The Tetrarch

The Tetrarch

Thoroughbred racehorse infobox
horsename = The Tetrarch

caption = The Tetrarch & jockey Steve Donoghue, 1913
sire = Roi Herode
grandsire = Le Samaritain
dam = Vahren
damsire = Bona Vista
sex = Stallion
foaled = 1911
country = Ireland flagicon|Ireland
colour = Grey
breeder = Edward Kennedy
owner = Dermot H. B. McCalmont
trainer = Atty Persse
record = 7: 7-0-0
earnings = £11,336
race = Woodcote Stakes (1913)
Coventry Stakes (1913)
National Breeders Produce Stakes (1913)
Rous Memorial Stakes (1913)
Champagne Stakes (1913)
awards= Leading sire in GB & Ireland (1919)
honours = Britain's two-year-old of the 20th century
Tetrarch Stakes at the Curragh
updated= 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 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 New Stakes. 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 four 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.

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. The Tetrarch also sired Paola who won the 1923 Coronation Stakes and The Satrap who was the champion two-year-old of 1926. Among his other get were three winners of the St. Leger Stakes: Caligula (1920), Polemarch (1921), and Salmon-Trout in 1924.

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.


* [ The Tetrarch's pedigree and racing stats]
* [ The Tetrarch at "Thoroughbred Heritage"]
* [ The Tetrarch's profile at the United Kingdom's National Horseracing Museum]

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