Written 2012 for Breeding & Racing Magazine

Having recently experienced the 2012 Melbourne Spring Carnival, culminating in the 3200 metre Emirates Melbourne Cup, it’s natural that the thoughts of owners and trainers are turning to breeding or buying staying bred horses.

While the tactic du jour is to import readymade stayers, the international market has twigged to our desperation, and the price of this commodity is steadily rising.

Australia’s breeding industry has happily trotted alongside New Zealand’s in the past, allowing and probably encouraging the Kiwis to produce solid stayers while we specialised in sparkling sprinters. It seems that New Zealand has tired of the tag of stayer specialists in recent years, and has imported sprinting stallions from both Australia and the Northern Hemisphere, seemingly in an effort to shake off the tag. Align, Captain Rio, Keeper and Thorn Park come to mind.

Australian buyers have largely been guilty of ignoring stamina bred yearlings over the years, to the point where breeders were nervous about the prospects of standing a stallion of this type. Auction houses similarly have preferred to offer what the buyers demand and have further emphasised this position by dangling huge rewards in front of the owners of early two year old winners.

Of course, there has always been big stakes money available for the winners of middle and long distance races here, it’s just that buyers have seemed unable to imagine that wait from yearling to (perhaps) three year old without breaking into a sweat, and therefore breeders have fallen into line.

A shift in thinking, a change in the tide – there is a perceivable buyer maturity emerging over the past couple of seasons. Commercial studs are overtly putting up the shingles of stamina-bred stallions and it seems, to a good reception.

Darley has a diverse line-up which includes New Approach and Authorized, both English Derby (2400m) winners. Darley stalwart Reset has produced VRC Derby winner and Champion Australasian 3yo Stayer, Rebel Raider as well as Cox Plate winner, Pinker Pinker. Coolmore has English Derby winner High Chaparral as a star on its Australian roster and this year, has introduced his Champion Middle Distance winning son, So You Think.

“High Chaparral served 235 mares in 2010 and 187 last year,” said Coolmore’s Sebastian Hutch. “He and So You Think will serve well over 300 mares between them this season.”

Duke Of Marmaladeand Dylan Thomas are other Group 1 winners over 2400m on the Coolmore roster.

So are we starting to grow up? Maybe.  While the very large studs can afford to stand the full spectrum of distance specific stallions, at least the quality and range of staying bred stallions has improved in the past few seasons, and the smaller studs will hopefully follow suit.  If you want to buy or breed a stayer, there are a few ways of maximising the chances of ensuring the horse you choose will still be breathing easy at the 2200 metre mark.

Choosing the progeny of proven stayer-producers is the obvious point.  Progeny out of mares which also display a stamina biased background is also very important, the dam having as much say in the outcome as the stallion.

While it doesn’t necessarily follow, stallions who themselves performed over the longer distances should be on the longlist.

An experienced eye can whittle down the list of suitably bred yearlings by identifying potential stayers on type. There have been many articles written on this subject (including in this publication), so I won’t go into this in detail here. Like human athletes however, those built for long distance running have more slow-twitch muscle fibres and generally present as leaner and lighter muscled, longer framed types with plenty of heart and lung room. A phlegmatic temperament is also a feature, ensuring that they have the ability to relax and conserve energy. You can often tell when looking at the field in the enclosure, whether the race is for sprinters or stayers.  The sprinters are much more likely to be on their toes, their compact muscular bodies sweating up, while the stayers will often drift around the mounting yard unfazed, their lengthy frames cool as a cat.

Some studs are taking the guesswork out of what distance their new stallions will throw by having them genetically tested, amongst them leading Australian farms Widden and Swettenham.

Equine genetic research has come along in leaps and bounds in the last decade.  We started DNA testing foals for parentage early in the new millennium, and in 2007 the horse genome sequence was completed. Since then, Dr. Emmeline Hill, a leading young Irish scientist, headed one of the world’s first academic research programmes dedicated to understanding genetic contributions to equine athletic performance. Her team’s discovery of ‘the Speed Gene’ led to the formation of a company named Equinome in 2009.

