2016 is no different to any other year in Australian thoroughbred racing in that a plethora of young stallions will go off to the breeding barn in an attempt to improve the thoroughbred gene pool. Names of recently retired Group 1 performers like Exosphere, Kermadec, Vancouver, Press Statement, Complacent, Rich Enuff and Pride of Dubai all come to mind. It’s simply a fact of life though that the vast majority of new stallions entering into a stud career will fail. However the odd one will succeed and it matters not how experienced anyone is in the industry, no one has a clue as to which “odd one” will succeed.

Many freshman stallions will be hyped up by all the “experts,” but the simple facts and realities are that there are no “experts” in thoroughbred breeding. If there were any “experts” around, a grey yearling that would grow up to race as Gunsynd wouldn’t get sold at a public auction for a lousy $1,300 – after entering the world as the son of the mare Woodie Wonder, a twin – and become about the best miler Australia has ever seen, winning all four of Australia’s great handicap mile races, namely the Epsom, Doncaster, Emirates and Toorak.

What about Colin Hayes talented galloper Dulcify. His record breaking seven-length Cox Plate demolition job in 1979 might never be bettered. Not bad for a horse that cost a lousy $3,250.

Then there was a stallion named Danehill that was imported into Australia to stand at stud in 1990. In his racetrack career he got beaten more times than he won as he started nine times across England and Ireland and only won four of the nine. He won one Group 1 and a couple of Group 3s and that’s about all he had to hang his hat on. Breeders didn’t exactly line up their mares at his front door in his first few years in Australia off that CV. In fact he only served 72 mares in his first season at stud in Australia (1990) and that ordinary number declined to 64 in his second year 1991). Whilst Danehill stood for a service “fee on application” initially, from memory it was about $20,000 in his formative years at stud in this country. But as soon as his runners hit the track his breeding yard barn success was immediate and his numbers more than doubled from 72 in 1990 to be 164 in 1999. He was advertised in 1999 as standing for $120,000 and his fee only got bigger even though it was officially “fee on application”.

In more recent times, in 2010 to be exact, I Am Invincible went off to stud to stand at a service fee of $11,000 after not winning a race above Group 3 level in his 13-start career which encompassed five wins. In fact his mother and his grandmother never even won a race, as they were both retired to the breeding barn as unraced. In 2010 I Am Invincible served 133 mares at an advertised service fee of $11,000 but just four years later in 2014 there were suddenly “experts” all over the place to the point where he served 211 mares at an advertised service fee of $27,500. Then this year, figuratively speaking, it seems as though the whole world is beating a path to his stallion barn, at a just released 2016 service fee of $55,000 meaning his service fee is up 500% even though his oldest progeny are only 4YOs.

Redoute’s Choice retired to stud in the Year 2000 at a service fee of $33,000. And to his credit he’d at least won four Group 1 races from his 10-start career when he went off to stud. At one point between the Year 2000 and today, he stood for 10 times more than his first season fee at an Australian record of $330,000 (2007 and 2008). The Australian Stud Book advises the biggest number of mares to enter his stallion barn was in 2006 when he served 224 mares at an advertised service fee of $275,000 which in its most simplistic form, on the raw data, creates revenues of an incredible $61,600,000 in that year alone.

But life in racehorse ownership or stallion ownership is not all beer and skittles, as the aforesaid scenarios all work in the reverse. Expensive shuttle stallions, with associated high service fees, often turn up in Australia with a lot of media hype, yet they regularly are proven with the passage of time to be incapable of throwing a decent horse to bless themselves, despite hundreds of mares courting their stallion barn – and often the mares they get to serve are what the “experts” would rate as “good quality mares”. Because of the extraordinary wealth of these large thoroughbred breeding operations and the allied high service fees of their stallions, big marketing budgets in place, so you see and/or hear positive stories written about these stallions in racing newspapers, on racing websites and on racing radio and television.

So in summary, in thoroughbred breeding, my thoughts are that “the only rule is there’s no rule”.

