Ribot (horse)

Ribot (February 27, 1952 – April 28, 1972) was a British-bred Italian-trained Thoroughbred racehorse who is one of the Timeform top-rated racehorses of all time. Undefeated in sixteen races, he won over all distances, from 5 furlongs (1,000m) to 1m 7f (3,000m) in three countries and on all types of track conditions. He was the best Italian two-year-old of 1954, when his three wins included the Gran Criterium. He won his first four races of 1955 in Italy before being sent to France where he won the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe. In the following year he was even better, recording wide-margin victories in both the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes and the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe.

Ribot (GB).jpg
DamsireEl Greco
Foaled27 February 1952
CountryGreat Britain
BreederFederico Tesio
OwnerLydia Tesio & Mario della Rocchetta
(Colours: White, red crossbelts, red cap)
TrainerUgo Penco
Record16: 16–0–0
Major wins
Gran Criterium (1954)
Gran Premio del Jockey Club (1955)
Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe (1955 & 1956)
Gran Premio di Milano (1956)
King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes (1956)
Timeform top rated horse (1956)
Leading sire in Great Britain & Ireland
(1963, 1967, 1968)
Timeform rating 133 in 1955, 142 in 1956
La Gazzetta dello Sport poll :
Ranked No.4 Italian athlete of the 20th century
Premio Ribot at Capannelle Racecourse
Horse of the Century
Last updated on 21 July 2010

Ribot was then retired to stud where he proved to be a highly successful breeding stallion. The performances of Ribot's progeny saw him become the leading sire in Great Britain & Ireland on three occasions (1963, 1967, 1968).


Ribot was bred by Italy's leading Thoroughbred breeder, Federico Tesio, who personally bred six of the horses that appeared in the first three generations of Ribot's pedigree. Ribot was foaled at the English National Stud at Newmarket, Suffolk on 27 February 1952. He was sired by Tenerani an outstanding Italian racehorse whose most notable international success came when he defeated the French champion Arbar in the 1948 Goodwood Cup. Ribot's dam Romanella was a successful broodmare who also produced the Premio Regina Elena winner Rossellina and the Premio Parioli winner Raeburn.[1]

He was described as being a "medium-sized bay with a lovely intelligent head and a perfect temperament. The secret of his success was probably his depth through the heart and there was not a girth at Dormello to fit him."[2] Like many of Tesio's horses, Ribot was named after an artist—in this case, the French realist Théodule-Augustin Ribot. Tesio, who also bred the undefeated and prepotent sire Nearco, did not live to see Ribot develop into a champion. After Tesio's death in May 1954, Ribot was raced by Tesio's widow Donna Lydia and his business partner, Marchese Mario Incisa della Rocchetta.[3]

Ribot was trained in Italy by Ugo Penco and ridden by Enrico Camici. He was nicknamed 'il cavallo super,' meaning 'the super horse'.

Racing recordEdit

1954 two-year-old seasonEdit

In 1954 Ribot began his racing career by winning the Premio Tramuschio over 1,000m at San Siro Racecourse by one length. He then won the Criterium Nazionale over 1,200m at the same course by two lengths. He ended the season by running the Gran Criterium over 1,500m at San Siro. In this race Camici attempted to ride a waiting race and Ribot won narrowly by a head from Gail.[3] In all his subsequent races he either led from the start or raced close to the leaders.

1955 three-year-old seasonEdit

Ribot had been unusually small as a yearling, being nicknamed "il piccolo" (little one). As a result, he was never entered in races such as the Premio Parioli and the Derby Italiano.[4]

In 1955 Ribot won the Premio Pisa at Pisa Racecourse by six lengths and then took the Premio Emanuele Filiberto at San Siro by 10 lengths. After a break to allow the colt to recover from a respiratory illness he won the Premio Brembo by one length from Derain, and the Premio Besana over 2,400m by 10 lengths, again beating Derain, who won the St Leger Italiano two weeks later.

