English-bred My Prince, a successful flat racer, was the sire of four winners of the Grand National -- one won twice -- and was five-times leading sire of jumpers in the U.K. Sold to Ireland for a pittance of his worth during the depressed bloodstock market of the Great War years, his value as a sire of jumpers in that cradle of great steeplechase breeding was recognized and exploited by savvy Irish breeders after some of his youngsters, useless on the flat, were put over fences and showed themselves to be outstanding jumpers.
My Prince's sire was Cambridgeshire Stakes winner Marcovil, a son of the courageous runner Marco. The latter got the Two Thousand Guineas winner Neil Gow, Kentucky Derby winner Omar Khayyam, Grand National Steeplechase winner Sprig, and other good runners, and was in the top five in the leading sire's lists in England several times. Marco had nine Grand National winners and five Cheltenham Gold Cup winners descended from him within four generations via two sons and a daughter; in addition, two stallions of enormous influence on sport horse breeding -- Cottage Son and Furioso -- carried his blood.
Marcovil's dam, Lady Villikins, won nine races on the flat and over fences under National Hunt rules. Her dam, Dinah, was three-quarters sister to the great jumper sire Ascetic. Marcovil was the sire of a number of modest winners on the flat, more than half of which won as juveniles. But, he got Hurry On, born two years after My Prince. Hurry On, at 17 hands another big son of Marcovil, was the undefeated winner of six races, including Doncaster's St. Leger Stakes and the Jockey Club Gold Cup over 2-1/4 miles. Hurry On later got seven classic winners, including three Derby winners, and had a significant influence on bloodstock breeding. In addition, Hurry On's son Werwolf got a Grand National winner and a Cheltenham Gold Cup winner, and his daughter, Sudden Dawn, produced Grand National winner Early Mist. Another Hurry On son, Ascot Gold Cup winner Precipitation, got Furioso, an extremely influential stallion in sport horse breeding, and also Count Rendered, who, in New Zealand had an influence on sport horse breeding.
My Prince was bred and raced by John Wynford Philipps, first baron and viscount St. Davids, who made his money as a financier, and had an interest in the Buenos Aires and Pacific Railway in Argentina, and served as M.P. for Mid-Lanark between 1888 and 1894. After he was raised as a peer (baronet in 1912 and viscount in 1918), he served in the House of Lords for Penbrokeshire, where he owned a lot of land. As a keen hunting participant, he first engaged in racing horses under National Hunt rules, beginning in 1896, and one of his horses, Crautacaun, was fourth in the 1906 Grand National. In 1908 he started racing horses on the flat, one of his earliest winners being Kilbroney, winner of Epsom's Great Metropolitan Handicap in 1911, and later a successful sire in New Zealand.
St. Davids purchased the non-winning mare, Salvaich, by St. Simon, in 1910, one of two mares he bought to establish his own stud, which was a fairly modest affair until after World War I. By 1930 St. Davids owned forty mares and three stud farms -- Lanwades Hall, Exning, Lordship Stud at Newmarket, and West Stow at Bury St. Edmunds. These three farms produced 136 winners, the best of which were Doncaster and Ascot Gold Cup winner Foxhunter; Cesarewitch winner Near Relation, and the game filly Feola (second in the One Thousand Guineas and third in the Oaks). He also owned the producers Aloe and Abbot's Anne (dam of Abbot's Trace), and Cho-sen, winner of the Chester Cup.
Salvaich's dam, the Belgium-bred Muirninn, by Scottish Chief, produced four winners. Salvaich was bred to Marcovil, and in 1911 dropped My Prince, who was the best of the seven winners she bred. My Prince was a big, strong bay colt, and grew to a height of 16.2 hands when mature. He had depth of girth, an excellent sloping shoulder, strong hocks and good bone, and was slightly over in the knees.
My Prince on the Turf
My Prince was a moderately successful mid-level race horse whose best distance was a mile, or a bit more, and who could carry weight. He won three races, plus a walk-over, and was second four times in his seventeen starts. Tossing out his dismal juvenile season, most likely attributable to his immaturity, he did pretty well when his owner did not race him outside his class. His usual jockey was Walter Griggs, who won three classic races for other owners, and was later a fairly successful trainer at Exeter House, Newmarket.
My Prince failed to place in any of his five races as a juvenile, and none of these were any of the premier juvenile events. He was fifth of eight youngsters in Gatwick's Breeders Stakes over five furlongs, his first race. In the first year of the Ascot Triennial, won by Aldford over five furlongs, he was dead last in a field of seven. At Sandown's summer meeting he came in near the middle-end of the fourteen horse field in the British Dominion Two Year Old Plate over five furlongs, won by the Desmond son, Hapsburg. He went on to Lingfield, where, in the Lingfield Home-bred Foal Stakes over five furlongs he ran the best of his juvenile season, placing fourth. His final race of the season was the five furlong Leicester County Foal Stakes in October, where, partnered with William Griggs (brother to Walter), he was dead last in a nine-horse field.