And so it came to pass that the other day an advertisement somewhere hit me in the head. It was an advertisement by one of the world’s biggest thoroughbred entities – Coolmore – which is standing Pride of Dubai for his first season later this year.

Let me research Pride of Dubai’s race record and the subsequent performances of the horses he beat home in his two Group 1 victories and you conclude whether you would pay $55,000 to have him throw his leg over your mare.

In his racetrack career the Team Snowden trained Pride of Dubai had only five starts and he retired having won two Group 1 races and having run two placings and had $1,336,100 in the bank when the decision was made to pull up stumps on his career.

Whilst winning two Group 1 races is enviable – there are Group 1 races, then there are other Group 1 races. For instance two Group 1 Cox Plate victories at Moonee Valley would sound better on a horse’s CV than two Group 1 Oaks wins – one in Brisbane and the other in Adelaide.

In the case of Pride of Dubai, his two Group 1 victories were, in my opinion, in very ordinary races. Virtually no decent horse – with one exception – has emanated from the 22 horses he cumulatively beat in the two Group 1 victories of the Blue Diamond Stakes at Caulfield (13 opponents) and the Sires’ Produce (9 opponents) in Sydney.

What I’ve done is, I’ve listed below the finishing order of both the Blue Diamond Stakes and the Sires’ Produce and the associated subsequent CV of every one of the 22 horses Pride of Dubai beat home in his two Group 1 wins.

To that end, this is the subsequent form of the horses that finished behind Pride of Dubai in the Blue Diamond Stakes:






Ran one placing in five starts since and the placing was a win in a $23K total prizemoney race at the Geelong synthetic track.

Lake Geneva


12 starts since have resulted in two wins, firstly in a Hawkesbury Maiden and a Listed 3YO race at Moonee Valley by a wart.

Manhattan Blues


7 starts since for one win in a Bendigo Benchmark 70 race worth $50K in a tight photo finish and a placing in a Caulfield Benchmark 78 race in a six-horse field.



2 starts since for an eighth and a fifth.

Air Apparent


11 starts since for just one win in a Benalla Maiden and two placings, firstly in a Geelong Maiden and secondly in a Cranbourne Class 1.



13 starts since have resulted in zero wins and just 4 placings.



5 starts since for zero wins.

Miss Gidget


5 starts since for 1 win – in a Seymour Maiden.



4 starts since for form of 9-7-6-12. Even her mother wouldn’t get clucky over those disgraceful performances.



4 starts since for zero wins and his placings from those four races have his form reading: 2-12-15-9.

Of The Brave


Hasn’t raced since.

Flamboyant Lass


5 starts since for one win in a $40K race at Warwick Farm on a heavy track.

Prompt Return


5 starts since have resulted in no placings.


So these 13 horses that finished behind Pride of Dubai in the Blue Diamond Stakes have cumulatively started 78 times since for 7 wins, which means they’ve won a pathetic 8.97% of their subsequent starts and more than one of those 7 wins were in a bush Maiden. Conversely they’ve been beaten 91.03% of the time since.


The finishing order and subsequent CV of the horses that finished behind Pride of Dubai in the Sires’ Produce at Randwick reads:





Odyssey Moon


8 starts since have resulted in zero wins.



8 starts since for 2 wins – a Wyong Maiden and a Sandown 3YO Open.

Pasadena Girl


1 win and 1 placing in 10 further starts – the win was in the Group 1 Champagne Stakes at Randwick against 8 rivals on a soft track.



6 starts since for 1 win and the win was in the Mornington Guineas.



4 starts since for 2 wins, firstly in the Group 1 All Aged Stakes and secondly in the Group 2 Challenge Stakes.

Ready for Victory


8 starts since for zero wins.

Mishani Honcho


7 starts since for zero placings.

Queen of Wands


9 starts since for 2 wins, firstly in a Kembla Grange $40K Benchmark 67 and secondly in a Newcastle $22K Class 2.

Always Allison


Hasn’t started since this race.


