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BAHRAM’S TRIPLE CROWN

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BAHRAM’S TRIPLE CROWN

Bahram’s Derby victory in 1935 entitled him to become “Derby Winner of the Decade”, however, the stories surrounding his Triple Crown victories have largely been forgotten. This brief account, therefore, aims to bring to life the achievement of one of the greatest horses of the 20th century.

Trained by Frank Butters at Newmarket, Bahram is only the second horse to win the Triple Crown and remain unbeaten – Ormonde being the first in 1886. He was also the second of five Derby winners owned by the Aga Khan III, who, at the time, said he would never sell his Triple Crown winner, but he did, and despite criticism from British breeders, he also sold the other four – Blenheim, Mahmoud, My Love and Tulyar.

A handsome, well proportioned, bay colt of 16.2 hands, with a 69 inch girth, Bahram, had an impressive pedigree – his sire, Blandford was to be Champion Sire three times, siring four Derby winners in seven years, while his dam, Friar’s Daughter, had previously produced Dastur (by Solario), second in each leg of the 1932 Triple Crown and winner of the Irish Derby.

Bahram’s first race was the National Breeders’ Produce Stakes at Sandown, for which his stable companion Theft was preferred. The pair dominated the finish, Bahram winning by a neck at odds of 20-1. He then ran up victories in the Rous Memorial Stakes at Goodwood, the Gimcrack Stakes at York, the Boscawen (Post) Stakes and the Middle Park Stakes at Newmarket, starting odds-on each time.

At the end of the season he was the top-rated two-year-old in the Free Handicap with 9st 7lb, one pound higher than Hairan and Theft – all three colts were owned by the Aga Khan.

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THE TWO THOUSAND GUINEAS

Wednesday, 1 May 1935  Two Thousand Guineas Stakes  Newmarket
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3-year-olds, colts and fillies.

Rowley Mile.

1 Bahram               9st 0lb F Fox               7-2

2 Theft                    9st 0lb G Richards      11-2

3 Sea Bequest         9st 0lb E Smith         100-7

Won by 1½ lengths, 2 lengths. 16 ran.

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After receiving a slight setback, Bahram made his reappearance in the Two Thousand Guineas, where questions of  his fitness caused him to drift in the betting from 5-2 to 7-2. This in the face of strong support for Lord Derby’s Richmond Stakes winner Bobsleigh, whose impressive home gallops sent his price from 100-30 to 7-4 favourite.

Entering the Dip, Theft held a narrow lead from Bahram, with Sea Bequest, Apollo and Bobsleigh close behind. On meeting the rising ground, Bahram quickly took the measure of Theft and went away to beat him by one and a half lengths with Sea Bequest a further two lengths away third.

 

THE DERBY

Wednesday, 5 June 1935     Derby Stakes    Epsom Downs

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3-year-olds, colts and fillies.

1 mile 4 furlongs 5 yards.

1 Bahram                    9st 0lb F Fox      5-4 Fav

2 Robin Goodfellow     9st 0lb T Weston   50-1

3 Field Trial                   9st 0lb R Dick         9-1

Won by 2 lengths, ½ length. 16 ran.

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BAHRAM walking along Epsom High Street to the Derby.

After heavy rain in the morning, the sun came out to restore the going to good. Sixteen runners went to post, with Bahram clear favourite at 5-4. The Aga Khan, also ran both Theft, and the second favourite, Hairan. All in vein, however, as it was to be Bahram’s day.

Approaching the top of the hill, First Son took them along from Pry, Sea Bequest and Field Trial. Behind them, Theft, ridden by Harry Wragg, was well placed on the rails, however, Freddie Fox on Bahram was trapped in a pocket behind him. Feeling the frustration, Fox shouted to Wragg, on the Aga’s third string, to pull over; Wragg duly obliged and Bahram shot through the gap.

Descending to Tattenham Corner, Field Trial forged ahead of First Son and Pry, with Bahram in pursuit. The order was maintained into the straight, but by the two-furlong marker, Fox had Bahram poised just behind Field Trial, and letting him go at the distance, gained a comfortable two-length victory from the running-on Robin Goodfellow.

In the post-race press interviews, Harry Wragg, on Theft, said, “I had a lovely position going up the hill. I had intended to go along just behind the leaders and not wait as so many people thought I would do. Before we reached the top of the hill I heard somebody shout; I had to glance over my shoulder and found that it was Freddie Fox trying to squeeze through. There was not room for him to do so, but when I realized it was Bahram, and I was also riding for the Aga Khan, I gave way and he was able to take a position which might have been mine”.

After the race Wragg was cautioned by the stewards regarding his riding of Theft. They drew his attention to Rule 139, which stated: ”Every horse that runs in a race shall be run on its merit, whether his owner runs another horse in the race or not”. Wragg was then warned that any repetition of his ride would be severely dealt with.

Two weeks later, Bahram went to Ascot, winning the St James’s Palace Stakes – five went to post and starting at 1-8, he beat Portfolio and Rosecrag by one length and four lengths.

 

THE  ST LEGER

Wednesday, 11 September 1935 St Leger Stakes   Doncaster

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3-year-olds, colts and fillies.

1 mile 6 furlongs 132 yards.

1 Bahram          9st 0lb C Smirke    4-11 Fav

2 Solar Ray         9st 0lb J Sirett          100-6

3 Buckleigh         9st 0lb H Wragg       25-1

Won by 5 lengths, 3 lengths. 8 ran.

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In the St Leger, Charlie Smirke took the ride on Bahram, Fox, having incurred serious head injuries from a fall at Doncaster the day before.

Starting the 4-11 favourite, Smirke gave Bahram his head two furlongs out and cruised to the front from Field Trial, Fairburn and Solar Ray. Field Day faded a furlong out, allowing Solar Ray and Buckleigh to run into the places. Although Bahram’s official winning distance was five lengths, photographs show it was nearer ten.

An exuberant Charlie Smirke said “He could have won with 12 stone and two men on his back!” Meanwhile, Freddie Fox had listened to the race on the radio in a Doncaster nursing home. The Aga Khan, as a sporting gesture, sent both Smirke and Fox £1,000 – worth more than £50,000 today.

In the absence of the Aga, Bahram was led in to a noisy and triumphant reception by a strangely subdued Aly Khan, possibly troubled by the breaking news scandal of his affair with Joan Barbara Guinness. Aly, named in the subsequent divorce, paid the costs, then married Joan soon after.

In 1936, Bahram retired to stud to become the sire of:

TURKHAN b.c.1937, won Irish Derby, Yorkshire St Leger (St Leger Substitute), second in New Derby Stakes.

BIG GAME br.c. 1939, won New Two Thousand Guineas Stakes, sire of QUEENPOT b.f. 1945, won One Thousand Guineas Stakes & AMBIGUITY b.f. 1950, won Oaks Stakes.

MAH IRAN gr.f. 1939, won 5 races and bred MIGOLI gr.c. 1944 by BOIS ROUSSEL, won Eclipse Stakes, Champion Stakes, Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, second in Derby Stakes.

PERSIAN GULF b.c. 1940, won Coronation Cup, sire of ZABARA ch.f. 1949, won One Thousand Guineas Stakes & PARTHIA br.c. 1956, won Derby Stakes.