In March of his three-year-old season, at Liverpool, he won his first race, the £1,000 Union Jack Stakes for three-year-olds by a length over one mile, beating seven other youngsters. He went on to Sandown, and at the end of April won the one mile-60 yard Tudor Plate, worth £1,000, carrying the highest weight. His next stop was the Two Thousand Guineas, won by Kennymore, where he was tailed off in the eighteen horse field; in this race he was partnered by William Griggs. In May he ran in the one mile Marlborough Stakes at Gatwick, losing by a head to Marten, a Marco son. From there he went to the Derby Stakes at Epsom, won by Durbar II, running fifth; in this race he again did not have his partner Walter Griggs, but was piloted by W. Earl. At Ascot he ran second to Black Jester in the second year of the Biennial Stakes (over a mile), beating ten others. At Newmarket July he was again second, this time to Carancho, in the Ellesmere Stakes (1 mile- 3 furlongs), this time ridden by N. Spear. At the end of July, a week before World War I commenced, at Goodwood with Griggs up, he won the 1-1/2 mile Gordon Stakes by a short head, beating five others. That was the end of his racing for the season, and he was the best racer for his sire, Marcovil, that year.
He started his third season on the turf, age four, by running second by four lengths to the three-year-old King Priam in Newmarket's Chippenham Plate over 1-1/2 miles, carrying 9 st.-10 lb. to King Priam's 7 st.-8 lb. At Newmarket in June he was last, but two, in a fifteen horse field in the June Stakes over 1-1/2 miles, which was won by Black Jester; Son-in-Law was also unplaced in this race. At Newmarket July he ran fourth in a close race, the Ellesmere Stakes, won by Brown Ronald. His last race was a walk-over in the challenge for The Whip at Newmarket's October meeting.
My Prince in the Stud
St. Davids lost both his sons early in World War I, and in the fall of 1915 he sent all his horses in training, including My Prince, to the Newmarket sales, after the October meeting. Despite his decent race record, there were no bids for My Prince in wartime Newmarket, where speculation in bloodstock was severely depressed, and he was withdrawn at 95 guineas. The British Bloodstock Agency purchased him on speculation before the end of the sale for his reserve price of 100 guineas, and after six weeks in the Meddler Stud stables he was sold for £200 -- still a very small sum, considering his turf career -- to the Irish Board of Agriculture. He was passed into the hands of A.H. Maxwell, whose Corduff Stud was at Lusk, near Dublin, and there he remained for the rest of his life, dying in August, 1937.
Maxwell, who bred and raced both jumpers and flat racers, sold some produce at the sales in Ireland, and retained others for racing and breeding. One product from his Corduff Stud was the champion sprinter Diomedes (Argos- Capdane), sold as a yearling for 200 guineas; he was a brother to the poorly performed filly Nemaea, retained for the Corduff Stud, who would later, to the cover of My Prince, produce the great chaser Prince Regent. Maxwell passed on in January 1938, five months after his great stallion died.
As an Irish Board stallion, My Prince was bred to any mare whose owner was willing to pay his low fee, including half-bred mares. Even ten years after he began at stud his fee was a paltry £24 -19s. With "very few chances" by 1924 he had his largest crop of juveniles to that time running -- ten, with six winners -- but his offspring were starting to show some distance and weight-carrying ability, among them Time (1918), a consistent handicap winner, including Kempton Park's Greenwood Handicap, carrying 9 st.-7 lbs., and a few had been put over jumps and were starting to win.
Quite a few My Prince youngsters were sold as yearlings to go overseas in the early '20s, in the post-war rush to scoop up inexpensive horses to run in places like India, South Africa, and Europe. Among these were Zeus (My Prince - Girl Guide by Pilot), a bay yearling colt purchased in 1923 by Frank Butters for the Austrian government in an attempt to rebuild that nation's bloodstock. Zeus won some good races there. My Prince's daughter Chokelet, a filly of 1922, out of Artichoke, by Desmond, was another sent abroad; she ran as a juvenile in Ireland, winning two small races, and then was purchased to India, where she won six races in 1927. Other My Prince offspring that won abroad included Memorias (Ceylon), Not Long (India), Speedy Prince (U.S. and Canada), Telemachus (Sweden).
By 1923 My Prince had sired winners on the flat of 33-1/2 races worth £5,083 since entering the stud; a pretty poor showing. But by then, a couple of his youngsters were mature enough and had been sent over jumps, and two had won over hurdles and in steeplechases. By 1925 his total number of wins by his youngsters on the flat had reached a total of 43 races worth £9,341. This was mostly in Ireland, where purses were small, but even so, My Prince offspring did not shine in the principal Irish races and his output of flat race winners held steadily at or near ten wins annually through 1928, and after that dropped off even further, as his sons and daughters matured sufficiently to be sent over fences and as it became clear that his glory lay in getting jumpers.
The 1927-1928 season revealed EASTER HERO'S merits over jumps, with GREGALACH also winning some important events, and six others also winning over hurdles or in steeplechases. After that, My Prince had very few runners or winners on the flat, but was the leading sire of jumpers in the U.K. five times: 1928-29; 1934-35, 1935-36, 1936-37, and posthumously in 1941-42. He got four winners of the Grand National, one of which won twice, the multiple Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Easter Hero, the great Irish chaser Prince Regent, and many other horses that won over fences, and daughters that produced good winners both on the flat and over fences, including Greenogue Princess, who established a successful steeplechasing family in Ireland that included the great chaser Arkle. All his top chasing offspring were not only outstanding jumpers, but exceptionally fast; his two-time Grand National winning son, Reynoldstown, set a course record in that race that stood for almost forty years.
