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Bay colt, 1871-1897
By Hermit - Lady Alicia by Melbourne
Darley Arabian sire line
Newminster branch

Family #12 - c

Hermit His sire, Hermit

English-bred and Irish-based Ascetic was the dominant sire of steeplechasers in the U.K. in the last decade of the nineteenth and first decade of the twentieth centuries. Of virtually no use on the racecourse, where he mostly ran as a sprinter, he was famous in his own time, and for decades after, as the pre-eminent jumper stallion. Unlike most good sires of jumpers, he got a son that did well both as a steeplechaser and later as a sire of chasers. Ascetic's daughters were dams of superior racehorses over fences -- including two Grand National winners -- and many established successful steeplechasing families, some of which are still producing top jumpers today.

His sire, the neat and elegant 1867 Epsom Derby winner Hermit, had an exceptional stud career, with winners of seven English classic races and many other good ones, such as Ascot Gold Cup winners Tristan and Timothy, French derby winner Heaume, and the brilliant juvenile Friar's Balsam. Most of his offspring were best at a mile to a mile and a quarter, but he got a number of tough, long-running stayers, including Tristan and Timothy, Chester Cup winner Windsor, and Doncaster Cup winner Retreat, the latter later sent to Ireland where he was a noted sire of steeplechasers, including Father O'Flynn, a winner of the Grand National Steeplechase at Aintree, and Skedaddle, who won the Grand Steeple-Chase de Paris. Hermit daughters, such as One Thousand Guineas winner St. Marguerite and Eglentine, bred classic winners, and Moorhen, who ran on the flat and over hurdles, was the dam of the Ireland-based stallion Gallinule, champion sire in the U.K. in 1904, whose Irish-bred sons and grandsons got top steeplechasers. Hermit's good running sons Friar's Balsam, Hazelhatch, and Retreat were all sires of successful hurdlers and steeplechasers, but his son Ascetic, virtually useless as a runner on the flat and over fences, would become the dominant sire of jumpers in Ireland and England for almost twenty years.

His Dam, Lady Alicia

The Reverend John William King inherited the remnants of a stable of horses left by his father, Col. Nevile King, who had owned the famous race mare Bessie Bedlam. When the colonel died in 1833, the horses were entailed to his son, Clifford, and when Clifford died eight years later, they passed to the Reverend on the condition the horses were not to be sold. King retained his father's connections with the famous Ashgill (Yorkshire) trainer John Osborne, Sr., and his sons, William, Robert and John. In 1856 Manganese, running in the name of W.H. Brook (a friend of King's), although actually jointly owned by King and John Osborne, won the One Thousand Guineas, ridden by Osborne's thirteen year old son, John.

The Reverend King, vicar of Ashby-de-la-Launde in Lincolnshire, and rector of Bassingham, was sensitive to the Victorian view of racehorse-owning clergy, and had always raced and registered his horses under the name of his friend, W.H. Brook, and also with the nom de course "Mr. Launde." By the 1870s King, born in 1793, was elderly, but he owned a nice filly, Apology, out of of the Rataplan - Manganese daughter Mandragora, and the Osbornes took her to great heights when, in 1874, she won the One Thousand Guineas, the Epsom Oaks, and the Doncaster St. Leger. Apology's success brought the Reverend's ownership into the public glare, largely due to a castigating open letter in The Times by the Bishop of Lincoln regarding the clergy's ownership of racehorses; although King seldom, if ever, attended a race and never laid a wager on a race, devoting himself to his parochial duties before his retirement, and for fifty years, to breeding and improving the bloodlines he inherited. As a result of this public brooha, the ailing -- but unapologetic -- King resigned his livings from the church in April of 1875; a month later he was dead. Apology, running for King's widow under the name "Mr. Seabrooke," would win the Ascot Gold Cup a year later.

Another mare owned by the Reverend was Lady Alicia (1852, out of Testy, by Venison), by Melbourne. She had been bred by John Scott, the great northern trainer whose Whitewall stables were at Malton, Yorkshire. Melbourne got Lady Alicia while standing at Scott's Cawston Lodge, near Rugby, where he was managed by Scott's brother, William. She was one of Melbourne's lesser daughters on the turf: the One Thousand Guineas winner and great stayer Canezou and the 1855 Oaks winner Marchioness were other Melbourne daughters trained by Scott, not to mention Melbourne's great son West Australian.

Lady Alicia won the Stockbridge Champagne Stakes as a juvenile, and was third in a sweepstakes at Winchester. She was retired to King's stud, age four, and her first five foals were registered in the name of W.H. Brook; the rest had "Mr. Launde" as the nominal breeder. After dropping her first foal, by Wild Dayrell, in 1857, that died after a week, she bred a series of youngsters to the cover of the tough, game, long-running Rataplan who stood at Tickhill Stud, near Bawtry, Yorkshire: Rapparee (br.c. 1858), Red Tape (b.f. 1858), Ratcatcher (b.c. 1860), Ribbon (b.f. 1861), The Ratcatcher's Daughter (br.f. 1862). After that she dropped Gunlock (br.c. 1863, by Warlock), Lexicon (br.f. 1864) by Leamington, a foal by Broomielaw (1869), a colt by Waddington (br.c. 1870), Ascetic (b.c. 1871 by Hermit), and Tantamount (b.f. 1873, by Waddington). After this prolific output, she died in 1873.

Of Lady Alicia's foals on the turf, Rapparee was the best. She was a "great staying mare;" owned by John Osborne, Sr., and ridden by his son John. She won the Ascot Stakes and the Warwick Cup, among other races.

In the stud, Lady Alicia's most influential daughter was The Ratcatcher's Daughter. She produced Suicide, an unraced black filly by Hermit, born so windswept that she was a near cripple for the rest of her life. But Suicide, a sister to a good runner, Grassendale, was kept in the stud, and when she proved barren to the cover of Speculum in 1885, she was bred back to his son, Rosebery, who was the first horse to win the "fall double" of the Cesarewitch and the Cambridgeshire handicaps. The result of this breeding was Amphion (1866), a great weight-carrier whose best distance was a mile, and who got some good winners, among them the brilliant runner Sundridge, later a leading sire in Great Britain. 1933 Kentucky Derby winner Broker's Tip descended from Suicide's daughter Hari Kari in tail-female. Suicide was also the dam of the extremely in-bred (to Lady Alicia and to Hermit) steeplechase winner ACONITE (1889), by Ascetic. Another daughter of The Ratcatcher's Daughter, Dinah (1871, by Hermit, and so closely related to Ascetic), was second dam of Cambridgeshire Handicap winner Marcovil, whose sons included My Prince, the five-time leading sire of jumpers in Great Britain between 1925 and 1942, and the undefeated Hurry On, a sire of seven classic winners.

Ascetic, born when Lady Alicia was age nineteen, was a bay colt with a pronounced "jumper's bump," short cannons, straight hind legs, and good bone. He was a high-withered horse, even before old age caused his back to sink, was not deep in the chest, and had a high-set neck, with a natural upright carriage. His wide-spaced eyes and dished face gave his head an arabian cast. He was sold to T. "Paganini" Smith, in whose ownership he raced, unsuccessfully, for three years, in a curious combination of races and distances, where, if anything, he showed he might have some form as a sprinter.

