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Original Issue

A horse with flat feet who loved to watch birds was one of racing's greats

In the year 1933 a little chestnut horse named Hyperion, ridden by Tommy Weston and carrying the colors of the 17th Earl of Derby, won the race at Epsom that bears the name of that peer's ancestor and went on to become one of the turf's great stallions. In Hyperion (J. A. Allen, London £6 6s.) Racing Correspondent Clive Graham of the London Daily Express has provided an astonishing amount of information about this famous horse and his descendants.

Born on Good Friday 1930, Hyperion showed so little evidence of distinction that it seemed impossible he should ever become one of the supreme Thoroughbreds in the history of racing. "A little runt of a chestnut colt," he appeared to have every disadvantage. Malformed by modern standards, he had an extra pair of ribs (a throwback to his remote Arab ancestors) and his feet were "flattish, with dropped soles, and therefore vulnerable to bruising."

When, at 5 months old, he was sent to join other colts at Newmarket he was too small to reach the feeding trough, so a 3-foot-high wooden manger had to be specially built for him. Some months later he still measured only 14 hands 2 inches, the height of a teen-ager's pony. He loathed exercise. Once, when urged to hurry, he threw his rider and gave a look as though to say, "Don't take liberties with me, young man." Hyperion loved to watch birds fluttering above his head, and airplanes fascinated him.

It was at Doncaster that he first showed promise of his fantastic speed. He was fourth, and for the first time was described as a horse "to follow." After that, he ran in 13 races and won nine of them, worth £29,509.

Hyperion was sent to stud at the age of 4, and between then and his death in 1960 he sired a line responsible for the winners of more than 6,359 races in the U.K. alone. By the end of 1965 the mares sired by his male descendants, which included His Highness, Owen Tudor, Rockefella, Stardust and Tudor Minstrel, had won 2,676½ races. Out of 100 stakes winners belonging to Hyperion's male line in the U.S. in 1965, 68 were the tail-male responsibility of his three sons, Alibhai, Heliopolis and Khaled.

Through Alibhai and his son Your Host, Hyperion was the great-grandsire of Kelso—the world's richest racehorse—and the maternal grandsire of Citation, the turf's first million-dollar winner and a winner of the Triple Crown.