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The 1844 Running Rein Derby Scandal

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The 1844 Running Rein Derby Scandal

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

Running Rein

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


The Race:

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

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

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

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

Also ran:

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

29 ran

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

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

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

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



The Dorling’s of Epsom

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William Dorling and his descendents governed the administration of Epsom Racecourse for the best part of two centuries.

The story begins with William (pictured below), born in Ipswich in 1776, then later moveing to Bexhill in Sussex to set up business there as a printer. Married to Lucy Welby, they had six children, the first, Henry in 1806, who, when old enough, was sent by William on a seven-year apprenticeship to a printer in London to learn the trade.

Around 1820, William moved his business to Epsom, where after printing almanacs and hymn books, he quickly, established himself as a bookseller in Epsom High Street, until famously, on Derby Day 1827, he produced Dorling’s Genuine Card List. This, the original racecard, gave details of the runners and their pedigrees, their owners, jockeys and colours together with the probable odds. It was an instant success with the racegoers.

William’s involvement in the production of the Lists brought him into contact with racing’s grandees and both he and his son Henry attended the inaugural meeting of the Epsom Grandstand Association in 1830, where he bought shares in the organization.

Henry married his first wife Emily Clarke in September 1834. Emily, a proud and strong willed woman, had four children, the first, Henry Mayson in 1835, who inherited the traits of his mother. Tragically, five years later Emily died when only 29.

Meanwhile, Henry’s friend Benjamin Mayson, a linen merchant, had married Elizabeth Jurrum in April 1835 and set up home near Cheapside in the City of London. They also had four children, the first, Isabella, born on 12 March 1836, of whom we will hear more of later.

In 1839, Henry became the first Clerk of the Course at Epsom and later held that position at Brighton. Now, whereas the Dorling’s “Correct Card” had brought him in contact with jockeys and trainers, he now had the opportunity to meet owners. Notably, he made a friend of Lord George Bentinck, a partnership that held out hope to reform racing from the grip of the underworld.

At Gretna Green in March 1843, Henry married Elizabeth Mayson, the widow of his best friend Benjamin Mayson. Like his first wife, Elizabeth had a dominant and forceful personality, which came to the fore when the couple returned to Epsom to start their married life with eight children between them. Undeterred at the prospect, they augmented the family with 13 more. Throughout this time, conveniently, William was the Registrar of Births and Deaths in Epsom and Henry the Deputy Registrar.

The Preliminary Canter

In 1845, with the Epsom Grandstand running at a loss, Henry came up with two proposals which after support from Lord George Bentinck and negotiations with the Grand Stand Association Committee put the racecourse back on a sure footing.

The first, was that all races be saddled in front of the Grandstand, as at Ascot and Goodwood; this in consideration of adding £300 to the prize fund and making improvements to the lawn and accommodation in the Grandstand. Previously, saddling had taken place in ‘The Warren’, where the horses surrounded by well wishers often prevented the jockeys finding their mounts, so causing considerable delays. The move became an instant success, insuring a packed Grandstand of 5,000, in order to see what was popularly known as ‘The Preliminary Canter’.

In order to carry out the first, Henry Dorling’s second proposal was that he leased the Racecourse from the Association for 21 years at a rate of £1,000 per annum.

On the acceptance of his proposal he moved his family into the vast building.

The Grandstand, fitted out and redecorated for the visit of Queen Victoria in 1840, had numerous rooms and kitchens, enabling the family to live in comfort, although in winter it was often very draughty and cold. During the race meetings the children were conveniently packed off to enjoy the seaside at Brighton.  In 1848, as Clerk of the Course, Henry laid out a new start to the Derby from Langley Bottom, now clearly visible from the Grandstand.

Always the entrepreneur, Henry, made the most of his lease, installing a new printing press in the basement of the Grandstand, to supply the shop in the High Street run by his father William and his sister Lucy, until William retired in 1851 and died in 1858.

On a more cheerful note, with so many children running about even the Grand Stand could be noisy at times, leading to Henry’s remark:

For heaven’s sake Elizabeth, what is all that noise about?

Elizabeth, his wife, famously replied.

That Henry, is your children and my children fighting our children.


In 1846 a new race was introduced, the “Great Metropolitan Handicap” or “The Publicans Derby” so called because at first the prize money was put up by the London publicans, many of whose pubs were used as betting shops. This was so successful that another race was introduced in 1851 called the “City and Suburban” with prize money coming from the public houses in the suburbs.