Ascetic on the Turf

Ascetic's debut on the turf was as a juvenile in a maiden plate at Newmarket. He finished last.

He did not run again until the next season, with three outings. The first was a five furlong race at Yarmouth, in which he ran unplaced. His next race was the one mile-2 furlong Liverpool Autumn Cup at Aintree, won by the five year old mare Louise Victoria; in a field of twenty-one, he ran unplaced. At that same meeting he ran in a one mile handicap, again unplaced.

At age four his first race was the Lincoln Handicap over a mile, not placed. Then, at Goodwood, he ran in a field of twenty-five in the six furlong Stewards Handicap, for which, as second favorite, he went off at odds of 7 to 1. Once again he did not place. The next day he ran again, unplaced in the 7 furlong Chesterfield Cup. At Brighton, favored at odds of 4 to 1, he finally hit the board by placing second in the 5 furlong Champagne Plate. The next day he ran again, unplaced. He went to Lewes, where, starting as the 7 to 4 favorite, he placed third. Back at Brighton, he ran over five furlongs and was unplaced. His record for the year: a second and a third in small races at minor venues in seven starts.

In January of 1876 he was auctioned at Tattersall's and purchased by Mr. Thorneycroft for 300 guineas. By April he had been sold to a Mr. T. Horne, who apparently thought he might do better over fences. His first race in new ownership was a five furlong race at Liverpool, in which he ran last. He then debuted in his first, and only race, over jumps, at Wolverhampton Spring Meeting on April 4th, 1876, in the Enville Hurdle Race Handicap over six hurdles at a distance of 1-1/2 miles. There were six horses in this race, and the horse that placed second, named Anchorite, had run in a two mile handicap hurdle the day before. Ascetic started slowly, and was tailed off. That was the end of his career on the turf.

Ascetic in the Stud

Despite his pathetic race record, Ascetic was purchased as a stallion and sent to Ireland. As far as can be determined, he was purchased by Captain John Purdon of Cloneymore, County Meath; almost all his offspring were bred in County Meath, and he died in Purdon's ownership there in August of 1897. There is an apocryphal story, much-repeated, that says he was used by the local postman to deliver the mail in his early years at stud (although another account attributes this job to Grace II, the dam of his most famous son, CLOISTER, a story not confirmed by her owner's son). Another unconfirmed tale says a sack of potatoes "was accepted as a service fee." However lowly his possible side-occupation and stud fee, his first very small crop of 1879 established him as a sire of winners. It appears most of the youngsters from his first few crops were used as hunters that, after a season or two in the field, showed themselves to be good jumpers, and fast, and were entered in local hunt chases, where they won. By the late 1880s, his youngsters were starting to win the big chasing events.

He was bred to one registered thoroughbred mare in 1877, Marchioness, owned by Major Studdert; she missed. The next year he covered several mares, and in 1879 had several foals on the ground, one of which was PARADISE, a winner on the flat at age two, whose grandaughters became influential matrons of flat racers. Others in this crop were ANCHORITE, who would win over fences at age five, and EFFIE, bred by the Walker brothers from a half-bred mare, who would win steeplechases at age seven, and later produce steeplechasers.

He became, if not the best ever sire of steeplechasers in the U.K., certainly among the best. The noted Irish breeder J.J. Maher, a former steeplechase rider who developed many outstanding steeplechasers and bred two Grand National winners -- as well as winners of the Epsom Derby, Doncaster St. Leger and Two Thousand Guineas -- ranked him, along with Hackler and My Prince, as the best of the early 20th century. Although no official records were kept of leading sires of chasers until 1911, Ascetic has been credited as the leading sire of jumpers between 1888 and 1904, second to Uncas in 1887 and tied with Lord Gough in 1889. He was consistently referred to as the greatest of modern steeplechase sires in various publications through the first half of the twentieth century. He did not just get three Grand National winners; he also got winners of all the other three "Nationals," in Ireland, Scotland and Wales, and winners of every other major steeplechase held in the U.K. in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. He got a successful sire son of steeplechasers in ROYAL MEATH, and many daughters that bred high class winners over fences, including two Grand National winners, and some which established noted steeplechase families.

Maher described Ascetic offspring as "...all horses with good fronts, splendid bone and grand straight hind legs; often a washy bay and light of back ribs, and with good action." In addition to good action, Ascetic offspring were noted for their good temperaments; Ascetic's sire, Hermit, was noted for his action --"as a mover, Hermit would have taken a prize in any show ring" -- and he "had the best of tempers."

When his stud record is reviewed, it's clear Ascetic was able to get superior jumpers from any kind of mare, thoroughbred or half-bred, winner, non-winner or unraced. His best son, the great CLOISTER, was out of a thoroughbred mare of no use on the turf and of little value in the hunt field. The Grand National winner DRUMCREE and his sister, PRIDE OF MABESTOWN, on the other hand, were out of a winning half-bred mare with several generations of Irish steeplechase breeding behind her, and in the stud Pride of Mabestown would establish a strong female line of chasers still winning today.

Although he himself never ran farther than a mile and a half (at Wolverhampton), and was most often raced as a sprinter, almost all of his offspring were jumpers that won over a distance. The most notable exception to his output of jumpers was the family descending from the Cotherstone thoroughbred daughter Coterie, who was in J.F. Rynd's stud in Ireland. She produced two daughters to the cover of Ascetic, both of which became important matrons whose descendants were classic winners in Germany, France, and America and a hundred years later, in England and Italy (Family 3 - c).

Coterie's daughter PARADISE (1879, by Ascetic), was Ascetic's first winner in Ireland, and she was a good one, winning three of her eight starts as a juvenile, including Baldoyle's 5 furlong International Plate. Paradise's daughter, Gipsy Queen (1886, by Kingcraft), bred three good daughters: Waterhen (1894, by Gallinule); Lady Palmist (1887, by Wiseman), and Queen's Bower (1899, by St. Florian). Each of these mares were influential in thoroughbred breeding.

Lady Palmist's daughter, Line of Life, was sent to the U.S., where she bred winners, and then was sent to the Gestłt Weil in Germany, where she produced the stallion Lowenherz (winner of the Grosser Hansa- Preis), another good runner in Luftikus, and a daughter, Leben und Leben Lassen, whose descendants included three Preis der Diana winners, including Lustige (1952, by Ticino), who also won the Deutches Derby; another descendant from Leben und Leben Lassen was Der Löwe (1944, by Wahnfried), who won the Grosser Preis von Baden and became an important foundation sire of European sporthorses, especially in Belgium, with many European champion show jumpers and Olympic medalists among his descendants.

