Advent blog: Eborneezer 'Scrooge'

10th December 2013

One of the few entires to win the Champion Hurdle, Eborneezer lacked the mean spiritedness of his almost namesake, Ebenezer Scrooge, and was a favourite at trainer Ryan Price’s yard due to his kind nature.

Foaled in 1955, Eborneezer was bred by Dr B. N. Paigar at Honey Pot Stud in Kent. Eborneezer was a typical looking Flat horse with a tall and narrow frame, a dark brown coat and striking narrow white blaze. A scion of Gold Cup winners, both his sire Ocean Swell and damsire Precipitation recorded victories in Ascot’s iconic race and passed on both ability and stamina to Eborneezer. Accordingly, he began his career on the Flat but did not make a debut until his three year old season, where he ran twice over distances beyond twelve furlongs.

 

As a four year old in the 1959 Ebor, debris from the course was kicked up and impacted with Eborneezer’s eye, damaging it to such an extent that he became very short sighted and eventually blind.

 

Eborneezer quickly displayed his ability over hurdles, and was rated a better jumper than his owner and stablemate, 1959 Champion Hurdle winner Fare Time.

Eborneezer registered three wins over hurdles, including the Queen’s Prize at Kempton in the Spring of 1960, he was didn’t jump a flight for eleven months before winning the 1961 Oteley (now known as Contenders) Hurdle at Sandown by a length despite conceding 5lbs. Although this effort marked him out as a serious Champion Hurdle contender, his aspirations took a hit in his next race when he ran very poorly at Birmingham. Trainer Ryan Price considered withdrawing the horse, until jockey Fred Winter assured him that the failure was due to a muddling pace, and that Eborneezer would be seen to better effect in the typically helter-skelter Champion Hurdle.

 

Although defending champion Another Flash missed the race through injury, the line up still featured dual Irish Champion Hurdle winner Albergo, 1957 Champion Hurdle winner Merry Deal, and lukewarm favourite, Moss Bank.

 

The race itself was eventful, with old Merry Deal’s saddle slipping after the third hurdle, and Albergo taking a crashing fall at the second last, which caused havock and brought down three other runners. Fortunately, Eborneezer’s excellent jumping held up, and he stayed to the fore of affairs and ahead of trouble to better make use of his abundant stamina. As soon as Winter registered Albergo’s fall, he kicked on for home and never saw another rival, winning by three lengths. Moss Bank and Farmer’s Boy chased him home.

 

Eborneezer did not run in the Champion Hurdle again, and was retired before the 1962 renewal to stand at Ardenrun Stud. He was the first Champion Hurdle winner to stand at stud in England, and commanded a fee of 148 guineas per mare. He eventually moved to Chesterton Stud, before temperamental issues began to emerge. Although always a good-natured horse, Eborneezer finally took after to old Scrooge and became a difficult ‘so-and-so’ in the covering shed. Indeed, the stallion expressed a particular distaste for mares with clipped coats. None of his offspring went on to achieve anything of note in racing, although he did sire several eventers from non-Thoroughbred stock.

By Alice Kay