Cuadra Duque de Toledo, the stud farm that Alfonso XIII baptized

In 1916 King Alfonso XIII decided to enter horse racing and for this he created the Cuadra Duque de Toledo. This noble title has never existed, because “Duke of Toledo” was the alias that Alfonso XIII used in his raids, a matter that did not prevent it from being one of the most important stud farms of its time and which has given its name to the current Duke of Toledo Memorial. Toledo, test that closes the season at the Hippodrome de la Zarzuela.

Within the history of national equestrian stable the Duke of Toledo well deserves a separate chapter. To begin with, it should be noted that the Duchy of Toledo does not exist in the list of Spanish noble titles, and this despite the fact that it even gives its name to the Duke of Toledo Memorial, one of the most traditional events in the national equestrian scene.

Then? The title of Duke of Toledo was the “war name” used by King Alfonso XIII in his amorous escapades. For this reason when in 1916 the monarch decided to create his own competition stud farm, it was considered appropriate to name it Cuadra Duque de Toledo.

Else no one in their right mind would have wanted to face the king’s horses, much less go ahead of them, something that the royal protocol strictly prohibited. With this, the competition could have been altered.

On the other hand, at that time Spain was an economically backward country, with great social differences and with numerous segments of the population living in poverty, so It did not seem very appropriate for a king to flaunt his wealth in a sport as elitist as horse racing at that time.

At the head of his equestrian project, Alfonso XIII placed the prestigious trainer Adolphe de Neuterwhich was the tasked with overseeing the acquisition of the first batch of thoroughbred horsesamong those who were Brabant, Roman, Bolivar and Menthe.

The first great triumph of the “real stable”, in a hard fight with the stud farm Conde de la Cimera-Martorell, took place in the Legamarejo Racecourse in Aranjuez (Madrid)facilities that were promoted by King Alfonso XIII himself, wishing to have a competition track near the capital and his palace.

Rubán, an equine diamond

But among all his horses the great equine diamond of the Cuadra Duque de Toledo was Rubánthe horse that in 1922 championed the best year for the stud farm.

Rubán the horse of the Cuadra Duque de Toledo

That same year Rubán would win the historic Alfonso XIII Prize at the Lasarte racecourse in San Sebastian, a prize that popularly began to be known as the Half Million. It was the first time that the economic amount of 500,000 pesetas was reached in a horse competition.

A year later, in 1923 and ridden by the American jockey Lucien Lyne, Rubán managed to win the Madrid Grand Prix. There is the curious fact that Lyne arrived in Spain in 1917 hired by King Alfonso XIII himself and that in our country he ended up marrying one of the daughters of Adolphe de Neuter.

the hour of exile

After Rubán’s successes, the star of the Cuadra Duque de Toledo slowly faded, until In April 1931, the proclamation of the Second Republic caused the exile of Alfonso XIII and his family and the end of the “royal stable”.

Many of the thoroughbred horses were sold and those that were not ended up at Lore Toki, an equine facility that was also owned by Alfonso XIII and that at the beginning of the forties was acquired by the State to turn it into a military stud farm.

Block baptized by Alfonso XIII

Memorial Duke of Toledo

The current Duke of Toledo Memorial was founded in 1930 under the name of Albano Prize or Autumn Grand Prize and would be from 1941, date of the death of Alfonso XIII, when this event was renamed the Duke of Toledo Memorial Grand Prix in honor of the monarch.

This is one of the stellar events of the equestrian autumn at the Zarzuela Hippodrome, given that it is the Grand Prix that closes the season. It runs over the distance of 2,400 meters and the winner is awarded 40,000 euros.

The existence of this Memorial is due to the fact that the “Duke of Toledo” was considered in his time the promoter of the Aranjuez and San Sebastian racecourses. The first horse to win the Duke of Toledo Memorial in 1941 was L’Astree.

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