Mehmas a record-breaker with first crop

thebreedingshed investigates how Tally-Ho Stud stallion Mehmas was became a record-breaking champion first-season sire in 2020.

A daughter of Machiavellian, Mehmas’s unraced dam Lucina has been mated with a variety of stallions who have provided her with five winners over a range of distances, from Mehmas himself up to the mile and a half winner Parvana who was by Galileo. Mehmas’s full brother Yasood didn’t win his first race, over a mile, until he was four, though he has since been a prolific winner in Italy.

Lucina had no fewer than eleven winning siblings, notably Blue Monday, a dual winner of Newbury’s Arc Trial, also successful in the La Coupe at Longchamp, and Group-1 placed in the Eclipse and Juddmonte International. Other descendants of Mehmas’s grandam Lunda include Avenir Certain, winner of both fillies’ classics in France in 2014, and the latest Royal Lodge Stakes winner New Mandate. This is a prolific family of group winners, with Lunda’s siblings Luso, Warrsan, Needle Gun and Cloud Castle to name but four of them. Luso and Warrsan were both Group 1 winners, Warrsan being a dual winner of both the Coronation Cup and Grosser Preis von Baden.

This is no family of precocious sprinters, therefore, but, by Acclamation, Mehmas turned out to be very much his father’s son. Sold for 62,000 guineas as a yearling, and then for 170,000 guineas as a two-year-old, Mehmas was trained by Ricoard Hannon for Al Shaqab Racing.

Mehmas raced only as a two-year-old but ran consistently over eight starts between the beginning of May and the end of September in 2016. He won his first two races, a maiden at Chester and a conditions race at Newbury, and finished second in his next two outings, the listed National Stakes at Sandown and then the Coventry Stakes at Royal Ascot in which he was beaten by one of the season’s top juveniles Caravaggio.

But he was soon back to winning form with Group 2 victories in the July Stakes at Newmarket and then the Ricomond Stakes at Goodwood in which he beat Blue Point by a neck conceding 3 lb to the runner-up who developed into a top-class sprinter later in his career. Mehmas was then placed in Group 1 company on his last two starts, finding only subsequent 2000 Guineas winner Churchill too good when stepping up to seven furlongs for the National Stakes at the Curragh and then finishing third behind The Last Lion and Blue Point in the Middle Park Stakes.

Acclamation had been a successful two-year-old himself, winning three of his five starts that season, including the very valuable St Leger Yearling Stakes at Doncaster. He went on to sire Dark Angel (like Mehmas, out of a mare by Machiavellian) whose retirement to stud at the end of his two-year-old season set a precedent that Mehmas was to follow. Mehmas’s win at Chester was the same race which Dark Angel had won nine years earlier, and the pair ended their racing careers in the same race too, though, unlike Mehmas, Dark Angel won the Middle Park.

Mehmas covered his first mares at Tally-Ho in 2017 at a fee of 12,500 (his 2021 fee is twice that) which resulted in 140 foals, more than a hundred of whom have run as two-year-olds. While the Flat season got off to a later start than usual in Britain on June 1st, that gave him plenty of firepower once racing did get under way. Here’s a timeline of how Mehmas’s record-breaking season unfolded.

  • June 2 – first winners Muker (Newcastle) and Bridge Dress Me (Rome)

  • June 17 – first runner to earn black type – Muker – 3rd in listed Windsor Castle Stakes, Royal Ascot

  • July 18 – first listed winner – Method – Rose Bowl Stakes, Newbury

  • July 22 – 10th winner – Samara Bay – nursery, Catterick

  • July 28 – most expensive yearling Line of Duty (?260,000) wins first race – conditions race, Yarmouth

  • July 30 – first group winner – Supremacy – G2 Ricomond Stakes, Goodwood

  • August 16 – 20th winner – Urban War – novice, Ripon

  • August 21 – second group winner – Minzaal – G2 Gimcrack Stakes, York

  • August 22 – second listed winner – Acklam Express – Roses Stakes, York

  • September 17 – 30th winner – Keeper of Time – maiden, Naas

  • September 26 – first Group 1 winner – Supremacy – Middle Park Stakes

  • October 3 – first winner outside Europe – Quattroelle – maiden, Santa Anita

  • October 19 – breaks record for number of European first-crop winners (38) – Good Escucharer – novice, Windsor

  • October 22 – 40th winner – Western Beat – conditions race, Chelmsford

  • December 2 – 50th winner – Drish Venture – nursery, Dundalk

  • December 26 – 56th winner – Chemeh – claimer, Siracusa

56 individual first-crop winners in total

55 winners in Europe (46 in GB/Ireland) and 1 in USA

A better appreciation of Mehmas’s success this year comes from comparing his statistics with those of the leading first-season sires of recent years. In the table below, which covers Britain and Ireland only, Cable Bay was the leading first-season sire in 2019 by prize money whereas Gutaifan had the most winners. In the other years the leading sire has been top by both criteria.

2017Society Rock8,000702435499,0000
2018No Nay Never20,000442231837,8335
2019Cable Bay?6,500552030593,2151
FEE = sire’s fee in first season; BTW = number of black-type winners

While it is true that Mehmas has had more runners than the other sires in the table, it can also be seen that he has had around twice as many individual winners, and wins, as can normally be expected from the season’s leading first-season sire.

Another interesting comparison is between Mehmas and studmate Kodiac. Kodiac set a Northern Hemisphere record of 61 two-year-old winners in 2017 and was top of the juvenile standings with his next two crops as well, but Mehmas has relegated him to second among sires of two-year-olds in 2020.

Most of the 78 races won by Mehmas’s two-year-olds have been over five or six furlongs (61 of them, or 78%), but, coming from a middle-distance family himself, by no means all of his runners will prove to be sprinters. That’s already evident from his first crop of two-year-olds which include, for example, Magnanimous, a seven furlong/mile winner from the family of the King Edward VII Stakes and Gran Voltigeur winner Pyledriver, and Western Beat who has already won over as far as a mile and a quarter.

Statistics from