Faugh-a-Ballagh was an Irish-bred winner of an English classic and a successful stayer that got a superior, classic-winning, French-bred filly and a stout, weight-carrying son that had an important influence on American bloodstock. He was also sire and broodmare sire of some of the best steeplechasers of the era, and a son and several daughters had excellent jumping progeny.
His sire, Sir Hercules, had been a moderately successful winner in Ireland, as a juvenile, and in England at ages three and four, winning a couple of sweepstakes and the Claret Stakes at Newmarket. He stood in Ireland for a couple of seasons, where he got the famous Birdcatcher (1833), and then went to England when his owner's racing stud was sold. After his purchase by Sydney Herbert, a conservative m.p. for Wiltshire and three-time Secretary of War, he spent some time shuttling back and forth between Ireland, where Herbert owned a lot of land, and England.
George Knox, owner of the Brownstown Stud at the Curragh in Ireland had purchased Birdcatcher's dam, Guccioli (by Bob Booty), who had won the Royal Plate for mares at the Curragh in 1830. At Brownstown on May 27, 1841, she dropped Birdcatcher's brother, a dark brown, almost black colt, named Foig-a-Ballagh, a famous battle cry of the charging Royal Irish, 57th Regiment, in the Peninsular War and at Waterloo, which loosely meant "Clear the way." His name is spelled "Foig-a-Ballagh" in the stud book and racing calendars, but was spelled and popularized in the sporting press as "Faugh-a-Ballagh."
Two years later Guccioli dropped twins to the cover of Sir Hercules; the filly of the pair, Gramarchee, bred Anglesey Stakes winner It's Curious. Through daughter Light of the Harem (1850, by Magpie), Gramarchee was second dam of the first Irish Derby winner, Selim (1863, by Ivan); another daughter, Claret Cup, bred on, with a host of good winners descending from her in tail-female to the present. Birdcatcher got The Baron and other good winners, and through The Baron, was grandsire of Stockwell, whose many classic winners ensured the sire line extends to our day.
Faugh-a-Ballagh was purchased by Edward John Irwin as a yearling in July of 1842, and schooled at Irwin's Rathbride Manor stables at the Curragh by Michael Maloney, who at the time rode many, and trained all, of Irwin's horses in Ireland. The big colt, that topped out close to 16 hands, showed promise, and Irwin sent him across the Irish sea to be trained in Sussex by the well-known John Forth, at Mitchell Grove, Findon. Forth's winners included The Merry Monarch, who would win the Epsom Derby in 1845. Faugh-a-Ballagh was described as being lengthy, standing over a deal of ground, with excellent hind quarters.
Faugh-a-Ballagh on the Turf
In Irwin's scarlet jacket/blue belt, harlequin cap colors, Faugh-a-Ballagh came out once, at age two, in Doncaster's Champagne Stakes, where he was third to The Cure and Sorella (winner of the One Thousand Guineas the next season), with The Princess (1844 Oaks winner) and six others in the field.
He sprung a curb before the Epsom Derby the next year, 1844, and was withdrawn not long before the race, much to the distress and suspicion of the betting public, but the curb kept him off the turf until September, where, at Doncaster, he won the St. Leger by a length, beating The Cure, who swerved twice during the running, The Princess, and six others, including Red Deer (winner of the Chester Cup that year), a small field. A few days later he beat the five-year-old Corranna (winner, the previous year, of the Cesarewitch, and 1846 winner of the Chester Cup) in a 1,000 sovereign match over the St. Leger course, by six lengths.
He went on to triumph at Newmarket. At the First October meet he won the Grand Duke Michael Stakes (1-1/4 miles and 42 yards) in a canter, beating Red Deer, Merope (by Voltaire), and two others. At the Second October meet he took the 2 mile-2 furlong Cesarewitch by three lengths, with Lightning (future winner of the Liverpool Cup, by Sheet Anchor) second, and Venus (by Sir Hercules) third, and twenty-three others in the field, including Ionian (by Ion) and The Emperor (by Defence). At Newmarket Houghton, however, he could not complete the fall double, running second in the shorter Cambridgeshire (1 mile-1 furlong) to the four-year-old Evenus (by Alpheus), giving the older horse four pounds and beaten by two lengths. There were seventeen others in the field. Also at the Houghton meeting he received a 150 sovereign compromise from Alice Hawthorn, and paid out a half-forfeit for a scheduled match against Lord George Bentinck's Naworth, where he was scheduled to give Naworth 25 pounds.
The next season, 1845, he ran second by two lengths to The Emperor in the Emperor of Russia's Plate at Ascot (Ascot Gold Cup), with Alice Hawthorn third, and Cowl, fourth and last, after falling lame around the last turn. That was Faugh-a-Ballagh's last race; there was some rumor he was deliberately pulled in favor of The Emperor in a political gesture to the Czar, who sponsored the race, and for whom The Emperor was named.
