“I said to the Prince that somebody will probably have a million for her,” Delahooke recalls. “And somebody will probably have a million and a half. But at $1.6 million we might have a chance. And that” – he stabs a finger at the 350 – “that’s what we paid for her.”

Chris McGrath hears James Delahooke on lessons learned founding an empire

He picks out the catalogue from the crammed shelves of his study, each sale sequenced to register another year like the rings across a tree trunk. Another year, another crop of yearlings sieved by the thousand in the perennial quest for a champion.

Saratoga 1982, Hip 154. James Delahooke had scrawled one minor caveat: “Toes out slightly.” Otherwise, however, he couldn’t see how any breeder could fail to shortlist her: a filly by His Majesty out of a Buckpasser half-sister to Northern Dancer himself. Alongside other notes – “great goer” – he has written two numbers on the page: 1.6, and 350.

“I said to the Prince that somebody will probably have a million for her,” Delahooke recalls. “And somebody will probably have a million and a half. But at $1.6 million we might have a chance. And that” – he stabs a finger at the 350 – “that’s what we paid for her.”

Only $350,000, then, for the filly who became the dam of Danehill. “I bought very few yearling fillies, almost always bought colts,” Delahooke says. “I’m not really a pedigree man. But this was unmissable. They must have been asleep, mustn’t they? How can you not buy that page?”

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