Gainesway Photo

Ellen Parker

In March of this year, the highly respected British writer Tony Morris, long known as a knowledgeable pedigree analyst, wrote a story about Lyphard for the Juddmonte web site (  It was a good story, like Morris’ pieces always are, but with all due respect, we think it was a bit incomplete.

Several years ago we corresponded with a writer and pedigree analyst who believed that horses from stout sire lines ‘go brilliant’ or brilliant lines ‘go classic’ from time to time.  He additionally believed that once this occurred that the line would be consistently different than its source – i. e. the speedy In Reality from stout Man o’ War.

Other characteristics also skip generation – mean/insane *Ribot sired sweet-natured Tom Rolfe who in turn sired the raving maniac Hoist the Flag is a good example.  *Gallant Man, a very stout router by Arc winner *Migoli, generally sired sprinters owing to his close-in Mumtaz Mahal inbreeding.

Things change, another words.  And while Lyphard himself was a picture of Northern Dancer – i. e. a quite common looking, cobby little horse, he had a rare ability that most Northern Dancers did not:  His offspring tended to all be far more elegant than he was, and nearly all his good sons from Manila to Lypheor were physical improvements over him to a marked degree, often taking after the dam’s side of their pedigrees or inbreeding to a dominant ancestor.

Manila looked like *Le Fabuleux, his broodmare sire and Lypheor, a gorgeous nearly black creature, was out of a mare by Hyperion-line =Sing Sing from a French mare inbred to Tourbillon and was very racy looking.  Dancing Brave was also scopier and more refined, expressing his bottom line, which was a basic outcross consisting of Drone (Sir Gaylord)/*Pago Pago (Fairway) and Beau Max (*Bull Dog) lines.

None of these horses had a very fair chance at stud, being sold off to Turkey (Manila), Japan (Dancing Brave) or dying young (Lypheor).  This left two sons that were quite different to carry on in Alzao (from the great sire-source family of *The Squaw II) and Bellypha, paternal grandsire of Linamix, which we covered in an earlier Pedlines.

Lucky enough to have landed in the hands of the Aga Khan, Linamix had a leg up on most sires in that regard alone.  But looking at Linamix is revealing as well.  He was a grey, almost Arab type and quite refined.  This is not the prototype of Northern Dancer or Lyphard, except for the smaller stature.

What all of this has told me for a very long time is that Lyphard’s physical appearance is recessive in his best get.  But his quality remains dominant.  Does this mean we should consider inbreeding to Lyphard?  Not necessarily, but there is one example we might consider and that is Flower Alley whose dam, Princess Olivia, is inbred to Lyphard and his half sister Dumfries.

With a pedigree guaranteed to make one’s hair stand on end (Mr. Prospector x2/Danzig/Reviewer!) he has nonetheless managed to work around this, causing us to wonder if Reines-de-Course *Barra II and her daughter Goofed (also a Reine), the dam of Lyphard which is his tail-female line, is at work here when she is doubled.  Time will tell us more about Flower Alley’s influence, but for now there are other things to ponder.

Horses like Aussie Rules (a Lyphard line through Alzao); Tiznow (Lyphard through Tizly), Einstein (Lyphard via Ghadeer), and a variety of tail-male descendants of Linamix in France, not to mention his top class South African-based son Elliodor (FR) who was inbred to *Court Martial, are still with us.  Thus we still have the ability to mix and match this remarkable horse.

We don’t know if anyone reading this story still has a mare with Dahar blood, but for us this might have been the saddest sell-off, as he was out of Dahlia, our favorite mare of all time.  If you do have such a specimen, you might consider crossing her back on a son of Lyphard for balance or even looking for a horse with Dumfries (though she will always be cursed with having Reviewer for a sire).

No one who reads Pedlines is unaware that we are not big fans of Northern Dancer.  But there have always been exceptions and Lyphard was our favorite – he was our favorite because he wasn’t like Northern Dancer at all, but literally broke off and established his very own type.  When Nijinsky II did this, it pretty well ruined him, even hurting Royal Academy, a ¾ brother to Storm Cat.  But Lyphard lurks in pedigrees where you don’t expect to see him – like Tiznow – and the quality (not to mention the good looks of the mare *Tizna) carried him to a higher level than Northern Dancer alone could ever do.

Just as Sadler’s Wells and Nureyev were elevated by *Rough Shod II, Lyphard is a law unto himself.  We are going to be watching as the Linamix line carries on and also how Goofed may play a part in the equation.  But for now, we are comfortable in simply knowing that Lyphard made his own rules – and having watched horses like Royal Heroine, Bien Bien, Commander in Chief and others tell us that we are very glad he did.

Reprinted from Pedlines #170, September-October 2014

Note:The Reine-de-Course story on *Barra II – Lyphard’s tail-female line appeared in Pedlines #158  (Nov./Dec. 2011) for those who wish to learn more about this family and its history.