Sadler's Wells (horse)

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Sadler's Wells
Sire Northern Dancer
Grandsire Nearctic
Dam Fairy Bridge
Damsire Bold Reason
Sex Stallion
Foaled 11 April 1981
Country United States
Colour Bay
Breeder Swettenham Stud
Owner Robert Sangster
Trainer Vincent O'Brien
Record 11:6-4-0
Earnings $663,423
Major wins
Beresford Stakes (1983)
Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial (1984)
Irish 2,000 Guineas (1984)
Eclipse Stakes (1984)
Irish Champion Stakes (1984)
Champion Miler in France (1984)
Leading sire in North America (1995)
Leading sire in Britain & Ireland
(1990, 1992–2004)
Leading sire in France
(1993, 1994, 1999)
Leading broodmare sire in Britain & Ireland (2005–2011)

Sadler's Wells (11 April 1981 – 26 April 2011) was a Thoroughbred racehorse who was later a leading sire in France, Great Britain & Ireland and North America during the 1990s. Only Danehill has sired more stakes winners than Sadler's Wells. He was foaled in 1981 in the United States but achieved most of his racing and breeding fame in Europe.


Sadler's Wells was a bay horse with a broad white blaze and white socks on his hind legs. He was by Northern Dancer,[1] the most successful sire of his era, out of Fairy Bridge by Bold Reason. Fairy Bridge, a sister of the disqualified 2000 Guineas winner Nureyev, was a highly successful broodmare, producing National Stakes winner Tate Gallery and successful breeding stallion Fairy King.[2][3]

The colt was sent into training with Vincent O'Brien at Ballydoyle. Throughout his racing career, Sadler's Wells had a characteristic running style, galloping with his head at an unusually high angle.[4]

Racing career[edit]

1983: two-year-old season[edit]

Sadler's Wells made his first appearance in September at Leopardstown Racecourse when he ran in a seven-furlong maiden race. The colt was ridden by Pat Eddery and started the 1/2 favourite in a field of sixteen runners. He was always among the leaders and drew away from his opponents in the straight to win by six lengths from Cyrano. Three weeks later, he was moved up in class for the Group Three Beresford Stakes at the Curragh. Racing over one mile on soft ground led from the start and won by six lengths from Cerussite. In the International Classification, he was given a rating of 78, ten pounds behind the top-rated El Gran Senor, who was also owned by Sangster and trained by O'Brien.[5]

1984: three-year-old season[edit]

On his first race as a three-year-old, Sadler's Wells met El Gran Senor on the racecourse for the first and only time, when he finished second to his stable companion in the seven-furlong Gladness Stakes at the Curragh. He won the ten-furlong Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial and was then brought back in distance for the Irish 2,000 Guineas over one mile. In a closely contested finish, he won from the French-trained Procida and the favourite Secreto. The O'Brien trained Capture Him, whom Eddery chose to ride in preference to Sadler's Wells, finished fourth.[4]

The one-mile St. James's Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot was named as the colt's next target, but instead he was moved up in distance for the Prix du Jockey Club, a race O'Brien had won the previous year with Caerleon. Sadler's Wells took the lead in the straight but was overtaken in the closing stages and beaten one and a half lengths by Darshaan, with Rainbow Quest in third. In July, Sadler's Wells was the only three-year-old in a field of nine runners for the Eclipse Stakes at Sandown Park. The Irish colt took the lead in the straight and held off the challenge of the mare Time Charter to win by a neck. The winner was praised for his "battling" and "determined" performance against more experienced rivals. Later that month, Sadler's Wells ran second to Teenoso in the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot, finishing ahead of Tolomeo, Time Charter, Sun Princess, and Darshaan.[4]

