Memorable displays that lit up the summer of 1982.
But closer examination of his record allows a kinder verdict on that likeable, leggy grey, who raced unbeaten as a juvenile, disappointed in a second season truncated through injury and came back stronger than ever as a four-year-old to notch victories in the two most important middle-distance events in the summer calendar.
Bought by James Delahooke for 11,500gns on behalf of a partnership of owners in Guy Harwood's Pulborough stable, Kalaglow made his debut in a 6f Newmarket maiden in August. He fairly scooted away from his 14 rivals in the final furlong, scoring by six lengths and creating a highly favourable impression.
Later that month, at slight odds-on for a well-contested 7f event at Sandown, he was made to work harder against a pair of highly regarded debutants in Centurius and Cut Above before drawing clear for a two-length victory.
Next stop was a 7f Newbury nursery, in which he had to give between 7lb and 26lb to six opponents, and victory number three was duly attained, Greville Starkey driving the colt out when he tended to idle inside the last. And the sequence was maintained in a conditions race over 1m at Goodwood at the end of September; he started at 1-3, took command at the quarterpole and just had to be shaken up to score easily by a couple of lengths.
Having won four out of four, all by daylight margins, Kalaglow was surely entitled to a shot in Pattern company, and he was given that chance in the Group 3 Horris Hill Stakes, back at Newbury. The ground was tacky, which was not expected to suit him, and he drifted from 7-4 to 3-1 in the face of strong support for the Ballydoyle-trained Gielgud, who could already show strong form at Group 2 level, having won the Champagne Stakes at Doncaster and finished third in the Royal Lodge at Ascot.
As it turned out, Kalaglow had nothing to fear from Gielgud, who dropped away tamely when put under pressure, but his old rival Cut Above, in receipt of 5lb, gave him a good run for his money, going under by only three-quarters of a length. He did no more than was necessary to win and left the impression that he was probably better than the bare form.
When the weights for the Free Handicap came out Kalaglow was ranked only third best in his own stable - 10lb below To-Agori-Mou and 5lb below Recitation, who had both given high-class displays in Group 1s, the former as runner-up to champion Storm Bird in the Dewhurst, the latter as winner of the Grand Criterium. He had plenty to prove yet, but he was a grand mover and seemed to have plenty of scope for improvement.
The 1981 season started well for the Harwood stable, notwithstanding To-Agori-Mou's surprise defeat in the Craven Stakes. We were barely into May before that colt had won the 2,000 Guineas, Recitation had taken the Poule d'Essai des Poulains and Kalaglow had made all to win the 1m1f Heath Stakes at Newmarket by four lengths. The team clearly had two cracking milers and I was beginning to think that the grey, who was now heading for the Dante, just might be a serious Derby contender.
Of course, Shergar's ten-length romp in the Sandown Classic Trial and 12-length victory in the Chester Vase changed everyone's perceptions, but Kalaglow was second favourite for the premier Classic when he lined up at just a shade of odds against for York's Group 2 test. He ran a stinker, finishing fifth of six, nearly 15 lengths behind the winner, Beldale Flutter, and while he was competing on the softest ground he had ever encountered, it was hard to forgive such an abject display.
Some did forgive him and he still took his chance in the Derby, though he could only be running for place money in what promised to be - and duly turned out to be - a thoroughly one-sided Classic. After half a mile his chance of reaching a place had gone, wiped out in a barging match that left him with a serious leg injury, and that was the end of his season.
The mishap was all too discouraging for one of Kalaglow's part-owners who wanted out, but his trainer kept the faith, buying that one-sixth share for himself, and when the colt eventually returned to action, as impressive winner of the Group 3 Earl of Sefton Stakes the following spring, Harwood's judgement appeared to be vindicated.
But the very next morning he was not so sure about that. A call from Weatherbys' Stud Book department telling him that a flaw in Kalaglow's pedigree had been uncovered was highly disconcerting. What if the colt was not really by the outstanding sire Kalamoun? His investment would not seem so clever then.
In fact, the discrepancy was not about Kalaglow's sire, but his dam. The identities of two chesnut fillies with the same granddam had been confused when they were sent into training years earlier, and now it had been established that he was out of the Pall Mall mare Rossitor rather than the Crepello mare Aglow.
The correction was no big deal in terms of what Kalaglow might be worth for stud duty. But the colt still had to earn a stallion's role, and he had yet to win a Group 1. He was sent for the Prix Ganay with a view to filling that gap, and it didn't happen, though seventh place in a field of ten was not so bad, given that he finished within four lengths of the winner.
Back on home turf, he was about to realise the potential of his pre-Dante days. Kalaglow set a course record when storming home by eight lengths in the Brigadier Gerard Stakes, just a Group 3, but the display was so impressive that he started a hot favourite for the Eclipse. There was no doubting his class as he claimed his first top-level success with a four-length triumph over Lobkowiez, and that performance entitled him to take his chance in the King George.
BUT the Ascot race was bound to provide a much sterner test than the Eclipse. There he would have to contend with Assert, fresh from a brace of Derby victories at Chantilly and the Curragh, plus the winners of the previous season's Italian and French Derbys, Glint Of Gold and Bikala, the latter another son of Kalamoun, and a half-brother to Assert.
On the day the siblings dominated the market, with Assert at a shade of odds-on and Bikala at 11-2. Kalaglow, who had yet to prove his ability at 1m4f, was next best at 13-2, though still widely regarded as an enigmatic sort with his record of either winning easily or being easily beaten. We saw him in a different light at Ascot, where he gave a career-best display, adding gameness to the list of his acknowledged attributes.
Outpaced early and pushed along to reach fourth place turning for home, he still had plenty to do, but Greville Starkey managed to secure him the rail and he gradually improved into a challenging position. Assert, in front well before the furlong marker was looking the likely winner, but the grey drew upsides inside the last and a battle royal ensued. Both were driven hard, responding resolutely, but a few strides from the finish Kalaglow gained the upper hand to secure a neck victory.
Kalaglow was not seen again until his swansong in the Champion Stakes, when he turned in a below-par performance to finish eighth as the 6-4 favourite. He did meet severe traffic problems there, but he had never seemed to be stretching out properly on the tacky ground, and he appeared to be beaten when the interference occurred.
It was a disappointing end to an up-and-down career, but while Kalaglow undoubtedly fell short of greatness, he provided his share of memorable displays, with that Ascot triumph as the highlight.
Your recollections of last week's giant - Mill Reef One of the turf greats in a year of top-quality horses, which proves he was a true champion. There's only been about five quality years since. tedgold As a teenager I remember watching him come through a wall of horses on the bridle in the Arc and win with so much in hand. This was my awakening to be involved with horseracing and one day feel the reality of owning a good horse. winterbeck Mill Reef was one of the very best and my favourite of all time. He had a special magic and proved a great influence as a sire. There was a lovely film about him called Something to Brighten the Morning. millreef Mill Reef is the reason I forged a long-lasting love affair with horseracing since 1970. I treasure the correspondence from Paul Mellon and, above all, the two hairs from the head of Mill Reef gleaned from a day at the National Stud. martingodfrey Mill Reef's Derby was the first meeting I went to and I have been hooked ever since. Brave, brilliant and charismatic, he will always be my favourite racehorse. PHILIP4
Kalaglow (left) gets the better of dual Derby hero Assert in the King George at Ascot in July 1982