Perhaps it was a more brutal than usual first-season sire table in which a handful of names pulled clear early, with many of those left trailing in their wake struggling at the sales, or perhaps it was the shakier market generally this year that forced buyers to think hard about resale value; but I’m sure I detected pinhookers gravitating a little more towards youngsters
who should stay a mile and upwards in recent months.
Some players, at least, seem to be waking up to the idea that throwing in their lot with a sharp and speedy second or third-crop sire in the hope that his early two-year-olds shine is an unnecessary risk, and that buying horses with classier, less pace-orientated pedigrees, perhaps by more proven sires, is a safer investment.
Versatility is coming back into fashion, I hope and think, and the hugely popular Haras de Colleville resident Galiway is one of the poster boys for its resurgence.
The son of Galileo has shown that he can get top-class performers on the Flat, not least with Sealiway taking some big scalps when winning the Champion Stakes at Ascot in 2021 and his full-brother Sunway striking in the Criterium International at Saint-Cloud this season, but he is also highly effective in the National Hunt sphere.
The Willie Mullins-trained Gala Marceau and Vauban are his flagbearers over obstacles, with the last-named gelding typical of the multi-purpose
mastery of this line.
He won champion juvenile hurdles at Leopardstown, Cheltenham and Punchestown in 2022 and took the Copper Horse Handicap at Royal Ascot and Ballyroan Stakes at Naas this year. He went off favourite for the Melbourne Cup but didn’t put his best foot forward in Flemington. It’s safe to say he’ll bounce back, though.
Galiway’s stock has consequently sold like hot cakes this year. His yearlings, bred off a €12,000 fee, sold for an average of 78,000gns and median of 70,000gns in Europe, with some memorable touches for pinhookers along the way.
His three three-year-old stores to go under the hammer in Ireland in the summer, still bred off his bargain-basement opening fee of €3,000 and presumably sourced by vendors for reasonable sums, made €250,000, €90,000 and €90,000. Each and everyone was bought by a certain WP Mullins.
David Stack, the master of Coolagown Stud in Fermoy, County Cork, saw which way the wind was blowing, in terms of the market craving versatile horses with resale potential and Galiway’s stock fitting the bill, and resolved to find a son of the stallion for himself.
The result is that he has entered a partnership with the Chehboub family of Haras de Beaumont to stand their multiple stakes winner Kenway (pictured below) from next year.
“I’d been looking for a different angle, but something Irish breeders would be comfortable with and not find completely outlandish, for a while,” says Stack. “It was at the Goffs Arkle Sale in the summer when I saw those three stores sell for big money, all to Willie, that I thought he must know what he’s doing, and I’d be crazy not to look into getting on board.
“It fitted in with the impression I was getting that cheap speed isn’t quite so popular at the moment, and seeing traders targeting horses who won over a mile or further: those who will have some resale value if they work out all right.
“So I pinpointed Kenway and got on the phone to Haras de Beaumont’s Mathieu Alex, with whom I have a very good relationship. I went over to France to see the horse in August and was very struck by him, and we came to an agreement. They had the same outlook on how to promote him, and what they wanted him to be as a stallion.”
Kenway was another versatile son of Galiway, winning half a dozen times between six and a half furlongs and nine and a half furlongs. He was tough
too, making his debut in the March of his two-year-old season and still running with credit at the age of six this year.
The attractive chestnut also has an intriguing pedigree that combines different distance elements. He is out of dual Group 3 winner and Prix de la Foret third Kendam, by Galiway’s Colleville colleague Kendargent, which makes him bred on the same cross as Sealiway, Sunway, and Gala Marceau.
Furthermore, the dam is a full-sister to Kenfreeze, a seven-furlong Listed scorer on heavy, and further back it is the family of high-class sprinters Asset, Myboycharlie and Snowland.
That profile suggests Kenway could do both Flat and jumps breeders a good turn, and he is being marketed accordingly.
“I know the term ‘dual-purpose’ has been misused over the years, when stallion masters haven’t wanted to admit that a top Flat horse is going to cover jumps mares, but when we say Kenway is dual-purpose we really mean it,” says Stack. “With this lad it’s actually realistic.
“Galiway and Kenway are all about versatility. The sire gets two-year-old Group 1 winners, milers, middle-distance horses and jumpers, and Kenway
is proof of that.
“We’re running a marketing campaign targeted at every breeder who has used a stallion for €7,000 and under in Ireland in recent years. We’re saying to them that Kenway might not have proven himself yet, but he has a good chance of getting you a proper racehorse, possibly even a two-year-old, and that he can help make your mare.”
Stack reports that he and Haras de Beaumont are putting their money where their mouths are, and have gone to market to buy five sisters to Group 1 winners on the Flat, over distances ranging from six to 12 furlongs, and three sisters to Grade 1 winners over jumps, over trips between two miles and three miles and one furlong, with which to support
“I hope National Hunt breeders take the hint when Willie Mullins says he can’t get enough of Galiway,” continues Stack. “Here’s his only son standing outside of France, and at a tenth of the price. He stands 16.1 hands, and he has exceptional bone and physique. He really fills the eye, and I would encourage people to come and see him.
“He’s not unlike Sealiway, who I saw at Beaumont in the summer after his first season when he was the busiest sire in France. You can see why he was so popular with breeders. He’s also a very striking individual with lots of charisma and a cool, laid-back attitude.
“Kenway’s got the same great, loose, easy-going walk, too. In fact he’d almost give Way To Paris a run for his money in the walking stakes.”
He will stand alongside not just Way To Paris but also Storm The Stars and Zambezi Sun at Coolagown in 2024 at a fee of just €3,000.
“It’s a price that gives everyone a chance, and we’ll offer a filly concession too,” says Stack.
“What I’d say to breeders is come and speak to us and we’ll do our best to look after them one way or another.
“There was a lot of interest him at Goffs this week, people are definitely talking about him, and I’ve already taken a good few bookings”
Anyone who knows the king of Coolagown must be thinking I caught him on a day when he was being remarkably sane and serious. Fear not, for he soon reverted to the Davey we all know and, erm, tolerate.
“We’re going to be supporting the Kenways in the ring so make sure you put down that the breeders had better be nice to me,” he added, in a slice of classic Stack.
Joking apart, I think he has made a seriously astute decision to tap into the growing market trend of investment in versatile racehorses with the potential to accrue resale value. And to do so with a son of Galiway, who looks a bit of a game changer, might just be a masterstroke.