Using DNA samples from 179 elite racehorses, they were able to extrapolate their laboratory findings to predict best race distance for an individual.  In collaboration with leading Irish trainer Jim Bolger, DNA was also taken from 142 two-year-olds (via a simple blood test) in training to test the integrity of the process.

Such is the growing popularity of such information, that Equinome is soon to open an office in Australia.

In a gene responsible for muscle mass development, a specific position in the genetic code can contain either the letters ‘C ‘or ‘T’. As each individual inherits a copy from both sire and dam, there are three possible combinations:

  • C:C horses excel at sprints and are best suited to races up to 1600 metres, with an average best distance of 1300m.
  • C:T horses have a mixture of speed and stamina and are the most versatile. A C:T horse can perform well as a 2 year old but is best suited to races between 1400 and 2400m.
  • T:T horses are later maturing and do not perform optimally as a 2 year old.  On average, T:T horses earn up to 20 times less as 2 year olds than C:T horses of similar pedigree.  Winners of the Irish Oaks, Derby, St. Leger and the Melbourne Cup have been identified as T:T.

Not only is this test useful for stallion owners so that they know how their stallions will work, but foals / yearlings tested give trainers and owners the information which allows the animal to be trained for distances appropriate for their inherent abilities.

While none of Widden’s or Swettenham’s stallions are T:T, as testing becomes more widespread, no doubt T:T identified stallions will emerge.

In response to the growing demand to own a stayer, auction house Inglis has come up with an initiative which will debut at the 2013 Melbourne Premier sale. They are incorporating a ‘Blue Riband’ sector into Session 1, which will offer yearlings bred to excel over middle and staying distances. In keeping with the high standard at this sale, the pedigrees of the 49 selected lots are not only stamina based, but commercial.

“We have yearlings by High Chaparral, Shamardal, Pentire, Big Brown, Street Cry, Encosta De Lago, Redoute’s Choice and Street Cry, amongst others,” said Director, Peter Heagney. “We even have one by Choisir!  It’s not always the sire line that we have identified – we have also considered the progeny of stamina bred mares in making our selections.”

According to Racing Victoria, the definition of a staying race is that which is 2200 metres or over, so using that as our starting point, we’ve looked at the 2011-12 Australian racing season to ascertain from where our best stayers have been emanating.

There were sixty individual winners of stakes races held over 2200 metres and upwards and you may be surprised to know that only eight (13%) of those were Northern Hemisphere bred horses. They were by eight different sires (see Table 1.)

Interestingly, twelve individuals were by nine New Zealand based stallions and the remaining forty were Australian breds by 29 different sires.

Individual Winners of Staying Stakes Races (2200m+) in Australia 2011-12

Table 1.

Of course, the bloodlines of our racehorses are largely global these days, so it is perhaps more relevant to look at the actual sire lines from which these stayers are emanating (see Table 2).

Individual Winners of Staying Stakes Races (2200m+) in Australia 2011-12

Table 2.

As I mentioned earlier, the female side of the pedigree is equally important in contributing distance characteristics to the progeny. Looking more holistically at the pedigrees of the sixty individual stakes winners, it’s revealed that a high ratio (42%) carry either Sadler’s Wells, his brother Fairy King or their three quarter brother, Nureyev. (see Table 3.)

This may be more easily digested when you consider that Galileo, High Chaparral and Montjeu for instance, are from the Sadler’s Wells line, while Zabeel is out of a Nureyev mare. Fairy King is on the sire line of Helenus and Encosta De Lago.

Individual Winners of Staying Stakes Races (2200m+) in Australia 2011-12

Table 3.


A search through the pedigrees and race records of stallions established and not yet established in Australia reveals the following information.  Of course, not everybody who buys a young horse will be buying at a commercial sale, so therefore I have included stallions whose progeny are not generally offered at these sales.

