1901 – 1910

Disappointed at being ‘jocked off’ Gallinaria twelve months previously, Algy Anthony gained compensation when pouncing late on Carrigavalla to beat John Thompson on Royal Winkfield. Yet another Irish Derby winner for Gallinule, Carrigavalla was trained in Eyrefield Lodge by Dan McNally, who retired in 1904, having spent his 47-year working life in Eyrefield Lodge. The Irish Field portrayed the winner thus: ‘A very pleasing-like colt, and distinctly shows more quality than his black-brown brother Portmarnock, that won the blue ribbon of Irish racing in 1895.’

Carrigavalla carried the ‘Pink, Cambridge blue cap’ of ‘Mr A Summers’, the pseudonym of William Joshua Goulding, former Irish rugby international and then chairman of the Great Southern & Western Railway Company. Never one to let his heart rule his head, this prominent Freemason sold Carrigavalla that same afternoon to English-based, South African trainer FW Murray. The colt’s subsequent descent to selling plates proved Goulding’s judgement correct. Elected to the Turf Club in 1903 and knighted a year later, Goulding served as senior steward of the Turf Club in 1922.

The 1902 Irish Derby evoked memories of the Anglo-Irish encounter featuring Blairfinde and Ball Coote in 1894. Moreover, Port Blair represented the John Gubbins – Sam Darling team, successful with Blairfinde, Port Blair’s sire, eight years previously. Irish hopes rested on St Brendan, owned by James Daly, whose Hartstown had chased home Blairfinde. Unbeaten in three outings as a two-year-old and clearly the best of his vintage in Ireland, St Brendan was making his seasonal debut. Michael Dawson’s only concern was young Davy Condon’s ability to restraint his headstrong mount. To that end Dawson designed a severe running snaffle bit. It worked, St Brendan beating Port Blair by almost three lengths despite tearing into the lead after just two furlongs. The winner returned to a raucous reception, reflecting not just James Daly’s popularity, but the satisfaction of routing the old enemy.

Bred by James Daly and by his own stallion Hackler, St Brendan continued to win over all trips over the following three seasons, before retiring to stud, where he proved disappointing. James Daly of Liffeybank, Islandbridge, Dublin, made his name purchasing remounts for the Crimean War. Turning to racing, he put four future Grand National winners and a Derby winner through his hands in addition to founding his Hartstown Stud, Clonsilla, where he stood such as Hackler, Enthusiast and Bushey Park. James Daly headed the Irish owners’ table four times between 1901 and 1915, sharing his trainer Michael Dawson’s preference for quality over quantity.

Michael Dawson, Rice Meredith successor in Rathbride Manor, Curragh, had now added his first Irish Derby as a trainer to the three he had previously ridden, all of them for the unfortunate Rice Meredith. David Condon, Dawson’s gifted apprentice, went on to finish second in the Irish jockeys’ table to perennial champion John Thompson, seemingly with the world at his seventeen-year-old feet. Recalled from his journey to the races to ride schooling over hurdles in May 1903, Davy Condon sustained a fatal fall, as would John Thompson a decade later.

Anglo-Irish rivalry, renewed in 1903, saw the ex-Irish Lord Rossmore shade Curragh contender Winkfield’s Fortune at the head of the market. As a recent Royal Ascot winner, Lord Rossmore deserved to start favourite. Ridden by stable apprentice Joseph Dillon, Lord Rossmore carried the colours of Alan Percy Cunliffe, for whom he was trained by Irishman Jack Fallon at Druid’s Lodge, amidst the isolated expanses of Salisbury Plain.

In a driving finish Kerry-born Joe Dillon got Lord Rossmore home with just a short head to spare over the inexperienced Winkfield’s Fortune, conceding 14lb to that rival. Joe Dillon’s father had travelled from Kerry to witness his son’s greatest success, followed up minutes later by the news that Joe’s better-known brother Ben had won the Northumberland Plate at Newcastle on Cliftonhall.

The market for the 1904 Irish Derby could not separate Michael Dawson’s locally-trained Royal Arch and English raider Glenamoy, despatched from Beckhampton by Sam Darling. This time it was the locals’ turn to cheer as apprentice Frank Morgan brought Royal Arch home three lengths clear of The Arrowed, with Glenamoy a similar distance back in third.

Bred in Killala, County Mayo, by Augusta Knox-Gore, Royal Arch provided Michael Dawson and owner James Daly with their second success in three years, following up on St Brendan in 1902. Successful in three King’s Plates, Royal Arch was retired to stand at Mill House, Knockdrin, Mullingar, only to die aged just seven.

Frank Morgan, closely related to the Widgers, Hurleys and Murphys, was one of sixteen cousins riding at the same time, of whom eight were Morgans. Irish champion jockey in 1917, Frank achieved his greatest training triumph when sending out Ballinode – otherwise ‘the Sligo mare’ – to win the 1925 Cheltenham Gold Cup.

