Before Nasrullah was bought by Claiborne Farm, he had stood in Ireland and left some excellent sons who became very important sires themselves. None more so enduring than Grey Sovereign, who was a three quarter brother to Epsom Derby winner Nimbus (by Nearco). Grey Sovereign was no slouch either as he won the Richmond Stakes as a two year old, but his legendary volatile temper would be his undoing in subsequent races. He eventually won eight races from twenty-two starts adding the Festival Stakes and the Union Stakes when he was a four year old.
Grey Sovereign was foal of 1948 out of Kong by Baytown. Winner of the Irish Derby and 2000 Guineas in 1928, Baytown was a grey son of little known Achtoi, winner of the 1915 Newmarket St. Leger Stakes and the Dee Stakes. Grey Sovereign is inbred to The Tetrarch 4×5 and Swynford 5×4. Kong was a minor stakes winner of the Ascot Workingham Stakes.
Grey Sovereign retired to Derisley Wood Stud, Newmarket for the 1953 stud season to begin his career as a sire. Here Grey Sovereign became a leading sire of two year olds passing on his precocious speed to his get. Among his top offspring was Don, winner of the Poule d’Essai des Poulains and the Prix Djebel. Gustav won the Middle Park Stakes. Sovereign Lord won the Richmond Stakes and the Gimcrack Stakes. Young Emperor also captured the Gimcrack as well as the Coventry Stakes. Sovereign Path, who scored the Queen Elizabeth Stakes and The Tetrarch Stakes, was the sire of Eclipse Stakes winner Wolver Hollow. La Tendresse was a winner of four stakes races and become the high weighted two year old filly in 1961.
Grey Sovereign was not a one dimensional sire. His son Grey Monarch (Niagara Handicap, Saratoga Special, Eclipse Handicap etc) was a multi stakes winner at distances ranging from six furlongs to eleven furlongs. He was campaigned by Windfields Farm in both Canada and the USA. This import made eighty-four starts, winning eight stakes races and placing in twenty-five others on both dirt and grass. Be Cautious (Test Stakes, Black Helen Handicap) was a stakes winning filly from seven to nine furlongs in England and the USA. Raffingora won twenty of forty-two races including carrying 140lbs in the Cherkley Sprint Handicap at Epsom in a then world record time of 53.89 seconds. Three more stakes winners by Grey Sovereign are Negus, Fortino II and Zeddaan. The latter two would be influential in continuing the sire line.
Fortino II won the important group one sprint races Prix de l’Abbaye, Prix de Meautry and Prix de St. George. He went on to a good sire career with his best by far being the classy and successful sire Caro. Caro was bred in Ireland but raced predominantly in France. He won the Poule d’Essai des Poulins, the Prix d’Ispahan, the Prix Dollar and the Prix Ganay on French soil, where he began his very successful career as a sire. He was the leading sire in France in 1977, the year he was sold to Spendthrift Farm in Kentucky.
Caro sired Crystal Palace, who won the Prix du Jockey Club for one of his four stakes victories from nine starts. He in turn became France’s leading sire of 1985. Madelia was bred and raced by Daniel Wildenstein and had a perfect four for four race career, winning the Poule d’Essai des Pouliches, the Prix de Diane and the Prix Saint-Alary. Theia was the champion two year old filly in France in 1975. Nebos was the 1980 Horse of the Year in Germany winning the Grosser Preis von Berlin twice, the Europa Preis and the Preis von Baden. Nebos also became a leading sire and broodmare sire in Germany.
After Caro was exported to Kentucky, he stamped his name as a sire of great importance. Among his get were the Kentucky Derby heroine Winning Colors. Caro also sired Tejano, winner of the Hollywood Futurity and the Arlington-Washington Futurity. Dr. Carter was a multi grade one winner of the Gulfstream Handicap and the Remsen Stakes. With Approval captured the Canadian Triple Crown and is a Hall of Fame member. Cozzene won of the 1985 Breeder’s Cup Mile and became the champion turf horse in the U.S. for the year.
Cozzene has passed on the family speed by siring Tikkanen (Breeder’s Cup Turf), Alphabet Soup (Breeder’s Cup Classic and a current successful sire), Cozzine’s Prince (Champion Canadian Older Male), Star of Cozzene (Arlington Million and Man O’ War Stakes), Mizzen Mast (Malibu Stakes) who has sired Mizdirection (Breeder’s Cup Turf Sprint twice), and Environment Friend (Eclipse Stakes in England). With Approval sired Talkin’ Man (Coronation Futurity and Canadian Champion Two Year old) who in turn sired Better Talk Now (Breeder’s Cup Turf).
Siberian Express by Caro won the Poule d’Essai des Poulins and the Prix Morny in 1984, a year of outstanding three year olds in Europe. Siberian Express is also the sire of In Excess in Ireland. In Excess won the King Charles II Stakes in England and later was sent to the U.S. were he captured the San Gabriel Handicap at three. In Excess blossomed as a four year old to win four grade one races, the Woodward Stakes, the Suburban Handicap, the Whitney Handicap and the Metropolitan Handicap. In Excess went on to a successful sire career with Indian Charlie, winner of the Santa Anita Derby being his most prominent son at stud. Indian Charlie in turn is the sire of Uncle Mo, winner of the Breeder’s Cup Juvenile, Champagne Stakes and the Kelso Handicap.