Throughout this time, the large family living in the Grandstand were assisted by Elizabeth’s oldest child, Isabella, who helped maintain the discipline among the younger family. A well educated young woman, she was an accomplished pianist and eventually moved to Heidelberg in Germany to study music and languages. It was whilst there, she learnt how to bake and make pastries, until returning to Epsom in 1854.

In 1856 she married Samuel Orchart Beeton, a wealthy publisher and began to write articles on cooking and household management for her husband’s publications. The first instalment of her famous Mrs Beeton’s Book of Household Management was published in 1861. It was an immediate success, selling over 60,000 copies in its first year of publication and nearly two million by 1868.  Sadly, she died of a fever soon after giving birth to her fourth child when aged 28.

Returning to Henry, now playing up his prosperity in 1851, he moved his family from the Grandstand into Ormonde House, a substantial property at the eastern end of Epsom High Street able to accommodate his large family together with his lending library and printing business.

Coming to the end of 1866, Henry relinquished the lease on the Grandstand and became joint managing director of the EGSA with Francis Knowles. Then moving up again, took his family to a 12-acre mansion known as Stroud Green House in Croydon.

Sadly, Elizabeth died in her Croydon home in 1871, followed by Henry two years later. His mission accomplished, Henry’s persuasive manner and personal charm had now left the Grand Stand Association in a healthy financial position.

Following Henry’s death, his son Henry Mayson, succeeded his father as Clerk of the Course and later became Chairman and Joint Managing Director of the Course. Known as “The Dictator of Epsom Races” he was aware of what others thought of him, perversely

agreeing by saying: “Everyone hates me and I like it

A gruff, but dedicated man, in 1919, on the day of his final Derby, he was up at 4 am distributing the Dorling’s ‘correct card’ that he had helped finished printing the night before.


In a sudden turn of events, on 29 September, when seriously ill, he travelled to Brighton to marry Blanche Maud Flear, 50 years his junior; a relationship he had kept secret for many years.

Henry died on 12 November, aged 84, at his home ‘The Birches’, Epsom and was buried with his late parents on 15 November 1919. His will, however, proved controversial, for although he left the printing office and some shares to his nephew, Edward Earle Dorling (1863-1943) and a good number of shares to the Dorling family, 97% of his wealth, amounting to almost £3 million today, went to Blanche.

Edward, who continued Henry Mayson’s work on the racecourse, was a priest of the Church of England and former Headmaster of the Cathedral School in Salisbury, was also an archaeologist, historian, and writer on heraldry, designing the arms for Girton College, Cambridge.

The popular press, of course, enjoyed a field day with headlines such as “Vicar to run Epsom Racecourse.”  Edward, took over as General Manager of the Epsom Grand Stand Association in 1920, while the formidable, Charles Langlands, a prominent surveyor, became Clerk of the Course and in 1926, Chairman of the  Epsom Grand Stand Association; his signature gracing the cover of the racecard until his retirement after the 1953 “Coronation Derby.”

At which point I find it appropriate to bring to an end the dynasty of the Dorlings – a family with the foresight and passion to leave the racing world a lasting legacy.


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

Dennis O’Kelly – The Man behind Eclipse

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Dennis O’Kelly – The Man behind Eclipse

 Dennis O’Kelly was born around 1720, a legitimate son of Philip O’Kelly of Tullow in County Carlow, Ireland.

To get away from his family’s frugal existence, he came to London at the age of  25  in the hope of improving his situation.

Described by a contemporary, O’Kelly was:“A short, thick-set, dark, harsh-visaged and ruffian-looking fellow”, yet with “the ease, the agremens, the manners of a gentleman and the attractive quaintness of a humorist.

 Another witness added:

 “His voice, the very reverse of melody, not only assailed , but wounded the ear . . .the broadest and most offensive brogue his nation ever produced.”

In due course, O’Kelly, already an opportunist, found work as a sedan chairman and from this station slowly made inroads into society. It is recorded that, on the occasion of George II’s birthday reception, he carried Lady Blank from the top of St James’s Street to the Palace for a guinea, and was later employed by her as a regular chairman. But as O’Kelly’s fortune ebbed and flowed, we next hear of him as a billiards marker in a smart London club, from where gambling led him to Fleet Prison for debt. In prison, he scratched a living by carrying beer to the inmates; for this, together with his jovial manner, the elected ‘King’ of the prisoners gave him the courtesy title of ‘Count’.

Whilst in the Fleet, O’Kelly met up with Charlotte Hayes, a woman with a notorious reputation. Together they formed a relationship that wove itself into society, providing O’Kelly with a network of contacts throughout the racing world.

