This year has been a pretty good one for Stravinsky—Stravinsky the horse, that is. The 11-year-old stallion, son of the legendary Nureyev (take a second to properly categorize that nugget of information) now spends his days shuttling between stud farms in New Zealand and Australia, and the track success of his progeny has him currently ranked as the season’s 11th-most-valuable sire in Australo-Asian thoroughbred racing.
His European ranking—51st—reflects more quality than quantity, being based in large part on one horse, the aptly named Soldier’s Tale (other Stravinsky offspring include Korsakoff, Balmont, and Pulcinella). Back in June, Soldier’s Tale won the Golden Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot with a furious close in the final furlongs—which made for quite the storybook ending:
When [Soldier’s Tale] was 2, he was unable to race because he had bad knees. He managed to run two races as a 3-year-old and win one of them, but then broke a leg, requiring surgery and six screws. A year later, the horse came back to win two more races, but then had another fracture. Then there was the colic.
“We were within five minutes of putting him down, but he just showed such a will to live,” [trainer Jeremy] Noseda said. “I know it sounds sappy and all that, but he’s like a personal friend now. I come out and see him every night – I stick my head out of the door and call ‘Spam’ and he answers back.”
Yes, the horse’s nickname is “Spam,” which is so simultaneously inappropriate and endearing that it pretty much made my day.