Archive for the ‘Racing Blog Posts’ Category

Gladiateur – ‘The Avenger of Waterloo’

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In 1865, after Gladiateur became the first French horse to win the Derby, he was heralded in France as ‘The Avenger of Waterloo’.

Gladiateur was bred by his owner Comte Frederic de Lagrange, a son of one of Napoleon’s generals who had inherited a fortune from his father.

Although trodden on as a foal, causing an enlargement in one of the joints of his off-foreleg, Gladiateur’s real problem was navicular disease, which caused intermittent lameness throughout his racing career. He almost certainly inherited this from his dam Miss Gladiator, who was a cripple and could not be trained. His sire, however, was the talented French Triple Crown winner Monarque.

Trained at Newmarket by Tom Jennings, Gladiateur’s two-year-old campaign comprised three races there in October. He made a winning debut in the Clearwell Stakes, beating the useful Joker by a length, then three days later he ran a disappointing dead-heat for third in the Prendergast Stakes. Finally, he ran unplaced in the Criterion Stakes while suffering from a cough.

The following year he became increasingly lame and had to be blistered on both forelegs. However, the Two Thousand Guineas, run later than usual, allowed Jennings valuable time and despite the colt going to post only half-fit he managed to win in a desperate finish, beating Archimedes by a neck with Liddington a further neck away third.

Before the Derby, Gladiateur ran an amazing trial on the Limekilns over one and a half miles, giving Fille de l’Air, the previous year’s Oaks winner and successful in six races that season, 8lb and two other four-year-olds 35lb each. He beat them all with consummate ease.

After that, the Derby became a formality, and Gladiateur cut through a large field from the distance to win easily by two lengths.

Soon afterwards Gladiateur left for Paris where, amid scenes of national fervour, he won the Grand Prix de Paris over one mile, seven furlongs from Vertugadin and Tourmalet. On returning to England he won two races at Goodwood, one a walk-over, before suffering a further bout of lameness.

Although Gladiateur lined up the 8-13 favourite for the St Leger and appeared to win with ease, his great courage carried him through on three legs.

     Gladiateur’s Triple Crown

Three further victories, at Doncaster, Longchamp and Newmarket, preceded his final race of the year in the Cambridgeshire, in which he ran unplaced to Gardevisure trying to concede 52lb in a field of 36.

The following season Gladiateur’s legs were worse than ever but despite this, he went over to Paris to win the Grand Prix de l’Imperatrice over three miles one furlong, and a week later, Le Coupe over two miles. He then returned to England to win the Ascot Gold Cup by 40 lengths; for many years this was considered to be the finest performance ever seen on a racecourse.

Finally, Gladiateur revisited Paris to win the Grand Prix de l’Empereur over nearly four miles to beat his old rival Vertugadin easily by 3 lengths, the other two contenders having bolted at the start.

Henry Grimshaw (1841-1866), rode Gladiateur in all three races of his Triple Crown. Born in Lancashire, Henry was apprenticed to John Howe Osborne senior, therefter marrying one of his daughters. In 1859 he won the Cambridgeshire for the Osbourne stable on Red Eagle, carrying 5st 9lb. Short sighted from an early age he occasionally relied on fellow jockey’s telling him where he was in the race. Sadly, he was killed on 4 October, 1866, when his trap overturned in the dark when driving home to Newmarket.

Tom Jennings (1823-1900), trainer of Gladiateur, served his apprenticeship in Chantilly under the eye of his relative Thomas Carter. In 1843, as stable jockey to his elder brother, Henry Jennings, he won the Prix de Diane on Nativa. However, after a serious family disagreement, he packed his bags to train in Northern Italy. In 1851, he returned to France to train for Comte Frederic de Lagrange, and won the 1864 Oaks for him with Fille de l’Air. At Royal Ascot in 1878, he completed a unique treble by training Verneuil to win the Gold Cup, Gold Vase and Alexandra Plate. While in public life, he was instrumental in the building of Newmarket’s two hospitals and the local waterworks.

Gladiateur, clearly one of the all-time greats, retired to the Middle Park Stud at a fee of 100 guineas, but proved a disappointment and died of chronic navicular disease in January 1876.

Nevertheless, he remains the only horse to have won the Triple Crown and the Grand Prix de Paris, and is commemorated by a life-size bronze statute at Longchamp.

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

To see Michael’s interviews go to the foot of About Michael

The 3rd Earl of Egremont – forerunner of Goodwood

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The 3rd Earl of Egremont

George O’Brien Wyndham



A highly respected and immensely wealthy man, Lord Egremont was said to give away £20,000 a year to charitable causes.

He was an enthusiastic patron of art and the painter William Turner, lived for a while at his Sussex seat of Petworth House.

Although Lord Egremont had more than 40 children, the only legitimate one died in infancy and so he was succeeded in the earldom by his nephew George Wyndham, who became 4th Earl of Egremont.

Successful on the turf, he bred six Derby winners: Assassin (1782), Hannibal (1804), Cardinal Beaufort (1805), Election (1807), Lapdog (1806) and Spaniel (1831).

