The Unforgettable Rise of Serpentine: Epsom Derby Champion’s Bittersweet Decision

The Unusual Journey of Serpentine, the Gelded Epsom Derby Winner

Winning England’s Epsom Derby is a coveted achievement for any colt, as it holds the potential to catapult their stallion prospects to new heights. However, in a surprising turn of events, Serpentine, the 2020 Epsom Derby champion, underwent an unprecedented transformation. This five-year-old son of the legendary Galileo was unexpectedly sold to Australian owner Lloyd Williams, who made the unconventional decision to geld him. In this article, we explore the compelling story of Serpentine, examining the motivations behind this “ultimate equipment change” and exploring the impact it may have on his future.

Serpentine’s Remarkable Pedigree

Serpentine’s lineage is undeniably impressive, with his illustrious sire Galileo being one of Europe’s most acclaimed stallions. His dam, Remember When, who finished as the runner-up in the 2010 Epsom Oaks, further adds to his prestigious bloodline. Additionally, Remember When’s half-siblings include Dylan Thomas, a victor in both the Arc de Triomphe and Irish Derby, as well as the undefeated Queen’s Logic, who triumphed in all five of her races before retiring.

An Unexpected Victory and Its Consequences

Despite his exceptional pedigree, Serpentine’s victory in the 2020 Epsom Derby was largely viewed as a fluke. Starting the race with odds of 25/1, his earlier track record did not inspire much confidence. Prior to the Derby, he had finished 10th in his debut as a two-year-old, followed by a modest fifth-place finish in a June maiden race.

However, Serpentine defied expectations and shocked the racing world with a commanding 5 1/2-length triumph at the Epsom Derby, solidifying his place in history. Yet, this remarkable performance proved to be an anomaly, as the pandemic-induced circumstances undermined the significance of his win. Since then, Serpentine has struggled to replicate his past success, failing to secure a victory in his subsequent five starts. Notable finishes include fourth-place finishes in the Grand Prix de Paris and the Champions Stakes following his Derby triumph. As a four-year-old in 2021, Serpentine finished seventh, eighth, and sixth in various races, with his last appearance being a sixth-place finish at the Goodwood Cup in July.

The Galileo Paradox and the Decision to Geld

In assessing the decision to geld Serpentine, it is crucial to consider the unique challenges posed by the prominence of Galileo’s offspring in the stallion industry. The extensive presence of Galileo’s progeny in stallion sheds across Europe has resulted in a dilution of his particular gene pool. Serpentine, for instance, is just one of eleven Group-winning males from Galileo’s 2017 crop, while the previous year saw Galileo produce an impressive fifteen Group winners. As a result, the scarcity of truly exceptional individuals within Galileo’s lineage may have influenced the decision to geld Serpentine.

Alternatively, it is plausible that Williams and his team foresaw greater long-term value in Serpentine as a gelded older horse rather than as a breeding stallion. Considering Serpentine’s inconsistent record, marked by sporadic successes and disappointments, this perspective may prove prudent.


In the fascinating case of Serpentine, the gelded Epsom Derby winner, we witness an extraordinary deviation from the norm. While the decision has raised eyebrows and sparked discussions within the racing community, only time will reveal the true implications for Serpentine’s future. Will he overcome the odds and add more illustrious victories to his name, or will he carve a different path entirely? With an intriguing pedigree, a surprising Derby win, and the “ultimate equipment change,” Serpentine’s journey continues to captivate racing enthusiasts worldwide.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What led to Serpentine’s decision to geld the 2020 Epsom Derby winner?

The decision to geld Serpentine was likely influenced by multiple factors, including his perceived fluke victory in the Derby, his subsequent lackluster performances, and the diluted gene pool resulting from Galileo’s extensive progeny.

2. How does Serpentine’s pedigree contribute to his racing potential?

Serpentine boasts an impressive lineage, being the son of renowned stallion Galileo and hailing from a dam, Remember When, who herself has remarkable connections to successful racehorses. His blue-blooded pedigree offers the potential for exceptional racing prowess.

3. Is Serpentine allowed to compete in races restricted to geldings?

In Europe, geldings are generally not permitted to participate in several Group 1 races, including the esteemed Epsom Derby. This rule has been in place since 1904.

4. How has Serpentine performed following his Derby victory?

Since his triumph at the 2020 Epsom Derby, Serpentine has struggled to replicate his earlier success. His subsequent races have yielded lackluster results, with several fourth-place finishes and an overall inconsistency in performance.

5. What implications could Serpentine’s transformation have for the future of Derby winners?

The decision to geld Serpentine, a reigning Derby champion, sets an extraordinary precedent. It invites speculation and debate regarding the potential impact on the breeding prospects of future Derby winners and encourages a reassessment of traditional norms within the racing industry.

Picture of Doug I. Jones

Doug I. Jones

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