Bren O’Brien



Movers and shakers – Sires of influence emerging in Australia

So You Think and I Am Invincible may be battling it out for the crown of Australia’s Champion Stallion, but several other sires have increased their influence in the 2021/22 Australian racing season.

Spill the Beans, the multiple Group-winning son of Snitzel, packed quite a lot into his short stud career at Aquis’ Queensland base at Canungra before his sudden death in November 2019.

Books of 202, 143 and 144 set him up to make a rapid impact and he had already added another 116 mares in his fourth season, which was cut short by his shock passing a week after he had his first winner on the track.

Ongoing successes of ill-fated stallions are so often marked by a grimace and ‘what might have been’ and as the winners have continued to flow for Spill The Beans, so too must have been the feeling of lost opportunity for Aquis.

This season, Spill The Beans has had more winners than any other third-season stallion in Australia – 80 to this point – highlighted by his multiple stakes-winning son Ellsberg.

That’s an increase of 35 winners from 2020/21, making him the most improved stallion, in terms of pure numbers of winners, of any established sire (not counting second season sires) in Australia this season.

His third season contemporary, Vinery Stud’s Headwater, sits second on that list with an additional 30 winners on last season, while the volume of winners by former Singapore star Super One, who began his breeding career at Newgate but now conducts his business from Newhaven Park, increased by 27.

These third-season sires have all benefited from greater opportunities. Spill The Beans (plus-46), Headwater (59), and Super One (46) have had significant increases in their volume of runners, but their burst in terms of winners supports their rapidly growing status as sires of influence.

Sires ranked by seasonal increase of Australian winners (established sires)

Spill The Beans+35
Super One+27
Better Than Ready+24
Press Statement+23
Pride Of Dubai+20
Star Witness+19
Deep Field+17
*data from

The overall ‘most improved’ award for Australian sires by the numbers goes to Newgate’s sophomore Capitalist, who has racked up 70 winners this season, the third most of any second-season stallion in Australian history. It’s an increase of 50 from his hefty first-season total of 20 winners.

Why Capitalist wasn’t included in the above list was simply because second-season sires have a much greater capacity for improved results than their established rivals as they are coming off much smaller bases.

Arrowfield’s Shalaa has had a similar spike in winners this season, with his current total of 52 some 45 more than 2020/21, while Newgate’s Flying Artie (+32) and Arrowfield’s Maurice (+31) are other second-season sires to have had major increases in individual winners.

Capitalist, who has had mare books of over 200 in each of his five years at stud, has been given a huge opportunity to be highly influential and successful. He has had 181 runners to this point of the season, more than any other-second season stallion in Australian history.

However, he won’t win the award as Australia’s Champion Second Season Sire, as that is judged on prizemoney and Maurice is well clear that, with some $7.4 million in progeny earnings, bolstered by his first-crop stars, Hitotsu and Mazu.


Widden Stud's Nicconi (Source: Widden).

In the money

I Am Invincible ($19.7 million) will hold off So You Think ($19.2 million) to be crowned Australia’s Champion Sire for the first time, but they don’t rank on top when it comes to Australia’s most improved stallion by progeny earnings.

The honour will belong to Widden’s Nicconi, whose Australian progeny earnings of $17.5 million is a $7.77 million increase from last season, thanks to a very large part to his star sprinter Nature Strip. Maurice’s Australian progeny earnings jumped $6.4 million, So You Think’s season-on-season increase in progeny earnings was $5.3 million, while Rosemont Stud’s Shamus Award jumped $5.1 million.

Sires ranked by increase in progeny earnings in Australia

SirePrizemoney increase
So You Think+$5,255,617
Shamus Award +$5,063,107
Rebel Dane+$4,080,715

Weight for age

Comparing sires is always difficult, some may say fraught, given they are all afforded different levels of opportunities, whether that be the quality or quantity of mares served, or simply by how many crops they have on the ground.

One measure which can be more universally applied is the ratio of winners to runners, which accounts for variation in opportunity and crop size.

Somewhat surprisingly, filtering by stallions who had more than 35 Australian winners this season, the leading sire is one-time Darley shuttler and another ill-fated stallion, Poet’s Voice.

Poet’s Voice, the Champion miler by Dubawi, had five seasons at Darley’s Kelvinside base from 2012 until 2016, with his best Australian horse being the G1 Mackinnon Stakes winner Trap For Fools. With his final Australian crop about to turn five, his numbers of runners in Australia have dropped from 138 last season to 96 in this current season, but his numbers of winners increased to 60.

That gives the Poet’s Voice, who died aged 11 in 2018, a nation-leading runners-to-winners strike rate of 62.5 per cent.

In that department, he leads his former Darley barnmate Exceed And Excel, who was another stallion who saw his number of runners drop, (200 to 192), but number of winners increase (99 to 112), a winners-to-runners ratio of 58.3 per cent.

Other established stallions (more than 35 winners) to feature a better than 50 per cent strike rate were Animal Kingdom, Deep Field, Medaglia D’Oro, Tavistock, Uncle Mo, Canford Cliffs, Dream Ahead, War Chant, Written Tycoon and Zoustar.

Sires ranked by Australian runners-to-winners ratio (2021/22) (more than 35 winners)

SireRunnersWinnersW/R %
Poet's Voice 966062.5%
Exceed And Excel19211258.3%
Animal Kingdom754053.3%
Deep Field25713652.9%
Medaglia D'Oro1236552.8%
Uncle Mo814251.9%
I Am Invincible35718451.5%
Canford Cliffs753850.7%
Dream Ahead1648350.6%

Frankie Dettori on Poet's Voice, wins the 2010 Queen Elizabeth II Stakes. (Photo by Charlie Crowhurst/ Getty Images)

Taking that a step further and filtering the top sires by stakes winners per runners (again more than 35 winners) and the top sire is Waikato Stud’s perennial New Zealand champion Savabeel on 6.4 per cent. WA’s Playing God is second on 5.7 per cent, then Snitzel (5.6 per cent).

Extreme Choice, who will be Australia’s most expensive stallion at $275,000 (inc GST) this season, is the leading second-season sire (more than 10 runners) on both winners-to-runners and stakes-winners-to-runners.

His winners-to-runners ratio (23 from 39) is 59 per cent, leading fellow second seasons stallions Rommel (57.6 per cent) and Territories (53.6 per cent). (NZ-based pair Wrote and Vanbrugh are higher but have only had five and eight Australian runners respectively).

Second-season sires ranked by Australian runners-to-winners ratio (2021/22) (more than 10 winners)

SireRunnersWinnersW/R %
Extreme Choice392359.0%

Extreme Choice’s stakes winners to runners rate is an extraordinary 12.8 per cent this season (five from 39). He is a special case in so many ways, with his restricted books and fertility, but if is still able to get the job done, he shapes as the most important of any of the emerging stallions in Australia.

Remarkably, despite only having two crops on the ground, he will have three of his sons at stud this season, with Stay Inside and Tiger Of Malay joining him at Newgate and Extreme Warrior kicking his career off at Rosemont.

*All data current as of July 24, 2022. Sourced primarily from



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