Having seen his eponymous Lord Rossmore win the 1903 Irish Derby in another’s colours, the breeder in question essayed to win it in his own right with the well-fancied Silver Wedding, a full-brother to the 1903 winner. Denis Shanahan’s charge was among the leading fancies in a market headed by Richard ‘Boss’ Croker’s Jenatzy, named after the ‘Red Devil’, Camille Jenatzy, successful driver in the 1903 Gordon Bennett Rally, staged in Kildare, Queen’s County and Carlow.

Also among the prime fancies was the lightly-weighted Flax Park, trained by James Dunne in his newly-built Osborne Lodge and ridden by ‘Fiery’ Peter Hughes. After an exhibition of forceful riding that would not be tolerated today ‘Fiery’ got his mount home by a length from Velocity, the very horse he had been ‘jocked off’ at the eleventh hour. Ever afterwards the victorious rider insisted that the only remnant of his brand new whip was the handle.

Connections of Velocity were called to account for the last-to-first tactics that made him appear an unlucky loser. Events were to prove the stewards justified. Transferred to England, Velocity went on to win the Cambridgeshire, Doncaster Cup, City and Suburban Handicap and the Grand Prix d’Ostende. By contrast, Flax Park merely managed to win the Liverpool Cup as a four-year-old, being exported to Denmark in 1908.

‘Boss’ Croker, trainer JJ ‘Jim’ Parkinson and perennial Irish champion jockey John Thompson once again supplied the favourite for the 1906 Irish Derby – Steinhager. This year the nine runners paraded in the relative isolation of a railed paddock, a protective measure to avoid incursion by the ever-increasing Derby day attendances. Steinhager got much closer that Jenatzy had done, but still had to give best to Killeagh, beaten a length and a half at the line.

Owned by longstanding patron Joseph Lowry of Bachelor’s Lodge Stud, Navan, Killeagh provided further proof of trainer Michael Dawson’s uncanny ability to produce lightly-raced animals fit to run for their lives on the days that mattered. Thrice successful in the Irish Derby as a jockey, the secretive, bearded master of Rathbride Manor had now equalled that score as a trainer. Winning rider Clyde Aylin had likewise emulated his brother Alf, successful on Gulsaberk ten years earlier. Clyde went on to become Irish champion jockey in 1922, only to meet his end in a fall within hours of gaining that title.

‘Urbi et Orbi’ – the papal mode of address to the city of Rome and the world at large – might have been more appropriate, if somewhat blasphemous. Because that was the magnitude of Orby’s achievement in routing England’s finest to win the 1907 Derby. Bred and owned by an Irish-born, abruptly retired New York ‘Boss’ of Tammany Hall, Richard ‘Boss’ Croker, and trained within reach of Leopardstown racecourse, Orby not only succeeded in overcoming ingrained prejudice, but also represented Croker’s personal revenge.

Obliged to depart his New York fiefdom for fear of following the fate of his predecessor ‘Boss’ Tweed, Croker had never had any intention of returning to the land of his birth. Happily ensconced in England, where he determined to prove the superiority of his American-bred imports, Croker had decided to have his horses trained in Newmarket. Furious at the Jockey Club’s refusal to sanction such a move, Croker had transferred his family and his extensive stud to Ireland, settling himself and his family in Glencairn and entrusting his bloodstock to leading Curragh trainer James J Parkinson. Orby’s failure to win as a highly-tried two-year-old saw that relationship end in acrimony, Croker being leading owner in Ireland in 1905 and 1906 notwithstanding.

Croker moved his string to his own estate, building stables, laying out gallops and employing James Allen as his private trainer. Frederick F MacCabe, Boer War veteran, who trained nearby, was employed as Croker’s racing manager. Orby’s 1907 campaign began well, success at Liverpool followed by an impressive victory in the Baldoyle Derby, regarded as a trial for the Irish Derby, if not perhaps a signpost to Epsom glory. Nonetheless, an avalanche of Irish money began to reduce Orby’s Epsom odds, slashed from 66/1 to 100/9. Aware of the Everest that lay ahead and the fact that no Irish-trained runner had ever succeeded – albeit very few had ever tried – Croker ordered MacCabe to withdraw Orby from his Epsom engagement.

