When a Classic-winning jockey says “certainly the best filly I’ve ever ridden”, you take notice. When the Classic he won was the Oaks, your ears prick up even further. And when you look at the roll-call of talented fillies that jockey has partnered, you definitely believe his statement.
In the five years between triumphing at Epsom on Sleeping Partner in 1969 and getting the leg up on a two-year-old filly named Cry of Truth, South African-born jockey John Gorton was associated with a bevy of talented fillies.
The stakes winner Stilvi would of course go on to produce several stalwarts of Palace House Stables including the Group 1 winners Tachypous, Tromos and Tyrnavos, while Catherine Wheel was Classic-placed, Jacinth won the Group 1 Cheveley Park Stakes and Melchbourne was also a stakes winner. The latter named proved to be a half-sister to the target of Gorton’s admiration - the grey filly Cry of Truth who lit up the 1974 season for Palace House Stables. Had it not been for the exploits of her older half-sister Melchbourne, Cry of Truth may not have elicited much excitement when she arrived at the yard.
Bred and owned by the Honourable Pearl Lawson Johnston, the filly was out of False Evidence, a mare who had failed to break her maiden on the Flat and had impressed even less in four starts over hurdles - hardly a CV that hinted at prowess as a producer, much less of sprinting types. Nonetheless, her new owner endeavoured to breed from her, and Melchbourne was her second foal. As a cousin of Tom Blackwell, a major owner with Hobbs, it was natural that Lawson Johnston’s racehorses should also head to Palace House Stables, and the talented handling of Bruce Hobbs.
By the time Cry of Truth, a daughter of Evelyn de Rothschild’s Queen Anne Stakes victor Town Crier, arrived at Palace House Stables, her half-sister Melchbourne was the winner of six of her eight starts at two, including the Listed Harry Rosebery Challenge Trophy at Ayr, and had earned herself an enthusiastic write-up in Timeform.
Having enjoyed a gilded season in 1973 courtesy of such as the 1,000 Guineas third Jacinth, who landed the Coronation Stakes at Royal Ascot, and of course Melchbourne, Hobbs must have wondered if the 1974 season could soar to the same heights for the Palace House team.
He did not have too long to wait to discover the answer. Cry of Truth obviously showed the same early dash as her sister, with Hobbs opting to debut her in May at York. Inexperience told though and after dwelling at the start, the filly rattled home late to finish an eye-catching second. It would prove her only defeat of a spectacular season.
Cry of Truth proceeded to break her maiden at Doncaster with the minimum of fuss under a hands and heels ride. She then proceeded on to Goodwood, slamming her rivals by five lengths over five furlongs with a withering burst of pure speed. This was clearly a filly going places, and the Hobbs team headed back to York in eager anticipation of more glory. Cry of Truth joined a small but talented band of runners for the five-furlong Lowther Stakes, one of the juvenile jewels of the meeting that would become the Ebor Festival. Sent off as the heavy odds-on favourite under Gorton, once again Hobbs’ filly completely outclassed her rivals, triumphing with ease by five lengths. Among the vanquished was the Molecomb Stakes heroine Lady Rowley, partnered by Lester Piggott.
It was little surprise that Cry of Truth was sent off at 3-1 on for her third start in August, the Ripon Two-Year-Old Trophy over six furlongs. The step up in trip resulted in a length victory and new juvenile course record. Although visually less impressed than her York rout, this race was perhaps all the more impressive given that she was reported to have coughed on the way home.
On her final start of 1974, Cry of Truth did not travel far from home, making her way just a mile or so up the road to the Rowley Mile to contest the Cheveley Park Stakes. The 15-strong field boasted top-class performers from Britain, Ireland and France, but it proved a victory for the home team. Unfazed by the rain-softened ground and the six-furlong trip, Cry of Truth made all in her customary style, quickening clear out of The Dip to forge two lengths clear at the winning line, with the French raider Delmora the bridesmaid.
Cry Of Truth had crowned a hugely successful season in style, and the gentlemen of Timeform duly named her the champion filly of 1974 with a rating of 129, just 5lbs behind Grundy, whose unbeaten juvenile season included a six-length triumph in the Dewhurst Stakes at Newmarket. The handicapper looked even more favourably upon her performances, rating her just 2lbs behind Grundy in the British Free Handicap.
The speed shown by Cry of Truth cast doubt on her ability to stay the Classic mile back at Newmarket in the spring of 1975 but Hobbs was convinced it was well worth a try. The filly made her reappearance in the Nell Gwyn Stakes on the Rowley Mile in April 1975 but the fairytale proved out of reach as Cry of Truth’s brilliant speed lasted only four furlongs and she faded to finish ninth of ten. It was to be her last racecourse appearance.
Cry of Truth was sent to the paddocks by her owner-breeder and produced several foals, although none showed quite the same brilliance as their dam. The best of the bunch was probably Integrity, a Listed winner who went on to produce the Group 3 Solario Stakes winner Radwell. Her final foal, a colt by Neltino, was born in 1990 and his dam sadly died just a few weeks later.
Blog by Amy Bennett