Ask any flat racing aficionado to name the greatest European race-horse since the beginning of the twentieth century and you can be assured the names of Sea Bird, Brigadier Gerard, Ribot, Tudor Minstrel, Nearco, Hyperion, Mill Reef, Nijinsky, Vaguely Noble, Dancing Brave Shergar and Sea The Stars will feature prominently. Some may say Fairway, Windsor Lad, Bahram or Blue Peter. Others consider the honour should go to a mare and quote Pretty Polly, Sceptre or Sun Chariot. However, how many would mention Bayardo?
Bayardo's achievements were considerable. He was champion at age two, three and four, as a juvenile he was unbeaten in seven starts. He won ten races that are part of the Pattern today, six that are Group 1, at distances of between five furlongs and two and a half miles and in all he won 22 of his 25 races. In addition he won at Ascot each year he was in training and was considered by his jockey Danny Maher to be the best horse he ever rode.
Similarly a question as to the greatest European sire of the Twentieth Century would of course lead with Sadler's Wells, Hyperion, Polymelus, Northern Dancer, Ribot, Fairway, Blandford & Persimmon who were all champion sire at least three or more times. Phalaris won only two championships but is one of the greats if not the greatest. But of the others who were champion twice, who would mention Bayardo who sired two Triple Crown Winners?
Despite his achievements Bayardo has been almost forgotten and neglected for too long. A flavour of the period covering Bayardo's life and career sets the scene for what is a fascinating time: the relatively brief but extravagant world of the Edwardians and the time up to the Great War. Bayardo's racing career is set in its historical context with racing and individual races of his time compared with racing today. Finally Bayardo is compared with other great horses since the beginning of the Twentieth Century.
This is not just the story of a great racehorse, his forebears and his progeny, It would not be complete without reference to his great trainer Alec Taylor, his eccentric owner Alfred Cox (whose nom de course was Mr Fairie) and his jockey Danny Maher, one of a group that formed the so called "American invasion" during the early part of the twentieth century.
It is exactly one hundred years since he ran the race of his life. Bayardo is a book that celebrates the life and times of a great racehorse.