Legends of the Turf: Cremorne

27th June 2013

Cremorne’s career was the epitome of class and toughness that saw him win a host of top class races including the treble of the Epsom Derby, Grand Prix de Paris and Ascot Gold Cup.


Cremore was bred at Rufford Abbey Stud, and was part of an outstanding cohort of juveniles for his owner, Henry Savile. His sire, Parmesan, was a descendant of the Byerley Turk and also sired the Derby winner Favonius, while his dam Rigolboche was a daughter of the outstanding sire Rataplan, son of the great broodmare, Pocahontas. Cremore first demonstrated his talent in a traditional yearling gallop a few days before Christmas in 1870, where he ran right away from his paddock mates Uhlan, Lilian and Modena.


Cremorne ran another trial before his two year old debut, beating the talented thirteen year old gelding Reindeer by two lengths, with Lilian twenty lengths behind. He then duly won his first six races as a juvenile, in the Woodcote Stakes at the Derby Meeting, on consecutive days at Royal Ascot, in the Hurstbourne Stakes at Stockbridge, the Chesterfield Stakes at Newmarket and the North of England Biennial Stakes at York. On the same day as the last named race, Cremorne ran in the Prince of Wales Stakes and suffered his first defeat, finishing half a length behind Onslow. It was revealed afterwards that the horse had been a touch off form for his last few races (he had scrambled home by short margins twice), primarily due a bout of colic.


Cremorne recovered well enough to win his next two starts in the Champagne Stakes at Doncaster, and a sweepstakes at the same meeting two days later. However, he ended his season with a slightly disappointing third place in the Criterion Stakes at Newmarket. Although the winner, Prince Charlie, was a very speedy horse who also won the Middle Park Stakes, Cremorne was readily expected to beat the second place Nuneham, whom he had beaten earlier in the season.

Cremorne wintered so well that it was unnecessary to run him before the 2000 Guineas. In the first Classic, he once again found Prince Charlie too good over the shorter distance, and finished second by a neck, four lengths clear of future St James Palace Stakes winner, Queen’s Messenger.  His trainer, William Gilbert, felt that the winner had benefited from the services of jockey John Osborne, and that Cremorne was at a 3lb disadvantage with his own rider, Charles Maidment. A rather harsh view, but somewhat supported in later races.


Cremorne prepared for the Derby with a walk-over in the Newmarket Stakes and a hugely impressive gallop with the year older Ripponden. Cremorne conceded 14lbs and won the trial by six lengths, with Ripponden subsequently winning the Hunt Cup.


In the Derby, Prince Charlie was sent off the 5/2 favourite with Cremorne at 3/1. The latter gained his revenge and won the race, but suffered a scare when Pell Mell ran him to a head. This was in part due to poor tactics from Maidment, who eased up on Cremorne and allowed Pell Mell to challenge on the wide outside. Once galvanised, Cremorne held his rival off but it took him several strides to get going again, and he ought to have won by a larger margin.


Maidment made no mistakes in Cremorne’s next race, the Grand Prix de Paris, where Cremorne was an easy winner by two lengths from Barbillon. However, he had a very rough journey home, had to be held up by five men on the boat, and sweated profusely for hours. Despite this, he was turned out for Royal Ascot just three days later, and recorded a pair of easy victories including a walkover in the Triennial Stakes.


Cremorne next recorded an impressive four length victory over Cambridgeshire winner King Lud in the Great Yorkshire Stakes at York, but a mix up with his entries prevented him from running in the St Leger. The final Classic of the season was won by Wenlock, who had finished towards the rear of the field in the Derby. Cremorne attempted to gain compensation in the Newmarket St Leger, but finished second by a neck to Laburnum while trying to concede a stone in weight. The horse had not been eating properly (unusual for him) due to dental problems, and should not have run.


He concluded his season with an easy win in the Newmarket Derby, beating Alava by four lengths.

Cremorne’s four year old season was relatively light compared to his earlier campaigns (just five runs), and was bookended by two remarkable losses. In his seasonal debut, he finished second by less than a length in the City and Suburban Handicap, where he carried top weight of 9st2lbs and was conceding 17lbs to the winner, Mornington. Further back in the field was the 1871 Fillies Triple Crown winner Hannah. Again, Gilbert blamed Maidment for Cremorne’s loss, and believed he would have won if ridden to orders.


Cremorne then ran in a trial for the Ascot Gold Cup against his stable companions Kaiser (second in the 2000 Guineas, winner of the Prince of Wales Stakes), Uhlan (subsequent winner of the Ascot Stakes by twelve lengths and the Doncaster Cup), and Lilian. Under 9st4lbs, and conceding at least 18lbs to his workmates, Cremorne beat them all by four lengths despite the fact that Kaiser only ran for the last ten furlongs of a two and a half mile gallop.


This hugely impressive work indicated that Cremorne was in top form for a third assault on the Royal Meeting. He won his third Triennial Stakes in a walk-over, then faced an excellent field in the Gold Cup including French raider Flageolet, Queen’s Vase winner Thorn, Cesarewitch winner Corsiande and Hannah. Cremorne’s canter to the start was visually outstanding, but his gallop back was even more impressive as he thrashed the field by an easy eight lengths. The next day he raced again in the Alexandra Plate over three miles, and recorded another effortless victory with the outmatched Vanderdecken fifteen lengths in arrears.


Cremorne’s last race came in the Goodwood Cup and was a remarkable race for the fact that he did not actually run in it. T A fortnight previously, Gilbert had discovered the horse with a swollen hock and had tried frantically to contact his owner, who was away. A bookmaker, having received information from the yard, made a bet with Savile that Cremorne would not start in the Goodwood Cup, which the oblivious owner accepted. Having discovered the injury and the bookmaker’s trickery, Savile decreed that Cremorne would complete the race, but at a steady canter at his own pace.  The race proper saw Gold Cup runner up Flageolet defeat the former Derby winner Favonius by thirty lengths, with Cremorne far behind. Savile duly collected on his wager.

Cremorne was given the rest of the season off to recover, and was brought back into training as a five year old for another crack at the City and Suburban Handicap. However, his hock problems re-emerged, and it was decided not to persevere with the horse.


Cremorne retired as the winner of nineteen races from twenty five starts, and began his stud career at Rufford Abbey, where he was born. He was not a significant success at stud, although he did manage to sire the excellent filly, Kermesse. This failure was in part due to a lack of exercise and overindulgence of food as a stallion. Although Gilbert instructed the grooms to walk him for three hours daily, they merely turned him out in a paddock and assumed he would exercise himself. A notoriously lazy worker and glutton, Cremorne did nothing of the sort and would lie in his box eating straw for half the day. He died of heart failure in 1883 aged just fourteen.


Cremorne (1869) by Parmesan out of Rigolboche (Rataplan)

Breeder: Henry Savile

Owner: Henry Savile

Trainer: William Gilbert

Major wins:

Woodcote Stakes (1871)

Chesterfield Stakes (1871)

Champagne Stakes (1871)

Newmarket Stakes (1872)

Derby (1872)

Grand Prix de Paris (1872)

Newmarket Derby (1872)

Ascot Gold Cup (1873)

Triennial Stakes (1871, 1872, 1873)

By Alice Kay