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ST. SIMON – Has there been a better horse?

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ST. SIMON – Has there been a better horse?


       ST. SIMON (b.c.1881) by Galopin ex St. Angela by King Tom


Bred by Prince Gustavus Batthyany

Won 9 races incl. Epsom Gold Cup (walk-over), Ascot Gold Cup, Newcastle Gold Cup, Goodwood Cup.

Champion Sire in G.B. & Ire. (nine times): 1890, 1891, 1892, 1893, 1894, 1895, 1896, 1900, 1901.

Mobiles view landscape


NO ONE will ever know just how good a racehorse St Simon was, although Mathew Dawson, trainer of the winners of 28 Classic races affirmed “I have trained only one good horse in my life – St Simon.”


His owner/breeder Prince Gustavus Batthyany, however, thought so little of the colt early on, that he took him out of the Guineas – his only Classic entry.

It was true, St Simon’s dam St Angela, had won only a modest Newmarket maiden from eight starts and, at the time of St Simon’s birth, when 16, she had apparently foaled nothing of note. But, ironically, when St Angela was first put to Galopin two years previous, she produced Angelica, the future dam of Orme, a dual Eclipse winner and Champion Sire.

Sadly, but more to the point, Prince Batthyany died of a heart attack before St Simon raced, so his would be Classic nominations under the Rules of Racing would automatically have become void.

Purchased by the Duke of Portland for 1,600 guineas at the Prince’s dispersal sale, St Simon won all his nine races – four as a juvenile, including two Nurseries, giving lumps of weight to the runners-up, and five as a three-year-old, including 20-length victories in both the Ascot Gold Cup and the Goodwood Cup.


Which brings us back to “Just how good was he?”

In a poll of leading Turf personalities taken around two years after St Simon’s final race, he was voted fourth best ‘Horse of the Century’, behind Gladiateur, Isonomy and West Australian.

At stud, St Simon was Champion Sire nine times within the period 1890 to 1901. He sired the winners of 17 Classic races, including the Royal Derby winners Persimmon (1896) and Diamond Jubilee (Triple Crown 1900). In total, he got the winners of 571 races worth £553,157. Later, he became the six-time Champion Sire of Broodmares: 1903-1907 inclusive and again in 1916.


A bay colt of 16.1 hands, St Simon measured 8 1⁄2 inches below the knee and 6 feet 3 inches round the girth.

Stud-master at Welbeck Abbey Stud, John Huby, said of him: “I always thought there was something superior, both in his action and his contour, to anything I had noticed in any other horse. His shoulder was a study. So obliquely placed that it appeared to extend far into his back.. so placed, there is little wonder that he showed such marvellous liberty of action.”


The contemporary writer Mr Sydenham Dixon commented: “If both Turf and Stud career be taken into account, the only horse I can find to compare with St Simon is Eclipse, who like St Simon, won every race without being asked to do his best, and the stud careers of both may be said to have been of equal brilliance.”


St Simon died on 2 April, 1908, aged 27 years. The Bloodstock Breeders Review described his final minutes:

“He was returning from exercise just as sprightly and handsome as ever that morning, and so far as appearances went, might have lived for years. When, within 20 yards of his stable door, as he was passing over a soft sandy patch of ground, he suddenly dropped, and in less than 20 seconds his heart ceased to beat.”



See below the two lineage charts of St Simon.

Colts are in Red, fillies in Green. Classic winners with date of victory in CAPS.

Key to races won: 2000 Guineas (2); 1000 Guineas (1);  Derby  (D); Oaks (O); St Leger (L); King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes (K); Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (A); while stars either side indicate Champion Sire.