This year, the National Horseracing Museum will present a series of Christmas themed blogs akin to an advent calendar. Special thanks go to the volunteers who kindly contributed to these articles.
This first blog comes from Museum friend, Tony Lake.
Bobsleigh was the stuff of racing dreams. He was good looking, had a superior reputation at home, and made a promising debut before an impressive victory. He became a leading contender for the Classics, and the only credible opponent to Bahram. But racing dreams rarely come true.
In 1934, Bobsleigh, was the pick of Lord Derby’s two year crop in training with Colledge Leader and the good looking chesnut was sent to Royal Ascot’s Windsor Palace Stakes for his debut. Looking backward in the paddock, and third choice with the punters at 8/1, he finished 2 lengths second to the Aga Khan’s Theft (20/1). Many were encouraged by the run and The Times’ correspondent confidently predicted that he would be “the best of yesterday’s field.”
That correspondent’s faith was rewarded next time out. Starting at 1/3 in Goodwood’s Richmond Stakes he trounced a field of 11. Now he enthused that “the winner makes more appeal than Theft (who also won at Goodwood) and (Theft’s Sandown conqueror and stable companion) Bahram. He has size, quality, and a wonderfully good action. It will surprise me if he is beaten this year, and, bred as he is, he should be a great three year old if all goes well with him.” But all did not go well for Bobsleigh. He damaged a hind fetlock and was put away for the season.
Although bred for the St Leger rather than the Guineas, it was hoped that Bobsleigh’s class would see him through in the mile Classic. Without a prep race, but starting favourite, he was no real match for Bahram and finished fourth. Eased when beaten by Dick Perryman, many were confident of him turning the tables on the winner in the St Leger, if not the Derby where he might be unsuited by Epsom’s undulations.
Such confidence was given a boost a fortnight later in the Newmarket Stakes. Stripping fitter and at odds on, he ran out a comfortable winner for Perryman. He seemed to be a worthy opponent to Bahram in the Derby … until he went lame.
Although on the “easy list” Leader was still hopeful of getting him to Epsom. Ten days before the big race, Bobsleigh was giving three serious gallops. After coming through the first two well, he went lame after the third. He was scratched from the Derby.
Bobsleigh was not seen out again until October. The Limekiln Stakes cut up into a two horse race, but he was a disappointing odds on favourite, beaten a good length by Alcazar.
As a four year old, his campaign started in the Craven meeting’s Spring Plate. Not fully wound up and over a distance short of his best, he finished a creditable second to Fair Trail. Soon after, and stepping up to a mile and a half, in the Chippenham Stakes, Bobsleigh won well.
Next he could only manage third place in the Chester Vase behind Taj Akbar and Thankerton before finishing a neck behind Omaha in the Queen’s Plate. In Royal Ascot’s Queen’s Vase, he finished a disappointing fourth behind Rondo. Although odds on to redeem himself in the Dullingham Stakes, he failed to sparkle behind Mansur and was retired to Lord Derby’s stud.
Bobsleigh (1932) by Gainsborough out of Toboggan (Hurry On)
Breeder: Lord Derby
Owner: Lord Derby
Trainer: Colledge Leader
1934 Richmond Stakes, Goodwood Thomas Weston
1935 Newmarket Stakes, Newmarket Richard Perryman
1936 Chippenham Stakes, Newmarket Richard Perryman
Oxo (Grand National)
Slide On (Irish Derby)
Lake Placid (Manchester Cup)
Bob (Ebor Handicap)