Quiver

Whenever we cover the exploits of a mare like Quiver, who was born in the last century and who has developed many branches and descendents, we encounter the problem of undoubtedly missing a horse somewhere along the way.  Nevertheless, this family which is responsible for such widely diverse horses as Polymelus, sire of Phalaris; classic winner and Chef-de-Race Right Royal; the Aga Khan’s wonderful producer Uganda; Horse of the Year and champion sire Sunday Silence and Breeders’ Cup Classic winner and excellent sire Wild Again, must be given its just due.

Bred by Glasgow Stud, Quiver was foaled in 1872 and died in March of 1891, thus we cannot hope to cover all the history in between, but merely to give a fair sampling of what the various branches of her family have given to the Thoroughbred world and to hopefully suggest some ways in which her descendents can be crossed to increase her influence in today’s pedigrees. We begin by touching lightly on her major daughters.

Quiver’s first foal was the 1882 mare Satchel, by Galopin, a leading sire who left his mark upon Thoroughbred history by siring a son greater than himself, St. Simon.  Satchel was a good racehorse – better than her dam, who had won only two small races – and she became a stakes winner, taking the Lavant and Goodwood Stakes in England.

Today, Satchel’s branch of the family pretty much comes down to the produce of her daughter School Book through the Russett branch of that mare’s family in the form of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes winner Ela-Mana-Mou.  His progeny are hard to come by, however, so this branch is not of much help to American breeders.

Maid Marian, a foal of 1886 was by Hampton, and through her branch every American breeder can own a bit of Quiver’s blood.  One of the best descendents of this branch is the stallion Polymelus, winner of the Champion Stakes and sire of Phalaris, who is the tail-male descendent of Northern Dancer, Native Dancer, *Nasrullah, *Royal Charger and many of the other sire lines currently in existence today.

Harder to come by is the blood of French Derby winner Right Royal, though his blood has branched out around the world and is found in such sires as Missionary Ridge and Lashkari; through the broodmare daughters of his son, Salvo;  through any horse with a cross of Golden Eagle II (who stood in California) and of course through any of his daughters’ descendents.

Memoir, a 1887 filly by St. Simon, was not only a great racemare, she was a great producer and her blood is far more readily available to Americans.  Memoir won the Oaks and St. Leger and today her blood trickles down to Americans via the Miss Gunning branch to half brothers Wajima and Naskra.  Naskra’s sire line is alive and well and Wajima still has a few daughters out there.

This branch is also responsible for the Aga Khan’s great mare Uganda, a chapter in herself, to whom we will return in depth for the full story.  Some of Uganda’s most notable descendents are Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Wild Again; Umidwar, a son of Blandford who still appears in pedigrees today and Two Thousand Guineas winner Palestine, whose name also pops up now and again, particularly through his grandson Reform, some of whose daughters found their way to American shores.

La Fleche, a full sister to Memoir, was born the following year and was considered an even finer racer than her sister.  She was a true classic mare, winning the One Thousand Guineas, Oaks, St. Leger and the Ascot Gold Cup.

At first, it seemed that La Fleche would be best known for producing John o’Gaunt, sire of Swynford, who in turn became the founder of the Blenheim II line.   But La Fleche was in truth only beginning to roll, and it is possible when the final chapter of Quiver’s story is written that it is La Fleche who will have made the greatest contribution through a coal black colt with a nasty temper and a flair for dramatic finishes called Sunday Silence.  We will revisit his salvation from obscurity in a moment, but will first trace the circuitous route through which the two horses are connected.

In 1899, La Fleche was covered by Ladas and produced a filly called Baroness la Fleche.  Baroness la Fleche did little of note on the racetrack, but after a few generations, it became apparent that the core of excellence she had inherited from her granddam, Quiver, was very much with her.

Like staunch little soldiers the major winners marched forth – Rosewell, winner of  the 1938 Irish Derby; Cinna, winner of the 1920 One Thousand Guineas; Fraise Du Bois II, winner of the 1951 Irish Derby; Gold And Black, winner of the Melbourne Cup; Welcome Boy, winner of the South African Derby; and fine sire Beau Pere, broodmare sire of Swaps and sire of Honeymoon, Bellesoeur and Judy-Rae to name only a few.

