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Liver Chestnut filly, 1874.
By Cambuscan -Waternymph by Cotswold.
Darley Arabian Sire line:
Newminster Branch.

Family #4 - o.

Cambuscan Her sire, Cambuscan

Kincsem was the toast of five European nations during her illustrious racing career. She began life as an unprepossessing liver chestnut filly who went unsold on the grounds that she was too common looking. By the time of her retirement from racing, Kincsem was a European household name, winner of fifty-four races without a defeat, a stunning record which to this day marks her as one of the greatest horses that ever raced.

Kincsem, whose name in Hungarian means "my treasure," was bred in Hungary by Mr. Ernest de Blascovich. Kincsem was foaled in 1874 at the Hungarian National Stud in Kisber. Her owner was just a young man in his twenties, but had developed a passion for breeding thoroughbreds.

Kincsem's pedigree was substantially English. Her sire, Cambuscan (1861), was a son of Newminster and from a daughter of leading British sire Slane. Kincsem's dam was Waternymph (1860), a daughter of Cotswold, a grandson of Sir Hercules. Cambuscan was a brilliant two year old whose juvenile speed (he won the July Stakes) made him an even favorite with General Peel and Scottish Chief for the mid-winter betting on the Derby of 1864. He ran fourth to those two and the winner, Blair Athol; but did place in the other two classics that year, second to General Peel in the Two Thousand Guineas and third in the St. Leger, which was won by Blair Athol. As a stallion in England, Cambuscan got Two Thousand Guineas winner Camballo, the good juvenile Onslow, and Idalia, dam of five good sons in New Zealand -- Sir Modred, Cheviot, Betrayer, Idalium and July, several of which were later imported into California where they became good sires.

Around age twelve Cambuscan was purchased for 5500 guineas by the Hungarian Jockey Club and was sent to stand at the Hungarian National Stud. He was in Hungary for eight years, but got only 98 foals, which included a number of German and Hungarian classic winners, all of them fillies. In addition to Kincsem, he sired: Altona (1875, from Sophia Lawrence), Illona (1876, from Theresa), and Mereny (1877, from Mildred) all winners of the Preis der Diana (German Oaks), and all three also winners of the Magyar Kancadij, as were Gyongyvirag (1879) and Cambrian (1880). His daughter La Godonla (1878, from Lady Like) won the Grosser Preis von Baden over 2400 meters, and the filly Gamiari (1877) won the 1880 German Derby.

The Hungarian Jockey Club had also imported the sire of Waternymph. Cotswold, once called Tithonus, an indifferent performer whose best effort was a second place finish in the Royal Hunt Cup and some victories in minor races.

The Mermaid, dam of Waternymph and second dam of Kincsem, was a well-bred mare, being a daughter of Melbourne out of a daughter by Slane. Consequently, Kincsem was inbred 3 x 4 to Slane. The Mermaid won the minor King John Stakes at Egham as a two-year-old. At three, she was fifth to Mincepie in the Oaks. But daughters of Melbourne were valued as broodmares, and so, despite her limited talent as a runner, she had no trouble finding a home as a broodmare. She was purchased by Hungary's Prince Esterhazy, and for him, became a valuable producer. Waternymph was her first foal, and for the Prince, she won the Hungarian One Thousand Guineas. At four, Waternymph was purchased by de Blascovich, and she, too, performed admirably as a producer. Her first foal, the Ostreger daughter Harmat, went on to capture the Hungarian Oaks. Water Nymph's second foal was the common looking liver chestnut filly who would gain undying fame as Kincsem.

Mr. de Blascovich liked to sell his yearlings in private deals. He had a stud near Tapioszentmarton where the yearlings were kept until they sold. In 1875, de Blascovich possessed seven yearlings which he desired to sell as a group, asking £700 for the lot. Five of the yearlings were purchased by Baron Alex Orczy. Kincsem and another filly were excluded from the purchase, Baron Orczy having no desire to take them as he felt they were mediocre specimens.

De Blascovich decided to keep Kincsem and race her himself. He sent her to trainer Robert Hesp, a colorful character. Born an Englishman, he traveled to Hungary and became the huntsman for Prince Batthyany's hounds. This was the same Prince Batthyany who later bred St. Simon. Hesp later joined the Hungarian Secret Service and rose its leadership. Eventually, Hesp returned to a life with horses, first returning to his old position with Prince Batthyany's hounds, then taking up training in 1873.

Kincsem's Career

Hesp was no proponent of keeping his horses in cotton wool. They ran often, and Kincsem was no exception. Her career started in 1876, when as a two-year-old, she ran ten times in ten cities in three countries--Germany, Austria, and Hungary--and won each contest. Her season started on June 21 in Berlin and ended October 29 in Prague. Inbetween were victories in Hanover, Hamburg, Doberan, Frankfort, and Baden-Baden in Germany, the Hungarian cities of Sopron and Budapest, and Vienna in Austria.