In 1940, the Aga Khan sold Bahram to a syndicate of American breeders for £40,000 and although the sale was deplored by British breeders, he travelled by boat to America in August that year. After a perilous sea voyage, Bahram took time to recover before standing in Maryland at Alfred G. Vanderbilt’s Sagamore Stud the following year – he was not a great success.

In 1946, Bahram was exported to Argentina, where he sired SENEGAL b.c. 1953, twice winner of the Clasico Simon Bolivar over one mile, four furlongs at La Rinconada in Caracus, Venezuela.

Bahram, unbeaten Triple Crown winner, died on 24 January 1956, aged 24.

 

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Investec Derby 2020 – SERPENTINE

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        Investec Derby 2020

         SERPENTINE

              9-c (ch.c. 2017)

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Run on Saturday, 4 July, 2020 as the Investec Derby Stakes over the Derby Course of one mile and a half and 6 yards, Epsom Downs. For three-year-olds; entire colts 9st 0lb, fillies 8st 11lb. Reopened 28 June 2020 with 17 entries at £10,000. Value to winner £283,550

1st   SERPENTINE        Emmet McNamara        25-1

2nd  KHALIFA SAT      Tom Marquand             50-1    5½ lengths

3rd  AMHRAN NA BHFIANN  William Buick  66-1    ½ length 

Also ran: 4th Kameko (Oisin Murphy) 5-2 Fav; English King (Frankie Dettori) 100-30; Mogul (Ryan Moore) 7-1; Russian Emperor (Saemie Heffernan)  6-1: Vatican City (Padraig Beggy) 17-2; Gold Maze (David Egan) 150-1; Highland Chief (Ben Curtis) 20-1; Pyledriver (Martin Dwyer) 16-1; Mohican Heights (Andrea Atzeni) 25-1; Mythical (James Doyle) 100-1; Max Vega (Harry Bentley) 33-1; Emissary (Jim Crowley) 40-1; Worthily (Martin Harley) 40-1 (tailed off last, 93 lengths behind the winner).               16 ran. Time: 2 min. 34.43 sec.  

Serpentine clear of Khalifa Sat and Amhran Na Bhfiann

 

   Commentary: Due to the Coronavirus pandemic, the Derby was run a month later behind closed doors. As a one-day Summer Meeting, the Derby was run on the same card as the Oaks for the first time.

The Two Thousand Guineas winner, Kameko by Kitten’s Joy, was backed into 5-2 favourite. Strong support also came for the Lingfield Derby Trial winner, English King at 100-30 and three of Aidan O’Brien’s six strong entry: Russian Emperor, Mogul (the choice of Ryan Moore) and Vatican City. Before the race there was much debate on the draw – English King and Mogul in the so called “coffin boxes” of 1 and 2.

From the stalls, English King swerved left and took a little time to get into the pack. Meantime, Serpentine and Khalifa Sat were quickly into their stride, followed by Highland Chief and the hard pulling Kameko. After half a mile, Serpentine led Khalifa Sat, Amhran Na Bhfiann, Max Vega and Kameko. Travelling down the hill, the order maintained, Serpentine, under Emmet McNamara, quickly built up a lead extending to 12 lengths at Tattenham Corner. Two furlongs out and still 8–10 lengths clear, Serpentine had turned the race into a procession, with none of the fancied runners able to strike a blow. At the post, Khalifa Sat finished 5½ lengths second, with Amhran Na Bhfiann half a length away third, followed in by Kameko, English King and Mogul all running on too late.

Well that was easy – Serpentine

Entering into Derby history, Aidan O’Brien has trained a record 8 Derby winners (2001-2020), with Mrs John (Sue) Magnier and Michael Tabor, owning all 8. Galileo has now sired a record 5 Derby winners, having added a 4th Oaks winner in Love, earlier that day. By contrast, Emmet McNamara, had not ridden a winner since October and Serpentine had only won his Maiden the previous week.

 Footnote: Due to the Coronavirus, the Derby could not be run as planned on 6 June. Therefore, the original 356 yearling entries were cancelled on 8 April 2020 and entry fees refunded. No fees were taken for the 12 second stage entries.

OWNED by  Mr Derrick Smith, Mrs John Magnier & Mr Michael Tabor.

BRED by Coolmore Stud.

TRAINED by Aidan O’Brien at Ballydoyle, Co Tipperary.         __________________________________________________________________________________________

The winner, SERPENTINE, has won 2 races (from 4 starts): A 1m2f, Maiden at The Curragh, Investec Derby Stakes..

 The sire, GALILEO (b.c. 1998), won 6 races (from 8 starts) incl. Vodafone Derby Stakes, Budweiser Irish Derby, King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Diamond Stakes. Champion Sire in G.B. & Ireland 11 times: 2008, 2010-2019. Sire of 4 Investec Oaks winners and 5 Investec Derby winners. Also sire of FRANKEL b.c. 2008, won 14 races (unbeaten) incl. Qipco Two Thousand Guineas Stakes.

The dam, REMEMBER WHEN, ch.f. 2007 by Danehill Dancer. Maiden after 6 starts incl, 2nd in Investec Oaks to Snow Fairy. She has bred 5 winners from 5 runners, all by Galileo, with a 2-y-o and a yearling on the ground. Serpentine is brother to Wedding View (b.f. 2012), Beacon Rock (ch.c 2013), Bound (ch.f. 2014) and Bye Bye Baby (b.f. 2015).           ___________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

Investec Oaks 2020 – LOVE

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                                     Investec Oaks 2020

                                                LOVE

                                                                 1–k (ch. f. 2017)

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RUN on Saturday, 4 July. 2020, as the Investec Oaks, over the Derby Course of one mile and a half and 6 yards, Epsom Downs. For three-year-old fillies, 9st 0lb. Value to winner £141,775.

1st   LOVE                    Ryan Moore            11-10 Fav

2nd  ENNISTYMON     Seamie Heffernan  6-1  9 lengths

3rd  FRANKLY DARLING  Frankie Dettori  7-4  ¾ length

Also ran: 4th Queen Daenerys (William Buick) 16-1; Passion (Padraig Beggy) 25-1; Bharani Star (Oisin Murphy) 50-1; Gold Wand (Andrea Atzeni) 22-1; Tiempo Vuela (Martin Harley) 100-1 (tailed off last, 52 lengths behind the winner).

Two furlongs out Love surges ahead

Commentary:  Due to the Coronavirus pandemic, the Oaks was run a month later and behind closed doors. As a one-day Summer Meeting, the Oaks was run on the same card as the Derby for the first time.

Love an impressive, staying-on winner of the One Thousand Guineas at Newmarket, was the 11-10 favourite. Frankly Darling, a 5-length winner of a 10-furlong AW Maiden at Newcastle, on the first day of racing’s resumption, followed up by winning the Ribblesdale Stakes at Ascot, beating Ennistymon by 1¾ lengths. Frankly Darling, strongly supported, went to post at 7/4 with Ennistymon at 6-1, and 16-1 bar.

Passion and Tiempo Vuela, stable companions of the first two favourites, set a strong gallop through the early stages, extending a 6-length lead at the mile post to 12 lengths coming down the hill. However, all was about to change three furlongs out, when the pacesetters collapsed, Ennistymon briefly took over, with Love and Bharani Star in close attendance. Approaching the two pole, Love cruised past Ennistymon and, Ryan Moore, straightening her up after a sudden left dink to the rails, went on to win by 9 lengths in a record time. Frankly Darling made some headway to be third with Queen Daenerys forth, 14¾ lengths behind the winner.

