Arrowfield News

The Myth of the November mating

Should breeders worry about their mares being served in November? It's time to challenge common assumptions about later-born foals...


The Arrowfield-bred Caulfield Guineas G1 winner Super Seth is one of several current stars with an October birthday. (PHOTO: Bronwen Healy)

The Myth of the November mating

It’s about now that breeders sometimes begin to fret about missing the chance for a September foal, because their mares haven’t conceived during October.

It’s an understandable concern, especially for commercial breeders, because there’s a widespread perception that yearlings born in October, November or, heaven forbid,  December are marked down in the marketplace.

And that’s because later-born horses are believed to take time to catch up to their early-born peers which disadvantages them, particularly as juveniles, when most Australian owners & trainers want horses to begin racing.  

But how well-founded are these assumptions? Let’s take a look first at a list of Champions and past & current Group 1 winners born from 1 October to 10 December: 

LONHRO 10 December
DUNDEEL18 November
RORY’S JESTER17 November
PIERATA16 November
NATURE STRIP 16 November
DANZERO15 November
SO YOU THINK10 November
RED TRACER9 November
BIVOUAC4 November
FLYING SPUR4 November
KOLDING3 November
WEEKEND HUSSLER3 November
DISSIDENT2 November
CRITERION31 October
MICROPHONE29 October
SHAMUS AWARD28 October
LOTTERIA27 October
COURTZA25 October
LANKAN RUPEE24 October
STARCRAFT21 October
MARSCAY20 October
STRATUM20 October
NORTHERLY17 October
HALLOWED CROWN 17 October
NORZITA17 October
APACHE CAT13 October
MOSHEEN13 October
FASHIONS AFIELD12 October
SUNLIGHT9 October
HA HA9 October
TIE THE KNOT9 October
OCTAGONAL8 October
WRITTEN BY6 October
PRESS STATEMENT5 October
PIERRO5 October
PRINCE FAWAZ4 October
FLIT 4 October
RUSSIAN REVOLUTION3 October
SAMANTHA MISS2 October
CRYSTAL LILY1 October

It’s far from a definitive list but it does include several horses that were the best 2YOs of their year, as well as horses who blossomed as 3YOs and trained on. This suggests that birth-date shouldn’t be given too much weight as a limitation on class and natural athletic ability. 

Looking next at Arrowfield’s most recent stakes-winning graduates, offered at the 2013-18 Inglis Easter, Magic Millions Gold Coast, Inglis Melbourne & Inglis Classic Sales, we find that 18 (33%) of our 54 Stakeswinners and 5 (29.4%) of our 17 Group 1 winners were born in either October or November. The five later-born Group 1 winners are:

Champion 2YO Colt INVADER – foaled 1 October
Caulfield Guineas winner SUPER SETH – 3 October
Two-time Group 1 winner KENEDNA – 4 October
Champion 2YO ESTIJAAB  – 10 October
Oaks winner ABBEY MARIE – 12 November

But what percentage of Arrowfield’s foals are born on or after 1 October?

Taking four recent crops 2015-18 as a representative sample, 366 (35.5%) of the total 1030 foals born on the farm arrived during that later part of the season.  So this group seems to be providing a proportion of Arrowfield stakeswinners that more or less matches their representation among our foal crops.

Finally, and importantly for commercial breeders, how do buyers assess yearlings with later-season birth-dates? One way of measuring this is to look at the 59 $1 million+ yearlings Arrowfield has sold since 2001. 

It turns out that 14 (23.7%) of those yearlings were born in October, November or December. They include sale-topper Groundswell (bought for $2.3 million with a 26 October birthday, and now a Group 1 performer as a Spring 3YO); Golden Slipper-winning filly Estijaab ($1.7 million, 10 October); Group 3 2YO winner Stronger ($1.05 million, 28 October) and Listed winner Estee ($2.1 million, 15 November).

So a later birth-date does not appear to be an automatic reason for deleting a yearling from the bid-lists of the industry’s leading buyers working at the top of the market. 

That’s supported by a broader view of the current yearling market, based on the 10 top-priced lots as listed online for the 2019 Inglis Easter, Melbourne & Classic Sales, and the Magic Millions Gold Coast, National, Adelaide, Perth & Tasmanian Sales. This shows that 27 (33.7%) of those 80 horses have birthdays after 30 September. 

James Harron, the buyer of several later-born stakeswinners, including Champion 2YO Vancouver and Group 3-winning juvenile Stronger, confirms what those figures tell us.

He says, “Birth-date is a factor we consider but we place much more weight on our assessment of physique and temperament. If we love the horse on those scores, a later birth-date won’t put us off.”

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