Every bit as ‘cussed’ as his employer, MacCabe insisted the colt take his chance, not least because so much Irish money would be forfeit should the colt be scratched. Croker reluctantly agreed, provided a ‘top-class’ jockey be recruited. French-based American Johnny ‘Knickerbocker’ Reiff was deemed acceptable. But jockeyship alone would not suffice, as royal trainer Richard Marsh – no stranger to Derby success – admitted in his memoirs. ‘I was taken to see Orby in his box on the morning of the race. He had done his work in Epsom and was quietly eating his feed. The top half of the door was open and all the windows. A bitter wind was blowing in, and there was Orby, with no clothes on, and looking as though he had never even been dressed over. I could see he was a horse with a magnificent frame, but lacking most conspicuously in muscular development.’ Late that same day Marsh had remarked to Sam Darling, trainer of the favourite, Slieve Gallion: ‘I have seen a beautiful horse this morning, but I never saw one look much worse to run in the Derby.’

Orby may have had luck on his side. Slieve Gallion, the Guineas winner, patently failed to see out the additional four furlongs. Wool Winder, brought almost to a standstill by interference, recovered to narrow the gap, but at the post Orby retained a two-length advantage. While Croker may have been at his famously most impassive as he led in his winner, inwardly he gloated that his historic triumph had been achieved at the immediate expense of Colonel EW Baird, owner of Wool Winder. Baird was one of the Jockey Club stewards who refused permission for Croker’s horses to be trained on Newmarket Heath. Naturally, being the man he was, Croker subsequently upbraided MacCabe for not procuring his summons to the royal box, a courtesy traditionally extended to the victorious owner.

Master and manager were at loggerheads once again over the Irish Derby, destined to be decided on very firm terrain. This time their roles were reversed. MacCabe begged Croker to save Orby for the St Leger, confident of Irish Derby success with Georgetown. Croker was adamant. Irish racegoers should have the opportunity to appreciate and acknowledge his history-making horse. The public’s response to Croker’s generous gesture necessitated the provision of five ‘race specials’ from Kingsbride to the Curragh. Orby duly took part, winning as a 1/10 shot should, with Georgetown taking second spot. But the damage was done.

Orby did run once again, last of four at Liverpool in July. A month later the Irish Fieldreported: ‘Orby has sprained the sub-carpal ligament of his off fore-leg, which practically amounts to a breakdown and so all question of his running in the St Leger is set at rest.’ In Orby’s enforced absence Wool Winder gained compensation for his Derby misfortune.

Croker and MacCabe nevertheless rubbed salt into English wounds when carrying off the Dewhurst Plate in the autumn with Rhodora, Orby’s half-sister, prior to the parting of ways at the end of the most fantastic season either would ever experience. James Allen remained in Glencairn, whence he brought Rhodora back to Newmarket to win the 1000 Guineas. Croker’s revenge was complete.

Retired to his owner’s stud, Orby sired Grand Parade, a major contributor to Orby’s Irish sires’ championship in 1918. Grand Parade went on to emulate his sire when successful in the 1919 Derby. For good measure, Orby’s daughter Diadem repeated Rhodora’s success in the 1000 Guineas. Orby’s line survived through The Boss, sire of Sir Cosmo and grandsire of Panorama. Golden Boss, likewise by The Boss, sired an outstanding sprinter and influence for speed in his progeny in Gold Bridge.

Successful in 1901 with Carrigavalla, Sir William Goulding – otherwise ‘Mr A Summers’ – provided the 1908 favourite in the one-eyed Twenty-third, trained by Michael Dawson and ridden by Clyde Aylin. The latter’s opportunist move to go up the inner as the rails began in the straight proved disastrous. Twenty-third collided with the stone marker post with such force that he had bled to death before help could arrive.

Twenty-third’s dramatic departure left Wild Bouquet and Carlowitz to fight it out, the former prevailing by a length to provide Osborne Lodge trainer James Dunne his fourth and final success in an Irish Derby following Sylph (1883), St Kevin (1885) and Flax Park (1905). As they had with Flax Park, James Dunne and ‘Fiery’ Peter Hughes combined fortuitously, stable jockey Fred Hunter being unable to make the 7st 13lb which Wild Bouquet was set to carry as a maiden.

Previously successful in the 1907 Irish Oaks with Reina, owner Sir Ernest Cecil Cochrane (1873-1972) soon tired of racing, concentrating instead on assisting his brother Sir Stanley Cochrane in the running of the family-owned mineral water company Cantrell & Cochrane, the largest such concern in these islands and the inventors of ginger ale. Following the sale of that concern in 1923 Ernest Cochrane established a reputation as a playwright.

The lottery that is thoroughbred breeding was highlighted by Bachelor’s Double, successful in the 1909 Irish Derby. Leading two-year-old in Ireland, Joseph Lowry’s homebred chestnut was by Lowry’s resident stallion Tredennis out of Lady Bawn. Tredennis, a racecourse failure, had been bought for £100 as a replacement for the deceased Bachelor’s Lodge stallion Le Noir. From modest beginnings Tredennis rose through the ranks to become champion sire in Ireland in 1921, his fee increasing in the process from £5 to £200. Lady Bawn was a twin, but nevertheless produced Bachelor’s Button, the only animal ever to defeat ‘peerless’ Pretty Polly on English soil. If that were not enough, Lady Bawn went on to produce a second Irish Derby winner in Bachelor’s Wedding, also by Tredennis.

