Category Archives: Breeding

Stories on Thoroughbred breeding and pedigrees.

Racing History: The Fillies of the (Epsom) Derby

Next year, we will honor the centennial anniversary of Regret’s history-making victory in the Kentucky Derby. Colonel Matt Winn, president of Churchill Downs, later said that the filly’s win “made the Kentucky Derby an American institution.” Two others followed, though many years later: Genuine Risk in 1980 and Winning Colors in 1988. These three make up an unforgettable trifecta of names in Derby history books.

One year after Regret’s triumph, Fifinella won England’s prestigious Derby Stakes. Fifinella was one of six females to defeat their male counterparts in the “Blue Riband” of racing, an event run annually since 1780, and, as we are about to step into 2015, no other filly since has achieved that feat. Fillies these days, even the exceptional ones, choose the Oaks as a target and wait for future events down the line to tackle colts.

The Oaks and Derby are traditionally run the same weekend, but that didn’t stop Eleanor from winning them both anyway. Bred by the notable Sir Charles Bunbury, president of the first Jockey Club, Eleanor was from a strong family of winners and producers and did a fine job of emulating her relatives on the racetrack. In 1809, she became the first filly to win the Derby, beating ten others, then defeated five fillies to take the Oaks for her own as well.

Eleanor ran until age seven, then was retired to stud for Bunbury. Her best offspring was two-time leading sire Muley. His father? Orville, whom Eleanor once got the better of on the racetrack.

After Eleanor’s Derby success, other fillies took a stab at the colts at Epsom Downs, but were none successful until nearly a half-century later, when Blink Bonny came home victorious in 1857. Sired by Melbourne, whose son West Australian had become the first horse to win the English Triple Crown four years previous, Blink Bonny, like Eleanor, completed the Derby-Oaks double, though the two efforts could not have been more different: her Derby win by a neck in a blanket finish, the Oaks by a dominant eight lengths.

Blink Bonny retired after two races at four and produced Blair Athol, who was described by bloodstock expert William Allison as “the best horse I have ever seen, the best bred, best looking, and he beat the best Derby field ever seen, and that too in his first race.” Blair Athol won the Triple Crown in 1864, and, after his racing days, became a four-time leading sire.

Time passed, and descendants of both Eleanor and Blink Bonny were enjoying success on the track when chestnut filly Shotover came onto the scene in 1882. Not only did she defeat colts in the Derby, she handed them defeat in the Two Thousand Guineas as well. She rose to further success in the breeding shed as the third dam of Frizette, ancestress of legends like Seattle Slew and Mr. Prospector.

The 19th century ended with three fillies victorious in the Derby. Three more would follow in the new millennium, though this time, their stars would emerge in the span of just eight years.

In 1904, a prized mare and an underachieving stallion thought to be “in love” by Italian breeder Cavaliere Edoardo Ginistrelli were mated and, almost a year later, produced a filly the owner named Signorinetta (story from The Biographical Encyclopedia of British Flat Racing by Mortimer, Onslow, and Willett). After winning just one race in seven starts, Signorinetta was entered in the prestigious Derby and went off at odds of 100-1 – a hopeless longshot against seventeen other colts. Hopeless? Signorinetta knew not that word. She drew off to win by two lengths, shocking the large crowd assembled. Two days later, she added the Oaks to her resume as well.

Ginistrelli, thought by some as an eccentric, sold the filly to Lord Rosebery for money to return to his home country, Italy. Signorinetta produced winners from a handful of foals and died 20 years after her famous Derby victory.

Four years after Signorinetta’s Derby shocker, the great sire Cyllene sired his last British classic winner when Tagalie came home a winner by four lengths in the Derby. It was to be her finest achievement – she never won another race and was a disappointment in the breeding shed.

And then there was one. The feisty Fifinella has already been mentioned. Described by her owner as “catty and peevish,” she had a tendency to run erratically, including in the Derby, where she had just enough heart to get up over well-bred Kwang-su by a neck. Very soon after that, she became the fourth filly to complete the Derby-Oaks double. She retired after a third-place finish to future legendary sire Phalaris and retired to stud. Many of her offspring were doomed from the start, for they inherited her temper.

