The battle for the leading freshman sire crown in Australia and New Zealand for 2014-15 may well come down to Fastnet Rock vs. the rest.
While there is plenty of interest among the current freshman crop, there is no doubt that one of the more intriguing developments to watch will be the progress of the first contingent of sons of Fastnet Rock (TrueNicks) to be represented with runners, as the champion 3-year-old, champion sprinter, and champion sire bids to extend his branch of the Danehill line.
Leading the way for Fastnet Rock as far as first crop yearling average is concerned is Hinchinbrook (TrueNicks), a 2-year-old group winner, and multiple group I-placed performer who is three-quarter brother to the very successful sire Snitzel (TrueNicks). He'll also have plenty of support from his paternal half brothers Stryker and Rothesay.
Redoute's Choice (TrueNicks), like Fastnet Rock a son of Danehill who is thoroughly proven as a sire of sires, also has a trio to continue his sire line in the ill-fated Benateau, as well as Tickets (TrueNicks) and Drumbeats.
Among those ranged against that set, the leader by yearling average was another Danehill grandson, the fertility-troubled international sprint champion Starspangledbanner, who has already made a tremendous start in Europe with first-crop Royal Ascot group winners Anthem Alexander and The Wow Signal.
Second by yearling average was Equiano (by Royal Applause), who ran second to Starspangledbanner in the July Cup (Eng-I) but did win a pair of King's Stand Stakes (Eng-I).
Other Europeans shuttlers to sell well with their first crop were Makfi, the Two Thousand Guineas (Eng-I) and Prix Jacques Le Marois (Fr-I) winning son of Dubawi; Paco Boy (Desert Style), a top-class miler who already has a stakes winner in his first European crop; and Lope de Vega, who emulated his sire Shamardal with victories in the French Two Thousand Guineas and French Derby (both Fr-I).
The team of shuttlers from the U.S. field both the leading freshman sire of 2010 in Congrats (TrueNicks) and the one-two on the current freshman sire list, Super Saver (TrueNicks) and Lookin At Lucky (TrueNicks), who both already have a brace of stakes winners from their first Northern Hemisphere crop but both only served the one season in Australia.
Leading the non-shuttlers by yearling average with 98 sold for $47,127 was the Widden Stud stallion Star Witness (TrueNicks), the group I-winning 2-year-old and sprinter by Starcraft (TrueNicks). Top New Zealand-based horse—although his offspring are unlikely to be precocious enough to be in the mix for early honors—was Shocking, a son of Street Cry (TrueNicks) who captured both the Australian Cup and Melbourne Cup (both Aus-I).