Beau Pere is of particular interest since he was a son of Cinna.  In Sire Lines Abram Hewitt opines that Beau Pere did not transmit much of Son-in-Law’s stamina but rather his dam’s quickness and versatility.  One possible reason for this occurrence is that Cinna was inbred to Quiver, being a daughter of Polymelus out of Baroness la Fleche.

Cinna produced a full sister to Beau Pere in 1926, a mare named Belle Mere.  It was logical that her blood would be valuable to Californians, since Beau Pere himself was standing in California at Louis B. Mayer’s ranch.  At some point, Mayer acquired Belle Mere’s daughter Marcellina, a steeplechaser in England.  Marcellina in turn produced a mare named Dowager, who was purchased by Californian George Pope at the Mayer dispersal.

Pope didn’t have much luck with the family at first.  From a mating to his home sire Hillary, Dowager produced a mare named Edelweiss, who was unraced.  She didn’t do much better at stud, producing one minor stakes winner, Unexpectedly, from seven named foals.

Edelweiss’ daughter Mountain Flower, by Montparnasse II, an Argentine stallion Pope had imported to stand in California, won only $2,378 but when bred to the non-descript stallion Understanding, she inexplicibly came up with an excellent stakes winner named Wishing Well, a Grade II winner of $381,625.

Wishing Well didn’t start out to be that good, however, and was claimed from Pope for $32,000 by Mr. and Mrs. Michael Lima. Later, she was sold to Oak Cliff Farm, who bred her to Halo to produce Sunday Silence. Quiver’s blood had traveled a long way to make its presence known.

Sunday Silence’s story is one of the most touching in racing.  A gangly, unattractive foal, he nearly died as a yearling, was unwanted at auction and was almost killed in a vanning accident.  But this was one tough fellow.

The ugly duckling grew into a sleek, black, willful horse, whose epic duels with arch-rival Easy Goer personified the best American racing since Affirmed and Alydar had carried on their rivalry in 1978.  Sunday Silence beat Easy Goer in three of their four meetings, including the one that counted – the Breeders’ Cup Classic when Horse of the Year honors were on the line.  But those who loved the black devil never forgave Easy Goer for ending Sunday Silence’s Triple Crown hopes in the Belmont Stakes.  They wanted revenge again and again and eagerly awaited the horses’ four-year-old seasons when only weight might even the talents of these two stalwarts.

When first Easy Goer then Sunday Silence fell to injuries early in the season, however, it became apparent that the only continuation of the battle would be among the great rivals’ foals.  But that wasn’t to be, either.  In two twists of fate so cruel that no one could even imagine it, Arthur Hancock, who said he would never sell Sunday Silence did just that – and the black horse went to Japan.

Easy Goer, home at Claiborne Farm where he had been born, died one sunny morning in May of 1994 after siring only 100 foals in three crops.

Meanwhile, the unwanted black horse – shunted off to Japan because he was not popular enough – became the leading sire in Japan.  With six stakes winners in his first crop, his first foals won $4.8 million as two year olds.  The next year, they almost swept the Japanese classics with wins in the Two Thousand Guineas (Genuine); Oaks (Dance Partner) and Derby (Tayasu Tsuyoshi).  Genuine was also second in the Derby, while Dance Partner was second in the One Thousand Guineas.  And so it has been ever since.

Now respected the world over, Sunday Silence’s offspring have won major races from France to Dubai and his sons are in demand as sires despite the physical flaws which breeders found unacceptable in their sire.  In short, he has made it in the biggest of ways.

The redemption of Sunday Silence is a morality play of the highest order.  Here was a horse with everything going for him – class, speed, courage – and a pedigree to match for those willing to look beyond the first few generations to his classic background.  His loss cannot be measured; but Americans can – and should – learn from it.

Right Royal, from another branch of Quiver’s family, serves to illustrate how this family can perform when it remains in the land of its birth.  His story is as different from Sunday Silence’s as night from day, but both were superior runners and sires.

In June of 1974, Mme. Jean Couturie, who bred and owned Right Royal, put pen to paper and relived the great horse’s story for The Thoroughbred Record.  Just a few of her comments will be quoted here, but her love for him is worth knowing about.  “To have had the joy to breed and own a horse such as Right Royal has been a tremendous privilege, for which I shall be forever thankful, but I feel that I still owe him a debt of gratitude…..” so begins the telling of the horse’s story which includes Mme. Couturie’s comments about Right Royal as a foal.

