Ancestor of Modern Day Royalty
Fate and timing can be an incredible part in the history of our great sport, horse racing. Over the decades, even centuries there have and will always be those defining equine individuals that win the heart and imagination of their human spectators, whether it be by their glorious feats on the track or by their impact on the breed as a whole.
Just imagine if you will as you read on, if for some reason, an event below was changed by as little as a year before or after it happened. Imagine if you can the world of horse racing without Northern Dancer, without Mr. Prospector, without Sadler's Wells. What if Secretariat and Sham never competed in 1973, Ruffian in 1975. Imagine the 1978 US Triple Crown without Alydar and Affirmed.
Our trip back in time starts not with a horse, but of a man who was to have an impact on thoroughbred racing not just in his lifetime, but through to modern day racing.
William Hall Walker, born in Ayrshire on Christmas Day in the year 1856, a younger son of Sir Andrew Barclay Walker, 1st Baronet.
The young Walker was a lover of horses, responsible for building what is now Grange Mews in 1895 for his polo ponies. In 1900 he acquired lands around Tully, County Kildare where he established a highly successful Stud farm which he later (1916) gifted to the British Government for the purpose of founding a British National Stud. The newly formed Irish Government took control of the stud in 1943 and the Irish National Stud as it is now named is currently home to some of Ireland's leading sires such as Invincible Spirit, Art Connoisseur and Amadeus Wolf.
In 1919, William Hall Walker was given the title Baron Wavetree, a title that would end with his death in 1933.
As an owner, his most memorable achievement came with The Soarer winning the 1896 Grand National. However, he will be best remembered as a breeder (he bred such horses as Minoru, winner of the 1906 Epsom Derby and damsire of the great mare Selene, Blanche, dam of Blandford, arguably the greatest sire in Great Britain of the 20th century and the Prince Palatine (more to follow) and possibly his greatest gift to English racing, yes even greater than the previously mentioned stud, his introduction of English racing to the Aga Khan III.
And now the horse, a handsome bay colt out of the Isinglass mare, Lady Lightfoot by the son of the great St. Simon, Persimmon. The colt was born in 1908, a member of Persimmon's last crop and thus begins the tale of fate.
Persimmon fell in the early January of 1908 and fractured his pelvis and thigh. Attempts to save the stallion with the use of a sling met with failure, he died at age fifteen on February 18 of 1908.
Lady Lightfoot from the union of the classy Isinglass and the Ayrshire mare Glare was a half sister to One thousand Guineas winner, Flair and the Coronation Stakes winner Lesbia. However, her own efforts on the track involved only a few minor wins.
The colt, Prince Palatine named after County Palatine of Lancaster where William Hall Walker grew up was firmly believed by Walker to be the best horse he had ever bred and a horse he intended to run in his own colours.
In 1909 Walker sold all his yearling colts, intending to keep the Lady Lightfoot colt, however a mix up with the agent seen the colt get sold in the consignment for 2,000 pounds (Walker had valued his colt at 10,000 pounds) to Sir Thomas Pilkington. Although Walker considered repudiating the sale, he chose not to in the interest of good sportsmanship.
And fate continues on its merry way.
Sent to the Berkshire trainer, Henry Beardsley, the son of Persimmon lacked his sire's precociousness and had tender feet, an issue that would plague him throughout his life. He raced six times as a 2yo with three wins including the Imperial Produce Plate.
Not nominated for the Two Thousand Guineas and not ready for the Derby, Prince Palatine made his first 3yo outing in the Biennial Stakes run at Ascot claiming second place. A second in Newmarket's Midsummer Stakes followed before he found the winners circle again in the Gordon Stakes at a mile and a half on the Goodwood course.
His next start in the Autumn of 1910 was the St Leger, the Pilkington owned colt won comfortably with a margin of 6 lengths making him the fifth and final classic winner of his sire, Persimmon. In his final start as a 3yo, Prince Palatine found Lord Derby's Chaucer colt, Stedfast a half length to good after giving the victor a 7 pound advantage.
