Sadler’s Wells- a tribute

It’s almost a month since Sadler’s Wells died.  He was outstanding in every respect as racehorse, as a sire, as a broodmare sire and now as a sire of sires.  A book would be required to do proper justice to his impact (and I don’t have time for that) , so I will have to restrict myself to selecting a few of his more remarkable achievements, listed in no particular order

1. That first crop of colts.

In total his first crop  was numbered in the mid fifties of which just less than half were colts.  For six of them (In the Wings (ex High Hawk by Shirley Heights) , Old Vic (ex Cockade by Derring-Do), Prince of Dance(ex Sun Princess by English Prince) , Scenic ( ex Idyllic by Foolish Pleasure) , French Glory (ex Dunette by Hard to Beat) and Braashee ex Krakow by Malinowski) to win Group 1’s is extraordinary.  Batshoof (ex Steel Habit by Habitat) was also in that crop and he won the Tattersalls Rogers Gold Cup and Prince Of Wales Stakes which were both then Group 2’s but are now elevated to Group 1 status.  Dolpour (ex Dumka by Kashmir) won the Group 3 Gordon Richard Stakes and was only beaten a head in the Champion Stakes. In addition the unraced Accordion (ex Sound of Success by Successor)  subsequently found fame as a jumps sire. It was the most sensational first crop that could be imagined.

2. His Consistency

Its not easy becoming champion sire even with the benefit of large books of quality mares.  Sadler’s Wells was champion Anglo-Irish sire on 14 occasions- an all time record.  That Highflyer’s previous record had stood since the 18th century gives a sense of that achievement.  That he sired at least one Group 1 winner in each of his first 18 crops is also truly remarkable. His numbers currently stand at 2259 foals of racing age with 293 stakes winners (13%).

3. His Irish Derby Record

Sadler’s Wells has sired the winner of every Irish and English classic. His record in the Irish Derby is however particularly impressive. Six winners (Old Vic ex Cockade by Derring-Do), Salsabil (ex Flame of Tara by Artaius), Dream Well (ex Soul Dream by Alleged),  Montjeu (ex Floripedes by Top Ville),  Galileo (ex Urban Sea by Miswaki) and High Chapparal (ex Kasora by Darshaan) only tell part of the story. The 1999 edition saw him have a 1-2-3 courtesy of Montjeu, Daliapour (ex Dalara by Doyoun) and Tchaikovsky (ex Crystal Spray by Beldale Flutter) and this was bettered in 2002 when High Chapparal was followed home by Sholokhov (ex La Meilleure by Lord Gayle), Ballingarry (ex Flamenco Wave by Desert Wine) and Nysaean (ex Irish Arms by Irish River). His sons have kept up the good work with In the Wings siring the 1995 winner Winged Love (ex J’ai deux Amores by Top Ville), Galileo siring the 2007 winner Soldier of Fortune (ex Affianced by Erin’s Isle) and the 2010 winner Cape Blanco (ex Laurel Delight by Presidium) and Montjeu has 3 winners courtesy of Hurricane Run (ex Hold On by Surumu), Frozen Fire (ex Flamingo Sea by Woodman) and Fame and Glory (ex Gryada by Shirley Heights).

4. His record as sire of sires

This was once open to question- it is not any more.  Galileo has taken over his mantle as the dominant European sire and Montjeu remains the sire most likely to sire a 12 furlong Derby winner.  Barathea and In the Wings did respectably, Fort Wood produced some outstanding individuals in South Africa,  High Chapparal has done exceptionally well in the Antipodes and most surprisingly of all was the success of El Prado in the US- surprising given the abject failure of Sadler’s Wells own offspring when tried on dirt. In addition his sons such as Old Vic, Accordion, Oscar, King’s Theatre, Dr Massini and Kayf Tara have all had a major impact on the National Hunt world.

5. His National Hunt Record

Sadler’s Wells was an outstanding jumps sire.  Istabraq (ex Betty’s Secret by Secretariat) is of course one of the immortals but he was backed up by Theatreworld(ex Chamonis by Affirmed), Pridwell (ex Glowing with Pride by Ile de Bourbon), Synchronised (ex Mayasta by Bob Back) and many others that have seen him consistently feature in the top ten jumps sires.

6. His record as broodmare sire

Six times champion broodmare sire, to date he has 235 stakes winners in that capacity -more than any other sire in the history of the pattern.  Some of the multiple Group 1 winners produced by his daughters include Workforce (King’s Best ex Soviet Moon) , Conduit(Dalakhani ex Well Ahead), Music Note (AP Indy ex Note Musicale,  Henrythenavigator (Kingmambo ex Seqoyah). Youmzain (Sinndar ex Sadima),  Peeping Fawn (Danehill ex Maryinsky),  Divine Proportions (Kingmambo ex Myth to Reality), American Post (Bering ex Wells Fargo), Whipper (Miesque’s Son ex Myth to Reality), and Musical Chimes (In Excess ex Note Musicale).

7.  Leading the European renaissance

It’s easy to forget that at the time of his retirement, Europe was not the natural home for a top class stallion prospect. His contemporaries and paternal half brothers El Gran Senor and Secreto both went to stud in the States. The lure of the dollar and the yen meant that Europe had already lost or could no longer retain the best stallion prospects.  The best mares inevitably follow the best stallions leading to a further downward spiral. The success of Sadler’s Wells and his earnings put Coolmore in a very powerful position with regard to stallion acquisition and they utilised that advantage to the maximum.  His sons have continued that legacy- it is not unreasonable to claim that he can take credit for the current powerful state of the European stallion ranks.

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