He also bred six winners of the Oaks: Nightshade (1788), Tag (1789), Hippolyta (1790), Platina (1795), Ephemera (1800), and Caroline (1820).

His final Classic winner was Spaniel, (see below), a bay colt by the 1810 Derby winner, Whalebone, out of a Daughter of Canopus.

REFERRED to as “the little Whalebone weed”, Spaniel was sold by Lord Egremont to Lord Lowther for £150 over the dinner table. He was a brother to Lord Egremont’s fifth Derby winner Lap-dog, but despite this promising pedigree he appeared to have few if any Classic pretensions after a two-year-old career involving four defeats in as many starts for trainer Joe Rogers.

Two days before the Derby, Spaniel won the Shirley Stakes over the Epsom Mile and it was decided that he should take his chance in the big race. He started at 50-1; the 4-6 favourite was Lord Jersey’s Riddlesworth, a well-bred colt who had won the Riddlesworth Stakes, the Two Thousand Guineas and the Newmarket Stakes.

At the distance Riddlesworth looked to have the race at his mercy. But under the vigorous driving of Wheatley, Spaniel joined Riddlesworth 50 yards from home and after a brief struggle won by three-quarters of a length.

Although Spaniel’s captivating performance was never repeated, when sold to Mr Meyrick, he picked up £50 plates at Haverfordwest, Carmarthen and Brecon. Spaniel did not race again until late-August 1832, where at Canterbury he finished badly lame and was put down.

Mysteriously, just how many of Egremont’s Classic winners were, as suggested, actually four-year-olds remains unknown. His trainer, Bird, confessed on his deathbed that he had twice won the Derby by slipping two-year-olds into the yearling paddocks. The secret well kept, Lord Egremont remained unaware of his trainer’s deception.

In his day, the Earl, although blunt and eccentric, was a popular and prominent figure in English society.

After the cessation of the Earl’s popular race meeting held in his Petworth Park, the 3rd Duke of Richmond began racing at Goodwood from 1801.


For more racing history see Michael’s Books for Sale

To see Michael’s interviews go to the foot of About Michael

Frederick Augustus, the Grand Old Duke of York (1763-1827)

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Frederick Augustus, the Grand Old Duke of York (1763-1827).

A highly controversial man of the turf and the second son of George III.

He bred and owned two Derby winners – Prince Leopold (1816) and Moses (1822), both ran in the name of his racing manager, Warwick Lake and were trained by William Butler.

Thomas Coleman in his “Recollections”, discribes an interesting scene following the 1822 Derby.

   “After the races, there was a prize-fight between a Jew named Moses and another, both regular fighting men. They fought in the bottom, near the old two-mile post, and the Duke of York was there on a splendid brown cob – such a beauty! About 15 hands high, clean shaped, and such power, with a beautiful head. The Duke (owner of Derby winner, also called Moses), was not so tall as his brother, George IV, but more corpulent – ran more to middle – appeared to enjoy the fight much, and as, round after round, those by the ring kept calling out,’ Well done, Moses! – go it again, Moses!’ he seemed to be pleased and enlivened at the sound of the word, cast up his head and gave a sort of puff with his mouth.”

However, as Commander-in-Chief of the army, his campaigns on the continent were strongly criticised and verged on disastrous. 

Unsuprisingly, he faired no better at the card table, where he lost his estate in the West Riding and his country house, Oatlands, in Weybridge, Surrey.

Ironically, the Duke is the only Bishop to have won the Derby, having been appointed to the Bishopric of Osnaburgh when only six months old.

In 1826, the Duke of York, knowing to be greatly in debt to a firm of London jewellers, leased to them his newly acquired mining rights of Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, and agreed to them setting-up the General Mining Association to operate the mines.

This in time would have cleared his debts and eventually he would have received some interest from the arrangement. But he died six months later and as a result, his stud and stable went under the hammer, with Moses, (below), who went on to win the Albany Stakes at Ascot and the Claret Stakes at Newmarket, sold to the Duke of Richmond for 1,100 guineas.

It is, however, from his military blunder in Flanders on the hill at Cassel, that the Duke is most remembered in the children’s rhyme – used by the author when bouncing each of his four young children, in turn, on his knee!


The grand old Duke of York,

He had 10,000 men.

He marched them up to the top of the hill

And he marched them down again.


And when they were up, they were up.

And when they were down, they were down.

And when they were only half way up,

They were neither up nor down.


For more racing history see Michael’s Books for Sale

To see Michael’s interviews go to the foot of About Michael


Soul Sister’s 2023 Betfred Oaks – Full Report

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  2023 Betfred Oaks

 RUN on Friday, 2 June 2023, as the Betfred Oaks, over the Derby Course of one mile and a half and 6 yards, Epsom Downs. For three-year-old fillies, 9st 2lb. Value to winner £311,025.

