The Dewhurst Stakes at Newmarket is regarded as the foremost two year old race of the British flat season.
First run in 1875, The Dewhurst roll call of future classic winners began with the Hungarian bred Kisber, who was trained by Joseph Hayhoe at Palace House Stables and went on to win the Derby the following year. Since then, an array of equine superstars from Ormonde, Bayardo, Hyperion, Crepello, Nijinksy, Mill Reef and Frankel have all triumphed at the home of racing. Recently the race has become a benefit for Aidan O’Brien’s Coolmore team, who have won three of the past four runnings, with Churchill taking the honours last year.
Stephen Wallis looks back at the short career of Tromos, the 1978 Dewhurst winner, and a colt Bruce Hobbs believed would provide him with his elusive first British classic success. Trained at the historic stables here at Palace House, Tromos was a big striding chestnut with four white socks and a white face, who was loved by his trainer Bruce Hobbs.
Bred and owned by Greek businessman George Cambanis, Tromos, (Terror in Greek) was foaled on 10 March 1976. His sire, Busted was the British racehorse of the Year in 1967 when, as a four year old, the colt won the Eclipse and the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes. Tromos was the third foal of Stilvi, also trained by Hobbs, who had won the Group 2 King George Stakes (6 furlongs) at Goodwood. The dam’s previous progeny Tachypous and Taxiarchos, other Hobbs’s stable stars had both shown promise. The former won the Middle Park Stakes and finished 2nd in the 2000 Guineas, while the latter ran 9th in the same classic.
Despite Tromos’s excellent pedigree early signs were not encouraging. “He was a very plain foal and yearling” said Hobbs. Indeed because of his stature they considered sending him to the sales but decided not to, and he was given time to mature. The flashy chestnut’s racecourse debut was consequently delayed until St Leger day, when he contested the Ribero Stakes over six furlongs. Ridden by stable jockey Geoff Lewis the colt ran a bit green to finish third of the eight runners, beaten two lengths and a neck.
Just twelve days later in the Clarence House Stakes over the same distance at Ascot, Tromos registered his first win. He left the gate, as Hobbs remarked, like “a cork out of a bottle” and bowling along in front in the hands of his new jockey John ‘Kipper’ Lynch, the colt powered ten lengths clear of The Queen’s horse Milford.
The question now was could Hobbs’ exciting prospect transfer this performance against maidens into Group company in Newmarket’s Dewhurst Stakes at the end of October? The betting was headed by the Henry Cecil trained RB Chesne (a son of Brigadier Gerard) winner of all his three starts, the latest in Doncaster’s Group 2 Champagne Stakes. More Light was sent off at 5/2 while Tromos was 3rd favourite at 11/4. Amongst the other three runners was the Irish horse Miami Springs running in the familiar green and blue silks of Robert Sangster with the maestro Lester Piggott on top. The anticipated re-match between the top two in the market never materialised with RB Chesne beaten at half way. Meanwhile, Hobbs’ new star turned the race in to a procession and, dominating from the start, made all to win by a comfortable three lengths with More Light 2nd.
Tromos had stamped his complete authority on the 1978 two year old scene and he was immediately made a strong favourite for the 2000 Guineas. After the race Bruce Hobbs stated “Tromos has got all the speed of his mother, a wonderful temperament and gets the trip as well”. The Free Handicap vindicated those thoughts placing the colt at the summit with 9st 7Ibs, 5Ib ahead of his nearest rival Ela-Mana-Mou. Timeform were even more bullish as their rating of 134 placed Tromos on a par with the leading two year olds of the 70’s, better even than the likes of Mill Reef (133) and Brigadier Gerard (132). The Hobbs and Cambanis team looked like they had all the ingredients to bring classic glory to Palace House.
Sadly the 20 October 1978 was the zenith of Tromos’s short career. In what proved to be his only outing as a three year old he was beaten in a three runner Craven Stakes by Lyphards Wish. Held up more by Lynch to help him settle, Tromos made no impression on the Henry Cecil trained colt, Lyphards Wish, who leading from the outset ran away an easy two and a half length winner. The Dewhurst victor was not in good shape, the spark of 1978 had blown out and he missed both the 2000 Guineas and the Derby with a virus.
Later in the year George Cambanis sold the horse to Pillar Stud, Kentucky. The colt did race twice at Belmont Park in June 1980 without success and thereafter retired to stud. Unfortunately after two seasons as a stallion he died with colic from a twisted gut.
We would like to credit Thoroughbred Advertising Sandy Kilpatrick for the posed portrait photo, Alec Russell for the Dewhurst photo and Jockeypedia for the photo of Kipper Lynch.