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As a kid, I fell in love with the Phar Lap tales: mystery, intrigue, sadness and the love of immortal greatness which bestows superior thoroughbreds.

Magic – joy, all those crazy childhood notions one has for a great horse and to be there physically with its equine soul forever and a day.

Yes, Phar Lap and wonderful Sunline did that to us all.

Recently, I delighted to view an amusing ‘vintage’ video of Phar Lap – The Mighty Conqueror.

Aside from the dialogue it’s a worthwhile watch due to close footage and when visiting ‘Red’last year at Melbourne’s museum it came to mind that equine-honesty of his, was also a superior genotype and phenotype.

The big why … what is the Source?

In my book… the research of all thoroughbred foundations and the emergent female strains illustrates how thoroughbreds evolved over time and over generations.

Standing far back… we see the framework of the thoroughbred, its structure, expansion and the crucial individuals that evolved the breed to what it is now.

For myself, I favour identifying individuals through family numbers which works like a catalogue system. Thereafter, I refer the numbers as strains because that is what resides within.

I like to get a firm idea of dominant strains blend/influences through the many layers and multiplicities of breeding legacies. Peeled back the linear stratum collapses and the pedigree asserts as living inter-dynamic energy like this.


Statistics, computer analysis programs have their place but the eye captures what computers can’t tell & that is the essential miniscule detail.

Let’s hypothesize that the starting factor is where the nucleus strain is always at-origination. Thereon it takes preferences to affiliated families.

Phar Lap’s tap-root foundational female family began with Burton’s Barb mare designated by the 2 family. Like all foundational tap-roots, the tap-root is further designated into family sub-branches according to both formative matriarchs and their influential siring lines bred.

The immortalized Phar Lap and the great mare descendant Sunline converge upon the family strain 2-r through the imported tap-root mare Miss Kate (GB ) 1887 thus began the expansion of the 2-r strain in New Zealand. (n.b. Racing Hall of Fame, Kindergarten (1937) also descends from Miss Kate, being Kindergarten’s 5th dam)


Phar Lap

Miss Kate’s great grand-daughter Entreaty was Phar Lap’s dam, where she had a daughter called Fortune’s Wheel – a full sister to Phar Lap and she, the 7th dam to Sunline.

In our breakdown of both ancestral pedigrees’ they demonstrate remarkable similarities.

My handy thumb-of-rule is to find the integrity of the originating ‘types’ and where it ‘stands’ within a pedigree, & expanding it from there.

The assumption relates where nucleus strains aim for an affinity  with analogous strains.

I find it works at the intricacy of pedigree in observation of the diversity of past sires where each and every sire influences or diffuses.

Like a living breathing record, Phar Lap’s pedigree has the friendly reminder of what great ancestral breeding can illustrate as we can uncover what illumes the genetic ‘switch’ and also to that of his female contemporary, Sunline.

harry telford

Harry Telford

History tells of Lot 41, a Night Raid-Entreaty colt at the 1928 Trentham yearling sales which came to Harry Telford’s attention – where the colt’s pedigree weighed in with Carbine. However, it was from his youth where Telford had associations with a good NZ stayer called Prime Warden, whose dam was Miss Kate. Harry had done his homework. He instructed his brother Hugh in New Zealand to buy the colt for no more than 190 guineas (as owner, David J. Davis had ‘offered’) getting him for only 160 guineas.

Let’s start with Carbine by the mighty Musket, (5s x 5D). Musket by Toxophilite, had his pre-potency via his dam West Australian mare.



This female family is via greatness, the grand-dam Brown Bess, a 3 family strain. Brown Bess’s sire Camel is female 24 family. Miss Kate dam’s sire The Prime Minister is permeated by a Camel infusion being the great grand-dam sire.

Camel (24) is the sire of Touchstone, he emerges progenitor at the greatest depth through Phar Lap’s pedigree (8S x 8s x 8S x 9s x 9s x 9S x 9s x 9S x 8S x 9S x 9S x 9S x 9S x 9D x 9d x 8D x 9D x 8D x 8d x 8D x 8D x 8d x 9D x 9d x 8D x 7D).

By further examination the Pocahontas (strain, 3-n) 6S x 8S x 8S x 8S x 8S x 8S x 8S x 9S x 8S x 9S x 9S x 7D x 8D x 8D x 8D x 9D x 7D x 7D x 9D. Her female family lines continue through sons Stockwell and King Tom placed on  Phar Lap’s ‘Y’ tail line.

Again…Pocahontas strain transposed through Phar Lap’s dam Entreaty, by Winkie via his great grandsire St. Simon, where King Tom as representational  family member (i.e. broodmare sire) and thus adds a Pocahontas transmission to Winkie onto the 1-p strain.

*1-P transposing 3-n*

(n.b. 1-P is notably distinguished by Black Caviar. It also belongs to one of my big darlings of pedigrees, Court Martial.)

Dominant female indexes link significant strains as to relate genetic integrity throughout the dynamic pedigree. The dominant female indexes focus the key differences which go beyond the customary reading of a pedigree.

I’ve often mused Phar Lap had the most unique successful genotype/phenotype of them all, perhaps somewhat reminiscent of the desert horses in their past heritage, inherited to the hybrid Thoroughbred.

