Pilsudski (horse)

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Racing silks of Ballymacoll Stud.svg
Racing colours of Arnold Weinstock
SirePolish Precedent
BreederBallymacoll Stud
OwnerLord Weinstock
TrainerMichael Stoute
Record23: 11-7-1
Major wins
Brigadier Gerard Stakes (1996)
Royal Whip Stakes (1996)
Grosser Preis von Baden (1996)
Breeders' Cup Turf (1996)
Eclipse Stakes (1997)
Irish Champion Stakes (1997)
Champion Stakes (1997)
Japan Cup (1997)
European Champion Older Horse (1997)
Last updated on February 27, 2007

Pilsudski (foaled 23 April 1992) is a retired Thoroughbred racehorse and active sire who was bred in Ireland, but trained in the United Kingdom during a racing career which lasted from 1994 to 1997. In a four-season career he progressed from winning modest handicap races to become regarded as one of the best racehorses in the world.[1] He won eleven races in five different countries, six of them at Group One level. He also finished second in successive runnings of the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe.


Pilsudski is a "big, imposing"[2] bay horse, although not a particularly beautiful one- Walter Swinburn described him as "no oil painting".[3] He was bred in Ireland by his owner's Ballymacoll Stud near Dunboyne, County Meath. Pilsudski was sired by Polish Precedent, a son of Champion sire Danzig[4] out of the Troy mare Cocotte.

Polish Precedent won the Prix Jacques le Marois and the Prix du Moulin in 1989 and went on to sire the winners of almost five hundred races. Apart from Pilsudski, his most notable offspring was the champion miler Rakti.[5] Apart from Pilsudski, Cocotte produced at least seven other winners, most notable Fine Motion, the winner of the Queen Elizabeth II Commemorative Cup and the Shūka Sho.[6]

Pilsudski was trained throughout his career by Michael Stoute at Newmarket, Suffolk. He was jointly owned by Lord Weinstock and his son Simon, until Simon's death in May 1996.[7] Pilsudski was named after the Polish politician and patriot Józef Piłsudski (1867-1935) who was known for his love for horses.

Racing career[edit]

1994: two-year-old season[edit]

Pilsudski's racing career began unremarkably in September 1994 when he ran sixth in a nineteen-runner maiden race at Newmarket behind the future Gran Premio del Jockey Club winner Court of Honour. He was then made favourite for a similar race at Leicester but made no impression, finishing eighth.

1995: three-year-old season[edit]

Pilsudski failed to win in his early three-year-old career, finishing second in a maiden at Ripon and then running down the field in the King George V Stakes at Royal Ascot.

In July, Pilsudki won at his fifth attempt, staying on strongly to win a mile and a quarter handicap at Newmarket under a light weight.[8] Two weeks later, he followed up over a mile and a half at Glorious Goodwood, winning another handicap by a neck from Rokeby Bowl.[9] On his final start of the year he finished third to the future Caulfield Cup winner Taufan's Melody in a handicap at Ascot in September.

He had proved himself to be a useful handicapper, but his official handicap rating of 95 suggested that he was about a stone below Group class.

1996: four-year-old season[edit]

1996 saw Pilsudski make the transition from handicapper to Group One winner. On his debut he started a 16/1 outsider for the Gordon Richards Stakes at Sandown, but belied his odds by running second to his stable companion Singspiel. A month later in the Group Three Brigadier Gerard Stakes over the same course and distance he recorded his first important win, beating Lucky Di by half a length.[10]

At Royal Ascot, Pilsudski was moved up to Group Two class for the Prince of Wales's Stakes for which was made 4/1 favourite and was reportedly well-fancied by his trainer.[11] He disputed the lead until the straight, but then faded into eighth place behind First Island. It was to be the last occasion on which Pilsudski finished out of the first three. In August he was sent abroad for the first time and won the Group Three Royal Whip Stakes at The Curragh, taking the lead two furlongs out and beating I'm Supposin by one and a half lengths.[12] in "convincing"[13] style.

It was in the Autumn of 1996 that Pilsudski first showed his best form. In September he recorded a Group One win at his first attempt, taking the lead a furlong out and staying on strongly under pressure to win the Grosser Preis von Baden by three quarters of a length.[14] Although he was obviously improving,[15] Pilsudski was not regarded as a serious contender for the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe and started at odds of just over 22/1. Ridden by Walter Swinburn Pilsudki tracked the leader Helissio throughout the race. In the straight the French colt pulled away to win easily, but Pilsudki stayed on strongly to hold on to second place ahead of numerous top class performers including Swain, Shaamit and Pentire.

