Golden Fleece (horse)
|Breeder||Mr & Mrs Paul Hexter|
|Nijinsky Stakes (1982)
Ballymoss Stakes (1982)
Epsom Derby (1982)
|Top-rated European racehorse (1982)
Timeform rating 99 (1981), 133 (1982)
Golden Fleece (1979–1984) was an American-bred and Irish-trained Thoroughbred race horse and sire. In a career which consisted of only four races, he was undefeated, with his most notable success coming on his final racecourse appearance in the 1982 Epsom Derby.
Golden Fleece was a big, heavily built bay horse bred in the United States by Mr & Mrs Paul Hexter. He was foaled and raised at Hilary J. Boone's Wimbledon Farm in Fayette County, Kentucky. As a yearling, he was sent to the sales and bought for $775,000 by Robert Sangster. He was sent to Ireland to be trained by Vincent O'Brien at Ballydoyle.
Golden Fleece was sire by Nijinsky, the Canadian-bred winner of the English Triple Crown in 1970 who went on to become an important stallion, siring horses such as Ferdinand, Lammtarra, Sky Classic and Shahrastani. Golden Fleece's dam, Exotic Treat, produced at least four other winners.
Golden Fleece began his racing career in September 1981 when he contested a one mile maiden race at Leopardstown Racecourse. Ridden by Pat Eddery, he took the lead in the straight and won decisively from Assert, despite being eased down in the closing stages. Golden Fleece did not race again in 1981, but his form was boosted when Assert won the Beresford Stakes by four lengths.
In the spring of 1982, Golden Fleece established himself as a leading contender for the Derby by winning the Ballymoss Stakes at the Curragh and the Nijinsky Stakes at Leopardstown. His participation in the Classic was briefly put in doubt by a minor training injury, but he made a quick recovery.
In the Epsom Derby, Golden Fleece started the 3/1 favourite in a field of eighteen runners. His task was made slightly easier by the late withdrawal of his main rival in the betting, the Henry Cecil-trained Simply Great. Ridden by Pat Eddery, he was held up in the early stages and was still towards the back of the field on the turn into the straight. He was then switched to the outside and began to make rapid progress. Golden Fleece took the lead a furlong from the finish and pulled away to win by three lengths from the future St Leger winner Touching Wood with Silver Hawk third. His winning time of 2:34.27 was the fastest for almost fifty years. After the race, Eddery called Golden Fleece "the best horse I have ever sat on".
Golden Fleece had training problems after his win at Epsom and was retired to stud without racing again.
In 1981, Golden Fleece was given a rating of 99 by the independent Timeform organisation. In the following year, Golden Fleece was given an end of season rating of 133 by Timeform, placing him fourth behind Ardross, Assert and Green Forest. The official International Classification however, rated him the best European racehorse of the year, a pound ahead of Assert and Kalaglow.
In their book A Century of Champions, John Randall and Tony Morris rated Golden Fleece as an "average" Derby winner and the seventeenth best Irish racehorse of the 20th century.
Nijinsky II (CAN)
|Bull Page||Bull Lea|
Exotic Treat (USA)
|Rare Prefume||Eight Thirty|
- Wimbledon Farm Retrieved 23 August 2009
- "Exotic Treat Offspring". Pedigree query. Retrieved 31 December 2011.
- "English Derby Winner: Golden Fleece". Chef-de-race. Retrieved 31 December 2011.
- Timeform staff (1982). Racehorses of 1981. Timeform. ISBN 0-900599-33-2.
- "Golden Fleece is lame". Glasgow Herald. 15 May 1982. Retrieved 31 December 2011.
- "Fleece becomes Epsom favourite". St. Petersburg Times. 2 June 1982. Retrieved 31 December 2011.
- "Golden Fleece moves like a bullet". Calgary Herald. 3 June 1982. Retrieved 31 December 2011.
- "Derby win adds gold to trainers fleece". Sydney Morning Herald. 4 June 1982. Retrieved 31 December 2011.
- "Golden Fleece by 3 lengths". New Straits Times. 3 June 1982. Retrieved 31 December 2011.
- "Golden Fleece is out". New Straits Times. 22 June 1982. Retrieved 31 December 2011.
- Morris, Tony; Randall, John (1990). Horse Racing: Records, Facts, Champions(Third Edition). Guinness Publishing. ISBN 0-85112-902-1.
- Timeform staff (1983). Racehorses of 1982. Timeform. ISBN 0-900599-35-9.
- Morris, Tony; Randall, John (1999). A Century of Champions. Portway Press. ISBN 1-901570-15-0.
- "Golden Fleece dies". Eugene Register-Guard. 20 March 1984. Retrieved 31 December 2011.