Sadler's Wells failed to reproduce his best form when fourth in the Benson and Hedges Gold Cup at York but returned to the track two weeks later for the inaugural running of the Phoenix Champion Stakes, the most valuable race ever run in Ireland. The colt took the lead from the Irish Oaks winner Princess Pati two furlongs from the finish and held the late challenge of Seattle Song to win by three quarters of a length. His success took his prize money for the season to £384,114. At the time, this was the fourth-highest single-season total for any horse trained in Britain or Ireland, behind Troy (£408,424 in 1979), Tolomeo (£400,000 in 1983), and Shergar (£386,410 in 1981). On his last appearance, Sadler's Wells was sent to Longchamp in October for the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe. After being among the leaders on the turn into the straight, he faded to finish eighth behind Sagace.[4]

Sadler's Wells was given a rating of 90 by the International Classification, making him the sixth best horse of the year in Europe behind El Gran Senor (98), Teenoso (95), Sagace (93), Chief Singer (92), and Darshaan (91).[4]

Stud record[edit]

Sadler's Wells' greatest achievement came as a champion sire, and much of the Coolmore breeding empire is founded on his success. He has been Champion Sire in Great Britain & Ireland 14 times, as well as Champion Sire in France three times and North America once. He has produced over 323 stakes winners and 80 individual Group 1/Grade I winners.[6]

Notable progeny[edit]

In November 2007, a Sadler's Wells daughter, Playful Act, out of the mare Magnificient Style, was sold at the Keeneland breeding stock sale for a world-record price of US$10.5 million.

c = colt, f = filly, g = gelding,

1990 Fatherland National Stakes

Foaled Name Sex Major Wins
1986 Braashee c Prix Royal-Oak
1986 French Glory c Canadian International Stakes
1986 In the Wings c Coronation Cup, Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud, Breeders' Cup Turf
1986 Old Vic c Prix du Jockey Club, Irish Derby
1986 Prince Of Dance I c Dewhurst Stakes
1987 Salsabil f 1,000 Guineas, Epsom Oaks, Irish Derby, Prix Vermeille
1988 Opera House c Coronation Cup, Eclipse Stakes, King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes
1988 Saddler's Hall c Coronation Cup
1989 El Prado c National Stakes
1989 Masad c Gran Premio d'Italia
1989 Johann Quatz c Prix Lupin
1990 Barathea c Irish 2000 Guineas, Breeders' Cup Mile
1990 Fort Wood c Grand Prix de Paris
1990 Intrepidity f Prix Saint-Alary, Epsom Oaks, Prix Vermeille
1990 Pridwell g Aintree Hurdle
1991 Carnegie c Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, Grand Prix de Paris
1991 King's Theatre c Racing Post Trophy, King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes
1991 Northern Spur c Breeders' Cup Turf
1991 Zaiyad g Grande Course de Haies d'Auteuil
1992 Istabraq g Royal Sunalliance Novices' Hurdle, Irish Champion Hurdle (4 times), Champion Hurdle (3 times), Punchestown Champion Hurdle
1992 Moonshell f Epsom Oaks
1992 Dance Design f Irish Oaks
1994 Ebadiyla f Irish Oaks, Prix Royal-Oak
1994 Entrepreneur c 2,000 Guineas
1994 In Command c Dewhurst Stakes
1994 Kayf Tara c Ascot Gold Cup (twice), Irish St Leger (twice)
1995 Dream Well c Prix du Jockey Club, Irish Derby
1995 Insight f E. P. Taylor Stakes
1995 King of Kings c National Stakes, 2000 Guineas
1995 Leggera f Prix Vermeille
1996 Commander Collins c Racing Post Trophy
1996 Daliapour c Coronation Cup, Hong Kong Vase
1996 Montjeu c Prix du Jockey Club, Irish Derby, Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud, King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes
1996 Saffron Walden c Irish 2000 Guineas
1997 Aristotle c Racing Post Trophy
1997 Beat Hollow c Grand Prix de Paris, Turf Classic Stakes, Arlington Million
1998 Galileo c Epsom Derby, Irish Derby, King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes
1998 Imagine f Irish 1000 Guineas, Epsom Oaks
1998 Perfect Soul c Shadwell Turf Mile Stakes
1998 Milan c St. Leger
1999 Ballingarry c Critérium de Saint-Cloud, Canadian International Stakes
1999 Black Sam Bellamy c Gran Premio del Jockey Club, Tattersalls Gold Cup
1999 Gossamer f Fillies' Mile, Irish 1000 Guineas
1999 High Chaparral c Racing Post Trophy, Epsom Derby, Irish Derby, Irish Champion Stakes, Breeders' Cup Turf (twice)
1999 Islington f Nassau Stakes, Yorkshire Oaks (twice), Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf
1999 River Dancer g Queen Elizabeth II Cup
2000 Brian Boru c Racing Post Trophy, St Leger Stakes
2000 Doyen c King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes
2000 Powerscourt c Tattersalls Gold Cup, Arlington Million
2000 Yesterday f Irish 1000 Guineas
2000 Refuse to Bend c National Stakes, 2000 Guineas, Queen Anne Stakes, Eclipse Stakes
2001 Quiff f Yorkshire Oaks
2001 Yeats c Coronation Cup, Ascot Gold Cup x4, Irish St. Leger, Prix Royal-Oak
2002 Playful Act f Fillies Mile
2003 Alexandrova f Epsom Oaks, Irish Oaks, Yorkshire Oaks
2003 Ask c Coronation Cup, Prix Royal-Oak
2003 Septimus c Irish St Leger
2003 Synchronised g Welsh National, Lexus Chase, Cheltenham Gold Cup
2005 Listen f Fillies' Mile


