Wakeful was Australia's Queen of the Turf, as popular and successful as her Irish-bred counterpart, Pretty Polly, would be in England a few years later. Her record as a weight-carrying mare has yet to be equalled, and the variety and quality of her wins has seldom been surpassed by any horse, on any continent, unplaced only three times in her forty-four starts...and she did not even begin her career until the age of four. Unlike many high-class race mares, she was also a good broodmare, although she produced nothing like herself.
Wakeful was bred at William R. Wilson's St. Albans Stud at Geelong, Victoria, where her sire, Trenton, stood at stud until his export to England the year she was born. Wilson was the owner of St. Albans Stud, which had been established by the Victorian trainer James Wilson (no relation) in the 1860s, and he bred many good horses at Geelong, and purchased and raced others that made him one of the leading owners in Australia in the 1890s. Among Wilson's good horses were Strathmore (Family C - 3), winner of the Caulfield Guineas, Victoria Derby and St. Leger in 1891-2, and Carbine's outstanding son, Wallace.
Trenton (1881), bred in the Morrin brothers stud in New Zealand, was a very good son of Musket, and was second only to Carbine in his racing successes, which began as an unbeaten juvenile in New Zealand. Brought to Australia by Carbine's one-time owner Dan O'Brien, he proved to be a superior weight-carrier and distance runner with speed. He first stood at Andrew Town's Hobartville Stud in New South Wales, and when Town died he was purchased by Wilson for the then-astronomic sum of 3,000 guineas. Trenton got offspring that could win over all distances, and was twice leading sire in Australia (1895-96 and 1901-02, when Wakeful was running), and several times in second or third place on the sires list. He was also a successful broodmare sire. His daughter, Etra Weenie (1889), won the 1892 VRC Oaks, and besides producing four outstanding winners herself, founded a great tail-female family (Family C - 1). Another Trenton daughter from the same crop, Sydney Cup winner Lady Trenton (1889) also bred four superior racehorses, including Lord Cardigan, who would later play a part in Wakeful's story.
Wilson found himself heavily in debt in 1895, and St. Albans was sold by lottery, as was most of the livestock, including Trenton, who was purchased by William Allison, the manager of Cobham Stud in England, where Trenton, age 15, took up residence in February of 1896, after a rocky overseas voyage. In England he was not as successful, but he did get the excellent stayer Torpoint -- himself later a good broodmare sire -- and his daughters included the dams of Oaks winner Rosedrop (later dam of leading sire Gainsborough), and Colonial (1897), who was shipped to James Ben Ali Haggin's California stud Rancho del Paso, where she produced some good runners to the cover of his imported stallion Watercress, and was later second dam of the superior stallion Bull Lea (1935).
Wakeful was the only foal of her well-bred dam, Insomnia (1889), a winner of the VRC Criterion Stakes (6 furlongs) and one other race in 32 starts, and third place-getter in the VRC Oaks. She was by the good racehorse and sire Robinson Crusoe, winner of the AJC Derby and St. Leger, among other races, and sire of two very good runners in Navigator (AJC and VRC Derbies and St. Legers and Australian Cup) and Trident (VRC St. Leger and Derby). Insomnia's dam was Nightmare (1876, by imported Panic), a winner of seven races and later dam of some superior racehorses, including Melbourne Cup winner Mentor, AJC St. Leger winner La Tosca, and VRC Australian Cup winner Dreamland (1891, by Trenton). Wakeful's fourth dam was Evening Star (1870), by Lord Clifden, imported into Victoria by Henry Phillips in 1873; she produced the great stayer Commotion (1878) and daughters that bred on, establishing a successful branch of Family 9 - a in Australia.
Wakeful was a friendly filly with her sire's temperament. Standing 15.2 hands when grown, she was heavily muscled, with particularly strong hindquarters. Those hindquarters and her game, courageous heart enabled her to overcome crushing weights at all distances in her four years on the turf, where she won 25 of her forty-four starts, and was twelve times second, and became the idol of the Australian public.
Queen of the Turf
Wakeful injured herself in a trial at age two, and was intermittantly lame at age three. When the St. Albans stud was dispersed in 1900, the unraced Wakeful and the gelded Revenue, also age four, were purchased by the St. Albans stud manager, C.L. "Leslie" Macdonald, Wakeful for 310 guineas. Revenue would later win the Melbourne Cup for Macdonald.
