Archive for May, 2024

The Running Rein Scandal

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The Running Rein Scandal

Villainy on the Turf was to reach a new peak in the Derby of 1844, when the apparent winner Running Rein, owned by Mr A. Wood, a respectable Epsom corn-chandler, was in reality a four-year-old named Maccabeus. In the past, although the occasional winner of the Derby had been under suspicion of being a year older, no one had been able to gather enough evidence to mount a successful challenge.

This plot began in September 1841, when an unscrupulous villain, Abraham Goodman Levi, known as Goodman of Foley Place, London, bought Maccabeus, “a bright bay, no white, black legs and good eyes,” as a yearling at Tattersalls Doncaster Sales. Maccabeus, foaled in April 1840 and bred by Sir Charles Ibbotson in Yorkshire, was by Gladiator out of a Capsicum mare, and held an entry in the 1843 Derby.

A month later, Harry Stebbings, a Yorkshire trainer, purchased for Goodman a colt foal by the Saddler out of Mab, for 28 guineas. Bred by Dr. Cobb of Malton, Running Rein was slightly built with black legs and feet and significantly a few white hairs on his head. Although born in May, he was noted as a “smart little fellow” and so entered in the Derby. Kept in Stebbings’ care until the following spring, he was then sent to Goodman’s stables at Langham Place, London. (Lord George Bentinck below).


In the autumn, Goodman sent three horses, including Maccabeus and Running Rein, to be broken in at the Epsom stables of William Smith. The intrigue went deeper when Goodman leased an Irish two-year-old named Goneaway to run as Maccabeus at Epsom in the spring. Later that year the colt was reported dead, but Goneaway had in fact returned to Ireland. Meanwhile at Epsom, the real Maccabeus, having a permanent scar on his leg, was matched by Running Rein, who after recently suffering a convenient accident, now gave both colt’s identical scars.  The enquiry, held at the Houghton Meeting two weeks later, hinged on whether the stable lad, present at the birth of Running Rein and with him until sold to Goodman, could identify the horse. The lad travelled down from Yorkshire the night before under close guard and was taken to the Stewards of the Jockey Club the next day. To the dismay of the objectors, he identified the horse without hesitation, since a switch had been skilfully perpetrated and the ‘impersonator’ spirited away. Goodman’s ploy seemed to have worked as Maccabeus was now recorded as Running Rein.
Tte winter joint-favourites for the Derby at 7-1 were William Crockford’s Ratan and John Day’s The Ugly Buck, while Goodman’s wagers had reduced the price of ‘Running Rein’ from 33-1 to 20-1. In view of his Derby bets, Goodman decided it would be prudent to sell Running Rein to Mr A.Wood, a corn merchant who supplied Smith’s yard. He hoped this would remove the attentions of both the Jockey Club and Lord George Bentinck.

On the Saturday before the Derby, a signed petition was given to the Epsom stewards requesting that Running Rein’s mouth be examined by a vet to determine his age. On the advice of Captain (later Admiral) Rous, the stewards allowed the horse to run, stating that if he won an inquiry would follow before any payment of stakes.

On Derby Day, The Ugly Buck, having won the Two Thousand Guineas, was a well supported favourite at 5-2. Ratan, winner of the New Stakes at Ascot and the Criterion Stakes at Newmarket was on 3-1, with Running Rein next in the market at 10-1 and Orlando on 20-1.  Goodman, present at the saddling of the runners, suddenly became very anxious, having realised Lord George Bentinck’s runner, Croton Oil, was out of the same dam as Maccabeus.

Bentinck stood a few yards off. Now so close to landing his coup, Goodman feared Bentinck would recognise Croton Oil and Maccabeus as half-brothers – but he didn’t.

Scheduled as the first race on the card and after two false starts the Derby got under way. The field, unseen from the grandstand until coming from behind the hill, saw Leander lead from Ratan, The Ugly Buck, Akbar and Voltri. Due to the hard ground, the leaders kicked up so much dust that jockeys and horses towards the rear of the field were partially blinded and choking in clouds of dust. At the mile post, Sam Mann took Running Rein up to join Leander, whose early pace had already distanced some of the runners.

At the top of the hill, tragedy awaited Leander, as Running Rein struck into his off hind leg sending him crashing down and shattering his leg above the fetlock. Running Rein, miraculously escaping damage, went further ahead in the run down to Tattenham Corner. Well clear entering the straight, he saw off the challenges of The Ugly Buck and Akbar, as Orlando, Ionian and Bay Momus now came into contention. At the distance, Colonel Peel’s Orlando and Ionian looked to be closing, but Running Rein held on to win by three-quarters of a length.

Running Rein

Goodman Levi’s joy was short lived, for within an hour Colonel Jonathan Peel (brother of Prime Minister Sir Robert Peel), supported by Bentinck, lodged an objection and then proceeded to take legal action against Mr A. Wood, the innocent owner of the winner.

