Galileo Horse

Galileo was a brilliant racehorse, bred in the purple with talent to match his outstanding pedigree. But he has scaled even greater heights since retiring to stud. He is now quite simply the most successful stallion on his generation - and one of the greatest of all time.

Galileo was foaled on March 30, 1998 - a son of the mighty Coolmore stallion Sadler’s Wells and the brilliant racemare Urban Sea (winner of the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe in 1993). Urban Sea - one of the greatest broodmares in racing history - also went on to produce the brilliant Sea The Stars, winner of the 2000 Guineas, the Epsom Derby and the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe in 2009.

When it was time to go into training for a racing career, Galileo was sent to the famous Ballydoyle stables of master trainer Aidan O’Brien in County Tipperary.

He would run in the dark blue colours of Sue Magnier (wife of Coolmore magnate John Magnier) and raced in a partnership between her and Michael Tabor.

Career highlights

Galileo made his racecourse debut as a two-year-old on October 28, 2000 at Leopardstown. Rumours of his prowess were clearly rife as he was sent off as Evens favourite before romping to a highly impressive 14-length victory.

The O’Brien star went into winter quarters prominent in the betting for the 2001 Epsom Derby, and proved he had trained on by coasting to an easy victory at long odds-on over subsequent St Leger winner Milan in a Listed race at Leopardstown in April 2001.

Galileo’s final test before Epsom was the Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial at Leopardstown – a major prep race for Irish horses looking to win the big one in June. Ridden by Seamie Heffernan, he again proved to be an impressive winner.

Now it was the biggest test of Galileo’s career – the moment he had been prepared for all of his life. The Epsom Derby on June 9, 2001.

Galileo was bidding to give Aidan O’Brien a first winner in the big race and was sent to post the 11/4 joint favourite under his normal rider Mick Kinane. The son of Sadler’s Wells travelled like a dream and when given the office by Kinane, he stormed clear to beat 2000 Guineas winner Golan by an easy three-and-a-half lengths.

Another easy victory at long odds-on in the Irish Derby at the Curragh was next for Galileo, before the superstar colt showed he had guts to match his talent by repelling Fantastic Light in a brilliant King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Diamond Stakes at Ascot in late July.

Fantastic Light though was to have his revenge in early September at Leopardstown, pipping Galileo by a head after a relentless and gripping battle in the Irish Champion Stakes.

Galileo’s final race was a tall order, taking on the mighty Americans on their own preferred dirt surface in the Breeders’ Cup Classic at Belmont Park. After a long, hard season Galileo could finish only sixth. He would be retired immediately afterwards, but with the promise of even greater things to come at stud.

Galileo Stud Career

Galileo was expected to be a star at stud, but the extent of his eventual greatness must have surprised even his most ardent admirers.

His new home was the Coolmore Stud in Fethard, County Tipperary in Ireland. Early in his stud career the wonder horse split his time as a stallion between Ireland and Australia, operating as a ‘shuttle stallion’ to cover mares during both the northern and southern hemisphere breeding seasons. He now covers exclusively in Ireland.

Galileo proved a worthy successor to his father, the mighty Sadler’s Wells, taking up the baton to continue the dominance of Coolmore as a breeding operation. He was the leading Sire in Great Britain in 2008 and claimed that award unchallenged from 2010 through 2018.

As of early June 2019, Galileo had sired an incredible 328 Group winners, and 77 at the highest level of all - Group/Grade One.

Anthony Van Dyck, another colt trained by the master Aidan O’Brien, gave Galileo a fourth victory in the Epsom Derby in 2019, when every one of the 13 runners came from Galileo’s bloodline. Galileo also sired the first three horses home in the 2016 Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe at Chantilly - all hailing from the Ballydoyle stables of O’Brien.

To top off his incredible achievements in the breeding sheds, Galileo also sired possibly the greatest horse of all time - the invincible Frankel. Out of the mare Kind, Frankel was unbeaten in 14 races for trainer Sir Henry Cecil in an astonishing racing career full of brilliance. Nobody could get near Frankel on the racecourse, just adding to the legend of Galileo.

Proof of Galileo’s absolute brilliance as a stallion is his stud fee. This was as low as €37,500 in 2006, but jumped to €150,000 in 2007. It has been private since 2008 but it has been suggested that the fee was as high as €600,000 in 2018.

Galileo Awards

Galileo’s brilliant racing career on the track won him a number of awards – highlighted by being named European Champion Three-Year-Old of 2001 at the Cartier Racing Awards.

The son of Sadler’s Wells was rated at 129 (equal with his old foe Fantastic Light) in the 2001 International Classification - used to rate horses against each other worldwide.

Acclaimed racing experts Timeform gave Galileo a final rating of 134.

Training Galileo

Galileo was bred by D Tsui and Orpendale and owned as a racehorse by Sue Magnier and Michael Tabor. He was trained by the brilliant Aidan O’Brien and ridden in all but one of his starts by Michael Kinane. Seamie Heffernan took the mount in his other start - the Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial at Leopardstown in May 2001.