What does it mean when a horse goes to stud?

Stud fees can push into hundreds of thousands of pounds for horses that produce a proven track record from its foals

Horse racing stud


When a racehorse finishes its career there’s a high chance that its owners will seek to put it out to stud. This is a horse racing term that effectively means it mates with female horses across the country – and sometimes the world – with the intent to produce the next generation of champion horses.

Breeding is a big deal in the industry but doesn’t often impact on the typical racing betting punter, who is more likely to focus on form, weight and the going as parameters to place to racing bet.

But it’s well worth knowing what the stud industry is all about and why owners do it. So, in Paddy Power’s latest Demystifying Racing guide, we take a look at what a horse going to stud is all about…

What is ‘going to stud’ in horse racing?

When a horse goes to stud it retires from racing to instead spend its days mating in order to (hopefully!) produce a champion racehorse. Stallions – male horses that hasn’t been gelded – can be said to be ‘standing at stud’ or ‘at stud service’, while broodmares – female horses – are sometimes said to be ‘out to breed’. Female horses are also known as mares or stud mares.

Horse racing stud

Owners aim to produce the next generation of champion horses (GETTY)

Covering (the term for equine insemination) takes place throughout the year with some stallions pairing up with over 100 mares. Pairings are recorded in a stud book, which tracks the lineage of all thoroughbred racehorses.

The reason for all this is to breed a racehorse with the similar characteristics of its sire and dam. It can be a bit of an expensive lottery but the industry evidently thrives on owners hoping they will hit the jackpot and produce the next iconic champion.

How much do stud fees cost?

Brace yourself. Stud fees for a single cover can go into the hundreds of thousands of pounds. Irish stallion Galileo, for example, supposedly has fees of £500,000. However, the majority of stud fees hover between £1,000 and £20,000, while only a handful of horses go over £50,000.

So is it worth it? Well, Galileo was himself sired by Sadler’s Wells, won the Epsom Derby, the Irish Derby and the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes in 2001, and has been champion stud every year since 2010. He’s more than proved his worth to his owners.

Meanwhile, Japanese horse Deep Impact commended over £300,000 per cover when he was at stud, while Frankel’s fees weren’t too far off that figure too.

However, sometimes the investment in a champion racehorse can prove costly. Fusaichi Pegasus was sold for around £45m after winning the 2000 Kentucky Derby but failed at stud. He sired a handful of race winners but his fees have plummeted to just £5,000.

As a punter you’re unlikely to hear much about the lineage of horses at the racetrack. Sometimes it makes a nice media story when a champion horse sires another, but in terms of horse racing betting the smarter directives to help you place your bets can be found in the form, weight and going.



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