To add to the turmoil, this was not the only villainous fraud in the race. The Litchwald brothers, later banned for life, had entered Leander knowing him to be six years old. Poor Leander was shot and buried, less his lower jaw, sawn off for the stewards to determine the age of the colt. Later that night, a party of trainers and jockeys conspired to dig up and remove the remainder of the horse’s head and the upper jaw to prevent any further investigations. Further villainy came to light when it was known that the favourite, The Ugly Buck, was pulled by his jockey, and the second favourite, Ratan, owned by the great gambler William Crockford, was both pulled and poisoned in an act of revenge.

Much confusion followed, before the civil case of Wood v Peel held at the Court of the Exchequer on 1 July, 1844 settled the matter. After hearing all the evidence, the Judge demanded they “produce the horse”. The plaintiff and his counsel, not able to comply, withdrew from the case, leaving Peel and Bentinck triumphant. Orlando was awarded the Derby, while Goodman and his cronies, who had stood to win £50,000, fled to France.


It should be noted as a gauge of public opinion, immediately after the Derby, odds of 2-1 were laid on Running Rein keeping the race. Forward six weeks to the end of the first day’s hearing and 10-1 was offered on Orlando – with no takers!

When the news reached Newmarket, such was the joy that all the church bells were rung and bands paraded in the streets. Finally, Lord George Bentinck was rewarded for his diligence by a testimonial, from which was founded the Bentinck Benevolent Fund for the needy dependants of trainers and jockeys.

While the whereabouts of Running Rein remained a mystery, Maccabeus raced in his own name as a five-year old, until exported to Russia for stallion duties.

Orlando, went to stud at Newmarket for a fee of only 10 guineas. He was an instant success, getting Teddington (1851 Derby) in his first crop and siring three winners of the Two Thousand Guineas: Fazzoletto (1856), Fitzroland (1858) and Diophantus (1861). He became Champion Sire in 1851, 1854 and 1858, and died in the ownership of Mr Charles Greville, at Hampton Court in December 1868.


The Race:

RUN on Wednesday, 22 May, 1844, over the last mile and a half of the Orbicular or. Cup Course at Epsom Downs. For three-year-olds; colts and geldings 8st 7lb, fillies 8st 2lb. 153 entries. Value to winner £4,300.

1st  COLONEL JONATHAN PEEL’s b.c. ORLANDO (Touchstone – Vulture)  Nat Flatman

2nd  COLONEL JONATHAN PEEL’s b.c. IONIAN (Ion – Malibran)  George Edwards

3rd  COLONEL GEORGE ANSON’s b.c. BAY MOMUS (Bay Middleton – Sister to Grey Momus)  Frank Butler

Also ran:

MR J. DAY’s b. c. The Ugly Buck (J. Day, Jun.); SIR G. HEATHCOTE’s ch.c. Akbar (J. Chapple); MR W. CROCKFORD’s ch.c. Ratan (S.Rogers); MR J. DAY’s br.c. Voltri (W. Day); MR J. BOWES’s b.c. T’Auld Squire (J. Holmes); SIR G. HEATHCOTE’s ch.c. Campunero (Perren); MR FORD’s b.c. Qui Tam (J. Robinson); MR J. OSBORNE’s ch.c. Mount Charles (Bumby); MR FORD’s ch.c. Phalaris (Whitehouse); LORD G. BENTINCK’s b.c. Croton Oil (W.Howlett); MR A.W. HILL’s b.c. Beaumont (G. Galloway); MR LICHTWALD’s b.c. Leander (Bell); MR GRATWICKE’s ch.c. Needful (W. Cotton); MR FORTH’s br.c. The Ashstead Pet (Boyce); MR HERBERT’s ch.c. (Elis – Delightful) (Sly); LORD GLASGOW’s b.c. (Velocipede – Amulet) (Hesseltine); MR GREGORY’s b.c. Loadstone (S. Darling); LORD WESTMINSTER’s bl.c. Lancet (S.Templeman); MR ST PAUL’s b.c. Telemachus (J. Marson); MR F. ONGLEY’s br.c. King of the Gipsies (Marlow); MR M. JONES’s br.g. British Tar (M. Jones); MR CUTHBERT’s b.c. Beaufront (J.Howlett); LORD MAIDSTONE’s b.c. Cockmaroo (Simpson); MR DIXON’s ch.c. Dick Thornton (Darling, Jun.); MR THORNHILL’s ch.c. Elemi (S. Chifney, Jun.); MR A.WOOD’s b.c. Running Rein (S. Mann), finished first but was later disqualified.

29 ran

Running Rein won by three-quarters of a length; nearly two lengths between Orlando and Ionian.

Winner bred by Owner and trained by Mr Cooper at Newmarket.

Betting: 5-2 The Ugly Buck; 3-1 Ratan; 10-1 Running Rein; 14-1 Leander; 15-1 Ionian; 20-1 Orlando, Akbar, Qui Tam and Bay Momus.

For more racing history see Michael’s Books for Sale.