Grey Sovereign -
Today’s main bloodline search, it seems, is for an “outcross”. Of course as we have repeated so many times, no such thing actually exists in the modern Thoroughbred.
However, we do have some refreshing branches of existing bloodlines which seem to take on a life of their own. Such bloodlines act as balancing acts, outcross or not, to the incessant Native Dancer inbreeding which has so weakened the breed.
In all honesty, about the only other major sire line besides Northern Dancer and Raise a Native that remains is *Nasrullah. To say that selling off so much of our good Halo blood (generally to Japan) was an error is the kindest way we can think of to avoid the word “stupid”. If that had not happened, we might also be able to add *Royal Charger to *Nasrullah, but as usual more people were thinking of sales than of the future, so we sadly cannot.
*Nasrullah, of course, is held up largely by Bold Ruler’s great-
More *Nasrullah strength remains via Red God/Blushing Groom, most recently via champion sprinter Cherokee Run. And then there is the rebirth of the wonderful Grey Sovereign line.
Grey Sovereign, a brilliant Chef-
The handsome Grey Sovereign came upon the racing scene just a year after his three-
Since The Tetrarch is such a source of speed, it is intriguing that Nimbus, a chestnut, did not pass on as much “lick” as Grey Sovereign. The grey descendents (such as Mumtaz Mahal) tended to beget the speed of The Tetrarch, which is worth knowing.
Kong’s pedigree is also worthy of mention. Her dam Clang by Hainult (a half brother to Phalaris) was inbred to full siblings Sainfoin and Sierra and to half siblings La Fleche and Maid Marian, and overall she had a double of Canterbury Pilgrim via Chaucer and Swynford. Like most mares of her time (Kong was a foal of 1933), she was linebred to St. Simon.
Like many *Nasrullah’s, Grey Sovereign was at times a handful. His temperament may have compromised his racing career, but he nonetheless won the important Richmond Stakes at Goodwood and also placed in the Coventry, Challenge and Nunthorpe (Sweep) Stakes.
He ran only through the end of his four-
The best offspring of Grey Sovereign are most certainly worth a mention. They include English and Irish champion two-
Other daughters of *Young Emperor include Sovereign Lady, dam of Great Lady M., she dam of Horse of the Year Lady’s Secret and Old Goldie, dam of major winners Lot O’Gold and Golden Derby.
Then there is champion two-
Other top runners include champion English sprinter Matatina, dam of New Chapter (Irish Sweeps Lincoln H.) and top Japanese runner Sunny Ciboulette (JPN). Also of note is second highweighted two-
Another good son of Grey Sovereign who would become a fine sire is Sovereign Path (second leading sire in England in 1970). Sovereign Path was basically a miler and won four stakes including the Lockinge and Queen Elizabeth Stakes and placed in eight others.
Sovereign Path’s major winners include Wolver Hollow, winner of the Eclipse Stakes and placed in four other important events, and sire himself of champion and classic winner (Two Thousand Guineas) Wollow.
So basically, we were talking about a sire of wonderful milers, at least in Europe. And a male line that seemed to excel in the French 2000 Guineas.
But what about American runners by Grey Sovereign? Well, there is *Merry Ruler, winner of the Swift and Bayshore Stakes and the Toboggan, Gravesend and Carter Handicaps and second in the Metropolitan Mile (to champion Carry Back). *Merry Ruler, a gelding, ran 64 times and won 20 of his starts and placed in 22 others.
Then there is American runner *Grey Monarch who won the Saratoga Special, and Jockey Club Handicap and who won or placed in 30 other stakes including the Florida Derby and Travers Stakes. Also a tough fellow, *Grey Monarch made 83 starts, won 13 and placed in 32 others. Moving right along, we have the U. S. raced Willowick, a colt out of *Teresa Negro by *Ribot who won the San Fernando Stakes at Santa Anita and placed in several other stakes including the San Felipe Handicap. He lasted 32 starts.
There are more examples, but these few will serve to illustrate that the Grey Sovereigns ran just as well in the U. S. as they did abroad and that they were productive once at stud, also.
Besides, the cold, hard totals speak for themselves: 20 crops with only 418 foals. But of those 418, 48 won stakes and 40 others placed in them. That’s a 10% and 11% strike rate. Grey Sovereign was pure quality.
