Brigadier Gerard (horse)

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Brigadier Gerard
Sire Queen's Hussar
Grandsire March Past
Dam La Paiva
Damsire Prince Chevalier
Sex Stallion
Foaled 1968
Country Great Britain
Colour Bay
Breeder John L. Hislop
Owner Mr & Mrs. John L. Hislop[1]
Trainer Dick Hern
Record 18: 17-1-0
Earnings £253,024.70
Major wins
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)
Awards
British Horse of the Year (1972)
Timeform top-rated horse (1971 (equal), 1972)
Honours
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.

Background[edit]

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.[2] 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.[3]

Brigadier Gerard was trained during his racing career by Major Dick Hern and ridden in all his races by Joe Mercer.

Racing career[edit]

1970: two-year-old season[edit]

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 by 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[edit]

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, 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.

St James Palace Stakes

According to Timeform ‘There is soft ground and soft ground. At Royal Ascot the course was a quagmire and racing was only just possible’. In fact the starting stalls were eventually dispensed with to conserve the ground. On paper Brigadier Gerard appeared to have an easy task with odds of 4/11 offered to defeat his three opponents in the last race of the day. Sparkler had won the classic trial at Thirsk, was considered extremely unlucky to be beaten narrowly in the Irish 2000 Guineas and more recently had won the Diomed Stakes at Epsom very easily. Good Bond, last in the English 2000 Guineas and third to Sparkler in the Diomed and Ballyhot, a recent maiden winner, made up the field of four runners.

With the British weather at its unpredictable worst coming within an ace of killing off the entire Royal meeting it did nearly produce the shock of the season with Brigadier Gerard only leading in the very last stride to defeat front running Sparkler. Always going easily behind Sparkler, it was at the two furlong marker that Joe Mercer asked his charge to show the brilliance he had done in the 2000 Guineas to pass Mill Reef and My Swallow but in these desperate conditions his mount floundered and rolled and it took every ounce of his riders experience to get him on an even keel in time to maintain his unbeaten record. It should be remembered that the conditions may also have been against Sparkler whose best previous form was clearly seen on a fast service only time will tell. After the race John Hislop confirmed that his plans for Brigadier Gerard depend, in part at least, on Mr David Robinson. Because Mr Hislop, maintaining his belief that good horses should be proved against other good horses, is offering My Swallow one more chance of revenge. If Mr Robinson will run his colt in the six furlong July Cup then Brigadier Gerard will be there to meet him. If not we shall see the 2000 Guineas winner next in the Sussex Stakes at Goodwood. (John Lawrence).

Sussex Stakes, Goodwood

Although rain and poor visibility did their best to spoil the first two days of Glorious Goodwood all was more than redeemed by this one magnificent race. Heavy rain on the Tuesday and plenty more in the hour before racing had made the going not as deep as Ascot, but still much to the disadvantage of the Brigadier. Yet this great gentleman of a horse walked around the parade ring unconcerned. The race at Ascot was, by a long way, the hardest race of Brigadier Gerard’s career so far, but to all outward appearances he had fully recovered. In fact, according to John Hislop, his recent gallops have been even more convincing than those he did before the Guineas. And since his regular workmate, Duration, never seems to stop winning he could ask for no more consistent yardstick. With the 2000 Guineas result given an aura of almost unbelievable brilliance following the recent successes by Mill Reef in the Derby, the Eclipse and the King George IV and Queen Elizabeth II Stakes the Sussex Stakes would be an opportunity for Brigadier Gerard to add some more medals of his own. But this time, to win, however satisfactorily, won’t necessarily be enough. It will be the style and degree of victory that counts. Because it is also entirely possible that the 2000 Guineas result was accurate and Brigadier Gerard is the greatest miler to run in England since Tudor Minstrel.

