When there's discussion about the greatest racehorses, mention is often biased to champions still fresh in our memory. That's why reading from older sources can introduce the reader to near-forgotten champions. An example of this is found in a quote from bloodstock authority William Allison which appears in J. Fairfax-Blakeborough's book Malton Memories and I'Anson Triumphs.
"Blair Athol was 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 was truly a smasher.
Bred by William I'Anson of Spring Cottage, Malton in Yorkshire, Blair Athol's parents were two of the most popular horses of the nineteenth century. His sire was Stockwell, winner of the 1852 Two Thousand Guineas and St. Leger Stakes. In his time, Stockwell was declared as "the Emperor of Stallions," became the leading sire in England seven times, and his male line dominates the breed today by a great margin. Blair Athol's dam was the wildly popular race filly and I'Anson homebred, Blink Bonny, winner of the 1857 Derby Stakes and Oaks Stakes. To say Blair Athol was a blueblood is an understatement; both his grandmothers were among the most important broodmares of all time, Stockwell's dam, Pocahontas, and Blink Bonny's dam, Queen Mary.
Queen Mary (1843), I'Anson's foundation mare, was still in production at Spring Cottage when her daughter, Blink Bonny, foaled Blair Athol in 1861. Queen Mary had also produced the high class racemare Haricot, as well as the colts Balrownie and Bonnie Scotland, both of which were sent to America where they became successful sires. 1861 proved a good year for Spring Cottage, since Haricot's daughter Caller Ou (by Stockwell, so a close relative to Blair Athol) won that year's running of the St. Leger.
Both of Blair Athol's parents had white on their face, but their son topped them both and was known through his career as "the bald-faced horse." He was strikingly marked with a broad blaze that extended over his nostrils and muzzle, although the only white on his legs was his left hind ankle. As he matured, his rich chestnut coat was finished with a flaxen tail. I'Anson named him "Blair Athol" for the Perthshire town in Scotland, and when the handsome two-year-old appeared on the gallops at Langton Wold outside Malton, it was hard to keep the stable secret. Blink Bonny's son quickly became the talk of Yorkshire.
His Mother's Son
Unlike Blink Bonny, who made eleven starts as a two-year-old, I'Anson kept the lid on Blair Athol, who took on a lot of his sire Stockwell, being bigger and slower coming into hand, so was unraced his juvenile year. Unfortunately, the colt had inherited his dam's dental issues so required a special diet, but he still grew into a big, rangy, deep girthed, powerfully-made horse with near flawless action. He was so advanced in his form that I'Anson tested Blair Athol against his great race mare Caller Ou (now six years old) and Borealis (Blair Athol's year-older half-sister by Newminster) in trials and the colt proved that he shared a large dose of the family's talent.
The breeder/owner/trainer received a substantial offer, reportedly 4,000 guineas, from outside England for the unraced crack, which he turned down. The famed bookmaker John Jackson, known as "Jock of Oran," became enamored of I'Anson's colt and was one of his staunchest supporters, even after his offer of 7,000 guineas to purchase was turned down.
Early in the spring of his three-year-old year, Blair Athol developed a bizarre condition that veterinarians had difficulty diagnosing and which continued to delay his debut. Some days he was barely able to walk, and couldn'tİ work for over a month. I'Anson passed on starting him in the Two Thousand Guineas, but kept the Derby Stakes at Epsom as the target. To solve the mystery, word came through another prominent bookmaker that Blair Athol's lad, Withington, was on the take and had delivered damaging kicks to the colt's genitals to keep him from starting in the Derby. I'Anson beat the boy within an inch of his life before he released him from his employ.
In the meantime, Lord Glagow's colt General Peel had jumped to the head of the class with a win in the Two Thousand Guineas over Paris and Historian; the favored French filly Fille de l'Air in the beaten field. He was looked on as the horse Blair Athol had to beat to be taken seriously. In light of the conspiracy to stop Blair Athol from starting, it was critical to the bookmaking fraternity that he make it to the post at Epsom, and from there on, all efforts were made to ensure that it happened.
In the Derby Stakes, Blair Athol carried breeder I'Anson's "straw and green" silks for the first time. It wasn't commonly known that I'Anson had sold a half interest to his friend and sometime business partner Captain Cornish. Cornish's name is also associated with another of Blink Bonny's sons, Bonnie Scotland, who was imported by Captain Cornish to the United States in 1857 and went on to greatness as a sire there.
