Sadler’s Wells and Vincent O’Brien
(Lisa Millar/Fox/Getty)

Yesterday’s news that stallion phenomenon, Sadler’s Wells, had been retired for declining fertility has elicited tributes from across the world, including this one by Andrew Caulfield.

“Superlatives are greatly overused in the world of sport, but no one could begrudge their being used about Sadler’s Wells, with his phenomenal record of 14 sires’ championships in the space of 15 years. No stallion has come close to such dominance in Britain and Ireland - not even the legendary stallions which operated during the much less competitive eras of the 18th and 19th centuries.

He was also dominant in that it was usually easy to spot one of his progeny. A dominant bay who sometimes passed on his prominent blaze and a sock or two, he also became synonymous with soundness and dependability. He had shown these qualities throughout his own career for the equally great Vincent O’Brien.

Considering that he gained his Group 1 victories over a mile and 1 1/4 miles, arguably the most surprising aspect of his stallion career has been the amount of stamina he has often passed on to his stock. A sprinter by Sadler’s Wells is virtually a mythical creature.

The group winners from Sadler’s Wells’ first four crops divided very unevenly between the sexes, with the colts leading the fillies by 20 to two, but one of the fillies was Salsabil, winner of the 1000 Guineas, Oaks and Irish Derby. Gradually, more and more good fillies began to appear, and he has won the Oaks with Salsabil, Intrepidity, Moonshell, Imagine and Alexandrova, plus the Irish Oaks with Dance Design and Ebadiyla. He has also won the Irish 1000 Guineas with Imagine, Gossamer and Yesterday and made a sizeable impact on the Fillies’ Mile, with Gossamer, Playful Act and Listen.

No wonder he has been champion broodmare sire for the last three years. There was also a time when people questioned his right to be considered a sire of sires, but Montjeu, Galileo, Barathea, El Prado and In the Wings have set the record straight.”

Click here to watch video of Sadler’s Wells winning the Phoenix Champion Stakes 1984

Click here to watch video of Sadler’s Wells winning the Eclipse Stakes 1984