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  Family C-32: Fair Ellen

The recorded stakes winners in this short-lived, but successful family, were all offspring of the mare Fair Ellen, who had been bred in Victoria by Frederick D'Arcy in 1850. The Australian Stud Book shows that the various breeders of her foals were among the most colorful and important individuals in Victoria in the mid to late 19th century.

D'Arcy had first arrived in Port Phillip from New South Wales in 1836 as an assistant surveyor to Robert Russell, who had been charged by the NSW colony's governor, Sir Richard Bourke, with surveying the Port Phillip district. The team, which included another assistant surveyor, identified the site's natural featuers and dwellings built by the earliest settlers. This survey was the foundation for future work in 1837 in which the first plat of Melbourne was laid out, and was the basis for land sales in the developing settlement.

Fair Ellen's second dam was Fantail, by The Caliph, an arabian. Fantail probably had been brought into Victoria, possibly by D'Arcy, since her daughter, Camarine was by Forester (by imp. Little John). Forester, although bred in Tasmania in 1835 by Thomas Henty, was in Victoria by 1840. The Henty family had arrived in Western Australia from England in 1830 with four thoroughbreds purchased from the Earl of Egremont. Dissatisfied with the land and lack of opportunity there, they decamped to Van Diemen's Land (Tasmania) in 1832 settling on 2,000 acres at Corniston, near Launceston, and shortly thereafter the patriarch, Thomas Henty arrived from England with more imported thoroughbreds. They became influential in bloodhorse breeding and racing in the lively sporting scene in Tasmania, and also in Portland Bay, across the strait on the mainland, where they had a large holding.

D'Arcy bred Camarine to Rory O'More (by Birdcatcher), an Irish-bred stallion brought to Victoria by the wealthy William Pomeroy Greene in 1842. Greene established a large holding he called Woodlands, about 20 miles from the Port Phillip settlement, where he held steeplechases. Rory O'More stood at stud in Victoria until 1850. In 1850 Camerine dropped the grey filly Fair Ellen. Fair Ellen was in the stud at least as early as 1855, and bred four youngsters for D'Arcy, after which she apparently passed through several Victoria-based hands before dying sometime after 1878. In all, she had fifteen recorded foals, at least nine of them fillies, but, after the first generation, no descendants appear to have made much of a mark on the turf.

Of the four foals bred by D'Arcy, it was the small grey colt Toryboy (1857), later gelded, that became Fair Ellen's most noted winner, and probably was the genesis of her listing in the Family Table of Racehorses, since he won the Melbourne Cup (see below). He was by imp. Wollaton (1850, by The Caster, a son of Emilius), who was brought to Victoria by bloodstock agent John Purves in 1858. Freestone (1861, by Touchstone) was also bred by D'Arcy: he won the first running of the Ascot Vale Stakes in 1863, and the VRC Sires' Produce Stakes in 1864, but died soon after.

Fair Ellen's next foal of note was the bay filly Maidstone (1862, by Touchstone), bred by D. Robinson, who had owned Postboy, that won the Town Plate in Victoria in 1838. Maidstone won the VRC All-Aged Stakes in 1865. Fair Ellen then bred three foals for the somewhat notorious Dr. Louis Smith, who established a surgery in Victoria in 1853, made a great deal of money treating venereal disease and through heavy self-promotion, and served as a representative in the Legislative Assembly for South Bourke, and later, Richmond, on and off for decades. In 1863 he established a racehorse stable at Emerald Hill, and later at Kensington, and this coincides with his apparent ownership of Fair Ellen, who dropped No Surrender (1865, by Touchstone), Young Fair Ellen (1866, by Touchstone) and La Favorita (1868, by Maribyrnong) while in his ownership. Touchstone (1853, by imp. Touchit) was bred in Tasmania and imported into Victoria, where he was used as a stallion at Bairnsdale.

Fair Ellen then passed into the hands of Victorian landowner and sportsman George Petty, for whom she produced four fillies in succession between 1870 and 1873: Flame (1870, by Fireworks), Nellie (1871, by Fireworks), Troy (1872, by Manuka), and Andromache (1873, by Manuka. Troy won the 1876 VRC Hotham Handicap. Petty had purchased the stud farm and training facilities of James Johnston and Joseph Raleigh, including the impressive house on the crest of Remount Hill in Melbourne. He bred a number of successful stallions and racehorses, including Derby (1866), Dante (1870), Goldsbrough (1870, winner of the AJC St. Leger), The Painter (1872), Piscator (1872), and Robinson Crusoe (1873, by Angler).