In October he raced outside Italy for the first time when he contested the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe over 2400 metres at Longchamp Racecourse. Starting at odds of 9/1 he took the lead early in the straight and won by three lengths from Beau Prince.[5] According to press reports, he won very easily, with Camici never resorting to the whip and restraining the colt rather than driving him out in the closing stages. After the race he was surrounded by photographers and given the attention normally reserved for Hollywood film-stars.[6] In his final start of the year he returned to Italy, where he won the Gran Premio del Jockey Club by 15 lengths from the previous year's winner Norman on heavy going.[7]

1956 four-year-old seasonEdit

Ribot began his four-yer-old season with three easy wins at San Siro. He won the Premio Giulio Venino over 2000 metres by four lengths, the Premio Vittuone over 2400 metres by twelve lengths and the Premio Garbagnate over 2000 metres by eight lengths from Grand Rapids. He then contested Italy's Premier weight-for-age race, the Gran Premio di Milano over 3000 metres at San Siro. He led from the start and won by eight lengths from Tissot.[7]

In July, Ribot raced outside Italy for the second time when he was sent to England for the sixth running of the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes over one and a half miles at Ascot Racecourse. Racing on soft ground, he started the 2/5 favourite and won by five lengths from High Veldt and Todrai. His fourteenth consecutive victory saw him equal the record of the pre-War Italian champion Nearco.[8] Ribot then returned to Milan, where he won the Premio del Piazzale over 1800 metres, winning by eight lengths from a field which included the Premio Parioli winner Magabait.

In October, Ribot returned to Paris for his second Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe. He faced a stronger field than in 1955, with the field including Talgo (Irish Derby), Tanerko, Fisherman, Career Boy, Master Boing (Washington, D.C. International) and Oroso. Ribot took the lead on the turn into the straight and drew away from the field to win by an official margin of six lengths from Talgo.[9] Photographs suggest that the winning margin was more like eight and a half lengths.

Stud recordEdit

Retired from racing, Ribot had an exceptionally successful career at stud. Under a one-year contract, he first stood at Lord Derby's stud in England.[10] In 1959, he was syndicated for a five-year lease at a cost of $1.35 million before being sent to the United States[11] in a deal of such significance that on June 1, 1959, Sports Illustrated did a feature article on it.[12]

Originally, Ribot was leased by Darby Dan to stand in the United States for five years. After his temper surfaced, no insurance company would offer a policy to cover shipping him back to Europe. A new contract was worked out, and Ribot remained in the United States until his death. He is buried in the equine cemetery at Darby Dan, near his sons Graustark and His Majesty.[13]

He was leading sire in Great Britain and Ireland on three occasions (1963, 1967 and 1968). His European progeny included Molvedo and Prince Royal, both winners of the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe; Ragusa, winner of the Irish Derby, St. Leger, King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes, and Eclipse Stakes. In America he sired Long Look, winner of Epsom Oaks; the full brothers Ribocco and Ribero, both winners of the Irish Derby and St. Leger; Boucher, the winner of the 1972 St Leger; Tom Rolfe, winner of the 1965 Preakness Stakes; Arts and Letters, winner of the 1969 Belmont Stakes; and Graustark. Ribot's son His Majesty sired the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes winner Pleasant Colony, and his great grandson Alleged, by Tom Rolfe's son Hoist The Flag, emulated him by winning the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe in successive years (1977 and 1978).[14]

At least 15 Ribot stallions stood in Australasia, including Arivederci, Angeluccio, Latin Lover, Boucher (USA), Dies, Ribollire, Heir Apparent, Koryo, Regent's Tale, Ruantallan, Ribotlight, and Headland. The progeny of the 15 imported stallions had won over A$7 million until late 1979.[15]


Timeform awarded Ribot a rating of 133 in 1955, six pounds behind the British-trained sprinter Pappa Fourway. In 1956 he was given a rating of 142, making him the highest-rated horse in Europe.[16]