Gone are the days when horses make close consecutive starts. Fillies winning both the Derby and Oaks in the same weekend are a thing of the past. After Fifinella’s win, only one female was able to hit the board in the Derby: Nobiliary, who finished second to Grundy in 1975.

That’s not to say fillies don’t defeat males anymore – recent names like Zenyatta, Gentildonna, and Treve put a swift end to that line of reasoning. But the days of them doing so in the prestigious Derby Stakes are nearly a century behind us, and we can only venture a guess as to when the seventh female winner will come about.


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Pedigree Profile – King Fergus & His Descendants

In the spring of 1780 at famed Newmarket Racecourse, three regal chestnut stallions lined up to compete for a prize of 140 guineas.

The oldest, an 8-year-old named Dorimant, had seen better days on the track. Earlier in the season, the once-successful runner had finished fifth of five, defeated by a talented son of Herod named Woodpecker.

It wouldn’t be easy for old Dorimant here. He faced two others, both by Eclipse, who had left the racing world in shock and awe a decade before in winning all 18 of his starts. Many thought the copper-colored champion to be the best racehorse of all time.

The elder of the Eclipse sons was Pot-8-os – or, for accuracy’s sake, Potoooooooo. The blazed-face colt was named so due to error on the part of a stable lad: the horse’s breeder, the Earl of Abingdon, had asked the boy to write the word “potatoes” on either a corn bin or a stall door. The subsequent misunderstanding and misspelling – Pot(o eight times) – apparently amused the Earl enough to register the blue-blooded chestnut in that name.

Pot-8-os, while not as phenomenal as his sire, was still a respectable racehorse, eventually winning 28 races at the close of his career. He was a 7-year-old at the time of the Newmarket race.

The youngest of the small field was King Fergus, owned by the vibrant man who had also owned Eclipse – Colonel Dennis O’Kelly, a jack of all trades. O’Kelly had purchased Eclipse after his first remarkable race, and purchased this fine son as a yearling from a man named Mr. Carver. He was only five years old and a winner in several starts.

In the end, it was Pot-8-os who would take the Newmarket prize. At stud, the stallion would have lasting influence on the breed, establishing a male line that descends down to some of the biggest names in the breed, including Phalaris, Northern Dancer, and Secretariat.

King Fergus bested old Dorimant, finishing second, though he had lost a shoe in the race. After wrapping up his career at age nine, owned by a different man than Colonel O’Kelly, he began his stud career in the place that many of the best before him had stood for a fee: Yorkshire.

Twelve years after that Newmarket event, a bay colt named Hambletonian was born. A product of the country’s best bloodlines – by King Fergus out of a Highflyer mare – Hambletonian became his sire’s greatest son. Winning 17 of 18 starts, losing only once because he ran off the course, he was his sire’s second St. Leger winner, victorious the year after Beningbrough took the prize.

Hambletonian became just as important and lauded in the breeding shed as he was on the track, beginning a successful male line that saw champion after champion. Blacklock, the first, was described as “a queer-shaped beast, with an enormous fiddle head, but he certainly could gallop.” A decent runner, Blacklock became a champion sire, and his grandson Voltigeur won the Derby in 1850. Voltigeur sired Vedette, a Two Thousand Guineas champion, and Vedette sired Derby winner Galopin.

Then came St. Simon, undefeated runner and remarkable producer. Winning all ten of his career starts, including an Ascot Gold Cup domination by twenty lengths, St. Simon retired to stud and was champion sire in Great Britain and Ireland nine times, and champion broodmare sire another six.

St. Simon sired classic winners like Persimmon and St. Frusquin, great sires like Chaucer and Florizel, and even a Triple Crown winner in Diamond Jubilee. Among St. Simon’s male-line descendants are such stalwarts of the breed like Princequillo, Ribot, and the filly Nogara, dam of the great Nearco. Scores of classic winners from both Great Britain and America trace their sireline back to the incomparable St. Simon.

