Sagaro One of the greatest stayers to blaze the racetrack

  • Sagaro
  • foaled in 1971 by Espresso out of Zambara
  • By Harsh Thakor

Sagaro Irish-bred, French-trained Thoroughbred Racehorse.

One of the greatest stayers to blaze the racetrack.Sagaro despite being an out and out stayer had a blistering turn of foot and could give an electrifying burst of a rocket propelling in the air, at the end of 2 and a half miles. Sagaro was bred in Ireland, by his owner the Geneva based financier Gerald Oldham. His sire Espresso, bought for 1000 Guineas, gained significant wins in handicap races in the Grosser PreisVon Baden, which he won twice.

François Boutin trained Sagaro at Lamorlaye. Sagaro won in every season between 2 to 6 years In all his major triumphs Sagaro had the privilege of being ridden by the genius, Lester Piggot.His first major success came in the Grand Prix de Paris, where he defeated the high-class Bustino by 2 lengths.

In his 4 year old career he was defeated in the French Prix du Cadran,but avenged his defeat in the Ascot Gold Cup. In that big race he faced the Prix de Cadran Winner Le Bavard,the Irish St. Leger winner Mistigri and 5home trained Stayers. There he trounced his rivals by 4 lengths.Sagaro could easily have doubled the margin.Upto the straight Sagaro traveled on the heels of the leaders. A furlong from home Sagaro gave a devastating burst, like an engine being switched on and coasted home to a most emphatic win.

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The next season Sagaro won the Prix de Baberville and the Prix Du Cadran before completing a double in the Ascot Gold Cup. Barton Mills set the pace for 2 miles. Mistigri took the lead upto the home straight. At that Stage Sagaro was 4 lengths behind the leader. Soon Sea Anchor and then Crash Course worked their way up the Front. Piggot now pushed his ward and Sagaro cruised like a missile past the leaders, winning with the smoothness of a seal swimming. Crash Course finished second, while Sea Anchor finished third. Later that year Sagaro’s opponents paid a tribute to him. Sea Anchor won the Goodwood Stakes and the Doncaster Cup, while Crash Course won the Joe Northumberland Plate.

The following year the great horse achieved a hatrick of Gold Cup wins. Sagaro ‘s principal rivals were the St.Leger winner Bruni and Buckskin who was subsequently one of Britain’s all-time great Stayers winning the Goodwood Cup, the Doncaster Cup. Previously, that season Buckskin had defeated Sagaro in the Prix de Cadran, the Prix de Barbe ville and the Prix Jean Prat.In the Prix Jean Prat Buckskin beat him by 20 lengths, but in the Prix du Cadran, the margin of deficit was reduced to ¾ of a length.2 Furlongs out Sagaro cruised into the lead but Buckskin gallantly fought back in the last furlong to gain winning advantage. In the big race Buckskin set the pace and led till a furlong out. Like a plane taking of a runaway Sagaro left Buckskin, cantering home to win by 5 lengths on a tight rein. Sagaro had now written a permanent place for himself in the history books becoming the only horse ever to achieve a hatrick of Ascot Gold Cup wins.

The Champion was retired to the National Stud for £175,000. Soon he was moved to the Limestone Stud at Lincolnshire. In 1986 he died failing to produce a single Group 1 winner. It is sad that only the middle-distance great’s are remembered and not the great Sprinters and Stayers. Sagaro was an equivalent of a Mill Reef or a Nijinsky as a stayer. His performances were truly sensational. He truly deserves a permanent place in racing’s hall of fame.