Kincsem raced seventeen times at three, before fans in Hungary, Austria, Germany, and what is now Czechoslovakia. As the season progressed and her unbeaten skein lengthened, she attracted larger and larger crowds to each racecourse appearance. Emperor Franz Josef of Austria, a partisan of steeplechasing, became a tremendous fan, never missing an opportunity to see Kincsem perform. And after each victory, the Emperor would send for Kincsem's owner to personally congratulate him.

During Kincsem's three-year-old season, she captured several classic and semi-classic events. In Hungary, at Pozsony, she took the Two Thousand Guineas; at Budapest, she took the One Thousand Guineas and Oaks in the spring, and returned in the fall to capture the Autumn Oaks and the St. Leger. Kincsem captured the Austrian Derby and the Kaiserpreis (Emperor's Prize) in Vienna, and in Germany Kincsem took the Grosser Preis von Hanover and the Grosser Preis von Baden (3200 meters, by three lengths). Two of her seventeen victories that season were walk-overs. The closest her competition ever got to her at the finish of her races was just one length, and then she was not extended. More often than not, Kincsem won her races by great margins, as ten times she finished ten lengths clear of her nearest pursuer, and twice she distanced the rest of the field. The 2400 meter (12 furlong) Austrian Derby was one of the events in which the filly won by a distance.

Kincsem started her four-year-old campaign off in Vienna on April 22, 1878. To that time, she had been the winner of 27 races without a defeat, but any thoughts of her losing her form were unfounded, as she proceeded to win nine races over the next five weeks--twice in Vienna in the space of three days, once at Pozsony, three times at Budapest in the space of five days, then back to Vienna for another three victories in the space of four days, the last was the Staatspreis Eister Classe (3200 meters, by five lengths) at the end of May.

Kincsem was then given most of the summer off. De Blascovich and trainer Hesp had decided to send their remarkable filly to England for a run at the Goodwood Cup Then, if all went well, she would travel from England to France, for the Grand Prix de Deauville.

The Goodwood Cup was supposed to pit Kincsem against the English-trained, French-bred four-year-old Verneuil, recent winner of the Ascot Gold Cup. Unfortunately, Verneuil suffered an injury the day before the race and was withdrawn. This left Kincsem with an easy task, and she easily won the Goodwood Cup by two lengths.

Back across the English Channel at Deauville, France, a minor catastrophe occurred after the filly was unloaded from her ship. Kincsem had developed an intense fondness for a particular cat, which, along with a young lad named Frankie, traveled everywhere with her. On this particular occasion, the cat was unable to be located. The distraught filly refused to budge, calling incessantly for her cat. This went on for two hours. Finally, the truant feline heard her friend's neigh and came running. The cat jumped on Kincsem's back, and once reunited, horse and cat were loaded aboard the waiting train to take Kincsem to the racecourse.

Kincsem, in due course, took the Grand Prix de Deauville, but only by a half a length. The magnitude of her performances in England and France are illustrated by the timing of the races. The Goodwood race was held on August 1st, and the Deauville race just seventeen days later. But Kincsem was given no respite. Only three weeks after her race at Deauville, she was at Baden-Baden for another run at the Grosser Preis von Baden. Given her exhausting schedule, it may not be surprising that she was somewhat below her usual dominating form. Kincsem finished in a dead-heat for the win with Prince Giles the First. A run-off was necessary, which she won decisively.

Kincsem closed out her four-year-old season back home in Hungary, winning one race at Sopron, and winning one and walking over for another at Budapest. At the end of her four-year-old season, Kincsem had participated in 42 lifetime races, but Mr. de Blascovich and trainer Hesp were still not ready to pronounce her racing career over. She would be kept in training for yet another season.

Despite her grueling schedule, de Blascovich and Hesp took every care with their prize mare. Her grain and hay came from her owner's stud, and enough was always brought with her to last the duration of a particular trip. Anything different, and she refused to eat. Water from de Blascovich's stud was brought with her, as well. On one occasion, when her usual water ran out, Kincsem refused to drink any water for three days. A frantic search for water that she would drink ensued. Only after some water was brought from an old local well, which obviously had a similar taste to the water she was accustomed to, would she drink. This well became known as "Kincsem's well," and for many years a plaque on the well let visitors know the part it played in Kincsem's remarkable career. Newspapers of the day reveled in such anecdotes of Europe's racing heroine.

Her devoted owner developed a habit of greeting his beloved filly in the winner's enclosure with a small bouquet of flowers, which he would place in the headband of her bridle. So used to this ritual did Kincsem become, that when de Blascovich was tardy in getting to the winner's enclosure, the filly refused to let anyone unsaddle her until he arrived and placed the flowers in the customary spot in her headband. Frequently, the mare would graze before the start of a race. Upon victory, she knew when to pull herself up and would trot to the winner's enclosure of her own accord.

