Encke (horse)

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Encke (15253095596) (2).jpg
Encke on 14 September 2014 for the Irish St. Leger
GrandsireMr. Prospector
Foaled24 February 2009
Died14 October 2014
CountryUnited Kingdom
BreederDarley Stud
OwnerGodolphin Racing
TrainerMahmood Al Zarooni
Charlie Appleby
Major wins
St Leger Stakes (2012)

Encke (24 February 2009 – 14 October 2014) was an American-bred, British-trained Thoroughbred racehorse, best known for winning the classic St Leger Stakes at Doncaster Racecourse on 15 September 2012 when he defeated the Triple Crown bid of Camelot. In spring of 2013 Encke was banned from racing after failing a drug test. He returned to racing in 2014 and was placed in three races including the Irish St Leger. He sustained a fatal injury in training in October 2014.


Encke, named after Encke's Comet,[1] was a bay horse with a narrow white stripe bred in Kentucky by the Darley Stud.[2] He was sired by Kingmambo, whose other progeny include the British Classic winners Russian Rhythm, King's Best, Henrythenavigator Virginia Waters and Rule of Law as well as major winners in Japan (El Condor Pasa), France (Divine Proportions) and the United States (Lemon Drop Kid).[3] Encke was the second foal of his dam, Shawanda, a top class racemare who won the Irish Oaks and the Prix Vermeille for her owner the Aga Khan in 2005.[4] At the end of her racing career she was bought by Sheikh Mohammed to become a broodmare for his Darley Stud.[5] Her first foal was Encke's full brother Genius Beast, who won the Sandown Classic Trial in 2011.[6] Encke raced in the colours of the Maktoum family's Godolphin Racing organisation and was trained by Mahmood Al Zarooni.[7]

Racing career[edit]

2011: two-year-old season[edit]

Encke began his racing career at the 2011 St Leger meeting at Doncaster where he finished second by half a length to Perennial in a one mile maiden race. On 1 October Encke started 8/13 favourite for a similar race at Newmarket. Ridden by Richard Hughes, he took the lead a furlong from the finish and pulled clear to win easily by four and a half lengths.[8] The colt's owners then paid a supplementary entry fee to run Encke in the Racing Post Trophy, but he was forced to miss the race through injury.[9]

2012: three-year-old season[edit]

On his three-year-old debut, Encke carried 126 pounds in a handicap race over ten furlongs at Sandown Park in July. Ridden for the first time by Mickael Barzalona he took the lead two furlongs from the finish and held on to win by half a length and a neck from Ginger Jack and Tropical Beat.[10] Later in the month, Encke was moved up in class for the Group Three Gordon Stakes at Goodwood Racecourse. The race developed into a protracted struggle between Encke and Noble Mission, who raced together throughout the final furlong before the latter won by a nose. A month later, Encke ran in the Great Voltigeur Stakes at York and finished third to Thought Worthy. According to Zarooni there were excuses for both defeats: he said that Encke had been unsuited by the course at Goodwood and the slow pace at York.[11]

At Doncaster on 15 September Encke started a 25/1 outsider in a nine runner field for the St Leger. The Irish colt Camelot started the 2/5 favourite to become the first British Triple Crown winner since Nijinsky after winning the 2000 Guineas and Epsom Derby. Barzalona restrained Encke in the early stages before moving up to dispute the lead in the straight. As Camelot's rider Joseph O'Brien was trying to obtain space for a clear run,[12] Barzalona sent the Encke into a clear lead approaching the final furlong and he held the challenge of Camelot to win by three quarters of a length.[13] After the race Zarooni, who was winning his second classic following the victory of Blue Bunting in the 2011 1000 Guineas admitted that he had not wanted to run the colt in the race, but had been persuaded to do so by Sheikh Mohammed.[7]

2013: four-year-old season[edit]

In May 2013 Encke was one of twenty-two of Al-Zarooni's horses to test positive for anabolic steroids in an out of competition test conducted by the British Horseracing Authority. The horse was banned from racing for six months.[14] The colt had previously passed drug tests before and after the St Leger and a BHA spokesman said that "we can be certain he was not under the benefits of substances" at the time of his classic victory.[15]

Charlie Appleby took over the training of most of the Zarooni-trained horses, including Encke.