Unbeaten in his two juvenile starts for Rathbride Manor master trainer Michael Dawson, Bachelor’s Double was unseen in public since winning the Railway Stakes nine months previously. That he should be sent off evens favourite in a field of seven was a tribute to his trainer’s remarkable Irish Derby record. Three times successful as a jockey in Ireland’s oldest classic, Michael Dawson had since gone on to add a further four Irish Derby triumphs as a trainer. Patience was his hallmark, a maxim that he invariably sought to impart to his jockeys, imploring each to: “give him time to find his feet. Don’t stand him on his head!”

In this instance stable jockey Alfred Sharples seemed to have overdone Dawson’s advice, as Steve Donoghue made the best of his way home on The Phoenician, in receipt of 13lb from the favourite. Luckily for Sharples, Bachelor’s Double made up the leeway to sufficient effect to land the spoils with a length and a half to spare. Although losing his unbeaten record when unplaced in Bayardo’s St Leger, Bachelor’s Double went on to win the 1910 City and Suburban Handicap at Epsom, with Minoru, winner of the 1909 Epsom Derby for King Edward VII, down the field. On the strength of his close second to Sir Martin in the Coronation Cup at the Epsom Derby meeting Bachelor’s Double was purchased by rubber magnate WW Bailey for £6,000 and transferred to HS ‘Atty’ Persse’s Stockbridge stable in Hampshire. On his first foray for his new connections Bachelor’s Double confirmed his class when spread-eagling a good field for the Royal Hunt Cup at Ascot by four lengths. Turned out again the following day for the Ascot Gold Cup over almost treble the distance, Bachelor’s Double finished a gallant third to his St Leger conqueror, Bayardo.

Subsequently successful in the Atlantic Stakes at Liverpool and then second to Bronzino in the Doncaster Cup, Bachelor’s Double remained in training for a fourth campaign. Stories that Persse’s stable was ravaged by coughing saw Bachelor’s Double drift in the traditionally heated betting market for the 1911 Jubilee Handicap at Kempton Park. Steve Donoghue nevertheless took the mount, landing a rare old touch for what was a serious betting stable when bolting in with four lengths to spare. The layers took no chances in the Coronation Cup, for which Bachelor’s Double was sent off joint-favourite with Lemberg, winner of the 1910 Derby. In a thrilling finish Bachelor’s Double ran Lemberg and Swynford to less than a length. He retired to stud with winnings in excess of £10,000.

Standing initially at James Daly’s Hartstown Stud, Clonsilla at £99 and subsequently at the Baileys’ Rathbane Stud, Limerick, Bachelor’s Double went on to head the Irish sires’ list in 1920. Equally successful as a broodmare sire, Bachelor’s Double became grandsire to classic winners Call Boy, Scottish Union, Lovely Rosa and Pillion, together with Ascot Gold Cup winner Precipitation. Both as a racehorse and a stallion Bachelor’s Double belied his plebeian pedigree to a remarkable degree – by a non-winning sire, out of an unraced twin, by a non-winning maternal grandsire, out of a non-winning granddam. Bachelor’s Double ranks with Orby as one of the outstanding winners of the Irish Derby in the first fifty years of its existence.

Coinciding with the church holiday of St Peter and St Paul, the 1910 Irish Derby drew a vast crowd, rewarded by innovative racecards, incorporating pedigrees, trainers’ names and owners’ colours. Among the trainers thus identified was one Captain AEM Bacon (1870-1940), responsible for Sir William Goulding’s Wolfdog. ‘Eddy’ Bacon was to earn posthumous renown as the father of world famous artist Francis Bacon. Torrential downpours forced the nine runners to seek shelter behind the old stone barracks adjacent to the starting post, while water began to lie on the course.

Almost indistinguishable as they battled through the spray, Aviator recovered from a stumble at the furlong marker to reel in Kilbroney with a neck to spare. As the two market leaders returned the sodden crowd acknowledged their stirring struggle in appalling conditions. Trained privately for eighty-six-year-old James Lonsdale in Waterford Lodge, Aviator enabled John ‘Jack’ Behan to emulate the Irish Derby triumphs of his brothers Willie, officially credited as trainer of Theologian (1884) and Nicholas, successful on Sortie (1882).

Descended from generations of successful jockeys, John Doyle had ridden his first winner in 1888, sharing the Irish riding honours with John Thompson in 1911. Forced to retire through injury in 1916, John Thompson subsequently trained from Rossmore Lodge. His five jockey sons – Tony, Tommy, Jimmy, Joe and John junior ‘Chalk’ – created a world record when riding in the same race at the Curragh, 19 April, 1927.