The death of George II in London on 25 October, 1760, saw Dennis and Charlotte pardoned from their sentences and, soon after their release, with financial support from Charlotte, he purchased an ensigncy in the Westminster Regiment of the Middlesex Militia. Through courage and initiative, O’Kelly gradually worked his way up to Lieutenant-Colonel, and to celebrate his new rank he put on a ‘splendid entertainment’, attended by Lord Derby and many of the nobility of Lancashire.

In time, the success of Eclipse at stud profited Dennis O’Kelly in excess of £25,000. This enabled him in later years to live a life of style, either entertaining friends at his Cannons Park estate at Stanmore, Middlesex, (previously owned by the Duke of Chandos), or at his stables and stud at Clay Hill, near Epsom.

It was at Clay Hill Stud that he stood Eclipse and two of his sons, Dungannon and Volunteer. In addition he kept around 50 mares, including the famous Tartar mare, who when put to Eclipse produced ten chestnut foals: five colts, including Mercury and Volunteer, and five fillies including Queen Mab.

O’Kelly  also  kept  a  house  at  the  corner  of  Half-Moon  Street  and  Piccadilly; in later years this  became  the  home  of Charlotte  Hayes  in  the  company  of O’Kelly’s celebrated parrot “Polley” .

Hatched in Bristol, “Polley”, was the first parrot born in Britain. It  cost  O’Kelly  50  guineas  and  was  reported  by  an  eye  witness to “not only repeat everything it was commanded, but it would answer many questions, which appeared to require a higher degree of perception “. As well as this, it could on request, ‘sing a variety of tunes with exquisite melody ‘. Listed in the Dictionary of National Biography it reported that it “whistled the 104th Psalm and was among parrots what Eclipse was among racehorses “.

 Polley, a constant source of amusement to visitors to Half-Moon Street, died in October 1802, from “a purging and Bloody Flox”. It was later stuffed, returned to Half-Moon Street and, continued to be visited as a curio.

Dennis O’Kelly died of gout on 28 December, 1787, at his house in Piccadilly. Charlotte Hayes assumed the name of Mrs O’Kelly and lived to the age of 85.

Racing  in  the  18th  century  was  far  from  straight  and  according to a contemporary historian it was only O’Kelly’s  hard work and concentration that,“enabled him to counteract the various and almost incredible deceptions then in constant practice in the sporting world”.

Moreover, his anticipation and perception of events were frequently referred to as the luck of the Irish”. However,  for  all  his  success , Dennis O’Kelly  carried  one  grievance  to  the  grave – the continual  refusal of the Jockey Club to admit him as a member. The prejudice  against  him  must  have been very strong, for almost any other top society owner of a horse as great as Eclipse would have been welcomed. Nor did it stop there, for many of the nobility and gentry preferred to take their mares to Herod, rather than deal in “the rough and ready ways” of O’Kelly for the services of Eclipse. In consequence, Eclipse was never Champion Sire, although he was second 11 times between 1778 and 1788 inclusive.

 Eclipse died of colic at Cannons, in Middlesex, on 27 February, 1789.

No racehorse has achieved greater fame or left a more lasting legacy. Now, more than two and a quarter centuries after his death, 97% of all modern thoroughbreds trace back to him in male line.

Whatever the failings of Dennis O’Kelly, the ongoing world of racing and breeding owes him a tremendous debt. His management of Eclipse’s racing and stud career were handled with both wisdom and patience, sometimes in difficult circumstances.

Now, 235  years after  his  death, his name is still mentioned in the same breath as the legend of the horse he once owned .


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












The Life and Times of Eclipse – Parts One and Two

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Trained on Epsom Downs


Part One


On Wednesday, 3 May 1769, the third day of Epsom’s six-day meeting, Eclipse ran his first race in the Nobleman and Gentleman’s Plate. This, a typical competition for the time, was open to five and six-year-olds and run in four-mile heats. Between heats, 30 minutes would be allowed for the ‘rubbing down’ of horses and the Plate would be awarded to the winner of two heats. If the race needed three heats to decide and had three different winners, a further heat would be run. Any horse that was a distance (240 yards) behind a heat winner would be eliminated, the rules also stipulating, that any jockey who “shall or do, whip or lay hold of any rider, his horse, saddle or bridle”, would be regarded as being distanced.


To set the scene, races in the mid-eighteenth century horses rarely ran before they were four years old. The most prestigious events were the King’s Plates. Eighteen were contested in 1769, with three being at Newmarket. These were usually run in heats over four miles for horses not older than six and carried a prize of 100 guineas.

