Flying Childers is considered the first truly great racehorse in the
history of the Thoroughbred. In this, he followed his maternal grandsire
(Old) Careless, who was said to be the best racehorse since his own
sire, Spanker, who raced during the time of Charles II.
Flying Childers was bred by Colonel Leonard Childers of Cantley Hall,
Doncaster in Yorkshire, sired by Richard Darley's Arabian, imported from
Aleppo, Syria around 1704. Darley kept his bay Arabian primarily as a
private stallion at Aldby Park in Yorkshire but accepted a few outside
mares, including Childer's mare Betty Leedes.
In 1714 Betty Leedes gave birth to a bright bay colt, even flashier than
his blazed-faced sire, with a blaze and four white stockings. He matured
to about 15.2 hands, which was upstanding for his time, although about
the same size as his own sire. Carrying the name of his breeder,
"Childers" was sold to the Duke of Devonshire, for whom he raced and
alternately became known as Devonshire Childers or Flying Childers.
Flying Childers came to the races at the age of six, competing in three
races, winning all of them. The first was on April 26, 1721, a race at
Newmarket in which he defeated Speedwell. The second, also at Newmarket
was in October. He scared off all comers and won in a walk over. In the
third, he defeated the older horse Almanzor, also by the Darley Arabian,
and a mare, Brown Betty, in a three-horse match.
The following year, Flying Childers started only once, winning a race at
Newmarket on October 22, defeating Chaunter. In a more notable effort
that year, he defeated the celebrated runner Fox in a trial at York by a
quarter mile. In 1723, as an eight-year-old, he made his final two
starts, walking over for an event at the April Newmarket meeting, and
walking over again in November for a match with a horse named Bobsey,
which paid a forfeit.
||The Duke of Devonshire was given many a lucrative offer for the horse,
including one reputedly of the horseís weight in gold crowns, which was
refused. He retired unbeaten and untested. Flying Childers stood at
Devonshire's famous stud at the great estate of Chatsworth, in
Derbyshire, and was used there as a private stallion. He died at
Chatsworth at age 26 in 1741.
Flying Childers was a successful sire but nearly as good at stud as he
was on the turf. His best included Plaistow, Blacklegs, Second, Snip,
Commoner, Blaze, Spanking Roger, Roundhead, Fleec'em, and Steady. Both
Blacklegs and Blaze were leading sires, and in fact, Blaze's male line
survives to this day, although through non-Thoroughbred descendants
Messenger (in Standardbreds) and Shales (in Hackneys). Blaze is also the
dam's sire of the great foundation sire Herod. Snip was the sire of the
important sire Snap, one of the great early broodmare sires.
Flying Childers had a full brother known by several names including
Young Childers and Bartlett's Childers. Another of his aliases explains
why he was unraced: Bleeding Childers. Bartlettís Childers was never
trained due to this infirmity and went to stud at Mr. Bartlett's Nuttle
Court, near Masham in Yorkshire. A good sire, he is most important as
the sire of Squirt, sire of Marske (who sired Eclipse) and who continued
the Darley Arabian male line to the present times. He also sired the
famous Little Hartley Mare and other good broodmares.