The Dark Horse, Upset, who proudly struts in our logo and is the icon for our brand is truly a horse of a different color. But he is not the only one! When Upset was being “created” we wanted him to be unique and distinctive, like the Black Dog in Nantucket or the Crayfish in Louisiana. But his coloring is not impossible, though highly unlikely.
Born just a few years before the original Upset (who was a chestnut, by the way) a horse named The Tetrarch was described as “…looking as though someone had splashed him all over…”. The Tetrarch, like many uniquely colored horses, was disregarded by many because of his “lack of beauty”. He was described as “…elephant grey with big splotches of lime colour…” which are called chubari but have been renamed tetrarch spots.
Like many dark horses, The Tetrarch was overlooked many times, he sometimes even inspired fear among some with superstitions. Born in Kildare, Ireland on April 22, 1911 The Tetrarch went to auction where Atty Persse purchased him. He was so unruly only one apprentice was able to handle him, Dick McCormack. Dick broke the colt and gave him his early training. The only other person to ever rider The Tetrarch had was Steve Donoghue, an Irish jockey. Donoghue believed that The Tetrarch was on earth for the second time. He had “…experienced it all before… he only saw the tapes (starting gate) once before he ran and won at Newmarket…” That first race at Newmarket was in 1913. Others teased Donoghue calling The Tetrarch a “Rocking Horse” but he quickly became known as “The Spotted Wonder.”
The Tetrarch was the fastest two-year-old to run on an English racecourse in the early 1900s. The fans loved him; he was quickly a favorite in every race. He easily won all of his seven starts. He was expected to have an incredible three-year-old season. But a career ending injury put him into early retirement. He was sent to Thomastown Stud in Kilkenny for his first year of breeding and moved to Ballylinch Stud where he lived until he passed away in 1935.
Unlike his love for racing, The Tetrarch was uninterested in breeding. He only sired 130 foals in his entire stud career. During the early 1900s it would have been common for a stud to cover 40 or more mares a year now it is not unusual for studs to cover 200 mares. In 1919 The Tetrarch was the leading sire in Great Brittan and Ireland.
His most famous offspring was the filly, Mumtaz Mahal, known as “The Flying Filly”. Her bloodlines trace to great horses like Bold Ruler, Spectacular Bid, Seattle Slew, A.P. Indy, and Northern Dancer.
If you go to Ballylinch Stud today you will see many tributes to The Tetrarch. He had his own “box” (stable) with a Mosaic on the floor with his name. His walls are filled with Racing Plates of offspring. And there is a large grey stone with white “tetrarch” spots on the hill outside of the stables.
Like our Upset he was known for being a horse “… that walked grandly.” His Unique colors made him stand out from the other horses and his passion for racing made people fall in love with him.