Mumtaz Mahal

 

Great racing fillies have auras all their own.   Ruffian might be described as a handful of the West wind.  Personal Ensign as determination in a muddy bay coat.  Go For Wand as a slender sword tempered too long in the flame of battle.

  And the marvelous Mumtaz Mahal?  Everyone, it seems, knows that she is "The Flying Filly".  She was also, in her racing days, called "Mumty" (the nickname bestowed upon her by the racing press).  In her old age, she was the only mare the Germans left at the Aga Khan's stud in France when the invading army commandeered the others....a filly whose very existence was owed to a sire (The Tetrarch) saved from the gelding knife because his owner had once seen him outrun a deer in his paddock.

  Yes, "Mumty" was and is the stuff of legend.  And her legend is unlikely to dim any time in the near future.  Not so long as descendents of Seattle Slews and Halo, Roberto, *Forli and Habitat keep running.  Not so long as her descendents keep coming up with horses like Triple Crown winning filly Oh So Sharp or horses like champion Risen Star bound into the hearts of Secretariat-lovers everywhere.  Nor so long as there is one, single surviving Shergar descendent on this earth capable of pulling off that coveted "big horse" to lessen the blow of his disappearance.

   These great horses are the direct descendents of Mumtaz Mahal's daughters Mah Mahal and Mumtaz Begum, supermares of considerable stature themselves.  Mah Mahal, for instance, is responsible for *Mahmoud and Petite Etoile, while Mumtaz Begum's children and grandchildren have names like *Royal Charger, *Nasrullah, Prince Taj and Kalamoun, to touch only on the superstars.

  Then, of course, there are the horses who are not directly descended from Mumtaz Mahal, but who she influences nevertheless.  Classic winner *Gallant Man was probably the best example.  He was inbred to her 4 x 4 through his sire *Migoli, a great-grandson, and his maternal grandsire *Mahmoud, a grandson.  

  Top class sire Pleasant Colony, now pensioned, has no less than three crosses of Mumtaz Mahal and yet another of Lady Juror, her half sister, making him line-bred to the pair's dam, Lady Josephine, 8 x 8 x 7 x 7.  And both *Forli, who is bred on the same Aristophanes/Advocate pattern as Dorine, second dam of Personal Ensign whose family is discussed elsewhere in this issue, and Runaway Groom are inbred to Lady Juror.  *Forli carries a Commotion/Riot cross, Runaway Groom a cross of Sansonnet/Jurisdiction.  

   Mumtaz Mahal inherited plenty of class from her dam, a winner of the Acorn and Coventry Stakes and already the dam of Lady Juror at the time of her birth.  But the male line of Herod from which she descended was made finer by the arrival of her marvelous sire, The Tetrarch.

  An unbeaten two year old wonder known for his smart speed, The Tetrarch did not race beyond his juvenile year. He stayed around long enough, however, that like his daughter after him, The Tetrarch had a nickname, his being "the spotted wonder" or "the Rocking Horse" owing to his oddly dappled grey coat, which was a combination of black and white spots.

  The unusual black spots seen in the coat of The Tetrarch are sometimes called "Bend Or spots" today because that sire possessed them.  However it is more likely, according to turf historian Abram Hewitt, that the spots came from Thormanby, to whom The Tetrarch was inbred five times.

  A beautifully conformed horse whose outstanding feature was his straight hind leg, The Tetrarch was to prove a good sire, but a shy breeder, getting only 130 foals.  From this limited sampling came such good horses as St. Leger winners Caligula, Polemarch and Salmon-Trout and Two Thousand Guineas winner Tetratema.  But his true gift to the British turf was his great daughter, Mumtaz Mahal.

      Mumtaz Mahal's dam, Lady Josephine, was a tough and sound runner who had a speed pedigree but the versatility to win from five to 14 furlongs.  A foundation matron of the highest quality, no discussion of Mumtaz Mahal is valid without a discussion of Lady Josephine as well.  In addition to Mumtaz Mahal, Lady Josephine had two other daughters whose branches survive, Joyous and the much more prolific Lady Juror.

  Joyous, by Gay Crusader, is extant in New Zealand where her branch of the family has been represented by such as stakes winner and sire Taj Bebee; 1973 New Zealand One Thousand Guineas winner Prepak and 1982 New Zealand Oaks winner Aulyn.

  Lady Juror, winner of the Jockey Club Stakes, was by Son-In-Law and her surviving branches are:  Jurisdiction, responsible for Group I winner Erimo Hawk and 1966 Two Thousand Guineas winner Kashmir II; Riot, winner of the July Cup and dam of 1941 Oaks Stakes winner Commotion; Chef-de-race sire Fair Trial; Sansonnet, tail-female descendent of Queen's Plate winner Son Of Briartic, Princess Elizabeth Stakes winner Halo's Princess, Irish St. Leger winner Ommeyad, Irish Oaks winner Celina; and Two Thousand Guineas winner and Chef-de-race sire Tudor Minstrel.  In addition, several fine runners and sires like the above-mentioned sire *Forli, are inbred to her.

  Mumtaz Mahal was not bred by the Aga Khan but was purchased for him by George Lambton at the 1922 Doncaster Sales for 9100 guineas. Her breeder of record is the Sledmere Stud of Lady Sykes.