At this time, there were 92 racecourses operating in Britain. Newmarket held ten meetings a year, while the others would host only one or two. Meetings often began on the Monday and continued through to Saturday. The number of races run each day would vary, but often there would be three, interspersed with cock-fighting and, on occasions, bare-knuckle boxing.

For his debut, Eclipse, then a five-year-old, carried 8st 7lb, while the six-year-olds carried 9st 3lb; the value to winner was £50. In opposition to Eclipse were two five-year-olds, Gower and Tryal and two six-year-olds, Chance and Plume.

Significantly, before Eclipse ran his first race, Dennis O’Kelly, an Irish adventurer, had purchased both a house and stables situated on Epsom Racecourse, these were between the future first mile and a half Derby start and the present one, (See stables marked on map below). Local news of Eclipse having preceded him, forced his odds in to a skimpy 1-4, although O’Kelly had previously made a large wager at a better price.

In the first heat, Jack Oakley, as planned, allowed Eclipse to go on as he pleased, sitting quietly in the saddle, while making no attempt to hold him up. Eclipse taking an early lead, then drew further away from the opposition.

Before the second heat, O’Kelly, made two large bets at 6-4 and Evens, that he could forecast the correct order of all five runners. To the surprise of the layers, when asked for the order he replied “Eclipse first, the rest nowhere”, implying, Eclipse had to finish a distance (240 yards) ahead of all his rivals.

The second heat off and running, all five runners were grouped closely together at the three-mile post, then Oakley let Eclipse draw away to fulfil what has become a famous racing prophecy.


The birth of Eclipse was entirely in keeping with the legend he was to become.

Foaled at noon on Sunday, 1 April, 1764, in a paddock near Cranbourne Tower in Windsor Great Park, his birth coincided with an annular eclipse – an eclipse of the sun in which the moon, seen projected on the solar disc, leaves a golden ring of light visable. Writers of the day called it “The Great Eclipse”.

The breeder of Eclipse was William, Duke of Cumberland (1721-65), the second surviving son of George II. A professional soldier, Cumberland was a Major-General at the age of 22 and, in the company of his father, was seriously wounded when defeating the French at Dettingen in Bavaria, this the last battle where an English king was present.

In 1745, Cumberland was promoted to Captain­ General of the allied army in Flanders and, the following year, defeated “Bonnie Prince Charlie,” the Young Pretender, at Culloden Moor, Inverness. So severe was his crushing of the Stuart rebellion that he gained the nickname Butcher Cumberland. However, in 1757, when head of a Hanoverian army, he was defeated by the French at Hastenbeck, after which he resigned all his military commands.

Cumberland, a dedicated and ruthless soldier, now transferred his passion to the Turf. Already an early member of the Jockey Club and the only royal member (his colours were all purple), he took up the position of Ranger of Windsor Forest, where, from his Cumberland Lodge residence, he set up his Windsor Forest Stud.

Within seven years he had bred the two most influential racehorses in the history of thoroughbred breeding – Herod (b.c. 1758), the eight-time Champion Sire 1777-1784 and Eclipse.


The sire and dam of Eclipse were both in the ownership of the Duke of Cumberland at the time of their mating. Spilletta (b.f. 1749), was a good-looking daughter of the eight-time Champion Sire, Regulus and purchased by the Duke from Sir Robert Eden. Beaten in her only race at Newmarket in 1754, she was later sent to the Duke’s Stud. Altogether, she produced five foals before her death in 1776, incl. Proserpine (b.f. 1766) and Garrick (ch.c.1772) also by Marske.

Although just below top class, Marske won three times, his most notable victory coming in the Jockey Club Plate, when, as a four-year-old he beat Brilliant over Newmarket’s Round Course (3 miles, 6 furlongs and 93 yards). However, at Newmarket in 1756, when twice matched against the future Champion Sire, Snap, he was beaten both times.

Before the Duke’s death, Marske was considered of little value as a stallion, commanding only a half-guinea fee, and at the subsequent dispersal sale, he was sold to a Dorset farmer for a trifling sum. However, also attending the sale was William Wildman, a large-scale grazier and meat salesman at Leadenhall Market, who raced for a hobby, keeping a small stud at Mickleham in Surrey. On his arrival, he found that Eclipse had been sold for 70 guineas before the advertised time of the sale. His forthright objection caused the lot to be put up again and this time Wildman secured Eclipse for 75 guineas.

