Costly quest for next Frankel the ultimate speculative punt
Stallion’s services cost €150,000 and are likely to generate €18m per season
Tom Queally on multiple Group One winner Midday who has given birth to a foal sired by former superstar stablemate Frankel. Photograph: Chris Ison/PA
The legendary Vincent O’Brien once got cross with me. Even now, it’s something I’m proud as hell of: that for a brief moment, little old me burrowed a way into the great man’s thoughts, like an insignificant tick, the-whole-Vincent-O’Brien-told-me-to f**k-off buzz.
Except he didn’t. Instead, he let his displeasure be known through an intermediary. The thought was the same though; and it’s the thought that counts.
This all happened a long time ago, but even then there was nothing like a touch of sex to arouse an editor’s interest. Combine it with money and we had the editorial catnip that the then emerging stallion sensation Sadlers Wells represented. Said editor decided a short horsey career spent almost entirely mucking out represented enough of a whiff of competence on the subject. He brusquely despatched yours truly to Coolmore Stud with orders to make the story “accessible.”
Even a callow youth knew what they meant. So cue lots of references to Warren Beatty and Mick Jagger teasers –look it up – plus copious puns about the stocky stallion generating millions for his owners in return for little more than hay and water. One of those owners was O’Brien who, I was informed later, believed such a sniggering, nudge-nudge article “cheapened the industry”. And he let it be known that hounds should be released if I ever went near the place again.
Shortly afterwards, Lester Piggott, O’Brien’s ally in so many legendary triumphs, really did tell me to f**k off, thereby bringing up an early career-high double that has meant everything else since has been resolutely downhill.
returned with recent news that Sadlers Wells’s grandson, Frankel, had successfully reproduced: cue widespread interest which by definition concentrated on the “accessible” parts of the story, as in Frankel’s, ahem, services, costing about €150,000 a pop – thereby generating about €18 million a breeding season since he successfully covered 126 of the finest fillies in the world in his virgin year as a stallion.
If proof were needed that technological advancement doesn’t mean the same thing as improvement, the predictably non-digitally-enhanced male response to such a story was far too many inner-Kelvin’s rising to the surface, middle-aged paunches indulging in pulsing adolescent fantasies about thrice a day sex and getting paid for it.
Clearly a couple of decades is just a blink of an eye in evolutionary terms. But amid all the pimply, hormonal, accessible stuff, the real story gets overlooked, a story beginning again round about now with the start of a new breeding season.
From mid-February until June, the country vibrates to the motion of equine rumpy pumpy. More than 10,000 mares will meet their happy fate with a couple of hundred even happier stallions, and will produce almost 8,000 potential superstar foals – a bit like Harcourt Street at two in the morning during rugby international weekend.