This family's earliest known ancestress was Ladylike, by New Warrior (imported 1856, by Pyrrhus the First), a successful early sire of such horses as Melbourne and Australian Cup winner Tim Whiffler, Australian Buck, Tarragon, and other top runners. New Warrior, imported by owner-trainer-breeder John Tait (owner of The Barb (Family C - 3) and other significant racehorses) and Judge Alfred Cheeke, stood at their Varoville stud, and in the late 1850s was brought to Jerry's Plains in the Hunter Valley to stand at Peter Ward's Horse and Jockey Inn, joining the the stallion Little Wonder; the next year New Warrior was purchased by Charles Reynolds and was moved to his famous Tocal stud at the Paterson River, where he remained until his death.
Ward, born in Co. Galway, Ireland, arrived in Australia as an assisted migrant, and became a well-known owner of racehorses in the mid-19th century, racing at all the early Hunter Valley tracks, such as Homebush and Muswellbrook, and founded the latter's Jockey Club in 1862. Ladylike's dam is now unknown, but Ladylike herself was described as "a low set, bay mare, brokend down through racing, branded KX over PW near shoulder, and was purchased by Mr. R. Gleeson about 1862 from Mr. P. Ward."
Roger Gleeson, a fellow founding member of the Muswellbrook Jockey Club, held land at Merriwa, today still an important center of horse breeding. Ladylike was bred to Cheddar (imported 1856, a son of Cotherstone), producing the bay filly Lady of the Lake around 1865. Cheddar stood at the Busby brothers' stud at Cassilis (he also is seen early in Family C - 6). In or around 1871 Lady of the Lake was taken to Gemma-di-Vergy (imported in-utero, foaled 1863, by Gemma-di-Vergy; also sire of Contessa (Family C - 12) and Myrtle (Family C - 15), and the following year produced the bay filly Heris (c.1872), for whom the family is named. Heris' offspring raced successfully at the district tracks in Mudgee, Coolah and Singleton. One daughter, Vanity, was a particularly successful broodmare, and because her son, Famous (1899, by the successful speed sire Grafton), won important races and his sister and half-sister also were good winners, the family was admitted into the ASB.
The last truly successful runner in the family was the gelded Drastic (1944, by Binnie Hero), a winner of the STC Railway Quality Handicap, The AJC Australia Day Handicap, and four other handicaps in good company, in addition to competitions at district race meetings at Orange and Cowra. His breeder was W.E. Foley, of Coolah, whose family owned and bred Heris descendants from the turn of the century through the 1950s.
Famous b.c. 1899
(Grafton - Vanity)
Famous was by the Galopin son, imported Grafton. Grafton was a four-time leading sire in Australia, noted for his precocious youngsters, but he got a dual Derby winner in Sylvanite, and a superior steeplechaser in Grafnax, as well. At age three Famous won the AJC Epsom Handicap and the Wycombe Stakes, and went on, in two more years of racing, to win the AJC Doncaster Handicap and the RRC Spring Stakes twice. His sister Gravity (1901) won the WATC Metropolitan Handicap (12 furlongs) in 1908. A half-sister, Virtu (1903, by Dorchester), won the AJC Villiers Stakes at Sydney, and the RRC Spring Stakes, and retired to the stud of A. Foley, at Coolah. Virtu continued the female line through her daughter Lady Eva; Virtu's son, Giru (1911, by Antonio), was a good runner for Foley, winning the VRC Essendon Stakes and the RRC Rawson Stakes, running fourth in Mountain Knight's AJC Derby, and third by 1-3/4 lengths in Carlita's Victoria Derby, having previously beat Carlita in a nursery handicap at Randwick.
Bold=winners of stakes races and important handicap and weight-for-age races
Ladylike by New Warrior
Lady of the Lake by Cheddar
Heris (f. c1872) by Gemma di Vergy
Vanity (b.f. 1888) by Marvellous
Famous (b.c. 1899) by Grafton
Gravity (b.c. 1901) by Grafton
Virtu (br.f. 1903) by Dorchester
Giru (b.c. 1911) by Antonio
Lady Eva (f. 1918) by Antonio
Achievement (f. 1929) by Spelthorne
Drastic (c. 1944) by Binnia Hero