Up until Vulgan's phenomenal success as a jumper stallion in the 1960s and early '70s, My Prince was ranked by many as as the best steeplechase sire in the modern history of the sport. While he left no sons to continue his line, all the best having been gelded for jumping, many of his daughters, cherished in Ireland and even valued in England, bred on, and are seen in the pedigrees of stakes winners both on the flat and over fences today.
|EASTER HERO (1920), was bred by Larry King of Crickstown, Co. Meath, Ireland, who also bred his half-bred dam Easter Week, by Outbreak (a son of Le Var). Easter Week ran only once, at age four, and was pulled up, but she was a member of the half-bred Arab Maid family, that had produced winners over fences. These included Easter Week's brother, Civil War (1909, winner of the Irish Grand National), and half-sister Edna May (1907, by Cerasus), who won the Prince of Wales' Plate at Punchestown, the Kildare Hunt Plate, and several other steeplechases and some small flat and hurdle races, and remained as a broodmare in King's stud.
|Easter Week's first foal for King was REBEL GIRL (1919), by My Prince, a winner of two small steeplechases, two point-to-points, and one flat race. Rebel Girl's brother, EASTER HERO, was the second foal, but after that Easter Week was bred to other stallions to no significant effect, until she was returned to My Prince in 1929 and produced HERO'S SISTER (1930). The Arab Maid half-bred family is still active.
Easter Hero was frequently referred to as the best horse never to win the Grand National, where he ran three times, but he did win the Cheltenham Gold Cup twice (1929 and 1930), both times by more than twenty lengths. A small chestnut gelding with a big easy jump and stride and great endurance, he had a deal of speed for a chaser, and a decided preference for front running. Easter Hero won a total of 22 races under several ownerships to the age of eleven, and was England's most popular chaser during his years on the turf.
Easter Hero, born near Greenogue in Co. Dublin, was sold at age five to a small-time English owner named Bartholomew, but he was an erratic jumper in these years, and in eight starts, he fell or blundered four times. In 1927 Bartholomew sold Easter Hero to Belfast linen manufacturer and steeplechasing owner Frank Barbour, who had a steeplechase stable at Bishop's Cannings, and had sent out the 1926 Chelenham Gold Cup winner Koko. For Barbour he won eight races, including the Molyneux and Becher steeplechases at Liverpool, and the Coventry Steeplechase over 3-1/2 miles at Kempton, beating previous Grand National Steeplechase winner Jack Horner, the latter in March of 1928. A few weeks before the 1928 Grand National Barbour sold Easter Hero to Belgian millionaire and chasing enthusiast A. Loewenstein (his British-bred Portmore and his beautiful French mare Mageulonne won the Grand-Steeplechase de Paris in 1926 and 1928 respectively) for the huge sum (for a chaser) of £7,000 with a contingency of £3,000 should he win the Grand National that year.
Easter Hero's debut in the rain-soaked ground of the 1928 Grand National was spectacular, although not in a way anyone anticipated. He took the lead early and maintained it until he took off outside the wings of the Canal turn ditch and fence, landing on top of the fence and falling back into the ditch, and causing a huge pile-up of horses; only nine in an enormous field of 42 emerged from the mess to continue, and at the end, only one, the 100-1 chance Tipperary Tim, had completed the course without falling. Loewenstein took Easter Hero to Paris to run in the Grand Steeple-Chase de Paris, but he baulked at the water jump, tossing off his jockey. In the Prix des Drags, he redeemed himself by easily winning. A month later, Loewenstein's private plane vanished over the North Sea, and Easter Hero was sold to American J.H. Whitney. Easter Hero was sent to trainer Jack Anthony's Letcombe Stables, and for the remainder of his career he ran in Whitney's colors under Anthony's tutelage.
The next season Easter Hero won four hurdle races, and then the Cheltenham Gold Cup without apparent effort. Returning to Aintree ten days later for the 1929 Grand National, he started favorite at 9 to 1 in a record field of 66 starters. He was carrying the highest weight, giving Grakle 12 pounds, and the next horse was Lloydie, to whom he was conceding 17 pounds. In this race, again run in heavy going, Easter Hero went to the front after the second fence, and was not headed until the last fence but one, when GREGALACH, a 100 to 1 shot and another My Prince son, took the lead and went on to best Easter Hero by six lengths. After his return to the paddock, it was found Easter Hero had wrenched a plate, several fences from home, and some attributed that to his defeat, although many thought it was a combination of the heavy weight and yielding ground. In the Grand Steeple-Chase de Paris that year he was pulled up, having twisted a plate again, and seeming to run out of steam before the end of the race.
The next season, 1929-30, he won two chases and the Cheltenham Gold Cup for a second time, but after developed tendon trouble, and after alternating announcements that he was in and out of the Grand National, he was withdrawn from it. The next season, 1930-31, he won three of his four prep chases for the National. In that race he was knocked over on the second circuit. The next day he ran in the two-mile Champion Chase at Liverpool and dead-heated with the inferior two-mile specialist Coup de Ch’peau, at level weights. After this he was retired from the turf and shipped to the U.S., where he served as Whitney's hunter in Virginia before being retired to Whitney's Kentucky Greentree Stud farm, where he joined three other great Whitney pensioners -- Twenty Grand, Cherry Pie, and Jolly Roger -- known as "the gas house gang." He died February 10, 1948, age 28.