Now a 4yo, the Walker bred bay colt ran second again to Stedfast in the Coronation Cup before reeling off victories in the Ascot Gold Cup, Eclipse Stakes, Doncaster Cup and the Jockey Club Stakes. His final start of the season in the Jockey Club Cup saw him well beaten by Aleppo.
Prince Palatine was British Horse Of The Year of 1912.
In the Spring of 1913, Prince Palatine returned with a 3 length win in the Coronation Cup. In his next start, the defence of his title in the Ascot Gold Cup, the field would include Lord Derby's Stedfast and Belmont's colt, Tracery. Tracery took an easy lead with the defending champion a good 20 lengths off the pace, however a man leapt onto the track bringing the classy Tracery down which paved the way for Prince Palatine to grab victory and his second Ascot Gold Cup title.
During this period a deal was struck between Pilkington and a breeder named Jack Barnato Joel. The 5yo Persimmon entire would change hands for the then record price of 45,000 pounds, with a clause that a defeat prior to the end of the season would see 5,000 pounds dropped from the price.
As with all good things, they come to an end. In what would be his final start, Prince Palatine lost the Goodwood Cup to Catmint, finishing out of the money for the first time since his days as a juvenile.
Prince Palatine got British Horse Of The Year honours again in 1913.
With earnings of 184,500 pounds(top 12 in earnings prior to 1931) and 11 victories ranging from 6F to 2 ½ miles the son of Persimmon out of the Isinglass mare, Lady Lightfoot was sent to stand stud at Joel's Childwickbury Stud for a fee of 400 guineas.
At stud the bay stallion initially proved somewhat less than successful, he did however leave a lasting contribution to the future of horse racing.
In 1917 a union with the 8yo Rocksand mare, Hour Glass produced Blue Glass. Blue Glass was owned by August Belmont Jr. Belmont Jr was also the breeder of the great Man O'War and had the Belmont track built in New York in 1905(the Belmont Stakes, named in his fathers honour was moved there the same year).
Blue Glass was the dam of stakes winners Blind Play and Broadside prior to August Belmont Jr's death in 1924. After his death the mare was acquired by George Widener, for him she produced Belmont Stakes winner Hurry Off and at the matronly age of 18 she produced a colt by the imported sire Sickle.
The colt was named Unbreakable. The dark son of Blue Glass was a good stakes winner in England that was moved to the U.S for stud duty. During his tenure at stud he produced Polynesian out of the Polymelian mare, Black Polly in 1942. Polynesian was champion sprinter in 1947 and retired to stud in 1948. In 1949 Alfred G. Vanderbilt II sent his Discovery mare. Geisha to be covered by Unbreakable's son.
That union produced one of the most celebrated and accomplished thoroughbred horses in the sports history, the Grey Ghost, Native Dancer.
Undefeated as a 2yo after 9 starts and earnings of $230,495, a record at that time, he was crowned American Champion Two Year Old for 1952 and two of three polls named him Horse Of The Year.
As a 3yo, the Grey Ghost won the Gotham Mile, Wood Memorial, Preakness Stakes, Belmont Stakes and the Travers Stakes. In his only defeat he lost the Kentucky Derby by a short margin to Dark Star after a troubled run.
Native Dancer was named Champion Three Year old in 1953
In 1954 the Grey Ghost won all 3 of his starts before being forced into retirement due to a recurring foot injury.
With a race record of 22 starts, 21 wins and 1 second and earnings of $785,240 Native Dancer was named 1954 Horse Of The Year and was placed on the cover of the May 31 addition of Time magazine.
At Stud, Native Dancer was a success producing both European and U.S stakes winners. His offspring included Shenanigans, prolific producer and dam of the great Ruffian. Raise A Native, sire of Majestic Prince, Alydar and dominant U.S sire, Mr. Prospector. Natalma, dam of the most successful sire of the 20th century, Northern Dancer.
In 1918, Prince Palatine covered the Perth mare, Eglantine. The son Rose Prince was only a fair racer winning only a handicap event and like his sire not successful at stud.
His best son was from the Gay Crusader mare, Indolence. Sold at the Newmarket December sale for a pittance, the colt that would be named Prince Rose was sent to Belgium. Prince Rose would prove to be a terrific racehorse.