Lady Palmist's daughter Queen's Bower produced Prix de Diane winner Qu'elle Est Belle (1909, by Rock Sand), whose daughter, Quelle Chance, bred those two great American-bred brothers by Fair Play, Chance Play (1923) and Chance Shot (1924). The third Lady Palmist daughter, Waterhen, established a branch of this female family that included the great 1920 runner Flowershop (Prix de Diane, Poule d'Essai des Pouliches, and others); French guineas winner and stallion Vatout, and the good French winner and leading sire Vandale (he got Herbager), and the outstanding Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe and Prix du Jockey Club winner Verso II.

The other Coterie-Ascetic daughter, MAGIC (1880) was another good juvenile that won the Anglesey Stakes at the Curragh for Rynd, and at age three, in three starts, won Catterick's Hornby Castle Handicap. She established a very successful speed family through her grandaughter Hornet (1897, by Hackler). Hornet won all three of her starts as a juvenile, including Leopardstown's Zetland Plate and the Curragh's Marble Hill Stakes, and placed once in four starts at age three. In the stud Hornet bred six winners of thirty-seven races, the most noted being the famous Hornet's Beauty (1908), a sprinting winner of 31 races and over £15,000. Many good winners descended from Hornet, including 1983 Epsom Derby Stakes winner Teenoso, Old Country (1979, winner of top races in three countries, including Italian Derby and Prix Royal-Oak), Irish Oaks winner Give Thanks (1980), and Sally Ship (1960), who won the Kentucky Oaks, and whose grandaughter, Tiffany Lass (1983) won the same race.

But this successful flat-racing family from Ascetic's two Coterie daughters was an exception to most of the animals descending from Ascetic. In his 1879 crop he also had ANCHORITE, who in 1884, at age five, won the Meath Hunt Cup, and showed what Ascetic's youngsters could do over fences. After that, while some of his youngsters may have started their racing careers on the flat, most often in National Hunt flat races, almost all that ran were aimed at steeplechasing and hurdling, and many of the rest were used as hunters, some of which also ran in hunter races and Point-to-Points.

CLOISTER (1884) was Ascetic's first winner of the Grand National Steeplechase at Aintree, in 1893, when Ascetic was 22 years old. He was one of the best steeplechasers of the nineteenth century, and one of the best of all time. His thoroughbred dam, Grace II, by Crown Prince ( a son of Newminster, making Cloister in-bred to that stallion), and out of Marlyon, a mare by Ivan (second in the Doncaster St. Leger to Van Tromp), who had been imported into Ireland from England. Grace II was purchased for use as a hunter by Arthur Plunkett, 11th Earl of Fingall, whose seat was Killeen Castle at Dunsany in County Meath. She was used as a whip's horse in the hunt field, and according to Fingall's son, the 12th earl, "not over satisfactory in that capacity, as she had no great aptitude for hunting."

Grace II was bred, when she was age eight, to Ascetic, "the nearest available sire," and dropped Cloister, her first foal, the following year. Cloister was so unimpressive that the earl sold both him and Grace II to Percy Maynard, master of the Ward Hounds, for a total of 31 guineas. Although she bred over a dozen foals until her death at age 26, Cloister was the only one of Grace II's youngsters to prove superior. The only other foal of use was one of her last, Larch Hill (1896), by Ascetic's son, ROYAL MEATH, a winner of eight steeplechases.

Cloister, a bay with black points, developed into a big, 16.3 hands tall, muscular, powerful horse with a very long -- but not particularly sloped -- shoulder, and great bone below the knees and hock, who could easily carry 15 stone as a hunter. He was described as having beautiful manners and intelligence. He was purchased at age three by Captain J.A. Orr-Ewing, whose 16th Lancers regiment was stationed in Ireland at the time, and in the captain's colors he won seven military and hunter chases in the 1888-89 season, including the Royal Lancers Hunt Challenge Cup at Fairyhouse and the Irish Grand Military Steeplechase at Punchestown.

In 1890, with Orr-Ewing's Lancers posted to India, Cloister was sold to the Earl of Dudley and was sent to former jump jockey Richard Marsh, who at that time was successfully training hurdlers and chasers at Newmarket. Upon assuming the Prince of Wales' horses at Egerton House in 1892, Marsh switched to training horses on the flat with great success; Derby winners Persimmon, Diamond Jubilee and Minoru were all trained by Marsh.

Marsh aimed Cloister at the Grand National of 1891, but prior to the race, another Ascetic son owned by Dudley and in Marsh's barn, ROYAL MEATH, who the previous year had won the Grand Steeple-Chase de Paris, was considered the barn's best contender for the National by Marsh. But Royal Meath pulled a suspensory ligament in a race at Sandown, and Cloister became the stable's hope for the big race. The National that year was full of outstanding chasers, including the 1890 National winner Ilex, the 1887 winner Gamecock, the 1894 winner Why Not, and the 1884 and 1885 winners Voluptuary and Roquefort. Ridden by Captain E.R. "Roddy" Owen, Cloister was beaten by 1/2 a length by Come Away.

It was generally believed Cloister would have won if Owen had not tried to pass Come Away on the inside in the run-in, where he was blocked by Come Away's rider, Harry Beasley. Owen was an amateur military rider who rode over 254 winners between 1882 and 1892, including the Irish International Steeplechase at Leopardstown (now Leopardstown Chase) in 1889 and 1891, and would win the National the next year, 1892, on Father O'Flynn, after which he volunteered for foreign service and died of cholera in Africa in the Dongola (Egypt) campaign of 1896.

In the 1891-92 season CLOISTER reeled off five wins, including the Grand Sefton Steeplechase at Liverpool, in the latter carrying 12 st.-7 lb, his last race of the season. He ran in the 1892 Grand National as the favorite, weighted with 12 st.-3 lb., but ran second again, twenty lengths behind Father O'Flynn, to whom he conceded 26 lb. Soon after his Grand National run he was sold to Charles Duff (later Sir Charles Gorden Assheton-Smith), and was sent to another former brilliant jump jockey, Arthur Yates, a highly successful trainer of chasers, whose own horse, Harvester, had almost won the Grand National in 1872, and who had had National winners Gamecock (winner of almost every major steeplechase in England) and Roquefort in his yard at Bishop's Sutton, Alresford, Hampshire for most of their careers, as well as the great three-mile steeplechaser The Midshipmite (1886). Cloister was the last great chaser Yates trained, but Assheton-Smith would also own two more winners of the Grand National, Covertcoat and the great Jerry M., and would own the Grand National winner Sunloch after his win of that race, as well as Cackler (by Hackler), another high-class chaser that won the Grand Sefton chase twice.

In 1893 CLOISTER came out for the Grand National handicapped with the weight of 12 st.-7 lb., the first time a horse had received such a crushing weight in that race. Piloted by the Bishop's Sutton stable jockey William Dollery, who had ridden Cloister in the Grand Sefton the year before, Cloister won the race under the record weight in the record time of 9 minutes 42-2/5 seconds, beating the second horse, Aesop, carrying 34 pounds less, by forty lengths. This time record stood until it was beaten by another Ascetic son, ASCETIC'S SILVER, IN 1906. This performance burnished Cloister's reputation as the best chaser of his era, and perhaps of all time, in many minds. In the same meeting, the Yates-trained The Midshipmite, won the Champion chase by six lengths.