Blair Athol went to the post at Epsom at 14-1 with Jim Snowden aboard. It's said that he was backed heavily by Yorkshiremen, many who bet him simply "for his mother's sake," I'Anson and Jock of Oran included. Stablemate and cousin, Caller Ou served as a familiar and calming influence in the warm up but things quickly went south from there. Thirty horses milled around behind the starter and in the ensuing mayhem, there were eight false starts, due in large part to the delinquent Tambour Major. Snowden managed to keep the maiden Blair Athol out of most of the trouble but the inexperienced colt still got the worst of it and was one of the stragglers when the starter finally released them.
I'Anson's orders to the rider had been to wait, and Blair Athol was allowed to recover by galloping along in the rear for most of the mile and a half. When his rider finally asked him to quicken at Tattenham Corner, Blair Athol's flawless stride took him past the field to the leaders and he caught, then moved off from General Peel to win by two lengths, with Scottish Chief third. Snowden was quoted as saying "The further he went an' the better he liked it. I could have won ten lengths if I'd been so minded." For Snowden's part, he left a series of bleeding rowl marks along the winner's sides from the relentless spurring to the wire.
It's said that John Jackson made 40,000 pounds betting on the race, and I'Anson himself, 15,000 pounds over and above the winning purse of 6,450 pounds.
Blair Athol was eagerly embraced as the English hero, and was entered for what was the premier event in France for three-year-olds, the Grand Prix de Paris at Longchamps a week and a half later. Once again, things weren't allowed to go easy on the young star. Traveling to Paris meant crossing the English Channel by ship, and Blair Athol and his entourage encountered unsettling rough seas. Once on dry land, they had to deal with a hostile French atmosphere, and an abortive morning exercise in unfamiliar conditions on the gallops that left the colt upset and stressed.
By race time, his new jockey, Tom Chaloner, had been apparently threatened with physical attack, and on the way to the post, the crowd at Longchamps went so far as throwing things at the English colt. It would have been a miracle for Blair Athol to have done well, but he managed to salvage second, losing to Vermout, with Fille de l'Air -- the French filly who in the meantime had won the English Oaks -- in third.
Blair Athol returned home to Spring Cottage, where he got back into his usual routine. Sent out to Ascot, he won the one-mile Triennial Stakes, defeating favored Ely by two lengths. In July at Goodwood, he won the Gratwicke Stakes over a mile and a half "in a canter." Later in the meet, he walked over for the Zetland Plate.
In the Great Yorkshire Stakes at Doncaster, Blair Athol was favored and initially crushed Ely in a speed duel. He was cruising to what seemed like inevitable victory but was caught by the masterfully ridden The Miner (John Osborne up), who managed a quick closing rush to beat the favorite by a length, getting seven pounds from Blair Athol.
The following day, the Yorkshire hero returned in the Great St. Leger, run on a stormy day of wind and rain and darkness. As Blair Athol began to make his move, Jockey Snowden steered him between Ely and Baragagh but the colt was clipped on the knee in the process. He was taken around the pair and closed to easily beat General Peel, Cambuscan, and The Miner in that order, succeeding in this classic race where his mother Blink Bonny had failed. Pulling up, the injury revealed itself, his knee was swollen, and a tendon had been torn. I'Anson was forced to scratch Blair Athol out of the Doncaster Cup at the same meeting, won in his absence by General Peel.
The St. Leger proved to be Blair Athol's grand finale. Despite his losses, he'd lived up to the nation's expectations and dreams, as his great mother's son. His outstanding conformation and action made Blair Athol any horseman's dream. His wins were with confidence and ease, and his performances left his followers wondering what might have been had he been able to stand training another year. He had earned the reputation as one of the greatest racehorses of all time.
I'Anson had been offered 7,000 pounds from Mr. Francis Cavaliero, the leading bloodstock expert representing the Austro-Hungarian government, but turned it down, wanting to get his colt sound again. After scratching from the Cup and re-evaluating the injury as career-ending, I'Anson returned with a counter offer to Cavaliero of 8,000 pounds, only to find that market closed, another horse bought in place of Blair Athol. Re-enter John Jackson, Jock of Oran, who had already tried and failed to purchase the horse in training. This time, I'Anson relented and sold a majority interest, two-thirds, in the horse for 5,000 guineas and announced his retirement from racing.
