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Selima* (GB) (b f 1745) by Godolphin Arabian - Shireborn 1739 by Hobgoblin - Sister to Bandy by Godolphin's Whitefoot - Leedes - Moonah Barb Mare. Family 21.

Due to the confusion surrounding Selima's pedigree she was originally thought to belong to Family 15. Selima was foaled more than 40 years before the issuance of the first English stud book in 1791, and was not included in it. She first appeared in the American Stud Book and based on that authority was then included in the fifth edition of volume 1 of the General Stud Book in 1891. However, Mr. C. M. Prior discovered her true pedigree whilst investigating Lord Godolphin's MS stud book. The correct version of her pedigree has never been published by any official source. The excerpts below, written by authoritative turf historians goes far to explain the sequence of events leading to this situation. It should, however, be noted that since then Mr. Fairfax Harrison in the course of his investigations discovered additional information about Selima and in consequence the dates of birth of some of her offspring have been revised. Mr. Harrison also found that one of Selima's notable descendants, Hanover, likely did not descend from her but instead from a native American family.

C. M. Prior

An excerpt from The Royal Studs of the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries, (1935) by C. M. Prior, explains the confusion surrounding Selima's pedigree.

"Owing to the fame acquired in America, both on the turf and at stud, by a Godolphin Arabian mare, named Selima, great efforts have long been made to identify her, and so far back as 1777 it was suggested that 'Selima might be identified with Lord Craven's anonymous filly of 1746, listed among the produce of the Large Hartley Mare.' This idea, however, was by no means universally accepted in America, and other suppositions were advanced, each having their adherents, and for many years the pedigree of this celebrated mare was a subject of contention.

In 1868, however, Mr. Bruce, the Editor of the American Stud-book, came round to the opinion that Selima could be none other than the daughter of the Large Hartley Mare, said to have been foaled in 1746, and without giving a hint that there had been any doubt about the identification of the mare in the past, entered her with this pedigree in the American Stud-book.

Misled by Mr. Bruce's authority, the Editor of the General Stud-book, when compiling the Revised Edition of 1891, copied the entry in the American Stud-book, and for the first time appended the name Selima for the foal the Large Hartley Mare purported to have had in 1746, adding the words "Sent to the United States of America' (sic.). As Selima was thus accepted for the General Stud-book it went far to settle the question of her pedigree, which had been so long in dispute.

The conclusion arrived at by Mr. Bruce was still by no means accepted without question in America, and Mr. Fairfax Harrison, whose knowledge of pedigrees is unsurpassed, and for whose researches into the past history of the thoroughbred horse the American Turf is so justly indebted, had never been satisfied with the evidence adduced for the breeding of Selima, and considered her entry in the Stud-books, both American and English, lacked authenticity.

Lord Godolphin's manuscripts have now, quite unexpectedly, proved the correctness of his surmises, and it is found that instead of Selima being out of the Large Hartley Mare, she was a daughter of the Hobgoblin mare, known in Lord Godolphin's stud as Shireborn, and that she was foaled in 1745, and not a year later, as stated in the erroneous pedigree in the revised G. S. B.

During the season of 1752, Selima was raced by her importer, Colonel Tasker, and was unbeaten. At its close she retired to the Belair Stud, and bred six foals for her owner. On the Colonel's Death she was acquired for the stud of Mr. John Tayloe, and produced four more foals before she died.

The mare is still remembered in America, for Mr. Fairfax Harrison records that:-

'Selima's memory has been kept green. In recognition of the persistence of her stock, twentieth century Maryland horseman have appropriately established the Selima Stakes; to be run annually at Laurel by two year old fillies, one mile. Supplementing a well-lined purse, the winning owner receives also, as a historical souvenir, a gold challenge cup, bearing the following inscription:

This cup and cover is presented by the Belair Stud (William Woodward, owner), in memory of Selima (by the Godolphin Arabian), imported to Belair in the reign of George the Second. Selima became the ancestress of Hanover, Foxhall, and many fine racehorses.'

To all interested in the thoroughbred race in America, it will be a matter of great satisfaction that Selima, and consequently the great Hanover, and also Foxhall, both of whom are directly descended from her, are now shewn to belong to such a distinguished family as that founded by the Moonah Barb mare.