Faugh-a-Ballagh in the Stud
In Ireland, Irwin had the stallion Mickey Free at Rathbride, and with Faugh-a-Ballagh's elder brother, Birdcatcher, already making a mark as a stallion in England, with his son, The Baron, winning the 1845 Doncaster St. Leger, Faugh-a-Ballagh -- whose earning potential as a stallion was far higher in England than Ireland -- went to the Dean's Hill Stables of John Painter in Staffordshire, sixty-eight miles from Liverpool. For some years Faugh-a-Ballagh was advertised to both England and Irish breeders, with the ads stressing the stable's proximity to London via the North Western Railway. In 1855 he was returned to Irwin in Ireland, and then was sold to the French government stud, arriving in France after the end of his sole season at the Curragh.
In both England and Ireland he got many winners of small races, mostly in the midlands in England and the smaller venues in Ireland, but periodically some good ones would surface at Newmarket, Chester, Epsom and Ascot -- and in Ireland, the Curragh -- winning important races. Most of his winners born in France were bred by or scooped up by Le Grande Écurie partners, Baron Nivière and Count Frederic de Lagrange, winning in both France and England. Most of his racing offspring were weight-carrying stayers, but he did get some speedy juveniles. He reached sixth on the leading sires list in England in 1855 and 1864, was seventh in 1853 and 1857, ninth in 1859, and was in the top twenty on the list in five other years.
Faugh-a-Ballagh's best English-bred runner was LEAMINGTON, a two-time winner of the Chester Cup, and later an influential four-time leading sire in America. In France, his best was FILLE DE L'AIR, an outstanding filly that won classics on both sides of the channel. During his one season in Ireland, he got enough youngsters that, when they reached age three in 1859, made him leading sire in Ireland (races won).
In addition to this, Faugh-a-Ballagh had an immediate and a long-term influence on steeplechasing. His own French-bred son, L'AFRICAIN, was considered, despite his shady connections, one of the best chasers of his era in England, and Faugh-a-Ballagh got a number of other steeplechase winners in England and Ireland. Faugh-a-Ballagh's daughters also produced some outstanding jumpers. The dual Grand National Steeplechase winner The Colonel, was out of a Faugh-a-Ballagh daughter, and two other daughters were tail-female ancestresses of Grand National winners -- Ally Sloper, winner in 1915, and 1927 winner Sprig. Another of his daughters bred the Irish Grand National winner Juggler and Savoyard, a grand chaser that was second in the 1887 Grand National. Used freely on half-bred mares, he also got three good half-breds from a mare, My Lady, of unknown pedigree: LE JUIF (1848), a winner of the Cleveland Handicap and twelve other races; LA JUIVE, who took six races, and FOXHUNTER, winner of the Earl Spencer's Plate, worth £475, and two other races.
Faugh-a-Ballagh's son, MASTER BAGOT, became a noted sire and dam's sire of steeplechasers in Ireland, whose daughters produced 1890 Grand National winner Ilex, and 1892 Grand National winner Father O'Flynn.
His English Progeny
GOLDFINDER (1848, from a Liverpool mare bred in Staffordshire by Edmund Peel), in Faugh-a-Ballagh's first crop, was a good stayer, winning the Shrewsbury Handicap and a race at Warwick at age three, but at age four could not win at Liverpool, Nottingham or Leamington, where his owner, Dr. William Palmer, lost huge amounts in betting. Palmer, the notorious Rugeley surgeon, had a passion for racing and gambling, and a penchant for poisoning people, notably his wife, and John Parsons Cook, for which he was tried and hung, at Stafford in 1856. At age five, GOLDFINDER took the Chester Cup and the Shrewsbury Queen's Plate. In the Chester Cup he started as an outsider in a field of twenty-eight, and netted Palmer £12,000 in bets, plus the rich stakes. He was sold as a stallion to Austria.
That year, 1853, another in Faugh-a-Ballagh's first crop, Lord Glasgow's KNIGHT OF THE GARTER (1848, from Motley, by Pantaloon), won a match over Newmarket's Ditch Mile, beating the three-year-old Nathan (6 st.-12 lbs.), carrying 8 st.-10 lbs., the weight-carrying ability typical of the Faugh-a-Ballaghs.
Faugh-a-Ballagh's 1849 crop included FATHER THAMES and LUCIO. LUCIO (1849, from Fantastic, by Touchstone) won the two-mile Ascot Stakes at age three, among other races. LUCIO'S sister, BLACK COTTON (1852), established a female line of hunters and chasers, and was tail-female ancestress of 1927 Grand National Steeplechase winner Sprig (1917 by Marco).
FATHER THAMES (1849, from a Bran mare) won the Newmarket Handicap at Newmarket Spring at age three, but could only win a small race at Coventry the next year. He was sold to France in 1854, where he got the excellent race filly Stradella (1859, from Creeping Jenny, by Inheritor; properly by Cossack or Father Thames), winner of the Grand Criterium at age two for Le Grande Écurie, and at age three, the Poule d'Essai, Prix de Diane and other races in France, and the Grosser Preis von Baden in Germany. Other than Stradella, FATHER THAMES did not make much of a mark at stud. Other winners from Faugh-a-Ballagh's 1849 crop included CATHERINA, NONSUCH, and THE GIFT, all multiple winners of races at smaller meetings.