2014: five-year-old season[edit]

Encke eventually returned to the racecourse on 1 August 2014, when he started the 6/1 third favourite for the Group Three Glorious Stakes at Goodwood. Ridden by William Buick, he took the lead in the straight but was overtaken and beaten one and a quarter lengths into second place by the favourite Pether's Moon. In September he was sent to Ireland for the Irish St Leger and finished third behind Brown Panther and Leading Light. On 4 October, Encke was again matched against Pether's Moon in the Cumberland Lodge Stakes at Ascot Racecourse. He led for most of the way but was overtaken in the straight and beaten into third place behind Pether's Moon and the Irish-trained Parish Hall. On the morning of 14 October, Encke was engaged in a routine training gallop when he sustained a serious injury to a hind leg. Complications ensued and the horse was euthanised on the same day. Appleby said that "Encke was a talented racehorse and will be sorely missed as he was one of the yard's favourites".


Pedigree of Encke (USA), bay colt, 2009[16]
Kingmambo (USA)
Mr. Prospector
Raise A Native Native Dancer
Raise You
Gold Digger Nashua
Nureyev Northern Dancer
Pasadoble Prove Out
Santa Quilla
Shawanda (IRE)
Grand Lodge Chief's Crown
La Papagena
Sinntara Lashkari
Darshaan Shirley Heights
Shamsana Nijinsky
Shanizadeh (Family: 22-d)


  1. ^ Horse Racing. "Dawn Approach and Encke set Godolphin up for a fabulous season's finale at the Melbourne Cup". Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 2012-10-14.
  2. ^ Schweitzer, Mary (2012-09-15). "No Crown for Camelot; Encke Stuns St. Leger". BloodHorse.com. Retrieved 2012-09-19.
  3. ^ "Kingmambo Stud Record". Bloodstock.racingpost.com. 2012-02-15. Retrieved 2012-08-05.
  4. ^ Horse Racing. "Shawanda impresses in Arc trial". Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 2012-09-19.
  5. ^ "Godolphin Buys Shawanda, Valixir from Aga Khan". BloodHorse.com. Retrieved 2012-09-19.
  6. ^ "Genius Beast". Racing Post. Retrieved 2012-09-15.
  7. ^ a b "Godolphin celebrates sixth St Leger success". BloodHorse.com. 2012-09-15. Retrieved 2012-09-19.
  8. ^ "Newmarket maiden race result". Racing Post. Retrieved 2012-09-15.
  9. ^ "QIPCO British Champions Series | Encke". Britishchampionsseries.com. Archived from the original on 2012-10-25. Retrieved 2012-09-19.
  10. ^ "Sandown handicap race result". Racing Post. Retrieved 2012-09-15.
  11. ^ "Encke going for Leger impact - Horse Racing News". Racing Post. Retrieved 2012-09-19.
  12. ^ Purnell, Gareth (2012-04-30). "Encke spoils the party to rob Camelot of the crown - Racing - Sport". The Independent. Retrieved 2012-09-19.
  13. ^ "Camelot denied Triple Crown by Encke in St Leger". BBC. Retrieved 2012-09-15.
  14. ^ "Godolphin doping: St Leger winner Encke among seven positive tests". BBC. 20 May 2013. Retrieved 2013-05-22.
  15. ^ Lysaght, Cornelius (21 May 2013). "Godolphin doping: St Leger winner Encke to retain trophies, says BHA". BBC. Retrieved 2013-05-22.
  16. ^ "Encke pedigree". equineline.com. 2012-05-08. Retrieved 2012-09-15.