Love storms home setting a new record

 

8 ran. Time: 2 min. 34.06 sec. (New race record)

N.B. Unlike in previous years, no extra yards were added to the distance to protect the ground on the inner rail for the Derby.   

BRED by Coolmore Stud.

OWNED by Mr M. Tabor, Mr D. Smith & Mrs John Magnier.

TRAINED by Aidan O’Brien at Ballydoyle, Co. Tipperary.

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The winner, LOVE (ch.f), has won 5 races (from 9 starts), incl. Moyglare Stud Stakes, The Curragh, Qicpo One Thousand Guineas, Newmarket, Investec Oaks Stakes, Epsom.

The sire, GALILEO (b.c. 1998), won 6 races (from 8 starts) incl. Vodafone Derby Stakes, Budweiser Irish Derby, King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Diamond Stakes. Champion Sire in G.B. & Ireland 11 times: 2008, 2010-2019. Sire of 4 Investec Oaks winners and 5 Investec Derby winners. Also sire of FRANKEL b.c. 2008, won 14 races (unbeaten) incl. Qipco Two Thousand Guineas Stakes.

The dam, PIKABOO (ch.f. 2003) by Pivotal, ran unplaced in 5 races. She has bred 6 winners from 6 runners, incl. PEACH TREE ch.f. 2016, won 3 races incl. Irish Stallion Farms E.B.F. Stannera Stakes, Leopardstown.

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From the top menu take a look at Michael’s BOOKS FOR SALE

 

 

31 July 1917 – The latest ever Epsom Derby day

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31 July 1917 – The latest ever Epsom Derby day

Although, due to the Covid-19 virus, this year’s Derby was put back to 4 July, the latest the great race was run was on 31 July 1917, and this, because of a national emergency.

Despite the First World War still raging, racing in Britain continued, albeit within limitations. However, when the First Spring Meeting at Newmarket, which included both Guineas races, ended on Friday 4 May. The Government then banned all racing in Britain because not only was the war with Germany a bitter struggle, but there was a national food crisis and Parliament had questioned the large quantities of oats required to feed racehorses. The total ban on racing was fought by the Jockey Club and the Thoroughbred Breeders Association, and on 4 July, the Board of Trade informed the Jockey Club that the Cabinet had agreed that racing could be resumed with a limited fixture list until the end of the season. Racing recommenced on 17 July at Newmarket and the New Derby was run there on the 31 July.

The winner this year, Gay Crusader, was bred and owned by Alfred Cox, who without the benefit of hindsight, raced under the name of ‘Mr Fairie’.

Sired by the Eclipse Stakes and St Leger winner Bayardo, Gay Crusader was the first foal from Gay Laura, a Maiden winner by Beppo, who later bred six winners. 

Gay Crusader with Steve Donoghue up

Trained by Alec Taylor at Manton, Gay Crusader ran twice at Newmarket as a juvenile, running unplaced in the Clearwell Stakes and winning the Criterion Stakes.

The following spring, Gay Crusader reappeared in the Column Produce Stakes, to finish second to his Clearwell conqueror Coq d’Or, this time, beaten only three-quarters of a length whilst conceding 11lb. This considerable improvement led him to the Two Thousand Guineas, for which he started 9-4 favourite, beating his stable-companion, Lord Astor’s Magpie, by a head. Steve Donoghue, champion Jockey of his day, had cleverly kept Gay Crusader so close to Magpie that the latter’s jockey Otto Madden was unable to use his whip hand.

Before the Derby, Lord Astor sold Magpie to go to Australia, leaving Gay Crusader the undisputed Derby favourite. Twelve runners lined up and, after a good start, Invincible led from Dark Legend and Dansellon. After five furlongs Dark Legend took over from Invincible, with Gay Crusader just behind the leaders. Steve Donoghue then quickly moved Gay Crusader into the lead and going on, won comfortably by four lengths from Dansellon, with Dark Legend a further head away third. Diadem, the second favourite, having previously won the One Thousand Guineas, could finish only fifth. However, two days later, she finished second to Sunny Jane in the New Oaks.

Gay Crusader now reigned supreme, and went on to win the September Stakes (St Leger substitute), so becoming the 12th winner of the Triple-Crown. This he followed with the Newmarket Gold Cup (2 1/2 miles), the Champion Stakes, the Lowther Stakes and finally the Limekiln Stakes.

Gay Crusader was kept in training as a four-year-old as his owner wanted to win a second Gold Cup. However, after a superb home trial he developed tendon trouble and was retired to Manton House Stud at a fee of 400 guineas. At this time, Alfred Cox turned down an offer of £100,000 for him, worth £2.6 million today. Without being prodigious, Gay Crusader sired a number of decent horses, including Hot Night (second in the 1927 Derby and St Leger), Hurstwood, third in the Derby and Loika (ch.f. 1926, dam of Djebel, winner of the 1940 English and French Two Thousand Guineas).

Gay Crusadere died on 14 September 1932. Steve Donoghue, who partnered the winners of 14 Classic races, paid Gay Crusader a huge compliment by saying he was the best horse he ever rode.

 

 

The Origins of the 1,000 & 2,000 Guineas

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The Origins of the 1,000 & 2,000 Guineas

Both races being named after the original prize fund

 

2000 Guineas

First run 18th April 1809

Course: Rowley Mile 1 mile 1 yard.

Weights: Colts and geldings 8st 3lb, fillies 8st 0lb

Latest date run 25 May 1943 Summer Course (WWII)

1809 result:

1st Wizard 4-5 fav: 2nd Robin, 3rd Fair Star. 8 ran.

Prize £1,522

Owner Christopher Wilson

Trainer not listed

Jockey William Clift

 

1000 Guineas

First run 28 April 1814

Course: Ditch Mile, Newmarket: 7f. 178 yds

Run over Ditch Mile to 1872, then Rowley Mile.

Weights: Fillies 8st 4lb (same as for 1814 2000 Guineas)

Latest date run 26 May 1943 Summer Course (WWII)

1814 result:

1st Charlotte 11-5 fav; 2nd Vestal 3rd Medora. 5 ran.

Prize £682

Owner Christopher Wilson

Trainer not listed

Jockey William Clift

 

 

Early Players in the 1,000 & 2,000 Guineas

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William Clift (1762-1840), had the honour of riding the inaugural winners of both the 2000 Guineas (Wizard) and the 1000 Guineas (Charlotte), within a haul of 13 Classic winners that included five winners of the Derby. A man of humble beginnings, he was born on the estate of the Marquess of Rockingham at Wentworth Park, near Swinton in Yorkshire. There, starting life as a shepherd boy he was asked to ride in the pony races at one of Rockingham’s house parties. Clift rode and won with such determination that the Marquess sent him to his local trainer, Christopher Scaife, who soon after, relocated to Newmarket, accompanied by Clift.

A rough diamond in speech and in his style of riding, his absolute honesty brought him widespread patronage. He later trained for Earl Fitzwilliam, with assistance of his son Thomas. On retiring from racing, he received three pensions from his employers; Christopher Wilson, the Duke of Portland and Lord Fitzwilliam. A fit and wiry little man into his late 70’s, he would often walk the 28 miles from Newmarket to Bury St Edmunds and back as regular exercise.