Jackson sent Blair Athol to his stud at Fairfield, near York, with the champion's adoring public coming out to see their hero pass in his triumphal journey from Spring Cottage to his new home. He stood his first season in 1865 at a fee of 100 guineas in luxurious, custom accommodations at Fairfield Stud. In 1866, Jackson challenged Thomas Jennings, the owner of the great French invader Gladiateur, that his blazed faced horse was more exquisitely formed than that season's champion. At 100 pounds a side, the meeting was to take place at that year's Doncaster sale, but fell through on the expected afternoon, when a judge couldn't be agreed upon. Considering Blair Athol's reputation as one of the most flawlessly formed and handsome of horses, and Gladiateur as rather angular and coarse, it was an unlikely contest from the start.
Late in the year of 1868, Jackson's bad health took a serious turn for the worse and he was forced to sell out the high quality bloodstock he'd collected at Fairfield, dying from consumption the next January at just forty-one years of age. Blair Athol, whose first foals were three-year-olds in 1868, brought 5,000 pounds to top the Fairfield dispersal sale, going to the leading buyer, William Blenkiron of Middle Park Stud. Sent south to Middle Park in Kent, Blair Athol joined his year-younger full brother Breadalbane. In 1870, Blair Athol's path again crossed with Gladiateur, which Blenkiron had bought from Comte LaGrange to join the stallions at Middle Park. All three stallions stood at there until 1872, when Blenkiron's death forced the landmark dispersal of his bloodstock.
When Blair Athol entered the sale ring for the Middle Park Dispersal, the air was electric and the stallion responded in kind. "By a suppressed murmur and hurried rising in every tier of the stand we knew that he was coming. A few minutes' suspense, and far away in the yard, above the black walls of that living lane, came nodding that good blaze face which all men knew." Following "thunderous applause" Blair Athol recovered from the surprise reception and strutted around the ring like the great stallion he was. Edmund Tattersall let the crowd grow silent. "Now, gentlemen, what may I say for the best horse in the world?"
By this time, Blair Athol was not only considered the greatest racehorse of recent memory, but a highly successful young stallion. At year's end, he would be the leading sire for the first of four championship years - 1872, 1873, 1875 and 1877. His first crop included the good two-year-old ETHUS (1866 colt out of Theresa by Touchstone), and the Duke of Beaufort's filly SCOTTISH QUEEN (1866 out of Edith by Newminster), who ran second to Pero Gomez in the Middle Park Plate at two, and winner of the 1869 One Thousand Guineas in her maiden and only win the next year at three. Others from his early crops sired at Fairfield included LADY ATHOLSTONE (1868 filly out of Silkstone by Touchstone), winner of the Nassau Stakes; and ROSE OF ATHOL (1868 filly out of Violet by Voltigeur), winner of the Great Yorkshire Stakes.
The major runner taking Blair Athol to his first sire championship in 1872, however, was PRINCE CHARLIE.
| ||PRINCE CHARLIE (1869 out of Eastern Princess by Surplice) was bred by Mr. H. Jones of Littleport, Cambridgeshire, although foaled in France while his dam was overseas being bred. He is one of many examples of Blair Athol's best nick, with mares from the Touchstone line. PRINCE CHARLIE was owned by Joseph Dawson; and trained by his brother Matt Dawson. He was a very big, grand-looking, blazed-face chestnut like his sire, which may have led to his great popularity. In two starts at two, PRINCE CHARLIE won the Middle Park Plate beating Laburnam by a head; and the Criterion Stakes over Nuneham and Cremorne.
|Although it was known that he was a roarer, as a three-year-old, PRINCE CHARLIE was tested at the classic level and made an excellent showing. He won the Two Thousand Guineas beating Cremorne by a neck; won the Craven Stakes, then finished fourth behind Cremorne in the Derby. PRINCE CHARLIE was second by five lengths to Wenlock in that year's St. Leger Stakes at Doncaster, where the lay of the course was not as testing as the uphill run home at Epsom. Outside of the classics, trainer Dawson took advantage of PRINCE CHARLIE'S utter brilliance, which earned him the title "Prince of the TYC" for his dominance over the sprinting Two Year Old Course at various tracks around the country.|
PRINCE CHARLIE finished out the year with wins in the Fern Hill Stakes, All-Aged Stakes, Drawing Room Stakes, and Don Stakes. At four, he was unbeatable in ten starts including the Queen's Stand Plate, Rous Stakes, Cheveley Stakes, and Bickerstaffe Cup. At five, he started nine times and won eight, including a second Rous Stakes. Despite his wind infirmity, PRINCE CHARLIE made 29 starts and won 25 of them.