1st   SOUL SISTER  Frankie Dettori   11-4*

2nd  SAVETHELASTDANCE   Ryan  Moore    5-6 Fav*        1¾ lengths

3rd  CAERNARFON  Connor Beasley   40-1*     Head

Also ran: 4th Maman Joon (Kevin Stott) 50-1*; Bright Diamond (Clifford Lee) 50-1*; Heartache Tonight (Cristian Demuro) 28-1*; Eternal Hope (William Buick) 12-1* (tailed off); Sea Of Roses (Rob Hornby) 100-1* (tailed off); Red Riding Hood (Wayne Lordan) 40-1* (tailed off, last).

 * Rule 4: Running Lion was withdrawn. Price at time of withdrawal 5-1.

Rule 4 applies to all bets – deduction 15p in the Pound.

Commentary: Savethelastdance, an Aidan O’Brien, Galileo filly, headed the market at 5-6, having won the Cheshire Oaks by 22 lengths. Soul Sister, a daughter of Frankel, although well beaten in the Fred Darling, redeemed herself in the Musidora with a four lengths victory. As Dettori’s intended last ride in the race, she was well supported at 11-4. Caernarfon, fourth in the 1,000 Guineas, was on offer at 40-1. After the 11 runners were installed, Running Lion, third favourite, drawn 2 and ridden by Oisin Murphy, became upset in the stalls, backed out and after unseating Murphy, ran loose and was withdrawn.

To protect the ground inside the repositioned running rail for the following days Derby, an estimated 14 yards were added. Off and running, after two furlongs Sea Of Roses led the pack, followed by Bright Diamond, Heartache Tonight and Savethelastdance. Climbing up to the Hill, Sea Of Roses continued to lead from Heartache Tonight, with Ride Riding Hood and Savethelastdance close up. Soul Sister, having held a prominent position early, was now taken back by Dettori and settled in last place.

In the descent to Tattenham Corner, there was no change in the order until into the straight, where Soul Sister made rapid headway. Approaching the two furlong pole, Caernarfon, Savethelastdance and Soul Sister drew clear of the field to fight out the finish.

Soul Sister then asserted from the furlong pole, to win by 1¾ lengths, pursued by Savethelastdance, with Caernarfon, a head away third. Maman Joon finished fourth, heading a strung out field from a further 8½ lengths behind.

 9 ran. Time: 2 min 36.41 sec.

BRED and OWNED by Lady Bamford. TRAINED by John & Thady Gosden at Newmarket, Suffolk.

 There was much excitement in the winner’s enclosure after Frankie’s flying dismount. His long-time friend Lady Bamford, owner/breeder of the winner was hugged, kissed and then lifted up by an exuberant Dettori. Lady Bamford had previously owned and bred Sariska, the Oaks winner of 2009.

Soul Sister was Frankel’s 28th Group/Grade 1 success and his second Oaks winner, following Anapurna in 2019.

The winner, SOUL SISTER (b.f. 2008), had won 3 races from 4 starts: EBF Maiden Fillies Stakes, Doncaster, Tattersalls Musidora Stakes, York, Betfred Oaks, Epsom.

The sire, FRANKEL (b.c. 2008) ex KIND by DANEHILL, (unbeaten), won 14 races incl. Two Thousand Guineas Stakes, St James’s Palace Stakes, Sussex Stakes, (twice), Queen Anne Stakes, International Stakes, Champion Stakes. Sire of 6 British Classic winners since retiring to Judmonte’s Banstead Manor Stud in 2013: ANAPURNA , 2019 Oaks; LOGICIAN, 2019 St Leger, ADAYAR, 2021 Derby, HURRICANE LANE, 2021 St Leger, CHALDEAN 2023 , 2000 Guineas, and  SOUL SISTER, 2023 Oaks.

The dam, DREAM PEACE (b.f. 2008) by DANSILI, won 4 races from 18 starts: Prix De La Louviere , Deauville, Prix Nubienne and Prix Volterra, Saint-Cloud, Prix De La Nonette Shadwell, Deauville. Second in Diana Stakes (Gp 1), Saratoga,(twice). She has bred 5 winners of 11 races incl. Powerful Wings (b.g 2018) by Kingman, won Porsche Handicap, Ascot and Advancing Sports & Culture Handicap, Sha Tin.


Auguste Rodin’s 2023 Betfred Derby – Full Report

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2023 Betfred Derby

Run on Saturday, 3 June, 2023 as the Betfred Derby over the Derby Course of one mile and a half and 6 yards, Epsom Downs. For three-year-olds; entire colts 9st 2lb, fillies 8st 13lb. 299 entries. Value to winner £885,781.84

1st     AUGUSTE RODIN          Ryan Moore                     9-2

2nd    KING OF STEEL             Kevin Stott                     66-1      ½ length

3rd    WHITE BIRCH                Colin Keane                12-1      4¾ lengths

 Also ran: 4th Sprewell (Shane Foley) 14-1; The Foxes (Oisin Murphy) 7-1; Waipiro (Tom Marquand) 25-1: Artistic Star (Rob Hornby) 22-1; Adelaide River (Seamie Heffernan) 33-1; Dubai Mile (Daniel Muscutt) 25-1; Arrest (Frankie Dettori) 4-1Fav; San Antonio (Wayne Lordan) 18-1; Passenger (Richard Kingscote) 8-1; Dear My Friend (Andrea Atzeni) 100-1; Military Order (William Buick) 9-2 (tailed off, last).