Charles B. Fisher owned Fair Ellen when she had her last two foals, the grey filly Lady Ellen (1874, by The Marquis), and a foal of unknown sex by Coeur de Lyon in 1878. Lady Ellen won the 1878 VRC Newmarket Handicap (6 furlongs). Fisher joined his brother, James, in Adelaide after arriving in South Australia with his parents in 1836, and together the brothers acquired vast acreages there where they ran cattle, later making a great deal of money from their sheep and cattle during the Victoria goldrush. Fisher rode and won with his horse Highflyer in the 1850 Copping Cup in South Australia, and participated in the establishment of racing there; he owned the good horse Fishhook, winner of the AJC St. Leger in 1867, and of the TTC Champion Race (Launceston Cup) in 1867. When his brother Hurtle's Maribyrnong racing stud was sold in Victoria in 1866, he purchased many of the horses from it, including Fishhook and Angler (1862, later sire of Petty's Robinson Crusoe). He also raced the stallion Robinson Crusoe (bred by George Petty), who won the AJC Derby and St. Leger, among other races, and was later a successful sire of Navigator (AJC and Victoria Derbies and St. Legers and 1883 Australian Cup, among other races), Trident (VRC Derby and other races), and Insomnia (the dam of Wakeful).

Sometime after Fisher established himself in Victoria, in 1865, he purchased the stables, training facilities, and Remount Hill homestead owned by George Petty, and apparently Fair Ellen somehow passed on in the deal. His mare Sylvia, won the VRC Oaks in 1867, and the stallion Fisherman stood at his stud in Victoria. Fisher became one of the largest landowners in Australia, with holdings in Victoria, South Australia, and Queensland, stocked with vast herds of cattle and sheep. His empire crashed spectacularly in the mid 1890s, and he died in Adelaide in 1908; in the racing world, he's remembered in the annual running of the VRC C.B. Fisher Plate at Flemington.

It's a pity and a mystery that such a prolific and successful broodmare as Fair Ellen, supported by some of the wealthiest racing men in the colony, failed to establish a long-standing family.

Notable Descendants


Toryboy gr.g. 1857
(Wollaton - Fair Ellen)
A small grey gelding, bred by Frederick D'Arcy in Victoria, and raced by William C. Yuille for several years. The restless Yuille, known best as the compiler of the Australian Stud Book, first published in 1877, first settled on the Barwon River at Murgheballoak with his cousin, Archibald, in 1836, later had land, briefly, in New Zealand, and, back in Victoria, at Rockbank, then at Barwidgee and Ballanrong (near Hastings). In 1852-53 he sold Ballanrong and took his family to England, returning in 1858, after which he set up a large stable at Williamstown, which he closed in 1866, becoming a sportswriter for The Australasian, and establishing an auctioneering firm, W.C. Yuille & Co. He served for a number of years as a steward for the Victoria Racing Club, and also as a handicapper. During his early years in Melbourne he raced horses, sometimes riding his own, and in the late '50s, after establishing his Williamstown stables, he bought the three year old Flying Buck (by Warhawk), who won the first Australasian Champion Sweepstakes, held at Flemington over three miles in 1859. The following year Yuille won the big handicap of the VRC October meeting with the mare Lucy Glitters, who was by Warhawk, a stallion he had sent to H.N. Simson in Victoria while he was in England. Toryboy ran for Yuille in the 1861 and 1862 Melbourne Cups, but could only place fifth and sixth respectively, even with light weights. Yuille sold him to B. Marshall, and in 1865, lightly weighted with 7 st., Toryboy, age eight, finally won the race, beating the favorite, Panic, who was carrying 10 st. He would run in it again the following year (fourth), and again in 1867 (unplaced). His sire, Wollaton (1850, by The Caster), was imported into Victoria by bloodstock agent John Purves in 1858.

Descent Chart

Bold=winners of stakes races and important handicap and weight-for-age races

Fantail (f.) by The Caliph [Arabian]
 Camarine (f.) by Forester
  Fair Ellen (gr.f. 1850) by Rory o'More
   Toryboy (gr.g. 1857) by Wollaton
   Freestone (br.c. 1861) by Touchstone
   Maidstone (br.f. 1862) by Touchstone
   Troy (f. 1872) by Manuka
   Lady Ellen (gr.f. 1874) by The Marquis

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