MORNING STAR (1849, from Tillah, by Recovery), was one of several siblings bred by Mr. Shelmerdine. He won the three-mile Cleveland Cup at Wolverhampton, and another race at Rugeley at age four for his breeder, but his sister, POLESTAR (1852), was better, a solid, weight-carrying stayer: at age five she won the Shrewsbury Cup, the Stamford Cup, the Queen's Plates at Lewes, Ipswich and Canterbury, and was second in the Stockbridge Steward's Plate.
Another 1849 colt, ETHELWOLF (1849, from Espoir, by Liverpool), bred by Sir Charles Rushout and raced by John Oliver, won a number of races, including handicaps at Northampton, Plymouth and Newmarket Houghton, but his year-younger brother, ETHELBERT (1850) was a more important winner. At age three he won Doncaster's Betting Room Stakes, beating King David and nine others. At Epsom he dead-heated with Pancake in a field of 28 for the City and Suburban Handicap over 1-1/4 miles, with Jouvence, Longbow and The Prime Minister in the field, and then won the run-off by a short head. He was second to Talfourd (by Ion) in the Newmarket Handicap at Newmarket Spring, with fifteen others in the field. At Newmarket Spring he won a big sweepstakes, with FATHER THAMES third in the race.
ETHELBERT was later a useful stallion in England, and showed up as fourteenth on the sires list twice, in 1863 and 1864. His grandson, "the handsome and clever little" Paganini (1865, by King of Kent), an Ebor Handicap winner, was the last useful son in the Faugh-a-Ballagh sire line in England. ETHELBERT got the excellent juvenile, Big Ben (1858, from Phoebe by Touchstone), and the good Cup mare, Isoline (1860, from Bassishaw by The Prime Warden). Another son, Adalbert (1863, from Glenluce by Slane) won the Mehl-Mulhens Rennen in Germany at age three. At age two, Big Ben won the Mostyn Stakes and Biennial Stakes at Chester, the Biennial Stakes and Weston Stakes at Bath, was second in Hungerford's Wild Dayrell Stakes and third in Ascot's Fernhill Stakes; at age three he won a sweepstakes at Newmarket and a race at Ascot. Isoline won the Goodwood Cup and the Manchester Cup at age three; sent to France, she was the dam of Braconnier (1873, by Caterer), winner of Grande Poule des Produits (Prix Morny) and the Prix Daru, and in England of the Jockey Club Gold Cup. She was also the dam of St. Christophe (1874, by Mortemer), who won the Grand Prix de Paris, the Prix du Cadran and the Grand Prix de l'Imperatrice (Prix Rainbow). Through a daughter, Isoline was also the second dam of Isonomy.
ETHELBERT was also dam's sire of Sir Charles (1878, by Pero Gomez - Prosperity), winner of Ascot's New Stakes, and of In View (1868, by The Prime Minister - Elgiva), a winner of the Österreichisches Derby.
Of the winners in Faugh-a-Ballagh's 1851 crop, which included CESTRES and FOXHUNTER, BARREL (1851, from Delaine by Bay Middleton) was the stand-out. A good juvenile, he was second to Arthur Wellesley (by Melbourne) in his first race, the Sapling Stakes at Manchester; then he won Newton's Golborne Stakes, beating five others, and the the St. Helen's Purse for two and three year olds, beating five. At Liverpool July he won the Mersey Stakes for juveniles, beating Stiletto, and the Stanley Stakes for two and three-year-olds. At York,he was second to Exact in the Eglinton Stakes (for two and three-year-olds), and then he won the Gimcrack Stakes by a neck, beating eight others. At Radcliffe he won a stakes for juveniles over 3/4 of a mile, and at Manchester Autumn he won the Chesterfield Handicap for juveniles, beating six others, and the Subscription Stakes over a mile. BARREL'S younger sister, BARÉGE (1855) won a number of races at smaller venues, including Monmouth's Chippenham Stakes ( 1 mile heats), Brecon's two mile Borough Stakes, and the Aberystwith Hunt Steeplechase (2 heats).
FEARLESS (1852), was out of a mare by Regulator in the Half-bred Family B - 9, that also bred Caurouch (1843, by Birdcatcher), winner of the 1847 Cesarewitch and three Queen's Plates; Chester Handicap winner Keleshea (1844, by David); and Caurire (1846, by David or Arthur), a winner of ten races, including the Lincolnshire Handicap. FEARLESS won the Southdown Stakes at the South Down Hunt Steeplechase meet, carrying 13 st.-3 lbs., beating five others over three miles in 1860.