This Barb mare is famous also in America, as the ancestress of Brown Prince, second to Chamant in the Two Thousand Guineas at Newmarket, and also of imp. Tranby, the hero of Osbaldeston's Match against Time, who was sent across the Atlantic in 1835, and whose grand-daughter Levity became one of the most famous foundation mares in the American Stud-book.

Selima, being thus derived from an entirely different tap-root to the large Hartley Mare, it follows that she belongs, not as has been hitherto supposed, to the No. 15 Family of the Bruce Lowe notation, but to No. 21, which is held in far greater estimation. Students of Bruce Lowe have often expressed surprise that a stallion of the rank of Hanover could have emanated from such a moderate family as No. 15, while conversely, the failure of Foxhall to make good at the stud has been attributed by them to this fact, though now it is seen to be without justification."

John Hervey
John Hervey, author of Racing in America 1665-1865, (1944) describes Selima's life and influence in America.

"In Selima we behold one of those majestic matriarchs whose greatness is monumental. She arrived here fifteen years before the Cub Mare and was in every way a greater one. She was the queen of the turf in her day, and when sent to the stud disseminated an influence through a large family of both sexes that makes the history of her descendants synonymous with that of the American turf and breed of horses. A statement that might seem extravagant were it not in broad terms the truth.

Her precise age and maternal pedigree, despite these things, were matters of uncertainty and dispute until but yesterday. At various times four different dams, all wrong, were assigned her by different authorities. Precisely when she arrived in Maryland, precisely how old she then was - these likewise were facts fruitful of misstatement. Not until 1933 did the late C. M. Prior, that indefatigable investigator of old English thoroughbred history, set them at rest. Having turned up the original manuscript stud books kept by Edward Coke, the man who brought the Godolphin Arabian into England from France, and by the Earl of Godolphin, to whom the horse passed after Coke's death and whose property he remained throughout the rest of his (the stallion's) life, Mr. Prior discovered in them the authentic entry of her foaling upon April 30, 1745; that her dam was the Shireborn Mare, by Hobgoblin and of the maternal family stemming from Queen Anne's Moonah Barb Mare; and that she was a bay 'with a Small Star & a Little of ye near hind Heell white.' The notation following: 'This Filly sold to Mr. Tasker into Maryland,' with the further statement that she was sent there in September, 1750, being plenary verification of her origin and ancestry.

Five years old when she reached Belair, Selima was then supposed to be with foal, but if so, no trace of her producing in 1751 has been found. In 1752, being then seven, she was placed in training and came out at Annapolis, in May, where she defeated Captain Lawrence Butler's English mare Creeping Kate for a purse of £40. Not long afterward William Byrd III of Westover, prince of the Virginia magnates, issued a challenge to race his English horse Tryal against anything that could be brought against him for 500 pistoles a side. Byrd, a young fellow of twenty-four, had inherited eight years before the enormous holdings of his father, William Byrd II (1674-1755). At the time he was in school in England and remained there until he attained his majority, during which interlude he became celebrated in the circles frequented by the jeunesse dorée for his prodigality; it being gossip that one evening in a West End club he lost £10,000 ($30,000) at a single sitting to H. R. H. the Royal Duke of Cumberland, later to be the breeder of both Eclipse and Herod. This passion for high play, which he was unable to suppress, eventually ruined him, while his Toryism during the Revolution, in which he refused to take part, completed his downfall from the magnificent position which he occupied. His challenge for Tryal illustrated his propensities. He had imported that horse from England in 1751, he had not been a success when raced there, in the spring of 1752 he was ten years old - yet Byrd aggressively challenged the world in his behalf. Not only did Colonel Tasker accept on behalf of Selima, but two Virginians also, Francis Thornton, of Society Hill, whose entry, a grey unnamed mare, has not been further identified; and John Tayloe II, of Mount Airy, who named his English mare Jenny Cameron and stallion Childers. The quintet met at Anderson's Race Ground, Gloucester, then one of the foremost in Virginia, on December 5, 1752, with the following result:

Match, for a stake of 2,500 pistoles (about $10,000); one four-mile heat.

