats within six-figure territory. His select group of representatives catalogued to the breeding stock sales were unsurprisingly well received, realising an average of $445,500.

2017: 127 mares covered at a fee of $300,000



1999 El Prado - Capuccino Bay (Bailjumper)
Stands: Darley, Kentucky, USA
Current world ranking: 7    
Fee: $250,000 (£187,000)

Darley took the decision to increase Medaglia D’Oro’s fee after the stallion fired in two winners at the Breeders’ Cup.

Best known as the sire of those outstanding fillies Rachel Alexandra and Songbird, Medaglia d’Oro had initially been set to command $200,000, up from $150,000 in 2017. However, events from Del Mar prompted a rethink, as Talismanic outgunned an international field to take the Turf and Bar Of Gold sprang an upset in the Filly & Mare Sprint. Their victories maintained an excellent season for the stallion that also included other G1 winners Songbird (Ogden Phipps Handicap), Elate (Alabama and Beldame Stakes), Bolt D’Oro (Del Mar Futurity and Frontrunner Stakes), Dickinson (Jenny Wiley Stakes) and New Money Honey (Belmont Oaks).

In all, Medaglia D’Oro sired the winners of ten North American G1 races during the course of 2017, ranging from the 2yo Bolt D’Oro to leading 3yo filly Elate and older star Songbird. The latter went on to sell for $9.5 million to Mandy Pope at the Fasig-Tipton November Sale.

2017: 138 mares covered at a fee of $150,000



2002 Danzig - Starry Dreamer (Rubiano)
Stands: Claiborne Farm, Kentucky, USA
Current world ranking: 6      
Fee: $250,000 (£187,000)

War Front continues to reward the investment of Coolmore, which in turn has allowed him to maintain his status as one of Kentucky’s most international names.

War Front sired the likes of Declaration Of War, The Factor and War Command off fees no greater than $15,000. Today, the situation is very different as Joseph Allen’s homebred son of Danzig embarks on his second season at a fee of $250,000; War Front hit six-figure territory in 2014 but off-the-record reports consistently suggest that breeders have often paid far more to secure a nomination to the horse, who rarely covers more than 110 mares a year.

And little wonder. Out of 564 foals in eight crops of racing age, War Front has supplied 67 stakes winners, among them 16 at the top level. In 2017, that record was enhanced by two exceptionally tough Ballydoyle inmates in the siblings Roly Poly, who swept the G1 Falmouth Stakes, G1 Prix Rothschild and G1 Sun Chariot Stakes, and U.S. Navy Flag, who became the first horse in 34 years to land the G1 Middle Park and G1 Dewhurst Stakes double during his busy 11-start campaign.

The latter consolidated his sire’s reputation as an excellent source of juvenile talent following the earlier exploits of Air Force Blue, War Command and Brave Anna.

2017: 106 mares covered at a fee of $250,000



2008 Galileo - Kind (Danehill)
Stands: Banstead Manor Stud, Newmarket, UK
Current world ranking: 4     
Fee: £175,000

Few stallions have come under as much scrutiny as Frankel, the unbeaten superstar whose 11 G1 wins for Sir Henry Cecil included imperious wide-margin successes in the 2,000 Guineas, Queen Anne Stakes and Juddmonte International.

With the pedigree to support his talent - by Galileo from a deep Juddmonte family - Frankel duly covered an outstanding first book of mares at £125,000 upon his retirement to stud in 2012.

Thus, he has had every chance to do well, certainly far better chances than the vast majority of young stallions. But such are his early results that it seemingly won’t be long until Frankel is regarded as Galileo’s best son at stud.

Frankel’s statistics stand at 20 black-type winners from 225 foals of racing age. Of those 20, 17 are the product of his 121-strong first crop - that’s 14 percent stakes winners to foals - and include the runaway G1 Champion Stakes winner Cracksman, G2 Prix Guillaume d’Ornano winner Eminent, who consistently acquitted himself well at the top level last season, and top Japanese filly Soul Stirring.

