The Greatest Racehorses - Ever

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Bay Ronald - Galicia
Foaled 1906 Brown Stallion Died 1917
Runs: 25 Wins: 22 Places: 1 Earned: £44,535
Form: 1111111 - 45111111111111 - 11112

Races Won

Dewhurst Plate 1908
Middle Park Plate 1908
Richmond Stakes 1908
Prince of Wales Stakes 1909
Sandringham Stakes 1909
Eclipse Stakes 1909
Dutchess of York Stakes 1909
St Leger (Doncaster) 1909
Doncaster Stakes 1909
Champion Stakes 1909
Lowther Stakes 1909
Liverpool St Leger 1909
Chester Vase 1910
Ascot Gold Cup 1910

Bayardo was a rare versatile racehorse who won top races from 6f to 2m 4f. He is considered one of the greatest horses ever to grace the English turf and even though his untimely death at the age of eleven cut short his stud career he led the sires list twice in England and left a sire son, Gainsborough who continued his line into the present. But first things first. Born to a decent H'capper sire & a dam whose very promising career was cut short by a split pastern as a two year old, Bayardo was a large framed, colt with "lop" ears (very long ears that can sometimes flop sideways) & usually such horses are very honest (ie give 150% effort at all times) & good-natured.

Having said that, Bayardo hated his abnormally long ears being covered but then most horses do to some degree anyway. He would unusally however let them flop back & forth in time with his stride during a race. He was also what is known nowadays as "a thinker" which means he would do things his way & in his own sweet time & ignore what anybody else tried to tell him. This is actually a VERY dangerous trait in a racehorse as more often than not they'll decide they don't want to race so will refuse at the start. He would frequently stand still and look off into the distance for long periods of time, even doing this before some of his races at Newmarket. Another of his quirks saw him regularly banging his chin on his feed manger.

Bayardo became a great public favourite (and captured my heart within five minutes of researching him!) because of his versatility, regular appearances on the racecourse & his style of racing - sitting off the pace then coming with a devastating burst of speed cutting down his rivals in the home straight. After winning his first start as a two year old with ease, he went on to caputure every top two year old race of that era over distances ranging from 6f to 1m. Unbeaten in seven starts saw him installed as favourite for the 2000 Guineas over the unsually harsh winter off season however Mother Nature mustn't have been a Bayardo backer for he slipped on a patch of ice whilst exercising one morning just months before the big day & became badly lame.

His trainer, Alec Taylor tried to stop Bayardo's owner (Alfred Cox) from running him in the Guineas but Alfred wanted to see his champion colt run and so began a race against time to get Bayardo fit (some things really don't change. Its the same every year even now, none moreso that Teofilo this year!) . Of course Alec knew best & Cox had to watch the first defeat of his colts career as he finished a gallant fourth to Minoru who's story is remarkable in itself not least of all his mysterious disappearance but that's another story. Bayardo regained his full strength after the Newmarket run but once more fate intervened to deny him Classic glory.

During his Derby the favourite Sir Martin fell, impeding a number of runners those of which included Bayardo. His jockey sensibly saved his colt for another day & let him coast home gently in fifth place behind short head winner Minoru. After this, Bayardo was back to his brilliant best & remained unbeaten in his next eleven starts including the Eclipse Stakes (Sandown) & Champion Stakes(Newmarket) both against older horses & the St Leger (Doncaster) beating old rival Minoru into 4th place. Two days after this win he added the Doncaster Stakes to his haul.

Consequently the great horse went into the winter favourite for another of racings most prestigious prizes: the Ascot Gold Cup (always a personal favourite of mine). Two prep wins in the Biennel Stakes & the Chester Vase in which he gave his supporters a frightby only getting up by a short head, fell his way before he lined up at Ascot. His main rival the French horse, Sea Sick II winner of the Prix du Jockey Club (French Derby) the previous season & although gallant front running Sea Sick II gave it a good shot, still leading with a mile to go, at the six furlong pole, Bayardo simply took off with his jockey & bounded away from the field to win by a commanding four lengths. This is widely regarded as Bayardo's finest hour in his amazing career.

He won his next race (the fifteenth in succession since his Derby defeat) well enough before his final start in the Goodwood Cup. However his swansong was a major disappointment as he went down by a neck to a rather ordinary colt called Magic. Given a bad ride (worthy of Kieran Fallon / Bosra Sham Sandown 1997 or Johnny Murtagh / Ouija Board Longchamp 2004 fame) by his jockey & left with far too much ground to make up & of course carrying 36lbs more than his younger rival, Bayardo gave his all but it wasn't enough.

At stud he was immediately popular despite his princely fee of 300 guineas. He was leading sire in Britain in 1917 & 1918 and leading broodmare sire in 1925. He also sired three classic winners two of which won England's Triple Crown during the years of World War I. Tragically for the British breeding industry Bayardo died in the prime of life at age eleven when he became ill with thrombosis, which paralyzed his hind legs. He died soon after (have you ever noticed these old warrior horses don't meet with a happy ending?!) leaving behind only one son (Gainsborough & WWI wartime Triple Crown winner) that keeps his sire line alive & racing to this day.

Other notable offspring include Gay Crusader (WWI wartime Triple Crown winner), Manton (champion sire in Poland 1930), Pompadour (3rd in English 1000 Guineas), Allenby (2nd in English 2000 Guineas), Bayuda (Cheveley Park Stakes & Epsom Oaks winner). He was champion sire of broodmares too, large thanks to Saucy Sue (out of his daughter Good and Gay who was a full sister to Pompadour) who won English 1000 Guineas, the Oaks and the Coronation Stakes. Her half brother Swift also became a useful sire after winning five races at three years old including the Chester Vase.

And so Bayardo becomes one of the many "what if's...." of Thoroughbred breeding for who knows how much he could have achieved if he'd been blessed with a longer life.


  • Perfecto princess x Am I a genius or am I a genius?? I was thinking you should do a piece or pieces on the foundation stallions of the TB; the Darley/Godolphin Arabian etc. It would be fascinating to know about them but I'm too lazy to look them up for myself, which is where you come in! Please do Le Fleche next. Pretty please. She was the superfilly of her time & you adore superfillies. Hey you could call your future gg that; "superfilly". Has a ring to it don't you think?! XxXxX

    By Blogger D'ville, at 9:27 PM  

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