Sadler’s Wells – The King of Epsom

He did not run in the Epsom Derby, he has even never raced on the Epsom racecourse, nevertheless he is, for several years already, the key horse for the three major events of the Epsom season – The Derby, Oaks and Coronation Cup. In the recent years, the offspring of his sons and daughters, or even grandson and granddaughters now, make up most of the fields in any of the above mention Gr. 1 races. It needs not to emphasise whom we are talking about – Sadler’s Wells.

We may lack sufficient time distance to be able to fully assess Sadler's Wells's impact on thoroughbred breeding, but we can say even now that he indeed deserves an honourable place, side by side the best stallions of all history. Through his progeny, the progeny of his progeny, the progeny of his progeny’s progeny etc. he has established a dynasty which is successful in all the world and has produced winners of the most famous races in the world. However, there is a place (and a time) which can be seen as a bastion of Sadler’s Wells’s line. The place is Epsom Downs and the time the first Friday and Saturday in June when three Gr. 1 races are run on this racecourse – Coronation Cup, Oak and The Derby.

The success rate of Sadler’s Wells’ progeny, as well as that of his grandsons and granddaughters, or today even great grandsons and granddaughters in these three highlights of the English racing calendar over the 1 1/2 mile distance is amazing indeed and we can say that after a time when the victory in the Epsom Derby was a flight ticket to a Japanese stud, Sadler’s Wells and his sons returned to the Epsom Derby the meaning described by Federico Tesio in his famous statement about a piece of wood – the winning post of the Epsom Derby and its impact on thoroughbred breeding.

When the first crop of Sadler’s Wells’s three-year-olds appeared on the racecourse in 1989, there were no signs that he would dominate the major Epsom races in few years’ time. He had a single runner in The Derby, Prince of Dance, who finished tenth, and he had no runner in the Oaks. His best three-year-old, Old Vic, went to the Prix du Jockey Club instead, which he won easily by seven legtht. A year later, however, Sadler’s Wells scored in all three Epsom major races. In The Derby, Blue Stag finished second behind Quest For Fame, but Oaks was taken by Salsabil and In The Wings won the Coronation Cup.

As the table shows, the frequency of Sadler’s Wells’s achievements in three Epsom great races increased year to year. Only a triumph in The Derby was still elusive for him and was brought only by Galileo, a product of the stallion’s thirteen crop. Five of his sons finished second and, oddly enough, a Derby winner was sooner produced by his brother Fairy King whose progeny inclined towards shorter distances.

It was in 1996 when a grandson of Sadler’s Wells placed among the first three in any of these three races – Singspiel, the son of the Coronation Cup’s winner In The Wings, placed second to Swain in the same race. He won the Coronation Cup a year later, andSilver Patriarch, produced by another son of Sadler’s Wells, Saddler’s Hall, placed second in The Derby. A year later Sadler’s Wells scored for the first time as damsire when his grandson City Honours was second.

The success rate of Sadler’s Wells’s grandsons (not granddaughters) in the two Epsom Gr.1 races open to colts did not come until Montjeu went to stud. Neither Montjeu has ever run at Epsom, as he preferred, same as Sadler’s Wells, the Prix du Jockey Club which he won easily, but his sons excelled at Epsom. In his very first crop he had the first two in The Derby, Motivator and Walk In The Park, while another product of the stallion’s first crop, Scorpion, won the Coronation Cup two years later. That year, The Derby was won by another of Montjeu’s son, Authorized, followed in 2011 by Pour Moi and a year later by Camelot. Montjeu had, therefore, in his first eight crops, four Derby winners and his sons fared excellently in the “Derby for older horses”, the Coronation Cup where they scored five victories, in the last three years thanks to consecutive wins by St Nicholas Abbey. Oaks, on the contrary, remained a race where Montjeu was not successful as sire, which only confirms the fact that his sons were more successful on the racecourse than his daughters. Clowance was his best daughter in the Oaks, finishing fourth in 2008.

Today, Sadler’s Wells’s banner is born by Galileo, joined by New Approach last year. Although Galileo is not a classical producer of stayers, as Montjeu was, he is successful at Epsom – but we could say this about him at most of the racecourses in the world. He has so far produced two Derby winners (New Approach and Ruler of The World), the winner of the Coronation Cup (Soldier of Fortune) and the winner of Oaks (Was), also taken by his granddaughter Talent last year.

Thoroughbreds with his blood in their veins sometimes dominate the fields in Epsom major races, which can be perfectly illustrated by the last year’s Derby. The first four places were taken by colts of his line – three sons (Ruler of The World, Galileo Rock, Battle of Marengo) and a grandson (the runner-up Libertarian) – but among twelve runners there were only two who did not have Galileo in their pedigrees. Last year’s Oaks had eleven runners of who five had Galileo’s blood and more four fillies were products of other Sadler’s Wells’s sons and daughters. This is quite different from the 2001 Derby when Sadler’s Wells saw the first success in The Derby through Galileo who was, besides the third-placed Tobougg, the only horse in the race with Sadler’s Wells’s blood.

