Eight Carat and the family of Tessa Gillian

July 21, 2020Ken McLean0

VOW and Declare (by Declaration of War), winner of the 2019 VRC Melbourne Cup-Gr.1 and Material Man (by Vital Equine) winner of the 2018 Perth Cup-Gr.1 both trace in direct female line to Royal Charger’s full sister Tessa Gillian, an elite mare who established two very strong branches of the famous Number 9 Family of champion Mumtaz Mahal. Europe’s Horse of the Year and Champion Three Year-Old Golden Horn (by Cape Cross) also traces to Tessa Gillian (Nearco-Sun Princess by Solario-Mumtaz Begum by Blenheim-Mumtaz Mahal).

Tessa Gillian is a three-quarter sister to champion Nasrullah (Nearco-Mumtaz Begum) and closely related to English Derby-Gr.1 winner Mahmoud. The two strong branches for review are those of the half-sisters Courtessa and Klairessa (dam of Eight Carat). What a paradox has evolved! Who would have imagined England’s dominant speed family of Mumtaz Mahal could develop into a versatile stakes family and produce major 3200m winners? Okay, there were signs something might happen over several generations because Nasrullah did compete in the English Derby-Gr.1 and Mahmoud won this classic in record time.

A brief look at branches of this family is shown in the following tables representing Mumtaz Mahal’s descendants via Courtessa and Klairessa.

TESSA GILLIAN was born in 1950 and won five races as a two year-old including the Molecomb Stakes at Goodwood, the Prince of Wales’s Stakes at York and the Hopeful Stakes at Newmarket, but was defeated a short-head in the Cheveley Park Stakes won
by champion Bebe Grande. Despite the fact Tessa Gillian was only a small filly, she progressed at three to win the Kathryn Howard Stakes, was runner-up to Happy Laughter in the 1000 Guineas (with Bebe Grande third), runner-up to Happy Laughter in the Ascot Coronation Stakes and finished third when top-weight in the Newmarket Ebbisham Stakes. Tessa Gillian produced six winners including stakes winners Gentle Art and Test Case (winner of the Gimcrack Stakes), the latter a successful sire in New Zealand.

She also produced Courtessa (by Supreme Court) an unraced twin sister to Test Case. Courtessa produced five winners from 10 foals including the brilliant sprinter d’Urberville (by Klairon) winner of the King’s Stand Stakes-Gr.1 and his full sister Klairessa, winner and dam of four winners including that brilliant champion filly Habibti (by Habitat). Habibti was unbeaten at two years. She won all three starts namely the Ascot Virginia Water Stakes, York Lowther Stakes and Curragh Moyglare Stud Stakes. She was voted England’s Horse of the Year in 1983 and Champion Sprinter. Her victories include the Newmarket July Cup, William Hill Sprint Championship, Vernon’s Sprint Cup and Prix de l’Abbaye de Longchamp, but she could manage only fourth in the 1000 Guineas won by Ma Biche. At the end of the year Habibti was given a rating of 136 by Timeform. Her pedigree reveals duplication of full siblings, Royal Charger and Tessa Gillian.

Vow and Declare belongs to Mumtaz Mahal’s branch developed by Courtessa’s daughter Lora, a mare by Klairon’s best son Lorenzaccio. When Lora was matched with Habitat (sire of Habibti) it produced Loralane, winner from nine starts and fourth dam of the Melbourne Cup-Gr.1 winner (see pedigree). Matched with Old Vic, a stout son of Sadler’s Wells, Loralane produced the plain mare Young Vic who started only once.

Young Vic produced Walking or Dancing, eight wins, $611,425 including the Newcastle JC Newmarket Handicap-Gr.3, Irongail, seven wins including the Listed Summoned Stakes, as well as Youthful Presence, dam of six winners including Epsom Handicap-Gr.1 winner Huaraki and South Australian Derby-Gr.1 winner Kidnapped. Another filly out of Young Vic was stakes-placed Aim For Gold, earner of $203,750 and runner-up in the AJC Champagne Stakes-Gr.1.