Defeated only once in 17 starts, the grandson of Prince Palatine won nearly a dozen stakes in his career, his sole defeat was a third in the famed Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe to Pearl Cap and Amfortas.
As a winner of the Belgium Triple Crown, Prince Rose was “nationalised” so that he could never leave. World War II soon changed that however with the advancing Germans and the stallion was moved to France where he was leased by L. L. Lawrence.
Lawrence had acquired a mare for a mating to Price Rose prior to the lease, so in 1939 the Papyrus mare, Cosquilla was covered by Prince Rose. Once safely in foal, the mare was shipped to Ireland. France to had been ravaged by the war. Less than a year later, Prince Rose was dead, reportedly killed by “accidental” German artillery fire.
The wheels of fate continue to turn...
After the birth of Cosquilla's foal in 1940, Lawrence elected to send all his horses to the U.S.
All the horses arrived in horrible condition after the difficult journey. Although there is no recorded reason, the Cosquilla colt was sold to New Orlean's Anthony Pelleteri.
Named Princequillo, the colt's debut was July 23, 1942. He won two of four starts before being claimed by the Boone Hall Stable and placed in the care of the legendary trainer Horatio Luro.
With careful nurturing the son of the ill fated Prince Rose developed into a staying horse defeating Bolingbroke in the 1 5/8 mile Saratoga Handicap and the 1 3/4 mile Saratoga Cup. In that race he trimmed a whole second off the 37 year old record running the race in 2:56 3/5. A loss next out and a victory in the Jockey Club Gold Cup seen out the season.
As a 4yo Princequillo continued to improve winning the Questionnaire, Merchants and Citizens Handicap and placing in the Whitney. His career ending at 33 starts, 12 wins, 12 placings and $96,550 in earnings.
Purchased by “Bull” Hancock, Princequillo spent his first two seasons at stud in Ellersie Virginia for a fee of $250. From his first two crops, the bay son of Cosquilla produced champion English colt, Prince Simon and the U.S champion colt, Hill Prince. After that he was moved to Claiborne, near Paris, Kentucky where he remained the rest of his life. In all he produced 64 stake winners and three Horse Of The Year sons, Round Table, Hill Prince and Dedicate. He was also sire of the year in 1957 and 1958.
However it is as a broodmare sire he truly shone. He led the list in 1966, 1967, 1968, 1969, 1970, 1972, 1973 and 1976. His Daughters Somethingroyal and Misty Morn were also Broodmare Of The Year. Some of his daughter's best foals included Secretariat, Sir Gaylord, Mill Reef, Sham, Key to The Mint, Kris S. and Bold Lad.
1918, Prince Palatine was sold to Duc Decazes for a reported 18,000 pounds. At which point he was sent to France. While he was in France he sired the mare La Soupe II who was to become the second dam of the influential Boudour II, from her line we have Flower Bowl, Graustark, His Majesty. Majestic Prince and Real Quiet.
From a union with the good producer Frizette, he produced the mare Princess Palatine in 1919. Princess Palatine produced stakes placed Valkyr who in turn produced multiple stakes winner Hypnotic and the champion, Vagrancy, dam of Hyvania, Vulcania and St Leger winner, Black Tarquin. Kentucky Derby Champion Ferdinand also descends from this line.
Sold again in 1920, Prince Palatine came under the ownership of Edward F. Simms. He was sent to Xalapa Stud, near Paris Kentucky where he spent the remainder of his life.
Prince Palatine died at age 16 on October 13, 1924, reportedly burned to death in his stall from a fire caused by an electrical malfunction.
With the running of the 2013 Kentucky Derby just weeks a way, these numbers show the impact of Prince Palantine on US racings 3yo Classics since 1970, descendants of Prince Palatine have won the following American Triple Crown races: 111 out 126 (88.1)
KENTUCKY DERBY: 35 of 42 races (83.33)
PREAKNESS STAKES: 37 of 42 races (88.1)
BELMONT STAKES: 39 of 42 races (92.86%)