A New Kind of Reine
When we first conceived and began to write the Reine-de-Course series in 1991, one thing about which we were adamant was that Reines were absolutely not the equivalent of Chefs-de-Race. Such designated stallions are neatly placed in little categories, never to be considered anything but ‘brilliant’ or ‘classic’. Our Reines are a great deal more than a mandatory distance designation, their influence far deeper.
This not to say that Reines have no special characteristics, because they do. Individual families can be ‘sire source’ families (*Boudoir II, *Rough Shod II) or families with a female sex bias (Bourtai, Home By Dark). Others are very much sources of speed (*Papila, Too Bald) and still others are very classic, like *La Troienne or Pretty Polly.
We now come to a rare mare, Casquetts, who, while quite capable of getting good stallions, is at this time and place in the history of the breed a “connecting Reine”. By that, we simply mean, that some of the male lines in her pedigrees cross over to important horses today without having a direct tail-female association.
For example: Utrillo II is a tail-female descendent of Casquetts. He is also the sire of *Hawaii, whom we find in many a good pedigree including Afleet Alex and Ghostzapper. Also under Casquetts is the stallion Right Of Way. Right Of Way was the sire of Izarra, second dam of the great champion Bayakoa and Auxey, second dam of the fine mare Antespend, she the dam of Friend’s Lake.
Also under this mare is Tale of Two Cities, best known as the sire of Cougar II. We don’t find a lot of Cougar II blood these days, but it’s still out there, notably via G1 winning Trippi and his half brother Appealing Skier. Then, of course, there is the French stakes winner Nirgal. His name might not pop right into your mind, but consider how many pedigrees you can find him in: Moment of Hope, Mr. Redoy, Mighty Adversary, Broadway Joan (dam of Fourstardave and Fourstars Allstar, but perhaps most importantly dam of their sister Diane Suzanne). Diane Suzanne is the dam of Mystic Lady, an excellent G2 winner.
Best Known Kin
Of course the most name recognition under Casquetts will likely go to Olden Times, a very good sire who sadly lost his best chance at the continuation of his own branch of Matchem when Roving Boy died. Olden Times, however, is still very much with us and can be found in the pedigrees of such horses as Salt Lake.
Pharis, whose story we will get into in a moment, was a truly great racehorse whose name lives on via Pardal (think Louis Quatorze), Priam II (any horse carrying Gummo/Flying Paster), or Torbella (horses carrying a line of Native Prospector have what is probably the most common cross).
Casquetts was bred in England and named for a group of rocks and a lighthouse near Alderney. She was acquired by Marcel Boussac as an eight-year-old for 600 guineas in December of 1921 at the Newmarket Sales. When commenting on Boussac’s purchase of Casquetts, turf historian Abram Hewitt puzzled at the breeder’s reasoning, but wrote, “The aspect of her pedigree which must have appealed to Boussac and his adviser was that Cassis (dam of Casquetts) was a great-granddaughter of Jenny Diver, the dam of the Oaks winner Jenny Howlet, the granddam of the Oaks winner Musa and the great-granddam of the Oaks winner Mirska and French Derby winner Montmartin. Casquetts was a member of a flourishing classic family.”
Hewitt referred to Pharis as Casquetts’ “masterpiece” and wrote that his name would always shine brightly due to such performances as his win in the French Derby. Stumbling to his knees at the start, the grand horse recovered and went on to “produce an astonishing burst of speed” to win by 2 ½ lengths.
“No other horse bred by Boussac,” Hewitt concluded, “gave such breathtaking performances and he has no serious rival to the title of Boussac’s best horse.”
Pharis was ‘kidnapped’ by the Germans during WWII to stand in Germany, where he left behind the filly Asterblute, who defeated colts in the German Derby and also won the German Oaks. A member of the great Ibidem family Asterblute’s branch today includes a whole slew of wonderful horses including Arc winning filly Urban Sea.
Pharis was, incidentally, returned to France where he continued where he had left off, enriching French bloodstock with horses like the previously mentioned Pardal and his three-quarter sister Tellaris, she the tail-female descendent of Kentucky Derby winner Spend A Buck.
A Possible Key?
We already know what Hewitt supposed Boussac saw in the pedigree of Casquetts. However, we noticed another line which by plan or by chance, was going to work very well with Boussac stock down over the years and that line was the Beadsman line in the pedigree of Casquetts’ broodmare sire, Morion.
Beadsman was out of Mendicant. Mendicant just so happens to be the sixth dam of Frizette. And it was from Frizette’s line that Boussac bred such horses as Tourbillon, Diademe, Priam II, Djeddah, Tourizma, etc. These same family lines, of course, went on to make history in the Aga Khan’s stud via such horses as Darshaan and Sinndar.
Casquetts’ pedigree in actuality is quite ‘heavy’ in that it is rife with classic and ‘cup’ bloodlines. She is inbred to Isonomy (twice winner of the Ascot Gold Cup), St. Leger winner Newminster, Derby and St. Leger winner Voltigeur, Derby winner Wild Dayrell, and has no less than nine Pocahontas lines via Stockwell x5/King Tom x3/Rataplan x1.
Pocahontas wasn’t just the dam of famous sires, though. These fellows could run a little, too. Stockwell was versatile enough to win the Two Thousand Guineas and St. Leger, King Tom was second in the Derby and Rataplan won the Doncaster Cup.
Crowning The Reines
Although we are calling her very much a transitional or ‘connecting’ Reine, Casquetts has a daughter branch strong enough to be named along with her. Thus, our new Reines-de-Course from this family are Casquetts and Carissima. Nothing would please us more than to see a fine daughter branch pop up, but between exportation to various parts of the world and regional bloodlines, fate has thus far at least mitigated against such an occurrence. If such a branch should pop up, however, we’ll bid her welcome.