Another 1852 foal was BOADICEA (out of Princess of Wales, by Bran, Half-bred Family B - 6). Bred by John Davies of Knighton, Radnorshire, Wales, she ran in Wales and at Wolverhampton for three different owners at age three, unplaced; at age four she won a race at Wrexham, and at age five won four races in nineteen starts; she did not win at age six, and at age seven won two of eight races. She had a brief stud career in Shropshire, dying in 1864 through an accidental drowning, but she produced two foals: one of them, The Colonel (1863, by Knight of Kars), won five races on the flat, six hurdle races, and four steeplechases, including the Grand National at Aintree twice, in 1869 and 1870. The Colonel was sold in 1870 to Freiherr Eric von Oppenheim, who won the Grand Vienna Steeplechase with him. Later a stallion, he is seen in Trakehner pedigrees.
||LEAMINGTON (1853, from a Pantaloon mare) was Faugh-a-Ballagh's best runner in England, and a better horse than his race record indicates, suffering, as he did, from illness and connections that pulled him in his early races to keep his imposts low for large betting returns in other events. He still managed to win the 2-1/4 mile Chester Cup twice, the 2-1/2 mile Goodwood Stakes, and placed second in premier distance races later in his career carrying crushing weight. At stud at Rawcliffe Paddocks in Yorkshire, he was not a big success, and was sold to Roderick Cameron, owner of the Australian Steamship Line, who lived in New York and shipped Leamington to the U.S. in 1865. There, he proved to be Faugh-a-Ballagh's best sire son, and one with significant influence on American bloodstock, primarily through his daughters, although two sons, Longfellow and Iroquois were also leading sires in America.
| At various stud farms in Kentucky, New York, and Pennsylvania, LEAMINGTON got many outstanding runners, reaching the top of the sires list in the U.S. four times. Enquirer, Longfellow (leading sire in the U.S.), Aristedes (first Kentucky Derby winner), Iroquois (first American-bred winner of the Epsom Derby and Doncaster St. Leger, later leading sire in the U.S.), the outstanding gelding Parole, and Jaconet, the dam of champion and leading sire Sir Dixon, were among his best offspring, many of which sent the Faugh-a-Ballagh blood forward in America. |
Another colt in Faugh-a-Ballagh's 1853 crop was THE BREWER (1853, from Emolous, by Sheet Anchor), a winner of the 1860 Liverpool Autumn Cup over one mile-two furlongs.
The best of the 1854 crop was the grey MASTER BAGOT (1854, out of Victorine by Speculation). Trained by Will Saunders for Thomas Hunt, he could win at one and two miles, but was a bit of a plodder, although a good weight-carrier. He won two races at age two, nine at age three and one at age four. At age five he won the one mile-4 furlong Bentinck Testimonial Handicap at Liverpool July, beating Gunboat and Waterloo, but with the heaviest weight, could only run third to Terrific and Antiquary in the Victualler's Plate. He placed in several other good races that year, including Chester's 1 mile-1 furlong City Plate, Lichfield's Copeland Handicap (heaviest weight), and the Cardiff Stakes over two miles. The next year, age six, he won the 1 mile-4 furlong Great Newton Handicap in a canter, the 2 mile-2 furlong Cumberland Plate at Carlisle, and the two mile Queen's Plate at Lichfield by four lengths.
As a stallion in Ireland MASTER BAGOT was a good sire of jumpers. His son, Lottery (1873, out of Bilberry by Simoon), won the Grand Sefton Steeplchase in 1879. His daughter, the grey Valonia (Half-bred Family B - 17), became the dam of Mistletoe (1880 by Rostrevor), a winner of first prizes for three years in succession as a hunter broodmare at the Meath Show (Ireland); of Rostrum (1881, by Rostrevor), a winner of four steeplechases; of Ilex (1884, by Rostrevor), winner of the Lancashire Handicap and the 1890 Grand National Steeplechase; and Silver Oak (1886, by Heart of Oak). Silver Oak was later the dam of five winners of steeplechases and hurdle races, including Breemount Oak (1880, by Ascetic), winner of a number of chases to age eight and twice placed second in the Conyngham Cup, and Irish Oak (1905), a winner of twelve steeplechases. Roman Oak (1884, by Ascetic), winner of the Lancashire Handicap, the Irish International Steeplechase, the Irish Grand Military Steeplechase, Liverpool's Champion Chase, and the Prince of Wales' Plate at Punchestown, was a grandson of Silver Oak's. MASTER BAGOT also got the half-bred mare, Kathleen (1869), a winner of the Warwickshire Hunt Cup over three miles at Stratford-on-Avon at age six, and later dam of 1892 Grand National Steeplechase winner Father O'Flynn (1885) that won twelve other steeplechases, and of Melleray, a winner of eight hurdle races and five steeplechases.
The best of Faugh-a-Ballagh's 1855 crop, the last born in England, was THE HADJI (from Athol Brose, by Orlando). Owned and trained by Tom Dawson, at age three he won the Union Cup at Manchester, and was second to Beadsman and Toxophilite in the Epsom Derby, and second to Sunbeam in the Doncaster St. Leger; in October he ran second to Frailty in the three mile Queen's Plate at the Curragh in Ireland. He later got some winners, including Terror (1863, from Fright by Alarm), a winner of the 1866 Liverpool Summer Cup. His daughter, Stillroom Maid, produced Father Confessor (1885, by The Abbot), a winner of the Chestefield Cup, and the Liverpool Spring and Summer Cups in 1890.
