O’Brien’s first Derby winner underpins line of champions.
Just a quick glance at this year’s Cazoo Derby betting highlights the influence Galileo has had on the thoroughbred breed.
It is 20 years since the son of Sadler’s Wells, out of the brilliant racemare Urban Sea, launched Aidan O’Brien’s assault on winning the blue riband.
The Coolmore team has since triumphed at Epsom with some true greats such as High Chaparral, who went on to win at the Breeders’ Cup, and Camelot who came agonisingly close to claiming the Triple Crown.
But none of them come near to Galileo, who in his three-year-old season won the Ballysax, Derrinstown, Irish Derby and King George, as well as at Epsom.
His unbeaten run came to an end in a tremendous tussle with Fantastic Light in the Irish Champion Stakes, before the big dice was rolled in the Breeders’ Cup Classic – where he was not disgraced in sixth on dirt behind Tiznow.
Serpentine’s unlikely victory last year was a record fifth for Galileo as a sire at Epsom (his others were New Approach, Australia Ruler Of The World and Anthony Van Dyck) – the previous record of four had been jointly held by five others, which included Montjeu.
It is odds-on he has a hand in this year’s race – because Galileo is the sire of O’Brien’s two big guns, Bolshoi Ballet and High Definition, while the next two in the betting, Hurricane Lane and John Leeper, are sons of Frankel, himself by Galileo.
O’Brien said: “He was almost the perfect racehorse. He had speed, stamina and was just a marvellous horse.
“Because of what he’s done at stud, it can get forgotten just how good he was on the track.
“He won the English and Irish Derby and then went on to win the King George – he was special.
“He was our first Derby winner, so he’s had a big say on my career.
“His legacy will live on for a long time through his fillies and his colts.”
The man on board 20 years ago was Mick Kinane, who would win the Derby again on Sea The Stars – having already guided Commander In Chief to glory, so his words carry a great weight.
“He was a very good racehorse. He was foot-perfect around Epsom,” said Kinane.
“He was probably my pick at the beginning of June, because he had such good balance, and if I had to pick a Derby favourite it would be him.
“There were no negatives with him. He wasn’t keen, he had a turn of foot, his balance – he was a very good Derby winner.
“He ran in the Ballysax and Derrinstown before going to Epsom, then the Irish Derby and the King George. He ended up at the Breeders’ Cup in the Classic, but his form was just tailing off by then.
“Obviously he had nothing to lose by then, and if he could become a champion on dirt as well as turf, that was the dream.”
As well as producing Frankel, some of Galileo’s other star progeny include Nathaniel, Waldgeist, New Approach, Highland Reel and Teofilo.
But perhaps what will see his legacy live on even longer are the brilliant mares who are now producing their own offspring of note. Found, Magical and Minding have been among the best mares of recent times, and all will do their bit to keep his name in lights.
“He had the best start in life, being out of Urban Sea, one of the best broodmares of all time, so it shouldn’t have been such a shock just how good a stallion he became,” said Kinane.
“So you could see him being a success at stud, but you couldn’t possibly envisage just how good a stallion – a stallion of stallions – he would become.
“His legacy will live on for a very long time through the mares he has produced – they will make sure we remember him for an awful long time.”