As a stallion, PRINCE CHARLIE was a disappointment in his homeland. He initially stood at Bushey Paddocks, Hampton Court and later at Belhus Stud in Essex, an establishment noted more for its production of top class hunters than race horses. He sired several stakes winners including Prestonpans, Wagner, and Pirate of Penzance, all of which were later imported to stand at stud in the United States with varying degrees of success. PRINCE CHARLIE also wielded influence through Lochiel, whose dam Nelly Moore was carrying him in utero when exported to New Zealand, who became a multiple term leading sire in Australia. PRINCE CHARLIE also left behind the filly Princess Catherine, dam of Grand Prix de Paris winner Clamart, who was in turn, the dam's sire of French champion Ajax (sire of Teddy).
In 1883, fourteen-year-old PRINCE CHARLIE was offered at the Tattersalls January sale and brought 680 guineas. He was imported by Daniel Swigert to stand at Elmendorf Stud in Kentucky, where his career was revitalized. Sons of Blair Athol had already done well in the States, especially unraced GLEN ATHOL (1869 colt out of Greta by Voltigeur), who had sired the top class runners Checkmate and Glenmore.
PRINCE CHARLIE only made three seasons at Elmendorf before he died on November 11, 1886 at seventeen years from colic. At the time he was valued at $20,000. If PRINCE CHARLIE did nothing else in his short time in Kentucky, he was immortalized as the sire of Salvator (1886), the champion of his generation, and setter of time records, including American records for a mile (memorialized at Monmouth in the Salvator Mile Stakes, now a Grade 3 event) and at a mile and a quarter in the great match race with Tenny. On American soil, PRINCE CHARLIE also sired Senorita (Monmouth Oaks), Princess Bowling (Alabama Stakes) and the good sire Hayden Edwards.
Legacy of speed
PRINCE CHARLIE was one of the early examples of what was to become the forte of Blair Athol as a sire, as were ETHUS and SCOTTISH QUEEN. Despite his classic pedigree and performance, Blair Athol's offspring were becoming noted more for their early maturity and speed.
A good one from the 1869 crop sired at Fairfield, JOCK OF ORAN (1869 colt out of Tunstall Maid by Touchstone) was born the property of William Blenkiron at Middle Park Stud. He won seven "useful" races and placed in a couple of stakes at three. At stud, he sired the good stakes winner Be Cannie, who became the granddam of the important stallion Son-In-Law, ironically one of the great sources of stamina in the twentieth century.
Blair Athol's years at Middle Park were also very productive, resulting in sire championships in 1872, 1873, and 1875. Lord Falmouth's CECILIA (1870 out of One Thousand Guineas winner Siberia by Muscovite) became Blair Athol's second winner of the One Thousand Guineas, following SCOTTISH QUEEN. He also sired the precocious PARAFFIN (1870 filly out of Paradigm by Paragone), a good stakes winner at two who became a foundation mare for Lord Rosebery. Her daughters produced Chelandry, Ladas, Ladasine (by Ladas), Gas, and Glare.
ANDRED (1870 colt out of Woodcraft by Voltigeur) won the Prendergast, Newmarket, Great Tom and Great Cheshire Stakes at three. He initially stood at Croft Spa, but was sent to Italy in 1879 where he became a significant stallion, his best being champion filly Andreina (1881).