Wakeful was placed in training with Hugh Munro at Mordialloc Stables. She debuted, age four, in September 1900, placing second in the Doona Trial at Caulfield; she went unplaced in her next race, a handicap at Flemington. Rested for four months, she came back in February, 1901, to win three successive races: the VATC Oakleigh Plate (5 furlongs) by four lengths in a field of Australia's top sprinters, the VRC Newmarket Handicap (6 furlongs), and the AJC Doncaster Handicap (1 mile) in a new race record time. Her season finished with the two mile Sydney Cup at Randwick, for which she had not been adequately prepared, run two days after the Doncaster Handicap, and she ran third to the veteran San Fran and Australian Colours.
She had a busy year at age five, briefly interruped in the summer with a turn-out, winning nine of her fifteen starts: the VATC Caulfield Stakes (9 furlongs, weight-for-age); VRC Melbourne Stakes (10 furlongs, wfa, now the Mackinnon Stakes); VATC St. George Stakes (9 furlongs, wfa); VRC Essendon Stakes (12 furlongs, wfa); VRC All-Aged Stakes (1 mile, wfa); and a string of four victories at the end of the season: AJC Autumn Stakes (12 furlongs, wfa), AJC Sydney Cup (2 miles), AJC All-Aged Stakes (1 miles, wfa), and the AJC Plate (3 miles, wfa). Her seconds that year were in the VATC Caulfield Cup (12 furlongs), where she stumbled and was beaten half a head by Hymettus; in the VRC Melbourne Cup (2 miles), where her regular jockey was transferred to her stablemate, the lightly-weighted Revenue, and she ran fifth carrying 8st.-10lbs; the Flying Stakes, two days after the Melbourne Cup; the VATC Futurity Stakes (7 furlongs), in which she gave away 45 pounds to the winner Sir Foote; the VRC Champion Stakes (3 miles), running second to the great mare La Carabine. She was third this season in the VRC Loch Plate (14 furlongs), run the afternoon of the day she won the All-Aged Stakes. No one could doubt her brilliance, toughness, or quality after a season like this, but she wasn't done yet.
She started the 1902-03 season, age six, by winning three races in succession: AJC Spring Stakes (12 furlongs, wfa) by two lengths; AJC Craven Plate (10 furlongs, wfa), by two lengths; and the AJC Randwick Plate (2-1/2 miles, wfa). She ran second to Strata Florida in Flemington's October Stakes (10 furlongs), then won three more races in a row: the VATC Caulfield Stakes for a second time; VATC Eclipse Stakes (11 furlongs), and the VRC Melbourne Stakes again. She was high-weighted for the Melbourne Cup, and was scratched from the race. She then ran second in the VRC Flying Stakes (7 furlongs), beaten by the great sprinter Ibex, where jockey tactics played a role in her defeat. One has to consider how often a horse is high-weighted for the premier distance race in a country and can run second in a high class sprint race a few days later. Next up for Wakeful was the VRC C.B. Fisher Plate (12 furlongs, wfa), which she won by two lengths. After this she was given a summer break.
In the fall she ran second in the St. George Stakes (7 furlongs) at Caulfield, to Footbolt. In the VATC St. Helier Stakes (9 furlongs), she beat Pursur and The Viceroy by four lengths. Her next race was the VATC Futurity Stakes (7 furlongs), carrying 9 st.-13 lbs; she ran third to Sir Leonard and Chantress. Then came two wins, in the VRC Essendon Stakes again (12 furlongs), and the three mile VRC Champion Stakes, which she won by twelve lengths, beating four other horses. Her final race that season was the VRC All-Aged Stakes, two days after the Champion Stakes, where she ran second to Chantress, arriving at the post "distressed." She was retired for the season.
In 1903-04, her fourth year on the turf when she was age seven, she came up against the top New Zealand mare Cruciform, a meeting much anticipated and attracting a huge record crowd at Randwick on the day of their first meeting, the AJC Spring Stakes (12 furlongs). Cruciform beat the great Wakeful by a head. Their next meeting was the AJC Craven Plate (10 furlongs); Wakeful was boxed in at the rail by Cruciform, whose jockey was riding to instruction, but the sprinter Ibex, not considered a threat, did not fade as expected, and won the race, with Cruciform second and Wakeful third. Wakeful's third outing for the season was the AJC Randwick Plate (2-1/2 miles). In this she was distanced by six lengths by Lord Cardigan, and there were mutterings the mare should be retired. But in October she easily put away her nine opponents in the VRC October Stakes (10 furlongs). This was followed by inexplicably running unplaced in the VATC Caulfield Stakes (9 furlongs) in which seven horses came to the post. But the game girl still had it in her to win. She picked up the VATC Eclipse Stakes (11 furlongs) by two lengths, beating nine others, and then the VRC Melbourne Stakes for a third time, beating Lord Cardigan by 1-1/2 lengths and six others.
