Posts Tagged ‘Albatross’

A few blogs ago I described two vary different racehorses (later to both become very successful sires and damsires), Spencer and Scotland. Spencer was a big, lanky horse; Scotland a sleek medium sized one.

This same pattern occurs in several famous pairs of horses who later became excellent sires and damsires –

  • Tar Heel and Adios;
  • Most Happy Fella and Albatross;

In all these cases the first of the pair was a bigger, rugged type and not the smoothest gaited horse, while the second of the pair was the smaller handsome one with the gorgeous gait.

As I said in my blog about the three very different Jamaicans in the Olympic 200m final, speed and greatness can come in very different packages.

And although I often talk about the advantage of having a great gait (what I call ‘gait speed’) it’s good to be reminded of champion horses who didn’t have that advantage but delivered brilliance anyway – on the racetrack or in the siring shed or both.

In the chapter on Tar Heel in John Bradley’s “Modern Pacing Sire Lines” he describes Tar Heel like this:

A big-headed coarsely made horse who was not especially good-gaited….One of the racing scribes of his era commented on his gait by saying “It was hard to tell what he was doing, but we called it pacing.”

Adios, on the other hand was a stunningly handsome horse, medium sized with a beautiful fine head – and very good gaited. (I found this great article about Adios’s career in Sports Illustrated May 14, 1962, when he was still alive at 25 years of age.)

Of course these two horses are present in so many pedigrees – the Golden Adios/Tar Heel Cross. See this good article in Sports Horse Breeder website that looks at some of the genetic reasons this was a good combination – but just their complementary attributes and physical types must be a key factor.

Most Happy Fella – big and rugged

Most Happy Fella was a big, rugged looking colt who was bothered through his career by a hock injury, leading to a somewhat rough-gaited style of going. In fact trainer/driver Stanley Dancer is quoted as saying:

What a nasty horse he was to drive. You never knew when Most Happy Fella was going to make a break. He went with such a tight hobble, and he still felt like he was going to put in a step. I was surprised he was such a great sire. He sired some good-gaited horses.

Many of Meadow Skipper’s racing sons were big, bold horses – and Most Happy Fella also had a big dam (Laughing Girl), surprisingly a Good Time mare because Good Time was under 15h himself and often left smaller horses.

Albatross, on the other hand, was an atypical son of Meadow Skipper – he stood only 15.1h but with a long-barrel and “an unattractive head which seemed very disproportionate to the remainder of his conformation.” ┬áHe was a very well balanced horse, however, and his gait was superb.

Albatross’ hallmark, and his greatest contribution to the breed, was his gait. Dancer believes that Albatross could have raced free-legged, such was the purity of his motion. It was free-flowing, solid and allowed Albatross to carry his speed through three demanding seasons.” (John Bradley)

These four fantastic horses illustrate just how different the qualities of top horses (and top sires/damsires) can be.

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