For those attending the Betfred Derby this could well have been a difficult day. Firstly the race had been moved to 1.30 (as the second race), to accommodate T V coverage of the FA Cup Final at 3.00pm; there was also a rail strike with all the three stations that serve Epsom closed. Then the protest group, Animal Rising, threatened to send a thousand protesters to continually delay until eventually stopping the race being run. This caused a massive increase in security and police presence. Fortunately, Animal Rising’s protest turned out to be a damp squib, amounting to a peaceful protest on a nearby roundabout and, the one  man who got on the course when the Derby had started was quickly dealt with. Not surprisingly, all this affected the attendance, estimated at half of the previous year. Disappointingly, in a break from tradition, the race was not attended by either the King or Queen.

Now to the contenders: Arrest, an impressive winner of the Chester Vase, set to be Frankie Dettori’s final Derby ride went off favourite at 4-1. Military Order, winner of the Lingfield Derby Trial and a full brother to Derby winner Adayar, was on offer at 9-2, as was Auguste Rodin, winner of the Group 1Futurity at Doncaster, a badly beaten favourite in the 2,000 Guineas, now back to his best according to trainer Aidan O’Brien. Feature of the betting was these three horses continually interchanged as favourite throughout the day. The first three in York’s Dante Stakes all found each way support, the winner, The Foxes at 7-1, the second White Birch at 12-1 and the unlucky third, Passenger, supplemented for £85.000, at 8-1.

Fourteen runners went to post and the commentators “The’re Off”, was met with a cheer to rival Cheltenham. Leaving the stalls, The Foxes (drawn 3) stumbled, so causing White Birch and Dear My Friend, on his inside to lose ground. On settling down, Arrest, Adelaide River, Dubai Mile and Passenger took them along. After three furlongs, San Antonio joined Adelaide River to lead from Passenger and Arrest.

From the top of the hill down to Tattenham Corner the O’Brien pair established a two-length lead from Arrest, Passenger and Dubai Mile. Then, from three furlongs out, King Of Steel found a gap to chase the leaders. Soon after, Kevin Stott quickly sent King Of Steel into the lead, while Ryan Moore on Auguste Rodin, set off from the outside to follow, joining battle at the furlong pole.

After an exciting duel, Auguste Rodin forged ahead within the final hundred yards to win by half a length, the pair having pulled four and three-quarter lengths ahead of the staying on White Birch. Sprewell was fourth and The Foxes fifth.

This was Aidan O’Brien’s record ninth Derby winner and Mrs John (Sue) Magnier and Michael Tabor’s 10th in partnership. It was also Ryan Moore’s third Derby winner after Ruler Of The World (2013) and Workforce (2010).

The winner was led in by owners Michael Tabor (right) and Derrick Smith (left).

14 ran. Time 2min 33.88 sec

The winner was bred by Coolmore Stud, Ireland, owned by M Tabor & D Smith & Mrs J Magnier & Westerberg, and trained by A P O’Brien at Cashel, Co. Tipperary.


The winner, AUGUSTE RODIN, had won 4 races from 6 starts: Irish Stallion Farms EBF Maiden Stakes, Naas, KPMG Champions Juvenile Stakes, Leopardstown, Vertem Futurity Trophy Stakes, Doncaster, Betfred Derby, Epsom.

The sire, DEEP IMPACT (b.c. 2002), won 12 races (from 14 starts) incl. Hochi Hal Yayoi Sho Stakes & Satsuki Sho, Nakayama, Tokyo Yushun (Japanese Derby), Kikuka Sho (Japanese St Leger), Tenno Sho Spring & Takarazuka Kinen, Kyoto, Japan Cup, Tokyo, Arima Kinen, Nakayama. Sire of  SAXON WARRIOR (b.c. 2015), winner of the Qipco 2,000 Guineas, Newmarket and SNOWFALL (b.f. 2018), winner of the Cazoo Oaks, Epsom.

The dam, RHODODENDRON (b.f. 2014) by GALILEO ex HALFWAY TO HEAVEN, won 5 races from 19 starts, incl. Dubai Fillies Mile, Newmarket,  Prix de l’Opera Longines, Chantilly, Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes, Newbury. Second to ENABLE in the 2017 Investec Oaks, Epsom.   Auguste Rodin was her first foal.



To see Michael’s interviews go to the foot of About Michael




The diminishing Sire Lines of the Byerley Turk and the Godolphin Arabian

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The diminishing Sire Lines of the Byerley Turk and the Godolphin Arabian

Over the past 30 years I have heard many horselovers express their concern over the diminishing Sire Lines of the Byerley Turk and the Godolphin Arabian.

