When the cleverly-named Sir Percy (GB) crossed the finish line first in the June 2 Epsom Derby, he was reason enough for us to dig out our future Reine-de-Course file on Horama (GB). This is a family we have neglected for far too long, and Sir Percy has given us a current excuse to play catch up.
For those of you who are English Lit majors, or who just love old movies, you may remember the famous Scarlet Pimpernel, an early version of James Bond who saved members of the French aristocracy from the guillotine. In real life, the Pimpernel’s name was Sir Percy Blakeney. And ‘our’ Sir Percy, the Epsom Derby winner, is out of a mare by none other than – you guessed it – Blakeney.
Sir Percy is not the only cleverly-named horse in the immediate family. Horama herself is probably named after a divine vision in light of the fact that her daughter, Urshalim, is named after an alternate spelling of Jerusalem. (Horama is also a genus of moth). Violetta is a character from Verdi’s “La Traviata”, and Kirtling is a knight buried at All Saints Church, an ancient Norman structure in Cambridgeshire, England. Somebody gave these names some thought!
Horama descends from the No. 3 family of Mr. Bowes’ Byerley Turk Mare via the Whisker Mare, Branch, 3-C. The sub-branch of National Stakes winner Queen of the Nore (1927 by Tetratema) is the one which gave us Horama. And my, what this unique mare by the brilliant sprinter Panorama did with her heritage! We don’t classify mares like Chefs-de-Race, but if we did, Horama would join *La Troienne as a pure ‘classic’ type. Here’s why:
Epsom Derby winners Sir Percy and Teenoso; Derby second Most Welcome; Irish Oaks winner Give Thanks; Italian Derby winner Old Country; Italian 2000 Guineas winner Good Times; Brazilian One Thousand Guineas winner Virga; South African St. Leger winner Rough Rival and One Thousand Guineas winner Harayir. Then there are the classic-placed horses: Riboson (3rd St. Leger); Furioso (2nd Epsom Oaks); Favoridge (2nd One Thousand Guineas); Aqaarid (2nd One Thousand Guineas); Lacquer (3rd One Thousand Guineas); Sovereign II (3rd One Thousand Guineas; Broomstick Corner (2nd Park Hill S.); Freefoot (3rd Epsom Derby); Silky (2nd Irish One Thousand Guineas).
Not much to apologize for in this family, is there?
White Lodge Stud
Horama’s family was developed by White Lodge Stud near Newmarket, England. The stud was owned by Eric and Ralph Moller whose family fortune was derived from a most successful shipping business. This success they parlayed into equal good fortune in their Thoroughbred venture, which was built upon a group of foundation mares purchased as yearlings or lay-ups.
Horama was one of the former. She was acquired for 2100 guineas at the September 1944 Tattersalls sale at Newmarket. As a racehorse, Horama won the Prince of Wales’s Stakes, an important contest, but she was to prove even more valuable at stud, as the attached printout clearly illustrates.
A Foundation of Speed
For some reason or other, there is a prevailing theory that great foundation mares are generally rather stout. One would think that mares like *Papila and Geisha would put this to rest, but that is not the case. Nonetheless, Horama had plenty of zip in her pedigree.
Her sire, Panorama, was Bend Or line, and was from a tail-male line replete with fast horses: Panorama was a sprinter (winning the five furlong Coventry Stakes and the six furlong Champagne Stakes) later classified a brilliant Chef-de-Race. His sire, Sir Cosmo (broodmare sire of Round Table), won the six furlong July Cup and was also a brilliant Chef and his paternal grandsire, Orby, followed suit as a brilliant influence.
While a sire of speed, Orby won both the English and Irish Derbies and he was by Orme, to which Panorama was inbred. Orme was a versatile sort, winning in top company from six to 10 furlongs, but he was best known for his pedigree, as he was a son of Triple Crown winner Ormonde out of St. Simon’s full sister. Seldom has there been a better example of breeding the best to the best!
And More Speed
Horama’s broodmare sire, Orpen, had a lovely pedigree, too. He was 3 x 3 to full siblings Sundridge and Amphora, the latter his third dam. Orpen won the 12 furlong Hardwicke Stakes at Royal Ascot as befits the son of a St. Leger and Ascot Gold Cup winner, Solario. Solario’s sire, Gainsborough, also won the Ascot Gold Cup, plus he acquired something else of note – the English Triple Crown of 1918 – and went on to sire a rather significant sort of whom you may have heard, Hyperion.
