Dancing Brave was an American-bred, British-trained horse that captured the world’s attention in the mid-1980s. Dancing Brave ran just 10 races in a career that stretched from 1985 to 1986. In 10 starts, he won eight races including the Craven Stakes, 2000 Guineas and the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes.
The 1986 season saw Dancing Brave win a clutch of awards including the British Horse of the Year, Top-rated European Horse (Timeform) and Top-rated European Horse (International class).
Trained by Guy Harwood, Dancing Brave debuted in 1985 as a two-year-old. Harwood didn’t believe in starting the horse until he was two-years old and three months. His decision to wait on Dancing Brave proved a masterstroke as the horse won his debut at the Dorking Stakes. The horse had actually come to England and into Harwood’s care after Kentucky’s Glen Oak Farm decided Dancing Brave wasn’t attractive enough to keep around. The farm wasn’t sure the horse would amount to much and sold him for $200,000. In the end, the purchase of Dancing Brave by Khalid Abdullah was a brilliant decision as the horse earned over $1.7m in winnings.
Dancing Brave’s three-year-old season in 1986 carried on the successes of the previous year. Again, Dancing Brave won and won big. The Epsom Derby was the only blemish on Dancing Brave’s 1986 as he took second place after an unbelievable end to the race. Dancing Brave ended in second and his runner-up finish saw jockey Greville Starkey receive immense criticism for the way he ran the horse. Dancing Brave rebounded, however, winning the Eclipse Stakes in his next outing.
In Dancing Brave’s final race at the Breeders’ Cup Turf, he suffered an eye injury and was soon retired to Dalham Hall. The initial stud fee for Dancing Brave reached £120,000, but the horse suffered fertility problems in 1988. He recovered from them and was sent to Japan where Dancing Brave lived out the remainder of his years as a stud.