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The new way to buy stallion nominations - click on eNeigh; THOUGHTS ON SUNDAY Bloodstock editor Martin Stevens reflects on the big events in the breeding industry.

AN INTERESTING development in America: Darley has launched an online auction for three nominations each to three of its best Kentucky-based stallions - Hard Spun, Lonhro and Medaglia D'Oro. The oS peration's droll punsters have dubbed it eNeigh.

The nominations will all be sold without reserve. Auctions run on from Tuesday until February 8. Breeders who have already signed contracts for the sires can still participate. If the winning bid is lower than the price in the existing contract they will pay the lower fee.

Charity auctions of stallion nominations in North America is nothing new, but it is rare for an operation to dip its toe into online bidding for commercial purposes. On the face of it, it looks a good idea.

It's an often-heard lament from independent breeders that the best stallions owned by Darley - who will cover a large number of mares owned by the Maktoum family and its associates - are difficult to get into, so this will offer them a second chance to use the fully subscribed American trio.

It will also provide Darley with some priceless market research: what are breeders prepared to pay to use stallions whose fees were decided in mid-November? When in December 2009 Shadwell - operating a strict limited book policy - put four nominations to Nayef on offer in an online auction hosted by Chepstows, they sold for an average of PS21,000 with a high of PS23,000. Nayef's advertised fee in 2010 was only PS15,000.

So not only could Darley's foray into online auctions engender good customer relations and give an idea of the value of its stallions, it could also be a good old-fashioned money-spinner.

New sire intrigue Another week brought news of more blue-chip broodmares set to visit the newly crowned dual world champion Frankel in the coming months.

The latest are Balance, a halfsister to Zenyatta, In Clover, the dam of dual Listed scorer Dream Clover, and Prix de l'Opera heroine Zee Zee Top, the dam of Izzi Top.

But other notable matings announced recently remind us that Frankel isn't the only new recruit to the stallion ranks who will have the weight of leading breeders behind him.

Nathaniel, who begins his stallion career at Newsells Park Stud, will be sent Sun Chariot Stakes heroine Spinning Queen, a 3 million-guinea purchase by Nathaniel's breeder Lady Rothschild.

The Aga Khan, meanwhile, will send 15 of his best mares including Zarkava to Redoute's Choice, who is shuttling to Europe for the first time and will stand at the Aga's Haras de Bonneval.

Below the upper echelons there is also a wider selection of new commercial stallions and some intriguing switches between studs this year.

All of which makes our new stallions supplement on Friday required reading for breeders. It contains detailed analysis of form and pedigree for every new stallion in Britain and Ireland, a round-up of stallion movements, an interview with Simon Sweeting of Overbury Stud, who is standing new recruit Delegator, and a special bloodstock jury with leading breeders and agents giving their views on the new intake.
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Date:Jan 20, 2013
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