Tributes paid to Galileo, the horse of a lifetime who reached for the stars


Coolmore champion the most successful Group 1 sire of all time - with 91 winners and counting

Saturday, July 10, 2021
Galileo 2021

Galileo won the Epsom Derby in 2001, followed by the Irish Derby at the Curragh and the King George VI Stakes at Ascot.


Galileo, like his namesake, always reached for the stars, a place where his legend is now firmly written, writes James Toney.

And while the Italian astronomer is viewed as the 'father of modern science', this horse of a lifetime has become the father of modern racing.

Nearly 21 years have passed since his racecourse debut, when Mick Kinane guided him to a 14-length victory at Leopardstown.

And it's two decades since he won the Epsom and Irish Derby double, followed by taking on the older stars to claim the King George VI Stakes at Ascot.

But it was after his retirement that Galileo etched his name in the pantheon of greatness - because when it comes to super sires, he was simply the Daddy, with his value in excess of €175m.

Last year Peaceful delivered him a record 85th Group 1 winner, breaking Danehill's record as the most successful source of big race winners in history - his current tally stands at 91 and still counting.

In 2020, Serpentine became his fifth winner of the Derby at Epsom, this year the race was won by Adayar, one of his grandsires and the progeny of his most famous offspring Frankel.

Which is why Galileo’s death, aged 23, has hit the racing world like a thunderbolt.

“It is a very sad day,” said Coolmore's John Magnier.

"But we all feel incredibly fortunate to have had Galileo here at Coolmore. I would like to thank the dedicated people who looked after him so well all along the way.

"The effect he is having on the breed through his sons and daughters will be a lasting legacy and his phenomenal success really is unprecedented.”

Aidan O'Brien is not a man prone to superlatives but the impact of Galileo on his career cannot be underestimated.

Galileo delivered his first Derby win and has been the source of success after success around the world since, underlined by the fact later this evening Bolshoi Ballet, a Galileo star, goes for glory in the Group 1 Belmont Derby.

“He was almost the perfect racehorse," he told the Irish Independent earlier this year.

"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.”

It is a very sad day. But we all feel incredibly fortunate to have had Galileo here at Coolmore. I would like to thank the dedicated people who looked after him so well all along the way. The effect he is having on the breed through his sons and daughters will be a lasting legacy and his phenomenal success really is unprecedented.
- John Magnier, Coolmore

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