“Unlike most foals, he did not wobble and went straight to suckle, showing a great desire to live. At once, Pierre (Delange, the stud groom) and I realized that we had a really unusual foal.”

Mme. Couturie had placed Right Royal’s dam, Bastia, up for sale, but upon seeing her beautiful foal, she immediately called the agent handling the sale and told him she would like to keep the mare.  “When I hung up, I gave a sigh of relief as I had the feeling of having saved something infinitely precious,” she wrote.

Right Royal was, indeed, precious.  He grew into a large, handsome horse and won nearly every race in which he ran – the French Derby, the French 2000 Guineas, the Prix Lupin, the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes.  He won from sprint distances to the most testing routes and much was expected of him as a sire.

Among his best offspring were Irish Derby winner Prince Regent, Craven Stakes winner Salvo, Italian Derby winner Ruysdael, French One Thousand Guineas winner Right Away and Irish Oaks second Lastarria.  The exploits of his offspring as racehorses and later as progenitors earned him a solid Chef-de-Race title.

Unfortunately, Right Royal did not live as long as one would have liked.  In 1973 he reared and fell, suffering a compound fracture of a leg which necessitated his destruction.  He was buried under a willow tree at Mme. Couturie’s Le Mesnil.  “I like to think that to all the men who knew and loved him, Right Royal brought something of value to their lives.  He rests now where he was born and died, a rest that is well deserved.  Such is the story of Right Royal, a great horse with a heart as big as himself.  I cannot help but think that with horses it is the same as with mankind. It is the qualities of the heart that really count the most,” she concluded.

Quiver’s pedigree is so old that it is not really germaine to today’s pedigrees, but it is still interesting in its sheer antiquity.  Even the most cursory of glances reflects the intense inbreeding of the time, with virtually dozens of strains of Eclipse via Pot-8-O’s in particular and Mercury in other instances.  Highflyer is strongly represented as are other Herod strains, making one realize just how far away from the original strength of this fine sire line our modern Thoroughbred has fled.

While some may wonder at the usefulness of studying such pedigrees, it is here, at the very roots of the breed, that we watch the evolutionary process at work.  When mated with the quality stallions which she and later her daughters encountered, the blood of Quiver helped to build the very stones upon which the house of modern Thoroughbred stands.  Her contribution is thus as Darwinian in its scope as St. Simon’s own and it is her encounters with him and his like that bred today’s racehorse as we know him.

One of Vullier’s original dosage concepts when naming his “series” of horses was that when a certain strain had saturated the breed and another horse whose bloodline was virtually devoid of that strain came along, he could improve on that horse’s overall pedigree composition – or “escart”.  Such a horse was St. Simon, and it was indeed he and his sire Galopin who were responsible, along with Hampton (another horse who could improve Quiver’s pedigree) for advancing this bloodline into a major force.

As mentioned above, we will return to Uganda to name her and her descendents officially at a later date, but for the time being, the following mares will be added to the Reine-de-Course list:  Quiver, Satchel, Sweet Auburn, Maid Marian, Poet’s Star, Memoir, Miss Gunning, Hythe, Hush, La Fleche and Cinna.  It takes a bit of searching to find them in pedigrees, but their descendents are, virtually, everywhere.  Look for them in Snow Chief via Claro, in A. P. Indy via Umidwar, in the offspring of Blushing Groom and Unbridled via Wild Risk.  And do not forget the direct descendents like Indian Ridge (sire of Breeders’ Cup Mile winner Ridgewood Pearl), half brothers Wajima and Naskra and Wild Again.

Already a son of Sunday Silence, Austinpower, is at stud in the U. S.  If he happens to meet any mares rich in Quiver blood (say Beau Pere inbreds for instance), it will be interesting to see if the results can possibly get any better than “Sunday” himself.  It will be a while before his offspring race, but keep a watch for them.  Quiver’s legacy is timeless, her gifts versatile and her classic blood knows no favorite land or time span; she is, truly, one of the ageless ones.

Main Family 3-E | Branches to 3-F and 3-G