English Daughters as Broodmares
In addition to the racing daughters of Faugh-a-Ballagh whose progeny are noted above, he was also the sire of English-bred mares that produced some good offspring, both on the flat and over jumps.
BABETTE (1849, from Barbarina by Plenipotentiary) was the dam of the 1862 Cambridgeshire Stakes winner Bathilde (1858, by Stockwell), that later produced Lowland Chief (1878, by Lowlander), winner of Goodwood's Stewards' Cup, Ascot's Royal Stakes and Doncaster's Portland Plate, and Tomahawk (1871, by Thormanby), a winner of the Lincolnshire Handicap.
PRISCILLA (1849, from Winter, by Wedge) produced the Irish-bred Sea Queen (1865, by Nautilus), a winner of the Grand Sefton Steeplechase.
RÉVEILLÉE (1851, out of Reaction by Bizarre) was the dam of The Snail (1876, by Esea), a long-running gelding thaat won four races at age six, including the Ashcombe Stakes at Lewes, four races at age five, the Northumberland Plate, the Ayrshire Handicap and a match against Scamp at age six, and the Liverpool Summer Cup at age seven.
CONSTANCE (1852, out of Milkmaid by Glaucus) produced Bertram (1869, by The Duke), winner of a free handicap at Newmarket, the Great Cheshire Stakes and the Ayrshire Handicap; Bertram later got the big, "slashing" fast stayer, Robert the Devil (1877), undefeated as a juvenile, and winner of the Grand Prix de Paris, Doncaster's St. Leger Stakes (beating Bend Or), Newmarket's Great Foal Stakes, the Ceswarewitch and Champagne Stakes, and Ascot's Gold Cup and Queen Alexandra Stakes. Robert the Devil was later a useful stallion. CONSTANCE'S daughter, Noyau (1865, by Nutbourne) carried the tail-female line forward into the late twentieth century.
ELFRIDA (1853, a sister to ETHELBERT, out of Espoir, by Liverpool), established a nice tail-female line through her Macaroni daughter, Inverness, that was sent to the U.S. Her descendants included Kentucky Derby winners His Eminence (1898) and Joe Cotton (1882), Preakness Stakes winner Flocarline (1900), and a host of other winners in America through the present.
GARNISH (1855, from Gaity, by Touchstone), a half-sister to St. Leger winner Gamester and Yorkshire Oaks winner Gondola, produced Our Mary Ann (1865, by Voltigeur), a lightly-weighted winner of the 1870 Chester Cup. Through Our Mary Ann, GARNISH was third dam of the 1915 Grand National Steeplechase winner Ally Sloper (1909, by Travelling Lad).
LADY DI (1853) was out of Gussey (by Plenipotentiary), a half-sister to the Liverpool mare that produced GOLDFINDER (1848). LADY DI became the dam of Falkland (1867, by Voltigeur), a winner of the two mile 1873 Northumberland Plate at Newcastle, and through Falkland's sister, Valtz, had a number of good tail-female descendants.
Back to Ireland
In 1855 Faugh-a-Ballagh returned to his birthplace for a season. He got about 21 foals, born in 1856, and three years after he left for France, in 1859, he was the leading sire in Ireland (races won), with ten runners the winners of twenty races worth £1,399 (Mountain Deer was leading sire of progeny earnings with four winners of twelve races worth £1,740.). Probably his best runner of that sole season was HIBERNIA (1856, from Matilda, by Magpie), winner of the four-mile Royal Whip at the Curragh in 1859. RACHEL (1856, from Piety (bred by Irwin), by Harkaway), was sent to England to run, placing in several races as a juvenile and brought back to Ireland as a broodmare, where she produced Dunsany (1862) winner of the Manchester Cup and the 1866 Royal Whip at the Curragh; the Curragh's Wellington Stakes and Queen's Plate winner Fingal (1865); Rob Roy, a winner of ten races to age five, including the Kildare Handicap and the Kirwan Stakes; and Miriam (1875), a winner of the Curragh's Royal Whip in both 1880 and 1881. RACHEL'S tail-female line continued through the mid 1960s, with winners in eastern Europe.
Other winners from that Irish season included BLACKTHORN (1856, from Irwin's mare Duverney, by Smallhopes), a gelding that won the Hunters Stakes over 1 mile-4 furlongs at Roscommon, beating six others in two heats; KNIGHT OF THE BLAZE (Later CAPTAIN FRANKLIN, 1856, from a Tearaway mare), a winner of the Londonderry Trades Plate in three heats and the 1 mile-4 furlong Railway Plate at Londonderry; GARIBALDI (1856, from Calamity, by Vampyre, Half-bred Family B - 1), a winner of ten races, including the Wellington Stakes at the Curragh (1 mile-2 yards) and the two mile County Plate (2 heats) at Maryborough Heath, and two steeplechases in Scotland; and BEN BRACE (1856, previously ERIC PERCY, from Chevy Chase), a winner of the Mullacurry Stakes (1 mile-4 furlongs, heats) at Ardee and two other races at age four.