Cloister ran a few weeks later at Sandown, and was beaten by a middling chaser, Horizon, and was taken out of training for the rest of the year. He prepped well for the 1894 Grand National, and was backed at odds of 6:4, but the odds dropped to 6:1 the same day he came back from a schooling at Sandown slightly lame. After appearing sound for few days, the lameness, attributed to an injury to the sciatic nerve, or possibly something involving his kidneys, returned, and he was stricken out of the race. That the odds dropped the day he returned lame, before either his owner or trainer were notified, raised suspicions, and the remainder of Cloister's career was largely a serious of accidents and problems causing a succession of public outcries relating to betting scandals, although nothing was ever proven and Yates himself believed Cloister was never truly sound after his astounding National victory.

After his breakdown Cloister was moved to the yard of Harry Escott at Lewes, Sussex, who had apprenticed as a flat race jockey in the Danebury yard of William Day, and after he had grown too heavy, had become a successful steeplechase jockey, and then a trainer who later schooled Lutteur III and Poethlyn for their Grand National victories. In November of 1894 Cloister won the Grand Sefton Steeplechase at Aintree easily carrying the great weight of 13 st -3 lb., and then won a race at Sandown. In 1895, exactly a year after he fell lame prior to the '94 Grand National, he collapsed without warning after a mile during a training run on Sussex downs, and lay still for some time, with his tongue hanging out. Once again the bookmakers knew of it almost instantly. He was withdrawn from the National, and did not run that year. The following year, 1896, he ran in and won the Welsh Grand National at Cardiff and the Great Shropshire Steeplechase at Ludlow. He was retired to his owner's seat at Vaynol, Carnarvonshire, in Wales, having won 19 of his 35 races, and placing second 8 times and third three times, unplaced only five times in his career. He died in January of 1903, age 19, at Lower Forty Farm, Wembley Park.

Another horse in the 1891 Grand National was Ascetic's son, the gelded ROMAN OAK (1884, out of the half-bred mare Oak Branch), bred by John O'Connell Murphy at Breemount, Trim, in Ireland. Owned by Sir Humphrey de Trafford, and under Roddy Owen's jockeyship, he won the Irish International Handicap Chase (Leopardstown Chase) over 3 miles in 1891. He was knocked over in the Grand National of 1891, and in his only other start in it, in 1893 (the year Cloister won), he ran seventh. But he did win chases at the highest level, including the the Lancashire Handicap Chase at Manchester (1892), the Irish Grand Military Steeplechase, the Prince of Wales' Plate at Punchestown, and the Champion Steeplechase at Liverpool (1891). He was sold to Germany in 1896.

Oak Branch was also the dam of KATIE (1889), by Ascetic, unraced, who produced Organsdale (1899, by Hackler), a winner of three steeplechases. A daughter of Oak Branch's by Ingomar bred IRISH OAK (1888, later called St. Marnock), by Ascetic, a winner of a maiden plate steeplechase at Punchestown and second in the Aintree Steeplechase; he broke his neck in his third race.

ROMAN OAK was Ascetic's first winner of the Lancashire Steeplechase, in 1892, which was as important as the Grand National for the two decades after its inception in 1884, and attracted quality fields during those years, including nine Grand National winners. Acsetic also got Lord Beresford's UNCLE JACK (1895, brother to AUNT MAY), who won the race in 1900, and FAIRLAND (1893), who won the race twice, in 1902 and 1903.

The bay, gelded DRUMCREE (1894) was Ascetic's second winner of the Grand National Steeplechase, in 1903. He was out of the half-bred Witching Hour (H-B 20), by Midnight (a grandson of Stockwell's), and was bred by C. Hope of Mabestown, Delvin in Co. Westmeath, Ireland. Witching Hour (1885), won over fences, including a 2-1/2 mile steeplechase at Trim age age five, and a 3 mile chase at Armagh when age six; she placed second in a chase once, and was third five times. Her dam, from several generations of Irish-bred horses on both sides of her pedigree, was closely in-bred to Birdcatcher, being by Birdcatcher's son, Amusement, and out of a mare by Birdcatcher's son Last of the Barons.

Drumcree was purchased as a hunter for Charles Newton by Owen J. Williams, and when, age five, he was entered in a race at Trim for certified hunters, he showed himself to be a talented jumper and he was sent to former amateur rider Sir Charles Nugent who had set up shop as a trainer at Cranbourne, Dorset (England). One of Drumcree's first races was a Maiden Plate at Punchestown in April, 1900, where he was third to Drumree, a gelding with a confusingly similar name, who was by Ascetic's son, ROYAL MEATH; Drumcree was giving the winner 19 pounds. In 1901 he was deemed ready to run in the Grand National, and with Nugent's son, Hugh, up, he ran in the famous "snowstorm" Grand National of 1901, where much of the race was obscured by the weather. He was one of the favorites in the twenty-four horse race, along with Barsac, Grudon, and Covert Hack; Grudon made most of the running, and Drumcree came in four lengths behind the winner in second, with the next horse six lengths behind him. During the running Drumcree had torn off one plate, and badly twisted another.

After this he was sold to J.S. Morrison, a patron of Nugent's, for whom he started co-favorite in the 1902 Grand National, but in this race he ran seventh, with the mare Shannon Lass the winner. The next year, 1903, with jockey Percy Woodland up, he finally won the great race by three lengths, a popular victory, having started as favorite. Woodland would later win the National on Covertcoat; he also rode two winners of the Grand Steeple-chase at Auteuil, and, on the flat, two winners of the Prix du Jockey Club.

Drumcree continued to run to age fifteen, his last appearance at Sandown Park in 1909. In all he won eight steeplechases in his many years on the turf, and ran twice more in the National (1906, carrying heaviest weight of 12 st. - 2 lb., ran eighth; 1907, again carrying heaviest weight at 11 st. - 9 lb., he fell). His death in 1912 was attributed to diabetes.

In Drumcree's Grand National, with a field of twenty-three, there were four other offspring of Ascetic running, and two Ascetic grandsons, which illustrates how dominant Ascetic as jumper sire was. His sons and daughters in the race were the mare FAIRLAND (1893, out of Far-Away), a winner in both 1902 and 1903 of the Great Lancashire Chase at Manchester (she fell in the National); the gelded ORANGE PAT (1896, out of Orange Bitters; also fell); and the mares AUNT MAY (1896, out of Mayo; she would run third in the 1906 National, her fourth attempt in that race) and PRIDE OF MABESTOWN (1896, Drumcree's sister, owned by Owen Williams), both of which were tailed off. The aforementioned Drumree, by ROYAL MEATH, was also in this race, and in a weird foreshadowing of the infamous Devon Loch mishap of 1956, inexplicably fell during the run-in. The other grandson was Patlander (1896, out of the half-bred Theodora II), by Ascetic's son SIR PATRICK; he fell in this race, but in his career he won six steeplechases, including the Cheshire Steeplechase and the Irish Grand National, and in 1907 ran third to Eremon in the Grand National.