 

Christopher Wilson (1764-1842), of Oxton Hall, Tadcaster, owned the inaugural winners of both the 2000 and 1000 Guineas. In addition he was the first owner to win the Derby and St Leger with the same horse – Champion in 1800 – a double not repeated until Surplice won both races for Lord Clifden in 1848. The son of a bishop, he was frequently employed to settle disputes on the Turf and in 60 years of racing he rarely missed a meeting at Ascot, Doncaster, Epsom, Newmarket and York. He died at Christie’s, St James’s Street, on Derby Day 1842.

Christopher Wilson

Robert Robson (1765-1838), was noticeably less hard on his horses than other trainers. He commenced his career as a private trainer to Sir Ferdinand Poole at Lewis in 1793. And later, when known as “The Emperor of Trainers,” he sent out 34 Classic winners, including six winners of the 2000 Guineas and nine winners of the 1000 Guineas, many of which never raced as a juvenile. However, when Robson trained from Newmarket before the use of the mobile horse-box, he had no St Leger winners, whereas John Scott, who trained at Malton a few years later and rented a gallop at Doncaster, notched up a record 16 winners of the Doncaster Classic. On Robson’s retirement in 1828, he was presented with a valuable piece of plate “in recognition of his skill and worthiness”, subscribed to by many notable patrons of the Turf.

 

Sir Thomas Charles Bunbury (1740-1821), was the son of a vicar at Great Barton, near Newmarket. He was elected a Whig MP for Mildenhall, Suffolk, at the age of 21 and became a strong opponent of the slave trade. He was the first outstanding member of the Jockey Club and became a senior Steward at the age of 28, thereafter taking the role of ‘perpetual president’.

However, like the Earl of Derby, he too was subject to a scandal. After his marriage to the notorious Lady Sarah Lennox in 1762, she had an affair with Lord William Gordon, giving birth to his daughter. The couple eloped taking the child with them, but when Lord William abandoned her, Sir Charles refused to take her back and thereafter, gave more time to Parliament and the Turf.

Although losing the legendary coin toss to name the Derby, Sir Charles had the pleasure of owning the first Derby winner – Diomed. He also owned Eleanor (1801), the first filly to win both the Derby and the Oaks, and Smolensko (1813), a fine looking black horse by Sorcerer, the first horse to win both the Two Thousand Guineas and the Derby. Famously, he also bred Highflyer (b.c. 1774), by Herod ex Rachel by Blank, who was never beaten on the racecourse and the Champion Sire 13 times.. Without doubt, on the Turf, Sir Charles was the most influential man of his age.

1813 Smolensko with Tom Goodisson up

The Classics Overview

If our five Classic races started off as little acorns, they have undoubtedly grown into solid oaks. Neither their conception, nor their first few running’s, can have been considered to have been part of an overall plan. However by the end of the 18th century, the Derby, Oaks and St Leger were being referred to as the “Three Great Races”. This was to continue until the mid-19th century when the two Guineas races were fast becoming thought of as something more than just trials for the Derby and Oaks.

The Triple-Crown wins of West Australian in 1853 and Gladiateur in 1865, did much to cement the pattern of the then known Classic races. The idea of the set of five events for three-year-olds, run over a graduation of distance throughout the year, seemed a natural order and once they were established as a set of Classic races, the idea proved popular and was accepted by almost all other racing countries.

 

Noel Murless, Dick Hern & Vincent O’Brien

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Three trainers who dominated the latter half of the 20th century

Noel Murless, Dick Hern & Vincent O’Brien

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   Sir Charles Francis Noel Murless (1910-1987), rode first as an amateur and then as a professional jump jockey for Martin Hartigan at Weyhill. Thereafter, he worked as assistant trainer to Hubert Hartigan (Martin’s brother), in Ireland. From 1935, Murless trained successfully from Hambleton, near Thirsk, albeit with horses of limited ability. However, on the retirement of Fred Darling at the close of the 1947 Flat season, Murless took over Beckhampton, retaining the association with Gordon Richards. The following year he was Champion Trainer for the first time and topped the lists a further eight times in his career.

In 1952, Murless moved to Warren House at Newmarket, and when Sir Gordon retired two years later, Murless appointed the teenage Lester Piggott as the new stable jockey. Murless (like Fred Darling) trained 19 Classic winners. He had five winners of the Oaks: Carrozza (1957), Petite Etoile (1959), Lupe (1970), Altesse Royale (1971) and Mysterious (1973). He also trained three winners of the Derby: Crepello (1957), St Paddy (1960) and Royal Palace (1967). The historian Roger Mortimer wrote of him: “Murless is a lean, lined, worried looking man….and though friendly and courteous, it is difficult to visualise any sort of party of which he could possibly be the life and soul.”

 

  William Richard ‘Dick’ Hern (1921-2002), was born in Somerset and, after serving in the North Irish Horse in World War II, held the position of coach to the British gold-medal winning equestrian team in the 1948 Olympics. In 1957, having worked as assistant trainer to Michael Pope, he took over the Lagrange Stable at Newmarket.

Champion Trainer four times, he trained the winners of 16 Classic races including Brigadier Gerard, winner of the 1971 Two Thousand Guineas and rated the greatest winner of that Classic in the 20th century. Hern also trained – three winners of the Oaks – Dunfermline (1977), Bireme (1980) and Sun Princess (1983) and three Derby winners: Troy (1979), Henbit (1980) and Nashwan (1989). Strong in the face of adversity, Hern continued to train after a hunting accident in 1984 that left him confined to a wheelchair. Furthermore, in 1988, soon after undergoing major heart surgery he learned that William Hastings-Bass (later Lord Huntingdon), was to replace him as resident trainer at the Queen’s West Ilsley Stables. However, a compromise was later agreed, enabling Hern to share the stable with Hastings-Bass for a year, before moving to Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum’s Kingwood House Stables in Lambourn. And it was from that stable that Hern turned out Nashwan to win the Derby.

 

   Vincent O’Brien (1917-2009), is widely regarded as the greatest trainer of the 20th century, both on the Flat and over the jumps. His 16 British Classic victories included, two winners of the Oaks – Long Look (1965) and Valoris (1966), and six winners of the Derby, notably Sir Ivor (1968) and Nijinsky (1970 Triple Crown). Over the jumps, he trained the winners of three consecutive Grand Nationals between 1953 and 1955 – Early Mist, Royal Tan and Quare Times – four Cheltenham Gold Cups and three Champion Hurdles.

Born in 1917, near Churchtown, Co. Cork, Michael Vincent O’Brien supervised the training of his father’s small string at Clashganniff from the late 1930’s and, a year after his father’s death in 1943, he took out a licence to train. In 1951, the year he married Jacqueline Witternoom from Perth, Australia, he moved to Ballydoyle, Cashel, Co. Tipperary, where he developed a training establishment par excellence.

In the mid-1970’s, O’Brien formed a partnership with Robert Sangster and John Magnier. Together, they purchased yearlings with good pedigrees, many by Northern Dancer, turned them into champions and stood them at Coolmore Stud. Lester Piggott usually rode O’Brien’s runners in England.

A man of quiet, gentle genius, Vincent O’Brien retired from training in 1994. His first Classic winner in Britain was Ballymoss (1957 St Leger) and his last, El Gran Senor (1984 Two Thousand Guineas). In the 1984 Derby, El Gran Senor was beaten a short head by Secreto, trained by Vincent’s son David.