GREGALACH (1922) was a handsome chestnot colt bred by Michael Finlay. He was out of St. Germaine, by St. Luke ( a son of Isosceles, by Isonomy). St. Germaine, from the same female family as Star Shoot and Asterus, was bred in the Co. Meath stud of Paddy Clark and was sold for 45 guineas as a yearling at the Dublin Horse Show sales to Finlay who put her in the stud at age three. Gregalach was her fourth foal. He was purchased for £300 as an unbroken two-year-old by Thomas K. Laidlaw of Castleknock, Dublin, and sent to English chaser trainer Tom Coulthwaite, in Staffordshire, to be schooled.
|Gregalach, now gelded, started running at the end of his three-year-old year in flat races, running unplaced at Lecicester and Warwick. The next year he ran in two flat races, and then two hurdle races, placing second in his second hurdle race. Then his serious career began, when, at age five, he raced in six steeplechases. He ran fourth and fifth in his first two chases, and then won over two miles in the Ellesmere Chase at Manchester. He then ran third in a chase at Cheltenham, then won a chase at Wolverhampton over two miles, and, taken to Liverpool, won the Stanley Steeplechase -- run over the last 17 furlongs of the Grand National course -- by ten lengths, beating the good chaser Sandy Hook. Laidlaw had to sell Gregalach soon after this win, and he was purchased at Newmarket for 4,000 guineas by Cecil Taylor. He was then resold for 5,000 guineas to Mrs. A. Gemmell, heiress of the Donaldson Shipping Company, and she sent Gregalach to the famous chaser trainer Tom Leader (trainer of 1927 National winner Sprig) at Newmarket.
Not long after Gregalach arrived at Leader's stable, he went wrong and was in veterinary care for a number of months. It was not until the 1928-1929 season that he emerged sound to compete. In January of 1929 he ran second in a chase at Manchester, and then was second in another at Gatwick in February. In his next race, a three-mile chase at Sandown Park, eight days before the Grand National, he fell. So he entered the 1929 Grand National at odds of 100:1. In that race, cleverly piloted by Australian-born jockey Robert Everett, he jumped big and steadily gained on the leaders, overtaking EASTER HERO at the second fence but one to the end, and went on to beat him by six lengths, receiving 17 pounds from the great horse. His time, 9:47-2/5, was a good one for the course's soft going and the record-sized field of 66.
Gregalach was sent to rest for the summer at Long Stanton, where his "leg trouble" was cured, and went on to win five more steeplechases, including the Coventry Chase at Kemptom in 1930. He was just beaten into second by Grakle (receiving 7 pounds) in the 1931 Grand National, won in a time just 2/5 off the race's record (set by the Ascetic son, Ascetic's Silver in 1906).
REYNOLDSTOWN (1927) was the second My Prince son to win the Grand National Steeplechase at Aintree, and he did it twice, in successive years. Like Easter Hero, he was out of a half-bred mare: her name was Fromage, an unraced mare by a modest steeplechase sire Frontino, and out of Homage (by Hominy, a winner of the Irish Grand Military Steeplechase), who had won a Point-to-Point as a five year old. This was the Half-Bred B-22 family, the roots of which could be traced back over 100 years in Ireland, and included the 1906 Irish Grand National winner Brown Bess, the good jumper Golden Fleece (winner of 22 steeplechases), Drumree (brother to Fromage, winner of five steeplechases before breaking his leg at age ten) and many other solid performers over fences.
|Reynoldstown was a dark bay, almost black gelding. He was described as a "long-backed, narrow-gutted brute," by one turf observer, but Major Noel Furlong, a steeplechase trainer who purchased him at age five said, upon seeing him for the first time, that he was "the best-looking horse in Ireland, and I have seen over a hundred." Reynoldstown was bred by Richard Ball of Reynoldstown, Naul, Co. Dublin, who had bred his dam and grandam. Ball's son, also Richard, broke Reynoldstown at age three, and at age four he was sent hunting and was schooled over "made" fences. At age five he was shown to several potential purchasers, and was purchased by Furlong, whose amateur jockey son, Frank, rode Reynoldstown in most of his races through 1935.
Reynoldstown started at age five in a steeplechase at Leicester, finishing sixth. In his next two races, he fell, but in 1933, now age six, he beat a big field over hurdles at Wolverhampton, followed by winning three of five hurdle races. He ran third in a steeplechase at Newbury in the early part of 1934, fourth in a race a Hurst Park, and then third in the Newbury Handicap Steeplechase, and second to Avenger in the Lancashire Steeplechase at Manchester. In December of 1934 he won a two mile steeplechase at Leicester, was second in a chase over three miles at Derby, and won over three miles at Newbury, beating the 1933 Grand National winner Kellsboro' Jack. His final races before the 1935 Grand National were a second over three miles at Leicester; a win in the Nottinghamshire Handicap Steeplechase (3-1/2 miles), carrying 12 st. 2 lb. and beating a field of fifteen; and the National Trial Steeplechase at Gatwick, where Furlong, who lost a stirrup, was unseated.