Mindful of the Dorset farmer after Eclipse’s sensational victory at Epsom, Wildman, paid him a visit, and on the exchange of £20, returned home with the sire of Eclipse. Thereafter, the success of Eclipse boosted Marske’s popularity and he went on to become Champion Sire in 1775 and 1776. Finally purchased by Lord Abingdon, he stood at his Rycot Stud in Oxfordshire, for the then enormous fee of 100 guineas. Marske died in July 1779, aged 29 years, having sired the winners of 352 races.

Mr Wildman, realising he had obtained a bargain, decided to allow Eclipse time to mature. Of some concern, however, was the horse’s temper, at one time so bad, that Wildman considered having him gelded. However, after due consideration, he sent him to George Elton (or Ellers), a ‘rough-rider’ near Epsom, who rode him about all day and occasionally throughout the night to quieten him down. Although the horse was never vicious, he always kept his fiery temper and, at this stage, Wildman’s first priority was to find a patient jockey. Jack Oakley fitted the bill and was engaged to ride Eclipse in almost all his races.


Part Two



A chestnut horse with a white blaze and a white stocking on his off-hind leg, Eclipse grew to be a magnificent horse, measuring 15.3 hands at the withers. This at a time when very few horses reached 15 hands and Lord Rockingham’s Sampson (1745) by Blaze was recorded at 15.2 hands as “the largest-boned bloodhorse ever bred”.


Other contemporaries complete the picture:  Mr John Lawrence, who saw Eclipse and later published a History and Delineation of the Horse” in 1809, said of him:

“When I first saw him, he appeared in high health, of a robust constitution, and to promise long life. I paid particular attention to his shoulder, which, according to the common notion, was in truth very thick, but very extensive and well placed”.

“His hindquarters and croup appeared higher than this forehand; and in his gallop it was said no horse ever threw his haunches with greater effect, his agility and stride being on a par, from his fortunate conformation in every part and his uncommon strength”.

   “He had considerable length of waist and stood over a great deal of ground, in which particular he was of the opposite form to Flying Childers, a short-backed, compact horse, whose reach laid in his lower limbs . . . Eclipse was thick-winded , and breathed hard and loud in his exercise . . . “


Mr William Percival, a noted veterinary surgeon and lecturer, wrote:

“He was a big horse, in every sense of the word, tall in stature, lengthy and capacious in body, and large in his limbs. For a big horse his head was small and partook of the Arabian character; his neck was unusually long; his shoulder was strong, sufficiently oblique, and although not remarkable for, not deficient in depth. His chest was circular; he rose very little on his withers, being higher behind than before; his back was lengthy and over the loins roached; his quarters were straight square and extended ; his limbs were lengthy and broad, and his joints large; in particular his arms and thighs were long and muscular, and his knees and hocks broad and well formed .”


To keep his exceptional race-record alive, following Eclipse first heats at Epsom, he next ran at Ascot on 29 May, again in a Noblemen and Gentlemen’s Plate worth £50, but this time in two-mile heats. Only Mr Fettyplace’s five-year-old bay horse Cream de Barbale opposed him, with both carrying 9st 3lb. The betting was long odds-on Eclipse, who duly won both heats. Shortly afterwards Dennis O’Kelly bought a half-share in  him for 650 guineas, although for betting purposes Eclipse  continued  to  run  in Wildman’s name.

On 13 June, Eclipse won his first King’s Plate. Run at Winchester, in four-mile heats for six-year-olds (horses a year younger were permitted to run, but all carried 12st. 0lb). Eclipse won both heats and the 100 guinea-prize, beating Slouch, Chigger  and  Juba,  with  O’Kelly’s  other runner, Caliban,  and  Bailey’s  Clanvil  both  distanced in the first  heat.  Two   days  later  at  the  same  meeting, Eclipse  walked  over  for  the   City  Plate,  winning  a  further £50.


On 28 June, Eclipse walked- over for a King’s Plate at Salisbury and the following day ran two four-mile heats for the City Plate at the same venue. The conditions of the race required horses of all ages to carry 10st 0lb. Eclipse, starting at odds of 1-8, attracted opposition from Mr Fettyplace’s Sulphur (7-y-o) and Mr Taylor’s Forrester (6-y-o). Forrester was distanced in the first heat and Eclipse beat Sulphur comfortably in both heats.


On 25 July, at Canterbury, Eclipse walked over for the King’s Plate and two days later travelled to Lewes, where, ridden by John Whiting, he defeated Mr Strode’s Kingston in two four-mile heats for the King’s Plate, conceding a year at 12st 0lb.


