Foaled : 2003
Trained by: Aidan O'Brien
Owners: Mrs John Magnier and Michael Tabor
Jockeys: Kieran Fallon, Johnny Murtagh, Seamie Heffernan, Mick Kinane, Christophe Soumillion
Did you know: Dylan Thomas did not appear to be one of Ballydoyle's star three-year-olds in the making as a juvenile, but he improved throughout his Classic season to rank among the top turf performers in the world. He was kept in training as a four-year-old this season and proved himself to be one of the top turf performers in the world.
A son of the mighty Danehill, out of a full-sister to the 1988 Middle Park Stakes runner-up, Pure Genius, his most famous sibling is undoubtedly the unbeaten Cheveley Park Stakes winning filly, Queen's Logic. With so much speed in his pedigree, one could have been fooled into thinking that Dylan Thomas' stamina may have been stretched at trips of a mile or more, but Danehill's unique ability to impart stamina as well as speed into his progeny proved significant in the case of this particular colt.
In common with two other Ballydoyle superstars, High Chaparral and Hawk Wing that came before him, Dylan Thomas broke his maiden at Tipperary. It was a 7f maiden on the final day of June 2005 when the Kieren Fallon-ridden juvenile made a taking winning debut, beating the experienced Galantas by a cosy length. From there he was aimed at the Irish Breeders Foal Levy Stakes on Irish Champion Stakes day at Leopardstown just over 10 weeks later where, having been sent off as the 2/1 favourite, he overcame a marked tendency to hang badly right in the straight to record a ¾l success. What followed was a somewhat unusual move from the Ballydoyle operation as their unbeaten colt was sent to the unfamiliar setting of Salisbury to contest the Group 3 Autumn Stakes. Under Johnny Murtagh, the 13/8 favourite rallied gamely inside the final furlong but came up a neck short of victory with the unconsidered 20/1 chance Blitzkrieg taking the spoils. A fortnight later he stepped into Group 1 company for the first time in the Racing Post Trophy, but the heavy ground did not suit and he trailed in a well beaten sixth of seven runners. It was obviously a disappointing note to finish his two-year-old campaign on, but that defeat would not be long in being forgotten.
Dylan Thomas' seasonal reappearance as a three-year-old came in the Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial at Leopardstown in mid-May and having been seen to carry an abundance of condition in the preliminaries, his price drifted to 11/2. However, having always been prominent he comfortably held off the challenge of his stable mate, Mountain, to prevail by 1½l. That performance was greeted with some enthusiasm at the time when the main contender for the Epsom Derby from Ballydoyle was yet to be established, but following the emergence of Septimus and Horatio Nelson into the Derby picture, Dylan Thomas was relegated to what was seemingly a supporting role at Epsom.
Sent off at 25/1 for the Epsom Derby, Johnny Murtagh sent Dylan Thomas to the front after 4f and having kicked clear with Dragon Dancer, it looked as though a fairytale may be about to unfold. However, Murtagh mount hung slightly off the rail allowing Sir Percy up his inside to grab the glory in the final strides with Dylan Thomas being short-headed by Dragon Dancer for the runner-up position. It was a hugely promising performance nevertheless and four weeks later he was sent off as the 9/2 favourite to gain his revenge on Dragon Dancer in the Irish Derby.
Kieran Fallon was back on board Dylan Thomas, who incidentally was bidding to maintain his unbeaten record in Ireland, and he had been advised by Johnny Murtagh to expect a much improved performance now that the Danehill colt had the opportunity to race right-handed on a suitably galloping track. Murtagh was proved to be correct as Fallon eased his mount to the lead over 1f out before producing a rare turn of foot to quickly go clear of his 12 rivals, running out the impressive 3½l winner. That win stamped Dylan Thomas as a high class colt and in the post-race parade, Fallon milked the crowd for a memorable reception in the winner's enclosure.
Seven weeks after his Irish Derby win, Dylan Thomas set out to right the record that he had never won outside of Ireland in the Juddmonte International Stakes at York. Sent off at 5/6, Aidan O'Brien's charge was not suited by the slow early pace and soft ground, coming home a disappointing fourth of seven runners. Many people cited his apparent aversion to travelling as the cause of his defeat but O'Brien was adamant that was not an issue.
Any fears that had emerged about the authenticity of the form of Dylan Thomas' Irish Derby win were well and truly dispelled just under three weeks later when he lined up for a vintage renewal of the Irish Champion Stakes. With Ouija Board and Alexander Goldrun heading the opposition to him in the five-runner field, Dylan Thomas looked to have a very difficult assignment ahead. However, under a vintage Kieren Fallon ride, he rallied under strong pressure in the closing stages to get up and prevail by a thrilling neck from the gallant Ouija Board. The win prompted scenes of unparalleled celebration in the winner's enclosure as the racing public greeted the under-fire Fallon and the star of the show, Dylan Thomas.
Now a dual Group 1 winner, the season again ended on something of a low point for Dylan Thomas as he proved hugely disappointing in his prep race for the Breeders Cup Classic, the Jockey Club Gold Cup at Belmont Park. Blatantly not handling the dirt surface, plans for a Breeders Cup raid were immediately shelved and that proved to be his last run of the season.