Of the 45 stallions which went to stud in 2009 (of all levels, from commercial to private), Duke of Marmalade (standing in NSW), Prince Arthur (NSW), Redoute’s Dancer (Vic) and Super Kid (SA) were the only ones to have won a stakes race above 2200 metres. The progeny of that crop of stallions are only current two year olds.

Last season (2011), there were 47 new stallions. Of those, only Monaco Consul (NSW), Roman Emperor and Rebel Raider (Vic) won a stakes race at 2200 metres or further.

Only 39 new Stallions went to stud this season. Of those, Gio Ponti (NSW), Illustrious Blue (Vic) and So You Think (NSW) won black type at staying distances.

Of the 92 Freshman sires going to stud back in 2010, only two – Annenkov (NSW) and Hala Bek (WA) – have earned black type over a staying distance.

Looking at Table 4, you can see the sires which have produced stakes winners at 2200 metres or beyond. The 29 individual sires of the forty Australian bred distance race winners are spread as illustrated, with Galileo taking honours as the most prolific, siring four of the forty individual winners. Galileo is no longer shuttling and the second most prolific, Jeune, deceased, this information is chiefly academic. Of the five stallions which has two individual winners, only Al Maher and Blackfriars are currently standing. The chart therefore appears chiefly academic, however sons of Galileo are now standing in Australia, so this information is not irrelevant.


Number of Individual Winners per Australian Based Sire:

Staying Stakes Races (2200m+) in Australia 2011-12

Table 4.

There are several established stayer producing stallions (with runners three years old or older) in Australia.


Al Maher (Danehill)

While the average winning distance of Al Maher progeny is only 1432m, he has produced more than the odd classy performer over longer distances. Dance With Her is to-date second in the 2400m Brisbane Cup and a Listed winner at 2350m,. She is out of a Tights (Nijinsky II) mare.  King Lionheart (Manntari) has won up to 2200m and Unchain My Heart (Prince of Birds – Storm Bird) won a Listed race over 2800m. Kinnersley (Geiger Counter) has won up to 2200m.

Blackfriars (Danehill)

This Champion Sire is a consistent source of middle and staying distance progeny. Not only did he produce two stakes winners 2200m and upwards (Pop Culture and Rohan) but a further four individuals who won stakes races at 1600m to 2199m (God Has Spoken, Playing God, Moneghetti and Rosie Rocket ).

Blackfriars was a VRC Derby winner and is out of a Grosvenor (Sir Tristram) mare.

Dylan Thomas (Ire) (Danehill)

Winner of the 2400m Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, Dylan Thomas’ Australian progeny are currently two year olds.  Overseas he has produced several stakes performers over longer distances, his oldest being three year olds.

Desert King (Ire) (Danehill)

This seasoned stallion boasts triple Melbourne Cup winner Makybe Diva as his figurehead. He has produced a further three Group 1 winners in Australia and Europe in the 2200m-plus category.

Desert King’s dam is by the great Nureyev, a three quarter brother to Sadler’s Wells. His Australian bred Group 1 winners are out of mares by Riverman and Last Tycoon.

Golden Snake (USA) (Danzig)

The sire of 2012’s Italian Group 1 winning star Quiza Quiza Quiza, Golden Snake’s ‘local’ talent include Hissing Sid, the dual winner of the Warrnambool Cup and whose nine wins stretch to a distance of 3300m. Hissing Sid is out of a mare by Melbourne Cup winner At Talaq, so there’s no surprise that he is able to excel at stamina distances.

WA Group 1 winner over 2100m, Gilded Venom (dam by Delgado) is a half brother to VRC Newmarket Hcp winner Scenic Blast, a top class sprinter. This demonstrates the stamina influence that Golden Snake offered their dam, Daughter’s Charm.

Helenus (Helissio)

A grandson of Fairy King, Australian Derby winner Ethiopia and BMW Stakes winner Cedarberg head his stakes winners.  Both are out of mares by Spectrum (Rainbow Quest), with Cedarberg carrying Nureyev through his second damsire, Zabeel. Helenus’ other two stakes winners are out of mares by Marauding (Sir Tristram) and Woodman (Mr. Prospector).

