Racing: A perfect owner goal

The untold stories in a year of buried treasure: LORD HOWARD DE WALDEN

In racing it is the owner who starts, and keeps, the ball rolling. And at the Derby meeting at Epsom in June one of the sport's elder statesmen reached a remarkable milestone. At the end of the afternoon on which Shatoush edged out Bahr in the Oaks a three-year-old called Dower House became the 600th winner for Lord Howard de Walden in his 50th year of ownership.

The race, the Vodaphone Paging Handicap, was not one of the meeting's showpieces and took place at an hour when many were already heading home. But the stage was the right one: the scene of Lord Howard's greatest triumph, his 1985 Derby with Slip Anchor.

To take half a century to knock up six centuries of winners - the first was the two-year-old Jailbird at Chepstow in 1949 - might seem Boycottesque by the standards of those who spend profligately and number their broodmares and horses in training by the hundred.

Indeed, Lord Howard once described himself as a dinosaur, meaning that he represented a dying species, the old-style English aristocratic owner- breeder whose decline has been accelerated by upsurge of the petro-dollar. And he is right to admit that he, and others like him, can no longer compete horse for horse on the racecourse with the Dubaian and Saudi legions. But in terms of quality his breeding operation, based at Plantation Stud near Newmarket, need defer to none. Names like Amerigo, Oncidium, Magic Flute, Parmelia, Kris, Diesis, Paean, Lanzarote, Shavian, Slip Anchor, Pursuit of Love, Grand Lodge and Catchascatchcan testify to that.

Lord Howard's pale apricot silks are among the most famous and best- regarded in British racing. He inherited them from his father, the eighth baron, whose best horse was Zinfandel, winner of the Coronation Cup in 1904 and the Ascot Gold Cup a year later. The colour was the one that a family friend, the artist Augustus John, considered would show up best against a green racetrack.

The 86-year-old former Jockey Club senior steward's first broodmare was Silvery Moon, bought as an in-foal five-year-old at the 1948 Newmarket December sales for 6,800 guineas. She became grand-dam of one of Lord Howard's first famous horses, the Coronation Cup winner Oncidium, and is three-greats grandmother of the latest of his top-level winners, this year's Yorkshire Oaks heroine Catchascatchcan.

When Lord Howard added Thornton Stud in Yorkshire to his breeding operation he acquired with it a mare, Soft Angels, who turned out to be even more significant and influential than Silvery Moon.

Had Soft Angels' first two foals, both fillies, not died young their very inferior half-sister Doubly Sure would not have been retained. Easily the worst of the Plantation broodmare band at the time, she was sent twice to a cheap, unproven local stallion and proceeded to produce the champion miler Kris and the high-class two-year-old Diesis, both subsequently exceptional sires.

The Holy Grail for any owner-breeder is a Classic, particularly a Derby, but for many years it seemed that luck in that department was not on the family's side. Back in 1903 Zinfandel might have won but for a now-defunct rule that barred him from running because of the death of the man who entered him. Oncidium had the ability to win his Derby, but declined to do his best on the big day. Kris chose the 2,000 Guineas as one of his only two defeats in 16 races.

The quest for Classic glory finally ended courtesy of Slip Anchor. The colt never won again, but no matter, the luck had held long enough. It did, however, appear to revert four years ago, when Grand Lodge was beaten about an inch in the 2,000 Guineas.

Among the products of Lord Howard's 19-strong broodmare band carrying hopes for top honours next year are the Arazi colt Initiative, a half-brother to Pursuit of Love; Spry, by Suave Dancer out of a half- sister to Slip Anchor; and Purse, a Pursuit of Love half-sister to Dower House. The score is 609, and counting.

SUE MONTGOMERY

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Travel Customer Service and Experience Manager

£14000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The fastest growing travel comp...

Recruitment Genius: Cleaner / Caretaker / Storeman

£15500 - £17680 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A position has become available...

Recruitment Genius: Head of Sales - SaaS B2B

£60000 - £120000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This conference call startup i...

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This digital and print design a...

Day In a Page

Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza

Andrew Grice: Inside Westminster

Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza
HMS Victory: The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

Exclusive: David Keys reveals the research that finally explains why HMS Victory went down with the loss of 1,100 lives
Survivors of the Nagasaki atomic bomb attack: Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism

'I saw people so injured you couldn't tell if they were dead or alive'

Nagasaki survivors on why Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism
Jon Stewart: The voice of Democrats who felt Obama had failed to deliver on his 'Yes We Can' slogan, and the voter he tried hardest to keep onside

The voter Obama tried hardest to keep onside

Outgoing The Daily Show host, Jon Stewart, became the voice of Democrats who felt the President had failed to deliver on his ‘Yes We Can’ slogan. Tim Walker charts the ups and downs of their 10-year relationship on screen
RuPaul interview: The drag star on being inspired by Bowie, never fitting in, and saying the first thing that comes into your head

RuPaul interview

The drag star on being inspired by Bowie, never fitting in, and saying the first thing that comes into your head
Secrets of comedy couples: What's it like when both you and your partner are stand-ups?

Secrets of comedy couples

What's it like when both you and your partner are stand-ups?
Satya Nadella: As Windows 10 is launched can he return Microsoft to its former glory?

Satya Nadella: The man to clean up for Windows?

While Microsoft's founders spend their billions, the once-invincible tech company's new boss is trying to save it
The best swimwear for men: From trunks to shorts, make a splash this summer

The best swimwear for men

From trunks to shorts, make a splash this summer
Mark Hix recipes: Our chef tries his hand at a spot of summer foraging

Mark Hix goes summer foraging

 A dinner party doesn't have to mean a trip to the supermarket
Ashes 2015: With an audacious flourish, home hero Ian Bell ends all debate

With an audacious flourish, the home hero ends all debate

Ian Bell advances to Trent Bridge next week almost as undroppable as Alastair Cook and Joe Root, a cornerstone of England's new thinking, says Kevin Garside
Aaron Ramsey interview: Wales midfielder determined to be centre of attention for Arsenal this season

Aaron Ramsey interview

Wales midfielder determined to be centre of attention for Arsenal this season
Community Shield: Arsene Wenger needs to strike first blow in rivalry with Jose Mourinho

Community Shield gives Wenger chance to strike first blow in rivalry with Mourinho

As long as the Arsenal manager's run of games without a win over his Chelsea counterpart continues it will continue to dominate the narrative around the two men
The unlikely rise of AFC Bournemouth - and what it says about English life

Unlikely rise of AFC Bournemouth

Bournemouth’s elevation to football’s top tier is one of the most improbable of recent times. But it’s illustrative of deeper and wider changes in English life
A Very British Coup, part two: New novel in pipeline as Jeremy Corbyn's rise inspires sequel

A Very British Coup, part two

New novel in pipeline as Jeremy Corbyn's rise inspires sequel
Philae lander data show comets could have brought 'building blocks of life' to Earth

Philae lander data show comets could have brought 'building blocks of life' to Earth

Icy dust layer holds organic compounds similar to those found in living organisms