Faugh-a-Ballagh's good Irish-bred broodmare daughters, born in 1856, included RACHEL, ROSA BONHEUR, SOLFERINO, and a FAUGH-A-BALLAGH MARE. ROSA BONEHEUR's tail-female line bred on, ending with Exema (1899), a winner of the Prix Eugene Adam and the Grosser Preis von Baden. SOLFERINO (1856, from a half-bred mare by Ishmael of an unnumbered family) bred four winners, including Juggler (1870, by Conjuror), bred in Ireland, a winner on the flat and over fences, including the Great Metropolitan Steeplechase at Baldoyle and the Irish Grand National. SOLFERINO'S son, Savoyard (1878, by New Oswestry), bred in Cheshire, was also a winner on the flat and over fences, including the Lancashire Handicap Steeplechase and the Grand Sefton Steeplechase; he was second to Gamecock in the Grand National Steeplechase at Aintree in 1887.
The unnamed FAUGH-A-BALLAGH MARE was out of a mare of unknown pedigree, called Zephyr. Her produce, all bred by W.A. Gowring, were all good jumpers, and all by Kildonan, a son of Newminster. They included Miss Star (1872), Sister Star (1873), and Mrs. Star (1867), the latter a really good chaser owned and ridden by Lord Marcus Beresford: she won a hurdle race and 28 steeplechases between the ages of six and thirteen, including the Birmingham Grand Annual Handicap Chase, the County Wexford Handicap Chase, and the Bellewatown Tradesmen's Steeplechase. As a broodmare, beginning at age fifteen, Mrs. Star produced four steeplechase winners and Dr. Gully (also called Starlight), who served as a chaser stallion in Ireland.
Another 1856 Irish-bred daughter of Faugh-a-Ballagh, SCOTIA (from Portia, by Launcelot), produced Highland Mary (1869, by Solon), a winner of a number of steeplechases for her owner, Lord Marcus Beresford, including the Military Steeplechase at Esher (Surrey).
Faugh-a-Ballagh in France
Like a number of English stallions in the 1850s, mostly stayers, Faugh-a-Ballagh was purchased by the French government during more than a decade's worth of concerted effort to improve French breeding stock (see Ion, Lanercost and The Baron for others that crossed the channel in the '50s). In 1855, the year of the Great Exposition in Paris, Faugh-a-Ballagh was brought over. He stood his first season at the government studs at Paris and then at Saint-Lo. In 1857 he went to the government stud at Le Pin, where he stood until his death in 1861.
As in England, he got one superior race horse, this time a filly, FILLE DE L'AIR, and other lesser stakes winners, most of which were bred by or came into the hands of Le Grande Écurie (a partnership between Baron Nivière and Count Frederic de Lagrange), and were taken to England to race. Also, as in England, he also got jumpers, one of which was exceptionally talented: FALENDRE (later L'AFRICAIN). Faugh-a-Ballagh's lasting effect, through sons or daughters in France, was negligible.
PRÉTENDANT (1857, from Prédestinée by Master Waggs), in Faugh-a-Ballagh's first French crop, ran second to Gustave (by Lanercost) in the Poule d'Essai for Baron Nivière, and, taken to England, won two races at Newmarket Houghton against some good English speedsters, which "made the astonished Britons rub their eyes." As part of Le Grande Écurie in its debut year, he won the Prix du Cadran (4200 meters) in 1861. By that time Faugh-a-Ballagh had four yearlings on the ground, and one born just about the time PRÉTENDANT won his big French race, all of which would race for Le Grande Écurie.
ARMAGNAC (1860, from Bathilde by Young Emilius), running for Le Grande Écurie did quite well as a juvenile in England, running third to Saccharometer and Blue Mantle in the July Stakes, and the next day won the Exeter Stakes (with another French youngster, Dollar, third). At Abingdon he took the Abingdon Stakes, and at Brighton, carrying five additional pounds, was second in the Molecomb Stakes. Sold to Lord Stamford, along with the French horses Brick and Le Maréchal (by Monarque) for the huge sum of £6,000 (for the three), he was second in the Bedford Stakes at Newmarket Second October. Based on his juvenile performances, he ran for Stamford in the Prix du Jockey Club as favorite, but placed third behind the great La Toucques and the equally great Dollar. At age five he won the Somersetshire Stakes in England.
ARMAGNAC'S year-older sister, MADEMOISELLE DE CHAMPIGNY (1859), was also part of the Le Grande Écurie assault on England. In 1862 she won the Delapré Handicap at Northampton. She later produced Milan (1877, by Le Sarrazin), a good stayer that won the Prix du Cadran and the Grand Prix de l'Imperatrice (Prix Rainbow).
