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First Season Sire Race - Season 2017/18

First Light Racing
28/0917 - by Ashleigh Dowley

It’s that time of year again! The first 2yo races of the new season are only 2 days away and FLR’s Bold Arial, by I Am Invincible out of Helvetica, is set to line up in the Listed Gimcrack Stakes at Royal Randwick! How exciting!! But… sorry all, this article isn’t about her (there’ll be plenty more to hear about her after Saturday). With the excitement of the first season 2yo races comes the annual hot debate on who will reign in the first season sire ranks and boy do we have a interesting crop this year!

The season that WAS 2016/17

Pierro vs All Too HardLast season, there was somewhat a lack of star players outside of old arch nemeses Pierro and All Too Hard who were the clear standouts and they were of course expected to dominate.

Unbeaten triple crown winning 2yo and Australia’s Champion Juvenile Pierro was the Leading FSS at the yearling sales so expectations were high! He took the honours of Champion First Season Sire by earnings as he should have. Tulip flew the flag for Pierro and got him over the line with her win in the Magic Night Stakes before a 3rd in the $3.5 million Golden Slipper. Next in line on earnings was of course All Too Hard, Australia’s Champion 3yo of this crop. It was a far different story as far as number of winners went with the son of Fastnet Rock and Group 1 winner Your Song producing 11 winners overall, defeating All Too Hard again with 10 winners and surprisingly Golden Archer next ahead of Pierro.

All Too Hard’s progeny, like himself back in his racing days, have only become better as 3yo’s and while it’s early days, he is leading that pack with 12 winners this season, closely followed by Your Song. Pierro sitting 3rd holds a strong hand coming into the Spring so it look like these two old rivals will battle on into their second year at stud.

The season that IS 2017/18

But enough about the past, let’s welcome the newcomers! Sizzling, Epaulette, Zoustar, Fighting Sun, Dawn Approach, Dundeel, Shamus Award, Spirit Of Boom, Shamexpress, Unencumbered, Fiorente…. Wow!! And that’s not even it. This season looks far more competitive with a wealth of talent coming through the stallion ranks.

Already at the trials we’ve seen some eye-catching performances from sons and daughters of Zoustar (pictured below), Unencumbered, Sizzling, Epaulette, Dawn Approach and Spirit Of Boom. Of those, we only have the one Group 1 Australian winning 2yo in Sizzling with Dawn Approach a dual Group 1 winning 2yo in Europe, but a wealth of others that were well performed at the top level at two. Zoustar

Unencumbered was the Magic Millions 2yo Classic winner and Northern Meteor’s best son Zoustar was a Group 2 winner and Group 1 placed as a 2yo - his sire was Champion First Season Sire of his year. Epaulette ran Pierro to a nose in the Group 2 Todman Slipper Trial in addition to winning the Listed Black Opal Stakes. Fighting Sun was an unbeaten and untapped 2yo and winner of the Listed Canonbury Stakes, another son of Northern Metoer, his yearlings were well found.

Dawn Approach was an undefeated European Champion 2yo with two juvenile Group 1s and a Group 2 to his name while ultra tough Spirit Of Boom was a Stakes winning and Group 2 placed 2yo. Dundeel won his maiden on debut as a late 2yo in most impressive fashion before becoming one of the best 3yo’s we have seen. By High Chaparral so unlikely to see many of his performing at 2yo. Shamus Award was a Champion 3yo and while he won his Cox Plate as a maiden, he was also multiple Stakes placed at 2yo, including running 3rd as the first Spring 2yo race in Melbourne, the Group 3 Maribyrnong Plate!

Melbourne Cup winner Fiorente, by one of the world’s best in Monsun, was a Champion middle-distance stayer so expect his progeny to take some time. But that’s not it. Kuroshio was a seriously fast 2yo by one of the worlds best sires of 2yo’s Exceed And Excel. The American Declaration Of War was an undefeated 2yo but was at his best at 3yo and 4yo. He has however already sired 2 stakes winners and 3 further stakes performers in his first Northern Hemisphere crop. Group 1 winner Shamexpress won down the Flemington straight on debut as a 2yo and his yearlings sold well. The Factor has already sired a Group 1 winning 2yo up north and what about Eurozone? He was also an undefeated city winning 2yo and another by the late Champion Northern Meteor. One of his daughters produced the one of fastest times at the recent Magic Millions 2yo’s in Training Sale breeze ups.

So then…. who wins? You can expect the “big guns” from the big studs to have been very well supported with good mares and good numbers. The yearling sale results are often a good guide and the sale renowned for producing precious youngsters is the Magic Millions January sale. Dundeel and Zoustar led the way here. They were absolute stars on the track and retired with plenty of hype and excitement from breeders so no surprise they dominated.