The four years olds, conceding 11 lbs to their younger rivals, were well represented. Leading the opposition was top class French challenger, and soft ground specialist, Faraway Son. Winner but subsequently disqualified in the French 2000 Guineas in favour of crack French horse Caro, whose only defeat this season had been at the hand of Mill Reef in the Eclipse Stakes, Faraway Son was in top form having just beaten My Swallow by an easy 6 lengths at Longchamp. Joshua had won three of his four starts with a narrow defeat by crack miler Welsh Pageant in the Lockinge Stakes being the only blot on his season. The three year old division was also strongly represented by Kings Company and Ashliegh. Kings Company the second highest rated two year old in Ireland had won the Irish 2000 Guineas in somewhat controversial circumstances, in course record time and by the narrowest margin, from Sparkler and, more recently, had won the Cork and Orrery Stakes at Royal Ascot on soft ground. Ashliegh, highly regarded by his trainer, had also been an easy Royal Ascot winner winning the Jersey Stakes in convincing fashion.

Determined to ensure a truly run race on the very soft ground Joe Mercer allowed the Brigadier to stroll along at the head of affairs until approaching the furlong maker where Faraway Son and Joshua threw down their challenges. It took the customary couple of strides for the Brigadier to find top gear and when he did daylight appeared behind him and a roar of sheer delight, for the second time in five days, echoed across an English racecourse. Faraway Son was left trailing five lengths behind and, on decidedly soft ground, Brigadier Gerard’s time was only two seconds outside the record.

The message this supremely stylish victory conveys is that the 2000 Guineas result may have meant precisely what it said. After Epsom, Sandown Park and Ascot it seemed barely credible that any horse could be three lengths better than Mill Reef but the horse we saw yesterday very probably is. John Lawrence (Lord Oaksey):

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.

Goodwood Mile. Goodwood

A small but select field contested this race run in damp, wintry conditions. Only two horses opposed Brigadier Gerard namely Gold Rod and Ashleigh. Gold Rod had won the Prix Moulin the year before and run exceedingly well to be placed in nearly all of the top mile races while Ashleigh, having only his third run this season, had easily won the Jersey Stakes at Royal Ascot before being well beaten by the Brigadier in the Sussex Stakes. The story of the race itself requires little telling with Brigadier Gerard making every yard of the running and quickening well clear at the two furlong marker to record an easy 10 length win in a canter. Gold Rod beat Ashleigh for the runner up spot by four lengths.

Queen Elizabeth 11 Stakes. Ascot

Another small but select field contested this race run before a bumper crown at Ascot. Leading French challenger Dictus, fourth in last seasons Champion Stakes, just behind Nijinsky, and now fresh from victory in the Prix Jacques le Marois where he defeated Sparkler by half a length, lined up alongside Ashleigh in what was perfect racing conditions. For Brigadier Gerard the race was completely uneventful. Ashleigh tried to make a race of it in the early stages but was soon trailing the Brigadier who strolled majestically clear for an easy 8 length success in near course record time. Dictus unable to go the early pace managed to stay on past Ashleigh to take the second spot. Or as racecourse commentator Peter O'Sullevan called it ‘there is no second or third in this race’. This is how the French sports newspaper Paris Turf reported the result:

BRIGADIER GERARD a battu DICTUS de 8 longueurs

Le phénomène anglais Brigadier Gerard battu cheval français Dictus (Prix Jacques le Marois) par huit longueurs, samedi, a Ascot dans les Queen Elizabeth Stakes 11 (1.600m). Ashleigh, troisième, a terminé 10 longueurs du vainqueur. Brigadier Gerard a remporté sa neuvième victoire consécutive.

This was Brigadier Gerard’s ninth consecutive success with a step up to a mile and a quarter in the Champion Stakes at Newmarket the next race on his agenda.


