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  Family B-7: Priam Mare

This is an interesting family that could be traced back to the mid-eighteenth century, the earliest known mare being an Exmoor Pony. Every single successive (recorded) daughter in the family, for over 100 years, was bred to a throughbred stallion, usually a noted one, with pedigrees on the sire side at least as illustrious as those of "bred" mares, some of which could not be traced back as far, and yet were included in the GSB. According to John Osborne, with whom Prior corresponded, the mares in this line had been owned and bred by the Taft family from the time of the Exmoor pony mare. The Tafts were tenants of the Stanhopes, Earls of Chesterfield, with vast acreage in Derbyshire, where the principal Stanhope seat was located.

John Taft bred a mare by Derby winner Priam, who had been purchased by Lord Chesterfield in 1830 for 3,000 guineas; in 1835 Priam, who left some good winners behind in England, was sold to America by the earl, to keep his creditors at bay, and left England in 1837. The Priam mare, born sometime between 1834 and 1837, bred three youngsters, a grey filly by Colwick; Derby, a grey colt by Don John, a winner of eight races and a hurdle race; and an unnamed colt by Don John. After that, she was given to Taft's god-son, John Osborne, a great jockey and later trainer, who bred the rest of her foals.

For Osborne, at Ashgill in Middleham, Yorkshire, the Priam mare produced six more foals. These were Johnny Taft, a winner of four races, Bobby Taft, who won three races, Zachariah, winner of six races, and three daughters -- Nelly Taft, Peggy Taft, and Polly Taft. Nelly Taft ran unplaced at age two, and at Ashgill, and later in the stud of W.S. Bruere and trainer Thomas Dawson of Thorngill, Middleham, she produced five winners of flat races, hunter's flat races, and steeplechases, including Nelly Gray, winner of the Grand Military Gold Cup in 1896. Peggy Taft ran 93 times in various provincial races, winning 27 of them, in her six years on the turf, and later was a producer for George Gregson at Houghton-le-Spring in Co. Durham. Polly Taft won the Beverley Cup, an important provincial four mile race, and one other race.

The filly by Colwick that had been bred by Taft, did not run, but in the stud had two daughters. One, an unraced daughter of Mundig, later produced an unnamed filly by Don John that won six races, and Miss Violet, who won a small race, both bred by Taft. The other daughter was Cesarewitch winner Mrs. Taft (see below).

This family produced both good flat race winners, such as Mrs. Taft, and some outstanding and long-running steeplechasers.

Notable Descendants

Mrs. Taft br. f. 1845
(Don John - mare by Colwick
Bred by John Taft, and racing in the name of Lord Chesterfield, she won her only two races as a juvenile, including the Nursery Stakes at Newmarket October, beating a big field of juveniles. Not nominated for the classics, at age three she ran unplaced in the Chester Cup. At age four, she won the Salford Borough Cup and one other race, and placed second in the Manchester Cup. At age five she won four races, and at age six she beat a field of twenty-six in the Cesarewitch. She ran for two more seasons. In all she won ten races worth £2,814.

In the stud she produced Spider, a winner of eight races; Miss Taft, by Derby winner Teddington, a winner of six races; an unnamed colt by Lord Fauconberg, who won one small race; the unplaced Belladonna, who bred on; and Debonnaire, the dam of many good winners over fences, including New Oswestry (below). All of these were bred by John Osborne, Sr. Mrs. Taft was sold to W.S. Bruere for 23 guineas at the Ashgill sale of 1865, and for him produced Fairy Land, a winner of 18 hunters' flat races. She spent her later years at Easby Abbey.

New Oswestry b.c. 1864
(Knight of Kars - Debonnaire by Newminster)
Sir Richard Price, in an 1893 article in the Live Stock Journal wrote: "I make no apology for placing New Oswestry as the best type of Hunter sire within our recollection, for not only was he a remarkable horse himself--so good, indeed that to quote the words recently written by a man who knew him well [Col. Charles Bulkeley], and rode him in most of his races, 'There is no doubt but that he was the best horse of his time, and there is little doubt but that he could have won the Liverpool Grand National, Queen's Plates, and Cesarewitch the same year.' As it was, he belonged to one of the most eccentric of men, by trade a butcher, who preferred to run him about at all the little meetings for small stakes, rather than give him the chance he deserved...He was a grand horse to look over, a bay, with power enough to carry any reasonable weight to hounds, and with the best of tempers...and was never known to fall. As a sire...he never got a bad one, and no horse had a worse chance...the young [of] New Oswestry's were either good hunters or steeplechasers. Of that latter class I have only to point ot St. Galmier or Savoyard, as specimens, while of hunters their name is legion." [Prior: H-B Stud Book 1914, p. 148]

