Kincsem: The One to beat
Kincsem, which translates to "My Precious" or "My Treasure" in Hungarian, is viewed as one of the best Thoroughbred racehorses of the 19th century, if not the very best out of all the competition. Having won 54 races out of 54 starts, Kincsem has the most wins out of any unbeaten horse in horse racing history, with the next closest being nearly 30 wins back of her record. Despite there not being any modern technology to capture Kincsem's races at the time, Julian Wilson, a horse racing commentator, listen her as being one of the top 100 racehorses of all-time. With the impact that she's had on horse racing history books and the entire country of Hungary, it's not hard to see why Kincsem is deserving of this honour.
Place of birth: Kisbér, Hungary
Date of birth and death: March 17, 1874 - March 16, 1887 (12 years old)
Owner: Ernő Blaskovich
Trainer: Robert Hesp
Dam: Water Nymph
Jockeys: Elijah Madden, Archie Wainwright, Tom Busby, Tom Osborne
Career earnings: 199,754.50 fl ($3.1 million USD in 2020)
Kincsem is most known for her undefeated record, having started in 54 races and winning every single one of them against both male and female horses. Throughout her four year career, she raced all over Europe, winning races in Germany, England and France. Kincsem's dominance catapulted her into national celebrity status in Hungary.
Part of what makes Kincsem's career even more impressive is her strength and fortitude. While some horses get longer periods of rest in between races, that was not always the case for Kincsem. From 1876 and 1878 at the start of her career, Kincsem had ran a total of 42 races. At one point, she won the Grand Prix de Deauville only 17 days after winning the Goodwood Cup.
Three weeks after the Grand Prix de Deauville, Kincsem found herself winning the Grosser Preis von Baden, however, in less dominating fashion due to the fact that she was running so many races in such a short period of time. Nevertheless, Kincsem would continue to collect win after win regardless of how gruelling her schedule became while, fortunately, never becoming sick or hurt.
Kincsem's record of most wins by an undefeated horse is approaching 150 years and it has not been close to being broken. The undefeated horse with the second most wins is Black Caviar (born in 2006) with 25 wins in 25 races.
Ernő Blaskovich, Kincsem's owner, had a special and unique bond with the horse. After every race, Blaskovich would meet her in the winner's circle and place a bouquet of flowers in her bridle. One could see how strong this bond was because Kincsem, allegedly, would not let anyone take off her saddle until Blaskovich would bring her the flowers.
After retiring from racing, Kincsem only had five foals, two of which became Classic winners while two of her daughters continued to breed a successful lineage. Kincsem's modern descendants include Polygamy and Camelot, two racehorses that went on to win English Classics.
A trip to Hungary would reveal how much of an impact she has on the country today. There are streets named after her in the cities where she was born, trained and died. Statues in her image have been erected around the country as well, with stables and museums renaming themselves in her honor as well.
Fans of Kincsem and horse racing in general are able to pay their respects to Kincsem by visiting the Hungarian Agricultural Museum in Budapest where her skeleton is still on display.