Advent blog: Swift Toboggan

5th December 2013

Toboggan was one of the 17th Earl of Derby’s incredible 20 Classic winners and won the Epsom Oaks for her owner in 1928. The toboggan is a traditional Christmas gift, and this filly would feature high on any owner’s wish list.

Foaled in 1925, Toboggan was the best racing daughter of the excellent stallion Hurry On, but was a real throwback to her damsire, the legendary St. Simon. Although more finely built than Hurry On, she inherited ample ability and stamina from him. Due to George Lambton’s retirement from active training, Toboggan was sent for conditioning with the great Frank Butters, who won no less than six renewals of the Epsom Oaks, and helped to propel the Earl of Derby to the head of the owner lists on two occasions.

A big filly, Toboggan took time to mature and did not make her racing debut until August of her two year old year. Even then she was not fully ready for competition, but still managed to finish third in a maiden plate at Kempton. With this experience under her belt, she went unbeaten for the rest of her two year old season. A first win in the Champion Breeders’ Foal Plate at Newmarket preceded a four length triumph in the Boscawen Stakes, and a six length romp in the Dewhurst Stakes. Toboggan was the top rated two year old filly of 1927, and the filly rated just below her, Scuttle, was owned by King George V, and went on to be her top rival the following season.


Toboggan took a long time to come to hand in the Spring of 1928, and took until the Oaks to round into top form. In a trial run over a mile prior to the 1000 Guineas, she displayed her lack of condition by finishing fourth and last, but in the race itself she managed to finish third to the classy Scuttle and Jurisdiction.


With these two runs under belt, Toboggan showed dramatic improvement before the Oaks, but was rated only a 100/15 shot behind the evens favourite Scuttle. Although Lord Derby was a popular owner, many of the attending crowd hoped to see a Royal victory if Scuttle followed up her Guineas success.


Unfortunately, their hopes were ‘scuttled’ as Toboggan, under the popular jockey Tommy Weston, led the field from pillar to post and defeated the King’s filly by a clear four lengths.


Toboggan’s next race came in the one mile Coronation Stakes, and she again showed her dominance by easily beating Scuttle and Romany Queen. A walkover in the Welsh Oaks followed, before she ran a poor third in the St George Stakes at Liverpool in a rough race with plenty of bumping and jostling.


As the season came to a close, it was clear that Toboggan was developing a problematic tendon, which would eventually spell her retirement to the paddocks. Nonetheless, she was entered in the Jockey Club Stakes against such opponents as the excellent mare Foliation, recent winner of the Hardwicke Stakes, and Derby third placer Cyclonic. Receiving 9lbs from her older rival, Toboggan shrugged off doubts about her tendon in winning by two lengths. It was her last race, and she was retired to become a broodmare with earnings of £25,050.

Despite her excellent pedigree and race record, Toboggan’s only good offspring was (the appropriately named) Bobsleigh, sired by Gainsborough and winner of the Richmond and Newmarket Stales.

By Alice Kay