Horseracing StoriesCarreras de Caballos

Troy, winning the 1979 Benson and Hedges, photo from www.artemisian.com/troy


Foaled in 1976, by Petingo out of La Milo, Harsh Thakor

A top-class middle distance runner. In 1979, Troy blazed the British racetrack like a true champion. He was head and shoulders above any other British racehorse in that year. Willie Carson places him amongst the three best horses he has ever ridden. His trainer Dick Hern, at that time rated him to be the best horse he had ever trained (Brigadier Gerard, who Dick Hern trained was rated the 2nd best horse of the century by Timeform).

Troy was bred at the Ballymacoll Stud in Ireland where his owners Arnold Wienstock and Michael Sobell bred him.Petingo was a top class miler. It would have won the 2,000 Guineas nine times out of ten, but for having to contend with Sir Ivor in 1968. Petingo went on to win the top mile races like the St.James Palace Stakes. La Milo's sire Hornbeam was a top class stayer finishing 3rd in the St.Leger. Hornbeam's dam Pin Prick, had finished 3rd to Pinza in the 1953 Epsom Derby. Troy was La Milo's seventh and last foal and although the mare herself did not win, La Milo had sired Admetus, the Washington International (Gr.1) winner, and Tully who won the White Rose Stakes (Gr.3)

Thus, Troy was bred to be a typical top class middle-distance horse with the combination of speed and staying blood. His breeding gave him the ability to launch his run 3 to 4 furlongs from home rather than produce a great burst in the end.

As a two year old, the colt ran four times, finishing 1st twice and being placed second twice. He was second in a maiden and after he won the Plantation Maiden Stakes and Lanson Champagne Stakes (Listed) while finished runner-up in the Royal Lodge Stakes (Gr.2).

As a 3 year old, Troy won his first two races. He won the Predominate Stakes and scored a thrilling victory over the Steve Cauthen ridden Two Of Diamonds in the Guardian Classic. Troy had now become a major contender for the Derby at Epsom, which was to be the 200th Edition of the race.

For the Blue Riband Troy's major opposition came from Milford, winner of the Lingfield Derby trial, Ela-Mana-Mou, the previous year's Royal Lodge Stakes winner and Tap On Wood, the 2,000 Guineas winner. Ela-Mana-Mou started as the favourite.Troy was next preferred in the market.

Lyphard's Wish set a hot pace until Tattenham corner closely followed by Milford. At Tattenham corner, Willie Carson on Troy seemed to be getting nowhere on his horse, being stuck in on the rails in 7th place. Into the straight, Milford faded and 3 furlongs from home, the Irish 2,000 Guineas winner Dickens's Hill, took charge and was shaping like a likely winner when Troy arrived on the scene on the outside like a torrent erupting.

The great bay horse simply flew past the field like a plane taking of a runaway. The way Troy won that day was like a Cheetah laying an ambush for his prey and then launching a devastating assault in the appropriate time to pounce on his victims. The acceleration showed was phenomenal.Troy had won by the largest margin since Manna won in 1925 (8 lengths). It was perhaps the most convincing Derby win since Sea Bird won in 1965. Troy left the field as if they were pillars. Dickens Hill finished second followed by Northern Baby and the favourite Ela-Mana-Mou.

Willie Carson was overjoyed as he had won his first Derby. Two years back in the Derby, he was to be denied victory by a neck on Hot Grove, when he seemed certain to win a furlong from home (The Minstrel caught him in the last 50 yards). He had preferred Troy to his stable mate Milford, owned by the Queen.His decision proved to be correct. It was so appropriate that the 200th Derby was won in one of the most spectacular manners ever seen in the history of the Race. Troy simply made the occasion a festival. That day the great Troy lived up to his name of a famous Greek Legend

Troy, winning the 1979 Derby, after the Flamingo, photo from www.artemisian/troy

A fortnight later, Troy ran in the Irish Derby. Rivadon set a scorching pace being a pacemaker for Troy. The Bart and the two French colts, Fabulous Dancer and Scorpio followed him. Just before the turn, The Bart took the lead.At this point, Troy was moved up into a handy position behind them and when pulled to the outside cruised to a most facile win. The pacemaker, Rivadon played an instrumental win in Troy's victory as he had got the field well strung out. It was also enough to get Troy of the bit. Troy had won by 4 long-looking lengths.No horse had any hope of catching him.

