Who likes it heavy?

I blame the Chinese for the ‘Summer’ we just endured. Once they stopped burning all that coal in an effort to clean up Beijing’s polluted air for the Olympics they somehow changed the Irish climate for the worse.  Also I’ve developed a new theory on the extinction of the dinosaurs which I suspect was caused by a Summer like this back in 65million BC. This caused all the dinosaurs to drown or to drown themselves due to the unrelenting misery of it all. Anyway given the circumstance I thought it might be opportune to look at those sires whose offspring do best when the ground is heavy. 

Off the top of my head I would have named the best heavy ground sires as Efisio, Pivotal, Diktat and Sadler’s Wells & sons.  I can’t quantify this belief but they are the sires that I’ve noticed seem to do well when the going is heavy.  As an exercise I looked through every Group One race in Ireland, the UK and France over the past five years in which the going description included the word heavy. This amounted to only 12 races and the winners and details are shown below.  The findings threw up a few surprises. Firstly I wouldn’t have guessed that Danehill would have been responsible for a quarter of the wins, but he is via Westerner’s two wins in the Prix Royal Oak and Peeping Fawns win in the Irish Oaks. However as each of these horses were multiple Group one winners, who succeeded at the top level on all sorts of going it is fair to conclude that heavy ground was not needed for them to succeed. Peeping Fawn and Westerner are good examples of the maxim that good horses will win on any ground.

The Sadler’s Wells tribe are the predominate group. Sadler’s Wells himself appears as sire of Linda’s Lad who won the marathon Criterium de Saint-Cloud as a two year old. It was a weak renewal of the race and it proved his sole success at the top level. He did add a Lingfield Derby trial before being beaten about 10 lengths in Sir Percy’s derby which is a fair indicator of his ability. Sadler’s Wells is also the broodmare sire of Peeping Fawn. Two of his sons are responsible for two winners each. Montjeu is sire of Authorized who won the Racing Post trophy at two and Scorpion who won the St Leger in heavy going. In both cases these horses achieved Group one success on better ground , most significantly Authorized in the Derby and Scorpion who broke a track record in the Grand Prix de Paris. Again these were quality horses who were versatile as to going requirements like Montjeu himself who won the Arc on heavy ground.

Galileo only ran once on heavy ground in his maiden which he won by fourteen lengths. He is the sire of two heavy ground, wide margin classic winners in Soldier of Fortune and Nightime. Soldier of Fortune has since followed up at four in a Coronation Cup on good ground but Nightime never won again and a look at her career seemed to indicate that she needed lots of cut to show her best. The 4 others on the list are a slightly surprising bunch.  There are 2 Mr Prospector line horses in Saoirse Abu a great grand daughter by Mr Greeley and Palace Episode a grandson by Machiavellian. Saoirse Abu defeated Henrythenavigator in the Phoenix Stakes but she also won a Moyglare defeating Listen and was a close third in this years 1000 Guineas. Heavy ground was not necessary for her.  Palace Episode won the Racing Post trophy and on the strength of that was sold to Godolphin. He has never won since and is now running on firm ground in the US.  Its hard to say definitively whether he needed heavy ground or if his lack of subsequent success is due to joining Godolphin, becoming another casualty of the big blue hole.

 Araafa caused a shock when he beat George Washington in the Irish Guineas but showed his ground versatility by following up in the St James Palace on good to firm. Interestingly he has a connection with Pivotal as his dam is a full sister to Pivotal.

The final horse on the list is Reverence who won the Haydock sprint cup. He also previously won the Nunthorpe on soft ground and is one of the few horses on the list who really needed soft ground to perform. On pedigree its hard to see where this affinity comes from- Mark of Esteem never ran on ground worse than good and his dam Imperial Bailiwick who was a tough precocious sprinter who won a Flying Childers but didn’t demonstrate a pronounced going preference. It could be down to his particular confirmation.

 Conclusion.  With such a small sample you can’t be definitive about things. Good horses can handle any going.   Sadler’s Wells and his sons handle heavy ground and make up a big part of the sample. Danehill’s better offspring are also versatile as to going. The others on the list are perhaps good examples of why its important not to be too dogmatic when it comes to breeding. Some of the other sires I mentioned such as Efisio and Diktat are hardly regular sires of Group one winners so it is no surprise that they don’t feature in the small sample above. However it is worth keeping an eye on their runners in bottomless ground as they can often surprise at big prices.











Dam Sire






Saoirse Abu



Mr Greeley



Out too late



future storm



2007 National Stakes



Peeping Fawn









sadler’s wells



2007 Irish Oaks



Soldier of Fortune









erins isle



2007 Irish Derby












indian ridge



2006 Irish Guineas






mull of kintyre






polar falcon



2006 Irish Guineas















2006 Racing Post Trophy






mark of esteem



imperial bailiwick



imperial frontier



2006 Haydock sprint cup



Palace Episode






palace weekend



seattle dancer



2005 racing post trophy












law society



2005 St Leger



Linda’s lad



sadler’s wells









2005 Crit. Saint Cloud















2004 prix royal oak















2003 prix royal oak



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