Drumcree's dam, Witching Hour, also produced PRIDE OF MABESTOWN (1896), a bay mare by Ascetic, who was a good jumper and who founded a wonderful family of steeplechasers that are still winning at the highest levels today. She was bred at Hope's Mabestown stud, was also purchased by Owen Williams, and for him won six steeplechases between the ages of four and eight (she ran once, unplaced at age nine). Her big year was when she was six, when she won two steeplechases and placed four times; at age seven she won a steeplechase and was third in the Great Shropshire Steeplechase. She ran twice in the Grand National, finishing, but not placing, in Drumcree's race of 1903, and falling in the 1904 National.

Retired to Hope's stud PRIDE OF MABESTOWN bred five youngsters between 1907 and 1916. She had four daughters that won over fences: Long Lough (1912, by Lochryan), won five steeplechases; Kilgar (1908, by Cerasus) won two steeplechases and placed in others; Pride of Devlin (1915, by Dibs, a son of Irish Derby winner Blairfinde), won a small flat race and seven chases; Mabestown (1910, by St. Gris), won three steeplechases and was second four times, and third eight times. Mabestown later bred Pride of Drumrora (1920), a third prize winner at the Royal Dublin Show of 1923, who produced the unraced Drumrora V (1935), the dam of some very good winning steeplechasing daughters that also produced winners over fences. 2001 Grand National winner Red Marauder descended from her talented, sturdy (50 races) daughter, Tiberetta, who was winner of the Becher and Grand Sefton steeplechases and nine other races, and was second seventeen times, including in the 1958 Grand National and in the Welsh Grand National.

Ascetic Offspring bred by P.J. Dunne

Patrick J. Dunne at his Carrollstown Stud at Trim, Co. Meath, took full advantage of Ascetic's ability to get jumpers, breeding a number of mares to him in the 1880s and '90s that produced many winners, including the 1906 Grand National winner ASCETIC'S SILVER, and LITTLE MAY, winner of the Irish International Steeplechase (Leopardstown Steeplechase) in 1900 and later dam of an Irish Oaks winner and second dam of the Grand National Steeplechase winner Royal Mail (by My Prince). After Dunne's death, breeding continued at Carrollstown under his son-in-law, Patrick Cullinan, and then, after his death in 1923, Cullinan's son, Patrick Dunne Cullinan.

Ascetic's son ULYSSES (1884) was a bay gelding bred by Dunne, out of the half-bred Penelope, by Master Richard. He was owned and trained by Arthur Yates, and won fourteen steeplechases in the course of his long career, including the Cavalry Bridge Cup and the Surrey Steeplechase Handicap at Gatwick (England), the latter a few weeks before CLOISTER was sent out of Yates' yard to win the Grand National of 1893. Ulysses' sister, WEB (1882), bred by Dunne, won the Meath Hunt Cup in Ireland, and was later sent to France. Another sister (UNNAMED) from Penelope and by Ascetic, born in 1883, did not race, but was retained in Dunne's stud and bred some very good winners over fences, helping to establish Ascetic's reputation as a superior broodmare sire of jumpers. These included Carrolstown (1887, by Hollywood), a winner of nine chases that died in 1894, after finishing seventh in the Grand National; Oldtown (1891), winner of the important Conyngham Cup of 1896 for Dunne, and four other steeplechases; Dunlough (1893, by Hollywood), who won the National Hunt Cup over 4-1/2 miles; Kilcooley (1896, by Enthusiast), winner of the Houghton Cup over 3-1/2 miles, and Dunderry and Scarlockstown, both winners of steeplechases.

This ASCETIC MARE'S daughters perpetuated the jumping and staying excellence of the family: her daugher Ethelreda (by Atheling), did not run, but bred a number of winners, including The Best (1905, by Flying Hackle), a handsome 16.1 hands brown horse "with great power, hocks, bone and action," a winner of four King's plates and later a stallion in Ireland. Ethelreda also produced Ardreagh (1895, by Hackler), who won five steeplechases and produced Atty, winner of the Bilbury and Lewes Handicap and four other races, and Uncle Pat, who ran second in the Lincolnshire Handicap.

Another good family developed for several generations at the Carrollstown Stud descended from the half-bred mare Sister May, whose dam was a thoroughbred mare, Wood Sorrel, and whose sire was the famous half-bred stallion Mayboy, a winner of good races on the flat and over fences in Ireland, England and France and a popular sire in Ireland. Sister May, a winner on the flat and over hurdles, had been bred by John Gubbins at his famous Knockany Stud at Bruree, Co. Limerick; she was sold to Dunne after she dropped her first foal in 1893 and remained at Carrollstown until her death, more than twenty years later. She produced three offspring to the cover of Ascetic: LITTLE MAY (1896), GREEN MAY (1897), a winner of three steeplechases that died young, in 1904, and SORREL (1898), in Ascetic's last crop, born posthumously.

LITTLE MAY (1896) won eight steeplechases between the ages of four and eight, including the Drogheda Plate at age five, and the Irish International Steeplechase (Leopardstown Chase) at age eight. In the stud she bred several winners, including Algy, who won two good hurdle races, but was killed in 1912, Carrolstown (1916), a winner of four steeplechases, and May Edgar (1911, by Sir Edgar, a son of Kendal), winner of the Marble Hill Stakes as a juvenile and at age three the Irish Oaks and later dam of a minor winner. Little May's daughter Flying May (1915, by Flying Hackle, a son of Hackler) became the dam of 1937 Grand National Steeplechase winner Royal Mail (1929, by My Prince).

SORREL ran unplaced, but produced a number of winners, including Wind Flower (1904, by Flying Hackle), a winner of 8 chases and 4 hurdle races, his sister Chestnut Hackle (1905), a winner of two races in Ireland and two steeplechases in Germany, and Agrippina (1911, by Roi Herode), who placed multiple times on the flat at ages 2 and 3 and placed over hurdles at age four.

Another half-bred family developed by Dunne in which Ascetic figured descended from a mare by M.D. (a son of The Cure and a winner of the Irish International Handicap at Leopardstown). Her first foal by Ascetic was the bay ANCHORITE (1879), Ascetic's first winner over fences in Ireland, where he won the Meath Hunt Cup in 1884. His brother, CENOBITE (1880), won a steeplechase, and an unnamed sister (18--) produced a filly, Moyella (1902, by Milner), a winner of the East Galway Hunt's Ladies' Point-to-Point in 1913 that later bred six foals.

The M.D. mare also produced Lady Boyne (1878, by Boreas), twice winner of Athboy's Allenstown Hunt Challenge Cup, who, when bred to Ascetic, produced PEG THE RAKE (1890). PEG THE RAKE won Point-to-Points at ages five and six, was second in two steeplechases in England, and at age ten won a gold medal at the Co. Carlow Show. She was sold and bred some offspring in Co. Wexford. Lady Boyne also produced a Mountain Deer filly, that, in 1890 bred KOODOO by Ascetic, that placed in steeplechases and later produced a steeplechase winner, Red Deer IV (1902, by Red Heart), for Dunne.

