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Horses That Made History: Generous, by name and nature

Tue 24 Mar 2020

In the second of our Horses That Made History we turn the spotlight onto Generous, who lit up the summer of 1991. This article was first published in the summer of 2019..

As beautiful as he was brilliant, his trainer Paul Cole reckoned that he was able to secure Generous for a better price than might have otherwise been the case for such a well-bred colt on account of the flashy looks he was born with.

An immaculate chestnut with four white feet and a white star on his forehead, Generous showed talent from the start and enough speed for Cole to try him over five furlongs in May as a two-year-old.

But it was his staying power that proved his great forte as a racehorse and it was over a mile that he landed his first Group One when taking the Dewhurst Stakes in soft ground at 50-1 on his final start at two, staying on in determined fashion under Richard Quinn to nab the front-running Bog Trotter and Nigel Day in the final strides.

His first appearance at three came in Newmarket’s 2000 Guineas where he was far from disgraced in finishing fourth, but by then the mile was an insufficient test of his stamina reserves and it was up to a mile and a half for the Ever Ready Derby at Epsom.

Generous catches Bog Trotter to win the 1990 Dewhurst at Newmarket

Toulon and Corrupt disputed favouritism ahead of Guineas winner Mystiko and winner of the French equivalent, Hector Protector. This was no weak renewal, for also in the line-up against Generous were the likes of subsequent Group One scorers Marju and Environment Friend.

But under Alan Munro, Quinn’s services having been acrimoniously disposed of by the colt’s owner Fahd Salman after Newmarket, Generous proved himself simply in a different league.

Settled in a perfect position in third place behind the freerolling Mystiko around Tattenham Corner, Munro asked him for an effort just over two furlongs out and in a matter of strides he had burst clear, galloping all the way to the line to beat Marju by five lengths.

That was a blistering performance, but not one that had yet marked him out as the outstanding middle-distance colt of his generation in Europe.

For just three days before Epsom, Suave Dancer had taken the French Derby in just as impressive a manner under the enigmatic Cash Asmussen. The pair were now to meet in the clash of the season in the Irish Derby at The Curragh.

Generous, who frequently lived on his nerves, was not a good traveller, so arrangements were made to fly over on the morning of the race. The change helped enormously, as did Munro’s decision to go on from an early stage when the supposed pacemakers instead began to slow things down.

“As they come to the three-furlong-pole, we’re poised for a thriller,” said the commentator. And so it proved. Suave Dancer cruised up to throw down a challenge at the two-furlong pole under substitute rider Walter Swinburn, Asmussen having been injured in a fall. But Generous found more than his rival and at the line was powering clear again.

Next it was Ascot for the King George and Queen Elizabeth Stakes and a chance to prove his mettle against older horses. Generous was being asked to show his best for the third time in seven weeks and the pressure seemed to be getting to him beforehand as he arrived at the start dripping in sweat.

But Generous stormed past Saddlers Hall two furlongs out and the talented likes of Sanglamore and Rock Hopper were simply no match for him. Despite being eased right down close home, Generous scored by a record winning margin of seven lengths.

Watch a full replay of how Generous won the Derby in 1991

“When you go a pace like that and take the lead, all you can really do is hope you can keep up the gallop – you don’t expect to be able to accelerate,” reflected Munro afterwards. “For him to be able to do that is really quite exhilarating.”

Rested afterwards to be prepared for the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, there was to be no fairytale finish for Generous, who finished well beaten. Connections considered a tilt at the Champion Stakes, but instead he headed into retirement.

After beginning his stallion career at Banstead Manor, he went on to stand in Japan and New Zealand, before spending his final years at Alfred Buller’s Scarvagh House Stud in Northern Ireland. He died there in 2013, at the age of 25.

“He was unbelievably intelligent for a horse - kind and truly regal,” said Buller. “He will be sadly missed and, to all involved with him, it has been a privilege to have cared for him and looked after him during his last period of life.”

Click here to read the first in our series: Yeats

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