As full of stamina as Orpen’s bottom line was, he got plenty of speed from the sire of his second dam, Flying Fox, a son of the above-discussed Orme. His inbreeding to Sundridge and Amphora also hooked up with a line of Sundridge in Panorama for a three-way cross of the full siblings (Sundridge x2/Amphora). Sundridge won the six furlong July Cup, Amphora won two six-furlong stakes, the Gimcrack at York and the Stewards’ Cup at Goodwood.
Horama’s second dam, Queen of the Nore, was by Two Thousand Guineas winner Tetratema, a son of the speedy The Tetrarch who got, among others, “the flying filly”, Mumtaz Mahal.
In addition to all her speedy lines, Horama was also inbred, as stated above to Sundridge x2/Amphora, to St. Simon x3 and his sister Angelica x3. (This is not a vast amount of close-in St. Simon blood for a horse foaled in 1943.)
Horama was also linebred x3 to Ayrshire, who won the 2000 Guineas and Derby, and has further lines of his sire Hampton via Bay Ronald x2. It is also worth noting that Panorama’s third dam, Mall, is inbred to Paraffin via Illuminata and Footlight.
With plenty of real quality speed in place and an ample amount of bottom from horses like St. Simon and Solario, Horama was in turn bred mostly to sires with an ample blend of speed, stamina and very high quality. The sires of her daughters had very familiar names:
Tudor Minstrel (Harmonica and Minstrel’s Gallery) won the 2000 Guineas at a flat mile and excelled at that distance, but he was also good enough to run second in the 10 furlong Eclipse to *Gallant Man’s sire, *Migoli, who also won the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe.
*Nasrullah (Urshalim), despite his reputation as a rogue was a very good racehorse, winning the 10-furlong Champion Stakes at Newmarket and running third to Straight Deal and Umiddad in the Epsom Derby. It should be noted that *Nasrullah’s prepotence helped to make Urshalim by far the strongest branch of Horama’s family.
Nearula (Close Up) – This son of *Nasrullah won the 1953 Two Thousand Guineas but stretched out to 10 furlongs in the Champion Stakes. Known largely as a broodmare sire, Close Up is one of his best.
Honeyway (Look Away) was basically a sprinter who, like Nearula, stretched out to win the 10 furlong Champion Stakes. At stud, Honeyway got Shergar’s sire, Great Nephew, and the excellent Argentine sire Right of Way.
An Imperial Legacy
Few families have left behind so much classic blood as this one has. Yet it lacks one very serious element, and that is a major stallion. Most Welcome, Teenoso and Old Country all have done little to give one hope that this clan can produce a male capable of carrying on. Teenoso even had a stakes winner inbred to the family named Young Buster (4 x 4 to half sisters Urshalim and Look Away), but he fared no better.
Horama’s, then, is a family of classic-producing fillies. Not that we aren’t hoping that Sir Percy can turn this around. Nothing could possibly be better for the breed than for Mill Reef’s male line to stay strong. Daylami has been a bit of a disappointment, but he has given us Grey Swallow, and Dalakhani, who was a better racehorse, will not have juvenile runners until 2007.
Sir Percy is from a purely classic male line, i.e. Mill Reef (Derby S.), Shirley Heights (Derby S.), Darshaan (Prix du Jockey Club – French Derby), Mark of Esteem (2000 Guineas). As if that weren’t enough, broodmare sire Blakeney won the Derby; Sassafras, sire of second dam Laughing Girl won the French Derby and of course third dam Violetta III is by Derby winner Pinza. Now that is a classic pedigree.
Sir Percy is rather heavily linebred to Frizette, largely via crosses of Tourbillon (x4), though there is a double of Hedifann as well. His sire carries a double of Feola via half sisters Angelola and *Knight’s Daughter. Since the latter is by Sir Cosmo, this doubles that sire with the line Horama brings in via Panorama. Dolabella and Serenissima appear in the dam’s portion of the pedigree and, saving the best for last, there is a rare cross of Blue Peter and his half sister Springtime. No question, he is a worthy member of Horama’s storied contribution to the breed.
We don’t plan to do any reverse engineering and claim Sir Percy as a Reine-de-Course classic winner this year. But he is responsible for our finally putting this fine family on the list.
New Reines-de-Course, then are Horama, Urshalim, Violetta III, and *Close Up II – for now. There are several very active branches that bear close watching, and we don’t doubt we’ll be back to this family before very much longer at all to add new Reines. For now, however, we will come to a close – with a tip of the hat to the Scarlet Pimpernel, of course.