Dunne also bred the half-bred Ascetic daughters NANCY (1883), ANNIE II (1888) and an unnamed ASCETIC MARE (189-), all out of a mare "stated to be by Derby." NANCY placed in several steeplechases at ages five and six, and carrying the huge impost of 13 st.-7 lb. was second in the Spencer Cup at Fairyhouse. ANNIE II placed in steeplechases between the ages of six and eight, including third twice in the Meath Hunt Cup, and won first prize at the Co. Meath Show in 1900; she bred Annie's Darling (1899), a mare that won four steeplechases. The ASCETIC MARE did not race, but bred on, apparently producing hunters.

Ascetic's Silver
Ascetic's Silver
The best known Carrollstown Stud offspring by Ascetic was his chestnut son ASCETIC'S SILVER (1897) from the thoroughbred mare Silver Lady, by the very successful Irish-based thoroughbred sire Ben Battle; Silver Lady's dam, Lady Pitt, won the Prince of Wales' Plate at Punchestown. Ascetic's Silver was said to be "a remarkably handsome horse;" he sported the "hunter bump" seen in his sire, but was more on the leg, and had a very long neck. He had a great deal of ability according to those who saw him, but was hampered by his tendency to break blood vessels and won only five races in his career, which lasted until 1908. He was Ascetic's third Grand National Steeplechase winner, and set a course record while doing it.

Racing for Dunne, he won three races in Ireland in four seasons there, including the Irish Grand National in 1904. In 1905 Dunne sent him to England to run in the Grand National with Dunne's son Tom up. In that race Ascetic's Silver fell at the third fence, and, riderless, jumped the complete race, finishing ahead of the winner, Kirkland. That performance impressed the German Prince Franz Hatzfeldt and his trainer, Aubrey Hastings, who had fallen riding the prince's horse, Deerslayer, in the race. Dunne died not long after, and Ascetic's Silver was purchased by Hastings for the prince, and installed at Hastings' training stable at Woodmancote in Gloucester. Hastings was later at Wroughton, near Swinden, Wiltshire, purchased for Hastings by the prince after Ascetic Silver's Grand National win.

The next year Hastings rode Ascetic's Silver in the Grand National. Other horses in the race included J.S. Morrison's John M.P., who had won eight chases in a row prior to the National, and was highly favored to win; Canter Home, a winner of the Scottish Grand National; DRUMCREE, carrying 12 st.-2 lb., and other good runners in a field of twenty-three. John M.P. came to grief at the Canal fence, and Ascetic's Silver led after that fence and was never seriously challenged after, winning by ten lengths in the then-record time of 9:34-2/5. Red Lad, by Red Prince II (a Kendal son), ran second, and Ascetic's daughter AUNT MAY was third.

Hastings would go on to train three more winners of the Grand National -- Ally Sloper (1915), Master Robert (1924), and the war-time winner Ballymacad (a grandson of Ascetic's son, ROYAL MEATH). Hastings also developed the 1933 National winner Kellsboro Jack, and, up until his his death in 1929, trained the famous stayer Brown Jack (Ascot Stakes, Alexandra Plate, Goodwood Cup, Doncaster Cup), who in his stable won the 1928 Champion Hurdle.

ASCETIC'S SILVER continued to run two more years, but did not win; in the 1907 Grand National he carried the top weight of 12 st.-7 lb., and was backed as an equal favorite with Red Lad, but he ran into severe interference in that race, and was sixth to Eremon; Ascetic's grandson Patlander, by his son SIR PATRICK, was third in that race, and the aged DRUMCREE fell. Ascetic's Silver had a long life in retirement, and died in March of 1922, age 25.

Other Ascetic Sons

Ascetic got many other winners that contributed to his dominance of jumper breeding for almost twenty years. Some of the more notable ones not previously mentioned are listed below.

ABBOT (1887), was out of the half-bred Little Agnes (1876, by Delight, and out of Litttle Kitten of unknown breeding). He won a National Hunt flat race and eleven steeplechases, including the 1893 Conyngham Cup over four miles, beating Wild Man from Borneo (who would win the 1895 Grand National Steeplechase at Aintree). He and his siblings were bred by James Cole of Kilbride Pass, Killucan, Co. Westmeath. To the cover of Ascetic, Little Agnes also produced NOVICE (1884), a winner of a National Hunt race on the flat and a hurdle race and later dam of seven steeplechase winners, including Kilbride (1891, winner of seven steeplechases); Hercules II (1896, winner of seven steeplechases); and Spotted Lady (1903), winner of five steeplechases. PRIORESS (1888, Ascetic-Little Agnes), won seven steeplechases to age nine, and in her last, at Kempton Park, beat Grand National winner Grudon; she was later a dam of winners, including Thurifer (1898), a winner of eighteen steeplechases. HERMIT (1889, Ascetic-Little Agnes) won six steeplechases. Lady Madcap (1905, by Drummeel-May Morning), a grandaughter of NOVICE, was a top hurdler in England.

Royal Meath
Royal Meath
LEINSTER (1895) was one of two good gelded brothers by Ascetic, out of Secret, by Cameliard, bred in Co. Meath by Irish trainer and breeder Gerald Walker. In his first season over fences for owner Sir Thomas Gallwey, at age five, Leinster won the important Grand Sefton Steeplechase at Aintree (won by more than a few Grand National winners, including CLOISTER, abandoned 1967), carrying 12 st.-7 lb., and three other races, and the next season was unbeaten in four races, including Liverpool's Champion Chase. He was sent to France in 1904, where he won two steeplechases in the 1904-05 season. He was brought back to England in 1908, but did not win again until 1910, when he won three races, including the Valentine Chase, and the Champion Chase for the second time.

Percy Woodland (who won the Grand National on DRUMCREE and on Covertcoat, the Grand Steeplechase de Paris on Dandolo and Canard, and the French Derby on Maintenon and Or du Rhin), said Leinster was the best horse he ever rode. LEINSTER'S brother, HIDDEN MYSTERY, also won the Grand Sefton and many other steeplechases; he was killed during the running of a steeplechase at Sandown Park.

Ascetic's chestnut son ROYAL MEATH (1884) was out of Catastrophe, by Coroner (a son of Mountain Deer). His first big win was the Drogheda Stakes (2-1/4 mile steeplechase) at Punchestown as a four year old, owned by George Jackson, trained by F.F. Cullen and ridden by his brother, W.P. Cullen, an amateur rider. The next year (1889) Royal Meath won the Conyngham Cup over four miles, with the same connections. He was taken to France that year to compete in the Grand Steeplechase de Paris at Auteuil, but did not win. Royal Meath passed into the hands the famous Irish horse trader, owner and breeder, James Daly, of Liffey Bank, owner of Hartstown Stud, near Dublin, where Hackler stood at stud. In 1890 Royal Meath was sent back across the channel to run in the Grand Steeplechase again, and just a few hours before the race Daly sold Royal Meath to the Earl of Dudley, who also had purchased CLOISTER. Royal Meath won the Auteuil race, ridden by the famous jump jockey Harry Beasley, one of the few non French-bred horses to do so up to that time.

