As the Reine-de-Course series evolved, we sometimes found ourselves going back over family lines, expanding them farther and filling in the blanks. Thus in November of 1999, long after Selene had been named a Reine-de-Course, we backtracked and named her granddam Gondolette as well.
The purpose of this exercise was not only to give Gondolette her due, but to also name other important family members, including Selene’s dam Serenissima and her half sister Myrobella. Myrobella alone is worth an article, as her descendents include such important horses as Linamix, Chamossaire, Snow Knight, Big Game and Policeman. But Myrobella is also important as a linebreeding tool to use with the many lines of Selene found in nearly all pedigrees today via *Sickle, Hyperion and *Pharamond II.
Gondolette was one of three important mares purchased by Lord Derby after a consultation with his trainer, George Lambton and his stud manager, Walter Alston. The three all agreed that an injection of speed needed to be made to the Derby stud, thus broadening the base of its operation and ensuring the success of the quality sires Chaucer, Swynford and Steadfast.
The acquisitons all became enormously important. The first was Bromus, dam of Phalaris; the second was Anchora, dam of Scapa Flow, she dam of Pharos and Fairway. Gondolette, acquired for 1500 guineas as a ten-year-old at the Newmarket December sales, was the third mare in this series of immortals.
Though Gondolette ran in selling races (claimers), she was already the dam of Rous Plate winner Great Sport at the time of her purchase. But Lord Derby wanted her because her sire, Loved One, was a son of Pilgrimage. Two of Lord Derby’s prize sires, Swynford and Chaucer, were Pilgrimage grandsons, so buying Gondolette offered him the opportunity to inbreed to Pilgrimage via both son (Loved One) and daughter (Canterbury Pilgrim) strains. One such cross was responsible for Reine-de-Course Selene.
As a matter of fact, Gondolette was carrying Selene’s dam, Serenissima, at the time of her purchase. Later mated to Swynford and Chaucer, Gondolette would produce One Thousand Guineas winner Ferry and Derby winner Sansovino. There are few better illustrations than Gondolette of the explosive results achieved by inbreeding to a quality mare or family.
Of course, concurrent with this rash of incredible broodmare buying, linebreeding and the establishing of sires, came the so-called “nick” between Phalaris and Chaucer. Like all “nicks” it can be readily explained, for crossing the pair effected sex-balanced crosses of St. Simon (Chaucer/Cheery) and Hermit (Tristan/Distant Shore), as well as linebreeding to Pocahontas via King Tom and Stockwell.
Lord Derby proved beyond a doubt that inbreeding to the best strains using the best individuals could produce quality bloodstock. Further proof of breeding some of his best inbreds back to each other can be found today in horses carrying crosses of Native Dancer/Buckpasser, thus inbreeding to full brothers *Sickle and *Pharamond II. While an oversimplification, this nonetheless explains a potent “nick”.
What makes the inbreeding of Gondolette, and later the inbreeding to various of her relations so intriguing is that she herself was already highly inbred, carrying a 3 x 3 cross of full siblings The Palmer/Rosicrucian. (The line of The Palmer actually reads as “The Earl or The Palmer”, but it is generally accepted that The Palmer is the correct name).
History has shown us that the best foundation mares, those whose families breed on and on, are generally descended from mares who are highly inbred themselves. Though not all of them were good racing stock, they were surely good breeding stock – and there is a difference. As decades passed, and the descendents of these inbred mares spread around the globe, they gradually began to gravitate back toward each other, like horses of a similar color will often find each other in a herd. In this instance, it is not so much a question of water finding its own level, but of the magnetic quality of a good bloodline seeking its own.
If one wants to acquire several different lines of Gondolette without using Selene alone, he needs to look no farther than the young sire Lit De Justice, winner of the 1996 Breeders’ Cup Sprint. Lit De Justice carries several Selene lines via his sire, El Gran Senor – *Sickle, Hyperion x2 and *Pharamond II. And while he does, indeed, pick up another Hyperion line via his dam, she is mostly a treasure-trove of other, harder-to-find Gondolette relations:
Broodmare sire Kenmare has a cross of Big Game (out of Myrobella-Dolabella-Gondolette). He also picks up a cross of Great Sport (a son of Gondolette) via Vilmorin.
Djakao, sire of second dam Djallybrook has a line of Fair Copy and one of Schiavoni. Fair Copy is out of Composure-Serenissima-Gondolette. Schiavoni is a three-quarter brother to Selene and is out of Serenissima-Gondolette. Finally, there is a cross of Bosworth via fourth dam La Vagabonde. Bosworth is a half brother to Selene (out of Serenissima).
Therefore, there is little doubt that Lit De Justice’s dam, Kanmary, is the ideal horse to study in order to understand the depth and breath of Gondolette’s influence. We found her important enough to run a printout on her, as she is still quite a young mare (1983), and what we found was most encouraging.
Kanmary has daughters in production by Storm Bird, Nureyev and Sadler’s Wells and two other younger Sadler’s Wells daughters. In addition to Lit De Justice, she also has a full brother to him named Captain Collins who was imported to the U. S. in 1997 and a half brother by Sadler’s Wells who was imported to the U. S. in 2000. Whatever the future holds for this pair, Kanmary’s offspring will be an important source of Gondolette lines for years to come through the offspring of her daughters alone.
One important Gondolette relation which is not in Lit De Justice’s pedigree is Sansovino. Find him via Reines-de-Course Lady Juror and Fille De Salut as well as via the fine sire Jacopo, to name just a few sources that are simple to track down.
Inbreeding to Selene has become so common that we have placed it in the “standard pattern” class, much like inbreeding to *Nasrullah or St. Simon. Horses who are not inbred to Selene are more unusual than those who are.
Because of the importation of *Sickle and *Pharamond II to these shores, and the ongoing impact of Hyperion in the farther reaches of pedigrees, it is good to know that there is more than one way to use this valuable bloodline. Americans have managed to bankrupt themselves of Selene daughters in most cases, leaving us only the occasional daughter line via Mossborough as anything like easy to find. Those sharp Australian and New Zealand breeders knew the worth of her daughter blood when they grabbed a nice horse named Sir Tristram some years ago.
Since so much of Selene’s daughter blood left these shores, it is more important than ever that we find ways of using her apart from the boring old Hyperion/*Sickle/*Pharamond II mix. With that thought in mind, we hope our readers will find this expanded story on Gondolette of use when crossing their mares bred in this common fashion. We’re certain Lord Derby would approve.