ST. ALBANS (1870 colt out of Pandora by Cotherstone) was bred by Blenkiron atİ Middle Park Stud, and sold as a yearling for 300 guineas to Australian John Moffat, who shipped him that year to Victoria, Australia. Moffat died in 1871 and his Leigh Stud was dispersed in January of 1872. The then-unnamed two-year-old Blair Athol - Pandora colt "excited a good deal of interest" and went to Joseph Thomson for 510 guineas. Here the trail gets thin. He must not have been much of a racehorse. A note is found about him as a racehorse coming into the ownership of trainer James Wilson, who moved him along after an "accident."İ It might be a reasonable stretch to guess that Wilson, who also owned the famed St. Albans Stud, is the one who gave the colt his name.
With no race record to brag about, ST. ALBANS had only his magnificent looks and pedigree to sell him. He was a typical Stockwell in build and markings, with a blaze and three stockings. In August of 1876, he was noted as a stallion owned by Mr. Coldham and being taken to "Mr. Wilson's stables, near Ballarat." In late July of 1877, ST. ALBANS arrived in Tasmania from Mr. Coldham's in Victoria on a three-year lease to John Field, of the Calstock Stud, Deloraine, and was described as "one of the best bred horses in the colonies." While nothing came of his first few seasons in Victoria, in his first two years at Calstock, ST. ALBANS sired Ringwood (Hobart Cup), Sheet Anchor (Melbourne Cup), Blink Bonny (Caulfield Cup), Stockwell (Launceston Cup), Tasman (a great runner in New Zealand), Coronet, and the best of all, Malua (Melbourne Cup, etc.).
ST. ALBANS was the Leading Sire in Australia in 1881, 1883, 1884 and 1885 and his years at Calstock opened up something of a Golden Age in Tasmanian racing and breeding. Malua also proved a successful sire, and his son Malvolio (Melbourne Cup in 1893) was a good stallion who continued the line in Australia.
At the end of Fields' lease, ST. ALBANS returned to John Coldham's Grassdale Stud in Victoria. In March 1883, upon the death of Coldham, the stud was dispersed and ST. ALBANS found himself back in the hands of James Wilson for 900 guineas. The stallion took up shop at his namesake farm, ST. ALBANS Stud, at Geelong, Victoria. When Wilson sold the stud to Mr. Crozier in 1885, the stallion stayed in residence and was there as late as 1887.
STONEHENGE (1870 colt out of Coimbra by Kingston) was sent to the U.S. to race for David D. Withers. His best effort was a third in the Robbins Stakes at Monmouth, but he was all speed, unable to go past a mile. At Withers' famous Brookdale Stud in New Jersey, he was a useful sire, getting the good filly Druidess, as well as a pair of broodmares in Stone Nellie (dam of Kentucky Derby winner Stonestreet) and Juliette (dam of Champion filly L'Alouette).
Blair Athol's next crop brought the good juvenile ECOSSAIS (1871 colt out of Margery Daw by Brocket), winner of the July, Chesterfield, and New Stakes at two.
| ||In 1872, Blair Athol got a really good one in classic winner CRAIG MILLAR (1872 colt out of Miss Roland by Fitz Roland). Bred and raced by William S. Crawfurd, he won the Molecombe and Buckenham Post Produce Stakes and one other race in six starts at two; the St. Leger Stakes and a Post Sweepstakes in five starts at three (also placing second in the St. James's Palace Stakes and the Newmarket Derby); and the Doncaster Cup at four, running second in both the Ascot Gold Cup (won by Apology) and the Edinburgh Gold Cup in five starts that year. He was unfortunately not a successful sire in England or in his second career at Kisber Stud in Hungary. In Hungary he got some winners, although none at classic level. He did sire a couple of daughters that each produced a classic winner in Austria-Hungary, but overall his record was dismal; when covering half-blood mares the results were also disappointing.|
|CRAIG MILLAR'S son Bread Knife was a useful sire. His daughter Monte Rosa has probably made the biggest impact, though, through her daughter Belle Rose, imported to the U.S. by James R. Keene for Castleton Stud. Belle Rose produced two important broodmares, Pink Domino and Royal Rose, from which descended Sweep, Pennant, Iron Mask, John P. Grier, and a family that continue to thrive, with Red God and Ruffian more recent representatives.|
The same crop produced the filly PALMYRA (1872 filly out of Firefly by Orlando), Hungarian-bred winner of the German Derby; and LADYLOVE (1872 filly out of Vergiss-Mein Nicht by Flying Dutchman), winner of the Woodcote Stakes at two. LADYLOVE'S daughter Enchantress (by Scottish Chief) produced the stallions Juggler and Necromancer (by the Lord Lyon son, Touchet); and her their sister, Fair Vision, was another top producing broodmare for Keene's Castleton Stud in the U.S. Fair Vision produced Peter Quince, Runaway Girl (granddam of Upset), Horoscope, and Idle Fancy (from which descend the important broodmares Sunday Evening and Hildene).
