A legend was born 50 years ago

Florestan Roquepine

Cover from The Harness Horse, April 1971, with Roquepine and Florestan on the picture.   Courtesy by Dean A. Hoffman

Pedigree of Ready Cash with
a 4x4 line breeding to Florestan


Pedigree of Face Time Bourbon with a 5x5x4 line breeding to Florestan

Hunyady Winning List

Winning List of the Graf Kalman Hunyady Memorial
© Krieau Magazin


An article from a Vienna daily newspaper from September 21, 1971. 

The approximate translation of the caption: 


Florestan (pictured with trainer Krüger), the Hunyady starter with the world's best pedigree, is bringing a group of experts to Vienna for the first time. For Sunday horse specialists from Paris are announced in the Krieau (Vienna Racetrack): They want to watch the three-year-old to assess his chances for starts in France and Italy. At the age of four, Florestan is allowed to intervene in the millionaire race there. Trainer Gerhard Krüger, who has his stud farm and domicile near Rome, was hired by Florestan owner Henry Levesque to go to Vincennes (Paris) for the main season of this winter. One speaks of 2 million Shillings for Krüger.
(About 200,000 Euros / Dollars nowadays, note)

A touching article written by Murray Brown about Florestan and his owner Henry Levesque was recently published on www.harnessracingupdate.com, the Non Plus Ultra US racing news website. You can read the article here

What Brown did not mention, and what may not be so well known internationally, is the following story. After all the trappings about the nationality of Florestan (he was indeed American bred), it was a matter of presenting the three-year-old horse in the year 1974 in an international test in Europe. Florestan's trainer and driver, the German Gerhard Krüger, who worked in Italy, had good connections to Vienna and therefore selected Austria's most internationally renowned trotting race, the Graf Kalman Hunyady Memorial, named after the first president of the Vienna Trotting Association. This race, first run in 1898 (the complete list of winners can be found here), saw many of the greatest champions of the racetracks as winners before and after Florestan.

There was only one problem: the race was for 4 to 10 year old horses and Florestan was only 3 years old. So the rules were quickly changed for the guest star trotter and Florestan won the race from the first belt without ever having competed in a race before (he had been qualified for official tasks in Vienna a week earlier).

In his further racing career (Record 1: 15.0 – earnings 39,000 dollars) Florestan did not come close to his illustrious parents, but he left an eternal mark on the breed. 

And who could best be related to this, if not to Ready Cash, who, alongside Muscle Hill, is currently the world's best stallion. And the actually best racehorse worldwide, Face Time Bourbon? (Pedigrees right)

Florestan himself was about 58 percent American and 42 percent French blood. He brought important male offspring for the racetrack as well as for breeding such as Aristote, Baccarat du Pont, Diamant Gede, Erestan des Rondes, Gigaro, Mathusalem, Off Gy, Opus Dei, Passionant, Podosis, Pythagoras, Quito de Talonay, Robbespierre, Uranium de Tillard, Vittel or Vulcan du Chene.

But Florestan was undoubtedly more important as a damsire. There he brought millionaire trotters like Arnaqueur, Mara Bourbon, Meaulnes du Corta, Nouba du Saptel, Qualita Bourbon, but also stars like Axe des Sartes, Bassano, Capriccio, Jezabelle des Bois, Leda d'Occagnes, Prince d'Espace, Sam Bourbon, Tipouf or Valse Castellets, who could all win 500,000 euros or more.

Needless to say, many of his daughters also became excellent broodmares, and many of his sons became exceptional mother fathers.

The last crop of the great Florestan was born in 1995, he was 23 years old when he died. 



© Nikolaus Matzka 2014–2023