At age five, Kincsem faced the starter twelve times, the first time at Pozony on April, then in Budapest on May 4th, May 6th, May 8th. On May 18th and May 20th she swept two more races in Vienna. Later in the summer she won in Berlin and Frankfurt in Germany, notching her fiftieth victory in the latter city. On September 2nd, at Baden-Baden, Kincsem captured the Grosser Preis von Baden for the third consecutive year. Kincsem raced three more times that autumn, walking over for a stakes in Sopron, walking over for another race in Budapest, and ending her glorious career in the Hungarian Autumn Oaks, winning this event for the third straight time while carrying 28 pounds more than the rest of the field.

Kincsem as a Broodmare

On that note, Kincsem was ushered off to a well-deserved retirement, and to a more leisurely life as a successful broodmare. She was sent to her owner's stud near Tapioszentmarton. Kincsem produced only five living foals, three by Buccaneer and two by Doncaster. Both stallions were prominent race performers in their native England, Buccaneer capturing the July Stakes and Doncaster the Epsom Derby. Buccaneer sired two classic winners in England before his export, and became a leading sire in Germany and in Hungary. Doncaster had sired classic champions Bend Or and Farewell in England, and was exported to Hungary after Bend Or superseded him as the premier stallion at the Eaton Stud of his owner, the Duke of Westminster.

Kincsem's first foal was the Buccaneer filly BUDAGYÖNGE, born in 1882. Raced by Mr. de Blascovich, this filly tackled the males and beat them in taking the Deutsches Derby. As a broodmare, this daughter of Kincsem produced the multiple stakes-winning fillies Disco, by Floriform, and Viglany, by Bona Vista.

Kincsem's next foal was the Buccaneer filly OLLYAN-NINCS. Her victories included the Hungarian St. Leger. As a producer, Ollyan-Nincs founded an important family which captured classic events for many years.

Kincsem produced no foal in 1884, but in 1885, produced her first colt. Again by Buccaneer, this son, named TALPRA MAGYAR, was unraced, but proved a fairly decent stallion, his best offspring being the colt Tokio, winner, among other races, of the Austrian Derby, Grosser Preis von Baden, and the Hungarian St. Leger.

In 1886 came another colt, this one sired by Doncaster. Named KINCS-OR, he showed promise and was being pointed for a run in the Deutsches Derby when he suddenly died.

Kincsem's last foal was the Doncaster filly KINCS, foaled in 1887. Unraced, Kincs became an influential broodmare, her daughter Napfeny being a major stakes winner and in turn producing the good filly Miczi, winner of stakes in Hungary and Austria.

Kincsem suffered an attack of colic shortly after the birth of KINCS, and died on her thirteenth birthday, March 17, 1887. Despite her early death, her female line has thrived for generations. Descendants of Kincsem captured the Hungarian Two Thousand Guineas five times and also its Austrian counterpart five times. The Hungarian One Thousand Guineas was taken by Kincsem's descendants three times. Her descendants won Derbys in Hungary twice, in Austria three times, in Germany once, in Italy once, in Poland twice, and once in Romania. Five Hungarian St. Legers, as well as one Geman St. Leger and one French St. Leger (Prix Royal Oak), were also taken by descendants of Kincsem. Well after the middle of the century, Kincsem's family was still coming up with classic winners, an amazing feat given the fact that Hungarian breeding was ravaged by both world wars. In 1960, the German St. Leger was won by Wicht, who also had a stakes winning full brother named Waldcanter. They were descended from Kincsem's daughter Ollyan-Nincs.

When Kincsem passed away, not just a horse died, but an animal with a uniquely individual personality. During her storied racing career, Kincsem seemed to enjoy nothing better than to travel to her next destination, and when she caught sight of the vehicle to transport her, she would whinny with delight. She loved traveling by train, and as soon as her lad Frankie and her beloved cat were safely aboard with her, she was blissfully happy.

Kincsem adored Frankie and the feeling was mutual. There is an anecdote that one bitterly cold night the mare woke up to find Frankie curled up near her with no blanket. She pulled off her blanket and dropped it on Frankie, and from that night on, refused to have a blanket on at night, always dropping them on Frankie if one was placed upon her. Apparently, Frankie had no surname, and was known as just Frankie Kincsem. When he served in the military, Frankie used that name, and when he died, his headstone also bore that name.

Robert Hesp, her trainer, died just 39 days after his most famous charge. Kincsem's skeleton was put on display at the Hungarian Agricultural Museum in Budapest, where it can still be seen today.

--Liz Martiniak

KINCSEM, liver chestnut filly, 1874 - Family # 4 - o
ch. 1861
b. 1848
Touchstone Camel
Beeswing Dr. Syntax
mare by Ardrossan
The Arrow
b. 1850
SLANE Royal Oak
mare by Orville
Southdown Defence
Water Nymph
ch. 1860
b. 1853
Newcourt Sir Hercules
Aurora Pantaloon
The Mermaid
b. 1853
Melbourne Humphrey Clinker
mare by Cervantes
Seaweed SLANE

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