Champion Stakes. Newmarket

Many great horses have lined up for the Champion Stakes over the years and the race has produced it’s fair share of surprises but a sensation was not expected this year as the Brigadier lined up for his first attempt at ten furlongs and, more importantly, to give a clue about his forthcoming and much heralded return match against Mill Reef in next seasons Eclipse Stakes. A strong field of ten turned up to contest the £35,000 prize and with the ground expected to be perfect for the three year old, unbeaten champion miler the expectations were for place money only. However the weather had different ideas. Two days of heavy rain earlier in the week had been countered by two breezy sunny days so the going was perfect on the Friday night. On Saturday morning everything changed. A light drizzle started the day and continued until race time when it was driving, heavy rain directly into the face of the horses heading to the start turning the going to heavy. The Brigadier was clearly not at home in these conditions and duly stopped at least twice on the way to the start needing encouragement to continue. For the international opposition the rain was a mixed blessing. From Great Britain the leading older horses included Welsh Pageant who was having his fourth run of the season winning the Lockinge and Hungerford Stakes and finishing a slightly unlucky third in the Eclipse Stakes behind Mill Reef and Caro. Gold Rod fresh from his win in the Prix La Coupe where he exacted his revenge on Amadou who had finished 5 lengths in front of him in a hotly contested Prix Ganay. Great Wall fourth to Nijinsky in the Derby, Leander winner of the Prix Jean Prat at Chantilly as a 3 year old and Tamil winner of a minor event in Deauville and out classed. From France came Tratteggio trained by Alec Head having just won the Prix Henri Delamere impressively by 6 lengths from a strong field. Amadou had run creditably without winning and on two occasions, notably the Prix Ganay, he had run Caro, the best older horse in France, very close before being beaten narrowly by Gold Rod. Roi Soliel was a mud lover having easily won the Prix Djebel and Queen Anne Stakes. From Ireland came Rarity. A lightly raced 4 year old with a distinct preference for soft ground. In his last start he had easily beaten Lombardo the Epsom Derby 4th , beaten 6 lengths by Mill Reef, and Irish Derby 2nd beaten 3 lengths by Irish Ball, by an easy 4 lengths. The race itself was run in poor visibility with Welsh Pageant, Leander, Gold Rod and Roi Soleil in the leading group and Brigadier Gerard in close behind them. As they entered the Dip Brigadier Gerard moved smoothly into the lead and pulled three lengths clear before it became evident that he was unable to accelerate in his usual fashion while Rarity skimmed over the heavy ground making relentless progress throughout the final furlong. Drawing level some way from the line he was simply unable to get past the Brigadier as he pulled out more close home to win by a short head. Clearly Brigadier Gerard was not the same horse on heavy ground being unable to use his brilliant speed effectively but he proved beyond question his ability to stay a mile and a quarter and as much set up a much anticipated showdown with Mill Reef in the Eclipse Stakes at Sandown Park next season.

1972: four-year-old season[edit]

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.[4] 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.[5] 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."[6]

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).

Stud record[edit]

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[edit]

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.[7]

Pedigree[edit]

Pedigree of Brigadier Gerard, bay stallion, 1968[8]
Sire
Queen's Hussar
B. 1960
March Past
Br. 1950
Petition Fair Trial
Art Paper
Marcelette William of Valence
Permavon
Jojo
Gr. 1950
Vilmorin Gold Bridge
Queen of the Meadows
Fairy Jane Fair Trial
Light Tackle
Dam
La Paiva
B. 1960
Prince Chevalier
B. 1943
Prince Rose Rose Prince
Indolence
Chevalerie Abbot's Speed
Kassala
Brazen Molly
B. 1940
Horus
Ch. 1926
Papyrus
Lady Peregrine
Molly Adare Phalaris
Molly Desmond (Family 14-c)[2]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Biggar, Allan (ed.), The Stallion Review 1977
  2. ^ a b "Pretty Polly - Family 14-c". Bloodlines.net. Retrieved 2012-10-21. 
  3. ^ Hislop, John, Breeding for Racing, Martin Secker & Warburg, London, 1976, ISBN 436 19701 4
  4. ^ "BRIGADIER GERARD WINS 15TH IN ROW". New York Times. 2012-06-10. Retrieved 2012-10-21. 
  5. ^ "Baeza rides Roberto to upset win". Schenectady Gazette. 16 August 1972. Retrieved 2012-10-21. 
  6. ^ Daily Telegraph, 15 August 2012, page S18.
  7. ^ Morris, Tony; Randall, John (1990). Horse Racing: Records, Facts, Champions (Third Edition). Guinness Publishing. ISBN 0-85112-902-1. 
  8. ^ "Brigadier Gerard pedigree". equineline.com. 2012-05-08. Retrieved 2012-10-21.