CLAREMONT (1872 colt out of Coimbra by Kingston) was second in the Derby Stakes and at stud got Esher. Esher was imported and proved a successful stallion in Kentucky, sire of Kentucky Derby winner Judge Himes as well as Garry Herrmann and a lot of good broodmare daughters.
At the Middle Park dispersal of 1872, the answer to Edmund Tattersall's question, "what may I say for the best horse in the world?" was 12,500 guineas, bid in by the Cobham Stud Company (a.k.a. The English Stud Company) to purchase the future leading sire Blair Athol. Cobham Stud was a commercial bloodstock company with the noted breeding expert William Allison as director and principle shareholder. The company leased property at Cobham Park near Ripley, in Surrey and stood several important sires including Lord Clifden. Breeders paid a premium to get to him at a fee of 100 guineas.
| ||It was at Cobham that Blair Athol sired his best runner, SILVIO (1874 colt out of Silverhair by Kingston), who led Blair Athol to a fourth sire championship when a three-year-old in 1877. Bred by Lord Falmouth at Mereworth Castle Stud in Kent, and trained by Mat Dawson at Heath House, SILVIO was a good but not great juvenile. He made his debut a winning won in the Ham Produce Stakes (Goodwood), followed by victories in the Clearwell, Newmarket Post and Glasgow Stakes, all at Newmarket, the latter a walkover in his fourth start. At the end of the season, he placed second behind the future Ascot Gold Cup winner Verneuil in the Buckenham Post Stakes. |
|At three, after a remarkable trial at home, SILVIO was unplaced in his seasonal return in the Biennial Stakes at Newmarket, then ran a promising third in the Two Thousand Guineas behind the French colt Chamant and the American colt Brown Prince. Continuing to improve, SILVIO was up against another Blair Athol colt in the Derby, the well-regarded ROB ROY, who was made post time favorite. ROB ROY hit the front and looked home clear, but SILVIO came on strongly to take the victory, with Glen Arthur second and ROB ROY hanging on for third. SILVIO won the Ascot Derby, then matched his sire's Derby/St. Leger double when he stayed well to win the St. Leger with ease, beating Lady Golightly, also owned by Lord Falmouth. He was also second that season in the Champion Stakes, to the year-older Springfield. |
At four, SILVIO won the Newmarket Biennial Stakes and the Prince of Wales Stakes, but could only manage second in the Ascot Gold Cup to his old rival Verneuil, who was on a tear at that year's Royal Ascot meet, winning the Ascot Gold Vase, Gold Cup and Alexandra Plate all in a week's time. Silvio also ran second in the Champion Stakes to another Lord Falmouth runner, the very talented filly Jannette, winner of that year's Oaks and St. Leger Stakes who was receiving fifteen pounds from the Blair Athol colt. In his final start of the year, he beat the good filly Insulaire in the Jockey Club Cup, giving her nineteen pounds.
SILVIO returned at five but without success in the winner's enclosure. Still, he didn't disgrace himself, with a good second to Isonomy in the Ascot Gold Vase, and seconds in the Hardwicke Stakes and Bunbury Stakes, giving weight on most occasions. SILVIO ended his career with ten wins from twenty starts.
SILVIO stood only two seasons in England before Lord Falmouth sold him to France. His two English crops produced little but his early seasons in France were just the opposite, taking him to the leading sire title in France for 1886, led by three-year-olds Firmament, Viennoise and Jupin. A few years later, his good filly May Pole won the Grand Criterium and Poule d'Essai des Pouliches (French 1,000 Guineas). May Pole's dual classic-winning daughter Rose de Mai became the second dam of Rose Prince. Another stakes-winning daughter, Livie established a strong female line through her daughter Lygie, dam of the champion filly Medeah and ancestress of Flambette, Omaha, Flares and Black Devil.
