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  Family B-19: Wings

This family was included in the Family Table of Racehorses because one of its members, Grudon, won the Grand National Steeplechase. The table begins with a mare called Wings, who ran under the name "Wiry Sal", winning a maiden hunters' stakes at Aldershot, and ridden by her owner, Captain Grissell. Under the name "Wings" she ran third in a hunter flat race in 1873, ridden by Whitmore Jones. Her first three foals were bred by Jones, near Wolverhampton, and then she was sold, producing the colt Old Times for Bernard Bletsoe at The Elms, Denton, Northampton. Old Times won a flat race, two hurdle races, and eight steeplechases; he broke his leg and was destroyed in 1896. The first foal of Wings, Farmer, won two steeplechases.

Her daughter, Avis, was by 1882 Galway Plate (2 mile-5 fur. steeplechase) winner Sugar Plum. Avis won two steeplechases at Ludlow on succeeding days, and a three mile steeplechase at Stratford-on-Avon; by age seven she had become the property of the hunting Count Karl Kinsky (later owner of Zoedone), but did not place in the races he rode her in. She was a broodmare in the Bletsoe stud, where she produced eight live foals. In addition to Grudon and his sisters, by Old Buck, a third-rate flat race sire, who had been purchased by her owner, Bernard Bletsoe, she produced a filly, Silt, by Silurian. Old Buck went on to become a noted sire of chasers.

Over fifty years after Grudon's successes, the family re-emerged with two good chasers, Lucky Dome and Be Game.

Notable Descendants

Grudon before the Snowstorm National (Grudon photo)

Grudon, b.c. 1890
(Old Buck - Avis by Sugar Plum)
A reliable, game chaser trained by his breeder, he won the Grand National Steeplechase of 1901. He was a 16 hand high entire, bay with black points. He began hunting in Northamptonshire, ridden by the daughter of his owner, Bernard Bletsoe. He graduated to hurdling and chasing, winning thirteen steeplechases in all, and the prestigious Champion Chase at Liverpool (1897). He ran three times in the National: in 1898 he ran seventh; in 1900, ridden by Bletsoe's son, Morgan, he ran sixth, his leg becoming entangled with his bridle, and possibly costing him a win that year. In 1901, ridden by the great Arthur Nightingall, he won in a blinding snowstorm. Bletsoe reportedly used a half pound of butter (or two pounds, depending on the story) to grease Grudon's hooves and thus prevent snow from balling in the hooves. He won the race by four lengths from Drumcree, who was to win it two years later. Grudon broke down during the Lancashire Chase, soon after his National win, and was retired to stud at The Elms, where he got little of note in racing venues.

His sire, Old Buck, was a noted jumper sire who had been an indifferent racehorse and sire of flat racers, and developed a vicious temper while at stud at Epsom, actually murdering a horse by tearing out its throat. He was purchased by hunting enthusiast Bernard Bletsoe, of Denton, Northamptonshire, and sent to his stud where he mostly served hunting and jumping mares, and where he apparently became a kinder, gentler creature. To produce Grudon, Bletsoe put Old Buck to the mare Avis, who had won over fences; she was by Sugar Plum, a son of Saccharometer. Saccharometer sired the 1878 Grand National winner Shifnal. Bletsoe's second son, Henry Bryan Bletsoe, was also a jockey, and won the 1908 Grand National on Rubio.

Grudon's sister, the unraced Little Avis, produced Dark Avis, a winner of steeplechases, whose son, Snapper, was a winner of 17 steeplechases worth £2,268, a goodly sum in the day, and through daughter Elms Avis, was dam of Fair Avis and Blakesley, both steeplechase winners. Grudon's sister, Miss Avis, placed in a hurdle race and a steeplechase in her four seasons on the turf, and in the stud produced steeplechase winner Bright Avis. Grudon's half-sister Silt produced Denton, by Old Buck, a winner of ten steeplechases, and his sister, Sandra, also a steeplechase winner. All the progeny of Avis noted here were bred at The Elms.

Lucky Dome b.c. 1946
(Domaha - Lucky Pat)
Bred by P.J. Leahy of Charleville, Ireland, he was the good winner of two races on the flat, including the Ulster Cesarewitch; four hurdle races -- including the Spa Hurdle at Cheltenham-- and four steeplechases, including the Leopardstown Steeplechase in 1953. His unraced dam, Lucky Pat, was half-sister to Be Game, both mares bred by Mrs. Simmonds of Broomy Close,Wormelow, Hereford, out of Dame Avis, who ran unplaced in two races, and later won prizes at a hunter show. The unraced Be Game was purchased by Joseph Healy, for whom she bred five foals. One, Crusader (1948) won a hurdle race and three steeplechases. The other, Game Field, was a very successful chaser, winner of a hurdle race and seven steeplechases, which included the Scottish Grand National in 1958; he dropped dead in 1960.

Descent Chart

Wings [Wiry Sal](br.f.) by not recorded
 Farmer (b.c. 1874) by Sugar Plum
  Avis (br.f. 1878) by Sugar Plum
  |   Grudon (br.c. 1890) by Old Buck
  |   Silt (b.f. 1895) by Silurian
  |   | Denton (b.c. 1900) by Old Buck
  |   | Sandra (ch.f. 1903) by Old Buck
  |   Miss Avis (b.f. 1897) by Old Buck
  |   | Bright Avis (ch.f. 1908) by Childless
  |   Little Avis (b.f. 1898) by Old Buck
  |    Dark Avis (f. 1903) by Swallowfield
  |     Dame Avis (f. 1919) by Snapdragon
  |      Lucky Pat (b.f. 1938) by Haine
  |      | Lucky Dome (b.c. 1946) by Domaha
  |      Be Game (br.f. 1940) by Quarter Sessions
  |       Crusader (br.c. 1948) by Knight of Ardgoul
  |       Game Field (br.c. 1950) by Camfield
  |     Elms Avis (f. 1910) by Childless
  |     | Fair Avis (ch.f. 1921) by Galician
  |     | Blakesley (ch.f. 1922) by Galician
  |     Dark Dragon (c. 1915)
  |     Snapper (br.c. 1918) by Snapdragon
  |     Blue Spark (b.f. 1922) by Galician)
 Old Times (br.c. 1887) by Old Buck

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