Wakeful's very last race, announced as such, was the 1903 Melbourne Cup, which featured a field of 24. A crowd of 95,000 came to see her run. She was toting 10 stone, and Lord Cardigan, who had beat her at Randwick over 2-1/2 miles, was carrying 45 pounds less. With 100 yard left in the race, Wakeful leading, Lord Cardigan crept up on the mare, and in the final steps, moved ahead by 3/4 of a length. Her impost was the highest weight ever carried in the Melbourne Cup by a mare. She has, all these years later, retained her title as First Lady of the Turf.
Wakeful in the Stud
Macdonald had no interest in selling his champion mare, and she remained in his ownership, although lodged at various farms where the stallions she was bred to were at stud. She first went to Wallace, Carbine's best son in Australia.
Wakeful as an elderly broodmare
|Her first colt, BALGOWAN (1906, by Wallace) did not amount to much, but the next, his brother BLAIRGOUR (1907), did well, inheriting his dam's speed, if not her ability to go a distance: for Macdonald he won the VATC Oakleigh Plate (5-1/2 furlongs) - VATC Caulfield Futurity Stakes double in 1911, and the VATC Memsie Stakes (9 furlongs).
| Wakeful's next foal of note was the native-born Maltster's son, BAVERSTOCK (1911). He won only two races, although he ran in the highest company, but in the stud he got the good Tasmania stayer Tarapunga (1924), winner of the Hobart Cup and Launceston Cup in 1930; Distitch (1924), who won the TRC Doncaster Handicap, Aga Khan (1922), winner of the Standish Handicap, and David (1917), who ran in 124 races to the age of eight, winning twenty races, including most of the long-distance races in Australia, often under heavy imposts, and placing second 15 times and third 13 times. David's wins included the AJC Cumberland Stakes twice, the AJC Randwick Plate four times, the AJC Plate three times, the Warwick Farm Handicap (carrying 9 st.-4 lbs), the Aspendale Park Handicap, and the 1923 Sydney Cup. David became Australia's best jumper sire whose offspring could carry weight over a distance; his offspring included Grand National Steeplechase winners Santa Casa, Giant Killer, Saul, Quixotic, Zalmon, and Grand National Hurdle winners Cheery Jack, Saul, Claudette, Zalmon, and Bay David, as well as Hobart Cup winner Song of Solomon, and VRC Standish Handicap winner David's Last. |
Wakeful's most known offspring was probably the gelded NIGHT WATCH (1913, by imported St. Alwyne). He was born at Arrowfield, where St. Alwyne was at stud, and was a sickly foal Macdonald kept because of his fondness for Wakeful. He started twice as a juvenile, running unplaced. At age three he ran five times, and the best he could do was finish third in one race. At age four, the only horse Macdonald had racing and true, perhaps to the late-maturing style of so many Trentons, he finally won a welter handicap at Caulfield, and then a second one at the same venue. A week before the Melbourne Cup, when he was age five, he ran in the Hotham Handicap at Flemington, placing second to Court Jester. In the 1918 Melbourne Cup, very lightly weighted with 6 st.-9 lbs., he was bumped on the straight, causing him to fall back, but with his comparative advantage of weight, he caught up to the leaders, Kennaquhair (carrying 9 st.) and Gadabout (weighted with 8 st.-7 lbs), and passed, winning by half a length in the record time of 3:25-3/4 sec. This was not a popular victory, given Night Watch's lack of credentials and receipt of 33 pounds from the second-place horse, and the weight carried by other good horses, such as Desert Gold and King Offa, who did not even place.
The next year, 1919, Night Watch redeemed his reputation, by winning the VRC October Stakes (12 furlongs) , the VATC Caulfield Stakes (9 furlongs), and the Williamstown Race Club's 12 furlong Peace Cup Handicap. He was beaten by a neck (carrying the more respectable 8 st.-11 lbs.) by the more lightly-weighted Lucknow in the Caulfield Cup.
Although only one of Wakeful's daughters ever won a race, and that was a maiden effort, several of her fillies bred on, but none produced winners of significant races. Wakeful died at Arrowfield in September of 1923, age 27 years; her last foal, Flying Star, a filly by Rosewothy, had been born in 1921. She is honored today with the running of Flemington's Wakeful Stakes, the premier prep race for the Victoria Oaks.