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.

Sole Power- Not solely due to sire power

On Sunday Makfi joined his sire Dubawi and his grandsire Dubai Millenium, on the roll of honour of winners of the Jacques Le Marois. This had people looking through the record books to look for earlier such sequences in Group 1 races. The Derby wins of Mill Reef, Shirley Heights and Slip Anchor came to mind and earlier this year Midas Touch followed Galileo and Sadler’s Wells into the winners enclosure after a Derrinstown Stud Derby trial but that wasn’t a Group 1 contest. Historical sequences such as the incredible five generations of St Leger winners in Touchstone in 1834, Newminster in 1851, Lord Clifden in 1863, Petrarch in 1876 and Throstle in 1894 were obviously prior to the introduction the pattern in 1971.

 We did not have to wait long for another Group 1 sequence, as Sole Power’s victory in Friday’s Nunthorpe was keeping up the family tradition established by his sire Kyllachy and his grandsire Pivotal.

Sole Power-racing record

Sole Power was completely unfancied at 100-1 in the Nunthorpe. In truth it was almost impossible to give him a realistic chance, having only won 2 of his previous 10 races and never having won a Stakes race. Sole Power made his debut on Irish Derby weekend last year, finishing a promising third in a 6 furlong maiden on softish ground. Encouraged by this run he was then pitched into Listed company where he ran well to be second to Arctic over 5 furlongs on heavy ground in late July.  He then made his first trip to York for a valuable sales race over 6 furlongs and was only beaten two necks but picked up almost 30k for his trouble. He was again sent across the Channel when he contested the five furlong Cornwallis Stakes in October but he could finish no better than 8th. He was kept busy and picked up a weak maiden at Dundalk in November before finishing his two year old season on a disappointing note when well beaten at odds on, again at Dundalk.

He made his three year old debut in April when winning well over 5 furlongs at Dundalk from two useful older horses in Luisant and Six of Hearts (both by his grandsire Pivotal). He was then sent to Newmarket for the Palace House Stakes where he ran very well to be fourth behind Equiano and Borderlescott. At that stage it might have been possible to see him continue to progress and become a Group 1 sprinter. However he then seemed to lose his way running poorly at Naas, the Curragh and Tipperary before Friday’s surprise win.

Watching the race there was no apparent fluke about his one and a quarter length victory over Starspanglerbanner and three other Group 1 winners in Equiano, Kingsgate Native and Borderlescott. It will be interesting to see can he build on this performance. It is to be hoped that he doesn’t continue another family sequence in that neither Pivotal nor Kyllachy ever ran again after their Nunthorpe victories.

Pedigree Assessment- sire Kyllachy

Sole Power is from the fourth crop of Kyllachy who stands alongside his sire Pivotal at Cheveley Park. He is the first Group 1 winner in Europe for Kyllachy and his second overall following Dim Sum (Kyllachy ex Heckle by In the Wings) who won at the highest level in Hong Kong. In his 12 starts Kyllachy never once raced beyond 5 furlongs and he is passing on this preference to his progeny who have an average winning distance of just 6.5 furlongs.

 No doubt Cheveley Park hoped he might emulate his sire Pivotal and become more than just a source of cheap speed. In that regard he has failed. He gets lots and lots of winners (plenty of them as two year olds) and he has a respectable winners to runners percentages. However Timeform’s median rating for his runners is 71 (compared to 81 for Pivotal) and his overall tally of stakes winners (10) from 495 foals of racing age is disappointing. He retired to stud at a fee of £7500 and with the rise of Pivotal he was able to maintain that fee and hit a high of £12000 in 2008 (after Group 2 successes from Tariq (ex Tatora by Selkirk) and Arabian Gleam (ex Gleam of Light by Danehill) before settling back to £10000 in the past two years. In my opinion his fee needs to be reduced considerably and a look at the the median price for his yearlings in 2009 (just over 13000 guineas) also highlights this point. Kyllachy was conceived when Pivotal stood for £6000 and not surprisingly his female line isn’t particularly distinguished.  Other early sons of Pivotal such as Captain Rio and Needwood Blade have also failed to make much of an impact to date and it will be interesting to see how the better bred later arrivals such as Excellent Art, Falco and Virtual fare at stud. 

Pedigree Assessment- dam Demerger

Demerger the dam of Sole Power was an unraced daughter of Sussex Stakes winner Distant View. She has three foals and produced a very decent sort in Cornus (2002 by Inchinor) who was runner-up in the Cornwallis Stakes at two ( a race Sole Power also contested). He is an incredibly durable sort and he has now run 130 times and counting, with 15 wins so far to his credit. Her other offspring was Polish Precedent filly called Be My Charm who ran 17 times but failed to get her head in front. Sole Power’s second dam Merida won two races at three and four in France and the USA and was the dam of four minor winners including Como (by Cozzene who is incidentally Pivotal’s broodmare sire) and who went on to be dam of the decent two year old Pencil Hill (by Acclamation). Pencil Hill won a Listed race and was a close fourth to HenrytheNavigator in the Coventry Stakes.  Sole Power’s third dam Metair has some classy connections. She herself won seven races and became the dam of 9 winners including Grade 2 winner Tychonic (by Last Tycoon) and Fine Edge (by Sharpen Up) who gives another connection with the Nunthorpe (or William Hill Sprint Championship as it was then known) having finished runner-up in the race in the early 80’s. One of Metair’s unraced daughters Fast Flow (by Riverman) became the dam of Champagne Stakes winner and Dewhurst runner-up Auction House (by Exbourne).

Broodmare sire-Distant View

Distant View is starting to show considerable promise as a broodmare sire with many of them bred by Juddmonte. These include dual Guineas winner Special Duty (by Hennessy), Celebration mile winner Zacinto (by Dansili), promising 3 year old Emulous (also by Dansili). Those interested in nicks might note that is broodmare sire of  Australian Group 1 winner Speed Gifted (by Montjeu) and Listed placed two year old Cochabamba (by Montjeu’s son Hurricane Run). In addition he has shown a strong affinity with Selkirk. The four foals of racing age bred on this cross include  Group 3 winner Tranquil Tiger and Royal Lodge runner up Cityscape.


Sole Power comes from a reasonable female line and his price of £32000 at the 2008 August Doncaster sales almost exactly equals the average for all Kyllachy’s sold that year. Demerger has already produced a fast stakes horse and she can take equal credit for Sole Power’s talents. I don’t wish to seem dismissive of Kyllachy, and he is a useful option for breeders; siring lots of winners and capable of getting a top horse but his fee needs to be reduced to reflect the realities of the marketplace and his level of attainment to date. 

SOLE POWER (GB) 2007 c b

(GB) 1998
(GB) 1993
Falcon (USA) 1987
(USA) 1977
D’argonne (FR) 1981
Revival (GB) 1987
(USA) 1980
(GB) 1981
Poppy (GB) 1988
(GB) 1966
Sing (GB) 1957
(GB) 1952
Serenade (GB) 1978
(GB) 1966
Moonlight (GB) 1960
(USA) 1997
View (USA) 1991
Prospector (USA) 1970
A Native (USA) 1961
Digger (USA) 1962
Springs (USA) 1982
River (FR) 1976
Trinite (FR) 1976
(GB) 1991
(GB) 1985
Fact (USA) 1977
Dangerous (USA) 1979
(GB) 1974
Light (GB) 1966
(GB) 1965