Eclipse did not race again until 19 September, when he took on Mr Freeth’s Tardy for the King’s Plate in two three-mile heats for five-year-olds at Lichfield. He won both heats at odds of 1-7.


The following year, Eclipse reappeared in a match against Mr Wentworth’s Bucephalus at Newmarket on 17 April. At this time, horses did not officially age one year until 1 May, so both competitors were recorded as five-year-olds. Bucephalus was one of the cracks of his day and Wentworth put up 400 guineas against Wildman’s 600, with the general betting also 4-6 Eclipse.

The match was to be one heat over the Beacon Course of 4 miles 1 furlong, 138 yards, each carrying 8st 7lb. Bucephalus certainly made Eclipse gallop, but he couldn’t beat him and his heroic effort took its toll, for he never raced again. Dennis O’Kelly now persuaded Wildman to sell his remaining half-share for 1,100 guineas and when  Eclipse  reappeared  two days later for Newmarket’s King’s Plate over the four-mile Round Course, he did so in O’Kelly’s colours of scarlet with a black cap.

Eclipse was opposed by Mr Strode’s five-year-old Pensioner, and  two  six-year-olds – the Duke  of Grafton’s Chigger and Mr  Fenwick ‘s bay  mare  Diana, a  previous  winner  of King’s Plates at York, Lincoln and Newmarket. All carried 12st.0lb.

In the first heat, Eclipse beat (in order) Diana, Pensioner and Chigger. Diana and Chigger withdrew from the second heat and the opening betting of 1-10 Eclipse was revised to 6-4 Eclipse to distance Pensioner, which he did easily.


Eclipse now walked over for three King’s Plates: at Guildford on 5 June, Nottingham on 3 July and at York, with S. Merriott aboard on 20 August. Three days later at York, Eclipse turned out for the Great Subscription – one four-mile heat for six-year-olds and upwards, with a value to the winner of £319.10s. He was opposed by two notable horses: Mr Wentworth’s eight-year-old Tortoise and Sir Charles Bunbury’s seven-year­old, Bellario.

Eclipse, now six years old, received 7lb from the other two and was made favourite at 1-20. There was also much interest in taking 4-7 that Tortoise beat Bellario. Eclipse, with Merriott up once more, despatched the opposition, while Tortoise repaid his supporters by beating Bellario.


Jack Oakley returned to the saddle for Eclipse’s final three races. The first, a walk-over for the King’s Plate at Lincoln on 3 September, followed, a month later, by a 150 guineas  plate at Newmarket, run in one heat over the Beacon Course. Here the sole opposition came from Sir Charles Bunbury’s five-year-old Corsican, who, at level weights, proved no match for Eclipse, as the betting of 1-70 had indicated. The following day, 4 October, 1770, Eclipse walked over for a King’s Plate at Newmarket.

He had then been due to meet Goldfinder, a six-year­ old colt by Snap, who had earned a high reputation, previously winning a Cup and 2,000 guineas at Newmarket. Sadly, his intended rival broke down the day before the race.


After two seasons, Eclipse had won 18 races, including 11 King’s Plates, and had retired unbeaten .The opponents were no longer there, and if a horse had occasionally challenged, obtaining odds better than 1-20 would have been difficult.  Instead he was retired to O’Kelly’s Clay Hill Stud, near Epsom where his fee was set at 50 guineas. Although it took time, together with Herod, they changed the face of thoroughbred  breeding.


For more history of Eclipse see Michael’s Books for Sale. 

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

The Origins of Racing at Epsom – Parts One and Two

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The Origins of Racing at Epsom

Part One


Strangely, the events that led up to the foundation of the Derby started in the dry summer of 1618, when a humble herdsman, Henry Wicker, stumbled across a small hole full of water on the common, to the north-west of the turnpike road, between Epsom and Ashtead.

To Wicker’s amazement, after enlarging the hole in order to water his cattle, they refused to drink. And when he sampled it, neither would he. Some months later, samples of the water were examined by local physicians, who deemed it aluminous and recommended it for external use on cuts and sores. It was not until about 1830 that the highly purgative qualities of the water were discovered; this quite by chance, when a group of labourers drank deeply from the spring.

Epsom’s old wells


While at first knowledge of the waters remained local, word soon travelled to wealthy Londoners, whose appreciation of the remedy eventually brought patronage from the nobility of England, with Epsom then rivalling Tunbridge Wells for its famed cures.

