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Europe’s greatest sires of the past 20 years

Sarah Whitelaw examines 2 decades of European breeding excellence

With the likes of Galileo, Dubawi and Sea The Stars established as arguably the three hottest sires in the world, Europe has moved ahead of North America as the world’s leading sources of the most sought after stallions.  However, there have been a number of really outstanding stallions standing in Europe over the past two decades. Here is a short list of some sires whose legacy looks like reaching well into the next two decades – and beyond.

1 Sadler’s Wells

Sadler's Wells

Sadler’s Wells

The greatest, and most dominant, son of Northern Dancer, Sadler’s Wells accumulated a gross total of 18 general sires championships in three different countries. His 320 plus stakes winners included a stunning 80 G1 winners, and his offspring won major races all over the globe. Sadler’s Wells progeny won all five British classics, and all excelled in North America.

A great broodmare sire, Sadler’s Wells has headed that log in the UK on seven occasions, with his daughters producing such outstanding performers as Sakhee (Arc de Triomphe), Henrythenavigator (2000 Guineas), Taghrooda (Epsom Oaks), Peeping Fawn (Champion Filly), and Conduit (St Leger) – to mention a few. However, it is through such outstanding sire sons El Prado (sire of top US sires Kitten’s Joy and Medaglia D’Oro), In The Wings (sire of Singspiel), Montjeu (sire of four Epsom Derby winners) and Galileo (poised to be possibly even greater sire of sires than Sadler’s Wells himself), that Sadler’s Wells has cemented a true legacy.

2 Danehill



The all time leading sire of stakes winners in history, Danehill sired no fewer than 349 stakes winners and 89 G1 winners during his stud career. He was Champion Sire in UK three times and twice headed the general sires log in France. Broodmare sire of legendary champion Frankel, Danehill has built up a tremendous record as a sire of sires, with his European sire sons including two exceptional stallions in Danehill Dancer and Dansili. He is also broodmare sire of successful young sire Teofilo and sensational young French stallion Siyouni.

3 Galileo



Sadler’s Wells’ greatest sire son, Galileo is showing signs of becoming an even greater stallion than Sadler’s Wells himself. Winner of the 1998 Epsom Derby, Galileo, one of two outstanding sire sons produced by Arc winner and legendary broodmare Urban Sea, has been represented by an astounding 44 G1 winners, with his offspring including the highest rated horse in Timeform history – Frankel.

This year alone, Galileo has 33 individual Northern Hemisphere stakes winners to his credit, while three Galileo colts dominate the betting for the 2015 Investec Derby (a race won previously by Galileo colts New Approach, Ruler Of The World and Australia).
He is also an exceptionally promising sire of sires, with sons New Approach, Rip Van Winkle and Teofilo all sires of at least one G1 winner. With Galileo’s outstanding sons Frankel, Ruler Of The World, Roderic O’Connor, Australia, and US Champion Cape Blanco still to be represented by runners, Galileo’s stud record can only continue to go from strength to strength.

4 Monsun



Very few stallions in the modern era are capable of siring more than 10% stakes winners to foals. However, Germany’s four times champion sire Monsun was siring 15% SW to foals at the time of his death, and is widely regarded as one of the finest classic stallions to have stood in Europe over the past 30 years.

Sire of exceptional champions Manduro (Prince of Wales S), Shirocco (Breeders Cup Turf), Stacelita (French Oaks), Novellist (King George), Maxios (Prix Du Moulin) and Melbourne Cup hero Fiorente, Monsun is also becoming a highly successful broodmare sire. To date, G1 winners produced by Monsun mares include the German Derby winners Pastorius, Lucky Speed and Sea The Moon as well as the likes of Colour Vision, Sirius and Sortilege. Monsun’s son Samum was Champion Sire in Germany in 2008.

5 Machiavellian



A top-class stallion, Machiavellian was never champion sire in the UK but has left a real mark on the breed through his sons and daughters. One of Mr Prospector’s best bred sons and from the same family as Danehill, Machiavellian left behind 13 G1 winners on the flat a tally which includes French classic winners Tie Black Vettori and West Wind. Two of his sons won the Dubai World Cup, while Machiavellian’s stock won at the highest level over distances ranging from 1000m to 4000m.

However, it is as a sire of sires and broodmare sire that the late Machiavellian truly left his mark. His sire sons included the world leading sire Street Cry, as well as the hugely successful Medicean – in turn, the sire of top British stallion Dutch Art.

He is also the broodmare sire of leading European sires Shamardal and Dark Angel, while hot young sire Lope De Vega (whose first crop includes G3 winner Burnt Sugar) is inbred to Machiavellian.

6 Green Desert

Green Desert

Green Desert (photo by Shadwell)

Another top sire who was never champion, Green Desert has become a hugely successful sire of sires and broodmare sire. Damsire of such outstanding G1 winners as Makfi (2000 Guineas), Was (Epsom Oaks), and this year’s Irish Oaks winner Bracelet , Green Desert’s sire sons include three of Europe’s top stallions of the decade – Cape Cross, Invincible Spirit and Oasis Dream. Cape Cross is the sire of leading sire Sea The Stars and broodmare sire of this year’s Investec Derby hero Australia, while Invincible Spirit is the sire of superb miler Kingman and last season’s leading first crop sire in Australia, I Am Invincible.

7 Darshaan



Champion Sire in France in 2003, Darshaan was an exceptional sire, but became an even greater broodmare sire.

His son, Horse Of The Year Dalakhani, is himself one of Europe’s top sires, and leading outcross sires, having already been represented by seven G1 winners to date, while another successful sire son of Darshaan’s was the late Mark Of Esteem (also broodmare sire of the dual French classic winner Avenir Certain).

To date, Darshaan daughters have produced 204 stakes winners, a tally which includes the classic winners Milan, Pour Moi and High Chaparral, the latter now one of the world’s leading stallions.

8 Indian Ridge

Indian Ridge

Indian Ridge

Ahonoora’s best sire son, Indian Ridge was a top-class stallion, whose offspring included two Breeders Cup Mile winners, champion sprinters, Irish classic winners, and numerous other Gr1 performers.

He is also an outstanding broodmare sire, and, in Compton Place, is the sire of one of the UK’s most reliable sources of high-class precocious sprinters.

Another son of Indian Ridge, Definite Article, is the sire of four time Irish St Leger hero Vinnie Roe.

Indian Ridge mares have produced the likes of Dancing Rain (Epsom Oaks), Excelebration (Prix Du Moulin), Wilko (Breeders Cup Juvenile) and Reel Buddy (Sussex Stakes), to name a few. Horses produced by Indian Ridge mares have won no fewer than ten Group races in 2014 alone.

These are just some of the most influential sires to have stood in Europe these past 20 years. No doubt, the next 20 will see another group of outstanding stallions make their mark.

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3 comments on “Europe’s greatest sires of the past 20 years

  1. Roy says:

    Great article Sarah. And again highlights what a stallion Northern Dancer was !

  2. anon says:

    No Pivotal??

  3. Trudy says:

    What about Montjeu???

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