Powerful start A boost for Ardad

You could say there’s a stallion for every type of breeder at Overbury Stud, and the farm that has for so long been synonymous with Kayf Tara (GB), the perennial leading sire of National Hunt in Britain , now has a very different kind of budding star.

Ardad (GB) ended 2021 as Britain’s top first season sire and finished second overall behind Cotai Glory (GB), which is held at Tally-Ho Stud, where Ardad himself was raised and where his father Kodiac (GB) was king of the hill for a long time.

Now eight years old, Ardad has so far done pretty much what could have been expected of him. On the track he was fast and precocious, with the highlight of his racing career being his victory in the G2 Flying Childers S. From what we’ve seen of his offspring so far, they seem to be following suit: so much so that when Ardad’s first group of first-generation riders turned into a number of early winners, his pound for last year suddenly jumped about 100 more mares.

If rock bands suffer from this “difficult second album” syndrome, it’s fair to say that the stallion equivalent is the difficult third book. Or fourth. In the case of Ardad, however, these winners arriving so early in the season meant that breeders could still take advantage of the last month of the breeding season instead of waiting until this year to renew their support or to use Ardad. for the first time. But a chart plotting his breeding numbers in his short stud career to date would clearly highlight the precarious nature of the stallion industry. From 132 mares in his debut season of 2018, Ardad then fell to 70 in 2019 before dropping to 26 and then rising to 156 last year. This year he will know about 175 mares.

Looking back on last spring, Simon Sweeting of Overbury Stud said: “We had about 60 mares booked before the racing season started and we had actually overcome a lot of those mares and then [his offspring] started winning. He had these four or five quick bursts of winners and the mares started coming. We booked another hundred and he overcame them, covered them well in the second half of the season. We are therefore confident that he will be able to cover a lot of mares, but also determined not to overwork him and to try to keep the quality of the mares as high as possible. And we are very lucky that he gets some really great mares.

He adds: “My number is 175. It may be a little more, but it won’t be 200. I am absolutely determined that we don’t do that.

It has been repeatedly noted by those who have been associated with Ardad’s stock that they are gifted with a pleasant temperament which allows them to come on when work is needed and quickly go out once the job is done. it is completed. His son Perfect Power (Ire), a two-time Group 1 winner, seems to be an almost classic example if we take the photos of him asleep in the racecourse stables before the big missions. Sweeting notes that this is a common trait of their father.

“He is one of those people who can be relaxed for a moment, cover a mare and be relaxed immediately afterwards,” he says. “So he hasn’t been a problem for a moment with us doing anything really. He has a high libido, but a horse can have a high libido and still be quite easy to handle.

He continues: “He was always the same. At first glance, he was exactly what we expected, apart from the fact that he has this fabulous stride and it also carries over to his foals.

A quartet of Kodiac sons had retired to stud the year before Ardad, with Prince Of Lir (Ire), Kodi Bear (Ire) and Coulsty (Ire) all standing in Ireland and Adaay (Ire) standing mainly in England before to be transferred to Italy. Six more of his sons have joined the ranks since 2019, with Ubettabelieveit (Ire) being England’s only new signing at Mickley Stud.

Sweeting says: “A few years ago you were looking at the list of stallions available in Britain and there just wasn’t a proven sire below £15,000. In this bracket, if you send a mare to give her a first try, to a horse that has a very good chance of throwing you a winner, you don’t want to spend £25,000.

“They just weren’t there, but now there’s Time Test, there’s Ardad, Havana Gold and Havana Gray could become those kind of horses. So there’s a lot more choice for a UK based breeder than having to travel to Ireland for that cheap but decent quality horse. They had either been untested here or were way out of most people’s price range.

Ardad himself started at £6,500, a fee which remained in place for three seasons until it dropped to £4,000 in 2021. For this season his price has increased, but to 12,500 £, that’s not a tantalizing increase.

“There has to be something left for the rancher,” Sweeting says when asked if he was tempted to give Ardad a heavier ride. “And also, I know from bitter experience that if people pay a lot of money for a horse that then has a few disappointing years, they will never forgive that stallion, no matter how things turn out. I don’t want to have to lower his price again. And I still want people to think it was a fair price. We want our customers to come back in four or five years and that’s really had a big effect on how we’ve defined it. Yes it could have been £15,000 – I don’t think it could reasonably have been much more than that – but I think with the balance between the quality of mares we have and the numbers we have pretty much almost right, hopefully with the possibility that breeders can still make money.

Admittedly, Ardad’s stock returns rose in line with his profile, and much of the initial buzz can be attributed to a number of pinhookers who took a chance on his first yearlings and were well rewarded by selling them l ‘Next year. His yearling averages have fallen from 15,327 gns in 2020 for 49 sold to 53,133 gns last year for 30 of 31 to have crossed the ring, while foal averages have risen from 9,696 gns to 14,400 gns to reach the 2021 peak of 32,636 gns.

Continuing to deliver horses of the quality of the classic Perfect Power perspective won’t hurt him either, and while there may rightly be a question mark over Ardad’s offspring’s ability to see the mile, Perfect Power is out of Sagely (Ire) (Frozen Power {Ire}), herself a winner over 1,400 meters, while the grandmother Saga Celebre (Fr) is not only the daughter of a winner of the Arc en Peintre Celebre but the half-sister of another, Sagamix (Fr), who also represented a time at Overbury. Another half-brother to Saga Celebre is Shastye (Ire) (Danehill), the dam of Japan (GB) and Mogul (GB).

The number of infantry for Ardad, who was also represented last year by Group 3 winning filly Eve Lodge, will of course drop in the coming seasons, with his current generation of yearlings only 18 years old.

“Most of the trainers who have Ardads who just turned three, they were saying at the end of last year, ‘actually, I think this horse is going to train’, and they wouldn’t say that s They didn’t have a good reason for it,” Sweeting says.

“So, yes, he has two smaller harvests to come, but luckily not a third. If he hadn’t had his first winners until mid-May, which he could have done while remaining a very good stallion, he would only have covered 65 mares last year.

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