Hancock Patterns


Never let it be said that we could even hope to get inside the fine horseman’s mind of A. B. “Bull” Hancock.  The man forgot more about horses than we will ever know.

However, we have seen some very meaningful patterns in the pedigrees of horses he stood at stud and the families he collected over the years.  The main line he seemed to fancy was St. Simon – *Nasrullah was inbred to St. Simon, *Princequillo was St. Simon line and his best son, Round Table, was inbred to St. Simon. The beautiful *Le Fabuleux was also St. Simon line.

However, there are some other, less obvious connections among the stallions which Hancock imported to these shores.  For example, nearly everyone knows that Flagette, dam of the exquisite French Derby winner *Herbager, was inbred to St. Leger winner Firdaussi.

What is more interesting, however, is that Firdaussi’s sire, Pharos, meets his three-quarter sister Pladda, in this pedigree.   Pladda is the dam of Plassy, sire of Vandale, *Herbager’s own sire. Pharos is, of course by Phalaris-Scapa Flow (by Chaucer-Anchora). Pladda is by Phalaris-Rothesay Bay (by Bayardo-Anchora).

Also in *Herbager’s pedigree is the mare Vanille, dam of Vandale.  She is by Professional Chef-de-Race La Farina-Vaya by Beppo.

Now in considering the Pharos/Pladda cross in *Herbager’s pedigree, consider the pedigree of another horse who stood at Claiborne, *Pago Pago.  *Pago Pago’s sire, Matrice, was inbred to full brother and sister Fairway and Fair Isle, both full siblings to Pharos and three-quarter siblings to Pladda.  So within the pedigrees of these two horses – *Herbager and *Pago Pago – was the wherewithal to effect a four-way cross of Pharos/Fairway/Fair Isle/Pladda.  Remarkable!  And we don’t doubt for a moment that “Bull” Hancock was very much aware of this.

Let us turn for a moment now to *Le Fabuleux.  His broodmare sire, Verso II, was out of the mare Variete (by La Farina-Vaya by Beppo).  This makes Variete, of course, a full sister to Vanille, dam of *Herbager’s sire Vandale! Thus any time *Herbager and *Le Fabuleux appear in the same pedigree there will be a cross of these full sisters.  Can such a thing be coincidence?  We think not.

Also a part of this same equation was *Tulyar, who because of illness never quite developed into the sire that Hancock hoped he would be, but did become a good broodmare sire.  *Tulyar also had a line of Vaya via his paternal great-grandsire Vatout (Prince Chimay-Vashti by Sans Souci II-Vaya).

*Tulyar had another link to *Le Fabuleux.  His grandsire Tehran was out of the mare Stafaralla (Solario-Mirawala). *Le Fabuleux’s third dam, Sans Tares, was by Sind (Solario-Mirawala) and thus a full brother to Stafaralla.  Also descending from this family was Claiborne stallion Bagdad, a son of Double Jay.

Returning now for a moment to the pedigree of *Pago Pago, we find a connection with one of Claiborne’s foundation mares Courtesy, ancestress of such horses as Swale, Forty Niner, Knightly Manner and many others.  Courtesy’s fourth dam was the mare Popinjay, her fifth dam the great mare Chelandry. And *Pago Pago?  He was inbred to the Chelandry daughters Chersonese and Popinjay.  Thus, any time any member of Courtesy’s family encountered a line of *Pago Pago, it would effect a three-way cross of Chelandry via two crosses of Popinjay and another line of Cheronese.

We have always been of the opinion that great breeders become great breeders for a reason.  Long-term planning and compiling of compatible stock is one of these reasons.

Matings are not made merely for the market, or for one season.  They are made in order that the pedigree always has one loose end to tie up in the next generation.   For instance, if the top class filly Jersey Girl were bred to the excellent stakes winner Kiri’s Clown upon her retirement, we would effect a 2 x 4 cross of half siblings Foolish Pleasure and Nomepache (or a 2 x 3 cross of closely-related Foolish Pleasure and Bid Gal if you prefer).   Because Kiri’s Clown is out of a mare by Kris, the offspring – if a filly – would be an excellent mare for Diesis (an own brother to Kris) or a son of Diesis.  And because her sire, Belong To Me, is from *La Troienne’s family, one could also breed such a filly to Seattle Slew-line horses to build up linebreeding to *La Troienne.   Plus her In Reality strain would work well with any horse who has a line of Dr. Fager in order to sex-balance Rough’n Tumble.

Few of us are in a position to build up the kind of classic bloodlines that “Bull” Hancock procured for Claiborne Farm.   But the blood he bequeathed to the industry is still out there.   Whether you use that existing blood for your own benefit by crossing it as he, in all likelihood, originally intended, or merely learn from the example, it is knowledge well worth possessing.

The following charts show how these relationships work:

ANCHORA, 1905 by Love Wisely

Rothesay Bay, 1916 by Bayardo

Pladda, 1926 by Phalaris

Plassy, 1932 by Bosworth (in pedigree of *Herbager)

Scapa Flow, 1914 by Chaucer

Pharos, 1920 by Phalaris (in pedigree of *Nasrullah, *Herbager, etc.)

Fairway, 1925 by Phalaris (in pedigree of *Pago Pago)

Fair Isle, 1927 by Phalaris (in pedigree of *Pago Pago)

CHELANDRY, 1894 by Goldfinch

Popinjay, 1905 by St. Frusquin

Magpie, 1914 by Dark Ronald (in pedigree of *Pago Pago)

Popingaol, 1910 by Dark Ronald

Book Law, 1924 by Buchan

Highway Code, 1939 by Hyperion

Courtesy, 1952 by *Nasrullah (ancestress of Swale, Forty Niner, etc.)

Chersonese, 1915 by Cylgad

Heroic, 1921 by Valais (in pedigree of *Pago Pago)

VAYA, 1900 by Bebbo

Variete, 1924 by La Farin

Verso II (in pedigree of *Le Fabuleux)

Vanille, 1929 by La Farin

Vandale, 1943 by Plassy (in pedigree of *Herbager)

Vashti, 1921 by Sans Souci (in the pedigree of *Tulyar)

MIRAWALA, 1923 by Phalaris

Stafaralla, 1935 by Solario (in pedigree of *Tulyar)

Sind, 1933 by Solario (in pedigree of *Le Fabuleux)

Becti, 1929 by Salmon-Trout (in pedigree of Bagdad)