So this field of nine opponents has cumulatively started 60 times since for 8 wins, meaning they’ve won 13.33% of the time, or conversely they’ve got beaten 86.67% of the time at subsequent starts and again one of those 8 wins was in a Maiden and another in a Benchmark 67 race and so on.


I can conclude from the aforesaid research that the only decent horse that Pride of Dubai raced in either of those two Group 1s has been subsequently proven to be handy performer English. The rest are what I’d call “legless in the general score of things”.


But even if Pride of Dubai was a flop at stud, you can bet “London to a brick on” that he wouldn’t be able to outperform the biggest stud flop that Coolmore has stood in Australia to this point in time. That honour could undoubtedly be bestowed on their shuttle stallion Rock of Gibraltar. If ever a stallion looked to have everything going for him, it was Rock of Gibraltar. He was by breed-shaper sire Danehill and Danehill needs no introduction even to those who know very little about breeding. Whilst a plethora of Danehill’s sons went off to stud and failed, it seemed highly unlikely that failure could happen with his star global performer Rock of Gibraltar, as he was only lightly raced. From 13 career starts he won 10 races and ran two seconds, meaning he only finished out of the top two placings just once in his career. And some of his 10 wins confirmed that he was a special talent – as seven of his 10 starts were at the elite Group 1 level across England and Ireland.


Rock of Gibraltar retired to stud as a shuttle stallion to Coolmore on an advertised service fee of $132,000 inclusive of GST in 2003 with a “free return”. At Coolmore the same year Rock of Gibraltar turned up there, he joined another son of Danehill – Danehill Dancer – which was standing for a service fee of only $27,500 inclusive of GST, even though Danehill Dancer’s career at stud was obviously going along okay. He was already a proven Group 1 producer, as Choisir, his Group 1 winning son in both Australia (Lightning Stakes at Flemington) and England (Golden Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot) ironically went off to stud the same year as Rock of Gibraltar (2003) for a “fee on application”.


Official Stud Book records show that Rock of Gibraltar served 141 mares in his first year in Australia and that number grew to a numerical season high of 189 in 2007. Imagine the revenues the stallion created for Coolmore just from his Australian matings, as if “they” all got in to the stallion for say $100,000 in his inaugural season, he would create a whopping $14,100,000 in revenues. On the same basis in 2007 he’d generate $18,900,000 in revenues from his 189 mares.


Official Stud Book records also show that Rock of Gibraltar served cumulatively 1092 mares between 2003 and 2010 inclusive and from those 1092 coverings some 788 live foals were born. Amazingly whilst Rock of Gibraltar globally sired about 6.50% stakeswinners-to-runners and globally achieved just over 60% winners-to-runners, in Australia he was a major flop, siring only one Group 1 winner from those 788 live foals – Rock Kingdom – which won the 2009 Epsom Handicap at Randwick. In fact in the middle of June 2014, Rock of Gibraltar was only performing globally at less than 57% winners-to-runners and he never even got above the 60% winners-to-runners threshold until 2015, which is utterly disgraceful for such an expensive service fee stallion, remembering he entered stud 12 years earlier – in 2003.


In his final year at stud in Australia in 2010, Rock of Gibraltar had been such an unmitigated disaster that his advertised service fee in this country had dropped from $132,000 inclusive of GST in 2003 to be just $33,000 inclusive of GST with a “free return” in 2010, albeit that “free return” was going to be a tad hard to provide, given the fact that Rock of Gibraltar was “exported to Ireland on 21 December 2010” according to the Australian Stud Book.


So now that I have properly researched the CV of every horse that finished behind Pride of Dubai in his two Group 1 wins, as well as proving how even a world leader in thoroughbred breeding like Coolmore can cost broodmare owners a fortune by having expensive flops at stud like Rock of Gibraltar – would you pay $55,000 to have your mare served by Pride of Dubai?


Today on www.brisbaneracing.com.au there’s a story on the breeding of last Saturday’s Hawkesbury winner Nancy as well as the information on the 2016 service fee for Black Heart Bart’s sire.

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