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Dulcie’s influence continues on

The nice run of recent form by Consensus (Postponed[USA]), highlighted by her win at Ellerslie on Melbourne Cup day in the Sofitel Stakes (Gr.3, 2000m) plus a solid second to boom galloper, Hasselhoof (Tavistock [NZ]), in the Rich Hill Mile (Gr.2, 1600m) is, perhaps, a reminder to never dismiss the bloodlines or descendants of the Stud Book's "Blue Hen" mares. Consensus is a perfect example as she descends from the great matron Dulcie (Duccio[ITY]).

During the sixties and seventies, Dulcie's immediate foals and descendants were among the most desirable at the annual New Zealand yearling sales. That demand was heightened when her son Balmerino (Trictrac[FR]) and grand-daughter Surround (Sovereign Edition[GB]) hogged Australasian racing headlines with their legendary performances in both hemispheres. They were foaled just a year apart: 1972 and 1973 respectively.

To suggest that Dulcie's fame should be centered on just these two champions would not only be remiss, it would also be an injustice because she was extremely successful as a producer even if Balmerino, or, one generation removed, Surround, had never existed.

Balmerino did exist, however, and was a huge success firstly as a racehorse and later as a sire. He won 22 times and included among his exploits two classics, the New Zealand Derby (Gr.1, 2400m) and New Zealand Two Thousand Guineas (Gr.1, 1600m), yet he is best remembered for his fast-closing second to dual Arc winner Alleged (USA) (Hoist The Flag [USA]) in the 1977 running of Longchamp's Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe (Gr.1, 2400m).

On his journey to Europe Balmerino stopped off in California and paid for his airfare by winning an Allowance race at Hollywood Park. During his Northern Hemisphere jaunt he also scored twice at Goodwood (the Clive Graham Stakes and the Valdoe Stakes) and finished second, both at Epsom in the Coronation Cup (Gr.1, 12f) behind Crow (FR) (Exbury [FR]) and at Sandown in the Eclipse Stakes (Gr.1, 10f) behind Gunner B (GB) (Royal Gunner [USA]). In Italy, at his next start after the Arc, Balmerino was first past the post in the Milan Gran Premio del Jockey Club (Gr.1, 2400m) but was relegated due to interference.

The experts at "Timeform" were clearly impressed with what Balmerino had achieved in his first European foray, rating his efforts with an excellent 133.

At stud, Balmerino sired more than 250 individual winners which included seven Group One winners out of a total of 30 stakes winners, a record that many New Zealand or Australian based non-shuttle sires would be proud to own.

Yet Dulcie was famous long before Balmerino or Surround. As early as 1958 (14 years before Balmerino), Dulcie produced Gay Filou to Le Filou (FR) and he won 13 times including Caulfield's Toorak Handicap (Gr.1, 8f). Four years later (1962) she again foaled to Le Filou, the result being the terrific stayer Fulmen whose stamina saw him win 17 races including the Brisbane Cup (Gr.1, 16f) as well as the Adelaide Cup (Gr.1, 16f).

Clearly, Le Filou clicked extremely well with Dulcie because in 1964 yet another high quality racer emerged, this being Fileur, whose 14 wins included nine at group two level and seven group one placings included seconds in the WS Cox Plate and the Melbourne Cup plus a third in the WS Cox Plate.

Le Filou maintained his great influence with this family via Micheline, who may not have enjoyed the success of her brothers but was no disgrace either by winning nine times including the Stratford Gold Cup and qualifying for black-type when finishing third in the Listed Avondale John Wells Handicap.

At stud, however, Micheline's record was superb, almost the equal of her mum's, producing the same number of stakes winners - four - including Purple Patch (Pakistan II [GB]), a prolific winner of 20 races, his best trophies being the George Main Stakes (Gr.1, 1600m) and the Rawson Stakes (Gr.1, 2000m). She also foaled Lord Hybrow (Trictrac) in 1981 (making him a three quarter blood brother to Balmerino) who scored 12 wins including the Doomben Cup (Gr.1, 2200m), the Brisbane Cup (Gr.1, 3200m) and more than $1.2 million. Two years prior to Lord Hybrow she foaled to Sovereign Edition the listed stakes winner Sovereign Parade.

Sovereign Edition, also sired her 1973 filly foal, and what a foal she turned out to be because the result was Surround.

