Brigadier Gerard (horse)
|Breeder||John L. Hislop|
|Owner||Mr & Mrs. John L. Hislop|
|Washington Singer Stakes (1970)
Middle Park Stakes (1970)
2,000 Guineas (1971)
St. James's Palace Stakes (1971)
Sussex Stakes (1971)
Goodwood Mile (1971)
Queen Elizabeth II Stakes (1971 & 1972)
Champion Stakes (1971 & 1972)
Westbury Stakes (1972)
Lockinge Stakes (1972)
Prince of Wales's Stakes (1972)
Eclipse Stakes (1972)
K. George VI & Q. Elizabeth Stakes (1972)
|British Horse of the Year (1972)
Timeform top-rated horse (1971 (equal), 1972)
|Timeform rating: 144
Brigadier Gerard Stakes at Sandown Park
|Last updated on 24 April 2009|
Brigadier Gerard (1968–1989) was a British Thoroughbred racehorse and sire. In a racing career which lasted from June 1970 until October 1972 he won seventeen of his eighteen races and has been rated the best racehorse trained in Britain in the 20th century.
He was unbeaten as a two-year-old in 1970 when his most important win came in the Middle Park Stakes. At three he was again unbeaten, defeating Mill Reef in a famous race for the 2000 Guineas and going on to win the St. James's Palace Stakes, Sussex Stakes, Goodwood Mile and Queen Elizabeth II Stakes over a mile, before moving up in distance to win the Champion Stakes over ten furlongs. As a four-year-old he won the Lockinge Stakes, Prince of Wales's Stakes and Eclipse Stakes before moving up in distance to win the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes over one and a half miles. Brigadier Gerard sustained his first and only defeat when beaten by Roberto in the inaugural running of the Benson and Hedges Gold Cup.
Bred by John Hislop in England and foaled on 5 March 1968, Brigadier Gerard was a son of the stallion Queen's Hussar, winner of the Sussex Stakes and the Lockinge Stakes, and the non-winning racemare, La Paiva, a daughter of Prince Chevalier. On his female side he traced back to the brilliant fillies' Triple Crown winner, Pretty Polly, who was his fifth dam. This beautifully balanced bay colt was named after Arthur Conan Doyle's swashbuckling hero. Brigadier Gerard had good conformation, an excellent temperament and stood 16 hands 2 inches high.
1970: two-year-old season
Brigadier Gerard began his two-year-old career on 24 June 1970 in the Berkshire Stakes at Newbury. The Berkshire Stakes, run over five furlongs and worth £1201 to the winner, drew a field of five runners. The odds-on favourite Young and Foolish was the comfortable winner of a big field Newmarket maiden and was second on his only other start to the subsequent winner of the Windsor Castle Stakes at Royal Ascot. The only other fancied runner was Mais‘y Dotes winner of four from her six starts in modest company. Brigadier Gerard was ridden Joe Mercer and was relatively unfancied at odds of 100/7. In the race Joe sat behind the more experienced runners until approaching the two furlong marker where he gave the Brigadier the office and he strode eight to ten lengths clear before being allowed to ease down before the line for an easy five length success.
So easy was this first success the Brigadier’s owners decided to run him eight days later on 2 July in the Champagne Stakes, value £598 2s to the winner, run over six furlongs at Salisbury. Carrying a penalty for his previous win Brigadier Gerard was favourite at 13 to 8 on and another easy success, by 4 lengths, ensued.
Having had two races in quick succession the Brigadier was given a six week break before reappearing in the Washington Singer Stakes at Newbury on 15 August with a value £1,154 to the winner. Starting favourite and odds of 4 to 9 on Brigadier Gerard led comfortably at the furlong marker winning by two lengths from Comedy Star.
Following three easy successes the Brigadier was now ready for his biggest test, the Middle Park Stakes at Newmarket, run over six furlongs and for a value of £10.515 18s. The opposition included Mummy's Pet, unbeaten in his three starts including the Hyperion Stakes and Norfolk Stakes, and Swing Easy winner of three of his four starts, his only defeat being at the hands of My Swallow in the Prix de la Salamandre at Longchamp. Mummy’s Pet started favourite at 6/5 on, Swing Easy was 9 to 4 with Brigadier Gerard at 11 to 2. After a slow early pace Joe Mercer allowed Brigadier Gerard to stride into the lead where he drew steadily clear winning easing down by three lengths from Mummy‘s Pet with Swing Easy a further half a length away in third place.