John Toland, the famous religious writer noted, “Since it hath been inwardly taken, diseases have met with their cure, though they proceed from contrary causes.” He also observed that citizens of London arriving “from the worst of smokes to the best of airs”, quickly found themselves restored to perfect health. Very soon, the waters were amongst the most analysed substances in England (one gallon of water containing 480 grains of calcareous nitre), with entrepreneurs extracting and selling what became known as Epsom Salts at extravagant prices – five shillings an ounce being recorded in 1640.

Samuel Pepys wrote in his diary of 1667, “We got to Epsom by 8 a-clock to the Well, where much company; and there we light and I drank the water; they did not, but do go about and walk a little among the women, but I did drink four pints and had some very good stools by it.” Later he visited the King’s Head, the nearest inn to the Downs, “where our coachman carried us; and there had an ill room for us to go into, but the best in the house that was not taken up; here we called for drink and a bespoke dinner. And hear that my Lord Buckhurst and Nelly (Nell Gwynne, the King’s mistress), is lodged at the next house, and keeps a merry house.”

Lord Buckhurst was described by Beauclerk as, “Cultured, witty, satirical, dissolute, and utterly charming”. Pepys reports the news on 13 July: “[Mr. Pierce tells us] Lord Buckhurst hath got Nell away from the King’s house, lies with her, and gives her £100 a year, so she hath sent her parts to the house, and will act no more.” However, Beauclerk later informs us “Nell Gwynne was acting once more in late August, and her brief affair with Buckhurst had ended.”

Pepys, himself was enamoured with Nell Gwynne and kept this Richard Thomson engraving of her as Cupid c.1672, above his desk at the Admiralty.

By the year 1690, after the many improvements made by Mr Parkhurst, Lord of the Manor, the village of Epsom had grown into a thriving town, and the humble shed originally erected for the convenience of invalids had now been replaced by a sumptuous ballroom.

 Henry Pownall, in his History of Epsom, published in 1825, said, “It became the centre of fashion; several houses were erected for lodgings, and yet the place would not contain all the visitors, many of whom were obliged to seek for accommodation in the neighbouring villages. Taverns, at that time reputed to be the largest in England, were opened; sedan chairs and numbered coaches attended.  There was a public breakfast with dancing and music, every morning at the wells. There was also a (betting) ring as in Hyde Park; and on the downs, races were held daily at noon; with cudgelling and wrestling matches, foot races etc., in the afternoon. The evenings were usually spent in private parties, assemblies or cards; and may we add, that neither Bath nor Tunbridge ever boasted of more noble visitors than Epsom, or exceeded it in its splendour, at the time we are describing.”

The earliest indications of horseracing on Banstead (Epsom) Downs are in the 1640’s. In mid-May 1648, during the throes of the Civil War, the Earl of Clarendon in his History of the Rebellion relates, “a meeting of the royalists was held on Banstead Downs, under the pretence of a horse race, and six hundred horses were collected and marched to Reigate.”

This suggests that for such an undercover rendezvous to take place racing at Epsom must have been a regular and well-attended occasion. Under the Commonwealth (1649-60), horseracing was banned, but upon its demise, the first recorded race meeting in the country took place at Epsom on 7 March, 1661, in the presence of Charles II.

Two years later, on 27 May, Pepys wrote in his diary, “This day there was a great thronging to Banstead Downes, upon a great horse race and a foot race; I am sorry I could not go thither.”


 Part Two



Following on from Samuel Pepy’s disappointment in not being able to attend Epsom’s races, there was however, an early 18th century account of an Epsom race meeting recorded by Conrad von Uffenbach:


“At three o’clock in the afternoon we rode out to the place where the races are usually held, called Banstead Downes near Epsom. We found there vast crowds on horseback, both men and females; many of the latter wore men’s clothes and feathered hats, which is quite usual in England…We were amazed that the racecourse was so uneven and hilly. All around, almost as far as the eye could see, were placed coloured sticks or posts, round which the horses had to run twice in one race… The five horses that were to run were first covered with blankets and led by hand round the paddock so that everyone might see them and the betting on the winner begin.”

A servant of Uffenbach then timed one of the four-mile heats at nine minutes, which greatly impressed their party.

In 1706, John Livingstone, having previously established himself as an apothecary in Epsom, purchased a plot of land in the town to build a pleasure-palace for dancing and gaming, adding a jewellers shop and a bowling green. Livingstone’s ambition went further. A distance from his amenities he sank a well, installed a pump and, with a great deal of publicity, laid underground pipes directly into his establishment. Furthermore, to ensure his success, he bought up the lease on the original well and then locked up the site.