Granted, a domestic classic eluded Frankel’s first crop in 2017 but perhaps that omission will be rectified next year by his second crop, an exciting group headed by G2 Futurity Stakes winner Rostropovich and the G3 winners Elarqam and Nelson.

With that kind of firepower waiting in the wings to complement a powerful first crop, it was no surprise to see Frankel’s fee increased to £175,000 for 2018.

2017: 195 mares covered in the Northern Hemisphere at a fee of £125,000



2006 Cape Cross - Urban Sea (Miswaki)
Stands: Gilltown Stud, Ireland
Current world ranking: 9  
Fee: €135,000 (£120,000)

One of the outstanding runners of the recent era, Sea The Stars didn’t take long to live up to expectations at stud as the sire of two exceptional classic winners in Taghrooda and Sea The Moon in his first crop and Derby winner Harzand in his third.

Gilltown Stud held Sea The Stars’ fee steady at €125,000 following Harzand’s classic season, but one year on, he is set to command a career high of €135,000, making him the second most expensive stallion in Ireland after his half-brother Galileo.

Such a rise follows a season in which there were three further G1 winners - Prix d’Ispahan winner Mekhtaal, Prix Ganay winner Cloth Of Stars and Goodwood Cup winner Stradivarius, the highlight of his 3yo crop - to bring his G1 tally to eight. He ended the year in fifth position on the leading European sires’ list.

Next year brings a new landmark in the career of Sea The Stars as the first juveniles by Sea the Moon hit the track. The German Derby winner is one of five sons of Sea The Stars at stud in Europe alongside Harzand, Zelzal, Storm The Stars and Affinsea.

2017: 175 mares covered at a fee of €125,000



2004 Smart Strike - Sherriff’s Deputy (Deputy Minister)
Stands: Hill ’n’ Dale Farm, Kentucky, USA
Current world ranking: 11      
Fee: $150,000 (£112,000)

It is hard to believe that he stood for as little as $25,000 in 2014. Yet it is that cheaper crop that is responsible for the turning point of yet another stellar season for Curlin, namely when he supplied the first two home, Good Magic and Solomini, in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. Solomini subsequently finished first past the post in the G1 Los Alamitos Futurity.

Overall there were the winners of four G1 races and progeny earnings of $11.2 million for Curlin in 2017, exactly the kind of results envisaged by his supporters when the two-time Horse of the Year retired in 2009 to Lane’s End Farm at $75,000.

Curlin’s first season, however, coincided with the Great Recession and by 2010, he was standing for $40,000. By 2013, it had plummeted to $25,000.

Curlin wasn’t a particularly slow starter, siring 2013 Belmont Stakes winner in Palace Malice in his first crop. However, as fate would have it, it was after John Sikura’s Hill ’n’ Dale Farm and Elevage II combined to pay approximately $6.2 million for a 20 per cent share in Curlin in the summer of 2015 that he really took off.

In the past three seasons alone, he has sired eight individual G1 winners - think American Pharoah’s conqueror Keen Ice, champion Stellar Wind and Preakness and Haskell Invitational winner Exaggerator among others. And now his influence has every chance to flourish with four sons - and counting - at stud in Kentucky while he himself embarks on his second season at a career high of $150,000.

2017: 143 mares covered at a fee of $150,000



1997 Green Desert - Rafha (Kris)
Stands: Irish National Stud, Ireland
Current world ranking: 24  
Fee: €120,000 (£107,000)

The Irish National Stud’s stalwart heads into his fifth season in six-figure territory. The son of Green Desert began his stud career at a fee of just €10,000 back in 2003 and today boasts a roll call of 15 G1 winners, including the lightning quick 2yo Shalaa and brilliant miler Kingman, among 105 stakes winners overall.

Several have gone on to carve their own successful careers at stud, notably the Australian sire sensation I Am Invincible and Lawman, sire of Just The Judge and Marcel among others. Next year promises to be a real turning point for Invincible Spirit’s legacy, however, as the first crops by Kingman and Charm Spirit take to the track.

2017: 122 mares covered at a fee of €120,000



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