SILVIO didn't leave much in the way of stallion sons, although two that were sent to America left a mark. Dandie Dinmont sired the mare Martha II, dam of champion Artful and Artful's sister Artless, a successful broodmare. SILVIO'S son Silvermine was imported and sired Little Mattie, whose granddaughter Cherry Malotte was a foundation mare for Greentree Stud, and dam of the good runner Cherry Pie.
Other good ones sired during Blair Athol's Cobham years included CLANRONALD (1873 colt out of Isilia by Newminster; winner of the Criterion Stakes), COVENANTER (1874 colt out of Alcestis by Touchstone; winner of the St. James's Palace Stakes), LA MERVEILLE (1875 filly out of Cauldron by Newminster; winner of the Cambridgeshire Handicap), RED WING (1875 filly out of Wheat-Ear by Young Melbourne; winner of the Coronation Stakes), BALIOL (1879 colt out of Marigold by Teddington; winner of the Great Yorkshire Handicap), ROB ROY (1874 colt out of Columba by Charleston), DEE (1874 filly out of Kate Dayrell by Wild Dayrell), and GLENDALE (1873 colt out of Pet by Daniel O'Rourke).
A less renowned runner but horse who had lasting influence, THE ROVER (1874 colt out of Crinon by Newminster) was bred by the Cobham Stud and was the high priced yearling of his year at 1,800 guineas, purchased for Mr. Alden by his agent Mr. T. Brown. Like many overpriced yearlings, he could only disappoint, and that he did, unplaced in four starts at two, and that was that. He must have been a great looking horse because he was given a chance at stud by Daniel Shine at Woodford in Ireland. In 1880, he was presented with a mare named St. Editha that the stallion Rotherhill could not settle. To The Rover, she got in foal and produced St. Gatien in 1881.
St. Gatien went on to win the Derby and the Ascot Gold Cup among his many victories. At stud, he was the sire of imported Meddler, who was the champion at two in England and a two-time leading sire in America. St. Gatien's name also appears in the pedigrees of Bruleur, Stornoway, and the dam of Bold Ruler. St. Gatien's sire, THE ROVER met an untimely end. "He was going to be brought to auction to cover his owner's debts, but the morning after the injunction, was found in his stable with his throat cut, November 20, 1884." The General Stud Book is more direct and lists his obituary as "murdered in Ireland Nov 1884."
With SILVIO'S championship year in 1877, resulting in Blair Athol's fourth year as leading sire, his stud fee, which was already an exceptional 100 guineas, was raised to an astonishing 200 guineas at Cobham for 1878. The move was not one embraced by breeders, who were already having a hard time reading Blair Athol's progeny. He wasn't consistently throwing his type, in fact his best runner, SILVIO, was more a representative of his dam's sire Kingston. Although a late maturing horse who loved the classic distances of the Derby and St. Leger, many of Blair Athol's offspring were, like PRINCE CHARLIE, precocious and speedy. More than a few, again like the "Prince of the TYC," had breathing problems, and once a stallion is stamped as a sire of roarers, his desirability as a stallion begins a steady decline.
Blair Athol's inconsistent sire performance and a dramatic leap in stud fee resulted in breeders turning away from the four-time leading sire, and one of his smallest foal crops (17 foals), heading Cobham Stud toward destruction. A few years previously, in 1876, the big stallion had contracted pneumonia, an illness he couldn't shake off throughout the last years of his lifeİ His bad health probably didn't encourage mare owners. Responding to the breeders' disinterest, Allison reduced Blair Athol's 1879 fee back down to 100 guineas.
By 1879, Cobham Stud was in perilous financial times, forcing a dispersal sale. Eighteen-year-old Blair Athol, in poor health and eroding reputation, brought 4,500 guineas from Mr. Wolfe, who attempted a second incarnation of Cobham Stud Company. He stood the old champion at a fee of 75 guineas. Two years later, the new Cobham Stud was again up for sale, and dispersed in 1881. This time around, Blair Athol brought 1,950 guineas from Lord Lovelace, who established the Pound Stud Farm on another part of the Cobham estate.
The English hero lasted just one more season at stud, standing at 50 guineas a mare. On September 3, 1882, Blair Athol came back from exercise, and once in his box, went down covered in a sweat and died within a couple of hours. The diagnosis was an "inflammation of the lungs." Indeed, he had been surviving on only half of a functioning lung for years. Blair Athol was put to rest at Pound Stud "in a chestnut shaded mounded barrow in a hollow by the woodside."