FONTENOY (1860, from Fete, by Iago) was also taken to England to run for Le Grande Écurie. He was third in the Trial Stakes at Abingdon, and at York was second in the Prince of Wales's Stakes. At Newmarket Second October he won a selling stakes. JARNICOTON (1860, from Belle de Nuit, by Young Emilius), ran unsuccessfully in England for Le Grande Écurie at age two, and at the end of the season, when the partnership broke up, he was bought back by de Lagrange. Back in England at age three, he ran in high class company, but failed to place in Two Thousand Guineas, the Doncaster St. Leger (the first French horse to run in that race), won by Lord Clifden, and the Cambridgeshire Stakes. At age four, he was third in Prix de l'Empereur at Paris summer to Dollar and Stradella.
CONQUÊTE (1860) was out of Victoria, by Elizondo, a foundation mare at Henri Delamarre's Haras de Bois-Roussel. Delmarre took her to England as a juvenile, where she won the Brocklesby Stakes. At age three she won two good races at Baden-Baden: the Saint-Léger Continental and the Poule des Produits (Furstenberg-Rennen). At Haras de Bois-Roussel, she was bred to Delamarre's principal stallion, Vermout, producing a daughter, Concorde (1878) that won the 3200 meter Nagroda Prezydenta Rzeczypospolite at Warsaw, Poland.
Fille de l'Air
||FILLE DE L'AIR (1861), was born the year of PRÉTENDANT'S Prix du Cadran win, out of an unraced mare, Pauline (from Bathilde), by Volcano. Pauline was a half-sister to ARMAGNAC and his sister MLLE DE CHAMPIGNY. She was bred by M. Benoist and sold to Frederic de Lagrange just before the dissolution of Le Grande Écurie, and so, as a yearling, she was part of the mob of horses auctioned off. De Lagrange bought her back for about £340. She became one of those great race mares the breed periodically throws out, winning in England, France and Germany, truly superior at both ages two and three in a generation that featured excellent runners on both sides of the Channel. |
|As a juvenile, running all season in England, "Fiddler," as she was called there, won five of her nine races, and placed in the others, all high-class. Starting May 19 at Epsom, she won the Woodcote Stakes, beating Molly Carew (by Wild Dayrell), Procella (by LEAMINGTON), and another excellent juvenile, Evelina (by King Tom). She went on to win Goodwood's Molecomb Stakes (beating Scottish Chief by two lengths and seven others), take a walk-over for the Brighton Biennial, win a big sweepstakes at Newmarket First October in which she beat Woodcraft, Gondola and three others, and the Criterion by two lengths at Newmarket Houghton, with ten others in the field. She beat all the top English two-year-olds of the season, including Ely, Scottish Chief, Coastguard and Prince Arthur. Her placings came in Epsom's Two-Year-Old Stakes (won by Midnight Mass, with five others in the field), where she was third; Doncaster's Champagne Stakes, when she was second to Ely; third to Coastguard and Prince Arthur in a sweepstakes at Doncaster, and third to Yamuna and Tomfoolery in Newmarket's Hopeful Stakes with eleven in the field. |
FILLE DE L'AIR spent the winter in England. She started favorite for the Two Thousand Guineas, but did not place in the race, won by General Peel. Back in France she also failed in the Poule d'Essai -- won by The Baron colt, Baronello -- but easily won the Prix de Diane in a canter, with five other fillies in the race. Crossing to England, she took the Epsom Oaks, beating Coronation Stakes winner Breeze and Tomato, with fifteen others in the field -- "causing a disgraceful riot" -- which was prompted rumours that she was older than she appeared and trainer John Osborne demanded she be inspected. Her indignant owner agreed to have her mouth examined to confirm she was, in fact, three years old. At Brighton she won the second year of the Biennial, beating Ascot Derby winner Peon.
The five-star field of the 1864 Grand Prix de Paris, right to left: Bois-Roussel, Blair Athol, Vermout (the winner), Baronello, Fille de l'Air. Baron de la Rochette, on the left, was the starter.
FILLE DE L'AIR then went back to Paris to run in the Grand Prix de Paris. The race, which featured five top English and French three-year-olds, was won by Henri Delamarre's colt, Vermout, with Epsom Derby winner Blair Athol second and FILLE DE L'AIR third; Prix du Jockey Club winner Bois-Roussel and Poule d'Essai winner Baronello were also in the field; FILLE DE L'AIR was later disqualified for failing to weigh in, and Bois-Roussel broke-down during the running. Back in England, she ran second to Ely in the Prince of Wales's Stakes at Ascot. Then, off to France again, where she took the Grand St. Leger of France at Moulins, beating four other horses. At Baden-Baden she won the St. Leger Stakes, beating the Grand Prix de Paris winner, Vermout, by a neck, receiving three pounds from him. Also at Baden she won £180, the only other horse in the race, Beatrix, entered to fulfill the conditions. FILLE DE L'AIR then placed third to Vermout and Dollar in the Grand Prix de Baden. At Paris in September she beat Vermout in the Prix du Prince Impérial (Prix Royal Oak), worth £400. Back in England again for the Newmarket series, at Newmarket October she won the Newmarket Oaks, beating Breeze by three lengths, with Tomato and three other fillies in the field, and at the same meeting took the Newmarket Derby, beating Claremont by six lengths, and one other horse. At Newmarket Houghton she took a walk-over for a Free Handicap. That was the end of her three-year-old season.
