This is the final part in my series on the great 18th century racehorse Flying Childers. You can read part four – which in turns links back to part three, and so on and so forth – here.
Betty Leedes’ first colt by the Darley Arabian would become a star on the track, but the daughter of Careless had not had her final word as a broodmare.
In 1716, two years after Childers’ birth, she produced another Darley Arabian colt for Leonard Childers. It is not known when the colt, initially known as Young Childers, entered training for the racecourse, but there must have been high hopes for him, especially considering what his brother would go on to do.
But hopes were dashed as Young Childers never raced. A cruder name for the colt surfaced and gives a clue into why he never became a racehorse – Bleeding Childers. He broke blood vessels during training and could not hold up to the rigors of being a running horse. In today’s age – in America, at least – he might have been the recipient of the anti-bleeding drug furosemide, more commonly known as Lasix. 3 centuries ago, his owners had no such luxury.
So the younger brother – purchased by John Bartlett and given his most famous name of Bartlett’s Childers – retired to stud without a race record. Nevertheless, he received many mares at Bartlett’s Nuttle Court near Masham in Yorkshire, and became a horse of worth as a stallion.
There are some who doubt that Bartlett’s Childers ever existed – that the two Childers in the stud book were actually one horse, the great champion, the older brother. John Cheny, one of the first to collect Thoroughbred pedigrees, stated that he had it on good authority of “many gentlemen of worth and and honour” that the two were separate horses. The records of early Yorkshire breeder Cuthbert Routh show that he sent mares to be covered by both Flying Childers and Bartlett’s Childers, as well as a son of Bartlett’s Childers named Smale’s Childers. While it is an interesting theory, there is little to no doubt, based on evidence at hand, that both brothers existed.
Bartlett’s Childers sired many important mares. One daughter, Amorett, produced many influential stallions, including leading sire Blank and Janus, whose namesake son was one of the most important horses in early American pedigrees.
But it was a son of the younger Childers who would cement his sire’s name in Thoroughbred history forever. Squirt, out of a mare by Snake, was born in 1732 to William Metcalfe of Yorkshire and was sold to Charles Colyear, 2nd Earl of of Portmore. The Earl raced Squirt successfully at prestigious courses like Newmarket and Epsom, and then sold him to Sir Harry Harpur, who retired him to stud in Derbyshire.
In 1750, two important sons of Squirt were born: Syphon and Marske. The two clashed on the racetrack once in 1755 at Newmarket. Both were beaten by a horse named Brilliant, but Syphon finished second, with Marske behind in third. A breakdown ended Syphon’s racing career, while Marske unceremoniously closed his out with a forfeit to Spectator.
Syphon sired Sweetbriar and Sweetwilliam, both very nice racehorses, among other offspring. But his male line died out near the end of the 18th century. It was Marske, whom Syphon had bested on the track, that would sire a legend. It was Marske who would become a direct ancestor of countless of champions after him.
Marske sired a chestnut colt born during the solar eclipse of 1764. That colt, named for the phenomena surrounding his birth, was undefeated in 18 starts, never challenged. Eclipse was the best racehorse to come around since his great-great-grandsire’s brother, 50 years before. Eclipse sired Pot-8-os, who sired Waxy, who sired Whalebone, and this is the sireline that is so familiar today.
So while the magnificent Childers did his talking on the racetrack, his younger brother, unable to race, made his own mark as a legendary stallion. It is through Eclipse that the overwhelming majority of modern Thoroughbreds directly trace back to Bartlett’s Childers.