The Greatest Racehorses - Ever

Friday, October 20, 2006

Persimmon - Ornament
Foaled 1899 Bay Mare Died 1926
Runs: 25 Wins: 13 Places: 8 Earned: 38,225 Guineas
(PLEASE NOTE: win money only as place money unknown)
Form: 113 - 211410512112 - 5121111 - 233
Triple Crown Winner
Only horse to ever win Four Classics

Races Won
Woodcote Stakes 6f Epsom 1901
July Stakes 5f Newmarket 1901
2000 Guineas (English) 1m Newmarket 1902
1000 Guineas (English) 1m Newmarket 1902
Oaks (English) 1m 4f Epsom 1902
St James' Palace Stakes 1m Ascot 1902
Nassau Stakes 1m 4f Goodwood 1902
St Leger (English) 1m 6f Doncaster 1902
Hardwicke Stakes 1m 4f Ascot 1903
Jockey Club Stakes 2m Newmarket 1903
Duke of York Stakes 1m 2f Kempton 1903
Champion Stakes 1m 2f Newmarket 1903
Limekiln Stakes 1m 2f Newmarket 1903

The Early Years
Sceptre was bought by Robert Sievier as a yearling in July 1900 for £10,000, a record price for a yearling at the time. She made her debut at Epsom as a two year old in the Woodcote Stakes which she won easily. This success was quickly followed up by a victory in the July Stakes. By the time she lined up for her final start as a juvenile in the Champagne Stakes she'd already grown her winter coat and she ran listlessly to finish third behind fillies' she'd beaten easily in previous races.

With mounting debts, Sievier put his horses up for sale but having sold all the others, changed his mind when it came to parting with Sceptre. In an astonishing move he decided to train her himself and so it was that Sceptre was entered in every major race of the 1902 season including all five Classics. Sievier worked her hard and raced her harder still, runing her every few days at all the big meetings throughout her three year old season. It was to this end that she won both the 2000 Gunieas and 1000 Guineas a feat few fillies every achieve. As a prep race for these prestigious races she made her seasonal debut in the Lincoln H'cap, just failing by a head to land a gamble for her ambitious owner/trainer. (below Sceptre as a 10 year old being sold in foal to Lord Ganely in 1911)

Change of Luck

Next came the Derby and Oaks Meeting at Epsom. Sadly she was left at the start in the Derby and had to be ridden hard to catch up with the rest of the field so in the end she tired to finish 4th. The next day however she trotted up in the Oaks. It was a shame she didn't carry off the unprecedented feat of winning all five Classics as its nothing less than she deserved. Following this win she was shipped to Paris for the Grand Prix de Paris but during the race she had a terrible trip and ended up running wide turning into the homestretch. She rallied gamely but finished unplaced a mere 2 lengths behind the "Sceptre of France", Kizil Kovigan.

Once back in England Royal Ascot was next on the agenda. Beaten into 5th in the Coronation Stakes she bounced back the next day to win the St James' Palace Stakes. At the Goodwood Festival she was beaten onto 2nd in the Sussex Stakes but won the Nassau easily. As Autumn loomed, so did the St Leger which Sceptre won effortlessly against the colts despite her gruelling season. She became the first horse to ever win four English Classics.

As a 4yo her season started in the Lincoln H'cap once again in which she place 5th. Sievier was in debt again and he'd placed a large bet on Sceptre to win the Lincoln. When she failed he had no choice but to sell her for £25,000 to Sir William Bass. Now, finally she got the high class understanding trainer she deserved in Alec Taylor.

When she arrived at Alec's yard she looked tired and worn out and unsure what to do with her Alec contacted Sievier to ask how to train her. His reply was "treat her like a selling plater" so Alec promptly did the opposite and gave her a long overdue four months off. The break did her good for she won the Hardwick Stakes with usual aplomb. She followed uo with a fine 2nd place in the Eclipse after a titanic battle with Ard Patrick. (below Sceptre with her first foal, the filly Maid on the Mist 1906)

Four more victories followed which prompted Sir William to keep her in training as a 5yo but she never won another race, although she did finish 2nd in the Coronation Cup at Epsom, 3rd in the Ascot Gold Cup and 3rd in the Hardwick Stakes.

Like all outstanding mares Sceptre had quirks and would often be a fussy eater. One day only liking white oats, the next black. Some days it she's like both white & black mixed together. Sometimes she'd only eat them from a bucket, sometimes her manger, somethins only from a sieve and occasionally only if the were placed on the ground.

Sceptre At Stud

Sceptre had 8 foals, one son (Grosvenor 1913) and seven daughters (Maid of the Mist 1906, Maid of Corinth 1907, Coronation 1908, Queen Carbine 1909, Curia 1912, Sceptre's Daughter 1915 and Queen Empress 1917). Although her foals were mediocre on the track they directly went on to produce a 2000 Guineas winner, an Oaks winner, an Eclipse winner and two English Derby runner ups. However it was their daughters (Sceptre's grand daughters) that made their mark in the breeding world, producing top class horses such as Petition (sire of Petite Etoile), Crepuscule who's progeny produced Northern Light and Midnight Sun, Noor who beat American star, Citation on no less than four occasions and Zucchero, a champion colt in England. (below Sceptre at stud with a foal)

Public Outcry

In 1923 after unsuccessful attempts to get Sceptre in foal from 1917 - 1922 her then owner Lord Ganley tried to sell her to a Brazillian stud despite promising never to sell her when he originally bought her in 1911. He sold her for a pitiful £500 - an insult to such a grand mare. However her adoring public caused such an outcry that Lord Ganely was forced to cancel the sale.

Sceptre lived out the rest of her life peacefully in England until she died in Febuary 1926 at the age of 27.

I only wish I was alive when these amazingly tough fillies were racing. Maybe one day the names of modern day super filles such as Soviet Song, Lochsong, Ouija Board and Alexander Goldrun will be mentioned in the same awed breath as the Kinscem and Sceptre type heroines of a bygone age.



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