Although tasting similarly foul, the new spring water had no medicinal properties. This however, did not stop Livingstone, who sent faked samples to reputable chemists to enhance the water’s reputation and, since the old wells were shut-up, no lawful comparison could be made.

In 1716, after two genuine mineral springs were discovered at Cheltenham, Epsom’s fortune went into decline, although in 1720, the time of the South Sea Bubble, Pownell relates, “There was, however, a temporary renewal of its former gaiety and dissipation….when the alchemists, Dutch, German and Jews, again filled the village; its balls and amusements were revived, and gaming with every other description of profligacy and vice, prevailed to an enormous extent.”

When the bubble burst, Epsom was again deserted, but in 1736, its fortunes took a turn at the arrival of a celebrated female bonesetter – Sarah Wallin – known to all as ‘Crazy Sally’. Apparently, she could put a man’s shoulder back without assistance and her success with fractures and dislocations caused the inhabitants of Epsom to raise an annual subscription of £300 a year to induce her to stay. She did for while but then, at the height of her fame, she fell in love with a Mr Hill Mapp, from Ludgate Hill – a footman and by all accounts a rogue. The marriage, strongly opposed by the Epsom residents, was a disaster, Mapp taking all her money and then abandoning her to die in a pauper’s grave in the London slum of St Giles.

A final effort to restore Epsom as a spa came around 1760, when a surgeon from London, Mr Dale Ingram, offered public breakfasts, washed down with a concoction of magnesia and Epsom salts. His success, however, was limited and many years later, in 1804, the buildings of the Old Wells were demolished and replaced by a private house.

Throughout the fluctuating fortunes in the town, race meetings on the Downs had become a regular feature in May and October from 1730, with prizes of cups and plates provided by the local nobility.

In 1775, a year after his marriage to Lady Elizabeth Hamilton, Edward Stanley leased The Oaks, a country house with 180 acres at Woodmansterne, near Epsom, from his uncle by marriage, General John Burgoyne. Burgoyne acting as a ‘father confessor’ to Stanley, ran the gamut of being a gambler, soldier, playwright and M.P. for Preston. However, on a wider plain, he is best remembered for surrendering Saratoga to the rebels in the American War of Independence, after which he became a prisoner of war.

In February, 1776, the 11th Earl of Derby died and Edward Stanley succeeded to become the 12th Earl. At the Epsom May Meeting in 1778, Lord Derby, who often acted as a steward at the meeting, invited a party of friends to his house, including Burgoyne, Richard Sheridan the playwright and Charles Fox, the prominent Whig politician.

Burgoyne, impressed with Anthony St Leger’s previous one-off sweepstakes at Cantley Common (forerunners of the St Leger), suggested to Lord Derby, that since the four-day race programme consisted solely of heats of either two or four miles, that the following year, a single race over one and a half miles for three-year-old fillies, would add some spice to the meeting.

12th Earl of Derby

The race named after Lord Derby’s house, The Oaks, was first run on Friday, 14 May, 1779 and was considered a great success, members of Lord Derby’s party all won money and that evening, another new race for both colts and fillies was planned for the following year. While there are no details in the archives at Knowsley concerning the foundation of the Derby, history has passed on the tale that the 12th Earl of Derby and Sir Charles Bunbury (the leading figure in the Jockey Club, who was staying at the Oaks) spun a coin as to whether the race should be called the Derby Stakes or the Bunbury Stakes.

The first running of the Derby Stakes was on Thursday, 4 May 1780. Open to three-year-old colts (8st 0lb) and fillies (7st 11lb), at 50 guineas each (half forfeit) and run over the last mile of the Orbicular Course. There were 36 subscribers and nine runners, and although Lord Derby won the toss of the coin, it was Sir Charles Bunbury who owned the first winner – Diomed.

In addition that day, a race for the Noblemen and Gentlemen’s Purse of £50 (for five and six-year-olds, run in three heats over four miles), was won by King Fergus, a future Champion Sire and son of Eclipse, who notably, sired three of the six winners at this four-day meeting.

The day’s entertainment also featured a main of cockfighting between the birds of the Gentlemen of Middlesex and Surrey, and those of the Gentlemen of Wiltshire. Enthusiastically supported by Lord Derby and his guests, cockfighting was at this time regarded the country’s principal sport, with results carried in the National press.

At the end of that day, no-one could have predicted that Diomed would provide the first link in a chain of winners extending over more than two and a quarter centuries, one that has made the Derby, together with the Oaks, the two oldest sporting events, continually run, in the world.


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

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.

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








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.


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

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