Bringing the brothers Sadler’s Wells and Fairy King together in a mating would be an interesting stamina pattern for Helenus.

High Chaparral (Ire) (Sadler’s Wells)

High Chaparral’s top class performance as a stallion rides on his New Zealand and European sired progeny, who have an AWD of just under 2000m.  His oldest Aussie breds are only yearlings.

Hold That Tiger (USA)           (Storm Cat)

No longer standing in Australia but with yearling progeny here, Hold That Tiger had a good season last year, producing two stakes winners at staying distances. Red Typhoon (ex mare by Bluebird, thereby duplicating Storm Bird) and Apprehend (mare by Touching Wood) are his representatives.

Reset (Zabeel)

By proven stayer-getter Zabeel (who is out of a Nureyev mare), Reset has produced several top class runners above 2200m. Rebel Raider (out of a Dehere mare) and Vatuvei (Rivotious) come to mind. Third in the VRC Oaks (2400m), the Cox Plate heroine Pinker Pinker (Success Express) may have also won in this category but for her untimely death.

Savoire Vivre (Ire) (Sadler’s Wells)

Tasmanian based Savoire Vivre has produced three stakes performers (of 13) which have performed at 2200m or further. Tasmanian Derby winner Methuselah  (dam by Weasel Clause), Benalla Gold Cup winner Rhumb Line (Keltrice) and VRC Bagot Stakes placegetter Viva Delspec  (Aliocha) demonstrate that Savoire Vivre is living up to the great strike rate sons of Sadler’s Wells have in the stayer producer department.

Shamardal (USA) (Giant’s Causeway)

While he is no longer gracing our shores, Shamardal’s last Australian crop will step through the ring in 2013. Assisted by Faint Perfume’s damsire Zabeel, Shamardal’s daughter was a Group 1 winner up to 2500m.

Street Cry (USA) (Machiavellian)

A half brother to Shamardal’s dam, Street Cry has also produced Group 1 winning middle distance and staying horses. Shocking (ex mare by Danehill) won a Melbourne Cup.

Teofilo (Ire) (Galileo)

Teofilo has demonstrated early on that he can throw a stayer. His oldest are European three year olds, but the current average winning distance of his progeny is 1878m and as they further mature, this may lengthen. His Group 3 winner (2200m) Light Heavy was third in the Gr.1 Irish Derby over 2800m.

Valixir (Ire) (Trempolino)

A dual Group 1 winner and a Group 2 winner over 2800m, Valixir’s oldest Australian progeny are four year olds. Of his 15 winners to-date, his best performed is the WATC Melvista Stakes (2200m) winner, Lethal Jones (ex mare by Arena). A complete outcross for most Australian bred mares, it’s not surprising that he clicked with Arena, a stamina biased son of Danehill.


Annenkov (Ire) (Danehill)

A winner over 2400 metres in France, Annenkov is an OTI import which also won three races here up to 2000 metres. He is a full brother to Aquarelliste, a triple Group 1 winner up to 2400m and Artiste Royale, a dual Group1 winner up to 2400m. He is out of a mare by Manila (by Lyphard).

Standing in NSW, his oldest progeny are yearlings.

Authorized (Ire) (Montjeu)

By Sadler’s Wells’s son Montjeu, Authorized is an English Derby winner (2400m). His sire produced two AJC Australian Derby winners and of course, the 2012 Melbourne Cup winner, Green Moon.

Discorsi (Galileo)

Discorsi’s sire Galileo had the highest number of individual winners at 2000m-plus in the 2011/12 racing year in Australia. Tanby, Sea Galleon, Niwot and Galizani successfully represented him.

 A half brother to triple Group 1 winner Sea Siren, Discorsi stands in WA.

Duke Of Marmalade (Ire) (Danehill)

With oldest progeny only two year olds, Duke Of Marmalade is yet to have a Southern Hemisphere runner. His European crop has to-date produced a 2yo stakes placegetter who has won over 2000m.