Besides his sire line influence through PRINCE CHARLIE, Lochiel, ST. ALBANS, and Meddler, Blair Athol's daughters made a powerful impact as broodmares. His most important daughter was probably PARAFFIN (1870 out of Paradigm), already mentioned as the dam of Illuminata (dam of Chelandry and Ladas).
BONNIE AGNES (1875 filly out of Little Agnes by The Cure) produced the 1883 Oaks winner Bonny Jean and her half sisters Agnostic and Lochnell. Bonny Jean became the ancestress of Clonakilty, an imported mare who produced Mike Hall and Charley O. for Beaumont Farm in Kentucky. Bonny Jean is also the ancestress of the broodmare Spicebox (dam of Boxeuse). Agnostic produced 2,000 Guineas winner Vedas and his sister Gemma, who became the dam of the French champion and leading sire Sardanapale. Lochnell was the granddam of Verwood and Donnaconna.
DEE (1874 filly out of Kate Dayrell by Wild Dayrell) won the Chesterfield Stakes at two, and whose descendants include The Whirlpool, Cranach, Cavaliere d'Arpino and Olympia.
GENTLE ZITELLA (1874 out of Pet by Daniel O'Rourke) produced Pet (dam of the stallion Delaunay) and the imported mare Tarantella, who produced Handsel and Joe Madden.
GLENROSA (1882 out of Genuine by Fitz Roland) was the third dam of the imported mare Torpenhow, whose descendants include the great Nijinsky II and El Gran Senor.
LASS O'GOWRIE (1871 out of Queens' Head by Bay Middleton) was the third dam of 1913 Derby winner Aboyeur.
LASSIE (1872 out of Cestus by Newminster) was the granddam ofİ Australian leading sire Ayr Laddie and also ancestress of Grand Prix de Paris winner Galloper Light.
LOCH GARRY (1875 out of Mayonaise by Teddington), ancestress of Irish Oaks winner Uvira II, from which descends the Leading Sires Raja Baba, A.P. Indy, as well as Summer Squall, Lemon Drop Kid, and Court Vision.
MARQUESA (1879 out of Murcia by Lord of the Isles), was the dam of the imported stallion Bassetlaw, sire of three King's Plate winners in Canada.
SATIRE (1881 out of Jocosa by Fitz Roland) dam of stakes winner and imported sire Juvenal, who sired the Champion Chacornac.
SCHECHALLION (1867 out of Lady Tatton by Sir Tatton Sykes), who was the granddam of the imported stallion Ornus, sire of Olambala and Oiseau.
SCOTCH HAG (1869 out of Hecate by West Australian) who was the granddam of Lackford and ancestress of one of Marcel Boussac's foundation broodmares, Desmond Lassie.
SWEET SAUCE (1881 out of Trieste by Plum Pudding) was the dam of 1895 2,000 Guineas winner Kirkconnel.
WHITE HEATHER (1874 out of May Bell by Hetman Platoff) produced the mare Whitelock, who produced the unraced stallion White Knight. White Knight was bred to the Hermit mare Remorse in 1899, and was then castrated. Not only did Remorse get in foal, but the foal she produced, McGee, was sent to America where he became a good runner and leading sire. His runners included Kentucky Derby winners Donerail and Exterminator, as well as Kentucky Oaks winner Viva America and the Champion colt In Memoriam. Whitelock was also the second dam of Cantilever.
INSIGNIA (1883 out of Decoration by Knight of the Garter) was sired by Blair Athol in his final season at stud. She produced Darkie, by Thurio. At Edward Kennedy's Straffan Stud in Ireland where she is buried, Darkie produced Dark Ronald, a great sire in England and Germany. His stallion sons include Son-In-Law, Prunus, Magpie, Ambassador IV and Brown Prince II, showing his international influence.
The record shows that Blair Athol was one of those rare lightning strikes of genetics, in which great parents produced a great runner who became a great stallion. As a four-time leading sire in Great Britain, he passed on his superior genes, which have now proliferated into every corner of the breed. Blair Athol truly earned his place as one of the most revered thoroughbreds of all time, "that good blaze face which all men knew."