Which was the most successful thoroughbred stallion of all time?

Which was the most successful thoroughbred stallion of all time?  At the time of his death, at the age of 23, in July, 2021, Galileo had sired 91 individual Group 1 winners and been crowned leading sire in Great Britain and Ireland every year, bar one, since 2008. Bred and owned by John Magnier and his Coolmote associate Michael Tabor, won the Derby, Irish Derby and King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes during his three-year-old campaign, in 2001, and was named Cartier Champion Three-year-old Colt.

However, it was as a sire and, indeed, as a sire of sires – 20 of his progeny went on to sire Group 1 winners – that Galileo would make his name. Sired by Sadler’s Wells, from the family of Northern Dancer, out of Urban Sea, who won the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe in 1993, Galileo was described by John Magnier as ‘a very special horse’.

Of course, Galileo was the first Derby winner to be trained at Ballydoyle, Co. Tipperary since the days of Vincent O’Brien, but his progeny also included five Derby winners. They were, in chronological order, New Approach in 2008, Ruler Of The World in 2013, Australia in 2014, Anthony Van Dyck in 2019 and Serpentine in 2020. The crème de la crème of his offspring, though, was Frankel, unbeaten in 14 races, including ten at Group 1 level, and the highest rated horse of all time, according to World Thoroughbred Rankings.

How are the weights determined in a handicap?

How are the weights determined in a handicap?  Approximately 60% of all horse races run in Britain each year are handicap races, in which the weight carried by each horse is determined by the race conditions and by the official handicap ratings of the participants. Official handicap ratings, which are awarded after a horse has won a race or, failing that, has raced at least three times, represent, numerically, its level of ability in eyes of the handicappers at the British Horseracing Authority (BHA).

The highest, and lowest, weights to be carried are specified in the race conditions, along with a range, or band, of handicap ratings within which eligible horses must fall. Obviously, the horse with the highest handicap rating carries the highest weight. Thus, in a hypothetical 0-60 handicap, a horse rated 60 would carry the highest weight of, say, 9st 7lb, and so on down the weights. If the minimum weight was 8st 7lb, the lowest-rated horse in the handicap proper would be rated 46.

Of course, horses rated 45 or lower can still be entered, but are required to carry the minimum weight, so are said to be ‘out of the handicap’. Likewise, horses rated 61 or 62 can also be entered, but can only be accommodated if the number of entries rated 60 or lower is below the safety limit for the race in question. In this example, such horses would be required to carry 9st 8lb or 9st 9lb or, in other words, 1lb or 2lb more than the specified maximum weight.

When was Godolphin founded?

When was Godolphin founded?  Of course, Godolphin is the global thoroughbred breeding and racing operation founded by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, who became Ruler of Dubai in 2006, following the death of his elder brother, Sheikh Maktoum bin Rashid Al Maktoum. Godolphin was named after the ‘Godolphin Arabian’, one of the three foundation sires from which all thoroughbreds are descended.

In the winter of 1992/93, Sheikh Mohammed, Sheikh Maktoum and their two brothers took the hitherto unprecendented step of moving their horses to Al Quoz, Dubai where, even in winter, the average daytime temperature is a comfortably warm 25ºC. By 1994, Godolphin had become an international operation, famously winning its first Classic, the Oaks, with Balanchine, and two years later, in 1996, became champion owner in Britain for the first time.

Of course, the Maktoum family was well known to the British racing public long before the foundation of Godolphin. Indeed, Sheikh Mohammed and his elder brother Sheikh Hamdan, who established Shadwell Racing in 1981, had already been champion owner in Britain eight times between them before the first-ever Godolphin runner, Cutwater, won at Nad Al Sheba, Dubai on Christmas Eve, 1992.

What is Tapeta?

What is Tapeta?  Tapeta is a synthetic racing surface, akin to Polytrack, which consists of a trademarked mixture of silica sand, wax and rubber fibres laid to a depth of several inches above a tough, woven fabric membrane or a layer of asphalt. Tapeta is specifically designed to mimic the root structure of turf and, as such, produces a unbiased racing surface, which produces little or no kickback and copes well with wet weather.

Tapeta was the brainchild of Michael Dickinson – best known in Britain for saddling the first five finishers in the 1983 Cheltenham – who set about creating a kinder, more forgiving alternative to dirt on which to train his horses. He designed and laid the first version of Tapeta at his purpose-built Tapeta Farm in 1997 and, in 2005, formed Tapeta Footings Inc, which now has offices on both sides of the Atlantic.

Continued research and development has led to numerous iterations of Tapeta, which has been widely adopted by racecourses worldwide, including Wolverhampton, Newcastle and, most recently, Southwell in Britain. Martin Cruddace, Chief Executive of Arena Racing Company (ARC), which owns Southwell Racecourse, said that replacing the existing Fibresand surface with Tapeta represented ‘another significant step forward’.

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