On his final start of the year, Pilsudski was sent to Canada for the Breeders' Cup Turf at Woodbine Racetrack. He was matched against his stable companion Singspiel, six months on from their meeting at Sandown. The rest of the European challenge included Swain and the St Leger winner Shantou, while the North American runners were headed by the local champion Chief Bearheart and Diplomatic Jet from the United States. Ridden again by Swinburn, Pilsudski raced prominently as first Diplomatic Jet and then Singspiel led. In the straight Pilsudki moved up to challenge his stablemate and pulled ahead inside the final furlong to win by one and a quarter lengths.[16] Swain and Shantou finished next to complete a "clean sweep"[17] for European-trained horses. Much attention was given to the human aspects of the victory: Swinburn had recovered from life-threatening injuries earlier in the year, and had been criticised for his riding style in previous American races, while Stoute recorded his first Breeders' Cup victory in fifteen attempts.[18]

1997: five-year-old season[edit]

In 1997 Michael Kinane took over as Pilsudski's regular jockey, and the horse had his most successful season, winning four Group One races from eight starts. His season began slowly, as he finished a well beaten third[19] to Helissio in the Prix Ganay and was then beaten by Predappio when starting favourite for the Hardwicke Stakes at Royal Ascot, where he was unsuited by the soft ground.[2]

At Sandown in July he won his most important European race to date, taking the lead a furlong out in the Eclipse Stakes and running on well to beat The Derby winner Benny the Dip by one and a quarter lengths with the odds-on favourite Bosra Sham (who had been unable to obtain a clear run) in third.[20] Although much of the coverage of the race focused on Bosra Sham's defeat, Pilsudski was given credit for his win and was described by Mick Kinane as "fit, hard and ready to fight."[2] In the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot three weeks later Pilsudski ran on strongly after being switched to the outside to finish second to Swain, ahead of Helissio, Singspiel, Shantou and Predappio in a contest which was described as the "race of the decade".[21]

Once again, Pilsudski produced his best form in the Autumn. The build-up for the Irish Champion Stakes in September suggested that the race was effectively a match between Pilsudski and the three-year-old Desert King, the winner of the Irish 2000 Guineas and Derby.[22] Pilsudski tracked the leaders before taking the lead in the straight and pulling well clear. Even though he was eased down close to the finish he still crossed the line four and a half lengths ahead of Desert King.[23] The performance was described by one national newspaper correspondent as "truly awesome".[24] In his second attempt at the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe he started third favourite and again proved to be a clear second best, finishing five lengths behind Peintre Celebre, but two and a half lengths ahead of the rest of the field.

Two weeks later at Newmarket, Pilsudki was made evens favourite for his final European start in the Champion Stakes. Kinane held the horse up before switching him to the outside to obtain a clear run inside the final quarter of a mile. Pilsudki accelerated to catch and pass the French colt Loup Sauvage inside the final furlong and pulled away to win by two lengths.[25] The Sunday Mirror described his win as "a demolition job" and Kinane paid tribute to the winner, saying that "they don't come any tougher than this horse - not only is he the toughest I've ridden, he's one of the best."[26] On his final start, Pilsudski was sent to Tokyo for the Japan Cup. Pilsudki was held up in the early stages before producing a sustained run in the straight to take the lead inside the final furlong. In a "courageous, fibre-testing performance",[1] he held off a strong late challenge from the Tenno Sho winner Air Groove to win by a neck.[27]

Pilsudski was then retired from racing and was sent back to Japan to begin his stud career in January 1998.[28]

Assessment, honours and awards[edit]

Pilsudski was named European Champion Older Horse of 1997 at the Cartier Racing Awards. He was also the highest ranked older horse of 1997 in the International Classification with a rating of 134. [29]

Stud career[edit]

Retired from racing, Pilsudski stood at stud at the Shizunai Stallion Station at Hokkaidō in Japan from 1997. After his 6-season stud career in Japan with a disappointing cumulative average earnings index of 0.42,[30] he was purchased by the Irish National Stud and Anngrove Stud and was returned to Ireland in 2003.[3] He is currently based at the Anngrove Stud at Mountmellick, County Laois[31] where he stands at a fee of €2,500 (2010).


Pedigree of Pilsudski (IRE), bay stallion 1992[32]
Polish Precedent (USA)
Danzig (USA)
Northern Dancer Nearctic
Pas de Nom Admiral's Voyage
Past Example (USA)
Buckpasser Tom Fool
Bold Example Bold Lad
Lady Be Good
Cocotte (GB)
Troy (IRE)
Petingo Petition
La Milo Hornbeam
Pin Prick
Gay Milly (FR)
Mill Reef Never Bend
Milan Mill
Gaily Sir Gaylord
Spearfish (Family: 11)


  1. ^ a b Edmondson, Richard (1997-11-24). "Stoute in the yen again". The Independent. London. Retrieved 2011-10-16.
  2. ^ a b c "Pilsudski quells the queen - Sport". The Independent. London. 1997-07-06. Retrieved 2011-10-16.
  3. ^ a b "Whatever happened to... Pilsudski?". Daily Mail. London. 2007-04-24. Retrieved 2011-10-16.
  4. ^ "Pilsudski Horse Pedigree". Pedigreequery.com. Retrieved 2011-10-15.
  5. ^ "Polish Precedent Stud Record". Racing Post. Retrieved 2011-10-16.
  6. ^ "Cocotte Offspring". Pedigreequery.com. Retrieved 2011-10-16.
  7. ^ ">> History of the Stud". Ballymacoll Stud. Retrieved 2011-10-16.
  8. ^ "Duke of Cambridge Handicap result". Racing Post. Retrieved 2011-10-15.
  9. ^ "Tote Gold Trophy result". Racing Post. Retrieved 2011-10-15.
  10. ^ "Brigadier Gerard result". Racing Post. Retrieved 2011-10-15.
  11. ^ "Ashkalani can restore the Aga's winning glow". The Independent. London. 1996-06-18. Retrieved 2011-10-16.
  12. ^ "Royal Whip Stakes result". Racing Post. Retrieved 2011-10-15.
  13. ^ "Fab Frankie's Royal Flush". Sunday Mail (Scotland). Retrieved 2011-10-16.
  14. ^ "Grosser Preis von Baden result". Racing Post. Retrieved 2011-10-15.
  15. ^ "Swinburn returns to top grade". The Independent. London. 1996-09-02. Retrieved 2011-10-16.
  16. ^ "Breeders' Cup Turf result". Racing Post. Retrieved 2011-10-15.
  17. ^ Edmondson, Richard (1996-10-27). "Pilsudski saves British esteem". The Independent. London. Retrieved 2011-10-16.
  18. ^ Edmondson, Richard (1996-10-28). "Swinburn's sweet revenge". The Independent. London. Retrieved 2011-10-16.
  19. ^ "Helissio on the way to Coronation - Sport". The Independent. London. 1997-04-28. Retrieved 2011-10-16.
  20. ^ "Eclipse Stakes result". Racing Post. Retrieved 2011-10-15.
  21. ^ Edmondson, Richard (1997-07-21). "Dip leaves generation gap". The Independent. London. Retrieved 2011-10-16.
  22. ^ "Desert King v Pilsudski (1997)". Thefreelibrary.com. 2009-09-02. Retrieved 2011-10-16.
  23. ^ "Irish Champion Stakes result". Racing Post. Retrieved 2011-10-15.
  24. ^ "Pilsudski's the king". Sunday Mirror. 1997-09-14. Retrieved 2011-10-16.
  25. ^ "Champion Stakes result". Racing Post. Retrieved 2011-10-15.
  26. ^ "Pilsudski is just Champion!". Sunday Mirror. 1997-10-19. Retrieved 2011-10-16.[dead link]
  27. ^ "Japan Cup result". Racing Post. Retrieved 2011-10-15.
  28. ^ "Racing: Singspiel fit for stud duty - Sport". The Independent. London. 1997-12-17. Retrieved 2011-10-16.
  29. ^ "Racing: Celebre earns place among greats". The Independent. London. 1998-01-14.
  30. ^ "Stallion Reports: Statistics | Pilsudski (IRE)". JBIS (Japan Bloodstock Information System). Japan Bloodhorse Breeders' Association. Retrieved 2018-05-31.
  31. ^ "Anngrove Stud". Directoryoftheturf.com. Retrieved 2011-10-15.
  32. ^ "Pilsudski pedigree". equineline.com. 2012-05-08. Retrieved 2012-07-02.