To put their concern in context: the last Champion Sire to descend in male lineage from the Byerley Turk (br.c. 1684), was when Tetratema headed the list in 1929; while the last Classic winner was Julio Mariner, when winning the 1978 St Leger.

The Byerley Turk (br.c. 1684)

Julio Mariner was 23 generations from the Byerley Turk, so his influence, if any would be minute.

Similarly, the last Champion Sire to descend from the Godolphin Arabian (b.c. 1724), was when Chamossaire headed the list in 1964; while the last Classic winner was when Mon Fils  won the 1973, 2,000 Guineas; Mon Fils being 16 generations from the Godolphin Arabian.

Incidentally, 50 years after the death of the Godolphin Arabian, everyone of the first 76 British Classic winners had a least one strain of him in their pedigree.

The Godolphin Arabian (b.c. 1724)

From this you can see the now near extinction of both Founding Fathers male lines. But, it is just in the male lines and although Herod showed great prepotency with the Highflyer and Woodpecker lines, like St Simon’s line (with 10 Classic winners) from the Darley Arabian, they eventually died out.

So what’s to be done?

No doubt some of the best horses of today have strains of both Founding Fathers if you go back far enough, but their influence at some stage was completely overtaken.

Through all this, it is ironic, that Eclipse was never a Champion Sire, yet near 97% of all Thoroughbreds racing today trace back  to him.

I think it fair to say that Sire Lines only continue due to the prepotency of the stallion – Cyllene (1909) to Mill Reef (1978) and Cyllene to Pitcairn (1980), both eight consecutive generations. And more recently the four generations of Northern Dancer (1970) to Frankel (2021).

Ultimately, the aim in breeding is to produce the best. At present we have the on going battle between Dubawi and the Galileo/Frankel offspring in healthy competition, plus a resurgence in breeding for longer distances.

The improvement in the Thoroughbred can be gauged by checking the record times on British racecourses in the annual Horses in Training, here it becomes obvious of the progression of record times.

I can understand people lamenting the diminishing number of sires going directly back in male line to both the Byerley Turk and the Godolphin Arabian, however,

I feel those tenuous lines have probably now played their part in the wonderful creation of the Thoroughbred.


Please note: The above layout was designed for mobile phones.

Epsom’s Derby winning jockeys – Charlie Elliott, Harry Wragg and Charlie Smirke

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            Epsom’s Derby winning jockeys – Charlie Elliott, Harry Wragg and Charlie Smirke


Charlie Elliott


After sharing the Jockeys’ Championship with Steve Donoghue in 1923, when still apprenticed to Jack Jarvis, he won the title outright the following year with 106 winners. Riding for Marcel Boussac in France for most of his career, he won the Prix du Jockey-Club four times. He also bagged 14 Classic races in England, including two Oaks winners – Brulette (1931) and Why Hurry (1943) and three Derbys, riding Call Boy, pictured above (1927), Bois Roussel (1938) and Nimbus (1949).

At Ascot in 1951, he rode Supreme Court to win the inaugural running of the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes (known that year as the Festival of Britain Stakes).

Elliott gave up race-riding in 1953 to train for Boussac in France, but in 1958, with Boussac’s empire in decline, he returned to Newmarket to train from Machell House until retiring in 1963.



Harry Wragg


Known as ‘the head waiter’ because of his late run riding tactics, he was born in Sheffield and apprenticed to Bob Colling at Bedford Lodge, Newmarket.

In a riding career spanning 27 years he rode the winners of 13 Classic races, including four winners of the Oaks – Rockfel (1938), Commotion (1941), Sun Stream (1945) and Steady Aim (1946). He also rode three Derby winners Felstead (1928), Blenheim (1930) and Watling Street (1942). In 1946, on his final day as a jockey at Manchester, he landed a 200-1 treble with Tiffin Bell, Aprolon and Las Vegas (November Handicap). He was Champion Jockey in 1941, the year Gordon Richards broke his leg, so dividing the latter’s run of 22 Championships. Training from Abington Place, Newmarket, Wragg was an innovator of timing gallops and racing horses abroad. He sent out five Classic winners, including Psidium to win the 1961 Derby at odds of 66-1. In 1983, his son Geoffrey, who had previously assisted him, trained Teenoso to win the Derby.



Charlie Smirke



One of the all-time great jockeys. Self assured to the point of cockiness, he was invariably at odds with his employers. Born in Lambeth, the son of a fishmonger, Smirke was apprenticed to Stanley Wootton at Epsom and, after showing great promise, was retained by the Aga Khan.

In 1928, he was warned off when appearing not to start the odds-on favourite in a 2-y-o Plate at Gatwick. However, he got his licence back in 1933, when the ‘culprit’, Welcome Gift, having been shipped to India, had acquired a reputation for refusing to start.

Classic victories followed on Windsor Lad (1934 Derby), Bahram (1935 St Leger) and Mahmoud, pictured above (1936 Derby), before he was called to Army service from 1941-1945. First serving as a bombardier in an anti-aircraft regiment, he transferred to become a driver and later took part in the invasion of Sicily.

