Maybe horse who revealed his brilliance at Epsom.
There were a couple of occasions in particular, back in the 1970s, when I got carried away by two-year-old performances that seemed to announce the second coming of Pegasus and I went over the top in thrusting greatness on the wretched beasts.
The first one was Apalachee, who turned up for the 1973 Observer Gold Cup after a couple of easy wins against negligible opposition at the Curragh for a showdown with Mississippian, who had just proved himself the best of his age in France by beating Nonoalco in the Grand Criterium. Apalachee fairly trotted up by two lengths while Mississippian had the best of the rest ten lengths behind him.
He had the class, the physique and the pedigree of one with the Triple Crown at his mercy. He was never going to be beaten and I made sure that everyone had the benefit of my conviction. All seemed well when he won the Gladness Stakes in the following spring but he came up short in the Guineas, an indifferent third to Nonoalco, and was never seen on a racecourse again.
I should have known better than to repeat such a rash prediction but five years later I became the self-appointed president of the Tromos fan club after watching him run his rivals ragged in the Dewhurst Stakes. I pronounced him my horse of the year, declared him to be the truly great horse we had been awaiting since the retirement of Brigadier Gerard and looked forward confidently to the vindication of my judgement.
Oh dear! Tromos did not even get as far as the Guineas, turned over by Lyphard's Wish in the Craven before succumbing to a convenient virus that promptly ended his career. It was back to square one in the quest for 1979's champion three-year-old and there were no obvious candidates.
Troy did not strike me automatically as one for the shortlist. He had certainly been smart at two, winning a Newmarket maiden comfortably, then quickening well to win in better company at Goodwood, lowering the colours of the previously unbeaten Ela-Mana-Mou. That was all well and fine but Ela-Mana-Mou had later reversed the form in the Royal Lodge, suggesting that he was the better prospect for three-year-old stardom.
Besides, there were those who believed that Troy was only second-best in his own stable. Dick Hern also had More Light, who had chased Tromos home in the Dewhurst, and that was arguably better form.
Troy was going to have to make considerable strides in the spring to make a real impression on me.
Eleven days after the Tromos debacle Troy made his reappearance at Sandown for the Classic Trial and I was there to watch him scramble home by a neck from Two Of Diamonds - not wildly impressive for a 4-7 shot, I thought.
The runner-up did go on to beat his only two rivals in a Dee Stakes run on heavy ground, but what did that signify? Perhaps the Predominate Stakes would provide a better clue.
But that Goodwood race cut up badly so Troy was at 4-11 to beat three nondescript opponents. He duly trounced them, as he was entitled to, scoring by seven lengths, the manner of his victory counting for more than the bare form. He had to be on everyone's Derby shortlist now but it was still hard to gauge his merit.
This was going to be a special Derby, not just because it was the 200th in the series and the media had made a lot of fuss about the landmark. It also featured a fancied runner in the royal colours, as Milford had run away from his rivals in the Lingfield Trial in a style that allowed hopes that Her Majesty would finally win the one Classic that had eluded her.
Milford, like Troy, was trained by Dick Hern, and though stable jockey Willie Carson was aboard Troy Milford had the assistance of Lester Piggott, already an eight-time Derby winner. The word was that there was not much between the pair and the market concurred. When betting opened on the big day it was a toss-up which would start second choice behind lukewarm favourite Ela-Mana-Mou. What did seem certain was that, with no clear stand-out in a 23-runner field, we were going to witness a close contest.
Of all the countless delights that racing can provide there is perhaps none more thrilling than the revelation of a great horse's brilliance. Troy started that Derby as just one of a crowd, a maybe horse, and he finished it as a readily recognised champion, having delivered a performance of superlative quality.
That did not seem likely in the early stages when Lyphard's Wish set a strong pace and Carson was scrubbing, seemingly anxious not to get too far adrift.
It still didn't seem likely at Tattenham Corner when Troy had a dozen in front of him and Milford was Lyphard's Wish's closest pursuer. But what a transformation we witnessed in the straight.
Troy began to make ground from the three-furlong pole, was switched to the outside shortly afterwards, building momentum as he picked off one after another in a relentless drive. Milford was in retreat, Lyphard's Wish had shot his bolt and it was suddenly apparent that Troy was going to mow them all down.
When Northern Baby was reeled in Dickens Hill became the only remaining target, and the Irish colt was powerless to resist. Troy was in front before the furlong and the winning distance was now the only issue to be resolved. The verdict was seven lengths and there were three more between Dickens Hill and Northern Baby. The supposedly open Derby had turned out to be a rout.
UNSURPRISINGLY there was widespread delight over that stunning display, but it was not quite universal. In those days the press stand was adjacent to the royal box and my glance in that direction quickly established that Milford's owner was not rejoicing over her trainer's success.
It did not require much imagination to surmise that Her Majesty had been led to believe that her colt had as good a chance as the winner. And she would not have been amused by the jubilant Carson's remark that he had known "weeks ago" that he was on the right one.
Now an acknowledged champion Troy was always going to record further triumphs, and he did, first slamming Dickens Hill again - this time by four lengths - in the Irish Derby. The King George provided a first test in open company, but with the previous year's winner Ile de Bourbon sidelined the test was not a severe one; starting at 2-5 Troy beat French-trained Gay Mecene in unspectacular fashion by a length and a half.
The choice of the Benson & Hedges Gold Cup as Troy's next target caused some surprise, many believing that the shorter trip would not be to his advantage. It surely wasn't, but who could be backed to beat him? He started at 1-2 in the field of ten and he eventually did the business, but Carson was hard at work early and in the stands some of us were recalling that this was the race in which the Brigadier had been out-run by Roberto.
Ten or more lengths adrift of Lyphard's Wish and Crimson Beau three furlongs from home Troy was going to have to do something special to catch them, and he needed some severe rousting before he engaged that extra gear that only he possessed. All was well at the finish with victory by three-quarters of a length over Crimson Beau, but it had been a harder race than was ideal as a prep for the Arc. Did Troy fail at Longchamp because of his York exertions? Perhaps, but I confess that I shed no tears when he came home third behind Three Troikas, having had a pony on the filly at 20-1 the day before her victory in the Prix Vermeille.
I remember Three Troikas fondly for what remains the most successful ante-post punt of my life, but I'm more grateful for the memory of Troy's Derby. Priceless.
Your recollections of last week's giant - SagaroThe way Sagaro travelled with Piggott sat motionless on him was a sight to behold shade24 **Knew him when he was at stud at Limestone, great horse and a Christian - a kid could do him. Not a success at stud but what a racehorse. His Gold Cup record was beaten but would Yeats have coped with his turn of foot? We'll never know elmaamul TROY b c, 25-3-1976 Pedigree Fair Trial Petition Art Paper Petingo (b 1965) Alycidon Alcazar Quarterdeck Hyperion Hornbeam Thicket La Milo (ch 1963) Pinza Pin Prick Miss Winston Bred by Ballymacoll Stud Farm Ltd in England Race/stud record Ran 11 Won 8 2nd 2 Earned pounds 450,494 Big races won Classic Trial S., Derby S., Irish Derby, King George VI & Queen Elizabeth S., Benson & Hedges Gold Cup Gr1-winning progeny Helen Street (Irish Oaks), Walensee (Prix Vermeille)
Troy: Willie Carson said afterwards he knew he was on the right horse at Epsom weeks before