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Series stars to stud: Golden Horn

15 Dec 2015

In our final edition of Series stars to stud, we take a look at the brilliant career of a QIPCO British Champions Series legend in Golden Horn.

Golden Horn wins the 2015 Investec Derby. Image courtesy of Racingfotos.com.

Unsold as a yearling to becoming a four-time Group 1 winner and an Investec Derby champion.

In our final edition of Series stars to stud, we take a look at the wonderful career of a true QIPCO British Champions Series legend, Golden Horn.

Astonishingly, the son of Cape Cross out of Fleche D’Or went unsold at the Tattersalls yearling sale in 2013. How a few extra guineas may well have pocketed someone a Series superstar…

Instead, owner-breeder Anthony Oppenheimer, who is closely associated to the South African-based De Beers diamond empire, retained him for a racing career.

Sent into training with John Gosden, we were not to see him race for the first time until late October in 2014.

At Nottingham, racing over just over a mile, the before-unheard of Golden Horn recorded a narrow victory over William Haggas’ Storm the Stars – which of course would look to be outstanding form the following year, as the latter finished third in the Investec Derby and second in the Irish Derby.

It was to be his only race in 2014. But, his education of how to race and how to fight for victory would stand him in good stead for an outstanding campaign in the New Year.

Reappearing six months later on Newmarket’s Rowley Mile, Golden Horn demonstrated that he not only had a good turn of foot, but that he had the courage to sustain that pace for a lengthy period of time in a comfortable victory in the Fielden Stakes.

Under the guidance of Frankie Dettori, the pair recorded a one-and-a-half-length victory. It was a partnership that would flourish.

However, in the Dante Stakes at York, the Gosden-trained star was to be rejected by the Italian master for his stable mate Jack Hobbs. It was a decision that would prove costly and one that he would not make again.

Looming behind the fancied Jack Hobbs and Elm Park, Golden Horn eased his way to success, and the front of the Investec Derby betting, with a runaway win under William Buick.

Despite connections believing him to be a ten-furlong horse, rather than a 12-furlong horse, he demonstrated that he earned his chance to take in the World’s most famous Flat race at Epsom Downs.

At the cost of £75,000, Golden Horn had his place in the stalls for the British Classic.

With many pundits and professionals questioning whether he would cope with the undulations of Epsom and whether he would get the trip, he blew us away.

Under a masterfully patient ride, Dettori, who had deserted him in the Dante Stakes, was provided with a career highlight in the saddle as the duo cruised to a three-and-a-half-length win to register a second Derby title for jockey and trainer.

It was the stuff of magic.

More QIPCO British Champions Series glory was to follow in the form of the Coral-Eclipse at Sandown Park.

Golden Horn doubled his Group 1 tally thanks to a tenacious display against fans’ favourite The Grey Gatsby at the Surrey-based track, to win by the same margin he won the Investec Derby.

After four hard races in four months, connections gave the hero a small break in order to recharge his batteries for a late Autumn campaign.

A blip in the Juddmonte International Stakes on his reappearance, when defeated by Arabian Queen in a freak result on the Knavesmire, set him up for the culmination of a great career.

Firstly, a trip abroad over the Irish Sea.

The QIPCO Irish Champion Stakes, as star-studded as it was, would turn out to be a prelude.

In control for large parts of the race, Golden Horn – slightly controversially – repelled the challenges of his talented rivals to win the Group 1 contest at Leopardstown.

A successful trip to the Emerald Isles, was followed by his second big career triumph in the beautiful setting of Paris, France.

Despite the concentration being on whether Treve could make history with a third success, it was the Dettori-Gosden combination that would spoil the Gallic party.

Using enterprising tactics that will no doubt go down in racing folklore, the three-time Champion Jockey guided Golden Horn wide from a difficult draw to race from a prominent position in the early stages.

With France baying for Criquette Head-Maarek’s mare to return victorious, Golden Horn stayed on strongly to dispel the fairytale ending.

At a distance of two lengths back to runner-up Flintshire, he was the 2015 Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe champion.

Rule Britannia! Allez les noir, blanc et rouge!

A final career swansong in America saw Found, runner-up in the QIPCO Champion Stakes to Fascinating Rock, finally defeat her adversary Golden Horn in the Breeders’ Cup Turf by a very narrow margin.

However, his assurance as a future stallion prospect, and as a QIPCO British Champions Series Legend, was untouched.

Golden Horn, as special as he was on the racetrack, will now head to stud to become a stallion. Part-owned as a stallion by Oppenheimer and Darley, Golden Horn will now head to Dalham Hall Stud in Newmarket where a future successful career now beckons.