After the war, his home destroyed by bombs, Smirke resumed riding in Ireland, first over hurdles and then, courtesy of a phenomenal sprinter – The Bug – he re-established himself as a top-flight jockey, adding to his Classic haul the Guineas winners My Babu (1948) and Palestine (1950), and the Derby winners Tulyar (1952) and Hard Ridden (1958).

Sir Gordon Richards, Fred Darling and John Arthur Dewar

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Sir Gordon Richards, Fred Darling and John Arthur Dewar

Above: Gordon, Fred Darling and Lord Dewar

Sir Gordon Richards (1904-1986)

Gordon was born at Donnington Wood, near Oakengates in Shropshire, as one of a family of 12 children, where his father was a coal miner. Gordon served his apprenticeship with Martin Hartigan at Foxhill and rode his first winner on Jimmy White’s Gay Lord at Leicester on 16 October, 1920. He was Champion Jockey for the first time in 1925 and, in 1933, made the front pages of every Daily newspaper when beating Fred Archer’s record of 146 winners in a season.

A modest, dedicated man of great integrity, Gordon Richards was the undisputed hero of those who followed racing for the first half of the 20th century, and his Derby victory on Pinza the most popular of that period. Lord Rosebery said of him, “The greatness of Gordon Richards lay not in his having won so many races but in his having lost so few that he ought to have won.”

In 1954, when leaving the paddock at Sandown, the filly Abergeldie reared up and fell over backwards on top of Richards, breaking his pelvis and dislocating four ribs. The following year, fully recovered, he trained from Beckhampton, later moving first to Ogbourne-Maizey and then to Whitsbury in Hampshire, with Scobie Breasley as stable jockey.

Gordon Richards was Champion Jockey 26 times and from 21,834 mounts rode 4,870 winners. His 14 Classic winners included, Rose of England (1930 Oaks), Sun Chariot (1942 Fillies’ Triple Crown), the brilliant Tudor Minstrel (1947 Two Thousand Guineas) and Pinza (1953 Derby).


Fred Darling               (1884-1953)

The son of the Beckhampton trainer, Samuel Darling, who trained Galtee More to win the Triple Crown in 1897. Fred, not having made the grade as a jockey, took to training a few horses for the actress Lilie Langtry at Kentford, near Newmarket, and won the 1908 Cesarewitch for her with the 4-y-o Yentoi. In 1909, he went to Germany to train for the Weinberg brothers, until, on the retirement of his father in 1913, he returned to take over the Beckhampton stable in Wiltshire. From there, with an instinctive understanding of his horses, he was Champion Trainer six times, sending out 19 Classic winners, including two war-time winners of the Oaks and seven Derby winners: Captain Cuttle (1922), Manna (1925), Coronach (1926), Cameronian (1931), Bois Roussel (1938), Pont l’Eveque (1940) and Owen Tudor (1941).

Notably, his three best horses were the unbeaten Hurry On (1916 St Leger), Sun Chariot (1942 fillies’ Triple Crown) and Tudor Minstrel, heralded in the Press as “the horse of the century”, after his eight-length victory in the 1947 Two Thousand Guineas.

His training method was to conserve the greater part of the horses energy for the racecourse. As a result, his horses always looked robust and carried a condition known as the ‘Beckhampton bloom.’ A martinet with his staff, both in the yard and on the gallops, he was described as a dapper little man with a tight thin-lipped mouth. Sadly, he made no friends and would regularly thwart his owner’s wishes and requests to see their horses in training – a situation they grew to accept.

He did, however, have a great admiration for Gordon Richards, his stable jockey for 16 years. Gordon said in his autobiography, “I don’t think Mr Darling ever understood friendship at all,” and admitted he could be “absolutely ruthless,” nevertheless, he said, “I unhesitatingly describe him as a genius. There has been no trainer like him, and there never will be another.”

In 1953, Darling, having bred Pinza, and now in failing health, was happy for him to go to his former head lad, Norman Birtie. Too weak to go to the Derby, he listened to the race on the radio, finally letting go, he died three days later.

Sir Gordon congratulated by the Queen after winning the Derby on PINZA in 1953


John Arthur Dewar (1891-1954)

On the death of his uncle, the 1st Baron Dewar in 1930, John Arthur Dewar inherited a large part of his great fortune made from the Dewar whisky distillery. John also inherited the Baron’s string of racehorses and his famous colours: ‘white, tartan cross back and front’. Following victories with Cameronian in the 1931 Two Thousand Guineas and Derby, he became known as ‘Lucky’ Dewar. Classic success continued with Commotion (1941 Oaks), Tudor Minstrel (1947 Two Thousand Guineas by eight lengths and top of the Timeform ratings until Sea-Bird in 1965), then finally with Festoon (1954 One Thousand Guineas).