Benjamin Tasker, Jr.'s b m Selima, 7, by The Godolphin Arabian-Shireborn Mare, by Hobgoblin 1
William Byrd III.'s ch h Tryal, 10, by The Bolton Looby 2
Francis Thornton's gr m 3
John Tayloe II.'s b m Jenny Cameron, 10, by Quiet Cuddy 4
John Tayloe II.'s b h Childers, 6, by Blaze 5

This race, in many ways the most important of the Colonial era, being for the largest sum (so far as known), the contestants owned by four of the most eminent breeders and sportsmen north and south of the Potomac, and marking the beginning of the great rivalry between them which subsequently prevailed, closed in a 'blaze of glory' the short turf career of Selima, she then being retired to the stud at Belair. There she remained until the death of Colonel Tasker in 1760, when at the dispersal sale of his horses she was bought by John Tayloe II and went into his Mount Airy stud, where she died in 1766, aged twenty-one. She produced six foals at Belair, and four more after going to Virginia. While the exact foaling dates of all the ten are not known, the following list is believed to be in essential details correct:

Produce of Selima

1754 bl c Ariel by Traveller
1755 - c Partner by Traveller
1757 - f (Leonidas' dam) by Traveller
1758 - f Stella by Othello
1759 b c Selim by Othello
1760 bl f Ebony by Othello
1761 - c Bellair I (Tayloe's) by Traveller
1762 bl c Spadille by Janus
1763 br c Little Juniper by Juniper
1765 bl f Black Selima by Fearnought

Like most other English mares of her era, Selima was mated only with English stallions and those the most celebrated. We have already noticed Traveller, Othello, Janus and Fearnought. Juniper, her remaining consort, was a son of Babraham, by the Godolphin Arabian, imported in 1761. He was a grand race horse in England, winning fourteen out of eighteen starts, second in the four he lost. He stood in Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania and his cross appears in many of their best pedigrees. Selima's foal by him was the nearest a blank of her entire brood - perhaps because of rather close inbreeding. Every one of the other nine was a celebrity. They may be calendared as follows:

(1) Ariel - had no turf career but was a very successful and popular sire and an ancestor of Lexington;

(2) Partner (Lightfoot's) - a high-class race horse and sire of Mark Anthony, Fitz-partner, Rockingham and many others famed upon the course and is the 'Old Partner' appearing in a host of pedigrees;

(3) Leonidas' dam - this mare was also the grandam of Washington's stallion Magnolia and a distinguished matriarch, from whom, in tail-female, many noted horses descend;

(4) Stella - dam of two famous daughters, Primrose and Thistle, brilliant performers, Primrose winning five races and was to have been sent to England to run for the Guineas but for the pre-Revolutionary troubles; Primrose also established a brood-mare line of enduring strength and is an ancestress of Lexington and many historic American horses;

(5) Selim - 'the terrible Selim,' greatest American racer of his day; bought as a yearling in 1760 for £183 sterling by Samuel Galloway, of Tulip Hill, near Annapolis and raced by him from the ages of four to thirteen years; never beaten until nine years old, and winner over many tracks, including the two great matches against True Briton, at Philadelphia, and Yorick at Chestertown, Md., later a popular sire in both Maryland and Virginia;

(6) Ebony - a fast and stout race mare and fertile brood mare, the dam of Figure, Black-and-all-Black, Chatham, etc., and ancestress of numerous great ones, among them, it is believed, being Timoleon, the sire of Boston and grandsire of Lexington;

(7) Tayloe's Bellair I, never raced and died young but a cross in several famous pedigrees;

(8) Spadille - bought and taken to the Southside and North Carolina by Willie Jones, where, true to his paternity, he became a celebrated quarter-horse and favorite sire of them;

(9) Black Selima - Selima's last foal, never trained, a superior brood mare, that when bred to Yorick produced Young Selima, the dam of the renowned Tayloe's Bellair II and his great sister Calypso.

From this extremely condensed résumé the influence of Selima can be seen to have been demonstrated from the first. With each succeeding generation it broadened, deepened and spread so widely as to suffuse the entire American breeding fabric. In her own lifetime she was already cited with an accent of finality as 'the best of the best either as a taproot or collateral cross.' Today her name occurs, often again and again, in the pedigrees of most American thoroughbreds not of exclusive foreign blood lately imported. The most famous of her descendants in the direct female line was Hanover. Almost equally illustrious was Foxhall.

In tribute to her Mr. Woodward has erected a bronze tablet at Belair; while in 1926 the Maryland State Fair, which operates Laurel Park, about half-a-dozen miles away, inaugurated the Selima Stakes, for two-year-old fillies, the richest annual event in America for female thoroughbreds, with a value of about $30,000."

The Bowie Branch Library, located near Selima's former paddocks, houses a collection of rare historical books on thoroughbreds in the Selima Room, named in her honour.


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