 

 

The Herod line from Woodpecker to Dr Devious but where next?

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The Herod line

from Woodpecker to Dr Devious

But where next?

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Herod (b.c. 1758) Eight times Champion Sire

The Herod – Woodpecker sire line, although for many years secondary to the now expired Herod – Highflyer line previously shown, has up to the death of Dr Devious in March 2018, been a source of notable horses in England and France for more than two centuries. A commentary on the notable offspring and a male-lineage chart follow.

WOODPECKER (ch.c. 1773)

“A large, coarse horse with wide lop ears”, Woodpecker was bred and raced by Sir Charles Davers of Suffolk. A chestnut colt by Herod out of Miss Ramsden by Cade, Woodpecker, won 15 races, including the Craven Stakes at Newmarket, from strong opposition, three times, in 1778, 1779 & 1781. In addition, at the same Course he twice beat the local champion Pot-8-o’s.

Sent to Lord Egremonts’ Petworth Stud, he was four-times runner-up to Champion Sire, Highflyer (also by Herod), from 1789 to 1792. His progeny included Buzzard (see below) and the 1800 Oaks winner Ephemera.

BUZZARD (ch.c. 1787).

Like his sire, Woodpecker, due to the prominence of Highflyer, Buzzard was never Champion Sire. However, mated with a daughter of Alexander (b. 1790) by the all-conquering Eclipse, they produced three colts to give the lineage a powerful start, with Castrel (ch.c. 1801), Selim (ch.c. 1802) and Rubens  (ch.c. 1805), the latter two Champion Sires, with Selim siring six Classic winners and Sultan (b.c. 1816).

SULTAN (b.c. 1816)

Owned and bred by William Crockford, the founder of Crockford’s Club, Sultan won 14 races, including two Gold Cups at Newmarket and was second in the Derby. He was Champion Sire six times, from 1832 to 1837, siring eight Classic winners, including Bay Middleton (b.c. 1833).

BAY MIDDLETON (b.c. 1833)

Bay Middleton (b.c. 1833) Jem Robinson up

Bred by 5th Earl of Jersey, Bay Middleton was unbeaten in his seven races, winning the Two Thousand Guineas and Derby. Put to stud at the Turf Tavern, Doncaster at a fee of 30 guineas, he was twice Champion Sire, getting four Classic winners, including The Flying Dutchman (br.c. 1846).

THE FLYING DUTCHMAN (br.c. 1846)

After winning the Derby and St Leger, The Flying Dutchman, was beaten in the Doncaster Cup by his only rival – Voltigeur – that years  unbeaten Derby and St Leger winner.  A return match for 1,000 sovereigns  was made for the following spring over two miles at York, when  the weights allotted  by  Admiral  Rous were: The  Flying  Dutchman 8st 8 ½lb and Voltigeur 8st. An enormous crowd gathered on the  Knavesmire  to see The  Flying  Dutchman  win  by a length. He never ran again. At stud he sired the 1856 Derby winner, Ellington, then in 1858, he was sold to France for £4,000. After which his sire-line continued to flourish in France for eleven generations.

DJEBEL   (b.c. 1937)

Bred in France by Marcel Boussac and trained by Albert Swann at Chantilly, Djebel ridden by Charlie Elliott, won the  Two  Thousand  Guineas easily beating his 20 rivals. However, due to the  war he was  unable  to  come over  for  the  Derby.  He later won  the French Two Thousand Guineas equivalent, the Poule  d’Essai  des  Poulains, which was delayed until autumn. Djebel went on to win the  Prix  de l’Arc  de  Triomphe as  a  five-year-old. In all he  won 15 of his 22 races and never finished out of the first three. He was Champion Sire in France four times and sired the English Classic winners,  My Babu (1948 Two Thousand Guineas) and Galcador (1950 Epsom Derby).

AHONOORA (ch.c. 1975)

Bred by the Wyld Court Stud in G.B., Ahonoora, a bright chestnut colt by Lorenzaccio, surprisingly regenerated the Woodpecker line. A popular sprinter, he won seven races, including the Stewards’Cup and King George Stakes at Goodwood and the William Hill Sprint Championship at York. At stud he sired Dont Forget Me, winner of the 1987 English and Irish Two Thousand Guineas and Dr Devious, winner of the 1992 Epsom Derby.

DR DEVIOUS  (ch.c. 1989)

Dr Devious (ch.c. 1989) with trainer Peter Chapple-Hyam

Bred by Lyonstown Stud in Ireland, Dr Devious was sold a record four times before his Derby victory. A whole-coloured chestnut by Ahonoora out of the unraced Rose of Jericho, by Alleged, he was trained by Peter Chapple-Hyam at Manton in Wiltshire. He ran six times as a juvenile, winning four, including the Dewhurst Stakes at Newmarket. At three, Dr Devious became a truly International horse, running nine times in five different countries – seventh in the Kentucky Derby, he later won the Epsom Derby by two lengths from St Jovite, who he beat again to win the Irish Champion Stakes.

In January 1993 Dr Devious was sold yet again, for around £3 million, and sent to stud at Zenya Yoshida’s Shadai Farm in Japan. In 1998 he returned to Ireland to stand at Coolmore Stud, until eventually relocating to Italy, where he was twice Champion Sire. Although failing to make his mark as a stallion, his offspring included, Collier Hill (ch.g. 1998), who won 10 flat races and two N.H. races, including the Stockholm Cup International and the Irish Field St Leger, and Demophilos (b.c. 1998), second in the Rothmans Royals St Leger. Dr Devious died in Sardinia in March 2018.

So, is this the end of the Byerley Turk – Herod – Woodpecker sire-line? It could well be.

However, most racehorses today have a mixture of all the founding fathers in them as the lines intermingle under the influence of 24 generations of Throughbred breeding. The fascination with sire-lines is because many famous sires have had a prepotency, influencing the offspring of their sons,  grandsons and further. A famous example of this is the Champion Sire Birdcatcher (ch.c. 1833), whose near hindleg flank was ticked with grey hairs and like his bay sire, a bunch of white hairs at the butt of his tail. His scattered grey hairs, known as Birdcatcher ticks were past on for many generations.

 

The key to the WOODPECKER chart below: Classic winning colts in RED, fillies in GREEN. Races won 1 1000 Gns, 2 2000 Gns, D Derby, O Oaks, L St Leger, A Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, ** Champion Sire, all dates are of race victory,

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Sam Chifney & The Escape Scandal

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Sam Chifney & The Escape Scandal

Sam Chifney (1753-1807), at his peak, was the greatest jockey seen on the Turf up to that time. He was the first jockey to introduce riding tactics and became famous for his late ‘Chifney rush’.

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Chifney rode four winners of the Oaks – Ceres (1782), Maid of the Oaks (1783), Tag (1789) and Hippolyta (1790) and the Derby winner Skyscraper (1789), pictured below, with Sam aboard. Note the horse’s clipped ears, which was the fashion at the time.

 

The Druid describes Chifney in Post and Paddock, “He was about 5ft 5in in height, weighed  about 9st 5lb, in the winter months, and could ride, if required for a great race, 7st 12lb to the last. With the exception of Frank Buckle, perhaps no man was so exactly built for his profession.”