Aim for Gold was matched with the outstanding sprinter-miler Testa Rossa to produce Geblitzt, five wins and dam of Vow and Declare who has to date earned $5,472,890 from wins in the Melbourne Cup-Gr.1, Eagle Farm Tattersall’s Cup-Gr.3 and Listed VRC Batman Handicap, plus seconds in the Caulfield Cup-Gr.1 and Queensland Derby-Gr.1.

Young Vic’s half-sister Nuryana (by Nureyev) won the Listed Grand Metropolitan Stakes and produced Hidden Hope, winner of the Listed Chesham Stakes and runner-up in the Lancashire Oaks-Gr.3 and Prix de Pomone-Gr.3. Nuryana also produced stakes winners Mystic Knight and Rebecca Sharp, as well as Nuryandra, a filly inbred to Habitat who was placed in the Listed Chesham Stakes.

Nuryana produced Fleche d’Or, an unraced mare by Dubai Destination who produced Cartier Horse of the Year Golden Horn, seven wins £4.4m and Champion Three Year-Old of Britain and Europe. Golden Horn won the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe-Gr.1, English Derby-Gr.1, Eclipse Stakes-Gr.1, Irish Champion Stakes-Gr.1, York Dante Stakes-Gr.2 and was runner-up in the Breeders’ Cup Turf-Gr.1. His first crop to race already impresses English and Irish trainers with classic potential.

THE branch of imported mare Eight Carat (GB) (Pieces of Eight-Klairessa) developed into an amazing family of Group winners. This black or dark brown mare was born in 1975, raced in England but showed modest ability, failing to win from five starts. Sent to auction in 1979 at the Newmarket December Sales she was bought for 9400 guineas in foal to the high-class sprinter My Swanee. The buyer was Lord Forres. The foal born in 1980 was a filly named Cotehele House (GB) who would accompany her dam to Australia.

When Eight Carat arrived Down Under she was matched with the sprinter Sticks and Stones. From this unison came a talented filly named Diamond Lover, winner of the ARC Railway Handicap-Gr.1 and dam of AJC Australian Derby-Gr.1 winner Don Eduardo. Robert Sangster purchased Eight Carat and her filly Cotehele House from Lord Forres and sent Eight Carat to Sir Tristram (Sir Ivor-Isolt by Round Table), a match resulting in the precocious colt Kaapstad (VRC Sires’ Produce Stakes-Gr.1) sire of 40 stakes winners.

Sir Tristram, much admired by Robert Sangster, stood at Cambridge Stud in New Zealand. Records show Sangster sold both Eight Carat and Diamond Lover to Sir Patrick Hogan, master of Cambridge Stud, who decided Eight Carat’s love affair with Sir Tristram would continue. Dam of five Gr.1 winners, Eight Carat was a genetic giant and voted New Zealand’s Broodmare of the Year in 1995, 1996 and 1997. Nine Carat was born in 1989, she being dam of stakes winner Court of Jewels; Marquise was born in 1991 by imported stallion Gold and Ivory and renamed Our Marquise when performing in Australia. Marquise won the Captain Cook Stakes-Gr.1 and produced talented filly Shower of Roses.


IN 1992, a big strong colt out of Eight Carat was born at Cambridge Stud, sired by Zabeel (Sir Tristram-Lady Giselle by Nureyev). Brothers Jack and Bob Ingham purchased this colt as a yearling and named him Octagonal. He would grab the nation’s admiration and earn a fond nickname, “the big O”. Octagonal won 14 of 28 starts and earned $5.8m. His victories include the AJC Australian Derby-Gr.1, W.S. Cox Plate-Gr.1 and Australian Cup-Gr.1. He was voted Australia’s Horse of the Year, Champion 2YO and 3YO and was the pride and joy of his breeders Sir Patrick and Lady Hogan.

Octagonal retired to stand at Woodlands Stud and shuttled in 1998 to France for one covering season. At the time I was planning matings for Sheikh Maktoum’s Gainsborough Stud, managed by Michael Goodbody. I asked Michael if we could get approval
to send Sky Song (by Sadler’s Wells) to Octagonal in France. The answer came back yes and we got lucky because this match produced a quality colt named Laverock, Champion Older Horse in Italy. Laverock’s five wins included the Prix d’Ispahan-Gr.1, Gran Premio Jockey Club Italiano-Gr.1 and the Prix de Fontainebleau-Gr.3. Of course Octagonal’s best son was Lonhro, Australia’s Horse of the Year. Sadly, Octagonal’s high-class brother Mouawad, who won the VRC Australian Guineas-Gr.1, proved to be infertile at stud.