Having served with the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders during the First World War, he later turned his attention to racing and breeding. Elected to the Jockey Club in 1941, he carried on from his uncle with Fred Darling as trainer until the latter’s retirement in 1947, whereupon he purchased the Beckhampton stables and brought in Noel Murless (later Sir Noel) as his trainer. After Murless moved to Newmarket in 1952, Dewar sent his string to Noel Cannon at Druids Lodge on Salisbury Plain. From there, Cannon trained Festoon to win her Guineas shortly before Dewar’s death. The dispersal sale of his bloodstock totalled a record 398,595 guineas, exceeding the previous 1925 record for Sir Edward Hulton’s bloodstock by more than 100,000 guineas.

John Arthur Dewar’s Tudor Minstrel (Sir Gordon up) return in triumph, after winning the Two Thousand Guineas



For more Racing History see Michael’s Books for Sale.





Significant Champion Sires of G.B. & ireland

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Imported as a four-year-old (near 15 hands). Owned by John Brewster-Darley of Buttercrambe, now called Alby Park, near York. Brewster-Darley’s brother, the agent of an English mercantile company in Aleppo and a local hunting club member, was able to purchase the colt for a very moderate sum before sending it to England as a present to John.

Both the sire and dam of the Darley Arabian belonged to the perfect Arabian strain of Managhi. The Champion Sire of 1722, the Darley Arabian’s progeny included the famous Flying Childers and his full brother Bartlet’s Childers.


MARSKE (br.c. 1750)

When Marske was a foal he was exchanged by his breeder John Hutton for a chestnut Arabian owned by William, Duke of Cumberland. The Duke later gave him the name Marske after a village in Yorkshire where the horse was bred. Marske won three races including the Jockey Club Plate, before standing at the Duke’s stud in Windsor Forest. The Champion Sire in 1775 and 1776, Marske also sired the famous Eclipse, who despite never being a Champion Sire 97% of all Thoroughbreds today trace back to him.


TOUCHSTONE (br.c. 1831)

A great stayer; won the St Leger, Ascot Gold Cup (twice) and the Doncaster Cup (twice).

Touchstone was bred by the 1st Marques of Westminster and was Champion Sire four times within the period 1842-1855. Such had been the vogue for inbreeding that Touchstone was the first Champion Sire with an outcrossed pedigree since Waxy in 1810.


ST SIMON (b.c. 1881)

At the turn of the century St Simon’s influence on Thoroughbred breeding was probably as great as any stallion’s before him, and by siring the winners of 17 Classic races between 1890 and 1900 he equalled a record that Stockwell had taken 13 years to complete.

St Simon was not entered in the Derby or St Leger as his dam, St Angela, was 16 when foaling him and had not produced anything of note up till then. However, St Simon won both the Ascot Gold Cup and the Goodwood Cup by 20 lengths and, was equally good over shorter distances. Matthew Dawson, trainer of the winners of 28 Classic races, stated: “I have trained only one good horse in my life – St Simon.”


 NEARCO (br.c. 1935)

Unbeaten in 14 starts, Nearco won from five furlongs to the 15-furlong Grand Prix de Paris at Longchamp, where he beat Canot and the Epsom Derby winner Bois Roussel. After which Nearco, bred, owed and trained by Federico Tesio in Italy, was purchased by Martin Benson for the then the huge amount of £60,000, to stand at Beech House Stud, Newmarket, from where he was Champion Sire in 1947 and 1948. Nearco sired two Derby winners Dante (1945) and Nimbus (1949) and two Champion Sires, Nasrullah and Mossborough.


 NORTHERN DANCER (b.c. 1961)

Northern Dancer was the first foal of Natalma and from the first crop of his sire Nearctic. Being a small late foal (27 May) from unproven parents, he was lead out unsold at a yearling auction ay $25,000. However, after winning seven out of nine races as a two-year-old, he was thought the best of his age in Canada, and the following year won a further seven races from nine starts including the Kentucky Derby in record time and the Preakness Stakes.

He initially stood in Canada at a fee of $10,000, but the success of his progeny on both sides of the Atlantic caused one nomination in 1985 to change hands at $1 million. Champion Sire in North America in 1971 and four times Champion Sire in Great Britain and Ireland in the period 1970-1984, Northern Dancer was the biggest single influence on Thoroughbred breeding in the 20th century.


 NIJINSKY (b.c. 1967)

Like his sire Northern Dancer, Nijinsky was bred in Ontario, Canada, by Edward P. Taylor.

On the advice of Vincent O’Brien, Charles Engelhard purchased Nijinsky at the Woodbine sale in Toronto for CAN$84,000 (a Canadian yearling record) in September 1968. Trained by O’Brien, Nijinsky won 11 races including the Triple Crown, Irish Sweeps Derby and King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes. He was Champion Sire in 1986 and sired three Derby winners – Golden Fleece (1982), Shahrastani (1986) and Lammtarra (1995).


 SADLER’S WELLS (b.c. 1981)

Bred by Swettenham Stud and Partners in U.S.A. Sadler’s Wells was a good looking, good moving, lengthy colt by Northern Dancer. Trained by Vincent O’Brien he won the Irish Two Thousand Guineas, the Coral-Eclipse Stakes and the Phoenix Champion Stakes. He was Champion Sire a record 14 times within 1990-2004, siring two Derby winners Galileo (2001) and High Chaparral (2002) and the Arc winner and Champion Sire, Montjeu.