Surround's race performances were such that many racegoers still talk about her amazing fighting qualities forty years later. She was the darling of Australia and showed a spirit that epitomizes the best of horse racing.

Surround's three Oaks wins (AJC, VRC and Queensland) against her own age and gender would normally be sufficient to ensure fame but it was her effortless three length cruise against all-comers in the 1976 WS Cox Plate (Gr.1, 2040m) that set her apart from your typical champion, the first filly in history to achieve such a performance. Bonecrusher (Pag Asa [AUS]) may have "raced into equine immortality" in the 1986 WS Cox Plate but Surround may have beaten him to it a decade earlier.

She hinted greatness when, at her previous start, she took on and beat the boys in the Caulfield Guineas (Gr.1, 1600m), beating another champion - Family Of Man (AUS) (Lots Of Man[USA]). The Caulfield Guineas and the Cox Plate were part of a ten-race winning sequence, ended with a second placing in the Caulfield Futurity Stakes (Gr.1, 1400m) after which she proceeded to Sydney and Brisbane to score, respectively, the AJC Oaks (Gr.1, 2400m) and Queensland Oaks (Gr.1, 2400m).

By the time she finished racing Surround had won left-handed, right-handed, in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane and had put together17 wins including five as a two-year-old. Included were five Group Ones and six at Group Two level. She raced hard and often in two and a half all-too-brief seasons and won the hearts of spectators wherever she went. She was as tough as nails and had a heart bigger than herself.

Dulcie's record as a producer (dam of four stakes winners and a daughter who also produced four stakes winners) could end there and she would have achieved more than 99.9% of blueblood matrons. The adage that "all good things will happen for those who are prepared to wait" was proven true when the industry finally recognised her deeds. At 23 years she was named 1976 New Zealand Broodmare of the Year. The very next year, her daughter Micheline, as an 18 year-old mare, duplicated the honour. Surely a golden time for the family, but Dulcie was far from finished.

Enter Beau Zam (by Zamazaan [FR]), whose dam Belle Cherie was by Sovereign Edition from Mia Bella (a Le Filou sister to Micheline) which makes Belle Cherie a blood-sister to Surround. Beau Zam, like Surround, won five Group Ones. His three-year-old season was outstanding in taking out the Spring Champion Stakes (Gr.1, 2000m) followed by a second in the Caulfield Cup (Gr.1, 2400m) in the spring.

In the autumn he strung together a sequence of five high class victories - the WFA Segenhoe Stakes (Gr.1, 2000m), the WFA Tancred Stakes (Gr.1, 2400m) and against his peers in the Australian Derby (Gr.1, 2400m). He rounded out the season by beating the mighty Bonecrusher in front of Her Majesty The Queen in the one-off Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Canberra. Princess Anne rode Beau Zam in trackwork leading up to that memorable royal win.

Belle Cherie maintained something of a family tradition when she too was honoured, with the 1988 New Zealand Broodmare of the Year Award.

Consensus descends directly from Surround (her fourth dam) and the family via Surround's branch has not been as prolific as might have been hoped, although expectations are usually quite high when it involves champions of the calibre of Surround.

Seven of Surround's eight foals raced and all were winners but it was her last foal, Bowral, a son of Danztore (USA) that provided Surround with her only stakes winner. Two of her foals, Watching (Marceau[AUS]) and Frame (Sir Tristram [IRE]) were stakes placed.

Watching placed at Group Two level and later became the grandam of the Group Three winners Tantalic (Rhythm [USA]) and Za Magic (Magic Albert [AUS]). At the time of Frame's brief career, his connections believed him to be quite special but he died at two before his potential could be realised.

Consensus's link to Surround is via her winning dam Kate Cross (Cape Cross [IRE]), her Adelaide winning grandam Restrain (Centaine[AUS]) and her Melbourne winning third dam Coralle, Surround's 1983 foal by Sir Tristram. Coralle also produced Azarashi (Danzatore), the dam of Listed stakes winner and three times Group One placed Silver Baron (Defensive Play[USA]).

As one of a total of 43 stakes winners that descend from "Blue Hen" Dulcie, Consensus hails from a magnificent line and now that she has sealed her worth as quality racemare, her future as a potential broodmare star is looking very bright indeed.


- Lloyd Jackson