In the 1935 Grand National, Reynoldstown went off at odds of 18:1, fourth favorite behind Golden Miller, who had won the Cheltenham Gold Cup earlier in the year for the fourth time in a row (and would win it again, one more time, in 1936). Golden Miller had an upset, and dumped his rider in the process, and was out of the race before the second circuit, and the second favorite, Thomond II, pitched his rider forward when he swerved near the beginning of the second ciruit. Many others in the field fell or refused, leaving Reynoldstown and Thomond II, whose jockey had recovered, far ahead of the field, running side by side for most of it, and colliding slightly at the final fence; Reynoldstown went on to win by three lengths, followed by Blue Prince, whose saddle had slipped earlier, and a tiring Thomond II, who could not make the final run. In this race Reynoldstown set a record in a time of 9 min. 20:20 seconds, which stood until 1973.
Reynoldstown did not run again until the following January of 1936, when he easily won a 3 mile steeplechase at Leicester. This time, and in subsequent races, he was partnered by another amateur, and friend of Frank Furlong's, Fulke Walwyn, Furlong having given up on making the weight. His next race was the Stayers' Handicap Steeplechase at Birmingham, in which Reynoldstown, condeding 4 pounds, ran second by 1-1/2 lengths to Avenger. He next won the Shaun Spadah Steeplechase over 3 miles at Lingfield.
In the 1936 Grand National, he was again fourth favorite to Golden Miller, with Avenger and Castle Irwell second and third favorites. Reynoldstown carried the second highest weight at 12 st. 2 lb. (to Golden Miller's 12 st. 7 lb.). A number of horses fell in this race (it was a field of 35), including Golden Miller, whose jockey recovered him, but he then refused the next fence. 18 horses survived to the second circuit, but Avenger, running second, fell and broke his neck. Reynoldstown had come near the leader, Davy Jones (an entire colt by Pharos, carrying 23 pounds less than Reynoldstown), but collided with him and Walwyn lost a stirrup, and upon recovering Reynoldstown was ten lengths behind, but the gallant and tiring horse gained steadily until he was neck-and-neck with Davy Jones on the second to the last fence. There, Davy Jones pecked on landing, and his reins broke, and at the next fence, without a guide, he swerved off, leaving Reynoldstown to a leisurely finish on the run-in, well ahead of the remaining field. This victory made Reynoldstown the fifth horse to win two Grand Nationals (excluding Poethlyn's dual wins, the first of which was a wartime National over the easier Gatwick course), and the third to win it two years in a row, the other two being Abd-el-Kader (1850,1851) and The Colonel (1869, 1870). Reynoldstown was retired to the Furlong family home where he lived until 1951, when he stepped on a broken bottle and contracted tetanus, from which he died, aged 24.
The gelded bay Bachelor Prince (1925, by Hopeful Bachelor) was another horse in both the 1935 and 1936 Grand Nationals. He was out of CULLEEN'S PRINCESS, a daughter of My Prince. In the 1935 National he finished sixth, and although he nearly came to grief at the ditch on the second circuit in the 1936 National, which took a lot out of him, he courageously held on to place third to Reynoldstown and Ego in that race.
ROYAL MAIL (1929) was My Prince's third son to win the Grand National, a few months before My Prince's death, in 1937, and the year after Reynoldstown's second victory in that race. Bred by Charles Rogers of Ratoath, Co. Meath, he was out of the half-bred Flying May, by Flying Hackle (by Hackler); Flying May's dam, Little May II, by Ascetic, was a winner of eight steeplechases, including the Drogheda Plate and the Irish International Steeplechase. The female line was thoroughbred, and in the General Stud Book (Family 1 - g), until Wood Sorrel, by Springfield, produced Sister May (a winner on the flat) to the great half-bred stallion Mayboy (HB Family 1). Little May II was one of many good jumpers produced by Sister May. Royal Mail's pedigree was loaded with top steeplechase sires.
|Royal Mail, a black gelding, was purchased as a unbroken three-year-old by Hubert Hartigan, who sold him to Hugh Lloyd-Thomas. Thomas, who had served as an assistant secretary to the Duke of Windsor when he was Prince of Wales and was a member of the British Embassy in Paris, shared the Prince's enthusiasm for hunting and was also a good amateur race rider. Trained by Ivor Anthony (who also schooled Kellsboro' Jack to win the Grand National and Scottish Grand National and other races, 1938 Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Morse Code, and other good chasers), Royal Mail won two hurdle races and fourteen steeplechases, several times ridden by his owner, Thomas.
Royal Mail won the Becher Steeplechase over 2-1/2 miles in 1935, beating Golden Miller, from whom he received 11 pounds. In 1936 he ran second (12 lengths behind) to Golden Miller in the 1936 Cheltenham Gold Cup. In the 1937 Grand National, he was given the stiff weight of 11 - 13, took the lead after the fourth fence on the second circuit, and easily won the race, piloted by Evan Williams. In 1938 Thomas announced he would ride his horse in the National, but in a steeplechase at Derby in February his mount, Periwinkle, fell, and Thomas was killed. Royal Mail was sold in early March, purchased for 6,500 guineas by Camille Evans, and Williams was again Royal Mail's partner for the National, but carrying 12 - 7, he was unable to place in the race, which was won by the American-bred Battleship.