  From the moment she set foot upon the track until she concluded her career some 15 1/2 months later, the powerfully muscled grey was a crowd pleaser.  At two, she won five of six starts, nearly all of them against males, defeating in the process the following season's Oaks winner Straitlace.  She set a course record of :57 4/5 for five furlongs in a 10-length win, earning her nickname.  Her only loss came to the colt Arcade in the six furlong Imperial Produce Stakes at Kempton, run over heavy ground which tired her.

  At three, though she possessed obvious stamina limitations, she was nontheless twice raced at one mile.  Her first race, the classic One Thousand Guineas, resulted in a third, beaten 1 1/2 lengths by Plack.  She then ran fifth to Straitlace in the Coronation Stakes at Ascot before being returned to sprints. 

  Mumtaz Mahal finished her career for trainer Dick Dawson with a pair of wins at six and five furlongs in the King George Stakes at Goodwood and the Nunthorpe Sweepstakes at York.  Though no one would suspect her of being a classic mare, she was nontheless a favorite, and retired to a solid round of applause from her army of fans.

  At stud, Mumtaz Mahal produced nine foals, six of whom won.  Her best colt, Mirza II by *Blenheim II, won the Coventry and July Stakes and ran third in the Two Thousand Guineas.  Mirza II's three quarter brother Badruddin by Blandford won the Waterford and Sussex Stakes and also placed third in the Two Thousand.  Later he was among the leading sires and broodmare sires in Argentina and is probably best known as the sire of Perfume II, dam of My Babu. 

  Nizami by St. Leger winner Firdaussi, was a non-winner but became a good broodmare sire in New Zealand.  He is best known to Americans as the broodmare sire of 1972 Preakness winner Bee

Bee Bee.  Mumtaz Mahal's other sons include the unraced Dara Shukoh by Son-in-Law; stakes placed Furrokh Siyar by Colorado who became a sire in Ireland but is known to Americans as one of the ancestors of 1996 Kentucky Derby runnerup Cavonnier; and the unraced Gainsborough gelding Aurangzebe.

  Although the produce of her daughters is her finest legacy, the daughters were never very good racehorses.  Mah Mahal by Gainsborough placed in two very small stakes, Mumtaz Begum by *Blenheim II was a minor winner and Rustom Mahal by Rustom Pasha never won a race.

  Mumtaz Mahal's contribution does not end with her more famous relatives.  Several virtual unknowns have led sire lists in places like Denmark.  No less than eight other leading sires from Darbhanga (Denmark, Norway and Sweden) to Nilo (Australia) to Italian Riviera (Belgium) trace to her.  Another lesser known relative, Madara, was among the leading sires and broodmare sires in Chile from 1969-74 and is best known in America as the broodmare sire of Cougar II. 

  Mumtaz Mahal died in February 1945 at the Haras de Marly la Ville, Seine et Oise, France.  She was 24 and had lived through a World War and  watched her name rise to glory through the exploits of *Nasrullah and *Mahmoud.

  But great broodmares never really die.  Neither do they simply fade away like old soldiers.  Instead they live, virtually, forever.  It is difficult to find a pedigree anywhere in the world today in which Mumtaz Mahal's influence is not felt.  An over-simplified, but graphic, example is that Mumtaz Mahal, her major daughters and immediate family account for no less than 68 separate presences on the current Chef-de-Race list.

  Mumtaz Mahal's ties to America were not just the gifts of *Nasrullah, *Royal Charger and *Mahmoud.  Her second dam, Americus Girl, was by the U. S. bred Rey del Cerades, a Lexington descendent of otherwise dubious parentage whose paternal grandsire Norfolk could not be traced to any source in the early volumes of the General Stud Book.  Rey del Cerades was raced - over-raced or brutally raced according to some accounts - in Great Britain under the name Americus.

  While standing for a fee of twelve guineas Americus covered Palotta, Mumtaz Mahal's third dam, to produce Americus Girl.  His stud career, which took him from England to Ireland to Italy to Germany, ends in mystery.  No records of his ultimate end are available, but his name is etched in the pedigree of Mumtaz Mahal, and that is as fine a monument to this American bred as any horse can claim.   

  In one memoir of Mumtaz Mahal, her "American blood" is called upon as one reason for her extreme speed.  And who can know?  Perhaps this is true.  Still, with a sire like The Tetrarch, it would seem that Mumtaz Mahal had more than her share of speed from that source alone.

  The pedigree of Mumtaz Mahal is composed of two inbred lines (half siblings Rose of York and Bend Or in her sire's pedigree and full siblings Norfolk and The Nun in her dam's).  There is then crossover linebreeding to Pocahontas as we find in most horses - Stockwell x4/King Tom x2/Rataplan.

The real excellence of the family began with Lady Josephine, and it is to her everlasting credit that her two best daughters, Mumtaz Mahal and Lady Juror, were by such disparate sires as speedy The Tetrarch and stamina king Son-In-Law.

  We therefore intend to honor here not only Mumtaz Mahal but her remarkable dam, Lady Josephine.  Therefore,  Reines-de-Course from this family are:  Lady Josephine; Lady Juror; Sansonnet; Mumtaz Mahal; Mah Mahal; Mumtaz Begum, Malindi, Sun Princess, Tessa Gillian and Eight Carat.  Long may their names grace modern pedigrees!

 

Reprinted from Pedlines #76, July 2002