Sadler's Wells wins the 1984 Coral Eclipse Stakes
Sadler's Wells wins the 1984 Coral Eclipse Stakes

Sadler’s Wells wins the 1984 Coral Eclipse Stakes at Sandown Park

(Photo : PA Archive)


(Northern Dancer - Fairy Bridge) 

Sadler’s Wells (Northern Dancer - Fairy Bridge, by Bold Reason), a perennial champion stallion and prodigious sire of sires in Europe, died Tuesday afternoon of natural causes at Coolmore, where he had resided since entering stud in 1985. He was 30 years old.

Coolmore manager Christy Grassick said, “He was undoubtedly the best sire Europe has ever seen, and through his sons Galileo, Montjeu, High Chaparral and Yeats, along with grandsons Hurricane Run and Rip Van Winkle, he has left a wonderful legacy at Coolmore, and his influence looks set to continue for many years to come. We all feel privileged to have been involved with such a special horse.”

Sadler’s Wells captured both of his starts at two, including the G2 Beresford Stakes, but was overshadowed by the brilliance of stablemate and fellow Northern Dancer scion El Gran Senor (brother to Summerhill’s multiple champion sire Northern Guest), who ended 1983 as the champion 2-year-old in England and Ireland. At three, Sadler’s Wells won the G2 Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial Stakes before earning Classic glory in the G1 Irish 2000 Guineas. He followed with a runner-up finish in the G1 Prix du Jockey Club, splitting future top sires Darshaan (GB) and Rainbow Quest.

The blaze-faced bay established himself as one of the toughest members of his generation thereafter, winning the G1 Coral-Eclipse Stakes and G1 Irish Champion Stakes, as well as finishing second in the G1 King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Diamond Stakes. Northern Dancer, represented by dual Classic winner El Gran Senor (2000 Guineas and Irish Derby) as well as Epsom Derby hero Secreto in addition to Sadler’s Wells, set record earnings figures in Britain and Ireland in 1984, becoming the first stallion to pass the GBP1-million mark (the previous best was GBP559,999).

“He was a hell of a good racehorse,” former jockey Pat Eddery told PA Sport. “I won the Eclipse and the Irish Champion on him, and also finished second in the King George. He was a very tough horse with a great pedigree. He probably was the best sire of them all.”

Rated at 132 by Timeform, Sadler’s Wells entered stud in 1985 at Coolmore as one of the most desirable stallion prospects in years, with El Gran Senor and Secreto heading across the Atlantic, and his 3/4-brother Nureyev (Northern Dancer - Special) departing France for Kentucky after one breeding season. Expectations were understandably high for Sadler’s Wells with his initial Ir125,000gns stud fee, but the robust bay managed to exceed even the highest hopes. The tone for his stud career was set when a pair of colts from his first crop - Prince of Dance (GB) and Scenic (Ire) - deadheated for victory in the 1988 G1 Dewhurst Stakes. They were joined by Old Vic (GB), who doubled up in the G1 Prix du Jockey-Club and G1 Irish Derby; and In the Wings (GB), who captured the 1990 G1 Breeders’ Cup Turf.

These early successes kept breeders clamoring for his services, and Sadler’s Wells continued to deliver while covering big books of well-bred mares. The services of his Classic-winning sons Galileo (Ire) and Montjeu (Ire) are in high demand. Another son, El Prado (Ire), led the U.S. sire list in 2002, and is responsible for MGISW Medaglia d’Oro, who has gotten off to a tremendous start at stud.

“It’s the end of an era,” Robert Sangster’s son Ben told PA Sport. “It is the most phenomenal record for any horse to be champion sire 14 times - a record that is likely to remain unequalled. His legacy will live on through his sons and daughters and their sons and daughters.”

Extract from Thoroughbred Daily News