Dec 02

Concussion Reverberation-Aswith by Wenlock

Nothing is more satisfying to a pedigree researcher then when one finds a horse in possession of what could only be described as an obscure pedigree and then has the mystery revealed.

racehorses-legs-2Concussion is such a horse. I would make a pecuniary estimate that not one horseman in a thousand has even heard the name of Concussion mentioned,­ let alone her immediate ancestors. However, Concussion is one of those Cluster mares who within 6 generations had 2 or more winners of 5 or more of the most important races on the calendar tracing to her. In fact, Concussion has 9 winners tracing to her within 6 generations which have won 12 of these important races.


They are:

Horse Races Won Generations Back
Dabchick Irish Oaks 1 generation
Llangibby Eclipse Stakes 1 generation
Spion Kop Epsom Derby 2 generations
Electra 1,000 Guineas 2 generations
Snow Marten Oaks 3 generations
Comrade Arc, Grand Prix de Paris 3 generations
Salmon-Trout St. Leger 4 generations
Nimba Coaching Club American OaksMet. Mile, Alabama Stakes 5 generations
Quetzalcoatl Argentine 2,000 Guineas 6 generations


Take a look at her pedigree before I tell you how to unravel the mystery.


As strange as it may seem the key horse in Concussion’s pedigree leading to her achieving Cluster Mare status is the Skirmisher Mare

To begin, Concussion is from the Number 19 female family that of the Old Woodcock Mare. This particular family is noted for producing five very important stallions among which can be counted Vedette (sire of leading sires Galopin and Speculum), Isonomy (sire of two triple crown winners), Monarque (most successful sire in France in mid-nineteenth century), Gallinule, and Tracery. The most important of these five stallions where Concussion is concerned is Gallinule.

Of the five important stallions from the number 19 family Gallinule was the least likely to succeed. Although some consider him to have had perfect conformation he was a bleeder and a roarer and never won a stakes race past 5 furlongs. Although sired by the great Isonomy he could have been exported as in the case of Triple Crown winner Ormonde. The Duke of Westminster sold Ormonde for $60,000 and said that Ormonde was a proven roarer, and he was afraid the disease might be spread all over England. This did not prove to be the case and fortunately, one of Ormonde’s seven foals left behind in England was Orme later to be the sire of Triple Crown winner, Flying Fox.

Gallinule had nowhere near the credentials of the unbeaten Ormonde yet someone saw something in him (probably his perfect conformation) and gave him a chance at stud. When his trainer was asked who bought him his response was ‘some mad Irishman”. The mad Irishman was none other than Sir Harry Greer later to manage the National Stud and the Aga Khan’s Stud.



In later years Sir Harry Greer would explain that he purchased Gallinule at the end of his racing career because of his great admiration for his sire Isonomy and the fact that he was from the female family of Cast Steel. Why he thought so highly of the Cast Steel tribe remains a mystery leading one to believe that Sir Harry was probable seeking a useful stallion rather than a breed changing one. Nevertheless, Gallinule had a major impact on the Thoroughbred both in the early 1900’s and even more so in the modern thoroughbred of today. When you consider that his daughter Pretty Polly is the 5th dam of Northern Dancer’s sire Nearctic, and that Gallinule is the sire of Palotta the 3rd dam of the speedy Mumtaz Mahal and you need look no further. Mumtaz Mahal is the ancestress of Nasrullah, Mahmoud, Royal Charger, and Tudor Minstrel. From these illustrious stallions come the lines of Bold Ruler, Secretariat, Seattle Slew Turn-to, Hail to Reason, Roberto, Sir Gaylord, Nashua, Never Bend and Blushing Groom, and all of their tribes. So we can be thankful to that ‘Mad Irishman”, Sir Harry Greer who gave Gallinule a chance at stud.

Among those who patronized Gallinule during his early years at stud was Major Eustace Loder. It was probably his early success with the offspring of Gallinule that would lead to his breeding the great Pretty Polly. Eustace Loder had great success purchasing mares very reasonably and breeding some very fine runners from them. He purchased Astrology for 450 guineas and from her bred Star Shoot the 5 time leading sire in North America. He purchased Pretty Polly’s dam Admiration for only 550 guineas and from her got one of the great racemares of all time. Pretty Polly was so fast that she won her first start by 40 lengths or about 100 years and included in the beaten field was John O’Gaunt, 2nd in the following years 2,000 Guineas and Derby. It is believed that if Pretty Polly had been nominated for the 2,000 Guineas and Derby she would have won all five classics. St. Amant who won the 2,000 Guineas and Derby the year Pretty Polly was a three-year-old was never her match although they met three times at distances of 6 furlongs to a mile and a half. Another of the astute purchases by Eustace Loder was Derby and Grand Prix de Paris winner Spearmint who was purchased for 300 guineas. One of his better purchases was Concussion for which he paid 500 guineas.

hammerkop-findon-stakesEustace Loder bred Concussion to Gallinule 4 times and bred her once to Wildfowler a son of Gallinule. All of these matings would, over a period of time, result in runners which would win races considered to be amongst the most important on the calendar.