New Oswestry won fourteen hunters' flat races worth £695, and six steeplechases. He was the dominant sire of steeplechasers and hunters in the '70s and early '80s in the western and midland counties of England. Among his offspring were Grand National winner Zoedone, and her brother, the hunter and steeplechaser, St. Galmier, later a good sire; Oswestry (1874), a big-boned 15.3 hand tall horse and successful steeplechaser who was later a noted sire of hunters in Derby; and the unraced Lady Julia, dam of the great chaser Midshipmite (1886), winner of the Grand Military Gold Cup, the Great Shropshire steeplechase, and the Great Bangor Open steeplechase, among his thirty two wins over fences.

His sire, Knight of Kars, a son of the great broodmare Pocahontas, won the Derby Free Handicap and other races. In addition to New Oswestry, he was sire of the dual Grand National Steeplechase winner The Colonel, and had an influence on hunter breeding generally.

His dam, the unraced Debonniare, was bred by John Osborne, Sr.; she was by the Touchstone son, St. Leger winnerNewminster, twice leading sire in England. Debonnaire's offspring, all hunters or steeplechasers, or both were very good jumpers, all but one of them by Knight of Kars. They included New Oswestry. Her daughter, Lady Wynn, later called Gipsy, was a grand chaser that ran to the age of twelve, winning two hurdle races and sixteen steeplechases, including the the Grand Sefton Steeplechase, which she won by 20 lengths. Gipsy later produced four steeplechasers, including Fortune, winner of nine steeplechases, and Golden Cross, winner of the Hereford Eclipse Steeplechase and seven other chases. Her daughter Belgrade won four hurdle races and seven steeplechases, and produced Norton, winner of the Rugby Open Steeplechase and seven other chases. Her son Johnny Longtail, the only foal not by Knight of Kars, was also an excellent chaser that won in hunter flat races and over hurdles, and numbered the Grand International Steeplechase, the Steeplechase at Kempton, and Liverpool's Champion Chase among his 20 wins in steeplechases, and later was a sire of some good chasers.

Descent Chart

An Exmoor Pony mare
 Mare by (Old) Blank
  Mare by Herod
   Mare by (Harper's) Juniper
    Mare by (Old) Grayling
     Mare by Patriot
      Mare by Fieldfare
       Mare (f. c182-) by a son of Sorcerer (and out of Hornby Lass)
        Mare by Pyramus
         Mare (gr.f. 1836) by Priam
         |  Mare (gr.f. 1840) by Colwick
         |    Mare (ch.f. c1844) by Mundig
         |    | Mare (ch.f. 1848) by Don John
         |    | Miss Violet (ch.f. 1849) by Don John
         |    Mrs. Taft (br.f. 1845) by Don John
         |      Spider (ch.c. 1855) by Woolwich
         |      Debonnaire (ch.f. 1856) by Newminster
         |      | New Oswestry (b.c. 1864) by Knight of Kars
         |      | Mayfly (b.c. 1867) by Underhand
         |      | St. Oswald (b.c. 1870) by Knight of Kars
         |      | Lady Wynn [Gipsy] (b.f. 1871) by Knight of Kars
         |      | | The Pawn (ch.c. 1885) by Stylites
         |      | | Fortune (br.c. 1886) by Bookworm
         |      | | Golden Cross (br.c. 1887) by Sir Bevys
         |      | | Thairshon (b.c. 1889) by Ossian
         |      | Belgrade (b.f. 1872) by Knight of Kars
         |      | | Norton (b.c. 1887) by Chevronel
         |      | Golden Cross (b.c. 1873) by Brown Bread
         |      | Johnny Longtail (ch.c. 1878) by Polardine
         |      Miss Taft (b.f. 1859) by Teddington
         |      Mare (b.f. 1861) by Lord Fauconberg
         |      Fairy Land (ch.f. 1866) by Colsterdale
         Derby (gr.c. 1849) by Don John
         Johnny Taft [More Antique] (gr.c. 1852) by Johnny Taft
         Bobby Taft (br.c. 1853) by Gameboy
         Nelly Taft (gr.f. 1854) by Sweetmeat
         | Frostbit (b.c. 1858) by Weatherbit
         | Nelly Gray (gr.f. 1862) by The Cure
         | Zemindar (br.c. 1865) by Zetland
         | Laissez Aller (gr.f. 1867) by Loiterer
         | Call Duck (gr.f. 1869) by The Drake
         Peggy Taft (b.f. 1855) by Vatican
         Polly Taft (b.f. 1856) by Vatican
         Zachariah Taft [Bonnington] (br.c. 1858) by Hospodar

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