The distance races went the way of St. Simon, but a decade later, a talented sprinter named Sundridge emerged on the racing scene. Winning 17 of 35 starts, the chestnut stallion stood in both England and France. Despite suffering from low fertility throughout his stud career, Sundridge happens to be the tail-male ancestor of countless champions across the globe.

Five Kentucky Derby winners trace back to Sundridge, including the great champion Count Fleet, who never finished off the board and sealed the Triple Crown deal in the Belmont Stakes by 25 lengths. Interestingly enough, all five of the Derby winners from this line have father-son connections: Reigh Count sired Count Fleet, who sired Count Turf, and Bubbling Over sired Burgoo King.

The aforementioned St. Leger winner Beningbrough, a son of King Fergus and a contemporary of Hambletonian – he lost to the bay stallion on one occasion – also founded a male line with numerous classic winners in countries ranging from Britain to Germany to Australia to Canada. This sireline, while prolific in the 1800s, appears to have died out towards the turn of the 20th century.

As he was on the racetrack, King Fergus was overtaken by Pot-8-os in the breeding shed, especially in the long run. Eclipse’s male line now flows through the oddly-named bay colt who went on to sire Waxy, who sired Whalebone, and so on, and so forth. King Fergus, champion sire in 1797 and tail-male ancestor of Count Fleet and Ribot, died in Yorkshire at the age of 26 in 1801.

Reference sites:
King Fergus sireline chart
King Fergus bio (with links leading to his sons and descendants)

Pedigree Query

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Pedigree Profiles – When Life Gives You Lemons…

The horses who spoil a Triple Crown bid are often as remembered as the hopefuls they thwarted. For some, the Belmont Stakes is the highlight of their career. Not so for the well-bred bay colt who picked up the pieces as Charismatic staggered home injured in third.

That was not Lemon Drop Kid’s first big dance, nor would it be his last. The colt already boasted a Grade 1 win at Belmont Park; he captured the Futurity Stakes as a juvenile as well. And in the summer heat of 1999 at beautiful Saratoga, Lemon Drop Kid proved his classic win was no fluke with a win in the Travers Stakes (G1), the “Midsummer Derby.”

As a four year old, Lemon Drop Kid took home the premier Grade 1 races for older males at Saratoga – the Whitney and the Woodward. The Suburban (G2) would be his that year as well. In the year that gave us Tiznow, Lemon Drop Kid did not win Horse of the Year, but instead was given the award for Champion Older Male.

15 years after his Belmont Stakes success, Lemon Drop Kid now is making his mark in the breeding shed. 79 stakes winners, according to his page on Lane’s End Farm’s website, and 33 of those are graded. His first crop, born in 2002, boasted the millionaire Cosmonaut. One of his youngest stars, Kid Cruz, has won four stakes races this year.

It’s not surprising Lemon Drop Kid evolved into a talented sire – he was made for it. Sire Kingmambo is by super stallion Mr. Prospector and out of the great racemare Miesque. Dam Charming Lassie is a half-sister to Weekend Surprise, who produced the legendary sire A.P. Indy. Lemon Drop Kid is bred in the purple.

This last weekend alone, Lemon Drop Kid enjoyed a pair of graded stakes winners in Somali Lemonade, who bagged the TVG Diana (G1) at Saratoga, and Aurelia’s Belle, winner of the Arlington Oaks (G3).

While Lemon Drop Kid excelled on the dirt, his offspring have, for the most part, done their best work on turf or synthetic. His top earner, Richard’s Kid – who was racing successfully in graded stakes company at the age of 8 – took home two editions of Del Mar’s Pacific Classic (G1) on Polytrack. Citronnade and Kiss the Kid were also turf runners, though the latter was successful on multiple surfaces. As far as surface versatile-sires go, Lemon Drop Kid is one of the best.

