Championship honours

Darley’s blue-chip stallions rewarded with end of season titles

With the completion of the 2010/2011 Australian racing season, many positives can be drawn from not only looking at the the General Sires’ table, but many other aspects of the results.

No doubt, the star of the Australian racing season was the 11-time G1 winner Lonhro. Crowned Champion Sire, and the first Champion racehorse to achieve that feat in 40 years, Lonhro ended the season some $1.2 million clear of his nearest rival Redoute’s Choice, with fellow Darley stallion Commands taking third, ahead of Encosta de Lago and High Chaparral.

A sire of 14 individual Stakes winners, more than any other stallion this season, Lonhro’s five-year-old G1-winning daughter Beaded led the way. Victorious in the G1 Doomben 10,000, the mare has raced in G1 company at her last five starts, in fact, eight career starts at the elite level has seen the gusty mare never finish further back than fourth.

Another star performer for Lonhro (pictured) is his first G1-winning juvenile Benfica. A winner of three of his five starts, Benfica recorded a dominant length-plus victory in the final juvenile G1 of the season, the TJ Smith Stakes.  One of 13 individual two-year-old winners for Lonhro this season, a mark that sees him finish in fourth spot for the number of juvenile winners behind fellow Darley stallion Exceed And Excel, Benfica appears to be a colt with enough scope to progress into his Classic season.

With a Stakes winner to runners ratio superior to any stallion with 100 runners or more during the season, Lonhro has gone from strength to strength with his progeny on the track. Finishing in 43rd position the 08/09 season, Lonhro shot up to finish 3rd in 09/10, signifying that he was clearly a stallion on the up, before taking the title the following year.

Achieving Champion Sire honours with his eldest progeny only five, Lonhro joined the likes of Bletchingly, Sir Tristram and Danehill as stallions who have recorded this feat only seven years after retiring to stud.

Further cementing his ability to produce runners of the highest calibre, Lonhro’s Stakes winners show the versatility of his sire power. Stakes-winning juvenile filly Euryale, three-year-old fillies Celts, Parables, Obsequious, up and coming gelding Scarf and the tough campaigners Launay, Pinwheel, Tampiko and Dysphonia are just some of his recent Stakes winners.

While finishing third behind Lonhro in relation to prize money, Danehill stallion Commands recorded more individual winners than any other stallion, achieving this feat by smashing the previous record set by Encosta de Lago a few seasons back. With 155 individual winners in Australia, Commands is a perennial top ten finisher on the General Sires’ table, with the 2010/11 racing season being his best to date.

With 10 Australian Stakes winner this season headlined by G1 Spring Champion Stakes winner Erewhon, like Lonhro, Commands is capable of getting Stakes winners over all distances, ages and with no sex-bias. Stakes-winning juvenile colt Atomic and filly Altar, along with three-year-old G2 winner Soul, Stakes-winning fillies and mares Palomares, Kanzan, Brasileira and Royal Commands, G1 sprinter First Command as well as the multiple Stakes-winning stayer Voice Commander.

Having the sire power to pass the best onto his progeny is one of Commands’ defining traits; 36 of his 38 Stakes winners are their dam’s best runner! The sire of 14 internationally G1 performers, Commands arguably offers breeders the best son of Danehill standing at a fee of under $100,000 in Australia.

Another Darley-based son of Danehill that has proven exceptional this season is Exceed And Excel. A consistent source of juvenile talent, the dual G1-winning sprinter has produced 23 individual two-year-old winners this season, more than any other sire. By recording this new record mark, Exceed And Excel has eclipsed the highest figure ever-recorded by even his legendary sire Danehill and equalled his leading sire-son Redoute's Choice. Only three stallions in Australia have ever recorded over 23 individually juvenile winners.

Led by the dual G1-winning chestnut colt Helmet, no other sire has also recorded more two-year-old Stakes wins this season than Exceed And Excel. In fact, since January 2008, no stallion globally has achieved more juvenile Stakes winners, juvenile Stakes horses or juvenile winners, than Exceed And Excel.

With his next crop of two-year-olds possibly out of the best book of mares he has covered; including the progeny of 22 G1-winning mares, the future surely looks bright for the Champion First and Second-season sire of his year.

With the Lonhro, Commands and Exceed And Excel all standing the forthcoming season at Darley Kelvinside for $77,000 (inc GST), $66,000 (inc GST) and $66,000 (inc GST) respectively, the three Champion stallions give breeders the opportunity to be involved in producing high-class offspring capable of performing at the elite level.

If you require any further information on any of them, as well as any of the remainder of the 2011 Stallion Roster, please do not hesitate to contact one of the Nomination Team members.