Australian Sires: Honorius
By Kristen Manning
The Honorius story is one of many threads, beginning way back to the The Tetrarch, the unbeaten star of the turf who stamped so many his progeny with his distinctive grey coat – including the wondrous Mumtaz Mahal.
Like Honorius named after royalty, that legendary mare was superior not only on the track but at stud and her genes are still a dominant force in international racing… passed on to the likes of Nasrullah, Royal Charger and Mahmoud.
And her blood flows through many a great Australian horse with Eight Carat – record breaking dam of five Group One winners including the champion Octagonal – also a descendant.
One of the Mumtaz Mahal clan’s finest achievements is Petite Etoile, the winner of 14 of her 19 starts – never once out of the first two. The highest ever Timeform rated three-year-old filly until bettered only slightly by her relation Habibti over two decades later.
UK Horse Of The Year, one whose record mare earnings took ten years to surpass. A true legend of the turf – and another great mare to make her mark over the generations with her unraced daughter Zahra the foundation mare of the Aga Khan’s prolific “Z” family.
Many a high class performer has stemmed from this branch of the Mumtaz Mahal dynasty, none better than the masterpiece Zarkava – the first filly in 15 years to defeat the older horses in the world’s great test of thoroughbred class, the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe.
Never tasting defeat, Zarkava earned the title of Cartier European Horse Of The Year and has already produced a Group One winner – her son Zarak charging home from the rear to claim the Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud in early July.
Zahra’s daughter Zariya by the influential Blushing Groom is another to contribute to the considerable fortunes of this great family, two times Hong Kong Group One winner Sir Andrew and Australian Group 2 winner Zerpour amongst her descendants.
Little wonder that Australians have been keen to tap into the influence of this family and it was Kia-Ora Stud, NSW who imported Zariya’s Irish bred granddaughter Zarinia in 2005… and they struck gold early with her second foal being South African Horse Of The Year Igugu.
Also recipient of several other championship titles – a common theme in this family – Igugu was the first filly to win the coveted Triple Tiara and her four Group One victories made her a heroine to the South African racing public.
Two years later an imposing son of Danehill, a horse standing his second season at Coolmore Stud, was chosen as Zarinia’s mate.
Holy Roman Emperor, grandly named – grandly bred, grandly performed!
By a champion, breed shaping stallion, Holy Roman Emperor hails from one of the world’s great thoroughbred families, one held in such high regard that his full sister Milanova set an Australian record when fetching a whopping $5 million at the 2008 Inglis Easter broodmare sale.
Their dam L’On Vite by the immortal Secretariat, has produced four stakes winners – Holy Roman Emperor the star whilst Milanova was successful at Group Three level (producing a Group Three winner in Ireland) as was Big Viking in Japan… whilst Heart Of Oak won Listed races in Germany.
Holy Roman Emperor’s grandam is Northern Dancer’s finest daughter Fanfreluche – Canadian Horse Of The Year, US Champion 3Y0 Filly. Best remembered as the victim of a kidnap, she was saved by a family who found her wandering along the road! Fortunately she was eventually returned to Clairbone Farm from where she proved a powerful breeding force.
Five of her progeny, including Canadian Horse Of The Year L’Enjoleur, were stakes winners and she spurred a dynasty whose members include the Australian Champion Stallions Flying Spur and Encosta de Lago.
But back to her grandson Holy Roman Emperor. With such a background of course expectations were high and he did not disappoint – at debut racing away with a maiden at Leopardstown and two starts later claiming the Group Two Railway Stakes at The Curragh.
On the strength of that victory sent out favourite in the Group One Phoenix Stakes at the same track, Holy Roman Emperor was a dominant winner before a gallant second to rising star Teofilo in the Group One National Stakes.
From there he headed to Paris where his two length victory in the Group One Grand Criterium in record time earned him the title of French Champion 2Y0, also securing the highest ever juvenile Timeform rating for a son of Danehill.
Going down fighting when only just being beaten by Teofilo in the Group One Dewhurst Stakes at Newmarket, Holy Roman Emperor looked to have so much ahead of him but with fellow Coolmore horse George Washington proving infertile he was rushed off to stud to fill that gap on the roster.
And the track’s loss has proven breeding’s gain with Holy Roman Emperor proving himself to be one of Danehill’s classiest and most versatile sons, to date represented by 67 stakes winners, ten of whom have been successful at the elite level.
Such as Caulfield Cup hero Mongolian Khan, also winner of the New Zealand and Australian Derbies… the only horse to claim all three of those coveted Group One races.
And Designs On Rome, Hong Kong Horse Of The Year. As well as South American stars Salto Olimpico and Maraton, Hong Kong Mile winner Beauty Only, NZ 1000 Guineas winner Rollout The Carpet, Oakleigh Plate victor Sheidel, American big race winner Rich Tapestry, UK 1000 Guineas heroine Homecoming Queen and the, high class French galloper Morandi.
A truly international success story is Holy Roman Emperor… winners in 41 different countries! A stallion whose stats read so very well – a 65.3% winners-to-runners strike rate, 6.2% stakes winners to runners. Prize money earnings in excess of $82 million, stakes winners who have won over a variety of distances from 1000m to 2500m.
Including a tough fellow by the name of Honorius, a horse whose illustrious background demands attention! A proven high class sire line, an internationally prolific family… he has it all.
Kristen Manning is a freelance racing writer and pedigree analyst based in Melbourne. A keen owner/breeder who loves every aspect of thoroughbred horse racing, she has written two books focusing on the deeds of Fields Of Omagh and Prince Of Penzance.