Chifney was a dandy in appearance; curls framed his face from under his jockey’s cap and he wore bunches of ribbons on the tops of his riding boots. Whilst there was never any doubt about his ability in the saddle, his race riding was sometimes open to suspicion.

On Thursday, 20th October, 1791 at Newmarket, in what was to become known as “The Escape Scandal”, Chifney rode the 6-y-o Escape, for the Prince of Wales (later King George IV).

Escape, by Highflyer out of a Squirrel mare, was at the time thought by Chifney, “Much the best horse in England”, however, with 8 st 4 lb over two miles (Ditch-in), starting at odds of 1-2, he finished last of four to Mr Dawson’s Coriander.

The following day, against similar opposition, Escape (pictured aside), carried 8 st 13 lb, over an extended 4 miles (Beacon Course) and completely reversing the form, won at 5-1. Accusations that Chifney had pulled Escape the first time to get better odds the next day were commonplace, some suggesting that the Prince was aware of the plan. However, when summoned before the Stewards of the Jockey Club, Chifney claimed that Escape, untried for two weeks, needed the first race ‘to clear his pipes’ for the next day. He therefore, had no bet on him the first time, but 20 guineas the next day, when unbeknown to him two rouges of the ring had seen to it that Escape was over fed on the day of the race. On course, the rouges took much of the Escape money pushing out the price to 5-1 in spite of the Prince’s hefty wager.

In investigating Chifney’s account of the proceedings, I have to say he comes out more sinned against than sinned.

Nevertheless, the Stewards refused to accept his explanation and treated the case as yet another example of the jockey’s dishonesty. Sir Charles Bunbury, the senior steward, then informed the Prince of Wales that if he continued to engage Chifney, no gentleman would start against him. Soon after, rather than make Chifney a scapegoat, the Prince gave up racing and sold his horses. Even so, he continued to pay Chifney’s £200 annuity, telling him: “You have been a good and honest servant to me.”

In 1795, Chifney published his autobiography Genius Genuine, in which he describes his slack rein method of riding “as if you had a silken rein as fine as hair, and that you were afraid of breaking it…..This is a true way a horse should be held fast in running.”

Samuel Chifney married the daughter of Newmarket trainer, Frank Smallman; they had two sons, William, who owned and trained the great Priam to win the Derby in 1830 and Samuel, who rode nine Classic winners, including the Derby winners Sam(1818) and Sailor (1820). They also had four daughters, one of whom married a Mr Weatherby of Newmarket and another, the Newmarket trainer Butler, to become the mother of the Triple Crown winning jockey, Frank Butler (West Australian 1853).

Chifney left Newmarket for London in 1800. Six years later, pursude by creditors, he sold the Prince’s annuity for £1,260.

However, having invented and patented a bit for horses, he proposed, “If the Jockey Club will be pleased to give me 200 guineas, I will make them a bridle as I believe never was, and I believe never can be, excelled, for their light weights to hold horses from running away.” The Jockey Club refused and going alone he became indebted to the saddler, Latchford, for £350. Ironically, the bit named after him is still in use today.

Imprisioned for many years as a debtor in Fleet Prison, when released, he moved to a humble dwelling in Fleet Lane opposite the prison, where he died on 8 January 1807, aged 52.

Escape, went on to win 11 races and became a prominent sire. As a footnote, when an unruly yearling, kicking out in his box, he got his foot wedged between the boards. Bravely his groom released him uninjured, giving rise to his name Escape.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Marquis of Hastings scoops the Pocket Venus, alas!

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The Marquis of Hastings scoops the Pocket Venus, alas!

  On Derby Day 1867, London society’s most romantic drama was played out before 300,000 racegoers on Epsom Downs. Surrounded by intrigue and scandal, the Marquis of Hastings and Mr Henry Chaplin had vied for the love of the season’s beauty, Lady Florence Paget, known in society as “The Pocket Venus”.

Both men had wealth, good looks and charm. However, each were tainted by the ‘win at all costs’ passion of a reckless gambler.

The story begins at Mr Blenkiron’s sale of Middle Park Stud yearlings at Eltham, Surrey, on Saturday, 17 June 1865, where the rivalry between the feckless Marquis of Hastings and Henry Chaplin took a twist from which one of them would never recover.

“Lot 27, a chestnut colt by Newminster out of Seclusion…” A small but good-looking, dark chestnut yearling entered the sales ring. Harry Hastings and Henry Chaplin, standing on opposite sides of the ring, watched the bidding rise in 50’s. Newminster, a St Leger winner, had already sired three Classic winners, including Derby winner Musjid, and his stock were commanding good prices. Harry Hastings held the bid at 850 guineas until Chaplin came in at 900. One more bid each then Hermit was knocked down to Henry Chaplin at 1,000 guineas.

The Sale continued … “Lot 28, a chestnut colt by Dundee out of Shot…”, was sold to Mr Merry, also for 1,000 guineas. Coincidentally, this yearling, later named Marksman, was to run second to Hermit in the Derby.

Henry Chaplin was the eldest son of the Reverend Henry Chaplin,Vicar of Ryhall in Rutlandshire. When only 19 he inherited the estate of Blankney in Lincolnshire from his uncle Mr Charles Chaplin. He went to Christ Church, Oxford in January 1859 and was given the nickname “Magnifico” on account of his grand life style. A year later he took the Prince of Wales “under his wing” and, before Chaplin left in December 1860, he had “kept an eye” on a shy and nervous Harry Hastings for a term.

In 1864, Chaplin became engaged to the beautiful Lady Florence Paget, youngest daughter of the Marquess of Anglesey. The announcement received extensive coverage in The Morning Post and The Times, while according to society magazines, Florence was “the rage of the park, the ballroom, the opera and the croquet lawn.”

 Ironically, before the engagement, Harry Hastings had also courted Lady Florence, but, the characters of the two men could not have been more different. Henry Chaplin was a respected figure of the establishment; masculine, handsome, kind and generous. Harry Hastings, on the other hand, had all the hallmarks of a selfish rake. Even so, his air of “little boy lost” appealed to Florence’s strong mother instincts and, whereas Harry needed her, Chaplin showed that he could be self sufficient. Previously, when rumours of their engagement were circulating, he had gone off on a big game expedition in India, leaving Hastings to escort her through the social scene.

After the engagement, Chaplin, proud to have scooped “The Pocket Venus”, generously included Hastings in their intimate circle. Poignantly, on the evening of Friday, 15 July 1864, from a box at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, the three of them listened to the famous soprano Adelina Patti’s last night performance of Gounod’s “Faust.”

   The following morning, Lady Florence tried on her newly delivered wedding dress for what everyone believed would be “The Wedding of the Year.”  Then, at 10 a.m., she drove alone, in her father’s brougham from the St George’s Hotel in Albemarle Street to the Vere Street entrance of the fashionable store, Marshall and Snelgrove. Walking through the store to the door in Oxford Street, she was met by Lord Hastings. The couple then drove off to  St George’s Church, Hanover Square, Euston, where she married Harry and became the Marchioness of Hastings. No members of her family were present. The bride was given away by Hastings’s friend Freddy Granville and at the reception, held at the Granvilles’ lodgings in St James’s Place, Lady Florence found a quiet room to write the following heartfelt apology to Henry Chaplin.