Eight Carat

THE pedigree of Eight Carat is rather unique inasmuch as she is inbred 4mx4f to unbeaten champion Nearco and line bred 5m,5fx5m to Nogara, dam of Nearco and Niccolo dell’Arca. High-class genes were transmitted by Federico Tesio’s champion filly Nogara whose father Havresac II was many times Leading Sire in Italy.

The inbred stallion Havresac II stamped his progeny and the source of Eight Carat’s magical powers as a producer can be attributed to her unique ancestry. Three sources of Tesio’s champion filly Nogara in the black mare’s pedigree enhanced speed and stamina and it’s intriguing to recall World Champion miler Lonhro (by Octagonal) is a black stallion. \

Eight Carat can be duplicated with successful results. Outstanding sprinter Rain Affair (Commands-I Believe by Octagonal) is inbred 3fx3m to Eight Carat and won 12 of 29 starts including the Apollo Stakes-Gr.2, Expressway Stakes-Gr.2, Challenge Stakes-Gr.2 and Missile Stakes-Gr.3 twice, while his dam I Believe has Sir Tristram 3mx3m. Bred on the same mix is Altar (Commands-Hosannah by Octagonal) winner of the Magic Night Stakes-Gr.2, runner-up in the Darby Monroe Stakes (Listed) and third in The Goodwood Stakes-Gr.1 (her dam has Sir Tristram’s sire Sir Ivor 4mx4m). Badajoz (seven wins $577.025) is inbred 3fx4m to Eight Carat, and Washington Heights (five wins $303,525 plus $HK2,025,299) is inbred 3fx3m to Eight Carat.

Did you know you can find every stallion listed on Stallions.com.au with Eight Carat in their pedigree by searching for it here in our 5 generation search

EIGHT CARAT was sired by Pieces of Eight, winner of the Eclipse Stakes-Gr.1. A study of his pedigree reveals his dam Baby Doll is inbred to two champion sons of Nogara, viz. Nearco and Niccolo dell’Arca, see pedigree. War Relic, the grandsire of Pieces of Eight, is inbred 3fx3m to Triple Crown winner Rock Sand (by Sainfoin) as well as being inbred 3mx3m to Fairy Gold, dam of Fair Play and Friar Rock.

Relic, a black colt born at Colonel Bradley’s famous Idle Hour Farm on Iron Works Pike, Lexington, won five of seven starts and was well muscled in forearms and gaskins. At two years Relic won the Hopeful Stakes and was runner-up in the Saratoga Special while at three, he won the Hibiscus Stakes and Bahamas Stakes. Relic covered mares in US, France and England and became Leading Broodmare Sire in France in 1965. In all, he sired six champions and 32 stakes winners. Progeny of Relic matured quickly.

Baby Doll, dam of Pieces of Eight, won two races and is a daughter of English Champion 2YO Filly Bebe Grande, eight wins including the Cheveley Park Stakes, Gimcrack Stakes, Champagne Stakes, National Breeders’ Produce Stakes, runner-up in the 2000 Guineas and third in the 1000 Guineas. Bebe Grande traces to White Folly (Swynford-White Lie by White Eagle, son of Gallinule). Great broodmare sire Gallinule was out of a black mare named Moorhen.

The black coat colour seems to be controlled by a few recessive genes that can be hidden for generations until exposed. Relic inherited his black coat from his dam Bridal Colors, daughter of the influential stallion Black Toney. As well, black coat genes come via a double of Gallinule’s dam Moorhen in the ancestry of White Lie. Further study shows black coat colour existed
in Vaila’s dam Padilla, a mare with a triple of Orlando, whose grandsire Camel was a black stallion.

One of the best performers from Eight Carat’s branch of the Mumtaz Mahal family was Tristalove (Sir Tristram-Diamond Lover) ranked New Zealand’s Champion 2YO filly and joint top filly at three years on the Australasian Classification. Her 11 victories include the AJC Sires’ Produce Stakes-Gr.1, Matamata Breeders’ Stakes-Gr.2, Australasian Oaks-Gr.1, Adelaide Guineas-Gr.3, A.V. Kewney Stakes-Gr.2 and Alister Clark Stakes-Gr.2.

