“Exceptional” St Mark’s Basilica coud help fill void left by super sire Galileo

Trainer Aidan O’Brien hopes the world’s best racehorse could be a shining light in Coolmore’s breeding operation. Leopardstown’s Irish Champion Stakes is his next race

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Remembering 20 years since Galileo enjoyed a glorious 2001

Aidan O’Brien has faith that “exceptional” St Mark’s Basilica could help fill the void left by super stallion Galileo.

The richest horse ever, worth £180 million, died earlier this summer at the age of 23.

Over the years he sired 92 worldwide Group 1 winners – more than any stallion in history – including champion racehorse Frankel.

Cabaret, the dam of St Mark’s Basilica, is one of Galileo’s offspring – and O’Brien sees plenty of similarities passed down the line.

“St Mark’s Basilica is going to be exceptional as well because he has all that genuineness from Galileo,” he said.

“If you see him he runs with his head out and down as well – and obviously he’s getting the speed from Siyouni (sire) and Pivotal, that’s what is very rare.

St Mark’s Basilica winning the 2021 Coral Eclipse at Sandown Park racecourse



“He goes along in a race, he wastes no energy, he is just waiting on you to ask him and then he has this explosive turn of foot when you do ask him which makes him a very, very rare horse and very exciting obviously.

“I suppose it’s a weapon that’s seriously hard to find in any horse really.”

Galileo raced to victory in the 2001 Derby, Irish Derby and King George, earning more than £1.6million.

His first defeat came in the 2001 Irish Champion Stakes, where he engaged in a terrific tussle with Godolphin’s Fantastic Light.

St Mark’s Basilica will bid to go one place better than Galileo, whose breeding rights once cost £600,000 per mare, in the Leopardstown Group 1 on September 11.

O’Brien has been pleased with his recovery from an injury which ruled him out of the Juddmonte International at York.

“We are very happy with him. obviously he has another little bit of time to go but so far everything is going to plan,” he said.

Galileo (left) was pipped to the post by Fantastic Light in the 2001 Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown Racecourse



O’Brien hopes his three-year-old, rated the world’s best racehorse after his Coral Eclipse performance and Point Lonsdale, next year’s Derby favourite, will be shining lights for Coolmore in retirement.

Galileo sired 338 stakes and 228 Group winners, earning £204 million in total.

He sadly had to be put to sleep on humane grounds in July due to a “chronic, non-responsive, debilitating injury to the left fore foot.”

“It was great to have him and I think he’s going to leave a mark that’s probably going to be left like no other stallion than ever before,” O’Brien added about Galileo’s legacy.

“Obviously the boss recognised him very early and used him very strongly on all his mares for a long, long time so it was a terrible pity (that Galileo died) but obviously it happens but it was great to have him for the length of time we have had him really.”

The trainer added: “Every day a Galileo came out they came out with a clean slate, they never thought about what happened the day before or what was going to happen the next day.

“You just asked them what they wanted to do and they did it totally unconditionally which was very rare.

“It was a trait inside in their minds, you can’t see it until you train them but I think it’s going to affect so many pedigrees going forward, like for generations really.”

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