By any measure Darley’s Australian success in 2019 was led, yet again, by Exceed And Excel and Lonhro.
As the patriarchs of the organisation’s southern hemisphere operation move inevitably toward the end of their careers, the youngsters began moving into positions that suggest they can be worthy replacements for a pair of champions.
Exceed And Excel and Lonhro, each of whom has worn the crown as Australia’s Champion stallion, sired 27 Stakes winners between them in 2019, four of them at G1 level and, among those, Australia’s best juvenile filly and colt.
While a calendar year that straddles two southern hemisphere racing seasons splits a stallion’s figures into two halves, 2019 proved that Darley’s flagbearers still have what it takes.
The same 12-month period during which Darley stallions past and present sired 25 G1 winners in Australia and New Zealand, also verified the growing presence of such sires as Brazen Beau, Epaulette, Dawn Approach and Sepoy, the latter having produced 139 individual winners worldwide of some 230 races.
Of the currently serving Darley stallions, Exceed And Excel headed the 2019 order, producing three G1 winners, Bivouac (Golden Rose), Microphone (Sires’ Produce Stakes) and Exceedance (Coolmore Stud Stakes).
Lonhro’s excellent two-year-old filly Lyre registered G1 success in the Blue Diamond Stakes and a brilliant autumn for Darley-sired juveniles was capped off when Kiamichi, a daughter of Sidestep (Exceed And Excel) won the G1 Golden Slipper Stakes in which Darley stallions produced the first three over the line, while Sepoy’s best, Alizee added a third G1 to her record.
“There’s no doubt that in a superb year for the Darley stallions they really came to the fore in the big autumn juvenile races with performances that were reflected in the sale ring,” said Godolphin Managing Director in Australia Vin Cox.
“The performances of the two-year-olds really showed what fabulous stallions Lonhro and Exceed And Excel have been and still are.”
“In many ways it was a landmark year for a team that has been a leader in the Australian bloodstock world ever since Darley has been involved in this country.”
Among the stallions destined to replace Lonhro, who turned 21 in 2019, and Exceed And Excel, it is Brazen Beau who showed the strongest signs of emerging from the pack.
Brazen Beau, an eight-year-old with two Australian crops of racing age, had four Stakes winners during 2019 and built on his previous popularity with breeders and yearling buyers, his colt out of the Exceed And Excel mare Just Discreet making $1.15 million at the Inglis Easter sale.
Other G1 winning sires who have appeared on Darley’s Australian roster included the shuttlers Hard Spun, whose son Gatting won the Makybe Diva Stakes, and Street Sense, the sire of Kennedy Stakes winner Dixie Blossoms.
An era for which Darley shared a large slice of responsibility came to an end in Australia during the year with the retirement of Winx.
The daughter of the inimitable and much-lamented Street Cry won the final three of her 25 G1 races in 2019 while extending her unbeaten sequence to 33 wins.
Winx is also one of Street Cry’s four G1 winners worldwide for the year, three of which were bred in Australia, the others being Trekking and Oh Susanna.
Another departed Darley stallion, Commands, had a magnificent nine G1 wins for 2019, thanks almost entirely to the New Zealand filly Melody Belle, who won eight at the top level, and Manuel, winner of the CF Orr Stakes at Caulfield.
Also in New Zealand, Iffraaj, who stands under the Darley banner at Haunui Farm, had a G1 winner when Wyndspelle won the Captain Cook Stakes at Trentham.
In all, Darley-sired runners won 23 per cent of Australian and New Zealand G1 races in 2019 and more than 17 per cents of all Stakes races.
At 1,600m or less, the predominant distance range in both countries, the Darley stallions provided 31 per cent of all G1 winners and more than 20 per cent of all Stakes winners.