The next season, 1865, FILLE DE L'AIR started in England by winning the Derby Trial Stakes at Newmarket Craven, beating Saunterer by three lengths, with two others running, and at the same meeting won the Claret Stakes, beating General Peel by a head, with Planet, who would win Epsom's Great Metropolitan that year, a poor third. She did not place in Ely's Ascot Gold Cup. She was taken to Paris to run in la Coupe (the Gold Cup), which she won in a canter, giving gobs of weight away to her opponent, Quaker. A week later she won the Grand Prix de L'Impératrix (Prix Rainbow), easily beating Royal-Navarre. Back in England she took the three mile Queen Alexandra Plate at Ascot, beating Strafford by a short head, with Breeze -- winner of three Queen's Plates that year -- third, and nine others, some very good, in the field.
That was enough for de Lagrange's wonderful mare, and she was retired to his stud, Dangu, in Normandy. Of her foals, Reine (1869, by Monarque) was her best; she won both the One Thousand Guineas and the Epsom Oaks in England. Reine later produced Regain (1880, by Mortemer), another good stayer in this grand family; he won the Poule d'Essai des Poulains and the Prix du Cadran.
There was another celebrated, or perhaps notorious, French horse by Faugh-a-Ballagh: L'AFRICAIN (originally FALENDRE), born in 1859 in the stud of the Marquis de Falendre in Normandy. His dam was Gringalette (1848, by Royal Oak), also the dam of Surprise (1857, by Gladiator), a winner of the Prix de Diane and later dam of the excellent mare Sornette (1867, by Light), another cross-channel runner that won the Doncaster Cup, the Prix de Diane, the Grand Prix de Paris and many other good races. L'AFRICAIN, at least as a youngster, was high-strung and difficult to train.
He was purchased by Baron Nivière's, and sent to his stables at Morlaye, where he was trained by Henry Jennings. As a juvenile he ran twice, second to Vertu-Facile in the prix des Phocéens at Marseille, and third in another small race there. At age three he ran twelve times without effect. As part of Le Grande Écurie, he was included in the 1862 partnership dissolution auction, and was bought for a low price by Jennings, for whom he ran twelve more times in 1863. When Jennings took the post as trainer for the duc de Morny. L'AFRICAIN was sold for 7,500 guineas to M. Vaillant, a not altogether honest butcher, who changed his name from Falendre, and had him started over jumps. At age five he won over fences in France, including the venerable Grand Military Steeplechase near Versailles for gentlemen riders, held at the park, de la Marche, where, ridden by Lieutenant Roques, he beat four others by two lengths.
In 1865 L'AFRICAIN was taken to England, and leased to Welshman W.R.H. Powell. He was slated to run in the Grand National, but an injury prevented his running. He went to Warwick's spring meeting to run in the Grand Annual, but was still out of sorts and "failed to impress." In November, in the Leamington Steeplechase at Warwick (4 miles), he gave Salamander (winner of the Grand National and Warwick's Grand Annual) a stone, a beat him by 40 lengths: "L'Africain cut down the field after a fashion rarely seen and won amid loud cheers by 40 lengths," said the Times. In November he won the Croydon Cup Steeplechase (3 miles-4 furlongs) by ten lengths, carrying 12 st.-10 lbs. He was sent out again the next day to run in the Grand Metropolitan, carrying the same crushing weight, and on heavy ground, he fell down "from exhaustion."
In 1866 in the Grand Annual Steeplechase at Cheltenham (4 miles), Reginald Herbert's mare, Columbia (10 st.-12 lbs.), slipped by on the inside to win by a neck, while L'AFRICAIN (12 st.-7 lbs.), a hard puller who had not been out of his box for weeks, bore out, and was battling Grand National winner Cortolvin (10 st.-12 lbs.) on the outside in the run for home. L'AFRICAIN and Cortolvin came in second and third, in a field that included other good ones, such Emblematic, Ibex, and Marble Hill. L.R. Thomas, a steeplechase rider, later said, "...this performance stamps him as a veritable wonder." L'AFRICAIN won Croydon's Grand Metrpolitain Steeplechase that year, beating Magenta, Valentino and Oswestry, but carrying the record weight of 13 st.-12 lbs., he could not finish and was pulled up in that year's Grand National Steeplechase at Aintree (won by Salamander, with Cortolvin second). He went back to France in the fall, at a Deauville, running in Vaillant's -- who had been warned off steeplechases in France in the spring by the Society of Steeplechases for fictiously represented a horse -- name, he broke his leg in a race, and was destroyed. In September, a turf commentator reported: "M. Vaillant's Africain broke his leg and his wretched career is over. Circumstances made him. He was a respectable horse in himself, but circumstances made him a very Jack Sheppard among race horses...they pulled him, watered him when he was not thirsty, tempted him with beans when he was not hungry, pulled at him, and raced him at the wrong places. Then captains controlled him and touts tormented him. His last owner was a sausage maker. Poor Africain."
--Patricia Erigero; special thanks to Paul Davies, The Complete Record, for assistance with L'Africain's race record