One of our all-
Of course, P. G. had a good reason for his high opinion of Grey Sovereign daughters. One of them, Grey Table, had produced his $472,837 stakes winner Quiet Little Table, a multiple graded stakes winner who upset Forego in the 1977 Suburban Handicap.
In our opinion, all truly great sires have not only good runners, but good sire sons and good broodmare daughters. Grey Sovereign’s daughters most certainly did not let him down.
Again, the numbers are compelling: His daughters produced 75 stakes winners and 73 stakes placed runners. A lower percentage (6% on both counts) than his numbers as a sire, but then his is a sire line which is more powerful from the top line than the bottom.
Among the top produce of his daughers are the above-
From a recent printout, it is clear that the daughters of Grey Sovereign were not always in the best hands. Some were sent to foreign countries with lesser sires, others to regional breeding programs in the U. S. where their owners had no idea what to do with them. In spite of that, they gave more than most might have under such conditions, and they are a credit to him.
So Grey Sovereign had every right to succeed and he has every right to still be around. His sire line filters down to most American runners via Caro-
In other parts of the world, the Kalamoun blood is still around via Tony Bin (Japan), via Sovereign Path -
For example, the Grey Sovereign blood – though there is less of it than most – has had a profound impact on the Breeders’ Cup. Cozzene, of course, won the Breeders’ Cup Mile and he has sired two Breeders’ Cup winners, Classic victor Alphabet Soup, now a successful sire and Turf winner Tikkanen.
Then there is Caro’s other fine sire son, With Approval, who was recently exported to Great Britain. With Approval was a Canadian Triple Crown winner who was never really appreciated in this country, nor was his son Talkin Man, who sired Better Talk Now, upset winner of the 2004 Breeders’ Cup Turf. Talkin Man is now at stud in Ireland, so the With Approval branch of Caro is now at risk in the U. S.
The other major branch of Grey Sovereign that appears to be very strong indeed is that of California sire In Excess (IRE) by Caro’s son Siberian Express. Though he was possessed of an unfamiliar pedigree, In Excess has the type lineage that fits almost every line and cross imaginable and in spite of passing on a great deal of unsoundness to his offspring – none of them last long – they all can run.
In Excess’ best-
Indian Charlie is off to an excellent start at stud and he nearly got a Santa Anita Derby winner himself, when Indian Express just missed in the 2003 renewal. He does have a son due to go to stud, Bwana Charlie, a G2 winner who, like Indian Express, is out of a Halo mare. Indian Express is also retired and is now at stud in Florida.
When Caro, the source of all this class, first came to the U. S., there were many skeptics. Despite the speed of the Grey Sovereign line and despite Caro’s sire, Fortino II, being a very fast sprinter, breeders looked at his overall pedigree and said, “Grass.” And of course Caro himself ran on the grass, winning the French 2000 Guineas like so many of his tribe. But Caro was something more.
He was less precocious than some Grey Sovereigns, and was only stakes placed at two, and while he won his classic at three, he ran on at four. In fact, he had his best year as a four-
The majority of his stamina, of course, came to him via his tail-
As a matter of fact, *Fortino II was one of the strangest mixes we’ve discussed for a long time. There is *Nasrullah/Grey Sovereign on top, then Man o’ War and Padua come in via Relic, his broodmare sire, to give him some American flavor. Add the German inbreeding to the broodmare Hollebeck via half siblings Olba and Oretello and the Tesio flavor via Nogara, which is Italian, and one has a true international horse.
Grey Sovereign, of course, brings in that Hainault line, so Phalaris x2/Hainault appears overall and Fortino II carries a treble of Havresac II, two from Nogara and one via the German sire Orsenigo. Given the type horse most Germans favor (and the presence of solid Chef Oleander) as Orsenigo’s sire, there was a bit of stamina in Fortino II, too.
So there you have it – a unique *Nasrullah line and one that appears to be hanging on. Cozzene left us Mizzen Mast but In Excess via Uncle Mo rules the day in America, and looks to become the Domino of Grey Sovereign *Nasrullahs, and with more than one to keep the line alive. Further, there is Highest Honor in France, as well as Dunkerque and Silver Frost.
Long live the "good grey blood."