A speed ball called Caspian Prince

It is very rare to witness any horse continuing with such verve for so long and to produce his best for an incredible succession of no less than eight different trainers



Of a certain vintage: Caspian Prince won a handicap during the Dubai World Cup Carnival in 2015. — ERA
Of a certain vintage: Caspian Prince won a handicap during the Dubai World Cup Carnival in 2015. — ERA

By Jacquie Doyle

Published: Sat 12 Mar 2022, 11:40 PM

Last updated: Sat 12 Mar 2022, 11:42 PM

Over recent years, the trend in the thoroughbred breeding industry has been to search for speed and, when it is found, add yet more speed. And so on it has gone, until our modern day racehorse has become all about speed, regardless of the ultimate cost to strength, durability and overall future of the species.

Speed equals money is the motto nowadays.

Yet, strangely, a study of Caspian Prince’s pedigree reveals a plethora of English and Irish Derby winners and is shot through with high class middle distance Group horses.

So did his dam, Crystal Gaze, a daughter of Rainbow Quest breed any Derby winners you may ask? No, she did not, despite the stringent efforts of Belinda Strudwick of Ballygallon Stud in beautiful County Kilkenny, Ireland. But she did produce nine individual winners, just none at middle distance, though her own daughter, Contrary (by Mark Of Esteem) give Hong Kong a top class competitor in Exultant (formerly known as Irishcorrespndent), who has won 10 Stakes races, five of which were Group 1s and around eight million pounds in total prize money, all in middle distance events! Finally, the pedigree ran as it was supposed to!

Meanwhile, Crystal Gaze had two of her own offspring sprinting to stardom. Both Caspian Prince and his sibling Spirit Quartz shone as sprinters and attained a not too shabby BHA Rating of 118 apiece.

It has been Caspian Prince for me who has been the brightest star, showing a remarkable toughness and resilience to continue racing with incredible enthusiasm for 10 years, and gaining his highest rating at the gentlemanly age of nine. It is very rare to witness any horse continuing with such verve for so long and to produce his best for an incredible succession of no less than eight different trainers. This in itself is an unusual occurrence. Each handler in their turn, did their best by him, and it is understandable looking at his pedigree that the first people to run him, Eion and Melissa O’Neil in France, began at distances in excess of a mile as a two-year-old, quickly reducing him to seven then five furlongs, resulting in him winning four times for them.

He appeared next in England, under the ownership of Stephen Louch (who he remained with his entire career) and under Tony Carroll’s care. Here, we started to see the signs of what was to come, a powerful, speed ball was developing as Caspian Prince began to mature and develop his strength, something that only time and nature will take care of. His two years with Tony gave them six wins and a first Epsom Dash.

Dean Ivory became the next lucky recipient of our intrepid racer and, over a one year period, enjoyed two wins and a second Epsom Dash.

He moved on to David Loughnane for just two months but produced the same number [2] of wins before heading off to Roger Fell for an eight-month and two-win stint.

Next came Tony Coyle, who was tasked with his welfare for almost a whole year and managed yet more trophies [3] to be exact.

Caspian Prince had a brief spell in Doha with Julia Brooke, then returned to the UK to his final working venue, that of the highly skilled Michael Appleby, where he remained until retirement and attained his best results including a third Epsom Dash and a stunning defeat of subsequent Group 1 winner Marsha, in the Group 2 Sapphire Stakes at the Curragh, having been headed and getting back up for the win — Caspian Prince’s career highlight and earning him that coveted Group Trophy.

The final visit to a winners circle came in June 2021 when, at age 12, he took his second Gosforth Cup on the sand of Newcastle, showing his trademark toughness over the sharp five furlongs.

We have loved watching him here in Dubai, it felt as though he came with a different rider and groom every year, and yet, each time stirred hearts with his cut and thrust style of competing. He only won one Meydan Carnival event, and he, naughtily wriggled his customary tongue tie off in the starting gates before it, but his 20 appearances and many placed finishes makes it feel more like 10.

Caspian Prince is now enjoying retirement in North Yorkshire and I hope we shall soon see him strutting his stuff more gently in ROR show Classes.


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