By the mid-1800s, the
male line of the Godolphin Arabian was in a dire state, and hopes
of its survival rested with West Australian (by Melbourne) the English
Triple Crown winner of 1853. West Australian succeeded in getting
two sons to carry the line forward, Solon (1861), from which descended
the European branch through Hurry On and his tribe; and *Australian
(1858), from which descended the American branch of the line through
Fair Play and Man O'War.
*Australian was bred
in England by W.E. Duncombe and, with the assistance of Ten Broeck,
was imported with his dam, *Emilia in 1858 by A. Keene Richards, an
admirer of his sire, West Australian. Richards was the wealthiest
man in the state and his stud, Blue Grass Park, was just outside of
Georgetown, Scott County, Kentucky. Originally named "Millington"
(the village in Yorkshire where Mr. Duncombe lived), the chestnut
colt was from one of the early crops of his sire, who was still an
unknown quantity as a stallion. *Australian's English-bred half-sister,
Cordelia (by Red Deer) was the dam of Thunderbolt (1857 by Stockwell).
Australian on the Turf
The colt broke his
maiden first time out as a two-year-old in New Orleans in the Doswell
Stakes (one mile heats). As a three-year-old, *Millington started
seven times, winning only his first and last contest. Unplaced in
his debut that season, in his next race, the Association Stakes (one
mile heats) at Louisville on May 20, he placed third in the first
heat, then fifth in the second. Four days later, in the Galt House
Stakes (two mile heats) also at Louisville, he ran third. Moved to
Lexington for the Association Stakes (one mile heats) on June 3, he
placed behind Lillie Ward. Stepped up to two mile heats in the Citizen
Stakes over a muddy Lexington course, he won the first heat, but was
beaten by Kansas for the victory. Coming back in September in the
Produce Stakes (mile heats), he was again second, and four days later,
won straight heats at two miles in the second Produce Stakes.
Richards was sympathetic
to the Southern cause, and at the outbreak of the Civil War, left
his home in Kentucky (a border state) to live in Louisiana in the
deep south. He took some of his stock with him to the Wellswood Plantation
of his friend, Gen. Thomas J. Wells, breeder of the great colt Lecompte
as well as his half-sister Prioress. Late in 1861, Richards sold some
of his remaining Kentucky stock, including the three-year-old *Millington
and his dam, *Emilia, to another friend, R.A. Alexander, owner of
the famed Woodburn Stud. It has been suggested that the sale was actually
a favor on behalf of Alexander, so that the colt could stay in Kentucky.
Alexander, a Scottish national, exercised some immunity from the political
turmoil and could effectively protect Richards' interest in the West
As a four-year-old,
the colt, now known as *Australian, was third in a race at Lexington
in his only start at four. Shortly thereafter,
the horse was retired to stud at Alexander's Woodburn Stud in 1863.
There he joined the premier stallion Lexington, who had already begun
his long reign as the nation's leading sire of running stock. *Australian
quickly established himself as an outstanding sire in his own right,
although his career as a stallion was always overshadowed by that
of Lexington's. He was the second leading sire (to Lexington) from
1871-1875, and again in 1877; also third in 1870 and fourth in 1868
and 1876. He sired 15 crops resulting in 246 offspring to race, which
won 410 times.
Australian in the Stud
His greatest runner
was SPENDTHRIFT (1876 out of Aerolite by Lexington), a champion at
two and three and by far his best son at stud, siring Kingston, at
one time the leading money winner and twice Leading Sire (1900, 1910),
and Belmont Stakes winner Hastings, Leading Sire in 1902 and 1908,
through which the male line continued with great success through his
son Fair Play.
Fair Play led the sires' list three times (1920, 1924, 1927), and his greatest
son, Man O'War led in 1926. Man O'War's son War Admiral led in 1945.
Fair Play sired two other sons to top the sires' list, Chatterton
(1932) and Chance Play (1935, 1944). |
brother FELLOWCRAFT (1870) was also a top runner, breaking Lexington's
American record for four miles. Fellowcraft's most important offspring
was his daughter Lady Reel (a half-sister to Domino), dam herself
of of the champion runner and sire Hamburg. (A third brother, MISER,
also appears as a sire in pedigrees.)
winners also included the champions BADEN-BADEN (Kentucky Derby),
Springbok (Belmont Stakes), ZOO-ZOO (champion filly at 2), as well
as JOE DANIELS (Belmont Stakes, famous for his match with Thad Stevens
in California), HELMBOLD (Saratoga Cup), LIZZIE LUCAS (Monmouth Oaks),
ATTILA (Travers), ASCENSION (Monmouth Oaks), WILDIDLE, RUTHERFORD,
ALBERT, and MAGGIE B.B..
and FELLOWCRAFT, his other good sire sons included WAVERLY, HARRY O'FALLON, MISER, ABD-EL-KADER, LEINSTER, JOE DANIELS, SPRINGBOK, and
WILDIDLE (an early leading sire in California).
The queen among *Australian's
daughters was MAGGIE B.B., dam of a string of great ones bred by Aristides
Welch at Erdenheim Stud in Pennsylvania. The best of these was Iroquois (by *Leamington), winner of the Epsom Derby and St. Leger Stakes, and later a leading sire. Maggie B.B. also produced his brother, champion and Preakness winner Harold, as well as his sister Jaconet (dam of champion Sir Dixon), and half-brother Panique (by Alarm), winner of the Belmont Stakes.
daughter, IVY LEAF produced champion and sire Bramble (himself sire
of Ben Brush); MAUDINA produced Preakness and Belmont winner Cloverbrook;
FARFALETTA produced the champion and sire Falsetto as well as Kentucky
Oaks winner Felicia; LETTY produced Preakness winner Refund; ADELE
produced Belmont winner Belmar; SPIRIT produced Preakness winner Paul
Kauvar; AUSTRIA produced Alabama Stakes winner Ida Hope; and MALTA
produced Alabama Stakes winner Grisetta. LIZZIE LUCAS was second dam of Belmont and Withers Stakes winner Delhi (1901), a champion at three and age four; she was also second dam, through another daughter, of Futurity winner Morello, leader of the colt's division at both ages two and three.
With the exception
of the spring of 1865, when Alexander moved his most valuable stock,
including *Australian and Lexington, to a farm in Illinois to avoid
further raiding parties during the Civil War, *Australian lived out
his days at Woodburn. He became ill in 1877, which resulted in the
end of his ability to breed mares. On October 15, 1879 at the age
of 21, he died in box at Woodburn.
He was a solid chestnut,
an upstanding 15.3 hands (size is typical of descendants of Melbourne),
leggy with good length of barrel. He was sound and full of quality,
siring speed and classic ability alike. His male line continued through
the generations, through Spendthrift, Hastings, Fair Play and Man O'War, and that male line continued to be known for it's size, good
looks, soundness and stamina. |
--by Anne Peters