What made this cross work so well?
Concussion’s 2nd dam is the Skirmisher mare while Gallinule’s 2nd dam is the same mare. This is the classic case of using a stallion to reinforce his own female line.

The first horse with this cross was a foal of 1894 named Dabchick. She would become a classic winner of the Irish Oaks. In 1895 a full sister to Dabchick was foaled and she was named Sirenia. Although not a classic winner herself Sirenia won stakes from 6 furlongs to 1 ¼ miles and then produced 1,000 Guineas winner Electra. Electra went on to produce another classic winner in Salmon-Trout who won the St. Leger Stakes. Another daughter of Sirenia, Siberia won 4 stakes at 12 to14 furlongs and then produced Oaks winner Snow Marten. Snow Marten is the 2nd dam of Nimba a mare of great ability who among her victories can be counted the Coaching Club American Oaks, the Alabama Stakes, and the Metropolitan Handicap. To this point Sirenia had produced a classic winner that became a classic producer and another daughter that produced an Oaks winner. She then capped off her career as a broodmare when another daughter named Sourabaya produced Comrade the first winner of the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe. Comrade also won the Grand Prix de Paris when it was one of Europe’s most important races.




The 3rd mare resulting from the crossing of Gallinule to Concussion was Hammerkop. Again, although she herself was not a classic winner this mare was well up to classic standard. She was 2nd in the Oaks to Our Lassie the ancestress of Mill Reef, Khaled, Blushing Groom and Red Anchor, and was 2nd in the Park Hill Stakes to the unbeaten Quintessence. She was able to win the July Stakes at 5 ½ furlongs and the Criterion Stakes at 6 furlongs and later go on and win such distance races as the Queen Alexandra Stakes twice, over a distance of 22 furlongs. She won the Alexandra Plate twice, over three miles as well as the Cesarewich Handicap at 2 ¼ miles and the Yorkshire Oaks at 12 furlongs. As a broodmare Hammerkop produced Epsom Derby winner Spion Kop. Her female line quickly died out as she only had one daughter who in turn produced only one daughter. That granddaughter produced no offspring and was sold as a polo pony.In 1902 Concussion produced a colt named Llangibby to the cover of Gallinule’s St. Leger winning son Wildfowler. This crossing of a son of Gallinule to Concussion is the same sire line reinforcement of a female family except that the 2nd cross of the Skirmisher Mare is one generation further back in the pedigree. For all practical purposes the result is the same as Llangibby won the Eclipse Stakes and won stakes from 5/8 of a mile to 10 furlongs


The final foal produced with the Gallinule-Concussion cross is a foal of 1903 named Ishallah. It took awhile but eventually Ishallah’s female line produced a classic winner when Quetzalcoatl won the Argentine 2,000 Guineas in 1945. What is interesting in Quetzalcoatl’s pedigree is 2 crosses of Tracery (from the number 19 family) and an addition cross of Gallinule.




Every time Gallinule was crossed with Concussion the end result would be a classic winner. Sometimes it was immediate as in the case of Dabchick, or in might take five generations as in Quetzalcoatl. The Number 19 family of which Gallinule was a member had an affinity for its own female line. When Gallinule was crossed to his close female relative (Concussion), numerous classic winners were the result. Even when stallions which were relative failures were bred into the line, classic winners would result. Spion Kop was a Derby winner but only sired one classic winner, Felstead. However, when Spion Kop was bred to Wings of Love by Gay Crusader in 1929, a filly was foaled which would win the Irish 1,000 Guineas. This filly named Spy-Ann was later to become the dam of a colt named Skoiter who would annex the Irish St. Leger. When you look at the pedigree of Spy-Ann you will see that she is a direct descendant of Sirenia in tail female and since Spion Kop is by Hammerkop we have duplicated the cross that originally produced these full sisters, and the result is the same, classic winners!


If you wish to see more evidence of male line reinforcement in this number 19 family look up the pedigree of Monarque. His sire The Emperor, a dual winner of the Ascot Gold Cup is a perfect example. Look at the pedigree of Tracery’s 2nd dam Plaisanterie. She was the Champion three-year-old filly in France in 1885. Both her sire Wellingtonia and her dam Poetess are the result of this pattern.





bbd-bookIf you’re interested in learning more about male line reinforcement I suggest you read my newly published book Breeding by Design, or contact me for a Consultation.


Until out paths cross again dear readers here is wishing you the best of racing luck.


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