Troy faced older horses for the first time in the King George and Queen Elizabeth Diamond Stakes. Sadly, Ile De Bourbon, the previous year's winner was missing. The latter had won the Coronation Cup with disdain from Gay Mecene (son of the great Vaguely Noble) who went on to win the Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud. Thus, Troy couldn't race against the best 4 year old.

Road To Glory set a suitable pace. The Argentinian Triple Crown Winner, Telescopico, followed him. Swinging into the straight, Road To Glory and Telescopico began to weaken and Ela-Mana-Mou seized the lead. At this point, Carson urged Troy and drew level with the leader. For 100 yards Ela-Mana-Mou gave Troy a strong fight but eventually gave in. Troy began to draw away when Gay Mecene came with a strong run to challenge Troy.

Showing true boldness of a soldier the great horse resisted Gay Mecene's challenge to win by a length and a half. Troy had crowned himself the European horse of the year, although he didn't beat his rivals as comprehensively as in the two Derbies, he turned in a most gallant performance.

Troy became the fourth horse to complete the treble of the Epsom Derby, Irish Derby and King George. He followed the footsteps of Nijinsky, Grundy and The Minstrel.

Troy that day proved he was a truly great horse and not just a very good horse. He claimed a permanent place in the list of all-time greats like Nijinsky or Mill Reef, however that day, it was a great regret to racing that Ile De Bourbon, the 1978 Champion could not participate, due to fitness. It would have been one of flat racing's great spectacles witnessing the two champions take on each other (Ile de Bourbon won the 1978 King George against a top class field the previous year and that season decimated rivals in the Coronation Cup, including Gay Mecene).

As a preliminary to the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, Troy ran in the Benson and Hedges Gold Cup. Troy started as a 2-1 favourite.

Crimson Beau set the pace. As the field turned into the straight, he lost his lead. With five furlongs from home, Troy was only ahead of two horses, however four furlongs from home, Willie Carson unleashed his mount about 2 furlongs from home took the lead. After he was 2 lengths clear Carson dropped his hands with 75 metres to go. This enabled Crimson Beau to finish ¾ of a length behind (Carson admitted later that he was not aware how close Crimson Beau finished behind him).

The great horse had become the first to win the Epsom Derby. Irish Derby, King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Diamond Stakes and the Benson and Hedges.

Sadly, in the Arc Troy was beaten by Three Troikas. He finished a gallant third.Had Troy been his old self he surely would have won.It was a sad sight that in his farewell race he couldn't be the first horse to complete the historic Epsom Derby, Irish Derby, King George and Arc combination.

Troy had been syndicated for 7,2 millions Pounds, a record sum at the time.Timeform gave him a rating of 137. He was rated as one of the top middle distance horse of the decade (compared to Mill Reef, Nijinsky and Alleged).

His Epsom Derby win, was one of the most emphatic victories ever in the history of the Blue Riband. Troy in my rating would rank amongst the British all-time greats. He could be categorized with great horses like Crepello, Sir Ivor, Alleged, Generous, Nashwan Grundy, etc... all great horses in their own right but marginally below the Superstars like Mill Reef, Nijinsky, Shergar or Dancing Brave (horse one can see once in a lifetime). Troy had truly remarkable acceleration and in top gear looked like a missile cruising.

The finish of the 1996 Breeders' Cup Turf, Pilsudski (the best Troy's son, Singspiel, and Swain

At stud the great horse produced five Group winners and seven stakes winners. His progeny includes Pilsudski (1986 Breeders' Cup Turf, 1997 Champion Stakes, Irish Champion Stakes, Japan Cup), Oath (1990 Epsom Derby), Fastness (Eddie Read Handicap and 1996 America's best miler) and Pelder (Prix Ganay, Premio Parioli and the best 3yo of Italy), all of them, classic winners.

He produced winners in countries all over the world ranging from countries like South Africa to India. Troy unfortunately died young at the age of eight in 1984.

Troy paid a tribute to British breeding in an era where American breeding was almost totally dominating British racing (almost all the champions of the 70's were American Bred). His death was a sad end to one of the best British–bred horses of recent years.


Year Age Starts 1st 2nd 3rd
1978 2 4 2 2 0
1979 3 7 6 0 1
Totals 11 8 2 1


Troy's Pedigree

Petingo Petition Fair Trial
Art Paper
Alcazar Alycidon
La Milo Hornbeam Hyperion
Pin Prick Pinza
Miss Winston