“It is a truism that the British Thoroughbred, originally a national tribe, has been internationalised. Lines an branches thereof which were shelved in England – mainly for the reason of being dispensable – when transferred to another country developed, and in the course of time entered upon a stage of prosperity” – Friedrich Becker – The Breed of the Racehorse 1936 British Bloodstock Agency

 “…..nature had a tendency to return the breeds to their original pure state.” Federico Tesio

 The Phar Lap pedigree testifies concentrated blood truer to the phenotype at origin. Walter Kelley (New York trainer present at Phar Lap’s track record victory at Agua Caliente Handicap) said of him “he was just a phenomenal horse – he could do anything. He was a great big, raw-boned horse.”

Phar Lap was so well endowed with genetic coding, and along in the helix, numerous generations later, his female contemporary arrived. Sunline.

“…she would need time to grow into her big, raw-bone frame.”  – Trevor McKee (trainer of Sunline)

In usual accounts the breeding for Sunline has being mainly qualified upon Northern Dancer 4s x 4D. Generally speaking viewing within 5th removes will only serve as direct breeding factors – not the deep structure, which is beyond.

Sunline’s furthest infusions on the matri -lines (the strains contributing) conveys more accurately strengths, and akin contributors.

As it is with so many decisive pedigrees the prevailing dominance is at the foundation 3 strain & (as branched to e,f) families where the ‘framework’ is on Sunline’s prototype strength.

Fore mostly the 3 strain ‘preserving’ is carried by regal Cinna by Polymelus (3-e) from Baroness La Fleche (from La Fleche) (3-e)


La Fleche

La Fleche is dam of John O’Gaunt (3-e). n.b. His grandson Blandford, critical, crucial to any pedigree structure at anytime.

Remember ‘Transposing’ – strain & ‘type’  on bloodlines.

Polymelus (3-e) is the  grandsire of Fairway, he the sire of Honeyway and a half brother to Fair Trial, the sire of Petition, where Petition’s matri-line throws to Carbine.

Carbine’s son Spearmint is the grandsire to Felstead, as infused on Danzig’s matri-line (grandsire of Desert Sun.)




“Felstead provided a timely revival for the male line of Carbine, to whom he was inbred at the third and fourth removes, and whom he somewhat resembled in appearance.” Sir Charles Leicester Bloodstock Breeding.










Fairway, through his son Fairford infuses into Solar matri-line, (dam of Desert Sun) and Fair Trail inflects via D.S’s brood-mare sire Hotfoot.

Hotfoot has Umidwar 3-e (3s x 4d), from the  foundation mare Brown Bess. Remember… Carbine by Musket (3) is … Brown Bess.

Honeyway majorly descends from ancestral predecessors Pocahontas (3-n) and Touchstone ( by Camel, 24 ) as the principals.

Sunline’s broodmare sire Western Symphony complements the Carbine principle 8S x 9S x 8S x 9D x 9D x 9d.

I view the ploy of nature is to keep re-wiring the genetic code forward by going backwards in rotational cycles where superior genetics are inter-changeable. This can only be achieved with the right sire and where those attributes can be drawn upon. The concept has the science of transposing ‘jumping’ genes.

Centrally the 2-r strains belonging to Phar Lap, Sunline (inclusive of Kindergarten) fires collectively through strains Brown Bess (3) and family 24.

One might think 24 family is undistinguishable – yet Bruce Lowe, founder of the female family tables wrote “some of the males of the 24 family have been such excellent sires that it almost deserves the rank of a sire line….) as he referred to Stockwell (the Emperor of Stallions), Rataplan both by The Baron (family 24) and Camel, sire of Touchstone, from family 24  via the Selim Mare.


infusing strains

2-r  ⇔ 2 / 3 /24


I can appreciate readers might have dismay at transposing matriarchal genes: why their inter-action relationship is so integral to superior breeding. You could say its a coincidence…but no.  Remember the wee midget with a super giant racing ability aka Tulloch by Khorassan (3-e) from Florida (NZ) (24 family strain).

In my experience the female strains pedigrees configure and converge on matri-lines; it is this which splits the greater difference from most thoroughbred pedigrees even when they are assumed strongly well-bred.

Naturally phenotype should follow. And, if it doesn’t produce to expectation, it does not essentially mean the practice is not working.

It is the hybrid factor at work and always will be.

“Thus I discovered that the modern race-horse is simply a highly selected hybrid…” Frederico Tesio

Looking ahead breeding prospects for the 2-r family strain has to be slight as the 24 family has highly degenerated where diversity of siring lines are missing. Rightly or wrongly sires are highly selected on modern commercial stallion lines.

However I will always be optimistic for the next ‘Red Terror’ descendants and a favoured choice for the next Sunline generation would belong to Darci Brahma as sire, accessing Danzig, Vice Regal, Court Martial, Rockefella to retrieve as follows

 Felstead 7sx8sx9dx8d (Carbine principle)

Umidwar 9sx7dx8dx9d (Brown Bess principle)

Cinna 8sx9sx9sx9D (Brown Bess principle)

Remember…scrutinizing pedigrees is studying the unique features, female family strains to ‘transposing’ genes  and drawing back a relationship to their ‘type’ as to find irreplaceable traits to the overall breeding structure.


Carbine wheel


Post note: Delighted to find the Carbine principle/Brown Bess still resonating in the Darci Brahma 3 yr old filly – Risqué – from So Explicit (NZ) by Straight Strike (USA), the winner of G1 NZ 1000 Guinea and 3rd VRC Australian Guinea’s. Felstead 7sx8sx7dx8D contributing notably on the matri-lines.  Also contributing on Darci Brahma dam’s matri-line, Vice-Regal aka Cinna 3-e.