Whenever you say Fairy Bridge, every horseman who is just a little in the picture will remember her son Sadler’s Wells. And rightly so. Bold Reason’s daughter Fairy Bridge went down to the history of racing by this stallion, excellent on the racecourse and almost invincible at stud. The stallion who gave us the great feeling of living in a historical moment was not the only son of Fairy Bridge successful at stud – his full brother Fairy King fared well too, the prematurely deceased Tate Gallery showed some talent too and half-brother Perugino did not get lost either.
It is difficult to say whether we have the sufficient distance to appreciate how exceptional stallion Sadler’s Wells was. Let us just remember his 294 black-type winners who made up as much as 13% of all his foals of racing age, 14 sire championship titles in England and Ireland and, last but not least, the production of the current number one among the global stallions, Galileo, Montjeu who does not lag behind much or the American champion sire El Prado. In short, to describe the impact of his dam Fairy Bridge, whose blood is to be found not just in hundreds of pedigrees of black-type winners but in thousands, just short of 10,000, is a topic which goes beyond the scope of this column.
Why was this mare chosen for this regular column today? The reason was the result of the Monday Ripon Champion 2yo Trophy, won by chestnut Alicante Dawn. Son of the leading sprinter Equiano, who has his third crop on the racecourse, is not just the ninth black-type winner of his sire and sixteenth black-type winner out of a dam by Rock of Gibraltar, but also, after a long time, the first black-type winner of the Fairy Bridge family.
Fairy Bridge produced nine named foals, six colts and three fillies. Besides Sadler’s Wells a Gr.1 race was won by Tate Gallery, who won the National Stakes as two-year-old and who during his short career at stud, ended tragically by aircraft accident, produced mainly the champion two-year-old filly in Europe, Lyric Fantasy. Fairy King raced just once, without success, but the lack of the racing career did not prevent him to achieve great things at stud, having produced seventy-three black-type winners (9% of foals of racing age), including aces such as Falbrav or Helissio. Perugino raced just once, although he won, did not achieve such excellent performance at stud as his half-brothers mentioned above but produced in Australia the very successful stallion Testa Rossa. A chance at stud was given also to unraced Classic Music and Hermitage but stud careers of both were short-lived and they have not left a trace.
Among the daughters of Fairy Bridge the best was Fairy Gold, the winner of the Gr.3 Debutante Stakes and the runner up in the Gr.1 Moyglare Stud Stakes. Unfortunately she died at five without any progeny. Puppet Dance, the winner of the Prix Soya (L) and the third in the Gr.3 Prix Eclipse, produced seven foals, of which six were runners, four winners but none scored in a stakes race. Her single daughter Tobiano, too, has failed to produce a black-type horse, although the balance can yet be improved by her progeny to debut yet, such as the two-year-old colt Waterville Dancer by Nathaniel or a yearling colt by Declaration of War.
Nijinsky’s daughter Fairy Dancer, third in the 1,000 Guineas Trial in Phoenix Park, was more fertile and successful. She produced sixteen foals, fifteen of them runners, ten winner, including the colt Monsajem, who placed three times in English listed races. Fairy Dancer is a mare through whom the Fairy Bridge family produces horses able to score in black-type races. Best was her granddaughter Aladeya, the unraced daughter of Machiavellian, who produced three black-type horses (Meiner Scherzi, Eishin Ichimonji and T Up Gold), of whom the first won the Gr.2 New Zealand Trophy. It was the victory of Meiner Scherzi, on June 1, 2007, that was, until Monday, the last black-type victory achieved by a horse from the Fairy Bridge family. Alicante Dawn, who brought the family back to attention after long nine years, is the half-brother of the Italian listed placed Recob, and their dam Sofonisba, unplaced during three seasons on the racecourse, is today the most successful broodmare of the Fairy Bridge family.
The results of the family are in stark contrast not just to the Rough Shod family but also to the family established by Fairy Bridge’s dam, Special by Forli. The family of the mare who went down to history as the dam of Nureyev, still produces champions, as are, among others, the winner of the British Champions Fillies’ and Mares’ Stakes Madame Chiang (her sire Archipenko comes out of the same family and Madame Chiang is thus 3x4 inbred to Special), the winner of the Gr.1 Metropolitan Handicap Corinthian and, mainly, the only horse to beat the legendary Zenyatta, the winner of the Breeders’ Cup Classic Blame or another of the Breeders’ Cup winners Wrote, who won the 2011 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf.
The results of Fairy Bridge as the producer of broodmares lag behind significantly behind her excellent results in the production of stallions. After all, with just two daughters at stud she did not have much of a chance to suceed and her family is not much likely to make a breakthrough in future. Leaving aside her own daughters, all black-type wins and places were achieved, with a single exception, by colts. The only filly is the granddaughter of Fairy Dancer, the French listed placed Quarayed by Dynaformer, at stud in the U.S., without any significant success so far .
Even without establishing a strong family Fairy Bridge is one of the most successful dams in the thoroughbred history. The whole Rough Shod family was famous as the family of sires. Fairy Bridge, as it transpires, only emphasised this with her achievements with male progeny.