As 3 year olds Mummy’s Pet and Swing Easy remained at sprinting. Among other successes they won between them the Sceptre Stakes, Temple Stakes, Daniel Prenn, King's Stand Stakes and the Nunthorpe Stakes.
1971: three-year-old season
2,000 Guineas Stakes
The field of six runners for the season's first colts' classic, the 2,000 Guineas at Newmarket, may have been one of the smallest in recent memory but it certainly qualifies as one of the best fields ever assembled for the race. The three colts that had headed the Free handicap, My Swallow, Mill Reef and Brigadier Gerard, had between them won 18 out of their 19 races. They had collectively won every major two year old race in Europe in brilliant style. It was one of the most eagerly anticipated races ever. My Swallow and Mill Reef had easily won their prep races, the Usher Stakes and the Greenham Stakes, while Brigadier Gerard, as planned, arrived at the Rowley Mile without a preparatory race. The race was generally billed as a match between the 6/4 favourite Mill Reef and the 2/1 second favourite My Swallow. Brigadier Gerard was relatively overlooked at 11/2, Minsky at 15/2, Good Bond at 16/1 and Indian Ruler the complete outsider at 100/1.
In the race My Swallow made the early running from Mill Reef until they came together, fully three furlongs from home, to fight out their long awaited rematch. At this time Joe Mercer, on Brigadier Gerard, looked like a jockey in trouble as he picked up his stick to ask him to close the two length gap for neither Geoff Lewis, on Mill Reef, nor Frankie Durr, on My Swallow, had yet made any comparable move. But then with under three furlongs left to run the picture changed dramatically for that gentle reminder had been all that Brigadier Gerard needed. Momentarily, it seemed, he became unbalanced but, if so, Joe Mercer was ready, and, back straight and level in a flash the big bay lengthened his stride with sudden explosive power . In a dozen strides he drew level with Mill Reef whose jockey, Geoff Lewis, was just deciding, happily, that he had My Swallow beaten, knew with greater certainty that the game was up. Brigadier Gerard strode away to win easily by three lengths.
What they said afterwards:
Mill Reef’s jockey Geoff Lewis: ‘The moment Joe appeared it was all over’. ‘Joe’s horse had too much speed - he was too good’. ‘The winner was always going too well for me. As soon as Joe produced Brigadier Gerard I knew we were beaten’.
My Swallow’s jockey Frankie Durr: ‘We didn’t cut each others throats in front, the winner just beat us‘.
Minsky’s jockey Lester Piggott: ‘He was going as well as the leaders for six furlongs then found nothing‘.
Good Bond’s jockey Jimmy Lindley: ‘My colt was nearly flat out the whole way. It must be the best Guineas for 50 years‘.
Brigadier Gerard’s jockey Joe Mercer: ‘Not a moment’s trouble. I thought we were going to win as soon as we went under the five furlong gate‘. ‘I had to waken him up because they suddenly went an extra length away. But there was never any doubt when he got going. His neck was in front a quarter of a mile out and that was that’.
John Lawrence (Lord Oaksey): He took a moment to find his full stride and Mercer tapped him once. But the response was more than he or anyone can have expected. For in 100 yards racing down the hill into the dip, Brigadier Gerard brushed aside the two colts who last year dominated European two year old racing. They finished together far ahead of the others, but he was three lengths clear and going away, as decisive and brilliant a winner of the 2000 Guineas as has been since Tudor Minstrel. Mill Reef who duly took his revenge on My Swallow ran, it must be presumed, right up to his best form.
Instead of being tested over one and a half miles in the Epsom Derby (Hislop did not believe the colt would stay the distance), Brigadier Gerard was kept to the one mile distance for the St. James's Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot. Unsuited by the heavy ground and cold, wet weather he had to be driven out by Mercer to win by a head from Sparkler. A month later he was very impressive in winning the Sussex Stakes by five lengths from the French-trained Faraway Son. He then won the Goodwood Mile by ten lengths and the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes by eight. On his final start of the season he was moved up in distance to ten furlongs for the Champion Stakes at Newmarket. As at Royal Ascot in the summer the ground was very soft and Brigadier Gerard did not show his best form but he still won by a short head in a desperate finish from Rarity and Welsh Pageant. At the end of his three year old season, he was undefeated in ten races at distances between five furlongs and a mile and a quarter.
