King’s Theatre, bred in Ireland by Michael Poland, was foaled on May 1st 1991. Coming from the sixth crop of fourteen-time champion sire Sadler’s Wells and out of the mare Regal Beauty, he was bred for success.
He was sent into training with Henry Cecil in preparation for a racecourse debut. That debut came in July 1993, when he finished fifth in a maiden at Newmarket. That was followed by his first victory, when he won as a 1/3 favourite at Yarmouth on September 2nd 1993.
Fifteen days after that first victory, King’s Theatre would win when stepped up in class at Newbury and was then moved up to Group One for his final race as a Two-Year-Old. That was the Racing Post Trophy at Doncaster, where Willie Ryan rode him brilliantly. He tracked the leader, quickened to move ahead and stayed on strongly to beat the favourite, Fairy Heights, by a length.
At the end of the 1993 season, King’s Theatre was rated the third best juvenile colt in Europe and considered a leading Derby candidate for the following year.
His first race of 1994 was the Group Three Craven Stakes at Newmarket, where Mick Kinane rode him for the first time. He led from three-furlongs out and stayed on strongly, despite a challenge from Colonel Collins, to win by a short-head.
Going off as 9/2 favourite for the 2000 Guineas, many expected another victory but he faded quickly and finished 13th of the 23 runners. A fourth place finish in the Dante Stakes at York followed and his odds for The Derby drifted out to 14/1.
Kinane rode him to a great performance at Epsom, with him leading a furlong from the finish line. He couldn’t stay on though and was headed into second place by Erhaab. A second in the Irish Derby followed that and he was priced at 12/1 for the King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Royal Ascot.
It was another great ride from Kinane, who held him up and switched right a couple of furlongs out to guide him to a one and a quarter length victory ahead of White Muzzle. That proved to be his best ever performance and would be his last ever win.
The 1994 season came to a close with a third place finish in the Juddmonte International Stakes at York and tenth in the Arc at Longchamp. Despite only winning twice from eight races during the year, King’s Theatre was named ‘Best Three-Year-Old Colt’ at the Cartier Awards and had a Timeform rating of 128.
A move from Henry Cecil to Bill Mott in the USA for his Four-Year-Old season proved to be less than successful. He failed to win from three starts, with his best performance being a third place at Saratoga in July 1995. After that stint across the water, King’s Theatre was transferred to Godolphin to be trained by Saeed Bin Suroor for the 1996 season.
His first race as a Five-Year-Old came with Frankie Dettori on board for a minor stakes race at Newbury. He ran well but failed to quicken inside the final furlong and was narrowly beaten by Murajja.
His final race as a Five-Year-Old, and indeed of his career, came at San Siro in Italy on 16th June 1996. John Reid rode him for the Group One Gran Premio Di Milano, where he disappointingly finished third of the four runners.
At the end of a racing career that saw him win five of his 17 starts and earn prize money of over £750,000, King’s Theatre was retired in 1997 to stand as stud in Ireland. He had a long and successful stand as stallion, being shuttled between Ballylinch Stud in Kilkenny and Glenlogan Stud in Queensland.
When he started his stud career, the majority of his foals were flat horses but he later became better known for being sire to several great jumpers.
His progeny includes Ascot Chase & Ryanair Chase winner Riverside Theatre, Arkle Challenge Trophy Winner Captain Chris, seven-time Group One Winner Cue Card and winner of the Group One Neptune Novices’ Hurdle the New One.
After a successful career as both a top-class middle distance performer and sire of several leading horses, King’s Theatre sadly passed away at the age of twenty on 13th June 2011 after complications following an operation for colic.