To make a long story short, we went on an ancestor search in Ireland and found a horse. Not as shocking as it may seem. One of our forebears may have trained The Tetrarch, celebrated hereabouts as “the greatest 2-year-old ever to race in England or Ireland.”
So here we sat, lifting a pint in the Tetrarch pub housed on Mount Juliet estate, now an elegant hostelry near Stoneyford. The Tetrarch's picture above the fireplace dominated the room as his gravestone dominates the entrance to Ballylinch stud farm next door.
As I perused the yellowed newspaper clippings framed on the wall, a kinship grew with a legendary Irish racer that last campaigned in 1913. Undefeated at Epsom and at Royal Ascot, he had his greatest run in the National Breeders Produce Stakes at Sandown.
A framed news story on the wall of the pub provided an account of the drama: “Fog surrounded the starting line that day, and those in the packed grandstand could not see The Tetrarch take a bump and fall to his knees at the start. The favorite was absent as the field thundered past the grandstand.
“Then out of the mist like a scene from a Wagnerian opera cannonballed an enormously powerful gray colt – running nearly a furlong behind the field in a 5-furlong race. Lifting jockey Steve Donoghue out of the saddle as he closed the gap with every powerful stride, The Tetrarch won by a neck.”
Sadly for the racing public, after three more victories an injury ended his career. He retired to Ballylinch. Eighty-four of his colts went on to win 281 races.
As early as the 18th century, quartermasters from every European army converged on Irish fairgrounds to buy chargers for elite cavalry units. Their journey would have put them in this very 40 miles of emerald pasture, rolling woodland and easy rivers. Built in 1757 by the first Earl of Carrick, Mount Juliet has evolved gracefully into a public accommodation with 32 suites in the mansion house and a golf course designed by Jack Nicklaus.