Grey Swallow (Ire) (Daylami)

Grey Swallow’s oldest progeny are only three year olds. To-date he has only had eight starters (for two winners). Irish Champion Older Horse (11-14f) in 2006, he is out of a mare line bred to Stolen Hour. This is also the family of Redoute’s Choice, Domesday, Umatilla, Hurricane Sky, Try My Best, etc. It would be interesting to further line breed to this family by using mares by one of the stallions mentioned.

Grey Swallow’s sire Daylami was represented at this year’s Spring Carnival by Voila Ici, which ran second in the Group 1 VRC Underwood  Stakes and midfield in the Melbourne Cup.

Hal Bek (Ire) (Halling)

A freshman stallion in WA, Hala Bek won at 2200metres and was fourth in the English Derby (2400m).  Hala Bek is out of a Sadler’s Wells mare, affirming his ability to pass on stamina. Combined with the largely sprint type pedigreed mares in Western Australia, he should be able to produce a good middle to distance type.

New Approach (Ire) (Galileo)

On Darley’s Victorian roster, English Derby winner New Approach is another representative of the great Galileo.


As mentioned earlier, there are an encouraging group of quality stamina bred stallions standing in Australia yet to have yearlings. With various sectors of the industry seemingly committing to producing and offering this product, it will be very interesting to see if the buying public grab the stayer by the tail and hang on for the long ride.


  1. Alan Broder says:

    Hello Jane

    I read this article when you first published it. I enjoyed the research and the thoughts put into it.
    Over the last couple of mating seasons we , our little group of like minded breeders have tried our best with limited fund to produce a middle distance stayer type as well as a TT type that could be a suitable 3200m type.
    Using Danira (Danehill ) we put Artie Schiller to her, producing Nearctic Chiller, who hasn’t shown as yet he can run over 2000m. After visiting Written Tycoon , her next produce is a tall rangey staying type, now a 2yo called Tycoon Tyke …..experimenting back to your guidelines she went to Monaco Consul and has produced a spectacular colt. Now a healthy 21 year old, Danira was still cycling after giving birth and she was served by. Lope de Vega. Lots of interesting bloodlines mixed …. Fingers crossed.
    In the meantime, Daniras unrated daughter called Tikhii Don, by Sholokhov, injured at birth, has produced 2 beautiful staying looking type by Desert King and Monaco Consul. Exciting breeding experimentation.
    Next year when we get Izara ( Arazi) back from a lease we will put her to Monaco Consul.
    So you see there are some out there in cyber space who read and take in the ideas of the specialists in the field. I thank you for your publications.
    I look forward to read about the success of the Equinome cc , ct, txt studies.
    Very best regards
    Alan Broder. BSc, MD Ag, Dip Ed etc.etc

    • Thanks Alan for your interesting comment. It’s great to see people putting so much thought into their matings and I am sure you will be justly rewarded!
      Cheers Jane

  2. Wayne Reardon says:

    Hi Jane, Read with interest your article on selecting a middle distance runner and potential sires and I scan the results daily to check on their success rate. I am a keen So You Think student and I don’t think I am alone there. I wonder what you think of crossing him with Red Ransom mares e.g Domesday. I also would like to here what your thoughts are on the success rate of horses depending on their foaling sequence e.g. first foal etc.

    • Hi Peter
      I’m also a So You Think fan. Looking at a mating with a Domesday mare, you have some nice reinforcement of families such as Torpenhow and Alope as well as creating a Nijinsky II /Storm Bird cross.

      Re foaling sequence – I don’t think there is much difference in the success of progeny based on their foaling sequence – while a mare is in her peak breeding years I think it has more to do with the stallions she is sent to. Smart breeders often send their maiden mares to proven stallions to kick them off. There are significantly more stakes winners produced out of younger mares, however this is simply because mares that have been unsuccessful over the first five or six years get culled from commercial breeding programs; die; or are bred to failed/ineffective stallions (in effect the same as being culled). Also old mares obviously have a lower fertility rate than young mares, so overall we see less stakes winners out of old mares.
      Cheers Jane

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