Racing: St Leger sends Galileo's profile heavenwards

The result of Saturday's St Leger was, from one point of view at least, pleasingly old-fashioned and a definite nod to the tradition and history without which this sport is nothing. The Thoroughbred is the best documented of all animal species; long before man started a system of official birth certification for his own kind, proof of pedigree was demanded for the running horses he created.

More than three centuries of records have provided charts, patterns, signposts and milestones as the racehorse has evolved. And sure, the modern Thoroughbred is a beast very different from those named in the first edition of the General Stud Book, in which the earliest foaling date mentioned is 1705. But the basic premise remains the same; the racecourse identifies superior runners, who - or whose relations - provide the seed-corn for the future.

And despite advances in knowledge in veterinary and genetic fields and the computer-driven ability to analyse pedigrees to a frighteningly anorakish degree, another premise remains as valid as the day it was coined, perhaps with a degree of cynicism. "Put the best to the best - and hope for the best," was the sage advice.

In the case of Sixties Icon, it worked and in the case of the St Leger, for the first time in 185 years. The colt is by a Derby winner, Galileo, out of an Oaks heroine, Love Divine, and the only previous occasion on which that formula had been successful in the oldest Classic was when Memnon, a son of Whisker and Manuella, scored in 1922.

The 230th St Leger also provided confirmation of another phenomenon that will appeal mightily to traditionalists. Galileo is sire not only of Sixties Icon, but also the two who followed him home, The Last Drop and Red Rocks. That, too, is a feat only once recorded in the Leger, when Reveller, Ranter and The Marshall, three sons of Comus, filled the frame in 1818.

Victory in the Derby once guaranteed the best opportunities for a stallion but it has been a long wait for an Epsom hero with serious sire cred to emerge. Sinndar, still at the start of his career, is promising, Nashwan had his moments and Shirley Heights was very good. But the last of the ilk to be champion sire was Mill Reef.

The American bloodstock revolution of the late Sixties, and the emphasis on speed at the expense of stamina that it eventually brought, was one catalyst in the eschewing of the longer end of the distance spectrum by commercial breeding operations. The St Leger has long been a no-no and even a mile and a half is no longer seen as the optimum distance over which a good horse should express his talents, but the extreme distance. It is now a sine qua non for a Derby winner to be as effective at 10 furlongs.

But it may be that the tide is turning. The wisest heads in the industry are perfectly aware, commercial dictates notwithstanding, that stamina in the genetic pool is a commodity eliminated at peril. The outstanding stallion of modern times, Sadler's Wells, has, after all, delivered it, as well as class.

The 14-times champion sire is now 25 and the search has been on at his Co Tipperary base, Coolmore Stud, for his heir. And like buses, two have appeared in quick succession. Montjeu took the plaudits last year with first crop three-year-olds which included Hurricane Run; now Galileo, too, looks the real deal. Ironically, both could have stayed the Leger trip on breeding, but of course were never given that kiss-of-death opportunity.

Galileo, a real scion of the Northern Dancer tribe, would take your eye out as a high-quality individual, with movement to match. Like his best son, the little bay is an example of best-to-the-best, being out of Arc winner Urban Sea. He has, of course, been afforded every opportunity to succeed in his second career; whereas Montjeu was relatively cheaply offered to start with, Galileo was the favourite son from the start.

But he still came with no guarantees, so all credit to him. His St Leger whitewash cannot be seen as a negative, for Sixties Icon won with his sire's electric change of pace, rather than merely slogging to the line. And Galileo also has Irish 1,000 Guineas winner Nightime and most promising juvenile Teofilo on his CV. It is early days but the baton may be in safe hands.

But Galileo has a long way to go to become a legend among sires. The search for future talent is currently being staged at the Keeneland yearling auction in Kentucky, where Sheikh Mohammed yesterday added a colt from the final crop of Danzig for $9.2m to his earlier $8.2m son of Storm Cat.

Chris McGrath

Nap: Hill Billy Rock

(Beverley 3.15)

NB: High Command

(Yarmouth 4.00)

News
people Emma Watson addresses celebrity nude photo leak
News
Katie Hopkins appearing on 'This Morning' after she purposefully put on 4 stone.
peopleKatie Hopkins breaks down in tears over weight gain challenge
News
Boris Johnson may be manoeuvring to succeed David Cameron
i100
News
peopleHis band Survivor was due to resume touring this month
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
people'It can last and it's terrifying'
News
In this photo illustration a school student eats a hamburger as part of his lunch which was brought from a fast food shop near his school, on October 5, 2005 in London, England. The British government has announced plans to remove junk food from school lunches. From September 2006, food that is high in fat, sugar or salt will be banned from meals and removed from vending machines in schools across England. The move comes in response to a campaign by celebrity TV chef Jamie Oliver to improve school meals.
science
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Life and Style
fashionModel of the moment shoots for first time with catwalk veteran
Life and Style
fashionPart of 'best-selling' Demeter scent range
News
i100
Sport
Tom Cleverley
footballLoan move comes 17 hours after close of transfer window
Sport
Alexis Sanchez, Radamel Falcao, Diego Costa and Mario Balotelli
footballRadamel Falcao and Diego Costa head record £835m influx
Life and Style
fashionAngelina Jolie's wedding dressed revealed
News
i100
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Web Developer/UI Developer (HTML5, CSS3,Jquery) London

£55000 - £65000 per annum: Harrington Starr: A Global Financial Service Organi...

Data Scientist (SQL, PHP, RSPSS, CPLEX, SARS, AI) - London

£60000 - £70000 per annum: Harrington Starr: A prestigious leading professiona...

C# Web Developer (C#, MS Dynamics CRM, SQL, SQl Server) London

£40000 - £50000 per annum: Harrington Starr: A Global Financial Service Organi...

Oracle developer- (Oracle, PL/SQL, UNIX/LINUX) - Trade- London

£50000 - £70000 per annum: Harrington Starr: One of the global leaders in prov...

Day In a Page

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes': US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food served at diplomatic dinners

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes'

US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food
Radio Times female powerlist: A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

Inside the Radio Times female powerlist
Endgame: James Frey's literary treasure hunt

James Frey's literary treasure hunt

Riddling trilogy could net you $3m
Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

What David Sedaris learnt about the world from his fitness tracker
Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Second-holiest site in Islam attracts millions of pilgrims each year
Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
Al Pacino wows Venice

Al Pacino wows Venice

Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

Neil Lawson Baker interview

‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering