News

Back to articles

British Champons Series Stars to stud: Wings Of Eagles

29 Nov 2017

In the latest of our weekly series we turn our attention to the Derby hero whose career was cut short by injury

Padraig Beggy and Wings Of Eagles return to the winner’s enclosure after landing the Derby.Picture: Racingfotos.com

Career details:

Aidan O’Brien ran six horses in the 2017 Investec Derby and it is safe to say Wings Of Eagles was not considered his principal challenger.

At 40-1, only one of O’Brien’s other five contenders was a bigger price. His form was inferior to many of his 17 rivals – notwithstanding an eye catching second in the Chester Vase on his seasonal reappearance – and few British racegoers were familiar with his jockey, Padraig Beggy, who had not ridden in Britain since 2012 after enjoying very limited success (eight winners from 149 rides) during a previous nine-year period.

For much of the way it seemed the combination were merely making up the numbers and at one stage they traded at 659-1 in-running on Betfair.

However, the patiently ridden Wings Of Eagles produced a fantastic late flourish to overhaul Cliffs Of Moher, his stablemate, plus Cracksman and Eminent, two sons of Frankel, in the closing stages.

Wings Of Eagles, a son of Pour Moi, the 2011 Derby winner, evidently relished the stamina test that the race provided and won going away by three quarters of a length. Had he not met some trouble in running three furlongs out, when still having plenty to do, he would have been an even more decisive winner.

Wings Of Eagles was no 40-1 chance when he attempted to follow up in the Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby a month later – he went off 2-1 favourite – but came up a bit short in his attempt to become O’Brien’s fifth dual Derby winner.

He was beaten a neck and a short head behind Capri, his stablemate, who had been sixth at Epsom, and Cracksman.

The following day Wings Of Eagles was found to be lame and investigation revealed he had fractured a sesamoid bone in his near-fore leg. His career was over.

Bred by Gilles and Aliette Forien, the owners of Haras de Montaigu Stud in Normandy, Wings Of Eagles had originally been sold to Coolmore for €220,000 at the Arqana August Yearling Sale.

Before his Derby success he had won only one of his five races – that victory being achieved in a median auction stakes at Killarney the previous summer.

Career highlight:

Wings Of Eagles announced himself as a top-class middle-distance colt in the Derby and one can only wonder what heights he might have gone on to achieve had his career not ended prematurely – much like that of his sire, Pour Moi, who never ran again after his win at Epsom.

Cliffs Of Moher, runner-up in the Derby, subsequently ran in five more Group 1 races but failed to hit the heights expected of him.

However, overall the Derby Class of 2017 stood close inspection.

Cracksman thrived after in the second half of the season and signed off with a stunning runaway win in the QIPCO Champion Stakes at Ascot, while Capri, sixth, won the Irish Derby and William Hill St Leger.

The ill-fated Permian, tenth, was pipped a nose in the Juddmonte Grand Prix de Paris, and the well-beaten Rekindling won the Emirates Melbourne Cup.

What they said:

Padraig Beggy said after Wings Of Eagles won the Derby: “I don’t get to sit on many beasts like this at the races, so I’m going to enjoy it. A furlong down I thought if I get a run I’d win, I knew Ryan [Moore]had gone, but in fairness to the big horse his best furlong is his last, which makes a big difference.”

The 31-year-old added: “I’d nearly given up on the big days, but Aidan O’Brien has made it happen. It’s happy days.”

After the colt was found to have suffered a career-ending injury, Aidan O’Brien said: “When the lads X-rayed him, his sesamoid had completely come apart. It’s incredible he ran the race he did with that, unbelievable really.

“We’re very sorry to lose him because he was a very unusual horse in that he stayed very well but quickened very well.”

Where he will he stand:

Wings Of Eagles was foaled at the Normandy stud of Haras de Montaigu and will begin his new vocation as a stallion back at his birthplace from next year.

In the process, he will become the first Derby winner to retire straight to stud in France in more than 60 years.

The Haras de Montaigu was founded by Gabriel Guerlain in 1903. Guerlain, a perfumer by profession, was also passionate about horse breeding.

Four generations of his family have subsequently run the stud farm.

What should we expect from his offspring:

Wings Of Eagles, who stands at 16.1 ½ hands, is a half-brother to three winners who between them have won from distances ranging from five furlongs to a mile and a half.

His race record and breeding – by Derby winner Pour Moi who was himself was by the outstanding Montjeu – suggests he has every chance of throwing up high-class middle-distance performers.

Depending on the mares who visit him, it could be that he also helps produce a smart stayer or two. Wings Of Eagles would himself almost have certainly stayed in excess of a mile and a half had he got the chance.

British Champions Series stars to stud:

Almanzor

Caravaggio

Galileo Gold

Next week:

Persuasive