Some of the newer Kids on the block – pun most certainly intended – include the aforementioned graded stakes winners Kid Cruz and Aurelia’s Belle, as well as Sea Queen, who finished second in the Belmont Oaks Invitational (G1), Unspurned, a stakes winner at Woodbine, and Grade 3-placed Candy Kitty.

Then there is Lemons Forever, winner of the Kentucky Oaks (G1) in 2006. Her 2011 daughter Unbridled Forever (Unbridled’s Song) is one of the top contenders in this year’s sophomore filly division, with third-place finishes in the Kentucky Oaks and the Acorn (G1). Lemons Forever is just one of many Lemon Drop Kid daughters making a name for themselves as broodmares. Gout De Terroir leads the fray as the dam of multiple Group 1 winner Elusive Kate (Elusive Quality).

18-year-old Lemon Drop Kid, who entered stud in 2001, stands at Lane’s End Farm for $35,000.

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Pedigree Profiles – Curlin & Northern Dancer

On the track, he was a hero – the richest racehorse in North American history, earning $10 million in several big-money scores, including the Breeders’ Cup Classic and Dubai World Cup. And now, since 2009, Curlin has settled into his new duties nicely at Lane’s End, alongside his sire, Smart Strike.

Curlin was the product of Mr. Prospector, from his sire, and the Northern Dancer line, from his mother, Sherriff’s Deputy (Deputy Minister). And now that he has several crops on the ground, I’ve started to notice that the same nick that worked in creating himself is now working quite nicely for his top offspring.

Take Palace Malice, for example. Arguably the best horse in the country this year, Palace Malice not only outstayed them all to win at 12 furlongs but has the turn of foot to win a one-turn mile at Belmont. His dam, Palace Rumor, is by Theatrical and from the Nureyev branch of the Northern Dancer sireline.

Ride On Curlin was one of the more talked-about horses on the Triple Crown trail this year. Although he never really got the job done, he did manage a close second to California Chrome in the Preakness (G1). His dam is by Storm Cat, from the Storm Bird branch.

A trio of stakes winners in Japan – A Shin the Head, A Shin Epona, and Dilga – are all out of mares that trace back in the direct male line to Northern Dancer.

Diversy Harbor and the late Socialbug, the former a graded winner, are out of mares from the Storm Cat and Vice Regent branches, respectively.

An interesting twist to this nick comes in the form of Stopshoppingdebbie, an undefeated racemare who has become the pride of the Pacific Northwest. She hails from a mare that traces back to Nearctic, the sire of Northern Dancer.

Some notable exceptions to this rule include Seseri, a stakes winner in Japan, and American stakes winner Flash Forward, both of whom are out of Mr. Prospector line mares. Both are also inbred to the stallion 3×3, through their respective broodmare sires and through Curlin’s strain of Smart Strike. Also bending the Northern Dancer rule is Moulin de Mougin, who is out of Cambiocorsa, a mare by the Seattle Slew son Avenue of Flags.

This Northern Dancer trend seems to be carrying on with later crops. Two year old filly La Grange, recent winner of the Cinderella Stakes, is out of a mare that traces back to Vice Regent.

Then there’s Jess’s Dream, whose famous dam Rachel Alexandra is by Medaglia d’Oro, himself from the Sadler’s Wells branch. He’s still unraced, so it’s yet to be seen whether he does half as well as his champion parents, but, as shown above, the bloodlines are in his favor.

Curlin stands at Lane’s End Farm in Versailles, Kentucky, for a 2014 fee of $25,000 live foal.

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Childers: Part V – The Brother

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.


Thoroughbred Heritage: Bartlett’s Childers

Thoroughbred Bloodlines: Bartlett’s Childers


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Childers: Part IV – The Stallion

This is the fourth part of my series on the 18th century racehorse Flying Childers. You can read the third part here.

Unbeaten and untested, Childers retired to the Duke of Devonshire’s stud at Chatsworth after his final start in November of 1723. There, he covered few other mares but the Duke’s own, including many daughters of Devonshire’s stallion Basto.

