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The Tetrarch

The Tetrarch
The Tetrarch & jockey Steve Donoghue, 1913
Sire Roi Herode
Dam Vahren
Grandsire Le Samaritain
Damsire Bona Vista
Gender Stallion
Foaled 1911
Country Ireland
Color Grey
Breeder Edward Kennedy
Owner Dermot H. B. McCalmont
Trainer Atty Persse
Record 7: 7-0-0
Earnings £11,336
The Tetrarch is a thoroughbred racehorse out of Vahren by Roi Herode. He was born around 1911 in Ireland, and was bred by Edward Kennedy.
Major wins
Woodcote Stakes (1913)
Coventry Stakes (1913)
National Breeders Produce Stakes (1913)
Rous Memorial Stakes (1913)
Champagne Stakes (1913)
Leading sire in GB & Ireland (1919)
Britain's two-year-old of the 20th century
Tetrarch Stakes at the Curragh
Horse (Equus ferus caballus)
Last updated on February 1, 2007

The Tetrarch (1911-1935) was an Irish-born Thoroughbred racehorse voted Britain's greatest two-year-old of the 20th Century.

Foaled at Straffan Station Stud, near Ardclough, in County Kildare in Ireland, he was sired by Roi Herode out of the dam Vahren. His damsire, Bona Vista, was the daughter of Bend Or for whom the Bend Or spotting was named. The Tetrarch was a gangly and less than attractive colt whose gray coat was marked by white blotches. Dismissed as having no racing potential by some buyers, he was ultimately sold by his breeder to Major Dermot H. B. McCalmont and placed under the care of trainer Atty Persse.

Sent to the track as a two-year-old, under jockey Steve Donoghue The Tetrarch blew away his competition. Quickly dubbed the "Spotted Wonder," he easily won all seven of his 1913 starts. In his one real test he came from behind to capture the National Breeders Produce Stakes by a neck but that one close finish only resulted after a mix-up at the start that left him four or five lengths back. An injury in October of 1913 ended The Tetrarch's two-year-old racing campaign. The following spring he reinjured himself in training and never raced again.


Performance appraisals

Lauded for his greatness on the track by racing personalities and fans of the day, many appraisals of The Tetrarch decades after his death have been equally glowing. The United Kingdom's National Horseracing Museum called The Tetrarch a "phenomenon" and report that he was voted Britain's two-year-old of his century. In their description of the colt, the National Sporting Library's Thoroughbred Heritage website in the United States uses terminology such as "probably the greatest two-year-old of all time", and that he was "possibly the greatest runner ever."

There are, as is the case with many star two-year-olds, the question of what The Tetrarch's, and his competition's, continued physical development would have meant to his racing performance at age three. In 1913, The Tetrarch easily beat all comers, including the colt Stornoway who won several races that year including the Gimcrack and Norfolk Stakes (i.e. The Flying Childers Stakes, today). However, as noted by the Thoroughbred Heritage website, none of The Tetrarch's races were more than six furlongs (¾ mile) and because he never raced at age three, he was not tested at standard mile to mile-and-a-half distances. It is also noted that the 1913 crop of two-year-olds was less than spectacular and that the ensuing 1914 Champion Stakes, Ascot Gold Cup plus the three British Classic Races for colts were all won by different horses with less than distinguished career records. The question of The Tetrarch's ability at longer distances is a legitimate one as witnessed by his successful son Tetratema who lost at seven furlongs, won one race at eight furlongs (one mile), and of his twelve other wins, all were at five to six furlongs. As well, The Tetrarch's speedy daughter Mumtaz Mahal won five important sprint races at age two but at age three was beaten at her first tries at longer distances. In two one mile races, she finished second in the 1,000 Guineas and was fifth in the Coronation Stakes. Mumtaz Mahal's handlers then limited her to competing only in sprint races and she won the six furlong King George Stakes and the five furlong Nunthorpe Stakes. But it is important to note that another of his sons, Salmon-Trout, would not only be a good juvenile winning, as one would expect, at 5 to 7 furlongs but would maintain racing form on into his three old season and went on to win The Princess of Wales's Stakes (12 furlongs) and The St. Leger Stakes, a 14 plus furlong race. The Tetrarch is also the sire of two other St. Leger Stakes winners Polemarch & Caligula. The real truth of the matter is that some of his progeny where great sprinters and stayed that way and some would go on to mature into champion distance horses. His progeny's abilities ranged all over the board which indeed makes it hard to tell whether or not he would have filled out as a three year old.

As a sire

The Tetrarch's handlers had hoped he would heal sufficiently to return to racing but by the end of 1914 came to the conclusion that he would never race again. As such, in 1915 he was sent to Thomastown Stud in County Kilkenny, Ireland then later moved to his owner's Ballylinch Stud just east of Thomastown. The Tetrarch had difficulty as a stallion due to a lack of interest and would be plagued by infertility problems for a number of years. Although he sired only 130 foals throughout his stud career, his progeny inherited his blazing speed and in 1919 he was the leading sire in Great Britain & Ireland as a result of the performances of Tetratema and the filly Snow Maiden. Another daughter, Mumtaz Mahal, won a number of important sprint races and according to Thoroughbred Heritage went on to become one of the most important broodmares of the 20th Century.

Mumatz Mahal became an important female ancestress to be found in the pedigrees of some of history's most influential sire lines including Nasrullah, Royal Charger, Tudor Minstrel, and Mahmoud. Nasrullah gave us Bold Ruler, the father of the Seattle Slew/A.P. Indy Line of modern studs. Bold Ruler is possibly most famous for producing Secretariat, who left no doubt as to staying power. Nasrullah also produced the lines leading to Red God (1954), Grey Sovereign (1956) and Never Bend (1960).The Tetrarch also sired Paola who won the 1923 Coronation Stakes and The Satrap who was the champion two-year-old of 1926. The list is endless, a quick look in the current Blood Horse Register for 2010 <Blood Horse Stallion Register 2010> will demonstrate the persistent evidence of The Tetrarch, including his unusual conformation.

As for questions regarding The Tetrarch's potential to win at a distance, three sons won the St. Leger Stakes the longest classic: Caligula (1920), Polemarch (1921), and Salmon-Trout in 1924. <Sire Lines by Abram S Hewit: updated version copyright 2006 Blood Horse>

The Tetrarch died at Ballylinch Stud on August 8, 1935 at the age of twenty-four and is buried there in the farm's equine cemetery.

See also



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