yeats and mick kinaneSolskjaer’s brother Yeats winning the Ascot Gold Cup with Mick Kinane aboard
(Photo : Alan Crowhurst)

The latest edition of the celebrated “bible” of European racing, Timeform’s Racehorses of 2008, has just landed on our desk, courtesy of Sheikh Hamdan’s Shadwell Estate. The founder of Timeform, the inimitable Phil Bull, was as articulate and as enthusiastic a scribe on the affairs of the turf as anyone could imagine, and its at times like this that we’re reminded of how well our industry is served in the intellectual sense. This is another spellbinding edition, yet it’s the commentary on Solskjaer’s brother, Yeats, that gripped us this morning including a reminiscence around his three consecutive Ascot Gold Cups, a feat achieved only once previously by Sargaro almost fifty years ago.

It’s the degree of research the authors of Timeform apply to their writings though, that make this book so worthwhile, and in Yeats’ instance, there are reflections on his remarkable sire, Sadler’s Wells. We quote:

Sadler’s Wells was happily still in good condition physically on his retirement, and he certainly owes Coolmore nothing. In fact, the most successful stud in Europe owes its phenomenal record over the last twenty years largely to Sadler’s Wells, since his achievements as a sire of top-class runners and his legacy as a sire of sires is remarkable. The earnings that have accrued to the stud have been similarly remarkable, Sadler’s Wells never falling lower than IR 75,000 guineas and much of the time standing at IR 200,000 guineas (or its euro equivalent), though, for much of his career, his fee was officially private. By some calculations, with adjustments for inflation, this puts the notional worth to Coolmore of Sadler’s Wells in the region of £400,000,000 (or R6 billion rand!).

Tony Morris wrote in the Racing Post. “In February 1990, after Sadler’s Wells had been represented by his first crop of three-year-olds, I ventured the suggestion that he might prove to be the best stallion ever to have stood in Ireland. It was an assessment that seriously underestimated his potential. Sadler’s Wells has been one of the very best stallions to have stood anywhere on the planet’. The judgement hits the nail on the head. As to the details, it’s a case of where to start. According to Weatherbys, up to the end of 2008, the progeny of Sadler’s Wells (who had 2,274 foals recorded on Weatherby’s database) have won three hundred and forty-nine pattern or graded races, including one hundred and twenty-seven Group 1 events.

Sadler’s Wells has been represented by seventy-two individual Group/Grade 1 winners, including twenty-five individual classic winners, a record six Breeders’ Cup winners and twenty-two Group 1-winning two-year-olds – the latter figure impressive for a sire whose progeny generally are ideally suited by middle distances.

He has been Champion Sire in Britain and Ireland a record fourteen times, thirteen of those in succession from 1992 to 2004, and also won the title in France in 1993 and 1999. He has been champion sire of broodmares for the last four years too.

Comparisons with stallions who operated a century or more ago are hardly fair, given the way the world of bloodstock has changed, but the previous record holder for the number of stallion titles was Highflyer, foaled in 1774 (none of the other sires with seven titles or more was foaled after 1881). Perhaps the best modern-day comparison is with US-based Storm Cat, whose retirement was announced not long after Sadler’s Wells, and for the same reason. Storm Cat is twenty-five, so he has not had quite so many runners, but he has sired around one hundred fewer pattern or graded winners than Sadler’s Wells, and fewer than half the number of Group/Grade 1 winners. Quite right Storm Cat is regarded as an outstanding sire, which puts Sadler’s Wells achievements into perspective”.