This year, too, most of the Derby field will consist of horses with Sadler’s Wells’s blood, again mediated by Galileo although the sources of Sadler’s Wells’s influence in their pedigrees are more varied than last year. In the Coronation Cup and Oaks, too, the horses without Sadler’s Wells’s influence are in the minority. This only proves how important Sadler’s Wells is as a source of classic horses. A champion who has never raced at Epsom but has influenced its major races as none other stallion in the last twenty-five years.

Sadler's Wells's influence on Epsom's Gr.1 races

Epsom Derby Epsom Oaks Coronation Cup
1990 2nd BLUE STAG by Sadler's Wells 1st SALSABIL by Sadler's Wells 1st IN THE WINGS by Sadler's Wells
1992 1st SADDLERS' HALL by Sadler's Wells
1993 1st INTREPIDITY by Sadler's Wells 1st OPERA HOUSE by Sadler's Wells
2nd ROYAL BALLERINA by Sadler's Wells
1994 2nd KING'S THEATRE by Sadler's Wells
1995 2nd TAMURE by Sadler's Wells 1st MOONSELL by Sadler's Wells
2nd DANCE A DREAM by Sadler's Wells
1996 2nd DUSHYANTOR, by Sadler's Wells 2nd SINGSPIEL, by In The Wings
1997 2nd SILVER PATRIARCH, by Saddlers' Hall 1st SINGSPIEL, by In The Wings
2nd DUSHYANTOR, by Sadler's Wells
1998 2nd CITY HONOURS, o/o a Sadler's Wells mare 1st SILVER PATRIARCH, by Saddlers' Hall
3rd EBADIYLA, by Sadler's Wells
1999 2nd DALIAPOUR, by Sadler's Wells 3rd DREAM WELL, by Sadler's Wells
2000 2nd SAKHEE, o/o a Sadler's Wells mare 1st DALIAPOUR, by Sadler's Wells
3rd BEAT HOLLOW, by Sadler's Wells
2001 1st GALILEO, by Sadler's Wells 1st IMAGINE, by Sadler's Wells 2nd WELLBEING, by Sadler's Wells
3rd TOBOUGG, by Barathea 2nd FLIGHT OF FANCY, by Sadler's Wells
3rd RELISH THE THOUGHT, by Sadler's Wells
2002 1st HIGH CHAPARRAL, by Sadler's Wells 2nd QUARTER MOON, by Sadler's Wells 3rd ZINDABAD, o/o a Sadler's Wells mare
2003 2nd THE GREAT GATSBY, by Sadler's Wells 2nd YESTERDAY, by Sadler's Wells 3rd BLACK SAM BELLAMY, by Sadler's Wells
2004 3rd LET THE LION ROAR, by Sadler's Wells 2nd ALL TO BEAUTIFUL, by Sadler's Wells 2nd DOYEN, by Sadler's Wells
2005 1st MOTIVATOR, by Montjeu 1st YEATS, by Sadler's Wells
2nd WALK IN THE PARK, by Montjeu 3rd REEFSCAPE, o/o a Sadler's Wells mare
2006 2nd DRAGON DANCER, by Sadler's Wells 1st ALEXANDROVA, by Sadler's Wells
2007 1st AUTHORIZED, by Montjeu 2nd PEEPING FAWN, o/o a Sadler's Wells mare 1st SCORPION, by Montjeu
3rd AQALEEM, o/o a Sadler's Wells mare 3rd ALL MY LOVING, by Sadler's Wells 2nd SEPTIMUS, by Sadler's Wells
2008 1st NEW APPROACH, by Galileo 1st SOLDIER OF FORTUNE, by Galileo
2nd YOUMZAIN, o/o a Sadler's Wells mare
3rd MACARTHUR, by Montjeu
2009 2nd FAME AND GLORY, by Montjeu 3rd HIGH HEELED, by High Chaparral 1st ASK, by Sadler's Wells
3rd MASTEROFTHEHORSE, by Sadler's Wells 2nd YOUMZAIN, o/o a Sadler's Wells mare
2010 1st WORKFORCE, o/o a Sadler's Wells mare 2nd MEEZNAH, o/o a Sadler's Wells mare 1st FAME AND GLORY, by Montjeu
2nd AT FIRST SIGHT, by Galileo 3rd HIGH HEELED, by High Chaparral
2011 1st POUR MOI, by Montjeu 2nd WONDER OF WONDERS, o/o a Sadler's Wells mare 1st ST NICHOLAS ABBEY, by Montjeu
2nd TREASURE BEACH, by Galileo
2012 1st CAMELOT, by Montjeu 1st WAS, by Galileo 1st ST NICHOLAS ABBEY, by Montjeu
3rd ASTROLOGY, by Galileo 3rd THE FUGUE, o/o a mare by Sadler's Wells 3rd MASKED MARVEL by Montjeu
2013 1st RULER OF THE WORLD, by Galileo 1st TALENT by New Approach 1st ST NICHOLAS ABBEY, by Montjeu
2nd LIBERTARIAN, by New Approach 2nd SECRET GESTURE by Galileo 3rd JOSHUA TREE, by Montjeu
3rd GALILEO ROCK, by Galileo 3rd THE LARD, o/o a mare by In The Wings

Miloslav Vlček

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