Just in time for Father’s Day, freshman sire Ardad received the perfect gift when his son Perfect Power won the Group 2 Norfolk Stakes at Royal Ascot. A winner in two of his three starts, Perfect Power is the first stakes winner for his sire from a dozen winners so far.
Bred in Ireland by Tally Ho Stud, Perfect Power was a 16,000-guinea RNA at last season’s Tattersalls October yearling sale, and the colt returned as a 2-year-old in training at the 2021 Goffs UK breeze up and sold for 110,000 guineas to Blandford Bloodstock on behalf of Sheikh Rashid Dalmook al Maktoum.
The colt that Perfect Power beat a head to claim the Norfolk was Go Bears Go, a son of second-crop sire Kodi Bear, who is a son of Kodiac, like Ardad. Last year, Kodiac had four freshmen sire sons, and each sired a group-placed horse or group winner. This year, Ardad already has a group winner and a group-placed, after Vintage Clarets was third in the G2 Coventry Stakes at Royal Ascot.
Ardad, like his son Perfect Power, was a pricey juvenile in training (cost 170,000 guineas) and became a winner at Royal Ascot with a victory in the listed Windsor Castle Stakes, then won the G2 Flying Childers Stakes at Doncaster. Rated 111 by Timeform at two, Ardad won three of his six starts as a juvenile but did not train on.
Sent to stud in 2018 at Overbury Stud in England, Ardad proved popular enough to have a first crop of 91 foals, and he is the current leading freshman sire in Europe by earnings and by number of winners. On that list, five of the top six have stud fees priced at 4,000 or 5,000 euros; Ardad’s stud fee for 2021? It was 4,000 euros.
That is history and to what degree depends on how well Perfect Power, Vintage Clarets, and some of the other winners from the sire finish out their first season.
The effect that Kodiac and his sons are having on European racing is evident. They are fast, athletic horses who come to hand early and naturally. The comment of Ardad’s trainer John Gosden is appropriate: “a strong, powerful and precocious colt with a great mind. He was an absolute pleasure to train and was a real Royal Ascot 2-year-old.”
Kodiac appears to be taking the legacy of his sire Danehill in a similar direction to some of that sire’s Australian sons, with speed and precocity being the key words there. And it is important that Europe has such a wide variety of racecourses and racing distances available because sires and their offspring who have a special preference have a likewise broad opportunity to race effectively and win.
This broad specialization and resulting segregation of sires, and sometimes of entire lines of sires, into stayers or sprinters was much more rigid a century ago in Europe and remained so for much of the 20th century until Vincent O’Brien began training American-pedigreed horses who appeared to have miler pedigrees but nonetheless could win classics and all-age events at middle distances.
As the Northern Dancer revolution swept up European racing and breeding, the old sprinting lines disappeared into the history books, but it is intriguing that the Northern Dancer line is the source of what appear to be the best “sprinting lines” in Europe through Danzig’s sons Danehill and Green Desert, as well as through juvenile highweight Try My Best (Acclamation and his sons, especially Dark Angel).
Certainly, Kodiac has been a major-league revelation at stud following a racing career that featured only one stakes-placing. The sire has been a black-type machine, siring 66 stakes winners to this point and another 75 stakes-placed horses. And, although the sire’s top colt, three-time G1 winner Best Solution, won a Caulfield Cup in Australia, Kodiac’s other G1 winners preferred the shorter side of eight furlongs.
Fairyland and Tiggy Wiggy won the G1 Cheveley Park; Hello Youmzain won the G1 Haydock Sprint Cup and Diamond Jubilee; and Campanelle won the G1 Prix Morny and then the Commonwealth Cup last week at Royal Ascot. Now one of the most popular sires in Europe, Kodiac stands for 65,000 euros at Tally Ho Stud in Ireland.
His is a line of serious speed horses who frequently want five furlongs, rather than six; their complement in the Northern Dancer set of sprint influences comes through Danzig’s son Green Desert, a sire of classic winners and top milers himself. He also sired Invincible Spirit, who also won a Haydock Sprint Cup and has become an important sire of speed, with a dash of classic inclination.
Both Invincible Spirit and Kodiac are out of the Prix de Diane winner Rafha (Kris); so, despite all our focus on male lines, should the actual credit for the most persistent expression of specialist sprinting form go to a classic-winning broodmare?