Royal Mail continued to race through the early 1940s, and in 1940 was third to Roman Hackle in the Cheltenham Gold Cup.
PRINCE REGENT (1935) was in one of My Prince's last crops, and was bred by Maxwell. He was out of Nemaea, a sister to the champion sprinter and weight-carrier Diomedes, by a steeplechase and flat racing sire, Argos (by the speed sire Sundridge), and out of Capdane, which Maxwell had purchased for 30 guineas at the Ball's Bridge sales in Ireland. Capdane's son by My Prince, DANISH PRINCE (1926), won Newmarket's First Spring Stakes over eight furlongs as a juvenile, and was second twice that year. A full sister to Danish Prince, CAP D'AIL (1924), was a successful producer.
|Nemaea herself was useless on the turf, unplaced in two races as a juvenile, and Maxwell bred her at age three to My Prince. The next year she produced PRINCE OF ATHENS (1925), who was gelded and was a winner on the flat as a juvenile. She dropped PRINCE REGENT when she was fourteen years old.
Prince Regent was a lanky, slow-growing bay colt, who eventually reached 16.3 hands. In addition to his jumping ability, he was fast, a quality attributed to his dam's side of the pedigree, although My Prince jumpers had already shown good speed as well. Because of the war, he raced in Ireland until the last two years of his career; there, he was the enormously popular star of steeplechasing, and that popularity extended across the channel when he finally debuted in England in 1946. Looking back on the decade of the '40s and early '50s, he was ranked the best of his era by steeplechase writer David Livingstone-Learmonth, an assessment that included three-time Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Cottage Rake and the two great hurdlers Sir Ken and Hatton's Grace in his survey.
Prince Regent was sold as a yearling at Ball's Bridge for 320 guineas, depression-era pricing, to steeplechase enthusiast J.V. Rank, who had spurned to purchase Reynoldstown some years earlier, purportedly because of his almost black coat. Rank had spent some years trying to win the Grand National (and the Derby and the Waterloo Cup), and he almost made it with Cooleen in 1937, who was second that year. Later he owned Early Mist, but died a year before that horse won the National in 1953. He also owned the three-time winner of the Scottish Grand National, Southern Hero. Prince Regent, despite his failure to win the "big" race for Rank, would prove to be one of the greats of chasing, in any era. By the time Prince Regent was up for sale at Ball's Bridge, My Prince had shown himself to be one of the best steeplechase sires in the history of the sport, certainly a factor in Rank's decision to purchase "The Prince."
Prince Regent was sent to the veterinarian Bobby Power for breaking ; when Power was killed in a roadside accident, Rank sent "The Prince" to Tom Dreaper at Greenogue to finish him, including hunting him to hounds. After that the horse was sent on to Gwyn Evans, who trained Rank's horses at Druid's Lodge in England, but Evans was killed in the summer of 1938, and Prince Regent was returned to Dreaper in Ireland. He was Dreaper's first good horse. Others in his later care included Royal Approach, Flyingbolt, and the great Arkle.
At age five Prince Regent ran twice on the flat, unplaced, and then, in a field of twelve, won by four lengths the Maudlins Flat Plate, a flat race over 1-1/2 miles at Naas, ridden by Dreaper. Having been introduced to the notion of racing, and still growing, he was put away for the season. The next year, age six, he did not place in his first steeplechase; sent next over hurdles (which Dreaper saw only as a means to schooling for steeplechasing), he won the Enniskerry Maiden Hurdle Race over two miles at Phoenix Park, carrying 11 st.-7. After that he won the Mickey Macardle Cup at Dundalk, beating Golden Jack (by Golden Miller's sire, Goldcourt); the Webster Cup, a handicap steeplechase over 3 miles-100 yards at Leopardstown (a war-time venue, it was normally run at Navan), carrying 11 st-5, and was second, beaten by a short head by Golden Jack, in the 3 mile Avonmore Handicap Steeplechase at Leopardstown.
At age seven he began the season by winning the Press Handicap Steeplechase over 3 miles-76 yards at Naas by twenty lengths, followed by three more wins in succession: The Ardmulcham Handicap Steeplechase over 3 miles at Navan, winning by 8 lengths; the Baldoyle Handicap Steeplechase over 3 miles at Baldoyle, won by 1/2 length; and the Irish Grand National over 3-1/2 miles at Fairyhouse, carrying top weight at 12 st- 7. His last race of the year was in November, when carrying 12 st- 12 over 3 miles-100 yards in the Avonmore Handicap Steeplechase at Leopardstown, he ran third to Prince Blackthorn (9 st. - 7) and On the Go (10 st.-6). The following year his wins included the Baldoyle Handicap again; the 2 mile Stewards Handicap Steeplechase, also at Baldoyle, the Hospitals' Handicap Steeplechase over 3 plus miles at Naas, and the Wicklow Flat Plate over 1-3/4 miles at Phoenix Park, all carrying the highest weights. He also ran second in his second Irish Grand National, beaten by four lengths by Golden Jack, who was receiving 2 st. 4 lbs. from Prince Regent. His other races that season included a second to H.M.S. Sturgeon in the 3 mile December Handicap Chase, and third to Glengormley (carrying 9 st. -7 lb.) and Ruby Loch (carrying 9 st. 3 lb.) in the Naas Handicap Steeplechase, in which he was heavily penalized by weight (carrying 12 st. 7lb.).
