This horse with the grand name was one of the most dominant thoroughbreds in the history of British horse racing. Foaled in 1968, Brigadier Gerard compiled an unbelievable winning record, capturing first place in 17 of 18 races.
This sterling record captured the imagination of the racing world and heralded the ascension of a new racing hero onto the status of the immortals. It was only fitting that the bay colt carried the name Brigadier Gerard, inspired by the swashbuckling hero created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
Brigadier Gerard was the product of stallion Queen's Hussar and mare La Paiva, one of Prince Chevalier's daughters. He has an excellent lineage on his mother's side, tracing back to Pretty Polly, a winner of the Triple Crown.
From the very beginning, Brigadier Gerard seemed destined for greatness. He debuted in June 1970 and won all four races during his inaugural season. However, despite this unblemished record, Brigadier Gerard was ranked merely a distant third at year's end, behind Mill Reef and My Swallow.
As if taking this slight to heart, Brigadier Gerard would set the racing world on fire in 1971 and 1972.
Despite not having a preparatory race, he dominated the Two Thousand Guineas Stakes race, winning the 1971 season's initial classic by a full three lengths ahead of Mill Reef and My Swallow. It was only the beginning as Brigadier Gerard would capture his succeeding races in like fashion.
He was five lengths ahead of the field in the St. James's Palace Stakes and Sussex Stakes, 10 lengths ahead of the field in the Goodwood Mile, and eight lengths ahead of the field in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes and Champion Stakes.
Mill Reef won the 1971 Epsom Derby, but it was only because Brigadier Gerard did not participate in that race. His trainers felt unsure about his staying power since, at that time, Brigadier Gerard was considered a miler rather than a classic-distance horse.
By the end of the 1971 season, Brigadier Gerard won 10 out of 10 races. In recognition of his sterling year, Brigadier Gerard received two prestigious honors in 1971 -- Champion Miler and Horse of the Year.
In 1972, Brigadier Gerard stretched his amazing winning streak to 15 victories, capturing top honors in five consecutive races, including the Eclipse Stakes, Lockinge Stakes, King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes, Prince of Wales Stakes, and Westbury Stakes.
His sixth race, the Benson & Hedges Gold Cup, featured a powerhouse cast of horses that pitted Brigadier Gerard against the top two finishers during the 1972 Epsom Derby, the champion Roberto and the runner-up Rheingold. Roberto had performed poorly in previous races and was given little chance to win. However, on this occasion, Roberto had the greatest performance of his life and was simply unbeatable. Roberto defeated Brigadier Gerard in this classic match-up en route to setting a new track record at York Racecourse.
Brigadier Gerard's winning streak ended at 15. Nonetheless, he was still honored as the Horse of the Year in 1972.
Brigadier Gerard would race two more times, winning both the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes and Champion Stakes. After that, he retired and would never race again until his death in 1989.