The first successful Childers-Basto nick came to fruition in 1728, when Blacklegs was born. He was bred by the 2nd Duke but, after his breeder’s death in 1729, was owned and raced by the 3rd Duke. Taking on more competitors than his sire had faced, Blacklegs raced for two years and retired to stud alongside his sire at Chatsworth. Blacklegs’ dam, an unnamed sister to Soreheels, was as important to the stud book as any mare of her time.

Blacklegs did well at stud; he was the champion sire in 1746. But he failed to produce a son that would carry on his – and his sire’s – male line.

Then there was Blaze, born in 1733 out of a mare by Grey Grantham, a stallion owned by the Duke of Rutland, whose Brown Betty had been bested by Childers on the racetrack several years before. Blaze was bred by Thomas Panton of Newmarket and raced there as well as at Epsom, a racecourse now famous for the Derby. He defeated some well-known names of the turf in his three-year career, including Squirt and Lath.

Blaze stood at stud in Yorkshire and was moderately successful as a sire. His most famous daughter was Cypron, dam of Herod, from whom the line of the Byerley Turk extends to the present day. Other offspring of Blaze’s include Grenadier, a useful sire of racehorses, and Sampson, a regal black colt whose legacy would continue through his son Engineer. Though Childers’ direct male line is now extinct in the Thoroughbred world, many of the world’s finest Standardbred pacers and trotters trace back to him through Messenger, a stallion four generations descended from Blaze.

A mare named Roxana, best known as the dam of two of the Godolphin Arabian’s greatest sons, Cade and Lath, gave birth to a son by Childers named Roundhead in 1733. Roundhead’s greatest claim to fame, possibly, is that he is one of the few Thoroughbreds in the GSB listed as “sorrel.”

The same sister to Soreheels who produced Blacklegs gave Childers another son in 1736. The colt, named Snip, was described as being of “high blood, justness of shape, and fine appearance.” Snip wasn’t nearly as successful on the racetrack as his famous sire, but his son, Snap, was a great racehorse and leading sire on four occasions. Snap’s daughters produced some of the best performers in turf history – among them, Assassin, Medley, and Sir Peter Teazle.

As well as all the great sons he produced, Childers had no shortage of great daughters. Ebony, out of a mare by Basto, was one of the foundation mares of Female Family No. 5. Among her descendants are legendary sires like Doncaster, Native Dancer, and Sadler’s Wells, and racetrack champions such as Seabiscuit and Gladiateur. Another daughter, an unnamed sister to a stallion named Steady, was the great-granddam of Diomed, one of the most influential sires in early American Thoroughbred bloodlines.

Childers lived a full life at Chatsworth, dying at the age of 26 in 1741. While he managed to sire winners and producers, he failed to produce offspring as good as he was himself. Maybe it was impossible – maybe no horse, not even of his blood, could live up to the lofty expectations set by the racing public.

While Childers failed to carry on his male line to the modern Thoroughbred, his full brother, who never set foot on a racetrack, became a great sire.


Thoroughbred Heritage: Flying Childers

Thoroughbred Bloodlines: Flying Childers

Pedigree Query: List of offspring by Flying Childers

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Childers: Part III – The Racehorse

This is the third part of my series on the great 18th century racehorse Flying Childers. You can find the second part here.

Childers – known under a variety of names, including Devonshire Childers, Bay Childers, and, most famously, Flying Childers – was born in 1714, the year that Queen Anne, founder of Ascot Racecourse, died. Born at Cantley Hall, owned by his breeder, Colonel Leonard Childers, he was purchased by the 2nd Duke of Devonshire, who was master of the illustrious Chatsworth House in Derbyshire.

The bay colt was flashy, with four white stockings and a blaze, and similarly marked to his handsome sire, the Darley Arabian. Fully grown, it is said that he stood around 15.2 hands – short, by modern Thoroughbred standards, but quite tall as compared to the usual racehorse in those days.