Eight Carat died aged 25 years at Cambridge Stud. Her son Commands (1996) was sold as a yearling to Darley and shuttled to France and Japan from his home base at Kelvinside, Stud, NSW. He was more precocious than his brother Danewin and was a very influential sire and broodmare sire. Commands won only four of 15 starts but competed against the best sprinters of his era. He won the Missile Stakes-Gr.3 and Concept Sports Stakes, was second in The Galaxy-Gr.1 and finished third in the Caulfield Guineas-Gr.1.

Danewin inherited more stamina than Commands and won 13 races for earnings of more than $2m. Among his major victories were the Caulfield Stakes-Gr.1, Doomben Cup-Gr.1, Rosehill Guineas-Gr.1, L.K.S. MacKinnon Stakes-Gr.1 and Spring Champion Stakes-Gr.1. The pedigree of Shooting to Win and his brother Deep Field highlights how patterns can change.

These brothers trace to Cotehele House and have reinforcement of three powerful stallions, Northern Dancer, Mr. Prospector and Sir Ivor. Native Dancer is duplicated via both sexes.

Forli, Argentina’s Horse of the Year who is bred on the Hyperion/Fair Trial mix, appears twice in Northern Meteor’s genotype. Scuff is bred along the same lines as Special, with Nantallah (son of Nasrullah) and Rough Shod II duplicated.

OUR DAISY (2011) by Commands out of Wooden Melody by Woodman from Theme Song, daughter of Cotehele House, raced in New Zealand winning three times. She is inbred 2mx3f to Cotehele House and I wonder what type of foal might be produced if Our Daisy is matched with Lonhro (by Octagonal) or his best sons so as to reinforce Eight Carat three times?

Champion mare Melody Belle, who must be in contention for New Zealand’s Horse of the Year, is a daughter of Commands. Melody Belle’s dam possesses a mix of Nureyev and Sir Tristram strains quite similar to Zabeel’s make-up. A multiple Gr.1 winner Melody Belle belongs to the wonderful stakes-producing family of Honey Belle (Better Honey-Belle Time). It is well known that progeny of Commands perform well on all surfaces, but especially soft ground.

New Zealand has long been recognised as a nursery of champions and many great stayers have been born and raised on it’s rich pastures. Bart Cummings always ventured to Trentham or Karaka yearling sales to seek Cup winners; and Tommy Smith bought most of his classic winners from Kiwi breeders. Now that New Zealand stud farms are introducing speed strains to cross with tough families with stamina, foals resulting will inherit enhanced fast twitch muscle fibre content to blend with stamina-rich slow twitch muscle fibre. Exciting stuff!

When researching yearling catalogues, never underestimate the positive impact Tessa Gillian and her descendants are having on major stakes results. Worldwide there are multiple Group winners represented by the mix of Royal Charger and his little sister Tessa Gillian. Upgraded performance is achieved when there is genetic support from relatives of the famous Mumtaz Mahal family, especially support from Fair Trial, Nasrullah, Mahmoud, Badruddin and Nizami.

Fair Trial’s dam Lady Juror (Son-in-Law-Lady Josephine by Sundridge) is half-sister to Mumtaz Mahal. Star Kingdom’s strain has a genetic affinity with Fair Trial, Nasrullah and Royal Charger. Also, don’t forget Rain Affair’s second Rain in Spain is inbred to Star Kingdom and Relic’s daughter Coogee (dam of Bletchingly) nicked with Star Kingdom’s strain. Mumtaz Mahal is represented by another successful branch, one that was developed by His Highness Karim Aga Khan. I refer to champion Petite Etoile (Petition-Star of Iran by Bois Roussel-Mah Iran by Bahram-Mah Mahal by Gainsborough-Mumtaz Mahal).

Petite Etoile was UK Champion at three and four years, winning 14 of 18 starts including the English 1000 Guineas, English Oaks, Yorkshire Oaks, Champion Stakes, Coronation Cup and Goodwood Sussex Stakes. Her female line carries on via descendants of her only daughter Zahra (by Habitat).

Ken McLean

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