A Century of Champions, written by John Randall and Tony Morris and published by Portway Press Limited, says that photographs show Sea-Bird winning the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe by only four and a half lengths (and not by an official six lengths). Thus, Ribot's triumph (correctly by eight and half lengths and not by an official six lengths) in the race is de facto the largest winning distance. His Timeform rating is also based on the wrong official winning distance of his Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe victory. Hence, there is reason to think that he should have been rated higher. In the same book, Randall and Morris rated Ribot the third best racehorse of the 20th century, behind Sea Bird and Secretariat. As both Sea Bird and Secretariat never raced beyond the age of three, Ribot was the highest-rated horse in absolute terms.[17]

In La Gazzetta dello Sport's poll, Ribot was named the 4th greatest Italian athlete of the 20th century. The Premio Ribot at Capannelle Racecourse is named in his honour, and he has been named Horse of the Century in Italy.


Pedigree of Ribot (GB), bay stallion, 1952[18]
Tenerani (ITY)
Bellini (ITY)
B. 1937 
Cavaliere d'Arpino  Havresac
Bella Minna Bachelor's Double
Santa Minna
Tofanella (GB)
Ch. 1931 
Apelle Sardanapale
Try Try Again Cylgad
Romanella (ITY)
Ch. 1943 
El Greco (ITY)
Ch. 1934 
Pharos Phalaris
Scapa Flow
Gay Gamp Gay Crusader
Barbara Burrini (GB)
Br. 1937 
Papyrus Tracery
Miss Matty
Bucolic Buchan
Volcanic (Family: 4-l)[1]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b "Thoroughbred Bloodlines - Golden Grove - Family 4-l". Bloodlines.net. Retrieved 2013-06-09.
  2. ^ Talmadge Phelps, John and Frank, Dormello-Olgiata, 1961-1962, Derby Publishing Co., Milan, 1962
  3. ^ a b "Hengst mit fünf Gängen". Der Spiegel. 27 January 1957. Retrieved 2013-06-10.
  4. ^ Luigi Barzini Jr. (December 10, 1956). "Ribot, a horse of Nietzschean proportions". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved 2013-06-10.
  5. ^ "Unbeaten Ribot set for Laurel invasion". Miami News. 10 October 1955. p. 12. Retrieved 2013-06-10.
  6. ^ "Important Ascot race seems at the mercy of Italian colt". Glasgow Herald. 17 July 1956. p. 2. Retrieved 2013-06-09.
  7. ^ a b Tony Morris (26 July 1999). "Ribot - very best of an elite; A CENTURY OF RACING". Racing Post. Retrieved 2013-06-10.
  8. ^ "Rich UK race to Ribot". Sydney Morning Herald. 23 July 1956. p. 11. Retrieved 2013-06-09.
  9. ^ "American horses fail in Europe". Sarasota Journal. 8 October 1956. p. 13. Retrieved 2013-06-10.
  10. ^ "Ribot coming to English stud". Glasgow Herald. 1 December 1956. p. 7. Retrieved 2013-06-09.
  11. ^ Montgomery, E. S. (1973). The Thoroughbred. New York: Arco. ISBN 0-668-02824-6.
  12. ^ Whitney Tower (1 June 1959). "The Man, The Horse And The Deal That Made History". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved 2013-06-10.
  13. ^ "Grave Matters Darby Dan Farm". Tbheritage.com. Retrieved 2013-06-09.
  14. ^ Australian Stud Book: Ribot (GB) Retrieved 2010-11-19
  15. ^ de Bourg, Ross (1980). The Australian and New Zealand Thoroughbred. West Melbourne: Nelson. ISBN 0-17-005860-3.
  16. ^ Morris, Tony; Randall, John (1990). Horse Racing: Records, Facts, Champions(Third Edition). Guinness Publishing. ISBN 0-85112-902-1.
  17. ^ Morris, Tony; Randall, John (1999). A Century of Champions. Portway Press. ISBN 978-1-901570-15-1.
  18. ^ "Ribot pedigree". equineline.com. 2012-05-08. Retrieved 2013-06-09.

Further readingEdit

External linksEdit