Bjorn Nielsen and Stradivarius at Clarehaven StablesNewmarket 8.8.22 Pic: Edward Whitaker

Fee and fun initiatives unveiled as Stradivarius joins the National Stud | Bloodstock News

Edward Whitaker

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Bjorn Nielsen and Stradivarius at Clarehaven StablesNewmarket 8.8.22 Pic: Edward Whitaker

Edward Whitaker

Good Morning Bloodstock is Martin Stevens’ daily morning email and presented online as a sample.

Here, he speaks to the National Stud’s Anna Kerr about their new but already very famous stallion. Subscribers can get more great insight from Martin every Monday to Friday.

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There’s always significant pressure for studs when launching the career of a new stallion – deciding on the fee, getting all the marketing material in place and drumming up support from breeders – but it’s even more crucial to get everything right when the horse in question has a huge public following, as is the case with the National Stud’s new recruit Stradivarius.

The Newmarket operation’s chief executive officer Anna Kerr and her team are facing that challenge now, and to that end they have been at Tattersalls during the last fortnight spreading the word about the all-time great stayer and fielding inquiries into his new life, including what the all-important introductory covering fee will be.

The answer to that, Good Morning Bloodstock can reveal, is £10,000.

Explaining how that figure was decided, Kerr said: “We looked at the horse as an individual and all that he achieved on the racecourse alongside his pedigree and amazing sire Sea The Stars, as well as comparing him with other sires available in that price range, and felt that £10,000 was a fair reflection of all that.

“The thing is, with a horse of this reputation and profile, you find that everyone has an opinion, so we did a lot of listening to breeders and other stallion studs and took it all on board. It’s all just trying to get a feeling of where the market is.”

And what sort of feedback is being received at Tattersalls?

“It’s been interesting talking to people here, everyone’s really intrigued by the horse,” she said. “We’ve already had a significant number of inquiries in terms of nominations and breeding rights. We’ll only be selling a limited number of breeding rights, because it’s important to us that we have people support the horse through his stud career and particularly those tricky early years for any stallion. That’s been overwhelmingly positive. 

“The really important time for him will be when he parades at the National Stud during the December sales, and I expect we’ll have lots of people coming to see him. I think people will be impressed by what they see, as he has an amazing personality. He eyes you up as much as vice versa, and he doesn’t just walk – he struts.”

There has been plenty of debate over whether Stradivarius will cover Flat mares, jumps mares or both, but his new custodians are at pains not to pigeonhole him.

“When he’s not an out-and-out sprinter and not a typical jumps stallion, there’s no need to put him in a bracket – it’s actually just about breeding a racehorse with him,” says Kerr.

“What Stradivarius brings to the table in terms of his phenomenal acceleration, stamina and incredible toughness and tenacity is unique. I’d say, if you have a mare who lacked a change of gear, or stamina, or class, or a little soundness, he could put any or all of that in.”

Stradivarius might have carried the silks of his owner and breeder Bjorn Nielsen but it almost feels at times as though he is public property, as he has been such an outstanding ambassador for Flat racing over his heroic seven-season campaign.

Mark Cranham (

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Stradivarius continued to thrill as an eight-year-old this year

Stradivarius continued to thrill as an eight-year-old this year

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The National Stud team are keenly aware of the horse’s dual role as commercial stallion and living monument to all the best qualities of the modern thoroughbred.

“That’s really important to us,” Kerr emphasised. “It’s a tremendous responsibility not only to Bjorn, but also to racing fans and those who have taken the horse to their hearts over the years. We want to retain the public connection with him, as there’s a massive opportunity here to showcase British breeding to a much wider audience. It’s an immense privilege and we’re mindful of that.”

A host of ideas and initiatives are consequently being put into place so that racing fans can continue to follow Stradivarius in his second career.

“He’ll be included on the Discover Newmarket tour route through the National Stud, which runs on a regular basis from February to October,” said Kerr. “We’re also very excited for 2024, when his first foals start to arrive, so that we can show the characteristics he’s passing on. We’ll make sure plenty of those foals are on the tour route too, so people can see them and connect them with him.”

The desire to show off Stradivarius will need to be balanced with health and safety concerns, of course, so a degree of expectation management will be needed for future visitors to the stud.

“All the horses on our farm are working animals, so it will be very much an insight into the day-to-day running of a farm, not like the Kentucky Horse Park where you can go up and pat them and feed them Polo mints,” says Kerr. “It’s about seeing them in their everyday environment.”

She added that there will also be ‘Stradcams’ that show the young sire settling into his new surroundings and getting used to his new job, and a micro-share syndicate to purchase a mare to go to him, so that her progress through pregnancy and motherhood can be charted, along with the subsequent foal’s journey to the sales.

“We’re looking to sign up 250 to 300 people for the syndicate and the shares are already selling like hot cakes,” exclaimed Kerr.

Reflecting more generally on the happy new chapter for the National Stud, she said: “Bjorn had spoken to a lot of different farms as it was such a big decision – obviously the horse is very important to him, after enjoying the most incredible ownership experience you can have in the sport and with a homebred too, and he wanted to be able to continue to see him, and know that the people managing him have the horse’s best interests at heart and believe in him like he does.

“We’re just delighted to have such a prolific, consistent and top-class son of the great Sea The Stars, who is emerging as a sire of sires through the likes of Sea The Moon and soon Baaeed, and we really do believe that the £10,000 fee is extraordinarily good value.”

Indeed, a more admirable racehorse would be hard to find in the upper echelons of the stallion market, let alone the lower to middle market he is being pitched into. Let’s hope he gets the support he deserves.

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“The problem it has is attitudes and, more importantly, management, which mean it hasn’t changed with the passing of time – and I think that’s being quite kind,” says renowned sports promoter Barry Hearn as he calls for British racing to embrace drastic change.

Pedigree Pick

The Paddy Twomey-trained three-year-old filly Bua’s debut in a six-furlong maiden at Dundalk on Friday evening (8.30) appears rather belated for one with such a precocious pedigree, but maybe she can start making up for lost time.

Bua, a 115,000gns Tattersalls October Book 1 yearling buy who will carry the colours of Ennistown Stud, was bred by Yeomanstown Stud from its totemic sire Dark Angel, and is the second foal out of the Elzaam mare Clem Fandango, who won the Harry Rosebery Stakes and finished placed in the Queen Mary Stakes, Weatherbys Super Sprint and Cornwallis Stakes at two.

The apple fell closer to the tree in the case of Clem Fandango’s first foal Ivory Madonna. Another Dark Angel filly, she finished third in the Albany Stakes at Royal Ascot this summer.

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