By Ric Chapman
When Darley came to Australia in 2001, everyone connected with Thoroughbred breeding sensed it was going to be a move of significance.
In that first year, Darley didn't have a farm but did bring four stallions. They pitched their tent in the Hunter Valley and promoted the foursome heavily. Three years later, Sheikh Mohammed's Darley Australia operation has revealed its hand. They want to take over.
At Rosehill Gardens racecourse in late March, Olly Tait, the manager of Darley's rapidly expanding operation in Australia, said the farm would stand 14 stallions this year--all of world-class quality and at dramatically reduced prices.
"If the broodmare owner who sends a mare to us succeeds, that means we do too," Tait said simply. And the farm's strategy, which was also announced at Rosehill, actually appears as if Darley isn't overly concerned about stud fees--just mares.
Last year, Darley stood 10 stallions and attracted 785 mares. "That was pleasing but to help broodmare owners even further this year, anyone who wants to use a Darley stallion will have their shipping costs to and from the farm paid for by Darley," Tait said. This year, with four more stallions and stud fees reduced to make them attractive to any broodmare owner, combined with the travel rebate and Darley's easy to acquire foal share deals, means that 785 may well double.
That would make a very intrusive inroad into the New South Wales broodmare population, which sits at around 6,000. This, one assumes, will force the hands of Coolmore, Vinery, Emirates Park, Woodlands, and Arrowfield, Australia's other large studs.
Those 'selected' paying clients who sent mares to the upper echelon of Darley stallions last year will note the fees for those same stallions are significantly cheaper this year. To compensate for this, Darley has a rebate in the form of 'stud fee credit' of sorts, for Elusive Quality and Carnegie, if those owners want to visit the same stallion again this year.
Further incentives apply on payment, too. "All service fees are payable on live foal at birth, (this is exclusive to Darley in Australia) and another part of the Darley deals is that Darley is also offering some 'pay when you sell' nominations and significant foal share deals," assured John Sunderland, Darley's stud manager. "We have implemented these following breeder feedback. It's the little things that irritate broodmare owners, and if we can iron out some of those it helps make us competitive."
In New South Wales, where the farm is located, a racing incentive scheme is in place called BOBS. It provides owners that racehorses by stallions in the BOBS program an opportunity to make significant gains in prize money if the stud where those stallions stand have paid a levy to make the stallions eligible. Darley is the first major farm to nominate all of its stallions to the BOBS program.
"We've reduced the fees of every one of our stallions we stood last year, and brought in four newcomers at exceptional value," said Tait. "Added to that, our terms have become even more generous, and in 2004 we are also offering free transport to all mares traveling to the Hunter Valley to visit our stallions.
"We realize our stallions can only succeed if the breeders who patronize them do well, and we are doing our level best to make sure breeders who choose Darley stallions for their mares thrive in business."
Darley's 2004 stallion fees (including GST):
Elusive Quality (Gone West--Touch of Greatness) $55,000 (U.S. $41,000)
Carnegie (Sadler's Wells--Detroit) $33,000 (U.S. $24,600)
King's Best (Kingmambo--Allegretta) $27,500 (U.S. $20,500)
Fantastic Light (Rahy--Jood) $27,500 (U.S. $20,500)
Dubai Destination (Kingmambo--Mysterial) $22,000 (U.S. $16,500)
Cape Cross (Green Desert--Park Appeal) $16,500 (U.S. $12,300)
Street Cry (Machiavellian--Helen Street) $16,500 (U.S. $12,300)
Grandera (Grand Lodge--Bordighera) $11,000 (U.S. $8,100)
Tobougg (Barathea--Lacovia) $8,800 (U.S. $6,600)
Xaar(Zafonic--Monroe) $8,800 (U.S. $6,600)
E Dubai (Mr. Prospector--Words of War) $8,800 (U.S. $6,600)
Lujain (Seeking the Gold--Satin Flower) $7,700 (U.S. $5,800)
Untouchable (Danehill--Canny Miss) $7,700 (U.S. $5,800)