 GALILEO (b.c. 1998)

The day after the 2001 Vodafone Derby the headlines of “Galileo the star turn” and “Galileo in orbit”, extolled the tale of his impressive victory over Golan, before a modern-day record attendance of 150,000. Bred by Mr David Tsui & Orpendale in Ireland, Galileo was by Sadler’s Wells out of the ‘Arc’ winner Urban Sea. He won six of his eight races including the Derby, the Irish Derby and the King George and Queen Elizabeth Stakes. The Champion Sire 12 times – 2008, 2010-2020 – he sired at Epsom five Derby winners and five Oaks winners.

His star pupil, however, was Frankel, unbeaten in 14 races and the Champion Sire in 2021.

Galileo died on 10 July 2021, after an injury to his near foreleg failed to heal after surgery.


 FRANKEL (b.c. 2008)

Foaled on 11 February 2008, Frankel is a bay colt by Galileo ex Kind by Danehill. He was owned by Khalid Abdullah, bred by Juddmonte Farms Ltd and trained by Henry Cecil at Newmarket. Unbeaten in 14 races, including the Two Thousand Guineas, Frankel was given the highest Timeform rating of 147 after his 11-length victory in the Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot, creating a new course record. At stud he was Champion Sire in 2021 and has to date sired a Derby winner – Adayar (2021), an Oaks winner –Anapurna (2019) and two St Leger winners – Logician (2019) and Hurricane Lane (2021).


GODOLPHIN ARABIAN (br/b. c 1724)

Foaled in the Yemen in 1724 (from Jilfan blood), exported via Syria to Tunis and given by the Bey of Tunis to the King of France. Later bought by the Englishman Edward Coke of Longford Hall, Derbyshire, who on his death in 1733, bequeathed his bloodstock to Roger Williams, the proprietor of the St James’s Coffee House in London, who  acting as a bloodstock agent  sold him to 2nd Earl of Godolphin; the horse, thereafter, was known as the Godolphin Arabian.

Registered first as an Arabian in the General Stud book of 1791, there is no record of him having ever raced; neither are there any details of his pedigree. However, at stud he was an outstanding success and was Champion Sire three times (1738, 1745 and 1747). His first get was Lath (b.c. 1732), one of the best horses of his time. Two years later he sired Cade (b.c. 1734), who went on to be Champion Sire five times. Both these colts were out of Roxana by Bald Galloway. The Godolphin Arabian died at Gog Magog, near Cambridge, in December 1753, aged 29 years. He was given a wake with cakes and ale, and solemnly buried under a gateway at the stable. A stone slab marked his gravesite, which still exists today, within the Wandlebury Ring.


 MATCHEM (b.c.1748)

Blessed with longevity and virility, Matchem exercised a great influence on the development of the Thoroughbred. Bred by John Holme of Carlisle, he was sold to William Fenwick of Bywell, Northumberland, before his racing career commenced. In all, he won eight races, including a famous match against Trajan for the Whip over Newmarket’s Beacon Course. During his stud career at Bywell he was Champion Sire three times from 1772 to 1774 and sired two Classic winners in his old age. His offspring won a total of 781 races.


 HEROD (b.c. 1858)

Also known as King Herod, he was bred by William, Duke of Cumberland at his stud in Windsor Forest. Herod won six races, including two matches against the Duke of Grafton’s Antinous over the Beacon Course at Newmarket, the second match at double the stake creating great interest when Antinous receiving  9lb, again started favourite. The weight, however, made no difference and Herod again won easily. Although inclined to break blood vessels, Herod did not pass on this trait to his sons Highflyer and Woodpecker and was Champion Sire eight times from 1777 to 1784 inclusive, his progeny winning 1042 races. As proof of his influence, more Classic winners and Champion Sires were inbred to Herod than any other horse.


 BYERLEY TURK (br.c. about 1684)

Thought to be an Arabian from all available portraits. Taken from the Turkish army at Buda in 1687 and obtained by Captain Byerley of County Durham, who rode him in the Battle of the Boyne in 1690. His notable offspring included Sir R. Mostyn’s Jigg, out of a daughter of Spanker; Jigg going on to sire Partner (ch.c. 1718), a four times Champion Sire between 1737 and 1743.


To see Michael’s Champion Sires Chart 1722-2021 click on the link below

The Champion Sires Chart 1722-2021

The Racing Post’s Q & A on Michael’s Champion Sires Chart

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The Racing Post’s Q & A on Michael’s Champion Sires Chart

From the Darley Arabian to Frankel to celebrate the 300 years of Champion Sires of Great Britain and Ireland, Michael Church, the racing author and historian, has published a signed and illustrated, limited edition lineage chart, showing the male descent of the 125 Champion Sires to the founding fathers.

To see Racing Post’s Q & A on the chart click on the link below.

Viewers on Mobiles use Landscape for an easier read

For full details of the Chart and how to buy it see Michael’s Books for Sale