Armande: Allegretta To The Power Of Two?

Note: Click on horses in red to see their pedigrees with duplicated relatives highlighted

Sea The Stars
Sea The Stars, sire of Armande and grandson of Allegretta

Urban Sea’s career was crowned by her win at home in the 1993 Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe but she was very much a globe-trotter too, competing in big races in Germany, Canada, the USA, Hong Kong, Britain and Japan. But her travels surprisingly also took her to the provincial track of Le Lion-d’Angers in the west of France for a listed race just months before the biggest win of her career. It was worth her while, however, as it was a valuable race of its type and a good opportunity too; while Urban Sea had been placed at Group 1 level by then, she met the race conditions of never having won above Group 3 level.

When a fillies’ listed race was created at Le Lion-d’Angers in 2006, Urban Sea was the obvious candidate to lend her name to the new race as a reminder that a future Arc winner had once graced the course. A future Arc winner, but also an outstanding broodmare. Urban Sea died at the age of twenty in the spring of 2009, by which time her record at stud was beginning to outweigh her racing exploits. The 2001 Derby winner Galileo was the pick of her offspring at the time of her death, but in the months that followed, her 2009 three-year-old  Sea The Stars not only emulated Galileo by winning the Derby but also followed in his dam’s footsteps by winning the Arc.

That same year, back at Le Lion-d’Angers, the Prix Urban Sea had a very appropriate winner. Alpine Snow (by Verglas) was the first foal out of Urban Sea’s half-sister Altruiste. A daughter of Diesis, Altruiste never ran though had made headlines as a yearling in 2000 when sold at Deauville. As if being a half-sister to Urban Sea wasn’t enough, she was sold in the same year that her half-brother King’s Best won the 2000 Guineas, while she also had the selling point of being the final foal out of her dam Allegretta.

Bought for a partnership consisting of Baron Edouard de Rothschild and Lady O’Reilly, Altruiste’s nine million-franc price tag wasn’t a Deauville record. That had been set two years earlier by her relative Melikah, a daughter of Urban Sea who had the rare distinction of being a product of two Arc winners as her sire was Lammtarra. Melikah ran only four times but she too performed in timely fashion in the months before Altruiste’s sale, finishing third in the Oaks and second in the Irish Oaks for Godolphin.

Alpine Snow finished her brief racing career with third place in the Group 3 Prix Fille de l’Air at Toulouse. At stud, her first foal failed to win, while her second, Alpine Spirit (by Invincible Spirit) was successful in a maiden at Longchamp last year. Bigger things can be expected, however, of her third foal Armande if her impressive winning debut in a contest for unraced fillies at Saint-Cloud in April is anything to go by. (Armande is in the dark blue colours with the yellow cap at the back of the pack as we join the race at the home turn).

Armande’s pedigree is interesting as she is not only a great granddaughter of Allegretta but is also by Allegretta’s grandson Sea The Stars making her inbred 3×3 to that mare. If Armande does go on to make more of a name for herself, there will no doubt be plenty attributing her ability to this ‘double dose’ of Allegretta in her pedigree – whilst overlooking the fact that Sea The Stars is quite capable of siring good horses without ‘extra’ help from Allegretta, and that Allegretta is already the ancestress of numerous good horses which aren’t by one of her male descendants.

Armande is far from unique in being inbred to Allegretta given that the latter now features in the pedigrees of plenty of stallions which yields plenty of possible combinations. Besides her son King’s Best and grandsons Galileo and Sea The Stars, there’s also Galileo’s brother Black Sam Bellamy, other grandsons Anabaa Blue (winner of the Prix du Jockey Club) and Germany’s Tertullian, as well as great grandson Tamayuz. There are even examples of Sea The Stars being bred to Galileo mares resulting in inbreeding 2×3 to Urban Sea.

A winner of note is still to emerge from such matings in which Allegretta occurs in the background of two male lines of a pedigree. Armande is different in that she is a direct female-line descendant. Armande’s part-owner/breeder Lady O’Reilly has had success breeding a mare to a distantly-related male relative before. Her mare Primevere was a great granddaughter of the influential broodmare Grey Flight. Bred to Grey Flight’s grandson Sovereign Dancer, Primevere produced the Prix Jacques le Marois winner Priolo.

Allegretta, incidentally, from a family developed over decades at the Gestut Schlenderhan, is herself the product of a similar approach. Her fifth dam Aster is also the grandam of her grandsire the Deutsches St Leger winner Agio.

Priolo was inbred 3×4 to Grey Flight but finding good horses with the same dam recurring twice in the third generation (3×3) of their pedigrees isn’t easy. Here are a handful:

The Aga Khan-bred 1957 Belmont Stakes winner (and unlucky Kentucky Derby runner-up) Gallant Man features Mah Mahal twice, as grandam of his sire Migoli and as the dam of his dam’s sire Mahmoud.

The 2005 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner Stevie Wonderboy was by A P Indy’s son Stephen Got Even out of a Summer Squall mare, A P Indy and Summer Squall both being sons of Weekend Surprise.

Danehill is perhaps the most notable recent example of inbreeding 3×3 and a bit closer to the pattern in Armande’s pedigree given that (unlike the two just mentioned) his inbreeding involves his great grandam, Natalma, famous as the dam of Northern Dancer, himself sire of Danehill’s sire Danzig.

Closer still to Armande’s pedigree in bringing together a grandson and granddaughter of the same mare is the Marcel Boussac-bred mare Tourzima. Her sire and dam, Tourbillon and Djezima, were respectively out of the full sisters Durban and Heldifann, daughters of the Poule d’Essai des Pouliches winner Banshee. Direct descendants of Tourzima include the likes of Darshaan and Sinndar for the Aga Khan as well as Sea The Stars’ Oaks-winning daughter Taghrooda.

Boussac’s most noted racecourse success with inbreeding was his 1949 Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe winner Coronation whose sire Djebel and dam Esmeralda were both by Prix du Jockey Club winner Tourbillon.

[Image of Sea The Stars: S J Parrott]

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