Much to the benefit of the racing public, Coolmore opted to keep Dylan Thomas in training as a four-year-old for the 2007 season and that decision was more than vindicated. Having made an impressive seasonal reappearance in the Listed Alleged Stakes at the Curragh, Dylan Thomas was sent in pursuit of his third victory at the highest level in the Prix Ganay at Longchamp. Under Christophe Soumillion, the four-year-old did not have to come out of third gear to record a hugely impressive 2l success from Irish Wells. From there, Dylan Thomas was sent to contest a very strong renewal of the Group 1 Tattersalls Gold Cup at the Curragh. With a number of classy Group 1 winners in opposition, it did not look to be a straightforward task but nevertheless, he was sent off as the 1/2 favourite. Driven into the narrowest of leads 2½f out under Seamie Heffernan, Dylan Thomas looked set to prevail with the authority that his price suggested he would. However, Notnowcato would not bend and following an epic battle all the way down the straight. Sir Michael Stoute's five-year-old prevailed by a head.
Following that first defeat of 2007, Aidan O'Brien aimed the son of Danehill towards Royal Ascot and the Prince Of Wales's Stakes. In what was a hugely competitive renewal of the race, Dylan Thomas was sent off at 2/1 against the 15/8 favourite, Manduro, and it was that rival that got the better of him, pulling out more in the final furlong as Dylan Thomas edged in behind him, eventually going down by 1¼l with his Curragh conqueror, Notnowcato, four lengths back in third. After that second consecutive defeat, some people began to doubt Dylan Thomas's resolution, but on his very next start he would quickly quash any doubts surrounding his attitude.
Stepped back up to 12f for the first time since bolting up in the 2006 Irish Derby, Dylan Thomas was sent off at 5/4 for what was almost universally dismissed as a below par renewal of the King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot in late July. However, despite the going being softer than ideal for Aidan O'Brien's charge, he silenced all of his doubters by putting in a virtuoso performance that saw him quicken right away from the field to prevail by a highly impressive four lengths.
That win set the stage for a clash of the generations between him and the Epsom Derby winner, Authorized, in the Juddmonte International Stakes at York, though it wasn't until the last minute that the line-up was confirmed due to the soft, but rapidly drying turf. On the day, good ground prevailed and all the main protagonists turned up for the big dance. In what turned into a frustratingly tactical affair, Authorised and Frankie Dettori got first run on Dylan Thomas and Johnny Murtagh, with the former eventually beating the latter by a length with Notnowcato another three lengths back in third.
The next chapter in the Dylan Thomas story was written at Leopardstown in early September when he became the first horse to win the Irish Champion Stakes for a second time. The race proved to be another personal triumph for his brilliant trainer as the 8/15 favourite led home his two stable companions, Duke Of Marmalade and Red Rock Canyon, to give the stable another 1-2-3 in a Group One event and jockey Kieren Fallon stated that Dylan Thomas was the best horse he had ever ridden and one of his favourites.
In his relatively short but quite remarkable career, trainer Aidan O'Brien had never won the Prix de l'Arc but hopes were high that Dylan Thomas could give him a breakthrough success in Europe's most prestigious contest on the first Sunday in October. However, the threat of soft ground a couple of days before the big race caused considerable concern for connections but on the day itself the going was no worse than yielding. Despite his long and arduous campaign, Dylan Thomas was turned out in mint condition and in an exciting finish, he prevailed by a rapidly diminishing head defeating Youmzain and Sagara with his York conqueror, the Epsom Derby hero, Authorized, well adrift towards the rear of the field. Having drifted to his right when making his challenge early in the last quarter of a mile, Dylan Thomas squeezed up a number of his rivals and it was no surprise that a Stewards' Enquiry was quickly called. An agonising wait of nearly thirty minutes then ensued before he was declared the winner and there were great scenes of jubilation in the parade ring when the official result was announced.
The Breeders Cup Turf at Monmouth Park in America in late October was his next port of call but on a very testing surface, Dylan Thomas failed to run up to his best and had to settle for a disappointing fifth place behind the runaway winner, English Channel. There was further disappointment in early December when the horse was not allowed run in the Japan Cup due to a quarantine problem and his final outing came in the Cathay Pacific Hong Kong Vase at Sha Tin racecourse in Hong Kong the following week. However, due to an interrupted work schedule, he performed well below his best and had to settle for seventh place, nearly five lengths behind the winner, Doctor Dino.
It was a little disappointing that his last two career outings did not show Dylan Thomas in his best light but looking back over a glorious career, he can rightly be described as one of the best horses that Aidan O'Brien has ever trained. His achievements in 2007 earned him the prestigious Cartier Award in Great Britain while he also was voted 'Horse Of The Year' in Ireland which was announced at the Horse Racing Ireland Awards in the first week in December. He retired to stud the winner of ten races, six of those at Group One level and earned over €4.2 million in prizemoney. Apart from his last two career outings, this remarkably consistent and tough performer only finished out of the first four on one occasion from 18 starts. Dylan Thomas was a very effective performer over ten furlongs but over twelve furlongs on good or faster ground, he was near unbeatable and should become a much sought after stallion in the breeding sheds over the coming years.