Robert Sangster 1936-2004: Sangster's top six.
The only dual winner of the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe since Ribot, was slow to mature and was overshadowed by another Sangster-O'Brien star, The Minstrel, for much of their three-year-old season in 1977. Having run away with the Great Voltigeur Stakes, he suffered the only defeat of his ten-race career when second to Dunfermline in the St Leger, but he proved himself the champion of Europe in the Arc. His four-year-old campaign was compromised by a virus but he still scored a majestic repeat Arc victory to prove himself the best horse Sangster ever owned.
2 El Gran Senor (1981)
The best miler since Brigadier Gerard, was a champion in both the seasons he raced and won seven of his eight starts.
He landed the National and Dewhurst Stakes as a juvenile, and in 1984 he showed brilliant speed to beat Chief Singer, Lear Fan and Rainbow Quest in a vintage renewal of the 2,000 Guineas. He snatched defeat from the jaws of victory when beaten a short head by Secreto in the Derby, but made partial amends by winning the Irish Derby.
3 The Minstrel (1974)
Was an ultra-tough colt who would have been a champion in almost any other year thanks to a notable Group 1 hat-trick, but in the long run he was eclipsed by his stablemate and contemporary Alleged. This flashy chestnut won the Dewhurst Stakes, and in 1977 bounced back from defeats in the 2,000 Guineas and Irish 2,000 to score a battling victory in the Derby. He then won the Irish Derby and again showed great courage to beat Orange Bay by a short head in the King George.
4 Golden Fleece (1979)
Was an unbeaten Derby hero, winning all his four races, and was officially rated the best horse in Europe in 1982, but there was more than a hint of unrealised potential about his career. He won the Ballymoss and Nijinsky Stakes in Ireland, but his only real test came in the Derby, in which he was nearly last at Tattenham Corner but produced a stunning burst to beat Touching Wood by three lengths in near-record time. His large, fragile frame could not stand further training.
5 Assert (1979)
Was the best of Sangster's horses not trained by Vincent O'Brien, being stabled with the latter's son, David. He was beaten twice by the same owner's Golden Fleece, but improved enough to dispute with him the leadership of their generation with four wide-margin Group 1 victories in 1982. Assert brought off a Derby double in the Prix du Jockey-Club and (by eight lengths) the Irish Derby, and then landed the Benson & Hedges Gold Cup and Joe McGrath Memorial Stakes. He was second in the King George.
6 Sadler's Wells (1981)
Has become the perennial champion sire, the greatest stallion of modern times in Europe, but he won only six of his 11 races, and among the Ballydoyle three-year-olds of 1984 he ranked behind another son of Northern Dancer, El Gran Senor, who beat him in the Gladness Stakes. Won the Irish 2,000 Guineas, Eclipse and inaugural Irish Champion Stakes, but, though second to Darshaan in the Prix du Jockey-Club and to Teenoso in the King George, he never won beyond ten furlongs.
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|Publication:||The Racing Post (London, England)|
|Date:||Apr 9, 2004|
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