                                                                                                      Saturday, July 1864

HARRY – To you whom I have injured more deeply than any one, I hardly know how to address myself. Believe me, the task is most painful and one I shrink from. Would to God I had had moral courage to open my   heart to you sooner, but I could not bring myself to do so. However, now the truth must be told. Nothing in the world can ever excuse my conduct.    I have treated you too infamously, but I sincerely trust the knowledge of my unworthiness will help you to bear the bitter blow I am about to inflict on you.

I know I ought never to have accepted you at all, and I also know I never could have made you happy. You must have seen ever since the beginning of our engagement how very little I really returned all your devotion to me. I assure you I have struggled hard against the feeling, but all to no purpose. There is not a man in the world I have a greater regard and respect for than yourself, but I do not love you in the way a woman ought to love her husband, and I am perfectly certain if I had married you, I should have rendered not only my life miserable, but your own also.

And now we are eternally separated, for by the time you receive this I shall be the wife of Lord Hastings. I dare not ask for your forgiveness. I feel I have injured you far too deeply for that. All I can do now is to implore you to go and forget me. You said one night here, a woman who ran away was not worth thinking or caring about, so I pray that the blow may fall less severely on you than it might have done. May God bless you, and may you soon find some one far more worthy of becoming your wife than I should ever have been.

 Yrs.

FLORENCE

  Henry Plantagenet, 4th and last Marquess of Hastings, was the classic Victorian example of a young man with plenty of money and little experience on the Turf. Sadly, Harry was less than two years old when his father died. And this, coupled with the sudden death of his elder brother seven years later, left the young Harry with a vast inheritance.

Generous and charming with friends, he treated his employees badly and, when Master of the Quorn, he would often quit the hunt at midday for a session of cards or dice.

And so the eternal triangle was assembled. After being deserted by Lady Florence, Henry Chaplin threw himself fervently into racing, buying horses “as though he were drunk and backing them as if he were mad!” He had, however, an ace up his sleeve. That ace was Hermit.

Under the management of Captain Machell, Hermit was trained at Newmarket by Bloss. And, as time passed, it became obvious that an exciting bargain was in prospect.

First tried over four furlongs on Bury Hill, with the useful filly, Problem, Hermit beat her by two lengths, giving her 35lb.Two months later on 20 February, Problem won the Brocklesby Stakes at Lincoln from a big field, and followed it up by beating Hippia, a future Oaks winner, at Northampton. Captain Machell then hurried to London and backed Hermit to win the Derby for a large sum of money at odds of 20-1.

Hermit made his racecourse debut at Newmarket in the spring of 1866 where, in the race before the Two Thousand Guineas, he was beaten three-quarters of a length by Cellina over four furlongs. The Machell camp were not downhearted however; Cellina had a previous victory and her experience had told. Three weeks later at Bath, Hermit reversed the placings with Cellina, winning by a neck.

In the Woodcote Stakes at Epsom, Hermit came up against Achievement, a brilliant filly who went on to win the One Thousand Guineas and St Leger the following year. She beat him by three lengths in a scintillating performance. Later, however, Hermit progressed to win at Ascot and then twice at Stockbridge, beating Vauban on both occasions.

Vauban had won seven of his 15 races as a two-year-old and the following season won the Two Thousand Guineas by two lengths from Hermit’s stable companion Knight of the Garter, with Marksman a head away third.

With the Derby approaching, Captain Machell and Henry Chaplin now had a direct line to Vauban and Marksman through Knight of the Garter. A trial was arranged with Hermit to concede 10lb to Knight of the Garter over a mile. Hermit proved his superiority and the stable’s ante-post vouchers looked gilt-edged.

Soon after, plans were made for a further trial, this to be run a week before the Derby over one and a half miles, with the four year-old Rama, a Doncaster Cup winner, conceding 14lb. Captain Machell, however, leaving nothing to chance, insisted on both horses having a rough gallop on the Monday, to allot the trial weights more accurately.

Hermit, ridden by Henry Custance, after travelling exceptionally well, gave a tremendous cough and stumbled. The colt’s nose and mouth were cleaned up and, to keep the incident a secret, Custance took him home “the back way”. A thorough examination followed, when it was discovered that Hermit had burst a blood vessel in his nostril.

Hermit’s chance in the Derby now looked remote, yet despite Chaplin wanting to scratch Hermit, Captain Machell refused to give up hope and persuaded him to delay his decision. When the news of Hermit’s gallop spread, Custance was approached by Mr Pryor to ride his fancied entry, The  Rake.  Accordingly, Chaplin, not wishing to deprive his jockey the chance of winning the Derby, wrote to Pryor, releasing him.

Almost immediately after, came the news that The Rake had also broken a blood-vessel in his final preparation. In a further twist, Machell, in the light of Hermit’s encouraging response to treatment, suggested to Chaplin he re-engage Custance. Pryor, however, remained set on running The Rake and refused to release him. The case then went to the Stewards, who judged that Chaplin’s letter to Pryor constituted a release and gave Prior the decision, adding, that as both horses had broken blood-vessels, in all fairness he should relinquish his claim. This, Pryor refused to do, compelling Custance, to endure the eventual irony.

To rub salt into Custance’s wound, the day before the Derby he witnessed Bloss’s horses do their final work at Epsom. Custance recalls in his Riding Recollections, “Hermit was sent to canter a mile on the Derby course. This was the first canter he had done since he had broken his blood-vessel, nine days previously. Hermit used to pull a bit, and he got the best of the boy coming round Tattenham Corner, fairly ran away with him, and, the ground being as hard as iron, he bounded over it like a cricket ball. Chris Fenning, who was standing with me, said: ‘“Be jabbers, I never saw a horse like that! He will win the Derby.”’

Captain Machell, meantime, determined to keep Hermit’s blood cool, gave him very little hay and covered him with only a light blanket. Most of his work was downhill and, on the Saturday, before the Derby, Hermit did six one-mile canters the reverse way of the Rowley Mile.

The snowstorm before the Derby

Derby Day arrived with snow showers throughout the day, allowing fate to give our story yet another twist – for this would surely cool Hermit’s blood. His appearance in the paddock, however, was far from convincing. Baily’s Magazine reported, “One would say, ‘Ah poor Hermit!’ and then passed by on the other side; and another would turn up his nose as if at tainted air, and exclaim, ‘Pah! ‘a corpse!’ and there was no good Samaritan to say one good word in his favour.”

To illustrate the intensity of feeling the race brought, a first- hand account of the race from Amphion of  Baily’s Magazine follows:

“Just as the horses reached the post, the welcome sun shot through the clouds a momentary beam, as if in honour of the contest, upon the issue of which the minds of that vast multitude were hanging in excited suspense.  Gazing over that sea of heads in front of us, the eye wandered up the serried ranks which lined the course far and away past Tattenham Corner to the beginning of the furzes at the top of the hill. Waiting for the hoarse roar which drowns the last notes of the ‘warning bell’ have you, reader, ever analyzed your feelings at that moment when that bright bevy of coloured specks is dimly seen over the black mass at the starting-post ‘now advancing now retreating,’ now breaking away, now turning back, or waiting for some companion who declines to join the melee?

