YEAR: 1920

ROYAL EMPRESS - Mystery Mare

The story of Royal Empress or more particularly her daughters is a vivid example of how a particular sire line cross can completely transform an underperforming racing family.

Royal Empress was from an unregistered mare, who was from an unnamed mare by the galloper Silver King. The next dam was unknown and so was the family. A Christchurch widow, Kitty Bare, then living at Yaldhurst, sent Royal Empress to good sires, notably the ones virtually next door, Frank Worthy and Logan Pointer. She nominated the resulting foals for the classics and watched them fail to measure up on raceday. One early foal, Rare Rey, was a fair performer in Auckland. Mrs Bare leased the next two fillies out for racing for which they were ill suited. Undaunted, when it came time to breed she sent them up the road to U Scott at Roydon Lodge.

Boom! Boom! Boom! The Scotand blood was liquid dynamite and the family just exploded in phenomenal fashion.

One daughter, Queen Ayesha, was only bred to U Scott about 10 times. And why not? Her first foal was Highland Fling, the incomparable. The next one to race was another star, Highland Kilt, who preferred trotting. In an era of giants he held the New Zealand mile record, won the Trotting Derby and an Interdominion heat and placed in the two biggest trot races behind great horses like Dictation , Gold Horizon et cetera. One of her daughters left Nigel Craig. No other mare has matched Queen Ayesha in leaving two horses of such ability at different gaits in the 65 years since.

Another daughter left the Via Veneto tribe and the second foal Bonny Heather left Crimson Star and the Australian champion Mackinlay. Mrs Bare also bred Robyn(U Scott) from these mares, good on the track and especially off it.

Meanwhile, another daughter of Royal Empress, Little Ada, went to U Scott and promptly left Caduceus the unforgettable 'Pocket Hercules' who covered himself in glory in three countries at the highest level. Royal Empress's next filly, Princess Medoro, went to U Scott and left the Auckland Cup winner, Unite, as well as the near Cup class pacer, Admit, to that stallion. It was an incredible record. By the time Australians listed numbered families by their success Royal Empress, 75 in New Zealand, was number 19 there.

As a kid I can remember gazing over the fence in awe at Mrs Bare's little stud next door to the dairy at Halswell, where she had moved. I couldn't recognise any of them but I knew among those mares and foals there had to be something special!

There have been good horses from the family since, the late Dr Harry Crofts persevered most with them. Jester Chance got to Cup class in the late 1970s, but when U Scott passed so did a lot of the magic and nobody has found the rainbow's end anywhere since.

Credit: David McCarthy writing in Harnessed 2016

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Phone (03) 338 9094