Zeddaan has been a reliable source of continuing the Grey Sovereign branch of the Nearco/Nasrullah male line worldwide. Bred in 1965 by the Aga Khan IV, Zeddaan was a classy race horse who was at his best at a mile, much like many of the Grey Sovereign offspring. His biggest wins came in the Poule d’Essai des Poulins and the Prix d’Ispahan. He won eight of eleven races with three seconds.
Zeddaan was retired to stud at the Aga Kahn’s Ballymany Stud in Ireland. From here, Zeddaan would sire Adraan, winner of four group races in France before being sent to Australia for stud duty. Nadjar won the Prix d’Ispahan and the Prix Jacques Le Marois. Kyowa Thunder was a Japanese bred winner of the Queen Elizabeth Commemorative Cup. Nishapour is a classic winner of the Poule d’Essai des Poulins and a successful sire who got Prix du Jockey Club winner Mouktar, a winner of six races from seven starts, and Shemaka, winner of the Prix de Diane.
The most influential son of Zeddaan would be Kalamoun, a dapple grey as are many of the descendants of Grey Sovereign. Kalamoun was a winner of the Poule d’Essai des Poulins, the Prix Lupin and the Prix Jacques Marois, group one races all. Kalamoun would have a short but productive career as a sire, before he died prematurely at the age of nine.
Kalamoun sired Kalaglow, group one winner of the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes and the Eclipse Stakes among his ten lifetime victories. Bikala a half brother to Assert and Eurobird, won the Prix du Jockey Club and the Prix Ganay. Kampala won the Hungerford Stakes and then sired multi stakes winner Highland Chieftain and Italian champion Tony Bin (Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, Gran Premio Del Jockey Club Italiano and Gran Premio di Milano twice each). Mourtazam would win the Prix Dollar and the Prix Matchem. Shakapour won the Prix de Guiche and then sired the excellent filly Khariyda (E. P. Taylor Stakes).
Kalamoun would also sire Kenmare, winner of six races from eleven starts including the Prix Jacques le Marois and the Prix Fontainebleau defeating Nishapour. Kenmare was bred and raced by Baron Guy de Rothschild. At stud Kenmare led the French sire list in 1988 and 1989, and yes he is another dapple grey. Kenmare was one of the first successful shuttle sires performing his stallion duties on both hemispheres. He was sold to Arrowfield Stud in New South Wales, Australia, and then would service mares at Coolmore in Ireland during the northern breeding season. Kenmare was pensioned in 1996 and remained at Arrowfield Stud where he died five years later.
Kenmare sired sixty-four stakes winners of which thirty-six were graded or group stakes winners, indicating the class of his best progeny. Kenmare sired French champion Kendor (Grand Criterium, Poule d’Essai des Poulins). Highest Honor (Champion Miler, Prix d’Ispahan etc). Baryshnikov (Australian Guineas), Kenvain (Oakleigh Plate), Saint Andrews (Prix Ganay twice), Keltrice (Lightning Stakes), Vert Amande (Prix Ganay), and minor stakes winner Kendal Star who has become a successful sire in Australia.
Kendor has done the tail male line of Grey Sovereign proud with a very consistent stud career in France. He is arguably the best sire son of Kenmare so far. Among his get are Charge d’Affaires (Prix Morny), Keltos (Lockinge Stakes), Bonapartiste (Del Mar Handicap), Centifolia (Criterium de Maisons-Laffite), Nombre Premier (Prix des Chenes and Prix du Palais Royal) and his biggest winner Literato (Champion Stakes, Prix Guillaume d’Ornano and Prix du Prince d’Orange). Literato has gotten off to a good start at stud with two crops to race at the time of writing. Literato has already sired group one winner Alterite, winner of the Garden City Stakes and third in the Breeder’s Cup Filly and Mare Turf.
Kendor also sired Kendargent. While this horse did not cover himself in glory as a race horse, a second place in the Prix de Moussac (G2) being his only stakes cheque, he has become one of the leading young sires in Europe at this time. Kendargent began his stud career modestly to say the least. At a stud fee of 500 Euros, he sired only nineteen foals in his first crop. However three of these would win group races as juveniles, propelling Kendargent to lead the first crop sires list in France. His books have risen in numbers, as has his stud fee, to where he is now bred to one-hundred and eighty mares at a stud fee of 18,000 Euros. He has sired fifteen stakes winners from his first four limited crops.
Highest Honor was the leading sire in France 1995, 2000 and 2002 when he stood at Haras du Quesnay, now owned by Alec Head. Among his seventy-one stakes winners he sired are Double Honor (Champion Miler in France), Sagacity (Criterium Saint-Cloud), Marotta (Prix Saint Alary), Admise (Prix Edellic, Oak Tree Turf Championship Stakes), and Gothland (Prix de Montretout, Inglewood Handicap etc). Highest Honor has been a prominent member of the Grey Sovereign line.
Grey Sovereign sired fifty-five stakes winners from four hundred and thirteen foals, a very successful 13.3% strike rate. His male line has been a remarkable example of a line that perseveres in spite of the dominance of the top fashionable male lines that are widely known to all. A sire line that contains many top class individuals, and has spread from its European roots to the Antipodes and North America as well as retaining strong representation in Europe. This has been and hopefully will continue to be a good out cross to the dominant sire lines that are currently racing worldwide.
I have a great admiration for this line, succeeding outside the perceived bloodstock markets’ golden children with big name pedigrees at the top yearling sales each year. Grey Sovereign’s male line is full of class, speed, soundness, tenacity and versatility which has been passed on from generation to generation.
Photo courtesy of Derisley Wood Stud archives)