2017 Magic Millions FSS Sires

Zoustar, by the late Northern Meteor, despite his late 2yo success, he came into his own in his classic year and was a champion 3yo sprinter. Dundeel on the other hand was a Champion middle distance galloper by High Chaparral out of a Zabeel mare so he may want more time but I wouldn’t write him off. His yearlings were forward and impressive types. Next in line was Shamus Award. A bit of an underdog I think. While he stayed a maiden until that Cox Plate win, his 2yo record is brilliant! Don’t forget he’s a son of the all conquering Snitzel. Spirit Of Boom covered over 150 mares in his first year! There are more 2yo races in QLD pre Christmas then anywhere else and quite often a QLD sire will figure in the top 3 (Love Conquers All was runner up in both earnings to Smart Missile and winners to fellow Queenslander Sidereus in 2015/16, Golden Archer 3rd by winners in 2016/17). Sizzling, as his name suggests, is the smokey. Another son of Snitzel, he’s the only Australian Group 1 winning 2yo in this crop. His yearlings were impressive, early running types just like him and the way Snitzel is going with his 2yo’s, you can expect he will sire a son who will follow in his footsteps.

FLR supported Sizzling with two precocious colts this year, Spirit Of Boom in a lovely filly, although she’s a half to an Oaks winner and wants some time, and Zoustar in a ripping, forward colt with Tony McEvoy.

Trial Watch

  • ZOUSTAR has already had two trial winners in the filly’s Sunlight, trained by Tony McEvoy and Quattro Katie prepared by Stephen Autridge and Jamie Richards in New Zealand.
  • SIZZLING colt Line Up Girls won his first trial in Sydney and FLR’s Sizzlesun (Sizzling x Ducey Du colt) impressed when runner-up in a recent Caulfield jump out. He’s off to the official trials in the next fortnight.
  • EPAULETTE filly Meryl also won an official trial in Sydney and takes her place against Bold Arial in the Gimcrack while the sire has had 15 2yo winners in his first european crop.
  • SPIRIT OF BOOM has also had an official trial winner in New Zealand.
  • Testa Rossa’s UNENCUMBERED scored with a trial winner at Gosford. He might well be one of the better value of this crop, another with a runner in the Gimcrack.
  • And even DAWN APPROACH has hit the board with Dawn Moon in Sydney, who again, also takes her place in the Gimcrack.

Top Five

It’s early days but the race is about to begin and it’s an open affair for this year’s FSS title. I’ve tried my best to be as unbiased as possible, but here’s my top 5 tips. What’s yours?

1. Zoustar. The best son of the Champ Northern Meteor and this year's favourite.  Hard to argue with. He was a Stakes winning and Group 1 placed 2yo . A powerful specimen who’s thrown plenty of strength into his first crop. 134 live foals, more than any of them and trial winners already on the board. His sire was Champion First Season Sire of his year and he’s expected to follow in his footsteps.

2. Sizzling. A son of Snitzel out of a daughter of General Nediym. SPEED, SPEED, SPEED! 5 x Juvenile winner including a Group 1, 2 x Group 2’s and a Listed win. A pre-Christmas 2yo winner. Strong claims and I think he can knock the favourite off!

3. Spirit Of Boom. A Queenslander will quite often pop up in the top 5. This guy was heavily supported with 121 live foals from his first crop. A seriously tough and durable racehorse that performed at the highest level from 2yo to 6yo.  His yearlings were sharp types.

4. Epaulette. Underrated. Loved his yearlings and they’re worth following. He was a very, very good horse. Easily the best 2yo and 3yo son of Commands. Ran Pierro to nose at 2yo and a dual Group 1 winner and second behind Black Caviar at 3yo. Another with a trial winner on the board and has had 15 2yo winners in his first european crop.

5. Dawn Approach. His sire didn’t make it over here but this guy can. An absolute star 2yo and 3yo racehorse in the UK. He reminds me of Dream Ahead who was underrated in his first year. Well supported by the big blue Darley army and already sired a winner in the UK.

Ones to watch: Shamus Award. I found it hard to leave him out and he could well be top five. Another son of Snitzel. He was a multiple Stakes performing 2yo in the Spring and Autumn before becoming a Cox Plate winner and a Champion 3yo. Snitzel will be a sire of sires. Dundeel. They’ll no doubt be better 3yo’s like the So You Think’s but he threw some sharp looking types and was leading FSS at the Magic Millions. Don’t expect to see them pre-Christmas but like Pour Moi, could be a late bloomer in the Autumn / Winter.  Eurozone. Another son of Northern Meteor. 124 live foals on the ground, numbers are in his favour!  Unencumbered.  Not as many foals on the ground but has a runner in the Gimcrack that's out of a New Zealand Pins mare.  if he can do that this time of year, he must be respected.

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