Royal Meath was transferred to trainer Richard Marsh's barn, and began preps for the Grand National of 1891, however he pulled a suspensory while carrying a heavy weight in a race at Sandown, and was retired from the turf. CLOISTER, considered a less-talented horse than Royal Meath by Marsh, replaced him as the stable's hopes for the upcoming National (he ran second in it that year).

Royal Meath was Ascetic's most successful sire son. His best included Tipperary Boy (1890, out of The Tart), trained by F.F. Cullen, who won the Irish International Handicap (Leopardstown Chase) and the Irish Grand National in 1901, and the 2 mile-6 furlong Galway Plate an unprecedented three times (1899, 1901, and 1902). Royal Meath's daughter Royal Tara (1900, out of Lambthorpe) also won the Galway Plate, in 1906. Another good jumper by Royal Meath was the brilliant Rory O'Moore, who won the 1908 National Hunt Chase (at Warwick that year), the Champion Chase at Liverpool in 1911, and was fourth in the 1914 Grand National, and Royal Meath's son Royal Bow II was another winner of the Champion Chase. Royal Meath's half-bred son Midas (1901, out of Dido) won five steeplechases and his sister Diadem (1904) won two. Larch Hill, from Cloister's dam Grace II, won eight steeplechases. Royal Meath also got a few good winners on the flat: his daughter Lilian Noel (1896, out of Andante), owned and raced by W.P. Cullen, won the four mile Royal Whip at the Curragh in 1899.

Royal Meath's daughters included the half-bred Royal Welsh (1904), who placed in steeplechases through the age of eight, and was later the dam of Scottish Grand National winner Chancellor and his winning steeplechasing brother Court Scandal. Another Royal Meath daughter was Ballymacarney (1897, out of Cinnamon); she bred Ballyhackle (1903, by Hackler), winner of the Grand Sefton Steeplechase, and Ballymacad, who won the 1917 wartime Grand National held at Gatwick. Another Royal Meath daughter, Clonee (1895, out of Connie) became third dam of Greenogue Princess, the important steeplechase matron by My Prince, who was second dam of the great chaser Arkle.

Ascetic had other sons that entered the stud, but like Royal Meath, none of them got sire sons capable of carrying on Ascetic's sire line. Of these, RIVERSTOWN, who stood at stud in England and Ireland, was probably the best. His son, Lord Rivers (1902) won a number of steeplechases between the ages of four and ten, including the 1908 Irish Grand National and the Champion Chase at Liverpool. His daughter Lady Rivers won ten steeplechases between the ages of four and six, and was later the dam of several winners of steeplechases and hurdles, including Lord Marcus, who won the Grand International and Grand Allies steeplechase. Riverstown's daughter Riversaint was a very good chaser, winner of the Irish Grand Military in 1907 (after running second in it the year before), and of the Aldershot Cup (although she was disqualified later for not being registered in England). Riverstown also got many hunters and horses presented at various shows, including Easger Egg (1907), a winner of many championships and gold and silver medals between 1907 and 1910.

Other Ascetic sons at stud included the half-bred ST. ANDREW, huntsman's mount of the Earl of Yarborough's pack for eight seasons, "a very fine hunter and one of the best tempered horses living;" SIR PATRICK (1890), who got Cheshire Steeplechase and Irish Grand National winner Patlander (1896, also third in the 1907 Grand National), and Irish Oak (1905), a winner of twelve steeplechases, among others; ATHLETIC (1891); and ACONITE (1889, out of Suicide, and so closely in-bred to Lady Alicia and Hermit), who got Haughton Cup steeplechase winner Handy Andy, and some other winners.

Other Ascetic Daughters

Ascetic got a number of good jumping daughters that contributed to his success as a stallion, in addition to those noted above, and a great many proved to be good steeplechase matrons.

One of his earliest daughters, EFFIE (1879), a half-bred mare out of a mare by Eidolon, bred at Rathvale, Athby, Co. Meath, won a three mile steeplechase at age seven, and two more at age eight. In the stud, she bred a number of winners to the cover of Alban (a son of Albert Victor): Elinor, who won ten steeplechases; Balroth, also a winner of ten steeplechases; Effingham, winner of two steeplechases, and Etta, who placed over fences and later was the dam of winners. Elinor and Balroth were both sent to Germany.

BREEMOUNT OAK (1890), a grey filly by Ascetic and out of the half-bred mare Silver Oak, was owned by John O'Connell Murphy, who bred a more than a few Ascetic youngsters. Breemount Oak won a number of steeplechases between the ages of five and eight, including the 3-1/2 mile Houghton Cup and the Downshire Plate, and was second in the Conyngham Cup and in the Irish Grand National in 1896, and second again in the Conyngham Cup in 1897. She later bred a winner over fences and a hunter that won prizes at hunter shows.

DOROTHY VANE (1890), out of a mare by Herbertstown, won the Scottish Grand National in 1900.

MOYFENRATH (1895), another mare bred by Murphy, from Au Revoir, a member of the half-bred Mayboy family ( HB Family 1), ran for five seasons, winning eight steeplechases and a hurdle race in forty-three starts, and placed twenty times. She bred Jock (1905), a winner of five steeplechases and five hurdle races, later sent to Germany, where he won two steeplechases. Her sister, SANDY BREE (1897), won six steeplechases, and placed seven times in 32 starts. Their brother, HILL OF BREE (1896), won ten steeplechases, and ran twice, unsuccessfully, in the Grand National at Aintree.

The bay AESTHETIC ANNE (1896) was a half-bred mare out of Gentle Annie, by Lothario. She ran between the ages of four and nine, winning four chases and placing second five times, including in the Tantivy Steeplechase of 1900. In the stud she bred Bernstein (1909), winner of the Grand International Hurdle and three other hurdle races and two steeplechases, Hedu (1911), a winner of eight hurdles and four chases, and Revelation (1917), a winner of six steeplechases.

Maid of the Forest
Maid of the Forest
Ascetic's daughter MAID OF THE FOREST (out of Forest Queen by Brown Prince ( a son of Lexington) ) won some hunter races, including the Ladies' Purse at Melton twice for her owner Charles Newton. Her sister, DIANE (1896) was unraced. But she bred some good ones for Major T. Collins Gerrard, including Wilkinstown (by Oppressor), a mare that won the Lancashire Steeplechase and ten other races, and Kenia, who won under National Hunt rules. Her best was the 17 hand gelded bay Troytown (by Zria, a Cyllene son), "a wonderful jumper," according to his jockey J.R. Anthony, who won the 1920 Grand National Steeplechase by twelve lengths at age seven, his second season as a runner.

