Dancing-Brave-Arc-RacehorseDancing Brave wins the Gr.1 Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe © Trevor Jones

Dancing Brave (USA)

b c Lyphard - Navajo Princess (Drone)

Date of birth:11th May 1983
Trained by:

Guy Harwood

Until Frankel came along, Dancing Brave was officially the highest-rated horse in the record books.

The Lyphard colt was purchased for $200,000 from the Fasig Tipton Yearling Sale in July 1984, and sent into training with Guy Harwood at Pulborough. As a late foal – although highly rated – he did not see a racecourse until the autumn of his juvenile season. Following his winning debut, jockey Greville Starkey remarked that he had found “his Derby ride!” Another easy win before the colt was put away for the year left him winter favourite for the Gr.1 2000 Guineas.

Soft ground made life harder for Dancing Brave on his return in the 1986 Gr.3 Craven Stakes, but the colt still coasted home in front. It was on to the Gr.1 2000 Guineas, in which Dancing Brave justified favouritism to defeat the speedy Green Desert by an emphatic three lengths.

Discussion followed among connections as to whether Dancing Brave would stay the Derby 12 furlongs. Greville Starkey persuaded the team that he would, and he started the race as hot favourite. Unfortunately, he appeared unbalanced at Epsom and was disadvantaged by a slow early pace, and thus was unable to catch the winner Shahrastrani, settling for second.

Following the Derby, Prince Khalid agreed to sell half of Dancing Brave to Sheikh Mohammed, with the horse to stand at Dalham Hall Stud at the end of his racing career.

Dancing Brave dropped back in distance to win the Gr.1 Eclipse Stakes, and then in a re-match with Shahrastrani got the better of his Epsom opponent to land the Gr.1 King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes. The Gr.3 Select Stakes at Goodwood provided an ideal prep race for the Arc, and Dancing Brave was sent to Longchamp in great form, winner of his previous three starts.

It was a great field for the Gr.1 Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, with the French favouring their Derby winner Bering. Dancing Brave however had other ideas, and drew away in brilliant style to win by an ever-increasing one-and-a-half lengths, breaking the course record. A trip to the Breeders’ Cup followed, but Dancing Brave lost weight on the flight and could only manage fourth in the Gr.1 Turf. He was later found to have been hit in the eye with a clod of turf. Despite that final defeat, at the end of his career he was 1986 European Champion and was awarded an official rating of 141 – the highest ever awarded to a racehorse at the time. Jockey Pat Eddery, named him one of the best horses of all time, and Guy Harwood described him as "very much the best I trained."

Dancing Brave retired to Dalham Hall Stud in Newmarket, but was not as successful a sire as he had been a racehorse. He did not enjoy much early success and had some problems with fertility, possibly due to his battle with the rare Marie's Disease in the winter of 1987, and 1991 he was sold to stand in Japan, where he died in 1999. He did however sire two Classic winners for Prince Khalid, in 1993 Gr.1 Derby and Gr.1 Irish Derby winner Commander In Chief and 1993 Gr.1 Irish Oaks winner Wemyss Bight. His name also lives on as the broodmare sire of multiple Gr.1 winner and highly successful Juddmonte stallion Oasis Dream.

Last updated 3:02pm 30/03/2021