Many racehorses are venerated beyond their true accomplishments in all truth, but Brigadier Gerard really was one of the greatest of all time.
Brigadier Gerard raced from two to four between 1970 and 1972, winning seventeen of his 18 races. He was the highest rated racehorse to be trained in Britain in all of the 20th century, only being overtaken after the turn of the millennium when Frankel came along.
The magnificent colt was named British Horse of the Year in 1972 after some amazing big-race wins over multiple distances.
Brigadier Gerard’s Pedigree
Brigadier Gerard was bred in England by John Hislop. He was foaled on March 5th, 1968, an offspring of Queen’s Hussar who had won the Lockinge and Sussex Stakes over a mile at the top level.
He was out of the mare La Pavia who had not won on the track, though on the dam’s side his pedigree can be traced back to Pretty Polly, the brilliant fillies’ Triple Crown winner.
Brigadier Gerard was named after Arthur Conan Doyle’s big hero and replicated that, standing at 16 hands high and having very good conformation. He was always destined it seems to be successful on the track.
|Sire/Dam||Grand Sire/Dam||Great Grand Sire/Dam|
|Queen’s Hussar||March Past||Petition|
|La Paiva||Prince Chevalier||Prince Rose|
Brigadier Gerard’s Stud Career
As it transpired, Brigadier Gerard wasn’t such a big hit at stud.
He stood at Egerton Stud in Newmarket first of all after retiring from racing in 1972, later moving to East Woodhay Stud which belonged to his racing owner.
He did manage to get St Leger winner Light Cavalry in 1980, meaning he sired a Classic winner, while he was also responsible for 1981 Champion Stakes winner Vayrann. More was expected however and he was not nearly as successful a sire as his racecourse rival Mill Reef.
The then 21-year-old horse died in 1989 sadly, his remains being interred in the gardens of a hotel at Six Mile Bottom in Newmarket.
He does leave one mark on modern thoroughbred greatness. Through his offspring General, he appears in the fifth generation of American Pharoah’s pedigree, the brilliant 2015 American Triple Crown winner.
Brigadier Gerard went unbeaten on the track as a juvenile in 1970. He won over five furlongs first up, but his biggest win as a two-year-old came in the Middle Park Stakes.
He was unbeaten again at three, stepping up successfully to a mile to beat Mill Reef in a very famous renewal of the 2000 Guineas in 1971. He also went on to win the St James’s Palace Stakes, the Sussex Stakes, the Goodwood Mile and the QEII over what appeared on breeding to be his ideal distance.
He was stepped up to a mile and a quarter for the Champion Stakes at the end of the year, another race which he won during a very busy and successful three-year-old campaign.
At four, he took the Lockinge Stakes over a mile before stepping back up to win the Prince of Wales’s and -Eclipse Stakes. He even successfully stepped up to 1½ miles to land the King George in 1972. His only defeat came when the brilliant Roberto beat him in the first running of the Benson and Hedges Gold Cup but he bowed out on top.
Brigadier Gerard’s biggest race wins:
|1970||Washington Singer Stakes|
|1970||Middle Park Stakes|
|1971||St James’s Palace Stakes|
|1971||Queen Elizabeth II Stakes|
|1972||Prince of Wales’s Stakes|
|1972||King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes|
|1972||Queen Elizabeth II Stakes|
That is a phenomenal list. To win over five furlongs on debut then end up winning the Middle Park over six is not so surprising. To go from the Middle Park to the Guineas over a mile is a little more so, but to end up winning the Champion Stakes over a mile and a quarter by the end of the year really is something.
Furthermore, he then successfully stepped back to a mile for the Lockinge at four years old, wins the two major mile and a quarter races in the summer (Prince of Wales’s and Eclipse) before going all the way up to a mile and a half to win the King George.
After that, he went all the way back to a mile for a repeat QEII win and landed a second Champion Stakes just to finish it all off. That, is simply amazing thoroughbred ability.
Throughout his career in 1970, 1971 and 1972, Brigadier Gerard won £253,024 in win and place prize money. That is the equivalent of an impressive £2.9 million in 2022.
That’s a figure very few British trained racehorses will be able to match, especially without winning a Breeders’ Cup race or the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe overseas.
The Brigadier Gerard Stakes
One of the biggest honours to be bestowed upon a racehorse after retirement is to have a race named after them… and/or a pub. Brigadier Gerard has both of those honours.
Not only does this racing great have the Brigadier Gerard Stakes, but it is also a much better race than many give it credit for.
A Group 3 race at Sandown Park in late May, the Brigadier Gerard is often very strong for its grade and is used by top trainers to get a run into their horse before taking on Group 1 targets later in the season.
The race is run over a mile and a quarter and is for those aged four and over.
Previously the Coronation Stakes since its inception in 1953, the race was renamed in 1973 as soon as this great horse retired. As if to prove the race’s quality, past winners with top-level success to their names include:
- Gunner B (Prince of Wales’s Stakes, Eclipse)
- Commanche Run (St Leger, Benson & Hedges – now Juddmonte International, Irish Champion Stakes)
- Mtoto (Prince of Wales’s, Eclipse, King George)
- Opera House (Coronation Cup, Eclipse, King George)
- Pilsudski (Breeders’ Cup Turf, Eclipse, Irish Champion Stakes, Champion Stakes, Japan Cup)
- Bosra Sham (Fillies’ Mile, 1000 Guineas, Champion Stakes, Prince of Wales’s)
- Notnowcato (Juddmonte International, Eclipse)
- Workforce (Derby, Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe)
- Mukhadram (Eclipse)
- Poet’s Word (Prince of Wales’s, King George)
- Lord North (Prince of Wales’s, Dubai Turf x 2)
- Bay Bridge (Champion Stakes)
Brigadier Gerard was bred by John Hislop, who also owned him throughout his career on the track.
He was part of a tight-knit team, being trained all the while by Major Dick Hern and ridden in every one of his races on the track by Joe Mercer.