1972: four-year-old season
The following year, Brigadier Gerard extended his unbeaten run to fifteen. In spring he won the one mile Lockinge Stakes and the ten furlong Westbury Stakes in which he conceded fourteen punds to the runner-up Ballyhot. At Royal Ascot he won the Prince of Wales's Stakes by five lengths from Steel Pulse, setting a new course record. In the Eclipse Stakes at Sandown Park, on unfavourably soft ground, he won by a length from Gold Rod to take his unbeaten sequence to fourteen. In July he moved up to one and half miles for the first time in Britain's most valuable race, the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot. He won by one and a half lengths from Parnell, with Riverman five lengths back in third, but he hung to the right in the closing stages and his win was only confirmed after a stewards' enquiry.
Then came his sensational loss in the Benson & Hedges Gold Cup run over an extended mile and a quarter at York. Brigadier Gerard (starting at 1/3) raced against the 1972 Epsom Derby winner Roberto and the runner-up, Rheingold, who started second favourite. Roberto had run poorly in his previous race, the Irish Derby, but, ridden by the Panamanian jockey Braulio Baeza, ran the race of his life with a bold front-running display, which shattered the course record, to defeat Brigadier Gerard by three lengths. There was a gap of ten lengths back to Gold Rod, who beat Rheingold for third. According to Joe Mercer, his horse was sick: "...when they got back to the stables and the horse put his head down, the mucus poured out of him. He was sick, yet he was still able to run second to the Derby winner, giving him 12 pounds."
Brigadier Gerard returned in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes and set a new course record by over a second as he won by six lengths from Sparkler (giving him 7 pounds). On his final appearance he defeated Riverman by one and a half length to win his second Champion Stakes. He retired at the end of his four-year-old season, a winner of 17 races from 18 starts, with total earnings of £253,024.70. On retirement, he had won more races than any other English classic winner of the twentieth century apart from Bayardo (winner of 22 from 25 starts) and his ancestress Pretty Polly (winner of 22 from 24 starts).
He stood at stud first at the Egerton Stud, Newmarket and later at his owner's East Woodhay Stud. Brigadier Gerard was not a success as a sire, and much less successful than his contemporary and rival Mill Reef, but he did get a classic winner in Light Cavalry who won the St. Leger Stakes in 1980 as well as Vayrann the controversial winner of the 1981 Champion Stakes. Brigadier Gerard died in 1989 and his remains are interred in the gardens of the Swynford Hotel (formerly Swynford Paddocks), Six Mile Bottom, Newmarket.
Assessment and Honours
Brigadier Gerard was given an end-of-year Timeform rating of 141 in 1971, making him the equal highest rated horse of the year, alongside Mill Reef. He topped the Timeform ratings in 1972 with 144, the joint second highest figure at that time given for a flat racehorse, equal with Tudor Minstrel and one pound behind Sea Bird. The Brigadier Gerard Stakes at Sandown is named in his honour. In the 1972 British Horse of the Year poll conducted by the Racegoers' Club, Brigadier Gerard polled all forty of the available votes, making him the first horse to be unanimously elected to the honour.
|Marcelette||William of Valence|
|Queen of the Meadows|
|Fairy Jane||Fair Trial|
|Prince Rose||Rose Prince|
|Molly Desmond (Family 14-c)|
- Biggar, Allan (ed.), The Stallion Review 1977
- "Pretty Polly - Family 14-c". Bloodlines.net. Retrieved 2012-10-21.
- Hislop, John, Breeding for Racing, Martin Secker & Warburg, London, 1976, ISBN 436 19701 4
- "Brigadier Gerard's Triumph". Glasgow Herald. 3 May 1971. Retrieved 2012-10-21.
- "BRIGADIER GERARD WINS 15TH IN ROW". New York Times. 2012-06-10. Retrieved 2012-10-21.
- "Baeza rides Roberto to upset win". Schenectady Gazette. 16 August 1972. Retrieved 2012-10-21.
- Daily Telegraph, 15 August 2012, page S18.
- Morris, Tony; Randall, John (1990). Horse Racing: Records, Facts, Champions (Third Edition). Guinness Publishing. ISBN 0-85112-902-1.
- "Brigadier Gerard pedigree". equineline.com. 2012-05-08. Retrieved 2012-10-21.