Hard Ridden

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Hard Ridden
Sire Hard Sauce
Grandsire Ardan
Dam Toute Belle
Damsire Admiral Drake
Sex Stallion
Foaled 1955
Country Ireland
Colour Bay
Breeder Oliver Lambart
Owner Victor Sassoon
Trainer Mick Rogers
Record 5: 2-2-1
Earnings £
Major wins
Irish 2000 Guineas (1958)
Epsom Derby (1958)

Hard Ridden (1955–1981) was an Irish Thoroughbred racehorse. In a brief career of five races, he won the Irish 2000 Guineas at the Curragh and the Derby at Epsom in 1958. He was retired from racing later in the same year and stood as a stallion in Ireland and Japan.


Hard Ridden was a “long and lean”[1] bay horse bred in Ireland by Sir Oliver Lambart. His sire, Hard Sauce (1948– 1969) was a top-class racehorse, who excelled over sprint distances, winning the July Cup in1951. Hard Ridden’s dam, Toute Belle, was a French-bred mare from a staying family who failed as a racehorse and was covered by Hard Sauce after a failing to attract a buyer when put up for auction at Newmarket in December 1953.

Hard Ridden was sent to the sales at Dublin as a yearling, and was bought for 270gns by Sir Victor Sassoon. The colt was sent into training with Mick Rogers at the Curragh.[1]

Racing career[edit]

1957: two-year-old season[edit]

Hard Ridden finished second in his only race as a two-year-old in 1957.

1958: three-year-old season[edit]

On his three-year-old debut, Hard Ridden ran second in a race at the Curragh. He was then returned to the same course for the Irish 2000 Guineas and won impressively by four lengths from the future Irish Derby winner, Sindon, with Paddy's Point third.

The favourite for the Derby, Alcide, was withdrawn from the race after being “got at” (deliberately injured) in his stable, leaving the race looking very open. Hard Ridden, however, as the son of a sprinter, was thought unlikely to be effective over one and a half miles and started at 18/1 in a field of twenty in front of a crowd estimated at 200,000 including the Queen.[2] Ridden by the fifty-one-year-old Charlie Smirke,[3] Hard Ridden was held up in the early stages as the leaders set a moderate pace. In the straight, Smirke sent Hard Ridden through a gap on the inside to take the lead and go clear. In the closing stages Hard Ridden extended his advantage to win by five lengths from Paddy's Point and Nagami, becoming the first Irish-trained winner of the race since Orby in 1907.[4] Immediately after the race Smirke announced "That's it,I've ridden my last Derby!."[5]

Hard Ridden did not appear again on the racecourse until late July, when he ran in the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot. He finished unplaced behind Ballymoss and was shortly afterwards retired to stud.[1]


In their book A Century of Champions, John Randall and Tony Morris rated "Hard Ridden" as an “inferior” Derby winner.[6]

Timeform rated Hard Ridden on a mark of 131. A rating of 130 is considered the mark of an above average European Group One winner.[7]

Stud career[edit]

Hard Ridden stood as a stallion in Ireland until 1967 when he was exported to Japan. His progeny included Giolla Mear (Irish St. Leger) and Hardicanute (Champagne Stakes).


Pedigree of Hard Ridden (Ire), bay stallion, 1955[8]
Hard Sauce (GB)
Pharis Pharos
Adargatis Asterus
Helene de Troie
Saucy Bella
Bellacose Sir Cosmo
Marmite Mr Jinks
Gentlemen’s Relish
Toute Belle (FR)
Admiral Drake
Craig an Eran Sunstar
Maid of the Mist
Plucky Liege Spearmint
Casterari Fiterari
Yssel Kircubbin
Yvonne (Family: 16)


  1. ^ a b c Mortimer, Roger; Onslow, Richard; Willett, Peter (1978). Biographical Encyclopedia of British Flat Racing. Macdonald and Jane’s. ISBN 0-354-08536-0. 
  2. ^ "Epsom Derby won by bargain horse Hard Ridden". Lodi News-Sentinel. Retrieved 2011-11-04. 
  3. ^ "Charles Smirke". Horseracinghistory.co.uk. Retrieved 2011-11-07. 
  4. ^ "Irish bred Hard Ridden wins Derby". Montreal Gazette. Retrieved 2011-11-07. 
  5. ^ "Hard Ridden 18-1 victor in Epsom Derby". Meriden Record. Retrieved 2011-11-07. 
  6. ^ Morris, Tony; Randall, John (1999). A Century of Champions. Portway Press. p. 205. ISBN 1-901570-15-0. 
  7. ^ Morris, Tony; Randall, John (1990). Horse Racing: Records, Facts, Champions(Third Edition). Guinness Publishing. ISBN 0-85112-902-1. 
  8. ^ "English Derby Winner: Hard Ridden". Chef-de-race.com. Retrieved 2011-11-07. 

External links[edit]