At age nine he won the Baldoyle Steeplechase for a third time and the Bray Steeplechase over 3 miles-100 yards at Leopardstown (giving Knight's Crest 35 lbs.), and was second by a length to Knight's Crest (9 st. 7 lb.) in his third Irish Grand National, in all these races carrying 12 st.-7 lbs. He was also second in the Templeogue w.f.a. Flat Plate, a flat race over 2 miles at Phoneix Park, used as a tune-up before the fall season began.
When Prince Regent finally was able to compete in England, he won the 1946 Cheltenham Gold Cup by five lengths, to the delirious delight of the English racing public who had long anticipated seeing the great horse. He was eleven years old, and his jockey, Tim Hyde told Dreaper "It took me a moment or two to beat that fellow today, Tom." For "The Prince" the war had ended too late. He went on to the Grand National, again carrying the highest weight of 12 st.-7 lb, and led until landing after the last fence, but he was overtaken in the run-in by Cottage Rake and Jack Findlay, both lightly weighted and younger. Sent back to Ireland, he was brought out for yet another season in the fall. In Ireland in the fall of 1946, he won Leopardstown's three mile Laragh Chase in a field that included some good jumpers, including Caughoo and Roman Hackle, and then he went back to England, where he won Liverpool's Champion Chase. In 1947 the Cheltenham Gold Cup was abandoned due to snow, and in the Grand National that year he ran a gallant fourth, again carrying the high weight. He did win three more races and was returned to Ireland, retiring in 1949 to Noel Cannon's (who had succeeded Evans) Druids Lodge stables in Dorset; he died around 1960.
Other winners by My Prince not mentioned above included: BALROTHERY, a daughter that won in South Africa and was later third dam of 1958 South African Oaks winner Model Lass. My Prince's son CASTLEDERG (1922, out of Cymorette by Cyllene More) won nine races, and his brother, PRINCELET, was also a winner; their sister, CORE (1934) became the dam of Prince Cameron, a winner over hurdles. My Prince sons BOYARIN (1922), REGAL MIXTURE (1924), ROYAL AMBASSADOR (1924), were all winners on the flat; PRINCESS GEORGIE (1919, later dam of winners Poor Law and Prince George), PERCEPTION (1922), PRINCESS PEG (1924), PRINCESS TERESA (1921), were My Prince daughters that won races on the flat. CLONTY (1927), MONACO (1927), PRINCE KHAN (1932), ARMOURED PRINCE (1929), were some of his winners over fences. JICKY (1920, out of Shanganagh Beauty by St. Brendan) won six races over fences in four seasons on the turf, between 1923 and 1928, and later was second dam of Malta, a winner of the Nagroda Liry. Jicky's brother, the gelded SHANGANAGH PRINCE (1922), won a small race in Ireland before being exported to South Africa, where he won some races through 1929.
My Prince Daughters as Broodmares
Several daughters of My Prince produced good winners on the flat, almost all of them stayers.
My Prince's daughter LAVEROCK (1918, out of Cantilena by Spearmint), bred and raced by T.K. Laidlaw, ran as a juvenile in Ireland, winning once and placing a couple of times, after which she was retired to stud. When she was four, she was purchased by Colonel R.B. Charteris, and in his stud produced many good winners, most of them stayers no matter who she was bred to, among which Cogheen (1928, by Tetratema) was probably the best, winner of the 1932 City and Suburban Handicap, one of the few (along with his brother, Toureen) Tetratema offspring to demonstrate stamina. His brother, Toureen won the Railway Stakes as a juvenile, and later the 1-1/2 mile Bessborough Stakes at Ascot, the Rutland Handicap, and the ten furlong October Handicap at Newmarket -- Toureen was also second in the Ebor Handicap, and was then sold to South Africa, but was injured in a hurricane there soon after arriving, and had to be destroyed.
LAVEROCK was also dam of Silver Lark (by Silvern), who won the 1-1/2 mile Liverpool Cup, and Squadron Castle (by Mr. Jinks), who won the one mile Lincolnshire Handicap. She also produced a good sprinter in Foretopsail, and another winner in Titlark (by Sansovino). Titlark became the dam of Irish Oaks winner Desert Drive, and second dam of the good Irish runner Pink Larkspur. Laverock's daughter, Song of Dawn (by Solario), who raced twice unsuccessfully, produced the grey Effervescence (by Mr. Jinks), a good juvenile winner in 1943 of Newmarket's Dewhurst Stakes, the Barrow Stakes, and the Suffolk Nursery, later a sire in South Africa.
Another good broodmare by My Prince was the chestnut HUSH MONEY (1924, out of Fair Offender by Sainfoin). Her best was Faites vos Jeux, by Dark Legend, a winner in all five seasons on the turf, including the 2-1/4 mile Chester Cup in 1937. She also bred winners in The Corporal and The Blackmailer.
CAP D'AIL (1924), by My Prince, bred by Maxwell from Capdane, by Captivation, was a sister to Newmarket's First Spring Stakes winner DANISH PRINCE. She produced Japanese Lily, by Chester Cup winner Dark Japan, a winner of several races.
