Dancing Brave brushed aside three rivals in the Dorking Stakes over a mile at Sandown Park on his debut in 1985, and was then easy on the eye when following up in the Soham House Stakes over the same trip at Newmarket. He went into winter quarters as a live contender for the 2000 Guineas, despite being untested in deeper waters and officially rated some way off the top two-year-olds.
Those backing him at fancy ante-post prices were on good terms with themselves when Dancing Brave comfortably won the Craven Stakes back at Newmarket on his return, and they also had few anxious moments in the Guineas itself. In a steadily-run renewal, he settled beautifully in a prominent position and burst three lengths clear of Green Desert when invited to put his stamp on proceedings. “I’ve never been down the hill so fast,” said Walter Swinburn, the rider of the runner-up. “I was motoring, and then this thing [Dancing Brave] came flying by.”
The Derby was over half a mile further and was going to require staying power, but it wasn’t lack of stamina that betrayed the 2/1 favourite. Jockey Greville Starkey settled him towards the back of the 17-runner field and with just three furlongs to run was still much nearer last than first, perhaps as much as 15 lengths off the lead. Dancing Brave showed astonishing pace to pass 14 of his rivals from widest of all – he clocked a breathtaking 10.2sec for the penultimate furlong – but the Michael Stoute-trained Shahrastani, the winner of two key trials and the second favourite at 11/2, had been given a textbook ride and was a fast-diminishing half-a-length ahead at the line.