Polymelus (1902–1924) was a British Thoroughbred racehorse who was the leading sire of racehorses in Great Britain and Ireland for five years (1914, 1915, 1916, 1920, 1921). Among his most famous descendants are Secretariat and Northern Dancer. However, it was through his son Phalaris that he will forever be remembered. His great grandsire was Bend Or.

GrandsireBona Vista
DamMaid Marian
CountryUnited Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland
BreederRobert Crewe-Milnes, 1st Marquess of Crewe
OwnerEarl of Crewe
David Faber
Solomon Joel
Trainer1) John Porter
Mr. Baker
Charles Peck
Record31: 11–7–2
Major wins
Criterion Stakes (1904)
Richmond Stakes (1904)
Duke of York Stakes (1905)
Duke of York Handicap (1906)
Cambridgeshire Handicap (1906)
Champion Stakes (1906)
Princess of Wales's Stakes (1907)
Leading sire in Great Britain and Ireland
(1914, 1915, 1916, 1920, 1921)
Last updated on May 6, 2010


Polymelus was a bay horse bred by Lord Crewe. He was sired by Cyllene, an Ascot Gold Cup winner, who went on to become a highly successful stallion. In addition to Polymelus, he sired The Derby winners Cicero, Minoru, Tagalie and Lemberg and was champion sire in 1909 and 1910.

Polymelus's dam Maid Marian was a half-sister to the outstanding racemare La Fleche and later became an influential broodmare in her own right, being the foundation mare of Thoroughbred family 3-f. Her other descendants have included Big Red Mike, Mioland, Mont Tremblant, Pont l'Eveque, Right Royal and Saint Estephe.[2]

Racing careerEdit

Poymelus showed great promise as a two-year-old, winning both the Criterion Stakes and the Richmond Stakes.

As a three-year-old in 1905 he showed form over a wide variety of distances, winning the Duke of York Stakes over six furlong and finishing second in the St Leger.[3]

In 1906 Polymelus was offered for sale at Newmarket and bought for 4,200 Guineas by Solomon Joel.[4] The colt reached his peak later that year when he recorded victories in the Duke of York Handicap, Cambridgeshire Handicap and Champion Stakes. He added a win in the Princess of Wales's Stakes in 1907 before being retired to stud.

Stud recordEdit

Polymelus stood at stud at Solomon Joel's Maiden Erlegh Stud near Reading, Berkshire where he died in 1924. Among his progeny, Polymelus sired:[5]

Foaled Name Sex Major Wins/Achievements
1911 Black Jester Stallion St Leger Stakes (1914)
1912 Pommern Stallion English Triple Crown (1915)
1913 Fifinella Mare Epsom Oaks (1916), Epsom Derby (1916)
1913 Phalaris Stallion Leading sire in Great Britain and Ireland (1925, 1928), Leading broodmare sire in Great Britain and Ireland (1937, 1941, 1942)
1918 Humorist Stallion Epsom Derby (1921)
1920 Parth Stallion Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe (1923)

The skeleton of Polymelus is now on display in the entrance lobby of the University of Cambridge Museum of Zoology, where it is an example of the specialised adaptations to high-speed running.[6]


Pedigree of Polymelus (GB), bay stallion, 1902[1]
Cyllene (GB)
Bona Vista (GB)
Bend Or Doncaster
Rouge Rose
Vista Macaroni
Arcadia (GB)
Isonomy Sterling
Isola Bella
Distant Shore Hermit
Lands End
Maid Marian (GB)
Hampton (GB)
Lord Clifden Newminster
The Slave
Lady Langden Kettledrum
Quiver (GB)
Toxophilite Longbow
Young Melbourne mare Young Melbourne
Brown Bess (Family 3-f)[2]


  • Details on page 44 in Designing Speed in the Racehorse by Ken McLean (2005) ISBN 978-0-929346-80-9
  1. ^ a b "Polymelus pedigree". Equineline.
  2. ^ a b "Maid Marian – Family 3-f". Thoroughbred Bloodlines.
  3. ^ "Doncaster St Leger". The Star (Christchurch). 14 September 1905.
  4. ^ Mortimer, Roger; Onslow, Richard; Willett, Peter (1978). Biographical Encyclopedia of British Flat Racing. Macdonald and Jane’s. ISBN 0-354-08536-0.
  5. ^ "Phalaris". Thoroughbred Heritage.
  6. ^ "'Picture This #14′ Polymelus, Museum of Zoology". Cambridge University Museum of Zoology. 1 February 2012.