Sire of sires[edit]

Several of Sadler's Wells sons have become successful breeding stallions in their own right. El Prado became Leading sire in North America in 2002, largely thanks to the exploits of Medaglia d'Oro.[8] In Europe, his sons Galileo and Montjeu have won sires championships in Britain[9] and France, respectively.[10]


On 13 May 2008 Coolmore announced that Sadler's Wells was retiring from breeding due to declining fertility.[11]

Sadler's Wells died peacefully on 26 April 2011 at the age of 30 at Coolmore Stud.[12][13]

Tabulated pedigree[edit]

Pedigree of Sadler's Wells (USA), bay stallion, 1981[14]
Northern Dancer (CAN)
Nearctic (CAN)
Nearco Pharos
Lady Angela Hyperion
Sister Sarah
Natalma (USA)
Native Dancer Polynesian
Almahmoud Mahmoud
Fairy Bridge (USA)
Bold Reason (USA)
Hail to Reason Turn-To
Lalun Djeddah
Be Faithful
Special (USA)
Forli Aristophanes
Thong Nantallah
Rough Shod (Family 5h)[3]


  1. ^ "Sadlers Wells Bloodlines". Betting Market. Retrieved 22 June 2013. 
  2. ^ Australian Stud Book: Fairy Bridge (USA) 1975 Retrieved 18 November 2010
  3. ^ a b "Ann of the Forest - Family 5-h". Thoroughbred Bloodlines. Retrieved 22 June 2013. 
  4. ^ a b c d e Timeform (1985). Racehorses of 1984. Timeform. ISBN 0-900599-40-5. 
  5. ^ Timeform (1984). Racehorses of 1983. Timeform. ISBN 0-900599-40-5. 
  6. ^ "Stallion Sadler's Wells". Coolmore. Retrieved 30 June 2009. 
  7. ^ "Sadler's Wells". Racing Post. 15 February 2012. Retrieved 22 June 2013. 
  8. ^ "Leading Sires of America". TB Heritage. Retrieved 22 June 2013. 
  9. ^ "Leading Sires of Great Britain and Ireland". TB Heritage. Retrieved 22 June 2013. 
  10. ^ "Leading Sires of France". TB Heritage. Retrieved 22 June 2013. 
  11. ^ "Champ sire Sadler's Wells retires". BBC Sport. 13 May 2008. Retrieved 13 May 2008. 
  12. ^ "Super sire Sadler's Wells dies at Coolmore Stud". The Guardian. 26 April 2011. Retrieved 26 April 2011. 
  13. ^ "Sadler's Wells passes away at 30". Irish Times. 26 April 2011. Retrieved 26 April 2011. 
  14. ^ "Thoroughbred Pedigrees". Equineline. 8 May 2012. Retrieved 22 June 2013. 

External links[edit]