Who has not felt that half-pleasurable, half-painful sensation, when the mind hangs between hope  and fear, the feeling that upon this ‘maddest, merriest day’ the issue of that contest will be decided which has cost us so much thought, so much  study, such long anxious deliberation. How do we yearn for, yet fear the end; how slowly passes the time until the long rainbow line is stretched in marshalled order across the course. Then as for the last time we strive to anticipate, though by a few minutes only, the verdict of the judge comes the roar of thousands, like the sound of many waters, and the Derby cloud flies up the slope, and are lost sight of for a few seconds behind the hill. Here they are at last, Vauban with a slight lead then Marksman, Van Amburgh, and The Palmer close together, with Hermit at their heels: a shout as Palmer has cried enough, and Hermit creeps up to the leaders; then loudly screams the Ring as Fordham begins to ride the favourite, and his backers groan responsive: at the distance Marksman leads until the stand is reachcd, and now for the death-struggle. Marksman, ridden with the most consummate judgment, still holds his own; but a touch may upset him, while Daley calls vigorously on Hermit, who responds most gamely, and finally defeats Marksman by a neck; the favourite a bad third, Wild Moor a respectful fourth, then Van Amburgh, Owain Glcndwr, and Tynedale, and the ruck.   Middle Park forever!”

Immediately after, Captain Machell was a rich man, having won over £60,000 (over £4 million today), for his patience and determination, while the stable won a further £90,000 (over £6 million today).

Captain Machell was 29 years old at the time of “Hermit’s Derby”. He joined the army in 1855 and reached the rank of Captain in 1862, but the following year, he sensationally resigned his commission when refused permission to see the St Leger. An accomplished athlete, he won many wagers for jumping from the floor on to a mantelpiece and, for jumping over a billiard table. In 1864 he moved to Newmarket and after a successful start as an owner, he proved an exceptional judge of jumpers, owning three Grand National winners: Disturbance (1873), Reugny (1874) and Regal (1876). As manager for Henry Chaplin, he showed great patience and ingenuity to win the Derby with Hermit, and later, he assisted Colonel Harry McCalmont to win the 1893 Triple Crown with Isinglass. At his height, Captain Machell was one of the most powerful and most knowledgeable men in racing and it was he who advised Henry Chaplin to buy Hermit at the Middle Park Sales.

Hermit’s Derby pilot, John Daley (1846-c.1890), was the son of a Newmarket trainer. He had his first race when only 11 years old, weighing in at 3st 10lb. At Royal Ascot in 1860, he rode four winners, including the Coronation Stakes on Allington. In 1867, Captain Machell booked Daley to ride Hermit in the Derby only days before the race and, with his usual flair, promised him £100 for the ride, a further £100 if placed and £3,000 if he won it, which he did. Two days later, Daley won the Oaks on Hippia for Baron Meyer de Rothschild at odds of 11-1. But thereafter, he struggled to do the Classic weight of 8st 10lb, although he did ride Macgregor to win 1870 Two Thousand Guineas, albeit at 1lb overweight.

While Hermit’s victory had brought riches to Captain Machell and Henry Chaplin, to the 4th Marquess of Hastings he had brought disaster and debts of £120,000 (over £8 million today). Hastings had laid Hermit for the Derby at generous prices to the owner’s stable for over a year, in a vendetta against Henry Chaplin. At a party on the evening of the Derby, Hastings vowed he would make the Ring settle his debts for him, but the defeat of Achievement in the Oaks “turned the screw a little tighter”.

Harry Hastings arrived at Tattersalls on the Monday, having fully mortgaged his estates with Padwick the moneylender and having accepted Henry Chaplin’s proposal giving him time to pay. He was cheered to the man. In a gambler’s world, Hastings would not accept defeat; after all, his Lady Elizabeth was favourite for next year’s Derby!

The year passed with mixed fortunes. Another Derby Day dawned and Harry had summoned enough credit for one enormous plunge on Lady Elizabeth. She was backed at all rates down to 7-4 favourite, but was hopelessly beaten. Harry had her out for the Oaks two days later, but she disappointed again. Hastings was now totally destroyed. After a cruise upon his yacht, off the coast of Norway, he returned home to Donnington to die at the age of 26.

The cause of death was given as Bright’s disease, brought about by excessive eating, drinking and worry. Finally, upon his deathbed, he whispered, “Hermit’s Derby broke my heart, but I didn’t show it, did I?”

Florence married again, 18 months after Harry’s death. Her overtures to Chaplin had fallen on stony ground, but she still needed to be part of the social scene. As before, her second marriage came as a complete surprise to her friends, for she married a man who was not only seven years younger than her, but another highflying gambler of the Turf. Tall, slim and charming, his name was George Chetwynd. And although popular with some, the Honourable George Lambton recalled, “He was more talked of, more envied and in some quarters more disliked than any man of the fashionable world.”

Even so, Florence had four children by him – one son and three daughters. When she died, aged 64, in 1907, there were many letters of condolence and a great number of wreaths, but not one from Henry Chaplin.

Hermit, of course, had outlived Harry Hastings and soon after his Derby victory, won twice at Royal Ascot, including the St James’s Palace Stakes. Later, he finished second to Achievement in both the St Leger and the Doncaster Cup but, save for a small sweepstake on the same Doncaster Cup day, he never won again in 13 outings.

Thereafter, Hermit went to stud at Blankney for the modest fee of 20 guineas, but, his success surpassed all anticipation. He was Champion Sire seven consecutive years from 1880 to 1886, getting the winners of seven Classic races, including the Derby winners Shotover (1882) and St Blaise (1883), by which time his fee had risen to 300 guineas. Living to the age of 26, Hermit died on 29 April 1890.

Henry Chaplin, meanwhile, devoted much of his time to politics. A typical Tory squire, he became the Minister of Agriculture and was raised to the peerage in 1916. He died in 1923, and to the end of his life, he openly admitted that Hermit was the best friend he ever had.

 

 

 

 

 

The Darley Arabian & his descendants

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The Darley Arabian

& his descendants

The Darley Arabian, was a handsome bay colt with a large white blaze and three white feet (the off-foreleg bay). Born in 1700, he stood 15 hands high.

Thomas Darley, the agent of an English mercantile company in Aleppo, Syria and, a member of a local hunting club, he purchased the colt, then two years old, for a very moderate sum.

Eighteen months later, he shipped him to his father, Richard Darley, to stand at Buttercrambe, now called Aldby Park, near York. After Richard Darley died in 1706, his eldest son Henry succeeded to Aldby and became owner of the Darley Arabian.

Both the sire and dam of the Darley Arabian belonged to the perfect Arabian strain of Managhi (also spelt Mannicka and Manicha).

The Darley Arabian was Champion Sire in 1722. His most important progeny were: Flying Childers (b.c. 1714), the first truly great racehorse and Champion Sire of 1730 and 1736, and his older brother, the unraced Bartlet’s Childers (b.c. 1716), who became Champion Sire in 1742.

His other important descendants were Eclipse (ch.c. 1764), winner of all his 18 races and from whom 97% of all thoroughbreds racing today descend; Pot-8-o’s (ch.c. 1773), sire of three Derby winners, incl. the Champion Sire, Waxy (b.c.1790), whose son Whalebone (br.c. 1807) emulated his father and perpetuated the line.

See below the sire-line  of the Darley Arabian. The colts are in Red, fillies in Green. Classic winners have date of victory in CAPS.

Key to Classics: Derby  (D); Oaks (O); St Leger (L); 2000 Guineas (2); 1000 Guineas (1); stars either side indicate Champion Sire.

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