Hungary and Montjeu’s great granddaughter

This column has focused on black-type winners, stallions whose progeny win black-type races or families and their achievements – again mainly on the black-type scene. Black-type races are the very top that racing has to offer and they are naturally related to the focus of our online service, whose database includes as many as 72,000 black-type horses. Today we’ll make an exception though – we’ll look on a pedigree of a filly who has won a classic race and was second in a local Derby… but in a country whose top races lack the black-type status – in Hungary.

Hungarian Oaks winner Mersserschmitt, photo

Although only few people realise this today, Hungary belonged among the most advanced countries in Europe in thoroughbred breeding. You might still remember Kincsem, a champion mare unbeaten in fifty-four races, including races in France (Grand Prix de Deauville) and England (Goodwood Cup). The mare who established a family that has produced, among others, The Derby winner Camelot can serve as a proof of the maturity of Hungarian breeding in the nineteenth century, but it is far from being a single proof. The far-sightedness of Hungarian breeders is attested also by their purchases of stallions. Did you know that two stallions through whom runs the paternal line towards the line dominant today were purchased into Hungary? The first of them was Bend Or’s sire Doncaster, The Derby winner bought by Hungarians in 1884 at fourteen, four years after Bend Or’s victory in The Derby. The second was Ben Or’s son Bona Vista, the great grandfather of the elementary stallion of history, Phalaris. The stallion was bought by the Kisbér Stud, which already had Doncaster, as late as 1897, i.e. at the time when his most famous son, the future 2,000 Guineas winner and, above all, the champion sire in England and the successor of the line, Cyllene, were just two years.   

Bona Vista, five time champion sire in Hungary, died in 1910, four years before the outbreak of the Great War. After two world wars and four decades under the communist government, nothing remained of the once famous breeding. The Hungarian breeders no longer buy English classic winners, they have to make do with much more modest budgets but they still look for the best blood available.

The case in point is the pedigree of the three-year-old Messerschmitt, the runner-up in the Magyar Derby and, more recently, the winner of the Magyar Kancadij, the Hungarian Oaks, this Sunday. The mare will command attention by being the historically first classic winner sired by a grandson of the legendary Montjeu. The filly was sired by the Irish-bred Category Five, a stallion from the second crop of Hurricane Run, the winner of the Irish Derby and Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe. The son of the U.S. mare Feather was bought as a yearling for mere 1,000 gns, but still made a huge career in Hungary. He won 4 of 17 races, including Szent István díj, the Hungarian listed. Even more valuable was his second place in the Hungarian Derby. His first crop, of which Messerschmitt is a member, has just three runners, the classic winner is his most successful progeny.

The dam Millennium, who won 3 of 31 races, is a daughter of the leading Hungarian stallion Satin Stone. Half-brother of the Middle Park Stakes winner Lujain was bought to Hungary as a four-year-old at the December Sale in Newmarket, where he was sold for 13,000 gns. Once second in maiden in England, he continued in his racing career in Hungary, where he won twice and placed in two of the local Graded races. At stud in Hungary he produced a number of successful horses, including the winner of the local Derby and Horse of the Year Frankly Dancing.

Even Messerschmitt’s granddam Miss Riviera Star had an English career, placing once in five races. She too, travelled to Hungary via the December Sale, where she was sold as a three-year-old for 5,000 gns to continue in her racing career in Hungary. The 15 local races yielded one victory and one second place. At stud she produced eight runners of whom six won, the best of them being the eight-time winner Miserend, the full brother to Millennium.

Messerschmitt’s pedigree reflects the current condition of breeding in Hungary, where there are just 160 mares, although at the beginning of the millennium their number exceeded 800. The times of Kincsem, Doncaster or Bona Vista are gone and unlikely to return.

Miloslav Vlček

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