Bred by Bob McCreary at Stowell Hill Stud in Somerset, Old Vic was foaled in 1986 and came from the first crop of foals by the great Sadler’s Wells. His successful racing career actually helped to establish the excellent reputation of his sire.
Purchased at the Highflyer Yearling sales for 230,000gns on behalf of Sheikh Mohammed and trained by Henry Cecil, Old Vic was readied for a racecourse debut as a two-year-old. He made that debut in a maiden at Newcastle, where he finished in sixth place.
His second and only other race as a two-year-old, was a six-length victory in a 1m maiden at Haydock. He was showing a lot of promise but many believed him to be a lesser talent than other juveniles at Warren Place, including High Estate and Citidancer.
Old Vic rose above his stablemates with an exceptional season as a three-year-old in 1989, which got off to a flying start with a ten-length victory over the Michael Stoute trained Icona in the Burghclere Stakes at Newbury.
Next up was a four-length victory in the Group 3 Sandown Classic Trial and that was followed by him landing the Chester Vase. He was highly fancied to be a leading contender for the Epsom Derby but wasn’t entered into the race, instead heading to Chantilly for the Group 1 Prix Du Jockey Club (French Derby).
The decision was made due to connections believing the ground at Chantilly would better suit and it was the correct choice, with Steve Cauthen riding him prominently and kicking on two-furlongs out to win by seven-lengths from Dancehall in second place.
Four weeks later, Cauthen rode again as Old Vic went off an odds-on favourite for the Irish Derby at The Curragh. It was another unchallenged run, with him finishing four-lengths clear of Observation Post to win the race.
Old Vic finished the 1989 season officially rated as joint best horse, together with the American-bred and British-trained thoroughbred Zilzal. However, Timeform ratings had Zilzal ahead with a rating of 137 whilst Old Vic was on 136.
He had two races as a four-year-old in 1990 but failed to reproduce anything like the form he had shown the previous year. The first race of that year was the Group 2 Hardwicke Stakes at Ascot, where he went off an odds-on favourite. The race didn’t go to plan and he finished in third place, a massive ten and three quarter lengths behind 50/1 winner Assatis.
His final run came in the 1990 King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes, where he went up against stablemate and Chester Vase winner Belmez. Steve Cauthen sent him into an early lead to set the pace and looked to be going well, until his rival took over the lead two-furlongs out. Old Vic came back strongly and an exciting battle between the two Cecil-trained colts ended with Belmez winning by a neck.
Despite not winning a race during the year, Old Vic ended 1990 officially rated as top older horse. He was retired to stud after a racing career that saw him win six of his nine starts, only failing to finish in the first three once and that was in his first ever race.
Starting off as a sire to flat horses didn’t really work out as planned, with the pick of those being multiple Group 3 winner Orchestra Hall. Later, he would become a leading National Hunt sire and produced several top-class horses.
He finished in the top two sires every season from 2005/06 to 2009/10, based on progeny earnings and was champion sire for the 2007/08 season. His notable jumps progeny includes Grand National Winners Comply or Die and Don’t Push It, two-time King George VI and Cheltenham Gold Cup hero Kicking King, Betfair Chase winner Snoopy Loopy and Ryanair Chase winner Our Vic.
Old Vic, a top class winner of both the French and Irish Derby’s as well as becoming a leading National Hunt sire, was put down at the age of 25 in 2011 after suffering a serious bout of colic.