On April 26, 1721, Childers made his first start on the Round Course at Newmarket. Racing at Newmarket was recorded during the reign of James I, who ruled during the first quarter of the 17th century. The Round Course is one of three tracks at Newmarket today, but is used for just one race, the Newmarket Town Plate, which has been run since 1666. Newmarket is most famous for the first two classic races of the season, the 1000 and 2000 Guineas.

His first rival would be Speedwell, a chestnut colt owned by the Duke of Bolton. The previous year, Speedwell had defeated Coneyskins, a talented runner owned by the Duke of Rutland, over a four mile match. 500 guineas was to be Childers’ first prize, and he sailed away from the chestnut colt, winning his debut. He must have defeated Speedwell so effortlessly that in October, when a rematch was scheduled, Speedwell forfeited, leaving Childers to pick up yet another 500 guineas without even having to run.

That same year, Childers also ran a trial against two well-regarded horses. One was Brown Betty, who had ties to Childers and his owner: her sire, Basto, was owned by the Duke, and her owner, the 3rd Duke of Rutland, was a nephew of Devonshire’s wife. The other rival was Almanzor, a fellow son of the Darley Arabian who was described as a “remarkably fine, well-bred horse,” a year older than Childers.

Childers carried 9st 2lbs against these rivals and was said to have covered the Round Course, measured at 3 miles and 6 furlongs, in 6 minutes and 40 seconds. Moving at what was thought to be 82 1/2 feet per second, this clocking by Rutland and Devonshire would lead to the legend that Childers could travel a mile per minute.

A mile in a minute! Considering that the world record time for a mile ran by a Thoroughbred is more than 30 seconds slower, it is safe to assume that this clocking was less than accurate.

But no matter how fast he ran that day at Newmarket, Childers had still thumped some of the best horses in the country, and he wasn’t finished yet. In 1722, he faced the grand racehorse Fox in a trial at York. Fox, from the same female family as Childers, was born in the same year but had begun his career in 1719, winning several great prizes and defeating older, more seasoned horses.

Due to Childers’ recent success, Fox was given a 12 pound weight break. Despite this, Childers could have not been more dominant, defeating Fox by a quarter of a mile. To put this margin of victory in perspective: on your standard mile oval, Childers would be crossing the finish line as Fox was just about to enter the homestretch.

After that impressive performance, Childers would race once more in 1722. In October at Newmarket, he faced Chaunter, a horse four years older than him. Chaunter, who had defeated some of the best in the country, was a half-brother to Childers’ dam, Betty Leedes. Each carrying 10 stone (140 pounds), they raced for six long miles – the test of a champion, indeed. Childers would yet again prevail, taking home the prize of 1000 guineas.

After the grit he showed against Chaunter, the speed he flashed on Newmarket’s Round Course, and the downright superiority he displayed in his match against Fox, no horse or owner in the country was keen to face Devonshire’s Childers. In April, both Stripling and the Lonsdale Mare forfeited from a match against him, allowing Childers to take the prize without any effort on his part. And in November, his final start – if you could call it that – a horse named Bobsey withdrew from the race, giving Childers the walkover victory yet again.

Childers was so dominant on the racetrack that no one would even dare to face him in his final season. And he was coveted by many. The Duke received numerous offers from hopeful buyers; one person, legend has it, offered Childers’ weight in gold crowns for the horse. All offers were turned down.

Undefeated in his six starts, plus his trial against Fox at York, Childers was retired to stud at Chatsworth, never to race again. If he ran more than seven times, it is unrecorded. Surely, there is no doubt that he was never beaten, no matter how many times he raced. If he was ever defeated, it would have been recorded in words of shock and disbelief. Childers was unbeatable; a freak of nature.

A racehorse’s career does not end on the track, unless fertile or gelded. As a private stallion of the Duke’s, Childers would receive some of the finest mares in the country. Could he stamp a foal as great – or even greater – than he was himself?


Thoroughbred Bloodlines: Flying Childers (links to his competitors can also be found here)

Thoroughbred Heritage: Flying Childers

General Stud Book: Childers (Flying, or Devonshire)

Information about Newmarket and its courses

The Peerage: 3rd Duke of Rutland (and his family)

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