In his first season, age six, Troytown won a maiden chase over two miles at Leopardstown, took a second at Baldoyle, and then went to Liverpool, where he blundered in the Stanley Steeplechase. Two days after that race, he easily won the Champion Steeplechase over the last three miles of the Grand National course. He was sent over to France, where he won the Grand Steeplechase de Paris, after which he was retired for the season. Prior to his Grand National win the following year he ran fourth in the Leopardstown Grand Handicap Steeplechase, and was beaten over two miles at Lingfield, and entered the Grand National weighted at 11 st. 9 lb., with Poethlyn the only other horse weighted higher at 12 st. 7 lb. After he won this race, his owner turned down an offer of £4,000 for him. Troytown was sent back to France to contest the Grand Steeplechase de Paris again, placing third. His next race was the Prix des Drags, over 2 miles-6 furlongs; he fell, breaking his leg above his knee, which ended his extremely promising career and his life.

Ascetic's daughter ROSE GRAFT (1897) was out of Rosestock, by Prestonpans (by Prince Charlie). She was bred by G.L. Walker in Ireland, and was, at first, not raced, but sent directly to stud; proving barren in 1900 and 1901, she was put into training and won ten steeplechases. In 1906 she produced Vi Bresail, who won two chases, and in 1910, to the cover of General Symons, produced Sergeant Murphy, Ascetic's second grandson to win the Grand National.

Sergeant Murphy, a gelding, was thirteen years old when he won the 1923 Grand National, where twenty-eight started and seven finished. He stayed out of trouble, and was at or near the lead for most of the race, guided by veterinarian and amateur rider Captain G.N. Bennett, and won by three lengths in the fastest time (9 min. 36 sec.) since ASCETIC'S SILVER had established the record in 1906. He had run in two previous Nationals (1920, 1922), and would run in two more (1924, 1925); prior to his win, his best had been a fourth in 1920, and again, after being remounted, in the 1922 race, where only five finished. In 1924, age 15, he was fifth, and in 1925 the game old campaigner came in tenth, having been remounted after refusing the Canal Ditch fence and losing his bridle on the second attempt.

Sergeant Murphy was sold at age four for 135 guineas, and passed through several hands. He started racing at age five, when he ran unplaced, once. The next year he ran second or third three times in steeplechases, and then broke his maiden in a steeplechase at Baldoyle Park, following that with another win at Gowran Park. After his Baldoyle win he was sold by his then-owner, Rait Kerr to C.E. Hawkins, and after the Gowran Park win was sold on to M. Benson ("Mr. Douglas Stuart"), a London bookmaker, for whom he ran for three years. He placed in chases in 1917 and won two in 1918, and in 1919 won three times. In 1920 he won one race, running fourth in the Grand National that year, failed to place in two steeplechases in France, and ran second to The Bore in Liverpool's Valentine Steeplechase.

He was then purchased by American Stephen "Laddie" Sanford, then an undergraduate at Cambridge, as a hunter, but he was "too much of a handful" in the 1921 hunt season, and he was sent back into training with Newmarket trainer George Blackwell, who had trained English Triple Crown winner Rock Sand a decade earlier. After his fourth place finish to TROYTOWN in the 1922 Grand National, he won the Scottish Grand National. Prior to his Grand National win in 1923, he had run third and fifth in two prep races at Hurst Park and Gatwick. Laddie Sanford was the son of wealthy American John Sanford, owner of Hurricana Stud Farm in New York, and Haras de Cheffreville in France. Sanford senior served as chairman of the American Jockey Club between 1913 and 1921, and was a big supporter of steeplechasing in the U.S.; one of his purchases in England was the flat racer Tourist, who in the U.S. won the American Grand National twice and was later a sire of steeplechasers.

The half-bred VIXEN (1887, also called Polly; referred to in some texts as an Ascetic Mare), by Ascetic, was out of Marchioness, by Marquis, and was bred by Whittie Butler of Staffordstown, Navan; her dam, Molly, by Star of Erin, could not be traced back further in the female line. She was unraced, and her recorded produce began in 1891, when she bred a chestnut filly by Brown Prince for John Markey of the Grange at Naul, Balbriggan. She then produced Cavalier (1892, by Prince Charles), a winner of three steeplechases, and Little Hack II (1899, by Hackler), a winner of six steeplechases, including the Irish Grand National, twice (the second time when she was age fourteen), and the Prince of Wales' Plate at Punchestown when she was age eleven. VIXEN bred also bred several unraced daughters that produced good winners over fences and in hunter shows, and whose daughters bred on; one daughter, Ash Wednesday (1898, by Hackler) was the dam of Irish Grand Military Steeplechase winner Curiosity IV (1905) and of Hackler's Bey (1907), a winner of five steeplechases that ran in and completed the Grand National at Aintree.

THE GIFT (1889), out of a mare by Will Scarlett, was another half-bred Ascetic daughter; she won flat races under both rules at age six, and also won over hurdles. She produced Desmond's Gift (1902), a winner of six steeplechases, and Gate Boy (1904), a very successful hunter sire in the showring (First Premiums every year between 1916 and 1920 at London), who, as a stallion in Norfolk, was extremely popular and successful as a hunter sire.

Ascetic's daughter FAITHFUL LASSIE, out of Faith, produced Faithful Lad (by Dercleugh), a winner of eleven of his forty-five steeplechases, placing second or third fifteen times; Her other offspring included Fidessa (by Hackler), winner of 4 and placed 14 times in 26 starts over fences; Shanawan (by Bushey Park), winner of six out of 23 steeplechases, and placed seven times, and Besom, winner of four chases.

There were numerous other Ascetic daughters that bred winners of at least one steeplechase, hurdle race, or Point-to-Point race in England and Ireland, and more than a few than won prizes in the show ring. It seems as if a mare was an Ascetic daughter, whether she raced or not, she was bred to produce jumpers and hunters, and as can be seen, many were very successful at it.

It's a fact that jumper sires have many progeny running long after they themselves are dead. Cloister's Grand National win came in 1893, when Ascetic was twenty-two years old; Drumcree and Ascetic's Silver won that race years after his death, in August of 1897, and he was the leading sire of jumpers in Great Britain for seven successive years after that. No other stallion has ever so dominated the breeding of steeplechasers. His modern counterpart, Vulgan, who topped the jumper sires list for ten years in the 1950s, '60s, and early '70s and also got three Grand National winners, came closest, but it is hard to assess the relative merits of these two great stallions separated by such a span of time, with such a different mare population for each, and with so many changes in the courses and fences their respective progeny faced. Still, Vulgan never got a Cloister, and never had two sons, and a grandson, that set a course record in the Grand National.

--Patricia Erigero
Assisted by Michael Eyre, Derek Gay, Sol and Pilka Robinson

ASCETIC, Bay colt, 1871 - Family #12 - c
ch. 1864
b. 1848
br. 1831
b. 1833
Dr. Syntax
Mare by Ardrossan
b. 1857
br. 1846
Miss Sellon
b. 1851
Belle Dame
Lady Alicia
br. 1852
br. 1834
Humphrey Clinker
b. 1822
Mare by Cervantes
b. 1825
Mare by Golumpus
b. 1840
br. 1833
b. 1834

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