The Princess Family [#1690 Wanklyn/Howarth] was a very successful nineteenth century family in early New Zealand racing, and several branches, through the half-sisters Plush and Day, and through 1936 WRC Telegraph Handicap winner Aerolite, persist into the present.
Princess was a chestnut mare by imported Gratis, bred by the highly successful New South Wales breeder Charles Roberts, a son of emancipist William Roberts who had been transported for stealing a gelding from Wootton Park and became successful in New South Wales as a road builder. The family became prominent in early pioneering society in South Creek and Liverpool, and made marriage connections to many other early horse-breeding families. Charles owned Wallgrove Prospect Stud, County Cumberland, near the famous Bungarribee and Flushcombe studs, and had connections with other family ( by direct kinship or marriage) studs, including that of his brother's, then nephew's, Exeter Farm at Jembaicumbene. Roberts was responsible for conducting once-famous match races at Homebush and Hawkesbury, and imported, leased or purchased many important early stallions, including Gratis (1829, by Middleton), from which he bred the winning racehorse and stallion Sir Charles and other good runners.
Princess' dam was a mare named Roan Kit, by Stride, a bay horse imported into New South Wales from India in 1822. It was to Roan Kit that family members' persistent roan coat was attributed, which apparently lasted in the form of some scattered white hairs through the 1950s. Stride, imported by Captain John Piper, who also brought in a number of other early horses used for breeding racehorses, was purportedly an English thoroughbred, and later at Parramatta and the Hunter Valley. Roan Kit's dam was a mare named Cleodora, by the famous arabian/persian stallion Hector.
In Roberts' stud Princess produced five foals with no recorded dates: Mercury, by the arabian Glendower; Penelope by the native-bred Waverley; Fanny Davis, by Bury's Camel, Refraction, by Cap-a-Pie, and Countess, by the Gratis son Commissioner. She produced two more foals, Glaucus (1846), by Bookworm, and the filly Symphony (1847), by Trumpet or Slender for Captain John Hunter. Glaucus was later a moderately successful stallion in New Zealand, and Symphony, a successful racehorse at Nelson for Edward W. Stafford in New Zealand, bred on for a few generations, ancestress of the grey filly Culverin, who won the 1896 CJC Great Easter Handicap.
Glaucus was in the same famous Henry Redwood 1852 shipment of horses from New South Wales to New Zealand that included the outstanding broodmare Flora McIvor and some of her daughters, the colonial taproot mares Moth (Family C - 6), Woodstock (Family C - 28), and Finesse (NSB), and the highly influential stallion Sir Hercules. But Symphony, and probably Princess, were part of an earlier 1851 Redwood shipment across the Tasman that included the colonial taproot Spray (Family C - 34); her next foal, Potentate (1853), also a fairly successful sire in New Zealand, was bred by Edward Stafford, and was by Sir Hercules, by then a stallion in New Zealand.
The Hon. Edward Stafford was, like Henry Redwood, an early Nelson racehorse breeder. He had been born in Ireland of a relatively well-to-do family, and emigrated first to Australia, and then soon thereafter to New Zealand in 1843, married to the daughter of William Wakefield, chief agent of the New Zealand Company. He served as the first Superintendent of Nelson, and represented Nelson in the General Assembly for thirteen years, and Colonial Secretary in the 1850s, and Prime Minister of New Zealand three times, a supremely skillful politician who helped establish an independent New Zealand through his constitutional work. He was also an excellent jockey in his early years, and reported as the best judge of horseflesh in New Zealand. Not long after arriving in New Zealand he stablished his own sheep run and horse-breeding stud, Upton Downs, near Nelson. Stafford retired from New Zealand politics in 1878 and returned to Ireland; he was knighted in 1879, and died in 1901.
In addition to Potentate, Princess produced three more foals for Stafford: Cassandra (1854), Cressida (1855), and Ada (1856). Cassandra is the daughter through which the family descends to today. Ada won the inaugural Canterbury Derby in 1860 for the Staffords, ridden by Robert Reay, a jockey and later a successful owner-trainer, and trained by William Webb, who had come to New Zealand as groom for the stallion Traducer and the important broodmare Mermaid. She was then was sold to early Canterbury racehorse owner and breeder, William H. Harris, for whom she bred Magenta, winner of the C.J.C. Handicap. Ada, who passed into Webb's hands when Harris died, was later the dam of Danebury (1873, by Traducer), winner of the CJC Champagne Stakes and Christchurch Plate for Webb, and the Great Northern Derby, for Reay and his brother, and Adamant, who won the Dunedin Cup.
After this, Princess bred three foals for a Mr. Newcome: Regina (1860), Corona (1861), and The Queen (1862). Regina became second dam of two good brothers: The Administrator (1879) and The Consul (1880), both roan colts by Premier. The Administrator dead-heated for Auckland's Easter Handicap and won other races "when he liked," and The Consul was a winner of the Wanganui Derby in 1884.
Cassandra was retained as a broodmare at Upton Downs where she bred Opera, by Il Barbiere, the first native-bred thoroughbred stallion of significance. Opera won the Canterbury (later New Zealand) Derby for Stafford, and later produced the top class gelding Tambourini (see below). Her daughters, the Towton sisters Occult (1862) and Discretion (1864), continued the family line to the present. Discretion was an immediate success as a broodmare, producing the three siblings -- all Wanganui Cup winners -- Resolution (1880), also winner of the Taranaki Cup (and Wanganui Cup twice), Hailstorm (1875), and Queen of the Vale (1873), later dam of the WRC Thompson Handicap winner Kupengu. The family experienced a brief resurgence in the 1920s and '30s, with the stayers Bisox (1922, Avondale Cup, CJC Winter Cup), Corfex (1929, Taranaki Cup), Refresher (1926, Waikato Cup), and the sprinters Rakahanga (WRC Telegraph Handicap), and Autolite (1936, Telegraph Handicap). The best horse in the family since then was Auto Air (1983), winner of the Manawatu Australasian Breeding Stables Juvenile, the WRC Wellesley Stakes, the ARC Eclipse Stakes, the MwtuRC Higgins 1600, and the Matamata Cup.