Guest Column: The Sun Never Sets On The Empire

Guest Column: The Sun Never Sets On The Empire

8 April, 2013
– Lisa Barrett

Auroras Encore. Image: Google Images

Saturday saw the 166th running of one of the most famous hurdling races in the world, the Grand National at Aintree, England. The race was memorable for many reasons, firstly that, for the first time in over two years, no horses were killed during the running of the race, and secondly the shock win by 66-1 outsider, Auroras Encore, whose sire is the late stallion Second Empire.

Second Empire was owned by Manny and Mandy Testa of Midlands Thoroughbreds and based at Yellow Star Stud in KZN.

It was the first major win for the diminutive 11 year old gelding, whose only other major victory was a hurdles race during the 2008 Grand National season and a second in last year’s Scottish Grand National at Ayr. Sent off in a field of 40 horses including 11-2 favorite Seabass ridden by Kate Walsh, who was hoping to become the first lady jockey to win the Grand National, Auroras plodded his way around the testing Aintree course, before putting on the gas to take line honours in the 4 mile 3/12 furlong race (7200 metres).

Auroras sire Second Empire was a champion 2 and 3yo miler in Ireland and successfully crossed the sea to win the prestigious Grand Criterium at Longchamps (Gr.1) and the Prix De Chesnes (Gr.3). Thanks to these victories, he was rated 124 by Timeform when he was a three year old, and was the second highest rated 2yo in Europe. Sent to stud in Ireland in 2000, he shuttled to Australia later that year, and then to South Africa in 2004, where he stayed until his premature death in 2011. Second Empire hailed from racing royalty, his sire Fairy King was the full-brother to mighty Sadler’s Wells and was a son of the immortal Northern Dancer. Dam Welsh Love, was a moderately successful racehorse who was the daughter of the oddly-named Ela Mana Mou (means Come Here Mum in Greek), a champion and multiple Group One winning racehorse in England.

Tropical Empire at Yellow Star Stud. Image: Candiese Marnewick

From his relatively small books in South Africa, Second Empire has produced some brilliant horses; the brilliant Tropical Empire (MR 118), who went on to win the Drill Hall Stakes (Gr.2), the Betting World Stakes (Gr.2), the Byerley Turk Stakes (Gr.3) and Cup Trial (Gr.3) among others, securing winnings of over R1 million before retiring to stand where his late father died at Koos & Lorraine De Klerk’s Yellow Star Stud. Second Empire also produced the impressive East Cape Oaks (Listed) winner Miss Scaramanaga.

Even though he has largely been forgotten by the breeding and racing world, Second Empire has shown in dramatic and scintillating fashion that his legacy will never be forgotten. KZN breeding and racing is the fortunate beneficiary of this through his son Tropical Empire, who will carry the torch for his illustrious sire for many years to come.

Lisa Barrett
– Guest Writer

“Lisa Barrett”, her psuedonym, currently works at a stud farm in the KZN Midlands. She is absolutely and totally crazy about horses and every aspect of them. She is fascinated by every aspect of the racehorse business, especially pedigrees and would like to one day write a book on her favourite sire!

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