CLOCHETTE (1924), was out of Glass Shade by Henry the First. She won a small race at age three. In the stud, she produced Doreen Jane (by Duncan Gray), purchased by Sir Abe Bailey, a winner of four races between thirteen and sixteen furlongs, including the Ascot Stakes and the Northumberland Plate; Doreen Jane also won over hurdles. Glass Shade also bred the gelded GREEN SHUTTER to the cover of My Prince, a winner at age two.
Other My Prince daughters that produced winners on the flat included LITTLE PRINCESS, dam of two winners in Keep Clear and Fork Over. MISS FINLAY (1924, out of St. Germanie, and so a sister to GREGALACH) was tail-female ancestress of a number of good flat runners, including the American-bred Musical Lark (Matron Stakes winner) and her sister, Spark of Life, who won the Ladies Handicap. There were many other My Prince daughters that produced winners of minor races on the flat.
Not surprisingly, My Prince, also got many daughters that were -- and became dams of -- steeplechasers and hurdlers. Of these, the most significant was GREENOGUE PRINCESS (1928, out of Cherry Branch, by Cerasus), bred by T.K.H. Baker. She produced four winners on the flat and seven over obstacles and established an important modern-day family of mares whose descendants are still winning today, with generations of winners over fences, hurdles, in National Hunt flat races and in Point-to-Points. Greenogue Princess' sons included Becher Chase winner Red Branch (by Knight of the Garter) and My Richard (by Lucca), a multiple winner of chases in Ireland, and his brother, Bomber Command, another winner. Her daughter My Cherry (1937) won eight races, including four over fences, and produced several daughters that were prolific producers. More recent winners descending from My Cherry include What a Question (1988), a winner of ten races, including the Boyne EBF Hurdle at Navan, the Long Distance Hurdle at Newcastle, and the Leopardstown Christmas Hurdle; Fair Vulgan, who won the Eider Handicap Chase and was second in the Welsh Grand National; and Into the Red, whose wins included the Becher Handicap Chase twice, and the Grand National Trial Handicap Chase.
Greenogue Princess' daughter Bright Cherry won five chases and a hurdle event for Baker over distances up to 2-1/2 miles, trained by Tom Dreaper. When Bright Cherry's son, Arkle (by Archive, a good steeplechase sire), bred by the Bakers, came up for sale at Ballsbridge (Ireland) as a three-year-old, Dreaper purchased him for Anne, Duchess of Westminster. Arkle became the most famous and popular jumper in the U.K. in the 1960s, winner of 27 races and the all-time leading money winner under National Hunt Rules, almost all of his races piloted by the famous chaser rider Pat Taaffe. His wins included three successive Cheltenham Gold Cups, the Irish Grand National, the Hennessy Gold Cup, the King George VI Chase, and just about every other significant race, except the Grand National (in which he never ran), and he was so dominant in steeplechases that in Ireland that stewards directed handicappers used two weight scales, depending on whether Arkle ran in races or not. Arkle cracked a pedal bone during a return run for the King George VI Chase at Kempton in 1966, and was retired. Bright Cherry was also the dam of Cherry Bud, whose son, Colebridge, won the 1974 Irish Grand National.
Another My Prince daughter, HOPEFUL LASS (1933, out of Little Hope, by Bachelor's Hope), became the dam of Wot No Sun, bred by T.C. Plunkett and purchased at auction by Tom Dreaper for £20. He was a very good chaser at the highest levels, and winner of the 1949 Scottish Grand National and the Grand Sefton Steeplechase, among other races. Another of her offspring, the bay gelding East a'Calling won steeplechases in Great Britain.
Other My Prince daughters that produced winners over jumps included ETNA MAY, dam of the Irish-bred bay gelding Cardinal Error, winner of Haydock's National Trial Chase in England in 1951; MY ONLY (1928, out of Pay Only, by Walmsgate), dam of the gelded steeplechase winner My Legend, Irish chasing winner Doremi, and Cufflink, also a winner; MY TIP (1935, out of Twinkle Toi by Achtoi), dam of steeplechase winner Third Estate; PRINCESS FROLIC, dam of the winning chaser Prince Walvis; PRINCESS NOTELPPA, a winner of the Farmers' Race at Punchestown in 1935, was dam of the steeplechase winner Fearless Francis, of steeplechase winner Purple Emperor, and of Royal Bloom (1947, by the half-bred Hyacinthus), one of the best juvenile fillies of her year on the flat in Ireland; PROUD MASIE, dam of two steeplechase and hurdle winners, Tamino and Air Mail; CORE (1934, out of Cymorette, by Cyllene More, and so sister to CASTLEDERG and PRINCELET) produced Prince Cameron, a winner over hurdles; and a number of other mares that produced winners over fences. MY PRINCESS (1931, out of Louvois Gril by Louvois) was sold to the U.S., and in the Montpelier Stud of Marion duPont Scott in Virginia bred Timber Tourist (1942, by Tourist II), a winner of $7,760 in twenty starts, including the Good Companion Steeplechase.
My Prince died at Maxwell's Lusk stud on August 4, 1937, after placing first for the fourth time on the leading sire's list of jumpers for the 1936-37 season, the year Royal Mail won the National. He would head the list again in 1941-42, when Prince Regent helped push him to the top.
--Patricia Erigero, with assistance from Derek Gay and Sol and Pilka Robinson